Monthly Archives: October 2012

Lightroom travel catalog

When I travel I make a new Lightroom catalog for that trip on my laptop.  Image files are downloaded and added by date, into a folder with the month and shoot name, such as 09 Alaska (September, Alaska).  I discussed this in a previous blog so please refer back a few entries.  All my images from this particular trip will be within this folder.  Every day I flag any image files I work on, then save metadata to file (select by flag, then Ctrl/Command+S).  And every day I copy all that day’s shoot from my laptop to two external USB powered hard drives, so that by the end of the trip I have three duplicate copies of all my images. I also have Lightroom set to automatically backup its catalog to the external drives every day.

When I get home I export the trip catalog to one of the small USB drives that has all the trip images.  I plug this drive into a USB port on my desktop computer, and copy the folder with the image files over to the correct date location on my main hard drive array, the tower JBOD I discussed earlier.  Then I import the trip catalog into my master Lightroom catalog.  I disconnect the small USB drive, point Lightroom to the location of the trip’s folder of images on the JBOD, and I’m done.   My backup software kicks in, and automatically backs up the new images.

When I’m positive that all the image files are actually on my main system, I wipe the trip catalog off my laptop, reformat the small external USB drives, and I’m good-to-go on my next adventure.


File storage

Shooting digitally produces lots of files, which is turn creates the problem of how to store and access all these files.  Here’s how I do it.

For several years now I have used an external storage enclosure that holds five hard drives, each of which can be up to 2 TB in size.  It’s a reasonably small enclosure, 6 x 8 x 11 inches, has its own power supply, and connects to my desktop computer via one eSata cord.  I bought this box on-line from, (the actual enclosure I have is the TowerRAID TR5M).  You might think this is a RAID configuration, but instead it’s set up as a JBOD (Just a Bunch of Drives).  When I power on the box, the drives show up as five separate, additional hard drives.

I file my images by year, date, and shoot name, renaming all my files to YYMMDD as I download.  Nikon lets me name my cameras so that a file from my D4 might be named something like 120621_D4N_3746 (YYMMDD = June 21, 2012; D4N = D4 Nikon; 3746 = file number generated by the camera).

I keep track of all my files with Lightroom, which is programmed using templates to automatically organize my files as images are imported.  My files are added sequentially by date and by shoot.  For example, there is a 2012 folder, which has subfolders by month and by shoot, such as an 03 Arizona  folder (pictures taken in Arizona in March 2012).  03 Arizona is then broken down into each day’s take, organized once again automatically by Lightroom.  If I do several locations the same month, these are labeled and named as 03.1 Oregon, 03.2 Arizona, 03.3 Utah, etc.

All files are stored in chronological order on the external hard drives.  Each drive has one master folder (Digital Images 1, Digital Images 2, etc.) for all the data on that particular drive, which makes reassociating drives much easier as I mentioned in an earlier blog.  As each hard drive is filled, I simply start adding files to the next one.  But all five drives are available at all time.  Click any image in Lightroom, and it is immediately available.

The hard drives are on sleds, and are hot-swappable.  The makes backup relatively easy, since I can insert another hard drive, copy any changes to this backup drive, and pull the backup drive out.  Note that I don’t want a proprietary backup format; I want a copy of the data.  I use ViceVersa Pro software to take care of this.  When Drive 1 has been backed up, I have no reason to back it up again, unless I make some change to a file on Drive 1.  I actually have two sets of backup hard drives, exact copies that is, of the working set of drives.  I rotate through these drive sets (working set becomes backup 1 set, backup 1 set becomes backup 2 set, backup 2 set becomes working set, etc.).  If any one hard drive goes down, I can plug in a copy of that drive and keep right on working.