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Old Feb 19, 2007, 5:31 PM   #1
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Now fully into the digital photography world, what does one do when the collection of photos taken is surpassing the ability to view and enjoy them.

With a new family, we take several hundred pictures a week. Over a few months, it certainly adds up and now I've got to go back and figure out how to organize the 1000's we've taken. Do album softwares help? Any problems here? Is there any reason to keep the camera's orginal naming format on back up discs (ex IMG_6578)? Then, go in and organize and rename?

I've played a little with Adobe's Photoshop Album Starter Edition. Have PHotoshop Elements but haven't played with it's organization. Have Canon's software. Not sure how they organize.

Geared specifically towards family photos, what are some good systems, techniques, numbering systems, software, file naming, folder organization, backup techniques you use, etc. Point is, how do you keep pic's in order and organize for easy location when chronology matters

Hope this is clear and may be helpful to others storing a hard drive full of photo files that may as well be as disorganized as an old trunkful photo envelopes, stacks and boxes with no rhyme or reason.
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 11:04 PM   #2
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Whenever I drop some images onto my hard drive, I put them in My Photos under a folder I name with the date and a brief description. I learned a little too late that I should have named each folder by the year first so they're a bit jumbled, but not too bad. I'll probably just create year folders.

I use Google's Picasa to browse my images. It's great because it'll automatically read all the images you've put on your hard drive and when you go into Picasa, you'll see all the folders you created that have images.

Picasa is nice because you can make very quick fixes to your images (like adjusting contrast, tint, sharpness, cropping, straightening, etc...) without having to save new data, and you can undo the changes at any time (even years later).

It also lets you put stars on the images you like so you can sort them that way, and you can create albums that can consist of images from all over your hard drive, so while you're files may be organized by date, you could have albums that are full of images of different people or places without having to make copies of your files. You can also give captions to your images, view them as slideshows, and many other things.

Oh, and it's free.


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Old Feb 20, 2007, 2:34 AM   #3
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I use Elements 4.0 for editing, but I use Picasa for viewing/organizing. Picasa is pretty fast, and you can quickly do a full screen viewing. I stopped using it for editing though.

For files, I keep the original file names, ie. "DSC_6737.jpg". I found the file numbers helpful in locating the originals, and also as a reminder of the shutter actuation count, and also for general chronological ordering.

I use folders named with the years the pictures are taken, and inside those are folders, named using dates and event, which contain the images (ie. folders named "(2007.02.01) Lake Tahoe" contains Lake Tahoe pictures). I probably should have skipped the parens, dots, and white spaces and used something like "20070201_Lake_Tahoe" so it's easier to zip and upload to websites for sharing.

I separate my RAW (NEF for Nikon) and jpg files. The original NEF's are zipped using the same naming conventions (ie "(2007.02.01) Lake Tahoe.zip"), and are stored in a different folder heirarchy. I did this because I only need the jpgs for viewing, but you can setup Picasa to only pickup specific file types.

One of these days I'll upgrade to a more powerful application. They have ones that allow tagging with keywords, which makes it easier to find a pictures that have a specific person or place on them.

Good Luck!

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Old Feb 20, 2007, 7:30 AM   #4
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Be careful about letting a program catalog your photos for you.

In http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=84, wazungy discusses a problem he's having. Even though the camera uses filenames with 5 digits, when he took his 10,000th photo, it was named DSC00001 instead of DSC10000. Now he has about 400 files with the same filenames as files he's already cataloged.

As Corpsy suggests, I too, keep my photos in folders I name with the date (in YYMMDD format) and the name of the event (Birthday, Horse Show, New York Trip, etc.) And within each, I may have another folder called Edits that contain the files I've done some post processing on, and those files have the same names as the originals but with a suffix (i.e.: DSC02775.1.JPG, DSC02775.sm.JPG, etc.)

I also archive these folders onto CDs or DVDs, ocassionally.

Cataloging programs are nice, especially for batch operations and the like, but I choose not to presume that they won't ever make mistakes. And some of them actually hide the original files once it has them in its catalog. Apple's iPhoto did this to me once, and I've been gunshy ever since.

