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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Photography for Dummies, By Dummies: Episode 09

Ever had a question about photography you wanted to ask, but felt it was too stupid? Now you can feel stupid in private instead!

Hola fotógrafos. During the film era, the problem with films mucking up was always an issue. I remember even without a fancy camera, my early experience with consumer film cameras was that when you remove or replace films from your cameras, you take care that the film was not exposed to direct sunlight because we were told that it would permanently screw up the negatives.

During one birthday celebration at my home many years ago, we sent our negatives to the local photo shop to wash and print the photos. The guy made a total mess out of it and distorted a about 15% of the photographs, some of them key shots unfortunately. He was sincerely apologetic but it didn’t do much good. What was done was done. I still have the entire album today.

It was incidents such as these throughout the course of my short life that eventually made me want to get into photography and take full control over as much of this process as possible.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand.

In this modern digital age, I had a recent disastrous experience using memory cards to store my pictures. I was down in Janda Baik, deep down in the sticks near Bentong, Pahang for a close friend’s wedding celebration. I wasn’t the Official Photographer (“OP”) that night but later Gary (the Groom and heng tai) shared that he liked my photos better because I captured the emotions and feelings of the moment. Self-promotion? You betcha! Take a look at tell me what you think:-

Anyways, I guess it was a good thing I was not the OP that night because something got totally messed up. I saw about 3 photographers there that evening, besides myself. I thought the wedding was pretty well covered. After the weekend was over, I took my own sweet time to release the photos. By the time I decided to copy of the RAW files from my CF Memory Card, I found that somehow the specific folder for Gary’s wedding in the CF Card had been corrupted. I managed to recover some of the photos (which was still better than the OP, as shared by Gary). Get this – I lost about 150 RAW files. How messed up is that?

Anyways, for the rest of your out there, if such a disaster strikes (knock on wood), keep your head on your shoulders and take some advice from me:-


When something like my experience above happens to you, STOP using the card immediately. Part of the files may be recovered, although somewhat distorted, using various freeware or paid software available on-line. If you continue to shoot it may override your earlier ‘lost’ pictures, making recovery a total pain, if possible at all. Also, see point #3 below.


After uploading your images to your computer from a card, make you follow the proper procedures to eject the card before removing it from your card-reader. In OSX this means right-clicking the drive assigned to your card and hitting ‘eject” In Windows use the ‘safety remove hardware’ option in the system to safely remove the memory card.


This is a lesson that keeps on giving. I have 3 CF memory cards with me at all times, 2x 4gb ones and a single 8gb. I constantly rotate my cards too. In truth there is no be-all-end-all super reason to do this, only prevailing logic and common sense. By using more than 1 memory card, it is better risk management of your photos. Would you lose 1/3 of your photos, or all of it? When shooting on assignment it is imperative to implement good risk management.


The first point is similar to the above point – common sense tells you to download your photos from your memory card without delay. This is to ensure that it is not likely for you to lose your photos the same way I did. The longer you delay, many inexplicable things may happen: Files get corrupted, photos accidentally deleted, memory card wigs out on you, etc. And before every shoot, reformat the card IN-CAMERA. This is to ensure that after being reformatted, the memory is re-set to your specifications of your camera in particular.

Of course, don’t be a monkey and remember to save all your pictures before formatting it.


This goes without saying. Keep all your memory cards clean and dry. Memory cards should NOT be exposed to high temperature, physical force, bending, breaking, etc. Oh, and please don’t expose your memory cards to  electro-magnetic currents. That’s sure to mess it up totally. When you purchase memory cards, it usually comes with its own plastic casing. Best to always keep it in there when not in use.

If you guys have any thoughts or question on this or any other photography related matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanks for viewing! Until next time

To view other post in the Photography For Dummies Series, please click on the hyperlinks below

Episode 1: You want to buy a DSLR?

Episode 2: Lighting the way

Episode 3: The Rule of the matter

Episode 4: To RAW or not to RAW

Episode 5: How to Shoot Weddings

Episode 6: Image Stabilizers
Image stabilizers

Episode 7: Lighting Technique and Methods
Lighting techniques and methods

Episode 8: Photography Myths
Photography myths

For those of you who like statistics:
Vital Stats for October: 3 post 541 pics
Vital Stats So Far: 111 posts 4,454 pics

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1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the next installment of your "Photograpy for Dummies, By Dummies" series :)