Getting started with Digital Photography (revisited) – Organising your pictures

This post re-visits a subject I looked at back in 2017, and developed last year when I looked at how Google Photos could be used for simple editing. The links to these posts are here …

First two posts which set out how I go about learning about photography and the decisions I made on which software to use …

Getting started with Digital Photography: Part 1

Getting started with Digital Photography: Part 2

Then three posts about using Google Photos …

Getting to grips with Google Photos

More Google Photos – some simple image manipulation

Sharing an image (or album) from Google Photos

… I haven’t checked that all the links are still “active”, so if you come across any that are not working, don’t despair, just let me know and I’ll sort it!

What this posts addresses is something much more fundamental

Tidying-up your photos and getting ready to import/process them

This is not a trivial task; for too many years your photo collection (and mine) has been allowed to grow unchecked and uncared for. The downside of digital photography is that you have no hard copy to sort into boxes, or albums, and no cases to put 35mm slides/transparencies into either!!

Taking a photo has become the end in itself, and because it’s so easy to do and it doesn’t cost much to take multiple pictures of the same scene/person, that’s what you do.

You know all this. I don’t need to tell you, and yet you keep on putting off the evil day when you have to do something about it and get to grips with sorting all those pictures out, labelling (tagging) them and putting them into some form when you can actually find the one you want, or the place/holiday/person you want without scrolling through loads of images whilst the person you want to show the picture(s) to politely (or perhaps not) waits for you to find (not always) the picture(s).

So now’s the time to sort your digital photo collection out. Get some order into them. Get rid of duplicates, and make a new year resolution to not let them get on top of you again. Read this article to see what you might need to do, and make a list of the things you might wish to do.

Let’s assume however that you’re starting from scratch, what would be a good set of practices …

  1.  Store all your pictures in one place on your computer – eg Google Photos on a Google Drive – and create a folder structure that helps you find them
  2. Tag them (to describe what/where/who is in them) and title them – img2634.jpg doesn’t tell you much!
  3. Back them up, consider using cloud storage for this as well – eg Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive etc.
  4. Consider using an automatic way of backing-up the photos to the cloud so that they can be shared as well as preserved – eg Google Backup and Sync

… again you probably know all of that, but just in case!

Here’s an article that suggests a few tools to help you start the clean-up and another one from The Guardian.

So what’s my recommendation? Only one approach of many, but here it is … shoot it down!

  1. If you don’t want to pay out anything to organise your Photos and you don’t have an Apple Mac – let Google do it for you (and this is the solution I’ll describe below).
  2. If you do have a Mac, use the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad and the Photos application on your Mac desktop or MacBook [a couple of provisos for this however based on sharing with non-Apple users, or using in a non-Apple environment].
  3. Create a Google Account, if you haven’t got one already, and get 15Gb of free Google Drive (cloud) storage and unlimited storage if you choose to store the photos in High Quality (rather than Original Quality)
    It’s a good idea in any case to have a Google Account as it allows you to create another eMail address – I’m a strong advocate for having more than one eMail address anyway. Go to Google Accounts to setup your Google ID – you can use your existing eMail address if you want to. Then with your account set up you can go to this page. I would suggest you download the Backup and Sync application for your desktop at the same time. Installing the application on your Windows PC, or your Apple Mac, will then create a Google Drive Folder in which you can store information and which then will then be backed-up to your Google Drive “in the cloud”. Voila – you have peace of mind that your precious information has been saved. Any changes you make to the information will be synchronised with the version saved on your cloud storage.
  4. Set Google Photos up as a folder in your Google Drive.
  5. Allow Backup and Sync to copy photos from your phone/tablet to Google Photos (in your Google Drive).
  6. Only Import photos from your camera to your computer into a Google Photos folder using a structure such as [Year]>[Month & Date]
  7. Change the name of your photos in the folder to something a bit more meaningful.
  8. Get ready for some processing and sharing.

