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The course takes a look at the hardware and software issues behind field shooting: assessing storage and backup needs, evaluating GPS geotagging options, surveying power and charging issues, and more. After discussing each of the components, Ben shows how they fit together in different field setups, ranging from an extravagant laptop-based system to a no-computer setup that backs up photos to a compact digital wallet device. The course also spotlights some workflow strategies to consider when you get home, from transferring photos to merging them with a larger photo library.
- Selecting the right gear, from cameras to bags
- Bringing the right battery and storage equipment
- Packing your camera bag
- Getting to the destination with heavy equipment
- Unpacking and setting up the gear
- Geotagging photos on location
- Downloading manuals for convenient access in the field
- Wrapping up a shoot
- Unpacking and transferring images to an editing workstation
Skill Level Intermediate
One thing to remember about sunset: no matter what your almanac tells you, if you're in a canyon or a valley, the sun is going to go down sooner than you thought it was, and that's going to impact your shooting--you're going to have less light--but also, if you head out hiking, you may be hiking back in the dark when you weren't expecting it. So that's a good reason to carry a flashlight. It's time for post-production. Even though I am in the field, I still get to do post-production, but it's going to be very different than it was when I was back in my room, because I am carrying very different gear. I didn't bring a computer. Instead, the bulk of my post-production is going to center around this gizmo right here.
This is a HyperDrive. It is basically a hard drive, a tiny title hard drive, with media slots. Now, the HyperDrive is not the only one of these that you can get. Epson makes one. A company called Digital Foci makes one. There are a lot of others. Some of them have screens that let you review your images, some of them don't. The idea is I put my card in and it gets transferred to the drive. And it's a large drive, so I can fit a lot of images on here. So I am just going to go to my camera and take out my compact flash card and stick it in the HyperDrive. Now, once I do that, it can read it and copy all of the images automatically.
It's got its own little operating system, its own little set of controls. So I can review images. I can look at them on here. One advantage of the HyperDrive over some other similar devices though, is that this can actually talk to the iPad. After I have copied images to this, I can plug it into the iPad and the iPad basically just thinks of it as a camera. So I am here. I am going to go over here and just tell it to start importing. I am going to say Import All. I can also ask it to import only new images since the last time I imported from the same card, so if you're not erasing your card, that's a good way to go. And you can see here that it's going to copy them.
It's estimating that it's going to take, well, right now, a little over five minutes, which is a good speedy transfer. Transfer speed depends a lot on the speed of your card. So that's taken care of my main image backup. Every night I will come home and dump my cards into there. Right now I am thinking that I am not going to erase the cards. After I copy them into here, I'll take the card out and I'll put it back in my little card case, and I'll put it face down to indicate that its got images on it that have been copied to the HyperDrive. I'll grab another card, put it in the camera, and shoot off of that. That way I don't have to erase any cards until I am out of storage.
It may be that I get all the way back to my computer before I need to erase any cards, and that means I am redundant. I've got the images still on my card and I've got them on the HyperDrive. So this is just one storage strategy. If you don't have that many cards, you can obviously reformat the card after you've gone to the HyperDrive. I've used these types of devices a lot and I have, so far, never lost an image. If you are feeling particularly nervous about this kind of thing, you can carry two of these and it's still much lighter than carrying a laptop. Then you've got redundancy. Then you can erase your cards.
This is the cheapest price per megabyte of any storage media you can get, but still, cards are pretty cheap, so it's not unreasonable to just carry a bunch of cards. Now, I've got some other things that I want to do. Earlier you saw me shoot a self-portrait in the middle of a river, as one does, and I shot that to my camera's Eye-Fi card. The Eye-Fi card is a little secure digital card, just like any others. It's a speedy card. It has got 8 gigabytes of storage, and it has got a built-in little Wi-Fi transmitter in it. With that card I can communicate from my camera directly to my smartphone.
In this case, I am using an Apple iPhone, but this will also work with an Android phone. The way it works is the Wi-Fi transmitter in here just connects up to the Wi-Fi in my phone. To make that happen, I need to enable Eye-Fi on my camera. So I am going to turn that on here. And if you have a compatible camera--and the Eye-Fi card is not compatible with all cameras; you can find a list of it on the Eye-Fi web site-- if your camera is compatible, there's a way to come in and activate, or in this case, enable Eye-Fi transmission.
So that's set up. Now, on my phone I have an Eye-Fi application. This is a free application that you can get from the App Store. And once Eye-Fi is activated, the camera will automatically start sending any new images directly to the phone, new images being images that have not already been transferred. And so here they come. I've got raw images. I've got JPEGs, because I was shooting both raw plus JPEG. I shot raw images because I want to be able to edit them with my full suite of raw controls when I get home.
