We all pay a tax on our photography – the time spent away from the camera sorting, editing and archiving the many images we take. Thanks to recommendations from photographer friends I’ve been using Lightroom for a good while and my workflow has improved, which was a must as the volume of images I have to review has rocketed thanks to work picking up.

At some point in time most hardware fails in some way. Some times it can be fixed, some times not, it’s dead, it’s only future one of recycling or landfill. Don’t think that your camera or the storage you use to keep all your images will be an exception and with this in mind have a backup plan. In my 30 years of using hard drives I’ve seen lots fail, so many I’ve lost count. I’ve seen photographers backup their images to CD/DVD only to have the disc ruined by bad plastic storage wallets leaking chemicals into the plastic of the disc or have their inactive hard drives go ‘sticky’ and not spin up.

So neither method is perfect, and it’s advisable to use both. I use external USB drives and made the mistake of letting one slip through my fingers while moving it. It only fell two feet but that was enough to render it useless. Luckily it was a backup of data I still had on the master file system and I was able to quickly create another.

And good job I did. I recently went looking for some of the .CR2 files from my 100Strangers project and found a number of directories missing from the server! How they went I don’t know, but luckily the backup drives had all the images from 2009. Rather than try and work out what was missing I copied the whole lot into a new folder on the server with the view of zapping duplicates another day on the grounds that I’d rather have multiple copies for a while than have another problem and find myself with none.

Yesterday I took a listing of the file system and knocked up a quick Perl script to report on each file and which directories held a copy. There were many more than expected. I’d overlooked one thing – counter wraps! My 40D’s gone from 9999 to 0001 a few times now. In need of a way to tell the files apart I went Googling. The Perl module Image::ExifTool by Phil Harvey came to the rescue! The module is able to pull the ‘DateTimeOriginal’ EXIF tag from the .CR2 file, allowing my test script to rename each .CR2 file it finds into something dated and unique. E.g. IMG_8667.CR2 -> 20100514-065733-IMG_8667.CR2. Now I’ll be able to quickly find where I have the same file in more than one place and use a list of the temporary directories to purge the duplicates.

The module works on Windows under ActiveState Perl and on Linux, so I can rename files before they even get to the server. I’ll add a link to the finished scripts once I’ve added a few more features. The script should work on Mac without to many changes, I’ll get someone to test it before posting.