Exposed! :: Your Photo Warehouse

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With the popularity of digital cameras, personal computers and internet technology more and more people are making and/or storing pictures without film. Precious photos are being kept in bits and bytes rather than filing cabinets (or shoeboxes!). The new technologies are changing our world of photography and creating new challenges for storing our cherished memories. In the last issue of EXPOSED! (Digital Decisions) I promised to write about archiving your work. In this issue we explore Your Photo Warehouse!


Many people have heard of the term JPEG. It is a type of file appearing with the extension .jpg. It is probably the most common type of photo file sent over the internet. JPEG is an acronym for JOINT PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERTS GROUP. A JPEG image is one that is compressed when it is saved. If opened, changed (even just the file name!) and saved, it will lose some of its information. Over many times you can start to see a difference!

Less well known is a TIFF file. A TIFF file (TAGGED INFORMATION FILE FORMAT) is more stable and will not lose information - a very important trait!

Why would you use a JPEG or a TIFF? As a simple rule - manipulate and store files as TIFFs. Use JPEGs to send photo files over the internet, only!

For more information visit these links:
Wikipedia - JPEG
Wikipedia - TIFF

Backing it up

Now that you have the knowledge to save files appropriately how do you ensure you will not lose your pictures? There are a number of important things to remember:

  • make sure your CDs and DVDs are archival quality. Discs that use gold in their media (gold metal, not just gold colour!) are more stable. Reports are finding that not all discs are equal - some discs are failing in a matter of years!

  • back up all your imagery in a redundant system - in multiple ways - on CDs, DVDs and external hard drives, RAID systems. This way if one system fails your information should be safe elsewhere.

  • keep your storage media in different locations. If you have files stored on 2 identical DVDs and an external hard drive keep the hard drive with your computer and store the DVDs separately at the office, a friend or relative's house, or a safety deposit box.

  • Use relatively small external hard drives 150-200mb. This way if you lose a hard drive you are losing small amounts of imagery.

  • Those still shooting film have a bonus! Your film (negatives or slides) act as an extra back-up system! Store them vertically in sealed bags, in low humidity, light, and temperature and they will last for many, many years!

  • Develop or buy a file management system so that you can easily find your photos!


An important aspect of keeping your photos accessible into the future is your computer equipment. Do NOT discard your older computer equipment! Remember those old, big floppy discs from the late 1980's? Do you still have equipment that can read those floppies? Now project 20 years ahead - who will be able to access information on those "old CDs and DVDs from 2006". People storing their imagery on equipment that will be completely redundant in 20 years could lose all their imagery to redundancy!

Many people have told me they will just create new files on the latest, new media and equipment. Realistically, though, will you be diligent enough to update all your imagery from CDs to DVDs to whatever the next technological trend is?

Will technology change that quickly? Technology has been racing and will likely continue! Look at audio. I used to buy records. Later, I bought tapes. Now I buy CDs. Many people are now downloading their music from the internet.

Types of technology? 4
Elapsed time? 20years

Look at video and computer advancement. How many technological changes have there been in the last 2 decades? It will continue!

One medium that has been available for over a century and will likely continue to be accessible for many, many years is film. It has strong archival staying power!!!

Pro Perspective

I am a stock photographer. It is very important to me to make my products (stock photos) easily available to clients. I often get calls from clients saying they need the photo by last week! I have to find appropriate imagery from my files, create a submission and deliver the final digital file swiftly and seamlessly. Having a strong archival storage system is a valuable asset and something that I spend significant effort maintaining!


This issue we will be exploring the stability of a TIFF & JPEG file. Take one of your photo files and save as 2 new, additional files - one as a JPEG and one as a TIFF. You should keep the original file, also.

  1. Open, make a slight change, and save the JPEG file 100 times at 8 quality.
  2. Open, make a slight change, and save the TIFF file 100 times.
  3. Open the JPEG, TIFF and original file and compare small details at 200%

Your original file and the TIFF should remain the same. How has the JPEG changed?

Final Frame

You work hard to capture your photos, whether they are family photos or commercial work. Make sure you are spending the appropriate time ensuring you and your grandchildren are able to view your photos for years to come!

Take photos, have fun!


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