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Author Topic: If you don't print, then what do you leave behind?  (Read 13058 times)
Chris Pollock
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« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2012, 06:22:27 PM »
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For the original point, I agree that few look to old digital images. As example, a couple of cases I did were to recover content from the computer drives of some folks who’d died. To my amazement no one in the families was interested in any of the digital images on the drives. They effectively died with the computer owner.
That's a very sad story. Do you think the deceased had become estranged from their families? I wonder if the relatives would have shown any more interest in a suitcase full of prints?

The unfortunate fact is that images are only safe as long as someone cares enough to preserve them, whether they are prints or digital files. A collection of old prints is no safer than a hard drive if nobody wants them.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2012, 07:42:11 PM »
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Are you sure that your operating system can't read the discs?

Yes

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I'd be surprised if you can't at least copy the files to a modern machine, unless National Geographic used some sort of prorietary, non-standard disc format.

It's the access interface that's the problem.  The individual files don't seem to be accessible.


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In general I think the problem of file format obsolescence is exaggerated, at least for widely used, open formats. I can still open files that I produced 20 years ago on the long-dead Amiga platform.

In many cases, the problem is not the file format, rather the hardware required to read the media.
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Chris Pollock
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« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2012, 09:19:24 PM »
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There is probably a business opportunity in creating a "universal image file format converter" that recognizes any proprietary image format and converts it to a more universal image format (TIFF, JPEG, DNG etc).
It would require reverse engineering file formats that are already orphaned.
This issue will ony grow larger with time.
I don't think it's hard to find software that will open any remotely popular image format. I just opened one of my old Amiga IFF files in Photoshop CS6, and it displayed perfectly. The more esoteric image formats that are no longer supported probably have too few users to create demand for new software.

It's worth remembering that widespread use of digital photography is less than 20 years old. I think it should be possible to run 20 year old software if you really need to. Even if you can't run it on a modern operating system, hardware that can run a 1990's operating system isn't that hard to find.
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BJL
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« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2012, 12:35:59 AM »
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Printed photographs don't suffer from the effects of "digital rot." Can you still retrieve files from your 8-floppy, 5-inch floppy or even your 3.5-in floppy? What about your Syquest or Zip carts? 3.5 MO anybody?
I used to have that media format problem, but not for some years: each new computer has so much more hard drive capacity than the one before it that I just make a copy of all my files from the one before as an archive, in addition to copying into my active documents and photos folders. This gets repeated with each new computer, so my archives are now nested like Russian dolls.
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jule
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« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2012, 04:37:20 AM »
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Isn't their local digital storage auto-magically replicated in the cloud?
LOL.... and they forget where to find it - and passwords... and time goes by...and all images lost.

Julie
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2012, 05:17:15 AM »
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It's worth remembering that widespread use of digital photography is less than 20 years old. I think it should be possible to run 20 year old software if you really need to. Even if you can't run it on a modern operating system, hardware that can run a 1990's operating system isn't that hard to find.

What about in another 20 or 40 years from now?
Without universal formats or an updated universal format converter most current and past proprietary formats will be history.
Also having to take ongoing steps to prevent one's accumulated digital images from disappearing into the ether is costly and time-consuming. Even for Getty this is an issue.
The issue is actually a very large one - and does not currently have a broadly applicable solution.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Chris Pollock
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« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2012, 07:20:50 AM »
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What about in another 20 or 40 years from now?
Without universal formats or an updated universal format converter most current and past proprietary formats will be history.
Also having to take ongoing steps to prevent one's accumulated digital images from disappearing into the ether is costly and time-consuming. Even for Getty this is an issue.
The issue is actually a very large one - and does not currently have a broadly applicable solution.
I predict that commonly used image formats like TIFF, PNG, and JPEG will continue to be supported indefinitely. Anyone with a collection of images in a more exotic format would be well advised to convert them to something more standard.

I agree with you regarding raw files. Adobe tried to create a common format with DNG, but unfortunately the industry has largely ignored it. I expect Adobe to stay in business for a while yet, but in the world of technology nothing is certain. Let's hope the industry eventually agrees on a common format, either DNG or something else.
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Justan
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« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2012, 08:19:18 AM »
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That's a very sad story. Do you think the deceased had become estranged from their families? I wonder if the relatives would have shown any more interest in a suitcase full of prints?

