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Location storage with iPod and iPod Camera Connection

Calibration Webinar Tip – Location storage with iPod and iPod Camera Connection
Written by John Bentham, DPA Instructor, New York.

Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions, answers and tips are posted here on where you can also view the archived webinars.

Photos by Frank Siteman, DPA Instructor, Boston

The location photos here, the snowy landscapes, the brightly colored houses and the seagulls in flight are all shot by Frank Siteman, a DPA instructor in Boston. Frank has many years of shooting on location and is a master of post production processing using NIK and Photoshop. The subtle differences between the snowscapes are intentional effects by Frank to produce specific effects for specific purposes. When I’m looking at Frank’s photos and the color looks different, odd or unusual … I know it’s not a mistake, Frank really knows what he’s doing when it comes to color.

Recently, one of my students, Cindy emailed me with some exciting news. She had been presented an opportunity to travel to India for a number of weeks and was trying to determine what photo equipment to bring and how to store (back-up) her digital images on location. Good, tough questions!

Cindy Wrote: Hey! Hope all is well! I have exciting news…I′m going to study abroad in India over winter break! I′m SO psyched! I need advice on what camera equipment to bring. I′d like to pack light because I′m not sure how “secure” where I′ll be staying is…I′ll be there for 3 weeks…any suggestions? I′ll be traveling in south India: Chennai, Madurai, and Bangalore. We′ll be working with a local artist/painter who teaches special ed kids. The end project will be a 5 minute documentary. I never thought a doc could be so short! Anyway, I′M PSYCHED!!! I′ll learn about movie cameras but I′m bringing my own equipment just to shoot personal stuff.

Here′s a list of what I have:
EOS 50D (and an EOS3 and ancient AE1-P)
28-105mm lens (I don′t think my other film camera lenses can be used with my digital can they?)
polarizing filter for 28-105 lens
Speedlite 420EX flash (diffuser & stroboframe too)
batteries, chargers, card reader, lens cloth etc.
3 – 4GB memory cards
IPod touch (only @ 8GB I think)
IPod 80GB (virtually all photo space is clear)
That′s it! I think I′ll need to buy some equipment! I′ve thought of buying a
ton of cards and just downloading everything when I get home…bad idea?

On location you are forced to make sacrifices. At the same time you never want to go without. It’s a tricky balancing act between being well equipped, with a good supply of back-up equipment and being hindered by the weight and size of your gear. If you’re traveling with assistants and have a budget for transporting the additional stuff it’s not really an issue (read extra baggage charges, porter and bell hop tips etc). But those days seem to be gone with ever tightening travel and location budgets being imposed by cost conscious clients. The likely scenario also means photographers are fronting the costs themselves and hoping to recoup expenses later, thus many photographers are learning to travel with less … Travel lean and mean so to speak. That doesn′t mean you should embark on a job with only one camera and one lens but depending on where you are traveling this is not such a ridiculous concept. With good quality digital cameras being ubiquitous worldwide with the exception of very remote locations, it’s feasible to travel with less equipment – the new game plan being to buy a replacement on location if something goes wrong.


Photo by Frank Siteman, DPA Instructor, Boston

However the one thing you can’t replace are your images, your digital files. These are often irreplaceable. A former assistant of mine told me recently of his nightmare story of losing many thousands of images following a year long trip to Nepal. He bought a stand alone portable hard drive as a primary storage for his images but neglected to back-up. Admittedly his trip was an extreme duration, one year in Nepal with limited resources and limited power supplies, limited internet and other logistical issues but he really took a risk making his back-up his primary storage and erasing his memory cards. Back-Up is a back-up. You should never trust a single drive (or memory card) to keep secure the only copy of your images. If the shoot (trip duration) is under a couple of days or up to a few weeks you can carry extra memory cards AND back-up to a drive. This way you have two copies of all your photos. For a longer trip with more images I bring a laptop AND a portable hard drive. I download the cards and back-up to the drive before erasing the memory cards. For additional protection I, or my assistant will carry one copy with us and keep one copy in the hotel room (the hotel safe is even better). If you don’t have a laptop, or you cant bring it on location, which is common if you’re doing any long distance heavy duty trekking, climbing or hiking. I personally find it a pain to carry a laptop in addition to all the camera gear even just for a day. There is a solution – Use your iPod as a portable hard drive back-up. For about $30 you can buy a camera connector adapter and upload your dailies (the daily images shot) to your iPod and keep the original images on your memory cards. Thus you have two copies and still maintain low weight storage.

Photos by Frank Siteman, DPA Instructor, Boston

John Bentham replied:
Hi Cindy, sounds like a great trip. I would suggest you leave the film cameras at home. India is very hot and humid and you′ll have problems with
film in the climate (speaking from personal experience). Also there is an issue with weight while traveling, keep it as light as possible. If you are worrying about, and helping to carry movie equipment you can’t really lay your own camera down in India, it will go missing fast. I think your 50D with the 28-105 (plus the flash) should be all you need. You wont need the stroboframe either. Most of the film lenses will NOT work with the digital camera but some models will, depends on the lens. Bring the Polarizer. I would suggest 3 camera batteries and make sure you have adapters etc. for the charger.

For photo storage (I assume you are not bringing a laptop) Id suggest you buy 3-4 cards of 2-4 GB each but I would also strongly suggest a back up. You can burn to your IPod without erasing your music. When you plug your ipod into the computer check the box that says enable disk use, then it operates just like an external hard drive. You need to buy a iPod camera connector. This will enable you to keep one copy of your images on the cards and have a back up on the iPod. Get a rain cover ( Good Luck, let me know if you have other questions. JB

iPod camera connector, $30:
How to use the iPod Camera Connector: The iPod Camera Connector is only for use with the iPod photo, iPod with color display, and Fifth Generation iPod

Camera rain cover: Get yourself a great camera rain cover which is very useful in India and other humid locations:

Spyder Cube: For Color Calibration on location, shooting either jpeg files or RAW files I recommend the Spyder Cube. Its a sturdy, light and relatively small color calibration target. As the name suggests the cube is 3-dimensional which is very useful for photographing in real world (read location) situations which varying intensities, direction and color temperature of light sources. I’ve got one on my key chain thus it’s always handy when needed. You can see the Spyder Cube in action on the dogs collar in the before and after color correction images below. The original image on the left shows an incorrect color balance the using Auto White Balance and shooting jpeg images processed in camera. The corrected color image on the right is the result of digital processing using the Spyder Cube as a color patch and processing the jpeg through Camera Raw processing. A simple click (eyedropper tool) on the Cube corrects the color balance for the image.


Photos by John Bentham, DPA Instructor, New York

Camera Care on Location: See this DPA tip on camera care on location:

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