I shot JPEG images because I thought, well, I'll go ahead and have a small JPEG file that can just beam to the phone and now I can edit that JPEG file and when I'm done, email it out through the phone's cellular connection, or post it to my Facebook page or whatever. I don't have a cellular connection here. That's one of the reasons I came here actually. I don't have a cellular connection here, but when I get back into cellular coverage, I'll be able to do that. So what's nice about this is without a computer, it's still a way for me to send some images from my camera out to the rest of the world while I am still gone.
In other words, I can bore people with my vacation pictures before I even get home. But that's kind of the age we live in now. I need to make some decisions about how to use it. You may think, why aren't you shooting to the Eye-Fi card all the time? Well, it's only 8 gigabytes and it's $100 for those 8 gigabytes. I can get a lot more storage than that for the same amount of money buying non-Eye-Fi cards. So the way I am using it here is, when there's something that I think I am going to want to transmit out of my phone later, I'll tell it to store it on the Eye-Fi card. Again, I've got two media slots. If I didn't, I would simply take out one card and put in another.
There are other uses for Eye-Fi. If you are shooting in a city where there's a lot of Wi-Fi access around, you can be shooting and the camera can automatically be going out through Wi-Fi connections in cafes or anywhere you've got free Wi-Fi and going up to the cloud in various forms. If you're shooting in a studio, it's an easy way of doing a wireless tethered situation back to your computer. So a lot of nice uses for that card. Here I am using it simply as a way to give me cellular transmission of my images out of my SLR. Finally, I have my iPad with me.
I am going to use this just to get a better look at some of the images that I've shot. I want to know if I've got certain pictures, because if not, I may want to go back tomorrow and get them. It's a bigger screen. It's nicer to look at. I can edit on it. That said, the iPad is not a full replacement for my computer, in terms of post-production. I still can't get the post-production workflow that I want out of the iPad. And by that I mean, I normally shoot raw files. I want to be able to edit with all of my normal raw controls. I want to be able to edit white balance and recover highlights and all that stuff.
I want my edits to be done nondestructively. And when I get home I want to be able to take that back into my normal workflow. I cannot do that with the iPad. If you're a JPEG shooter, things are better. You can import your JPEGs, you can edit them, you take them back out, and it's pretty much going to be the same workflow that you have at home. But if you're a raw shooter, things are more complicated. Now, you may think, well, I won't do any editing. I'll do the other parts of my workflow. I'll rate images, I'll keyword them, and when I get home I'll pour all that back into my system at home. No, you can't do that either yet. There's just not any software available. So what I am using the iPad for in the field is more of the social networking kind of stuff.
I can get images in here, look at them on my nice big screen, make sure I got what I wanted, and then when I get back to Wi-Fi, I can spill them out into the world. If you have a 3G or a 4G iPad, then obviously you could do that without having a Wi-Fi connection. I have only a Wi-Fi-only, a Wi-Fi iPad. Poor me! This is why I've come out to the middle of nowhere. I can't stand the embarrassment of having only a Wi-Fi iPad. What I am doing now is plugging in my iPad camera connection kit. This is basically a USB cable.
You can buy these at Best Buy or off at Amazon, any Apple Store. You get two different gizmos. You get an iPad dock connector that's got a USB port in it. So this allows me to take a normal USB cable out of my camera and stick it in the iPad. And as long as the camera is turned on, it will automatically appear and show me all of the images that are on the current card. So I am going to select the ones that I want to transfer. I can import them all or I can just import some selected ones.
The great thing about just importing selected ones is that I don't have to chew up all my iPad storage. This is a 64 gig iPad, but I've got it half full of other junk movies and crossword puzzle applications and things like that. So I don't really want to dump everything on here because I am going to be shooting a lot more than that. My goal is to pick the select things that I want to work with. Hit the Import button, Import Selected, and they come in. They go right to my camera roll, and now it's just like any image that I would have shot with the phone or imported any other way. When it's done, I can get to work editing them.
The bulk of my field workflow with this configuration is built around, in this case, my HyperDrive, because I didn't bring a computer and this is a great mass storage device. I may or may not be erasing my cards, depending on if I need them, so I may or may not have some redundancy. Thanks to the Eye-Fi card in my camera, which I will use sometimes, I can get images out of the camera, into my phone, without having any wireless access point. They just talk directly to each other. That gives the ability to email images out of my phone over a cellular connection when I get that back.
And then finally, I've got my iPad, which is going to let me look at images on a bigger screen. It's got limited storage, so I am not going to pour everything into it. I am going to pick and choose my images, figure out things that I might want to email out later when I get back to a Wi-Fi connection. I like this setup. It's lightweight. It works well for camping. It works well for taking trains across Asia, whatever it is you're doing where you don't want to be burdened by the bulk and lower battery life of a computer. However, I think you're going to see that when I go ultra lightweight for backpacking, I am going to pare this down even further.