October 2011 Question and Answers

Fresh off my Rugby World Cup trip to New Zealand, it is time once again to dip into the waters of inquiry and answer the questions which the world is wondering.

As always if you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to email me (gary@everything-everywhere.com) or contact me via Facebook or Twitter. I usually put out a call for questions around the middle of the month, but you can ask me anytime.

Matthew Karsten asks via email: What does your photo editing workflow look like? How do you back up your images on the road? What post-processing software do you use? Do you pick your “daily photos” at random, or is there some method to the madness?

Here is my basic workflow for photos:

  1. Copy images from my memory cards to my laptop
  2. Copy images from my laptop to my 2 USB hard drives. They are mirror images of each other.
  3. Open the images on my hard drive in Adobe Lightroom
  4. Remove images I don’t like from the Lightroom library, edit images I want to keep
  5. After every image has been edited or removed, I export the remaining images to Smugmug
  6. Once everything has been gone through in Lightroom, I delete the photos on my laptop, keeping the images on my 2 hard drives.
  7. At some point when I’m visiting my mother in Wisconsin, I’ll back up the hard drives to 2-1TB drives I keep at her house that has everything on it. I do this about once every 3-4 months.

This systems means any photo on my laptop is one that still has to be processed and everything is backed up on two drives.

As for picking daily photos, my only goal is to try to diversify the location of the images which are located on the front page of my site. The daily photo viewer on my site shows images from the last 7 days. The goal is for anyone who visits my site for the first time to see a diversity of images. I don’t want to have seven photos from the same place. I want people to say “wow, this guy has been around”.

Gary O’Connor asks on Facebook: Where should I go on a first trip to Thailand — for 2 weeks (it’s my first trip to Asia)? I’m not really a beach person.

Here is what I’d recommend:

  • Arrive in Bangkok and spend 5 days in the city. See Wat Prae Kaw, floating markets, eat some street food, etc.
  • While in Bangkok take a day trip to Ayutthaya. Many options to get there. Bus, taxis, etc.
  • Take a bus/train to Sukhothai and spend 2 days there.
  • Continue to Chiang Mai. Spent 5 days there.
  • Return back to Bangkok. Maybe spend another day or two there before your flight back.

Thailand is a very popular destination so I’m sure a lot of people might leave their suggestions in the comments.

Shannon Mason asks on Facebook: Everybody talks about monetizing their blogs and then I saw your video and your interviewer mentioned travelogues which is a blog that only goes with the trip (so if the trip were to end the blog would take a hiatus). My question is this: if I am not interested in monetizing nor have the need to and would like to try to travel full time is there any point in a blog as at this point I have no niche or do I need one?


Time of our Lives asks on Facebook: Do you plan on making videos of your travels? If so, when are you going to have your own Travel Channel online or be a host for a travel program?

When I started traveling I originally intended to do mostly video. I soon ran into several problems. 1) Back in 2007 all smaller cameras still used tape and carrying tape around was a real pain in the ass. I kept having to buy more of it and it just didn’t work well. 2) Doing the camera work, being in front of the camera and editing everything by myself on a laptop was very difficult and time consuming.

I’d like to return to doing video. I like to talk and talking is easier than writing. If I do more video, I’ll have to do something much simpler than what you seen on the Travel Channel. It would have to be me just talking for a few minutes with no editing. I don’t see me ever being a host of a travel program as I am probably not the type of person they’d want as a host.

The Orange Backpack asks on Twitter: Is there any country you would refuse to visit? What is it and why? Or if there is none why?

The only places I would not want to visit are those which are active war zones or otherwise unsafe to visit. The places in the world that fit that definition for me is much smaller than most people might think. As of today, I’d say this includes parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and parts of Iraq.

I do not factor in the laws of a country when making decisions. I don’t get behind boycotts of any sort. A country and its people should not be confused with its government. I don’t visit governments. I’d have no problem visiting Cuba, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia or North Korea, even though all of those countries have policies which some people object to.

Travis Ball asks on Facebook: Which skills/experiences have you had in your travels that you most appreciate now? I got my open water and advanced scuba certs earlier this year and just spent 10 days on the Great Barrier reef taking full advantage. I’m curious to hear what you find “best” after almost 5 years of travel. What’s still on your list?

This is a good question. SCUBA diving is near the top of the list. When I started back in 2007 the first place I went was Hawaii and one of the first things I did was learn to SCUBA dive. 70% of the Earth is water and it is a shame if you can’t explore it.

Learning more about photography isn’t a bad idea either. I wish I had a few months with my camera before I took off on my trip. It would have saved me a lot of headaches and I would have had better photos as a result. If you are going to see the world, then taking the time to make sure your photographic memories are preserved properly isn’t a bad idea.

I got my ham radio license before I started traveling, but I haven’t had a single opportunity to do anything with it.

Most of the simple day-to-day skills you need traveling you’ll pick up on the road. Learning how to use local toilets is just something you’ll figure out on the job :)

Erik Smith asks on Facebook: My question is two-fold- What kind of memory sticks (GB & how many) do you use with your camera? Do you ever fill them before you have a chance to download the pics?

I’m currently using a Nikon D300s which supports both compact flash (CF) and secure digital (SD) cards. I have 8 & 4gb CF cards and 16 & 8gb SD cards. Almost everything coming out now days seems to support SD and they are much cheaper than CF cards. I see myself using more SD cards in the future.

I don’t usually run out of space, but I will often get close because I haven’t backed up photos in a few days. If I find a good deal on SD cards I will probably buy a few more just so I have more breathing room. I prefer to leave photos on my cards after I back them up just as a precaution.

