Saturday spotlight: remember tomorrow

Preserving your photos as technology changes

Researchers are worried that in 20 or so years time there will be a lack of photographic records, mostly at the personal level. Why? Despite the superfluity of digital cameras now available, many digital pics won’t have been printed and the desktop PCs and laptops they were being stored on will be long gone. And even so, if the pics are stored somewhere, the technology to view them will also have passed by.

That is one of the benefits of film cameras. Even in the worst-case scenario, if the pics and negatives or transparencies are stored in a shoe box marked "Ayers Rock" 1985, they'll still be there in 2015, maybe with the colours a little changed. So, how do we prevent or at least reduce this problem in particular for longterm RV travellers?

Here are my suggestions

If you are an occasional photographer and don’t have a laptop PC, then a periodic visit to a photographic premises to download the camera card, print your favourites and burn all of them to two CD/DVDs - at a minimum. One disk you keep and one you post to someone who will keep them safely for you. That way if you lose your camera or something far worse, then at least one record of your pics will be stored somewhere safe.

If you have a laptop, then a weekly or monthly (depending on how many pics you take) download is essential. After that and before any sorting, do the two disc burn as above.

For the keen photographer, I’d suggest having a second portable hard drive. There are quite a few models available and capacious storage space (think 500GB/1TB) is very cheap these days. Even the larger sizes are not much physically bigger than a hardcover book and there are some portable ones (circa 200GB) which are small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.

When they're not being used and stored, keep the laptop and second hard-drive separate. That way if some tea leaf nicks your laptop, you’ll still have the hard-drive. On that note, the hard-drive can be used to back up everything on the laptop too. When downloading your camera card, make sure a copy goes to the hard-drive as well and burn a CD/DVD for onward posting as well.

Once that’s all done, it’s a matter of sorting out the good pics on your laptop, deleting the duds and then saving the good pics for printing. Not forgetting to save a copy of your good pics in one of the alternative mediums.

It might sound pedantic but hard-drives crash, camera cards get corrupted and CD/DVDs get scratched. For saving precious photos it’s almost mandatory and, given much of it is fairly brainless (especially the backing up) it can be done at Happy Hour or while watching TV!
- Malcolm Street.