Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Software

I've taken a slight hiatus from any major picture taking this last week, simply because I've been busy organizing photos to import into my newly acquired photo software, Aperture 3. And, like pretty much everything I do, I couldn't take the easy route and simply import my photos. Instead, I've spent a great deal of time browsing the net reading about Aperture and the best way(s) I should tackle the future organizational structure of my photo library. Let me be the first to tell anybody, there is a TON of information out there (both good and bad!) and I've discovered there are almost as many ways I could go about accomplishing my task.

I set out thinking I would easily find a couple articles detailing exactly what I wanted. But, that wasn't the case. I think the first 5 articles I read, each author went about organizing their photo libraries in a different manner. So, the scenario went something like this:

Read first article thinking, "Yep, sounds good. This is what I want."
Read second article thinking, "Hmm, this sounds pretty good, too."
Read third article thinking, "Wait a minute. This is kind of like article 1, but different
and possibly better."
Read fourth article thinking, "Holy s##t, how the hell am I going to figure out what I'm
going to do?"
Read fifth article, "F##k!" (Yes, my favorite curse word.)

I'm now into day 3, or maybe 4, since purchasing and installing Aperture 3. And, I have yet to get my photo library imported, but I'm close. As I write this, I'm finally about 1/2 finished.

Some people might read this thinking, "What a waste of time! Just import the damn photos and be done with it." But, those people obviously don't know me. I like knowing exactly what I'm getting into. And I feel that the better informed I am, the better off I'll be if something goes wrong. And, my photos mean A LOT to me, so if something goes wrong and there's any chance of losing or corrupting photos, I want to be ready. Even before I started I made 2 separate back ups of my current library. And, once I finally picked a horse to ride I still wasn't ready to fully commit, so I did a test run on a small batch of photos spanning 3 years. Once that worked, I felt pretty confident with my decision.

The overriding issue I started with was that my existing library didn't have much organization to it. I've used iPhoto since first purchasing my iMac G5 back in 2004. I never upgraded the os past OS X 10.4.11, so my existing library is using iPhoto 6. Therein lied my first problem because Aperture 3 would not allow me to import an iPhoto 6 library. Instead, it asked me to update it to at least iPhoto 7, or maybe 8. Anyway, that bit me pretty hard and jumpstarted my internet search for other options. I actually thought about updating the iPhoto 6 library to iPhoto 9 (using a Macbook) and actually attempted it...and I guess you could say that it worked. But, it took over 24 hours to accomplish because I converted using my wifi network pulling everything from my iMac G5 (newly appointed file server). After the conversion, I was never able to really access any photos since iPhoto didn't seem to like the fact that the library was stored on a file server. It probably would've worked had I had a wired network set up.

Anyway, back to the organization issue. iPhoto actually stores things rather well, but using the default method, I had a very large amount of folders that were simply named using a "film roll" number. I didn't like the idea of having to remember some random film roll number if I wanted to quickly (and easily!) find some photo from the past. So, I set out to take my existing library and manually organize it. Yes, you read that correctly, MANUALLY. That wasn't a good idea because I spent about 7 hours manually pulling photos into folders, of which many I would have to stop to think about how I wanted it labeled (i.e., family, nature, vacation) and I managed to make it through about 1/80th of my library. Obviously, this wasn't a good use of my time, so, back to the drawing board I went...or, rather the internet.

I finally stumbled upon an article that talked about using Aperture to import files into a structure using the year and month each photo was taken. The cool thing was that I could specify where I wanted to store the photos outside of the Aperture library. Essentially, I could use an Aperture import to organize my files almost exactly how I wanted. Great!! However, there were a couple "gotchas." First was that the article was written for Aperture 1.5 or 2.0, so some of the options in Aperture 3 were a bit different. Second, I essentially would have to import all my files twice, doubling the amount of time. But, I was willing to try, so I set out to test the import method on a small batch of photos and it worked exactly as it should. That was last night, so the first chance I got this morning, I began the process on my entire library. It's now 11:18 PM and all my photos are imported and Aperture is processing them, which will probably take a few more hours.

So, it's been an entire week and the only pictures I've taken have been of my kids (not that I don't enjoy taking pictures of my kids, because I do!). But, I'm hoping tomorrow I'll finally get the chance to mess around with some photos in Aperture and start learning how this software is going to help me. And, I'm looking forward to a week where I'm not thinking about how to organize my pictures and get back to taking the pictures I love to take!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Browsing, Organizing, Posting

I finally took some time last night and added a few pictures to the photography website.  They can be found in the "Landscapes" gallery here.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugOverall, I'm pretty happy with the appearance of my website.  There are a few little things I still want to do with it, but my biggest priority is to get some more photos added.  I've realized that it's going to take me a lot longer than I first anticipated to go through all my photos to find those that I feel are worthy enough to display.  My current library is sitting at about 23,000 photos, of which probably 90% of those have been shot in the last 4 years.  I know that number is a far cry from what some professional photographers' libraries probably look like, but I'm assuming they have a lot more time than I do to go through photos.  It's their job!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
It's a daunting task, but exciting at the same time.  It's giving me a chance to look at my photos more closely than ever before and I'm finding new favorites and some old favorites that don't seem as good anymore.  It's strange how your tastes can change and the more I take photos (and the better my "eye" becomes) it's interesting to look back to see how I've progressed.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugUp to this point, I haven't been one to sit in front of my computer for hours on end using Photoshop or some other photo editing software to make my photos "better."  I really strive to get the photo as close to what I want as I'm taking it so that I don't have to spend a lot of time editing later.  I don't know about other photographers, but I'd rather be out taking photos than sitting in front of a computer any day!  But, I also know that the digital darkroom has it's place and it's an area where I would like to gain some more knowledge.  So, I'm also using my time going back through photos to mess around a little bit with editing.  Right now I'm using GIMP (I love opensource!), iPhoto, and LightZone (cool program!).  I've thought about purchasing Photoshop in the past, but I can't get past the price tag.  I've also given serious consideration to Aperture 3, especially after reading several good reviews.

My last goal in going through my photos is to better organize them so I can find a specific photo easier.  My current system isn't much of a system at all.  It's basically using iPhoto to import and organize everything.  I'm planning on abandoning any software's default organization scheme to create my own folder system.  Hopefully, it works!  My plan is to also incorporate a similar organization scheme into my website because that's one thing about my site that I don't really care for.  In my haste to get photos up for display, I didn't really give myself much time to consider how I wanted my photos organized.  So, that may be a change that people see in the future.