Archive for July 2012

1 peek: Staircase light stripes

Light and shadow in the staircase
Another Light & shadow composition that was taken right in front of our entry door, in the staircase of the building we are living in. The light projects these shadows onto the ceiling (the underneath of the stairs to the upper floor) and then hits a wall to paint the light teeth shown in an earlier post.

2012/07/27 by Unknown
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Magenta file corruptions

I had a streak of computer bad luck. After the hard drive failure, the tricky repair and my contentment when everything was restored, many photographs started to look like the example below.

A light & shadow composition that was pepped up by copying errors!

I was very alarmed! Had the Lightroom database played havoc with my photographs? Google searches revealed that I was not the only one experiencing such corruptions, which wasn't really a consolation! However, different commenters were convinced that the real source of the problem was somewhere else. I was still doubtful and tested a few Lightroom alternatives, but the same files always looked similarly corrupted and the problem did not propagate - the same files stayed corrupted and no new ones became corrupted. According to the knowledgeable comments in a Photoshop help-forum, the most likely sources of file corruptions are:
  1. the storage card
  2. the card reader
  3. direct transfer from the camera to the computer
  4. hard drive or other computer problems
  5. defective cables between external drives and computers
  6. moving image files from one location to another
I could exclude the first three possibilities because I know that the files were intact once (I look at all the photographs at least once during the first screening). As I have already mentioned, I did indeed have hard drive problems, but had just installed a brand new hard drive. I was also not aware having changed the cables attaching my external hard drives. Therefore, copying errors seemed the most likely, because I had moved the entire image file collection during the restoration of my computer. Luckily, I also backup all image files immediately after transfer to a second backup drive. This backup has not been moved or touched in any way. After restoring the working copies of all images  from this backup with a dedicated sync/backup tool all photographs are perfectly fine again!
Such copying errors can be scary and permanently destroy images. I was lucky since no permanent harm was done and I even learned a thing or two that I am sharing with you hereby. Based on my experience I would highly recommend to:
  1. immediately backup all image files after transfer to your primary location (and even create a backup of the backup)
  2. never move your files from one location to another (by drag-and-drop) - ALWAYS USE BACKUP/SYNC SOFTWARE
I hope that these recommendation will prevent some of you from loosing precious images. If you have other or additional recommendations, need more information or have questions on my workflow please do not hesitate to contact me! 
In my particular case almost exclusively RAW files were corrupted (the reason may simply be that bigger files are more likely to get corrupted). It may therefore also be worthwhile saving a copy of each image file in a regular format (not RAW) or to record a RAW and a jpg-file simultaneously. I have not done so in the past but may start doing this in the future.
I am really glad that Lightroom most likely had nothing to do with the file corruptions at all (I even apologize for having thought otherwise at the beginning). All my digital photographs are handled by Lightroom from beginning to end and it would have been an incredible effort to learn a new piece of software and to reestablish a workable order. Even more so since I really really like Lightroom, although such a statement may be misinterpreted as undercover marketing (I do not receive any form of compensation for writing that and have bought all versions of Lightroom myself).   :-)

2012/07/25 by Unknown
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JON$ES and undercover marketing everywhere

We have recently watched the movie THE JONE$ES, which tells the story of four people, played by Demi Moore, Amber Heard, David Duchovny and Ben Hollingsworth, who earn their living by pretending to be a family. In reality, they are undercover marketers whose job it is to seduce their friends and neighbors to their consumerism lifestyle. It is a kind of marketing and product placement that goes much further than just advertising a particular product. The "family" (in the movie it is termed a "unit") is very successful until one of their neighbors commits suicide because of the debts that the consumerism competition with the Jonses ran him into.
Interestingly, an experiment with "real" Joneses has been conducted by Martin Lindstrom and revealed that such deceptive undercover marketing is extremely powerful. Unfortunately, undercover marketing projects do not become publicly known very often because they are carried as top secret operations. In a few instances, smaller scale stealth marketing campaigns have become public. For example, one company targeted undercover marketing specifically at teens and mothers, actors were used to secretly market mobile phones by different companies, and social networks are frequently used for deceptive marketing campaigns (an interesting documentary clip can be found HERE). 

The virtual photography cosmos - all the photography blogs, galleries and review sites - is also an environment where undercover marketing abounds. In most cases, the advertisers are of course not directly payed to advertise and the honest and responsible authors acknowledge the receipt of test products or any other form of compensation. However, the experts who test gear and write reviews are not doing so because it will improve your or their photography, but because this is how they earn money. All the parties involved, the online photography experts and the whole photography industry, have a strong interest in creating an extremely technology and consumerism centered view of photography. The constant talk about the newest products and the rumor hype about upcoming, not even yet existing products, manipulates people's opinions. Many consumers believe that it is impossible to take a good photograph with a camera that is older than a year or two and that the decision for one brand or the other will determine whether their photographs end in the trash or bring cash. Leitax, Konicon or Canolta does not matter at all, remember this for once and all!
Interestingly, many people do not seem to mind being marketed to stealthily. This is disturbing. As mentioned earlier, I find it very important to distinguish facts from opinions. I think we should form our own opinions based on our own evaluation of the relevant facts. However, the experiment described above revealed that most people seem to rely on the opinions of their friends, neighbors, online contacts, role model or, in the case of undercover marketing, the advertisments of companies. It is almost as if people just wait to be told about great products so that they can go out and buy them! There is no own opinion, but just a void that waits to be filled by others, including advertisement through undercover marketing! The worrying and deceptive element of undercover marketing is the fact it disguises commercial advertisement as personal opinions.
I really love to delve into the photography cosmos and highly appreciate the huge pool of information that is available to form my own opinion on things. I think we are very privileged to have such easy access to so much information and that we should take advantage of this possibility to reach more informed conclusions and opinions. The movie The JON$ES has lead to all these interesting thoughts and also provided 96 minutes of good entertainment and is therefore highly recommended (you do not have to buy it - we have loaned it from our public library).

2012/07/15 by Unknown
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Florian's photos: Light teeth

I have not posted in a while because we had "computer problems"... a broken hard drive of our main computer. Thanks to more or less regular backups nothing was lost and I finally managed to install a new hard drive. I have lots and lots of disc space now and can slowly start thinking about photographs again - instead of fighting with backups, restore discs and installing. For me, the lesson learned is to not only backup and archive regularly, but to be really prepared for the worst. I hope that the next time we will be up and running again much faster.
Use this as another reminder to really really follow some sort of backup routine! Would you be safe if your hard drive broke down THIS VERY MOMENT? Or if your house burnt down? You should be able to answer with YES! If your answer is NO, please set up a backup procedure immediately or ask somebody to help you!

Light teeth on a shadowy wall in our staircase

The picture of today is again a light and shadow composition and emphasizes that an interesting photograph (at least to me) is sometimes very close. This particular photograph was right before our front door. Every year during the summer months the setting sun shines through our staircase and projects interesting light and shadow compositions onto the walls. I will show you more of these in future posts.

All the best


2012/07/13 by Unknown
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