Travel Photography – Card to Disk

I think it’s safe to say that most people would like to travel. Most people would also love to travel abroad. If you love traveling and photography means that you’ll definitely bring along a camera. If you really enjoy traveling and really are into photography, you will probably end up taking a lot of photos. You’ll also wake up earlier and stay out longer.

Back in the old days where photos (not images) were captured on chemicals, the average storage capacity was thirty-six photos. If you lucked-out, you could sometimes get 37 before the rewind kicks in. Rewind? WTF? I remember lugging forty rolls of film to Spain. It was estimated at that time that I’ll shoot on average 2 rolls a day. This is to negate out time spent traveling between destinations (we almost always self-drive), chilling out (hey, you need to take a break and enjoy your time too), recovering from jet-lag and so on. I digress. Fast forward ten years and I can now have 630, yup, over six-hundred photos (21-megapixel RAW images) on my 16Gb CF card. Only that I tend to shoot a lot more and more little things get shot, food, street signs, mundane things, etc. Then came HD video. So unless you’re super rich, buying twenty 16Gb CF cards is not the solution.

My travel buddy has always been Breeze Systems Downloader Pro (DLPro). I also use it for wedding and other large shoots coupled with several card readers. Today’s multi-core computers can handle quite a bit of simultaneous downloads. So far, I average 16MB/sec per CF (8Gb SanDisk Extreme III) with five SanDisk All-in-one USB card readers downloading simultaneously into a striped disk array. Not very fast, but very convienent. I can go shower, have lunch, nap while the download is running. I’ve tried those image tanks or similar devices. Never worked out for me. Some were horribly slow, others just had poor UI and with the costs of today’s disks drives and netbooks, it makes sense to go with that route. For trips where I’m with a rental car (i.e. Australia or the US), I’ll normally take my full-size (14″) notebook but trains, backpacks and mountains don’t really agree with heavy notebooks.

For travel, I’m using DLPro to download from a card reader into two hard drives. Here’s my typical desktop configuration (Quad-core, 8Gb RAM, etc) so I won’t be configuring it to show thumbnails on my Mini9 for example.

Downloader Pro basic job-code, download preferences, IPTC keywords, etc.

Downloader Pro Back-up Plugin allows downloads to be replicated onto a second or even third storage location. My Wedding shoots get backed up immediately to a NAS this way. So here, mine goes to the NAS drive immediately. For my Mini9, I’ll configure it to go to the second hard drive.

You can launch multiple instances of DLPro, hence the beauty of this solution. My Atom powered Mini9 is going to choke on multiple card readers so I stick with one reader for now. I can’t wait for the dual-cores though. For now, weight is the main factor so have to make do with the tools at hand. More to come.

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