 

 

 

It’s in the Cloud – Part 1

Attending my first meeting of the Cardiff University of the Third Age (U3A) Computer Group, I offered to write some notes to accompany the talk that was given on Data Storage in the Cloud by David Reeves. So here goes …

Computing has moved a long way from the days when all you stored on your computer were words and numbers. Gradually this has been extended to include first pictures, then audio, and then video. With the addition of these media so the requirements for memory to store them increased first by needing an increase in the Random Access Memory (RAM) that the computer had so that you could actually view or listen to the media, and then in the disk storage you needed to hold and recall the images or music at a later date.

220px-floppy_disk_2009_g1220px-laptop-hard-drive-exposedThis need for additional storage meant first the introduction of floppy disks, then hard disks inside the computer, then external hard disks 250px-toshiba_1_tb_external_usb_hard_driveconnected usually to a USB port on your computer and then flash drives which you could carry around 220px-sandisk_cruzer_microwith you and then connect to a USB port on your computer.

With the changes in technology, so the amounts of information stored by each device increased. To give you an idea of how much this has changed you might like to look at the table below – which is actually out of date because you can now get both USB Memory Sticks and Hard Drives considerable larger than those quoted here.

stacks_image_2045

If you want to read more about Information Storage including some technologies I’ve not discussed here such as CD/DVDs you could follow this link or this one, but there’s far more information in these articles than you need to understand why it might be a good idea to store information away from your computer – in the cloud.

Before we do that it might be a good idea to raise an issue that storing all this data causes – what happens if the device breaks, gets corrupted in some way, or just simply gets lost! Now, computer professionals have always done back-ups of their stored data (or they should have done), but the home computer user has never really put a value on their data UNTIL they lose it. So backing-up your data (stored information – words, numbers, images, music and videos) is actually an ESSENTIAL part of owning a computer. This article describes the various ways you might consider backing-up your data but at the bottom of the list is Cloud Storage and that’s where I’m going to take you now.

Wouldn’t it be great if every time you saved a picture, word processed document, spreadsheet … whatever, a copy was automatically made and stored away from your computer so whatever might happen to your computer, the most important part of it – the information it stored – was safe. That’s the essential value of Cloud Storage and the most important reason for using it. We’ll turn to the second most important reason – sharing information with others – later.

cloud-storage-imagesThere are a number of Cloud Storage options you can use for free as long as you keep your storage below a certain limit. You can use as many as you want to and you might consider using different providers for different purposes. For instance I use Google Drive mainly for Photo Storage, Apple’s iCloud for documents, and Dropbox for sharing stuff. [I’ll maybe explain why I do this in another post.] The other main provider is Microsoft with their OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) offering, I don’t tend to use this much, but the principles for using it are much the same as the others.

So how do you use them? As I said above, the principles for each are much the same. I will use Google as the main example, and provide links to the others as well.

Google Drive. You will need a Google Account. This is a good idea in any case as it allows you to create another eMail account – I’m a strong advocate for having more than one eMail address anyway (see Point 3 in this post). Go to Google Accounts to setup your Google ID – you can use your existing eMail address if you want to. Then with your account set up you can go to this page. I would suggest you download the applications for your desktop as well as setting it up for your browser. Installing the application on your Windows PC, or your Apple Mac, will then create a Folder in which you can store information and which then will then be backed-up to your Google Drive “in the cloud”. Voila – you have peace of mind that your precious information has been saved. Any changes you make to the information will be synchronised with the version saved on your cloud storage.

For Dropbox go to this link and create your account, perhaps using the Google email address you’ve just created above – a lot of services allow you to link to your Google ID and this means you don’t have to remember lots of IDs and Passwords.

If you’re an Apple user (iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad, etc) it makes sense to use iCloud. Even if you’re not, you can still add an iCloud Drive to your desktop and access the 5Gb of free storage you’re provided with “in the cloud”.

If you’re a Microsoft (Windows and Office) user it makes sense to use OneDrive. Like iCloud you get 5Gb of free storage from this link. You may also find that you are offered the option of installing OneDrive when you install Microsoft Office (or Office 365).

Finally sharing information with others. I don’t think I can improve on David’s demonstration and on this YouTube video …

I’ve focussed on using a Folder on your desktop/laptop machine to backup or synchronise files to your Cloud Storage. Remember also that David demonstrated how you can Upload a file using your web browser (I would recommend using Google Chrome) from your desktop to your Cloud Storage.