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Old Feb 20, 2007, 7:42 AM   #5
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I upload the raw files and then burn them straight to DVD/CD beforeI do anythmg else. Each shoot goes in it's own folder under years and months. Processed files PSD and JPG go into a seperate folders but with the same heirachy. By the wonder of magic they backup every night to an external HDD. When I remember I bung any new files onto DVDs and stck them in the drawer at work.

Elements is supposed to have very good organising tools but I haven't tried them so that would be a good place to start. I have been trying Adobe Lightbox and it does so much more than organise itisamazing what it can do for your workflowbut it isfar from free. You could download the 30 day trial yourself and find out if it's what you want but I expect you'll end up buying especially if you shoot raw so beware. Good luck in your hunt.
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Old Feb 20, 2007, 9:25 AM   #6
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To keep the originals I do:
1) File by date in folders named YYMMDD
2) Keep a simple diary in ASCII with entries like, "Zoo, Cousin Emma's wedding, flowers macros, landscape panorama". Put a copy of the diary on every CD/DVD.
3) A simple search of the diary for something like "wedding" or "macro" will find the date, then it is simple to find the original
4) When having prints made, I name the file something like UncleFredYYMMDD.JPG so if I want more prints it is easy to find the original.

That has worked for me since 2000 and severa spindles of CDs.

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Old Feb 20, 2007, 11:48 AM   #7
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First, let me re-emphasize a point: choose organizing software that works within your operating system - for instance, a windows-based package should create simple windows folders and files. My brother-in-law uses a Kodak software that came with his camera - it's horrible. You can't move files or folders yourslef you have to use the package and God help you if the two get out of synch. So, make sure whatever package you use simply creats a basic windows folder structure.

Now, having said that, here's what I do for family photos:

1. Edit/discard. Let's face it: if you take 200 photos it's very unlikely all 200 are good snapshots. Notice I say snapshots -they don't have to be technically good photos but they should serve some sentimental purpose. Some snaps don't even do that. So, get rid of the bad/boring stuff right off the bat.

2. Name the folder Starting with Date: CCYYMMDD - name. Where 'name' tells you something about it. for example 2007-01-01 New Years party or 2007-02-12 Joe's Birthday. For general shots like of my 6 month old I just create a gallery by month. So I'll have 2007-02 Connor and 2007-01 Connor photo folders.

3. Quite honestly I don't have the time to backup photos right away - I realize I'm taking some risk there. But, I do backups about every 3 months. I'll collapse the folders into an Archive Disk ### - containing enough photos to fit on one DVD. So, I may need to make several disks. I occasionally make an exception and create a DVD right after the fact for say: vacation photos or Christmas photos or some other important event where I have a large number of important photos to recover.

4. I'm sorry, I really don't keyword my photos - I just don't have the time. Looking back for the last 4 years worth of digital photos I can recall based upon the gallery name what types of photos I'm likely to see and who is in those photos. I just don't personally have a need to run ad-hoc image queries. In other words I don't have a need to find ALL PHOTOS OF UNCLE AL. So, when I save off 50 pictures from a birthday party I really don't feel like spending the time to keyword those photos.

I'm sure others do it completely different. Just giving you my system.

By the way, I use Breezebrowser to manage my photos. Having a canon camera, I used to use Zoombrowser. But, Canon went through a phase where they didn't want to support all their file types with this software. So, when I bought my 20D the software didn't support 20d raw files and when I called them they indicated there were no plans for it to support those file types.

So, I bought Breezebrowser because it allows downloading, categorizing and direct links to edit software. And it had some nice batch processing functions like a batch rename/renumber function I found VERY useful.
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Old Feb 20, 2007, 1:04 PM   #8
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Regarding the 9999 mark. I have kept that in mind. I'm currently at around 7200 mark. My current workflow is something like this:

1) Copy all the files (.NEF's since I only shoot RAW now) to a folder I use as general dumping folder for all new files. I call mine "To Picasa". Picasa will pickup any files in this folder.

2) Launch Picasa to view the files.

3) Create folders for each eventsn and copy the pics to their folders. I tend to shoot multiple events in one day, so this is when I create all the needed "CCYYMMDD" folders and then copy the files to where they belong.

With this current workflow, my plan was to rename the files, using a bulk rename tool after step 1. The simplest thing to do is just add a "1" before the default four digit. I might get fancy when I do cross the 9999 mark. But right now this is my simple solution.

