Bringing my photos in from the cloud

For years, I’ve kept my photos in a nicely-organized, dated folder hierarchy on my local machine. Eventually, the lure of easy management and ubiquitous access became impossible to ignore, so I spent some time using cloud-based services to manage, edit, and organize my photos.

I’m done doing that, now. I’m back to managing photos locally.

In the process of reeling things back from the cloud, I’ve updated my workflow a bit and will try describing it here.

The current year’s photos go in dated folders on my big iMac’s local hard drive. I’ve decided to call the top-level folder “Negatives”. So photos from today will go in ~/Pictures/Negatives/2019/11-November 2019. I chose to call it Negatives because that’s how I’m thinking about both film scans and RAW digital files. From here on I’ll refer to both scanned film and digital RAW files as “negatives”. Next year I’ll start a new folder and move last year’s off to the Synology.

I maintain a Capture One Pro “session” named “Capture One Inbox”, into which I import all new images. This also includes importing photos from my iPhone. I export periodically from Photos into C1. I think of my iPhone as just another camera/source. After culling and aggressively deleting from this inbox, I move the original files into the appropriate Negatives folder.

From there, I edit the photos I’m interested in using Capture One. Once editing is complete, I export a JPG into my “Digital Print Archive“. The DPA is where I live with the photos after editing. I don’t go back to look at the negatives unless I want to make a completely new version (e.g. black and white) of something.

Not relying on Lightroom or Capture One as the only way to view or catalog my images is comforting, but I still kind of want a catalog. That’s where I’ve started using the still-in-beta Photo Mechanic Plus from Camera Bits. I’ve used the original Photo Mechanic for many years as a tool to ingest, cull, rate, and caption photos. It’s by far the fastest method I know of for doing that. Photo Mechanic Plus introduces comprehensive cataloging to Photo Mechanic.

At first I didn’t take to Photo Mechanic Plus. I found it kind of weird and awkward to use. Subsequent betas have improved things, and I’ve become accustomed to the way it thinks. It’s quite powerful and flexible.

What I’m now doing is cataloging my Digital Print Archives. I’m not cataloging my negatives/RAW files. That seems weird, but really, once I’ve edited and exported a negative, odds are I don’t need to go back and dig through everything again. I truly am thinking of them as negatives.

A positive side effect of this is that I’m no longer tempted to tweak every single photo I view. In Lightroom or C1, as I’m browsing my catalog looking for something I invariably end up spending half the time just making “one more little tweak” to an image I was done with weeks or months ago. Nothing is preventing me from doing this now, it’s just that it’s become a deliberate act rather than a distraction.

I’ve changed my file naming process too. I no longer rename the original negatives. They remain named as they were coming out of the camera. Film scans get my “2019 Roll-NNN-FrameNo” format. When exporting to the DPA I rename them using the format “YYYYMMDD_ORIGINALFILENAME_TITLE.jpg”. It makes the filename a bit longer, but this way I can easily find the original negative based on the filename of the “print”.

From Photo Mechanic I can upload/share/archive whatever. Photo Mechanic is good at that stuff. And fast.

I admit that I also take advantage of Google Photos’ AI features. My entire DPA folder is automatically uploaded to Google Photos. This gives me a great way to browse and share collections from everywhere, without losing control of my library. I’ve decided to ignore my privacy concerns around this for now.

This all sounds pretty complicated when written out like that, but it’s basically this:

Import to C1->Edit->Export->Add to PM+->Share

The filesystem is my binder of negatives. Capture One is my enlarger. The filesystem is where I store and peruse boxes of prints. Photo Mechanic Plus is my librarian. Flickr/Instagram/Blogs are my gallery.

The Leica Q stays

I’ve been entertaining the idea of selling the Leica Q.

Leica Q

That was silly.

