PV NET Video Posted on Vimeo

A few weeks ago, Cox Cable did a TV spot at the PV NET Education Center as part of their community service program. They interviewed Aria McKain, PV NET’s Education Manager, me, and three of the students who were in the class I was teaching during the filming.

Those of you who have either Cox or Verizon may have seen the video on your public service channel. It may still be playing. I was given a DVD by one of the students interviewed and have uploaded it to Vimeo, a popular video sharing site. I was going to upload it to YouTube, but it is slightly longer than their 10-minute limit.

The video gives you a good idea what PV NET is all about and what type of courses they are offering this summer and in the future. It also shows off the fine learning environment the facility provides.

You can watch the video by CLICKING HERE.

I will be teaching a special short class for PV NET coming up in couple of weeks or so. More about that very soon.


Rethinking and Evolving My Digital Workflow – Pt. 2

In this second part of my series of posts describing how I am adapting my digital photography workflow to my new Canon 7D DSLR camera, I will describe my current situation. To begin with I use PSE 8 exclusively for my photo organizing and the bulk of my photo editing. I also have Photoshop CS4, but most of the time PSE 8 can do everything I need to do or am capable of doing. Remember it is built on the same engine as Photoshop.

I am very comfortable with Elements. I’ve used and taught it since Version 1. I started using the Organizer when it was a separate program called Photoshop Album. The Organizer was added to PSE in Version 3. My prime catalog has almost 26,000 images and video clips. I probably save far too many. Currently they are stored on a second internal 1 Tb hard drive.

How I Backup My Photo Collection

I have always used the PSE Backup/Restore commands to backup and protect my pictures AND the catalog file. Currently, I back up to an external hard drive. Although I probably shouldn’t, I keep this hard drive connected to my computer. One clarification, this is not a network drive. That is, only the PC connected to it can access it.

I almost always do a full backup, rather than an incremental backup. I do not do my backups on a strict timetable, but rather they are done based on my usage and changes I’ve made to my catalog and pictures since my last backup. Right now the backup takes about 160 Gb of space and requires about three hours to complete. I generally keep the two previous backups, just in case. However, I’ve never had to resort to using them.

I have used the Backup/Restore commands to transfer my catalog and pictures to new computers, operating systems, and twice to recover from major problems. This approach has worked well for me. However, many knowledgeable users do not make use of the built-in Backup/Restore commands. This approach has worked well for me.

More recently, I’ve added another step in my process to further protect my pictures from major events and trips.  Soon After I have uploaded them from my camera, and after I have tagged them, I copy the images to a CD/DVD for safe keeping. So these images end up being in three places, my second internal hard drive, backed up on an external hard drive, and on a DVD. I hope I never have to use the DVD to salvage my most treasured pictures.

My Catalogs

When PSE’s Organizer was first introduced in PSE 3, the standard advice was that for most people, a single catalog should be used. For many years, I followed that approach and still recommend it to my students. In more recent versions of PSE, the File > Catalog dialog box has made it easier to manage multiple catalogs.

A few years ago, I began to experiment with multiple catalogs. On my main desktop computer, I have my prime photo image catalog. I also have a catalog devoted to the videos that I take with my mini-DV camcorder. On my older desktop, I use PSE 7 to manage my 2500 MP3 audio files. Using the Organizer’s tagging capabilities and basic search window, I can find any of these files in seconds.

There is a downside to having multiple catalogs. Just managing them (backing up etc) adds to your workload. Also, remember the preferences you set in the Organizer (Edit > Preferences) are for that installation of PSE, and thus are the same for all catalogs.

One popular goal for PSE users is the desire to sync their Catalogs and picture collections between their laptop and their desktop computer. Some have developed ways to do this. However, based on my reading and limited experimentation, it is not something that many of us want to tackle. Fortunately I don’t have that need. I do have PSE also loaded on my laptop, but it has a limited catalog I use for my classes.

Ok, this is basically where I was and what I was doing prior to buying my Canon 7D. My process right now is in a state of flux. Getting myself back to a workflow that is effective and not terribly time consuming will be the topic of future posts on this topic. Please feel free to comment on this and other posts, ok?

Rethinking & Evolving My Digital Workflow – Pt. 1

About three months ago I bought a new digital camera, a Canon 7D digital SLR (DSLR). This camera is a significant step up in cost and features from my Canon Rebel XTi I bought about three years ago. I’m still learning how to use the 7D effectively.

