Photo Lesson Overview on

CGIPix is an observation that Nikon, Canon and the rest no longer make cameras,
they make computers that you can attach a lens to.
Here is a basic overview of what it takes to create good, better or best pictures, you decide how much effort you want to put into your pictures.

The basics of using the aperture of your lens, in one short lesson:

Backup and Archiving Digital Photo Files

Properly backing up and saving digital files can be a life saver. It's important to develop a consistent workflow, so that the backup process is complete and thorough.


Safety Steps Before Shooting

Before you use a card, always format it in camera. The first thing to do is an image preview, see if it has any images on it. If it's clear, then format it. If you are shooting something important, i.e. wedding, event, sports, NEVER go buy a new card to use it. ALWAYS buy a card and cycle through it at least once, preferably 2-3 times to check it for errors. Any new card has a chance to be corrupted. Don't find out you have a bad card after the wedding, that gets expensive.

Memory Cards

Of all of the cards, SanDisk Extreme and Ultra are my personal choice. They've never failed on me or given me any problems, and the read and write speed is faster than most cameras can use. It's better to have the data flow bottleneck in the 1,000.00 camera than in the 50.00 memory card. I've used other cards, but always ended up favoring the San Disk Extreme series.

Some "rules" for memory cards:
1. Whenever inserting a new or fresh card into the camera, ALWAYS format it with the in-camera format function. I usually do 2 formats in-camera, then start shooting. (This is after doing backups, and formatting the card to erase images once I've verified they are archived.) Don't format it on the computer, and don't just start shooting new images over the old images.

2. Always test a new card several times before using it on an important shoot. A wedding photographer told me how he bought a set of 3 new cards, used them at a wedding and one of the cards was bad.

3. Don't delete images "on the fly" while you're shooting. It always happens, you're deleting the images you don't like, and you accidently delete a few good images. If you're running out of memory card space, buy more memory cards. I always carry 2-3 times more memory cards than needed, just so card space is not an issue.

4. Check that the images are being saved on the first few shots, then check them at "extended" intervals. There's no reason to chimp after every shot, as long as your settings are good. If you change settings, then chimp some more, but people that are checking the display after every other shot are missing a lot of things happening in front of them.

Safety Steps While Shooting

I use the Tamrac camera straps, with the memory card holders on them. Each strap will hold 2 cards, so each camera has a backup source close. Cards are right side up if empty, once they are filled, put them back into the card holders backside up. Real quick way to check if a card is ready to be used. Of all of the cards, SanDisk Extreme and Ultra are my personal choice.

Archive-Backup-Working Hard Disks

My approach is to save 2 copies of anything that is "regular" shots. If it's something important, then it gets saved onto a third disk. My backups are 2 drives of the same size for regular backups, either 1TB, 1.5TB or 2TB, along with a set of 500GB pocket drives for the third backup set. If you want an extra measure of safety (I don't do this one) it's a good idea to have the drives from seperate manufacturers. Western Digital and Seagate are the two drive manufacturers I use. Two drives bought off the store shelf the same day were probably made on the same day at the factory. If there's a manufacturing problem, most likely both drives will have it. If you're shooting a lot of high end work, use different drive manufacturers for each set. I always match the drives by size, i.e. two 1.5TB drives at same time, that way in end, the drives will contain the same number of files, folders and pictures.

Here's how my backup procedure goes after a day of shooting:

Backup all files onto Hard Disk A (Archive) Write once, don't use it again, except for emergency.
Backup all files onto Hard Disk B (Backup) Disk for looking at and deciding which images to use.
If it's an important shoot, backup all files onto a pocket 500GB Hard Disk W (Working) For the important shoots, the backup disk is a second archive, use the W disk for looking at images.

DO NOT back up all hard disks at the same time. I know, it sounds stupid, but what happens if there's a power surge, lightning, power crash, etc.? If you have everything plugged in at the same time, it's all susceptible to being damaged. Imagine having 2 2TB drives, almost filled, putting photos on both, and there's a power surge that destroys both drives. That's a lot of work and images gone. Work on 1 hard disk at a time, that's it.

