If you're feeling safe, I have a cure for that
|Hard Drive Maze|
I have a couple of Hard Dive docks which allow back-ups to bare drives that can then be easily stored on or off-site. My neighbor's down-stairs coat closet is home to a couple of large external hard drives which should protect me from fire and theft.
|In the Cloud|
But wait, there is even more discouraging news!
Fleeting File Formats
All my images are saved in various common image file formats. I routinely store mine in there native RAW format (Canon's CR2) as
|Abigail & Grayson|
(DNG) and I have JPEGs in the sky. But all these files are view-able only because current software recognizes their protocols. If there is one thing that seems inevitable, it is that the file formats we will be using 10 or 20 years from now will be entirely different from those we rely on today. Better, no doubt, but different. Unless we are vigilant, and migrate our files and storage devices, our current hard drives with all those precious memories will be reduced to uselessness, suited only to be inanimate door-stops. The depressing news is that, once we are gone or reduced to senility, no one, certainly not my children, can be relied upon to do the necessary updates and our drives will likely migrate from door stop to land fill status.
Wow, that's way too much gloom for a lovely summer morning, but it is important to understand the limitations of even the most rigorous back-up strategies. The good news is that there is one additional archival step that can protect our most precious images. Make prints.
|Great Grandfather Louis|
|Martha's Vineyard in Orange, Early 1960s|
|Jeff learns to sail, 1964|
|Jeremy and Abigail in Pixels, A fragile treasure|
The point of this long and discouraging polemic is that archiving to paper can be the best way to protect your most precious images and the history they tell, for yourself and future generations. I enjoy the process of print making and believe that there is a magic quality in holding a physical print. I have printed many of my favorite landscape images and when properly protected, the high archival quality of current inks and paper promise that they will have a long life, but I have printed only a few of my recent family photos. I have shoe boxes filled with old prints of our young kids from my film days, but since digital arrived, about ten years ago, they are almost all delicate pixels.
My Paper Project
|Abbby and Nellie Black Mountain|
My current project is to collect those essential digital family photos into a directory and then systematically print them. The best, I will print myself to 8x10s, but for the majority of the images, I decided to perform a comparison among my other options. I brought ten images to my local Walgreens and another ten to Monadnock Imaging, my local camera store. That's right, we still have a camera store and, in addition to printing from digital files, the place actually continues to develop film. Bless them! I have no need for film development, but bless them none the less. I compared the
|Susan and Nellie, Indian Pond|
|An Actual Camera Store!|
I did some simple clean-up on my first 190 images and then used Lightroom to export them as sRGB files to my USB thumb drive. The 4x6 prints will be destined for an album or more likely another shoe box, any place that is cool, dry and dark. Once I catch up, I'll try to be rigorous about routinely backing up to paper. This doesn't mean that I will be less compulsive about my digital back-up, but for the family images that I, and presumably my children, will find most valuable, I will sacrifice a few trees and place them in a format that will be more easily protected for years to come. It is a simple final step in my convoluted back-up scheme and I urge you to consider it as well.
|First Batch, It's 20cents each for 190|
All Archiving is Relative
Have a nice day!