Notes on Organizing Digital Image Collections

I’ve spent the past few months going through and organizing my entire iPhoto -> Photos.app collection. It’s been a tedious but wonderful process. I’ve come to a few conclusions:

Snoopy mud flats

  • Everyone is sitting on tens of thousands of digital images.
  • No one can find a damn thing in that giant pile.
  • If you can’t find it five or ten years from now you may as well have not taken it in the first place.
  • The time to deal with your images is the day you shot them.
  • Delete the duds. Bad exposure. Out of focus. Not the best of the set. Delete delete delete. Delete heaps and you’ll still have more keepers than you’ll ever be able to enjoy. Don’t be a hoarder.
  • For the keepers, the key is findability.
    • Image titles. Album titles. Faces. Keywords. Doesn’t matter. Just make sure one or more keyword exists for search.
    • When adding titles, imagine a future version of yourself searching for this image.
  • Be disciplined. The longer you wait, the more daunting the task.
  • Chip away. Do it now.

Photo365 for 2014

At the start of 2014, I made it my New Year’s resolution to take at least one photo per day for the year. I had done the project once before, in 2011, after a suggestion by the amazing Richard Koci-Hernandez. The goal is to keep your photographic “eye” always open. That’s easy when you’re traveling or out having adventures, much more difficult through an ordinary workday, treading the same old offices and streets. But it’s amazing how things just seem to “turn up” when you have an eye out for possibilities.

It’s also a fantastic way to end up with your own “year in review” – really fun to walk back through some of the year’s best memories.

Watch the embedded slideshow here (full-screen please!) or check out the Flickr set

Tomales Bay Kayaking, Father’s Day 2014

Best father’s day a guy could ask for – kayaking and oysters at Tomales Bay, near Point Reyes, CA. Unfortunately I blew most of the kayaking shots due to not wiping crusted saltwater off the lens regularly (live and learn). Check out the note my wife left for me in the sand.

Flickr set

Photo365 for 2014

Family resolution: All three of us are doing Photo365 this year – one photo a day for an entire year. Easy when you’re out doing interesting things, a lot tougher when you settle back into the daily grind – everything starts to look the same and it’s on you to find new angles and lighting environments etc. I did the project back in 2011, and will be posting to Flickr again. Amy and Miles are also set up with Flickr accounts and empty sets, ready to go. Wish us luck!

You can track my 2014 progress here.

Spinning Burning Steel Wool

We did it! Inspired by this Mashable series, and using this tutorial, I built a little rig for spinning burning steel wool today, then took it out to the local park with Amy and Miles after dinner. Amy shot the images while Miles and I took turns spinning. Not nearly as scary as I thought it would be, but we still wore a protective hoodie and goggles, and brought along a gallon of water just in case (none of it needed).

These are all 30-second exposures. The hardest part is getting the distance right – tough to know in advance how far away the subject needs to be, so the tops/sides of several of these are off. More practice needed. Would also like to figure out how to change the color of the sparks. Any chemists in the house?

Flickr set

Heath Ceramics

On the way to a hike at Tennessee Cove today, stopped in at Heath Ceramics to find tile to cover an ugly old fireplace. Everything in that place is gorgeous. Starting with these vases.

At Heath Ceramics 
At Heath Ceramics

Vimeo vs. YouTube for GoPro Footage

Owning a GoPro camera is a total blast, but having to deal with the ultra-high-def footage and non-standard frame rates it generates forces you to think of details you might not have had to think about before. And beyond that, of course you want to show off all that pixel clarity. Watching one of your clips on the desktop is a jaw-dropping experience; watching it again after it’s been uploaded to the web is comparatively disappointing. But hosting the original files on your own server isn’t a very nice option either.

After spending the day with a GoPro on my head at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk yesterday, tried uploading one of the clips to both YouTube and Vimeo, and you can check them both out below for sake of comparison (try both of them full-screen).

Here’s the Vimeo version:

Double Shot, Santa Cruz Boardwalk w/GoPro Helmet Cam from Scot Hacker on Vimeo.

Since Vimeo is known for having the highest quality, it’s no surprise that the Vimeo version has less pixelation and more retained detail. But I’ve got seven clips to upload, and have to “wait for my week to reset” before I can upload more high-def footage, unless I spring for the “Plus” version at $10/month. Otherwise I have to wait for Wednesday to roll around if I want it free.

And here’s the YouTube version:

I don’t mind paying for services that provide quality, but $10/month is kind of steep for me, given how seldom I’ll need this ability. Hrmm, what to do.