Once everything is backed up, then it's time to check the cards. I usually go through the full set of cards on drive A, then B, then W (if needed). Here's the procedure I use:

Check "Properties" on the memory card and the drive. Look at number of folders, number of files and size. Some cards will allocate space for folders, so if the numbers don't match, open up files, and check that.

Open memeory card, and check first image "Properties" for date and starting number.
Rename the Hard Disk folder like this:
Scroll down and look at last image, and then rename folder on Hard Disk like this:
Then open up both folders side by side, and compare images. Make sure that everything came across, and open a few photos on the Hard Disk to check for errors.
Repeat until all of the cards for the day are saved and checked on each hard disk.
Once all the cards are checked, put them in the camera and format them.

Physical Safety of the Hard Drives

Never keep all of the hard drives together if you're not there with them. Once a hard disk is filled, put it into a secure off-site location, work, storage locker, friend's house, etc. With the set that you are working on, one stays at home, one goes with you. Put it in the car whenever you go out. Carry the current A and W hard disks whenever you leave the house, and put them in the trunk. You're not only concerned with data loss, but fire, theft, flood and acts of God, having two sets in two locations increases your chances of keeping the images intact.

Saving or Dumping Images

I personally save every image shot, for continuity, learning and safety. Some people will go through and look at images, and start deleting them. It's a personal choice, deleting saves hard disk space and time when looking through archives. It opens up the possibility of getting sloppy, and accidently deleting good or great images. Whenever I look at images, there's a record of everything shot, so that I can see what I did right and wrong, and what can be improved for the next shoot.

Printing Images at Home

Once it's time to print, there is another set of backups made. Any image that is good enough to print should have additional backups. The image gets processed and made ready for printing, and gets saved on the computer that it was processed on. Once that image is saved, pull out a flash drive or memory card and save it onto that as an extra measure of safety. So, a great image will have 5 backups for it. That should provide a good margin of safety.

For printers, Epson is about the best there is. The colors are realistic, and are not overblown or too saturated. The Epson Stylus Photo 1400 is a good printer and less expensive than the newer models. The prints from it look great, and there are 6 individual ink cartridges. I regularly print at 13x19 with the Epson 1400, and there's never a problem with prints at that size looking pixelized or grainy.

Printing at the Store

ALWAYS bring a USB or "spare" memory card to the store and insert it into their machine. DON'T bring a memory card to the store that will be going into your camera. Who knows what might be in the memory card slot at the store, and if you'll remember to take it with you when you leave. Much better to forget to grab a card and lose a 512MB old memory card than a new 16GB memory card. Go through the backup drive and pull images for printing, and then transfer them to a flash drive, or a small memory card, like a 2GB secure digital (SD) card. Stick with the smaller cards, not every machine can read the larger secure digital high capacity SDHC cards. Print the photos, and make sure to take the card with you.

Here are the guidelines for using any pictures from this site:

If the image is stated as being a COPYRIGHTED IMAGE, then it cannot be used. A link MUST be placed from the page that the picture is used, either to Home Page, Thumbnail Page or to the photo's Gallery Page.
The link can be a text link at the bottom of the page, or the picture can be a link.
There is a limit of 10 (Ten) photos that may be used from this website on another single website. After 10 (Ten) photos, permission must be obtained to use additional photos.
Keep the name of the picture as it was originally named, without changing it.
The images on this site are all sized at 400 x 600, that is the size limit for using them on any other website.
The Desktop Backgrounds are for personal use only, and are not meant to be put on a website, unless they are resized at 400 x 600.
You can use the images for commercial, personal, professional or any type of website.
If it's a commercial website, remember that you don't have a model release, so if it's a picture with someone in it, and they are prominently featured, you can't use it without a model release. When it's a picture of scenery or anything where the people are not identifiable, then you can use it freely.
The "MODELS" pictures are all PREMIUM images. They cannot be used without permission.
It's not a requirement, but send me an e-mail if you use a photo.