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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Back Up!!!
Old 05-09-2016   #1
Bill Pierce
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Back Up!!!

I recently got asked, “What are you using as a backup at this point?* Which external HD, and/or a cloud backup?”

I don’t use any cloud services as a back up. All the ones I have played with were too slow when it came to loading a large number of high megapixel images. Nor, after making the first cut, do I store images on my computer’s hard drive. There are just too many of them. Instead I use a large RAID system, in essence a super large, auxiliary hard disc with built-in backup plugged into the computer. But I could use any large auxiliary hard disc or discs to store my images.

The problem is that all hard discs can fail, and, if they do, there goes a lifetime of memories and jobs.. So, I make a second back up on another set of hard discs. Weibetech makes a device called the Ultradock that allows you to connect to a “naked” hard disc, no casing, no lights, no switches, just the disc mechanism that usually goes into a shell with those lights and switches. This keeps the price down on the second back up.

Is this enough? No. The wonderful thing about digital as compared to film is that a copy of a digital file can be identical to the original file. So, I have another complete back up of all my work, digital camera files and scans of film negatives and transparencies, sitting at a friend’s house just in case my house burns down. And would you believe - that huge amount of storage takes up a tiny amount of space compared to the closet of film negatives and slides accumulated before I went digital.

Any thoughts?
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Old 05-09-2016   #2
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Two redundant time machine backups, plus backblaze, for me.
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Old 05-09-2016   #3
Ko.Fe.
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I'm not into money making with photography. Family pictures are stored digitally on different hard drives and on the flash cards. And as printable JPEG1 online as well. I'm trying to arrange home video same way as well.

Storing film and not be able to print it same way is fun. I don't have to support my name by reprinting the same as the same. This is dead end for photography to me.
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Old 05-09-2016   #4
kxl
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1) Redundant hard drives - all image files, including raw

2) Unlimited storage with my website's ISP - all image files, except raw (extra cost)

3) Amazon cloud - all image files, including raw
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Old 05-09-2016   #5
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Redundant hard drives. One in safety deposit box. One with in-laws. One off-line at home. The cloud? Don't make me laugh. I tried signing up for one nationally recognized service and the upload alone took over a year. In fact, I cleared that year's images off my computer's primary drive before the backup cycle was complete. That's country DSL for ya.
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Old 05-09-2016   #6
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1) A physical print.
2) The negative.

Distant 3) A single time machine backup - but more for other documents (1 and 2 cover my photos)

Photography is not a money maker for me. It is loads of fun.
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Old 05-09-2016   #7
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In addition to hard drives, disc, thumb drives, flickr, etc I upload a bunch to a personal server. Ask me to find a certain picture...lol
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Old 05-09-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kxl View Post
1) Redundant hard drives - all image files, including raw

2) Unlimited storage with my website's ISP - all image files, except raw (extra cost)

3) Amazon cloud - all image files, including raw
How do you like amazon cloud?
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Old 05-09-2016   #9
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How do you like amazon cloud?
I actually only considered it after hearing about it from someone here on RFF. It is convenient and lets me keep my local folder organization. Also, at $11.99 per year (after the free trial), it's not that expensive. It's certainly worth the money for me. I upload ALL images in a variety of recognized image formats (RAW (NEF, ARW), DNG, TIF, JPEG) and even various versions of the same image (color, B&W, etc...). Amazon Cloud does not recognize all RAW files. YOu may want to check first or if your RAW file is not supported, you can always convert it to DNG.

Note that I do have FIOS connectivity at home, so uploading/downloading speeds are pretty fast.

If nothing else, I would recommend signing up for the free trial to see if it works for you.
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Old 05-09-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kxl View Post
I actually only considered it after hearing about it from someone here on RFF. It is convenient and let's me keep my local folder organization. Also, at $11.99 per year (after the free trial), it's not that expensive. It's certainly worth the money for me. I upload ALL images in a variety of recognized image formats (RAW (NEF, ARW), DNG, TIF, JPEG) and even various versions of the same image (color, B&W, etc...). Amazon Cloud does not recognize all RAW files. YOu may want to check first or if your RAW file is not supported, you can always convert it to DNG.

Note that I do have FIOS connectivity at home, so uploading/downloading speeds are pretty fast.

If nothing else, I would recommend signing up for the free trial to see if it works for you.
Thanks kxl. I think I will give it a spin. I have multiple backups but more never hurts.
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Old 05-09-2016   #11
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It's worth considering the threat of ransomware, when you back up. Make sure at least one of your backups is offline. I use a USB connected external drive for mine.
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Old 05-09-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
Instead I use a large RAID system, in essence a super large, auxiliary hard disc with built-in backup plugged into the computer. But I could use any large auxiliary hard disc or discs to store my images.
RAID is not a backup. It provides security against a disk failure (or even several), but it is still a single point of failure itself. You use RAID for convenience, reliability, capacity and/or speed.

Quote:
The problem is that all hard discs can fail, and, if they do, there goes a lifetime of memories and jobs.. So, I make a second back up on another set of hard discs.
Considering the above, this is actually your first backup not second.