..and even though you didn’t ask, I’ll add that I prefer one big card to multiple smaller cards. I’ve never had a card fail on me but I have dropped several and one almost went into a sewer. I think the safest place for your cards are in your camera and the less swapping you do, the better.

Jessie Voigts asks on Facebook: do you ever want to stay for a while (long-term), in a place you’ve been visiting?

Yes. All the time. The more you travel the slower you want to move. One things I really dislike about some trips is how quickly you go and how little time you spend in a place.

There are a few places where I’ve just stopped for a while. I spent 3 weeks in Hong Kong when I was supposed to spend 5 days. I did the same thing in Saigon. I spent about 3 months in Bangkok in 2010. I spent a month in Melbourne getting my passport renewed.

All of the cities I listed are some of my favorite cities and I think the time I spend there is a big reason why I like them so much.

18 thoughts on “October 2011 Question and Answers”

  1. Thanks for the workflow info. I’ve been trying to make mine more efficient, need to watch some more tutorials about Lightroom.

    • Another question: What kind of external hard drives do you use? Do you manually have to back one up with the other, or is it automatic with some sort of program?

  2. I agree there is no point in blogging just for the sake of it. I enjoy blogging, and I blog because it gives me a way to share my experiences with others, and to be able to recall any of those memories whenever i feel the need, no matter where i am in the world. As long as there is internet connection of course :)

    • It doesn’t matter, but I do think there needs to be some reason. If you have no clue why you should do it, then you probably shouldn’t do it.

  3. Gary, I actually have the opposite opinion now of larger cards. I have had cards fail on me. I’ve heard from the best photography gurus that all hard drives will eventually fail, and cards are just mini drives. I usually have 8gb cards but for a recent trip to Europe I picked up two 16gb ones so I’d have more storage space. Bad idea! One failed when I was downloading the images and I lost over 1000 images. Has been sent to data recovery specialist and they can’t get anything off of it. Had I used a smaller card and just bought more of them, I’d have cut my losses at least in 1/2.

    • A card is not a mini hard drive. Hard drives have moving parts. Disks spin and arms move. Memory cards are solid state.

      I’m not saying it can’t happen, just that the odds of losing a card when out of the camera I still think is higher than a card failure.

  4. Travis and Gary

    I should preface this with, I am a professional photographer and have been for over 24 years, so this is my business to know this stuff.

    1st Gary – you have to use catalogues that’s how Lightroom works. As soon as you import one photo you’ve got a catalogue. It would make a lot more sense for you to keep say one catalogue per year. Even if you delete the photos off your laptop LR will remember them and keep the thumbnails. If you don’t want that on your laptop, just archive to your two drives. But if for any reason you wanna see photos from last year you can access them easily from that catalogue. And as long as your back up files have the SAME NAME as the ones that you imported into LR in the first place, you can actually link up LR to the ones on the external drives any time and rework them. You actually don’t need to put them on your laptop and then remove them – I travelled for 6 months in an RV and used 2 external drives, one for working files, one back up (mirror copy of 1st one).

    2nd Travis – yes you need to also back up your catalogue(s). Go into your preferences in LR and find “catalogue settings”. Under the General settings choose “back up each time upon exiting Lightroom”. THEN this is VERY important!!! When you quit the program a dialogue box will pop up asking you if you wanna back up. You do – but first you wanna set WHERE it backs up to a different drive then your main one. If your back-ups are on laptop and it fails you’re still hooped. So set it to back up onto an external drive. I don’t back up every single day but if I’ve done a lot of work I do back up. I keep about 4-6 back-ups then go in and delete them. What you are doing here by backing up your catalogue is saving all the information and processing you’ve done on your images. Any flagging, sorting, develop settings, print settings, etc – related to each image resides in the catalogue which is the database. This is why LR is so much more powerful and appropriate for photographers – it was designed for us in mind.

    Happy shooting gentlemen!

    • I understand that Lightroom automatically makes a catalog when you import it, but I get rid of everything including the catalog after I’m done processing it. I know I don’t have to put them on my laptop and then remove them. That is just what I do to know what I have left to edit.

      I’m not saying that my system is perfect or even good, this is just what I do.

  5. Interesting post, especially about your photography workflow – I do something just a bit similar, but I usually go through my photos & delete the rejects before backing them up on my external hard drives. No use making copies of pictures I don’t like anyways!
    I do have a follow-up question to the 5th question, though: in the case of countries where visiting them would put essentially all the money you spend right in the hands of the government (i.e., North Korea), would you still visit? I currently live in South Korea and while I definitely like the idea of visiting NK, I can’t help but feel that its tourism structure is essentially like dropping a wad of cash at the door of a gulag.

  6. ya,people are trying to make money through blog and but some people feel better in sharing their views and talents in blog. Thus its just like a coins 2 sides.

  7. Gary,

    At step 6 in your workflow, what are you doing with your lightroom catalogs? are they on your hard drive? Do you back them up to the hard drives as well?

    I don’t yet have a consistent work flow with my light room files. I’m backing up the images on a couple portable drives, but haven’t quite figured out where I should be storing all my lightroom information (catalogs, preview images, etc).

    What do you do? Specifics are appreciated :)


    • What I left out is that I don’t use Lightroom catalogs. Catalogs would make sense if i had a desktop computer with access to all my images, but I don’t.

      All of the information you mentioned are things I don’t bother wtih.

  8. I would disagree with your answer to Shannon Mason. I blogged when I was travelling just to share my travels with my friends and family. Money should be low on the list of reasons to blog. It would be great to make money from your travels but sharing your experiences with others is great.

    • You can do that on Facebook now.

      She didn’t seem to have a good reason to do it and I don’t think you should start a blog just because you feel you should.

  9. Good one with lots of important info!!!!

    This all info can help for us lots while we are on traveling.

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