The unfortunate fact is that images are only safe as long as someone cares enough to preserve them, whether they are prints or digital files. A collection of old prints is no safer than a hard drive if nobody wants them.

> Do you think the deceased had become estranged from their families?

It could be that, at least on some level, or some degree of hostility; it could be merely blunt stupidity. In both cases involving a death, the only thing the family was interested in was things related to the all mighty $. Beyond that, they didn’t GAS.

I’ve seen this kind of thing a number of times. In one case that didn’t involve a death but a partially failed drive I asked the owner if he wanted me to recover the digital images from a wife’s computer. I explained that all that was involved was copying the files as they were intact, and that there were probably a few thousand image files. He said: “No.” I always ask at least 2x and he confirmed 2x. The owner later told me that the wife was thoroughly pissed that the files weren’t recovered.

My supposition is that if there is any latent hostility or an opportunity for a back-hand towards someone, it will come out in times such as this.

> I wonder if the relatives would have shown any more interest in a suitcase full of prints?

Based on the above, probably not, unless they thought they could profit from the prints.

> The unfortunate fact is that images are only safe as long as someone cares enough to preserve them, whether they are prints or digital files. A collection of old prints is no safer than a hard drive if nobody wants them.

Agreed.
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RSL
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« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2012, 10:15:24 AM »
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What about in another 20 or 40 years from now?
Without universal formats or an updated universal format converter most current and past proprietary formats will be history.

Maybe, maybe not. But the possibility is a good argument for converting everything to DNG. When I say "everything" I'm assuming everybody shoots exclusively in raw.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2012, 12:00:53 PM »
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> I wonder if the relatives would have shown any more interest in a suitcase full of prints?

At least they'd have the opportunity to look at the images and then decide.  As opposed to looking at a beige box of a computer and having zero knowledge of what's inside.
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Justan
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« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2012, 12:35:44 PM »
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^In all cases the owners were offered the opportunity to look, but declined. They didn’t state their reasons for declining, but given I was asked to find financial related information and other things I thought might be important to them, the reasoning seemed clear, even if not directly stated.
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Rob C
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« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2012, 03:54:15 AM »
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"If you don't print, then what do you leave behind?"


A better impression?

Rob C

P.S. I think that's tongue-in-cheek but I'm no longer sure...
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WalterEG
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« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2012, 05:31:14 AM »
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In my own case there is 40+ years of negatives and transparencies, archived publications, prints in National galleries and libraries, a multitude of record covers, magazines and books that should give the curious plenty to ponder.

But frankly, I don't give a damn.  My life is fulfilled and I have no need for posterity.  I see it as a very poor form of an obsessive ego.

Cheers,

W
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Rob C
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« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2012, 08:27:58 AM »
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In my own case there is 40+ years of negatives and transparencies, archived publications, prints in National galleries and libraries, a multitude of record covers, magazines and books that should give the curious plenty to ponder.

But frankly, I don't give a damn.  My life is fulfilled and I have no need for posterity.  I see it as a very poor form of an obsessive ego.

Cheers,

W



Walter, you're starting to sound older than I am!

But you're essentially right: what does it matter, as he sings here, at 1'39".

http://youtu.be/dm6qw_yeo6o

There's so much earthy, common sense in so much of a certain period's popular music, if not exactly in its culture. You really have to wonder about the minds that find the mots justes drifting into focus like that... guess it was all part of the times. People felt and cared.

Rob C
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Mcthecat
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« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2012, 12:19:24 PM »
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I was at a local camera club for a talk by this Old guy who was a photographer for what was "The Manchester Guardian " which became the national newspaper the Guardian. He had decided to collect photographs going back to the 19th century. Some were found as glass holing up a greenhouse others under a railway line. He never had the chance to use digital or store it appropriately. It made me wonder of the fantastic photography lost forever. It was some of the best I've ever seen, true street life mono grain. Certainly makes you think about storing and printing for future generations.

Mick
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2012, 07:46:37 PM »
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Russ, I wish that DNG had universal format status but, at this stage, it does not.

Proprietary formats are being orphaned on a regular basis and this state of affairs will likely continue given the volatility of the digital imaging world.
I wish I had the same confidence that some contributors have shown to managing this issue but I do not.
At this point in time, all my digital images are from various Canon cameras, so are not in imminent danger but nonetheless, on a lot of levels, digital asset management is going to a growing issue mainly because there are no robust solutions currently, only costly ephemeral ones.