I was worried that I wasn’t using the Q enough which meant having a lot of money tied up in something sitting on a shelf. The camera looks lovely on the shelf, but not that lovely. I also have a Fuji X-Pro2, and X-T3 and several nice Fuji lenses, so why keep the Leica? I figured the best thing to do would be to sell it.

Then, I carried it everywhere for a few days and remembered why I have it in the first place. It’s just about the perfect camera to carry everywhere with me. I love everything about the way it handles, nearly everything about the way it works, and the way it feels. I really like the RAW files processed in Capture One. I actually like not having to decide which lens to bring, because the Q comes with a freakin’ Summilux permanently attached!

I bought the Leica Q as a reward to myself for selling my house. It’s wonderful and I’m keeping it.

Instant gratification with large format photography

Self-portrait with Crown Graphic. (HP5+ in HC-110. Toning added in Lightroom)

Well, I botched the exposure pretty badly on the above photo, but it’s so much fun to use the Crown Graphic that I don’t mind.

When I first started shooting large format film, I wrote this…

I’m wrestling with an old shirt in the wind as a focusing cloth while using the loupe to view the ground glass and trying not to drop the loupe when I discover I left the film holders in the bag so I stuff the loupe uncomfortably into my pocket, wipe the sweat from my eye and almost choke myself when the strap from my meter catches the tripod as I reach for the holders and now the t-shirt has blown away and so on oops I forgot to pull the dark slide.

Jack Baty (My life with large format photography so far, 2013)

That doesn’t sound like fun, but it kind of is.

One of the great things about large format is that every shot uses an individual sheet of film. There’s no waiting for the end of the roll before processing. I can, if I choose, shoot a single photo and immediately process and print or scan it. That’s about as close to instant gratification as one can get when shooting film.

Found the Crown Graphic

I was rummaging through storage when I spotted my ancient Crown Graphic in the bottom of a box. It’s beat up, duct taped, and rusty, so of course I set it up and shot a couple of sheets with it. They’re hanging to dry as I type this.

It came with the sticker on it. I kept it.

Did we ever really understand film? – The Machine Planet

Dante Stella:

I am not at all hesitant to tell you that everyone in their 20s has a Dunning-Kruger delusion when it comes to the technical aspects of photography. As someone who was there for the twilight of photography, I would mostly observe that the apogee of film development was aimed at making the medium a neutral one that could be manipulated via development, printing, or even scanning – and that today, you can easily mistake random errors for some intentional aesthetic balance.

Thinking out loud about having the Leica Q

I own a lot of cameras. The above photo is from several years ago and it’s only gotten worse since then. What I don’t know is if it’s too many cameras.

Well of course it is, but what I need to decide is whether I mind having too many.

Inexpensive cameras are fine sitting on a shelf, waiting for a mood to strike. It’s the expensive ones that I wonder about. Specifically, it’s the Leica Q. What this is really about is whether to sell the Q.

2019 09 22 leicaq

I bought the Q as a reward after selling my house. I had promised myself I could buy whatever camera I wanted, and I wanted the Q. The problem is that I haven’t used it all that much. Not enough to justify the cost of having it, certainly.

And still, just picking up the camera makes me happy. I love just about everything about it, and I know me. I know that if I sell it I’ll regret it. I learned something long ago about my camera habit, and that is, “never sell a Leica”.

But I think of all the things I could do with the money from selling the Q and it really does seem like a mistake to keep it. On the other hand, I bought it under conditions I had agreed with myself about ahead of time. I don’t feel guilty having it. I mostly feel wasteful.

Sigh. The dilemma remains. Thanks for listening.

Now hosted with SiteGround

I fumble-fingered something on the DigitalOcean droplet that was running and it broke things. I was able to correct it quickly, but was reminded that, for certain things, I’m not interested in the sausage-making portions of the process.

So I’ve migrated the site to a SiteGround hosted account. I have no experience with SiteGround and no real basis for choosing them other than I’ve heard a few good things and it’s not overly expensive.

Do let me know if anything looks amiss.