There is no single solution that works for everyone. But everyone should take some time to think about what they would not like to lose and what risks there are. What most people should have as bare minimum is a full backup with frequent incremental backups. Consider having at least an onsite and offsite backup. For offsite backups the update frequency can be a problem for practical reasons. My offsite backups are on average two-three weeks behind. It's a risk level I am comfortable with, not a guidance.
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Old 05-10-2016   #13
Bill Pierce
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelwj View Post
1) A physical print.
2) The negative..
That print is important. Nobody sees pictures when they look at a hard disc or a negative. Prints are imperative. I should have made that clear. I can't make prints without negatives or digital files. That's why the negatives and digital files are important. Making sure that the best of those are used to generate prints is more important.
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Old 05-10-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lss View Post
RAID is not a backup. It provides security against a disk failure (or even several), but it is still a single point of failure itself. You use RAID for convenience, reliability, capacity and/or speed.


Considering the above, this is actually your first backup not second.


There is no single solution that works for everyone. But everyone should take some time to think about what they would not like to lose and what risks there are. What most people should have as bare minimum is a full backup with frequent incremental backups. Consider having at least an onsite and offsite backup. For offsite backups the update frequency can be a problem for practical reasons. My offsite backups are on average two-three weeks behind. It's a risk level I am comfortable with, not a guidance.
A second vote to not rely on RAIDs for data integrity. I have had a RAID controller go bad not once but TWICE in the last couple years, and data was corrupted across the mirrored disks. Better to go with multiple conventional backups. Carbon Copy Cloner is a great tool for this if you use OS X.
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Old 05-10-2016   #15
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I have critical photography data on four seperate HDs.

I am slowly transferring all my images to Amazon Prime photos. This service provides unlimited JPEG, DNG, TIFF and raw storage. Although free raw file storage is limited to a sub-set of brands. As Bill mentions uploading the files is a slow process. The Amazon user interface for OS X is clunky at best. And disaster recovery would be slow as well.

The alternative disaster recover strategy is sneaker net. This involves odd-site back up HDs at a friend/family member's home or a safety deposit box
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Old 05-10-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
A second vote to not rely on RAIDs for data integrity. I have had a RAID controller go bad not once but TWICE in the last couple years, and data was corrupted across the mirrored disks. Better to go with multiple conventional backups. Carbon Copy Cloner is a great tool for this if you use OS X.
This is useful information! I did not realize that the whole RAID unit could conk out and leave you with nothing.

Question: What is the highest reliability backup drive out there?
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Old 05-10-2016   #17
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One of the things to think about is a Fr. McMurray or Lac-Mégantic issue at your home or office. Doesn't need to be an entire city or a block, could just a house or a floor.

I used to have CDs as stored at my Father-In-Law's house but as they moved I am moving to a cloud solution. It's going to have to happen over a couple of three or five months to get up to date as my upload volume is not as big as my download. Perhaps I can convince my sons to help when they are at school (uploading on a broader pipe).

Keep in mind everyone that backup drive is just 1/2 of the issue, you need to recover them afterward too! I've got 8" diskettes that were backup at one time, now they take up space. Used to have several different tape formats but they are all gone, they took up too much space. Test your recovery plan to make sure you stuff is backed up.

B2 (;->
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Old 05-10-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
The problem is that all hard discs can fail
No, they will fail!

A single backup at the same location as your computer is not enough. You still have a single-point failure if your house gets burglarized, there is a small fire in your office, etc. That's why you need at least another backup at a remote location (or in the cloud, if you trust cloud storage).
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Old 05-10-2016   #19
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I have no commercial images but I do have many personal digital images which I don't want to lose. Hard drives are cheap and there are plenty of cloud solutions. So I have several layers of back up.

1. I have the Mac OSX Time Machine backup.
2. I have a Carbonite cloud account that runs in the background and uploads new and changed files from designated folders
3. I have a daily bootable backup clone of my master hard-drive onto a second hard-drive. This was very useful when my boot disc threw a hissy fit, I just booted from the copy and cloned the copy onto the original boot disk.
4. Although not intended as a backup solution I do have images stored on Photobucket as an intermediary for posting on forums.

Overkill? Maybe, but when the pixels hit the fan I'll be glad I have options.
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Old 05-11-2016   #20
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greyelm

Not overkill.
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Old 05-12-2016   #21
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I'm not trying to back up commercial images but my personal photos are very important to me. Several years ago a series of power failures or power spikes or some other type of electrical glitch hit the area. The Mac survived intact but both my Time Machine and the secondary HD I used to backup photos were toasted. Since then, I've been wary of any really reliable backup procedure.

Nevertheless, I started manually backing up my photos with portable hard drives that I didn't keep plugged in 24/7. I've continued to use this practice. Currently, I'm using an Apple Time Machine for general backups and a total of three portable hard drives for my photos. Additionally, every photo that I consider important is printed on high quality fine art matte paper and the prints are stored in museum boxes.

None of these methods really give me total confidence but, then again, I'm paranoid.
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