There are several renaming tools out there, I currently use this one:

Somebody mentioned InfranView (on the other thread) to rename files as you copy it to your computer. I have that currently installed but haven't really used it. Maybe I'll give that a try. But right now, I like having to just drag-and-drop files from my memory card to my PC.

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Old Feb 20, 2007, 1:25 PM   #9
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Like you, I started with the free Adobe Photoshop Album Starter then bought the full working program. As several others have said, it is a very good idea to create folders based on dates, in my case only by year, but you may want to go further with months, weeks or days as sub folders. (I have sub folders for different cameras and types of images, e.g., birds.) A primary advantage of this is that once you have backed up a particular folder, be it day, week, month or year, then you don't need to back it up again because there will not be any new files in that folder once the day, week, month or year has passed.

I find Adobe Photoshop Album works for my use - my picture taking is less than yours, but the catalogue does contain two years of digital photos + old scanned prints and negatives amounting to around 5000 images. As you will know, you can attach tags so that you can instantly select all thumbails of son Jimmy and his birthday parties! The picture editing is basic, but it does retain the original image, and the new image shows the EXIF data. The program allows me to backup the files, and I then restore this backup monthly over my network to a laptop with another copy of Photoshop Album loaded. I then backup again from the laptop to DVDs - the program requests another DVD once one is full.

Since I have suffered from several hard disk failures over the years, I also archive the current folder (my time period is one year), to a rewriteable DVD, and then at the end of the year to a permanent DVD.

For normal data files, I have set up a Windowsscheduled task which copies my Datafile folder (containing non image data in various subfolders) to a 512 Mb flash drive every evening. The cost of 2gbdrives is now only £10 to £15 soit would be feasible to use this principle for images, depending on the size and number of images in the relevant folder.

Hope this is helpful - important points are the organisation of files and the subsequent backup, which should be as automated as possible. If you don't print the images and the hard disk goes, all is gone without backup!

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Old Feb 20, 2007, 1:27 PM   #10
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This sorts properly by date if you use the filename, handles the century change due to the 4 digit year, and is more compatible between utilities and applications since it's 8 characters with no spaces or punctuation. So, you could even use products designed for DOS to move around your images if you needed to (some won't handle the long folder or file names properly).

This 8 character format is also a more compatible format to use between different file system types if you want to move around folders between operating systems or various media types that have varied support for longer folder names and other attributes.

Ditto for File names. I always keep the original filenames with the original files, since most camera manufacturers are sticking with an 8 character filename + 3 character extension (IOW, I do not rename them when copying them from media to the PC or after that at any point). I do not modify the original, and that also means no renaming.

I will create subfolders for various purposes under a given date for processed copies of images with longer names (no punctuation).

Ditto for image names that may include resolution or print size and more. I do keep it as short as possible and only use underscore characters between letters (no spaces, dashes or punctionation other than _ for best compatibility). I'll sometimes create more than one crop size and place them in separate subfolders for easier printing later, too.

My layout is simple (this plus any subfolders).



perhaps with subfolders like this, since I like to process the same images more than one way, and/or in more than one step and use different processing tools like Adobe Camera Raw (acr), UFRaw, digiKam (a linux only tool), brand new versions of dcraw.c, and more.



If I'm going to print any, the print ready versions go in their own subfolders. For example these directories would be for 8x10" and 4x6" prints.


For web use, I'm thinking about going that route, too (right now, I just downsize them and leave them in the directories they were processed in, using names like CindyWedding0001web720.jpg (for real photo pict0001.jpg downsized to 720 pixels wide and saved for web viewing. Those are sometimes more description (but, no spaces or punctionation other than an underscore).

I may change that, too (and use separate folders for different web sizes).

If I need to upload stuff, I may create a separate directory and change the filenames around, mostly with no method to the madness for naming conventions (you may find 4 photos with the same name). lol Ditto for images intended for others via CD, uploads, etc. But, I try to keep all of the work I've outlined in folders as above.

If your image browser is fast enough and can sort folders by either filename or date, you're good to go if you can remember about when you shot something and can browse folders by date quickly using your image browser of choice using yyyymmdd. lol

Now, if multiple images from a given date are going to be provided to others, I will keep separate copies of them in a unique folder with a more descriptive name (CindiWedding, etc.).

I've edited this about 12 times so far (it's losing my backslash characters). lol
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