 I am nowhere near where I would like to be in using its video mode features, and one of my many projects this summer is to learn how to produce video projects that are exploit its capabilities. I have a ways to go. I bought the camera primarily for its video capability. For major events/trips I take whatever digital camera I have, as well as my mini-DV camcorder. Sometime a still image cannot do the activity justice. What I did not realize is how much buying this camera would impact my entire digital photography workflow – the steps I take from initially taking an image through sharing and backing up these images.

  My plan is to share some of the things I’ve learned and things I have not learned yet in these posts. This is not going to be an overnight journey on my part, and I suspect some of my comments will have to be modified in later posts as I learn more. I would like to think that even if your situation does not match mine exactly, you will still find the reading of these posts interesting and helpful.

The Canon 7D –  Very Large Image Files

The two main capabilities that my 7D possesses that immediately impacted my workflow was its 18 megapixel resolution (my XTi is 10.1), and its ability to take full high definition (HD) video, which is 1920x1080p at 30 frames per second.

 For the past couple of years or so, I have been shooting only RAW images rather than JPEGs with my XTi. At 10.1 megapixels, its JPEG Fine image was in the order of 4 Mb in size, and a RAW image about 10 Mb. The Canon 7D produces a JPEG Fine image of about 6.5 Mb, and its RAW image is in the order of 24 Mb.

With this kind of increase in file size I could see where it would not take long for me to start worrying about disk space. All of my images/videos are on a second internal 1Tb hard drive. When I installed it a few months ago, I figured it would hold my images for good long time, but I’m beginning to wonder. So, now I’m back to shooting JPEG Fine images for normal situations, reserving RAW mostly for scenery and special events.

Continuous Mode Shooting at 8 Frames per Second

One other 7D feature that began me thinking how about my still image workflow is its 8 fps continuous shooting capability. I use the burst mode a lot for sports and just taking pictures of my granddaughters, Lucy and Paige. My XTi could take about 3 fps. I have been generally keeping all of the photos in a given burst, even after I’ve decided which one to use for a project. With almost three times the number of images getting captured for a given burst, I am now deleting those that I don’t initially use much more often.

 Full HD Video at 30 Frames per Second

 Learning how to use this new camera and adjusting my workflow to accommodate its still image capabilities and size is hard enough. The real challenge is to come up with workflow that will effectively handle the HD video I shoot. At its Full HD setting, video from the Canon 7D fills up an 8 Gb memory card in 12-1/2 minutes. The video file uses the H.264 compression scheme and puts this highly-compressed data stream into .MOV files. Decompressing such a large image size and displaying a smooth running video is extremely hard on your PCs hardware and the software it uses. I have spent most of my time trying to come up with a good workflow for handling video from this camera. I’ve made progress, but I’m not there yet. Further complicating my task is that I am not nearly as comfortable with my video workflow as I am with dealing with my still images.

 So throughout the summer, I will periodically post my progress adapting my workflow to accommodate my new situation. You may not yet have a camera with specs similar to mine, but I suspect your next one will. In fact even today, there are relatively low cost compact cameras that have image resolutions of 12 megapixels or more and take HD video. Video is not coming. It’s here and we need to handle it efficiently, or we will become completely overwhelmed.

 That will do it for this installment.

PSE 8 Tools Workshop Registration Link is Up

Several of you have had problems registering for the PV NET Photoshop Elements 8 Tools Workshop I will be teaching beginning June 15th. I received the email below. The webpage is up and ready to go! You may want to print it out, as it also has some good contact information. I hope some of you can attend the class. Remember, classes are small with only 16  PCs, which adds to the excellent teaching environment PV NET offers.

Here’s the email:

Thank you for your patience!  The registration form for Don Stouder’s class is now available online at:


Once you have filled in the form, you can mail it or hand-deliver it with a check. You can also fax the form to (310) 541-8992, and phone in a credit card payment to our main office at (310) 541-7992.

We look forward to having you in the class. There are still some spaces available, so please tell your friends.



Aria McKain
Education Services Manager
PV Net Annex
30940 Hawthorne Blvd.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA  90275
310 544-5395


PV NET Interview on Cox Cable and Verizon This Week

A few weeks ago, Cox Cable came to the PV NET education center and did a short piece on PV NET  and the classes I am teaching for them.  I’m not on Cox Cable or Verizon, so I’m curious if it indeed it is airing.

It is scheduled to be aired during the week of May 31st through June 6th on their public access channels, Channel 33 for Cox and Channel 39 for Verizon.

Please leave a comment if you see it. Thanks.