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.

 

 

 

Is it time to move to more paid subscription services?

I have to admit, the events of the past few weeks have made me look much more seriously at paying more for the IT services that I’ve taken for free up until now. Of course they’ve never been free, I’ve had to put up with the adverts and the email messages I don’t really want – alerting me to this deal, or that deal, and I’ve willingly put up with that as a price worth paying for the service I’ve been receiving. But two events have changed my mind, and moreover I feel the IT world is actually changing slowly as a consequence of the mistakes (to be exceptionally generous) of Facebook and Google; and the decision of Apple to switch more attention to Services, targeting this as their  main income stream for the future, and not relying on Hardware alone.

So what were the earth-shaking events in the Harrison-IT-world? Well the first was Google’s announcement that having hidden the news of a potential security weakness in an API, for several months (presumably to secure their stock-market price at the time Facebook was struggling, and presumably also after ensuring that the potential breach was secured) they used this as an excuse to kill-off (sorry “sunset”) Google+ next August. Now this service was not the success Google hoped it to be, and most definitely has not generated the revenue they hoped it might, but for me, my family and for many communities (particularly of photographers – because of the close linkage to Google Photos) – it was a hugely valuable tool. Now, we have to look for another social media platform. It could be Google Photos – Google may have plans to “enhance” it to take on features from Google+, or it could be another platform, but it’s just a pain in the neck having to move off something we’re used to! Google have real history with “sunsetting” tools that people get used to using [Thanks to @MrSimonWood for this link.]

The second was Flickr’s announcement that they were going to limit their Free account to 1000 imagesexcluding those that were licensed under Creative Commons, which a lot of mine are. They are encouraging users to take out a Pro subscription to remove restrictions and allow more and larger images to be uploaded. This didn’t meet with the same “horror” feeling. I immediately felt that this was a decision that would secure the future long-term of the service under the new owners – SmugMug. [A feeling that I didn’t have when 500px made changes to their platform which led me to delete my account.] So I immediately subscribed and took advantage of the first-year discount price (still available for a few more days I believe).

So what am I saying. I’m saying that if there’s a service that I really want, and I really need some feeling that it’s going to be around for a while, I should pay for it. I wasn’t given that option by Google – shame on them; it appears I’ll never be given that opportunity by Facebook. Both of them are essentially marketing and advertising platforms. I don’t see either of them being able to develop a hybrid model as Flickr has been able to do.

This all makes Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan and Microsofts’ Office 365 seem so much more sensible. I’ll continue with the former, but decline the latter as my roots are now firmly planted in the Apple world where I look to see how they will develop their Service offerings in Music, TV, Home and Car fields.

Interesting times.