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Managing Your Photographs

Ask a retiree about hobbies and photography is quite likely to be on that list. Especially with the quality of cameras now part of all phones made within the past four or five years, it is very easy to point and shoot. Type "photography blogs" in Google and thousands pop up. Try the same thing on Amazon and find almost 7,000 books about the hobby.

Unlike some other activities, photography lends itself to specializing in different areas. Focusing (pun intended) on nature, family, wildlife (birding, for example), flowers and landscapes, travel, food preparation and presentation, home decorating, even classic cars or train engines....anything that piques someone's interest can become the subject matter.

And, therein lies a problem: storage and viewing. All those photos have to be put somewhere when you download them from the phone's memory. If you are even semi-seriously involved with photography as a way of capturing memories and expressing yourself. you are likely to want to edit those photos, too.

A reader asked me to weigh in on this subject because she knows my wife, Betty, takes lots and lots of pictures. An entire clothes closet in her office contains photo albums, holding probably 17,000 pre-digital pictures. Since she shifted to digital over a decade ago, the numbers of images have exploded. On vacations, she will take a Nikon digital camera for more serious work, and the 14 megapixel camera on her smart phone.

First available to consumers in 2007, a Terabyte is a massive amount of data: 1,000 Gigabytes, or 1 trillion bytes of data. One trillion! Betty has a 2 Terabyte external drive that holds over 300,000 photos and is about 60% full. Because she is afraid of losing any pictures, we have another 1 terabyte external backup drive, plus the nearly 1 terabyte of memory on her computer's C: drive.

If that isn't enough, she has another 500GB (1/2 a Terabyte) external drive for some of the earlier photos that will no longer fit on the C: drive. Plus, she has started to store photos she takes with her phone on Google's Photo cloud storage. Google now allows unlimited, free storage of high quality photos and videos. An older version restricted free storage to 15GB, but now, the sky is the limit.

The advantage of cloud storage is the photos are available from any Internet-connected device. She is not restricted to looking at the pictures only when she is in her office. Also, it is at least as safe as external drives which tend to fail after 4 or 5 years of her heavy use.

She has used Shutterfly to product photo books as mementos for us and gifts for the family. The quality has always been excellent. I can recommend them.

For photo editing she is a committed fan of an older version of Corel's PaintShop Pro software. Even though it occasionally freezes up the computer, she resists upgrading to newer versions because she is comfortable with its possibilities and options. Like most software, newer or "improved" versions often contain bells and whistles that are not needed, or makes changes to familiar icons and layouts. Betty will put up with the crashes rather than have to re-learn a new system.

To keep her photos organized on these various storage devices she uses a simple system of labeling an album of photos by date (year, then month, then day) and then a brief description. Google photos will group pictures by faces or locations. Google even produces videos from photos of the same event, again all for free. Rather amazing.

This is a subject that can bring out the creativity in all of us. So, how do you handle taking, storing, and organizing your precious memories? Whether you are the shoebox-in-the-closet type, a proponent of multiple cameras and backup systems, or somewhere in between, let us know.


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