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.
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?