* Minimalism

I’m an advocate for minimalism in life and so that includes getting shot of clothes, furniture, and anything not essential in my home or provide me with “love” in the classic Maria Kondo style.

So began a process to help move to that goal where I also started to rationalise and justify reasons for keeping … or selling …. some of my computer equipment and photo gear. I was not averse to getting new equipment if necessary if it would provide some longevity and stability over hopefully the next 5 years or so. So I’ll spend the next couple of posts on here describing my thoughts on:

  • Computer equipment
  • Photo equipment

I have a 27inch iMac (2014) and a laptop, an Apple Macbook Air (2014), both top specification at the time of purchase and both have done really well doing photo and video editing, plus the general day to day activities of email, web browsing and web design, and producing documents. My iPad Pro 9.7 inch (2016) was well-specced at the time of purchase too, and whilst it could do a lot, it was not a tool to handle file management or complex photo management. So out of necessity I always went back to either the iMac or laptop to back up discs and do photo and video production. Lately though I’ve started to see some limitations in ability in all the computer equipment, particularly when video and photo editing.   PLUS I’ve gradually reduced my workload over the last couple of years as I reach retirement age and so now class myself as being semi-retired.

So my mind is drawn to the idea of trying to combine all that I do into possibly one device and just using that for everything.
The fly in the ointment to that idea though up till now has been file management and backup of discs. However, I’m lucky enough to be on the Apple Beta program for IOS13, a new operating system that is coming soon for the iPad (and iPhone) that will allow connection and handling of external disc drives. And from my use of the Beta software it looks good so far, so there’s hope on the horizon.  Combine that with changes to improved iPad video and photo editing capabilities with apps like mobile Lightroom and a terrific video editor in Lumafusion, we’re now getting towards a viable integrated and powerful solution.   Interestingly, Lumafusion already integrates seamlessly with a Western Digital (WD) Wireless external portable 500GB Solid State Drive (SSD) that I’ve recently bought in an Amazon sale.  So I’ve been using Lumafusion for a little while now and it’s good enough for what I need to do for the future.  So with Lumafusion on the iPad being so powerful  for video-editing (more than on my iMac and laptop), and IOS13 is coming along soon I have invested in a 12.9 inch iPad Pro.  With the iPad I hope I’m in a position to do just about everything I want to for the foreseeable future and can of course use it on my travels.

So in summary what have I decided on in terms of computer equipment:

  1. I’ve just sold the iMac 27 inch
  2. I’m keeping the Apple Macbook Air for now, just in case I might have to use it for file management purposes or to use any application that currently is only available on a desktop computer.
  3. I’ve bought a 12.9 inch iPad Pro (2018), Apple 2 pencil and Logitech keyboard.  I’ve got Lightroom mobile with my Adobe subscription and I’ve already got Snapseed that I’ve had for some time.  Photoshop for iPad is coming soon apparently.  I’ve already bought Lumafusion (£20) for video editing.
  4. I’ll use both the WD wireless 500GB SSD and a 500GB Sandisk Extreme SSD that I already have.
  5. I’ve already got my photos and files on various portable WD and Lacie disc drives.  To use them on the iPad I’ve had to buy a powered USB-C dongle.  The iPad doesn’t have enough power to drive mechanical disc drives, only some SSD drives.

Hopefully I’ve now got a solution that is minimalist and will last me a long while.  I’ll let you know how things go at some stage in the future.  I’ll also chat about my decisions on photo gear in another post.

* My photo backup strategy

There was some discussion on one of the photography forums about what photo backup equipment someone should use. To me, it’s not just about the equipment. It’s also the methodology of how …. and where … you backup. So anyway it got me thinking that I’d write a bit about how I manage my files.

Many people swear by them I know and they really do have their place in a corporate environment, but I have never liked RAID or NAS units for the simple reason some (maybe all) use a brand-specific bespoke Operating System (OS) and software backup programs which to me means the way they store files would be incompatible if I moved it over to a different brand either to upgrade or to recover a crashed unit. Maybe some don’t use bespoke OS and software but I have never bothered to complicate things by finding out which ones don’t, and only use those ones, which to me would be a vulnerable point if for whatever reason they were no longer available or supported.

So I keep it all nice and simple and use external portable 2TB and 4TB hard drives formatted to FAT or NTFS, that way I can attach the drives to any of my macs or PCs, or other peoples computers.
I use a variation of the good old-fashioned grandfather, father, son principle of backup so in essence 3 exact copies across 3 drives, one of those drives stored off-site. The SD card with the photoshoot on there acts as my 4th temporary backup until I’m sure everything is all safe across the 3 identical drives.

I also have different discs for different files (eg. two discs for models (Model names A-J and K-Z), one disc for a specific model/muse, one disc for agencies work, one disc for my photos (eg. weddings, family, personal work and projects) and one disc for general files (eg. business accounts, software, etc)).

And because I use Adobe Lightroom, I also have catalogues for each set of photos and this is stored on it’s respective disc. Having multiple catalogues help speed up Lightroom and reduce the size of the catalogue, having 4 small catalogues is much better than one enormous catalogue. Also consider that Lightroom catalogues by default are stored on your computer main hard drive so if your Windows PC or Apple Mac crashes, then you will lose your Lightroom catalogue. Unless that is you have the computer backed up automatically with something like Time Machine for the Apple Mac and the equivalent for Windows.

So overall, yes, I have shot a lot of photos. So in total there are 5 master discs + 5 backup discs + 5 off-site discs. And because I store away everything photo-wise (RAWS, JPEGS, PSDs and their corresponding XMPs), I find cloud-based solutions slow so don’t use that option. Besides disc storage is so cheap by comparison to the cost of losing your photos or business, even if you have 15 discs 🙂

I have found GoodSync to be a good program for synchronising discs, either automatically or manually.

Yes, I could be considered paranoid about file management and backups. But I know that if a client, an agent, a bride or guest, or a model asks for a photo, then I have it stored away safely and it can be quickly/easily found and sent on it’s way via Dropbox or WeTransfer.

* How was that photo lit?

Rather than tell you how a photo was lit I’m going to give you some tips that I give photographers on my workshops so you can work it out for yourself, I’m a believer in the old philosophy
Give a man a fish …. feed him for a day
Teach a man how to fish … feed him for a lifetime

  1. Look for highlights in the eyes …
    a. that will show you the direction and how high or low the light was in comparison to the model’s face.
    b. the number of highlights will tell you how many lights/reflectors were used from the front
    c. the shape of the highlight will usually tell you what type of light was used eg. square/rectangular – softbox, round – umbrella, octabox, bare reflector bowl or beauty dish
  2. Which is the brighter side of the model … the light (or at least the brightest light) was coming from that direction
  3. Where are the shadows …. eg. shadows on the left of the nose then light is coming from the right. eg. shadows under the nose, chin, boobs etc, then the light was coming from above. Shadows on the background or floor also tell you the direction the light was coming from, and if there is more than one shadow then two or more lights were being used.
  4. Is there a band of brightness on the outside edges of the hair and body … then rim lighting is being used with a light behind the model. If the brightness is on one side of the hair or body, then the light is positioned more to come from the side. If the band of brightness is just on the hair then a snoot was probably used to direct the light.
  5. Is there a doughnut shape highlight in the eyes and a shadow on the background all the way round the body of the model. Then a camera-mounted ringflash was being used.
  6. Does the lighting look flat and shadowless .. most likely a softbox was used

Just a few tips I can think of at the moment, there will be more I’m sure.