Regards

Tony Jay
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RSL
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« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2012, 08:32:07 PM »
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I'm inclined to agree with you Tony, which is why I print so much stuff and put it on the shelf. I do family pictures often but most of my shooting is the kind of thing I love when I look at old pictures: stuff that gives a feeling for the era in which they're shot. You can see an example at http://www.russ-lewis.com/photo_gallery/Penny_Arcade/index.html. I turned that batch of pictures into a preliminary Blurb book, and I'm still working on the project. Then there's http://www.russ-lewis.com/photo_gallery/The_Sixties/index.html, pictures of the local scene I made in the sixties. That's roughly forty years ago, so already they're becoming historical artifacts. For instance, check the guy with the long burns and striped pants having lunch with his girl. That one screams "sixties."

But I'm pretty upbeat about DNG. You're right, it's far from a universal format at this point, but it's the only open format out there. Nikon and Canon are trying to make an extra buck on the side with their proprietary formats, and with Nikon their NEF format even varies from camera to camera. But Leica and Hasselblad, among others, have adopted DNG as a primary format, and I think eventually the other manufacturers are going to be forced to do that.

One problem is survivability. If you've ever had a hard drive fail you understand why a single backup isn't enough. I never re-format the cards on my cameras until I have at least three copies on various media including one on DVD. DVD survivability is another problem. But the best guess is that the stuff we put on CDs or DVDs should hold on for seventy years or so. I suspect that within seventy years we'll have media of some sort that'll hold for seven hundred or even seven thousand years, not that anybody's likely to care that far off in the future.

Seems to me enough people recognize the problem that a solution will be there before long. It's a market just waiting to be harvested.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2012, 03:47:19 AM »
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Seems to me enough people recognize the problem that a solution will be there before long. It's a market just waiting to be harvested.

I hope you are right Russ - the current scenario is a pain in the butt.

Regards

Tony Jay
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #38 on: June 13, 2012, 04:44:03 AM »
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Storing my images as proprietary raw files on a Microsoft-defined hard-drive format that really rely on a proprietary Adobe sql-database format/rendering to look proper sure makes the future retrieval of data harder.

Incidentally, I think that 1/3 or more of the family pictures taken 20-40 years ago in my family have faded/stained to the point where there is only novel interest. All stored in folders, most of them developed through mail-order.

Something like raw *.bmp files are straight forward and biologically motivated. Even though society and technology may change, humans will still have a tendency to think in well-organized 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional arrays, and will still have tricolor vision for some time. A rudimentary jpeg decoder can be written from scratch (using the spec) in a couple of weeks. The specs have been distributed in enough physical and virtual copies that I think that it can be found a long time into the future. I dont know about harddrive/cd-rom/flash formatting, but I am guessing that it is a similar story there. Getting the physical drives and something to hook them up to may be an issue, but if technology continue to progress, it may be possible to read the physical format using a general process (just like people are reading damaged vinyl LP records using image scanners)

I guess my point is that if there is a will, there is a way. If anything we record today is worth enough for society or distant relatives, they may amaze us with the creativity and resources they might put into retrieving the data if it is physically present any more - in my country people are manually punching church books (containing birth/marriage/death records) dating back 100s of years into databases. Hand-writing and language have changed a lot, and the state of those books can wary, but the content is interesting for people today. The sad part (to us) is that most of what is precious to us may not be precious to people living 100 years from now on.

-h
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JayWPage
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« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2014, 11:41:46 AM »
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This is a topic that hasn't been visited for a while but it's one I have been thinking about. I have a single friend who has recently been diagnosed with ALS and the question has come up what does one do with a life time of photography. I think the reality is that virtually no one (including myself) has any interest in inheriting a hard drive from someone, and boxes of 35mm slides or digital images backed-up on gold CD's are probably a close second.

So what are the options today in 2014? I think the best way to preserve a picture is to sell it in an archival format to someone who will value it because they enjoy it / paid good money for it. A second option might be matted/framed prints within one's family. Bound portfolios or photo books printed on acid-free paper might also survive through several generations.

Donating images/prints of some historical significance to a museum might be another option, but really, how many pictures can one take in their lifetime that will be considered historically important today? Maybe a picture of valley before a road was built through it, or a bridge that has been replaced, or glaciers that have receded.

Any thoughts about this?

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