Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Workflow Back Up from Mardi Gras 2017 experience

Since 1990 I have photographed what some have called the Worlds Greatest Free Party, Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It’s a daunting event and often misunderstood, as someone from the Mid-West I assumed it was one big parade that went thru the French Quarter and there were a bunch of drunken naked people throwing beads. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s actually something like 50 parades and events happening though out the three Parish area surrounding New Orleans. In the city itself there are more than a dozen events in the days before Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday the end of the carnival season.

For a photographer this is an all day shoot, day parades, night parades, the scene in the French Quarter, there is no lack of things to make images of. In the pre-digital days I would shoot for 5 or 6 days pretty much all day and end up with 40 or 50 rolls of film. Now, in the digital age, shooting both a Fuji Xpro 2 and a Nikon D810, I am coming home with 6,000 individual files and close to 350 gigs worth of data.

These events I’m photographing happen once a year, if I loose any of that data it’s all over until next year, and believe it or not, Mardi Gras is different every year. Parades have themes and the mix of weather and location make a big difference in how the images are made.

My workflow part of this is to do two downloads every day, usually after the daytime shoots and later at the end of the evening. I usually work with a 15” MacBook Pro and spread my work out over 2 or 3 external drives. I then make sure these drives are stored in different locations in the apartment I stay in in the event of break in or loss, you can’t be too paranoid about your files and drive failures are a real thing.

This year I brought with me two new external solutions. I used two CRU ToughTech externals, one an older ToughTech Duo 3SR with two 1 TB drives inside and the other a new ToughTech Duo C model also with two 1TB drives in it. These drives are a terrific solution to any photographers needs while on the road and shooting a lot of images. Each external is a 2 drive RAID 1 and shows up on the desktop as one drive. The drives also pop in and out of the enclosure allowing easy exchanges of the drives if you want to go that route. In my case the older Duo 3SR connects to my laptop via a Firewire 800 port and I use a Lightning dongle to adapt the Firewire to the  Lighting port on the  MacBook Pro model I have. It is bus powered and no external power is required. The other back up to my backup (did I mention I am very paranoid about loosing data?), it’s the newer Duo C model that has a new USB 3.1 Type C interface. For this drive I have a USB type C to an older USB 3.0 cord. This drive does require an external power supply but the advantage is that transfer speeds are about a third faster. I’ll leave it to the real tech guys to tell you the exact transfer speeds. Both externals are very robust and have a solid no nonsense build quality. Both power up quickly and are as some say, user friendly and the RAID configuration inspires a lot of confidence in keeping your files safe. Both drives can also be configured as a RAID 1, JBOD or a RAID 0 depending on how risk averse you are. You can purchase the enclosures with drives supplied from CRU or buy your own 2.5” drives and install them yourself, mounting the drives to the sleds is a simple task and CRU even supplies you with a screw driver. As I mentioned earlier you can also purchase extra sleds to allow you to buy one enclose and swap out the drives as needed, the drives pop in and out without the need for tools.

No question these enclosures are a bit more expense than some of the options, but if you put a high value on the safety of your files while on the road and expect to be moving around a lot, these are some of the best options I’ve ever found. My next big photo outing is spending two weeks on the dunes of Cape Cod photographing the landscape of the National Sea Shore and you can be sure in my computer bag will be a pair of these.

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