The Natural Environment and Social Issues

Some folks have asked how I came to be interested in birds and nature given that I live in an urban setting and my professional background is in labor studies, public health, and things like medical malpractice claims.

But it was not always like this. Having grown up in farm country, I was mostly outdoors in fields and woods.  The nearest paved road from our house was about a half mile away.  So I guess you could say that the camera gives me an incentive to go back out into the fields and woods.

Still, there is another reason, connected to my professional work. As well-publicized by Al Gore and many scientists, the natural environment is powerfully driven by geological and climatic influences.  However, it also driven by us, as I discuss on a separate page in this blog. At first our environmental impact was slight; however, over the course of the twentieth century our impact grew exponentially. Though our effects are not as influential as geology and climate, the data show that our influence on climate is contributing to the warming of the planet.

So as I photograph the birds and landscapes, I’m providing a sociological glimpse into what humanity is doing, and dare I say, having a lot of fun doing it.

Photo Management

The digital age of photography has some wonderful benefits: no film hassles, low processing costs, and instant gratification. We often hear, “Take as many shots as you want, they’re free!” True, but there is a cost–file overload! Over the past four years I have managed to accumulate about 14,000 images, images that were starting to fill my one-half terabyte external hard drive. What to do? Photographers are encouraged to save almost everything since what does not seem worthwhile today might be worthwhile in another context.

Since I run incremental backups weekly to a second hard drive, I decided to keep only those images on my working hard drive that have been uploaded to my SlickPic website–deleting the rest. My challenge was how to determine which photos to identify for the mass deletion since I never flagged uploaded photos. Although they did appear in SlickPic collections, made possible by a Lightroom plug-in, and I could edit within these collections, these collections were not flaggable. Instead, I had to create several temporary collections to which I could copy the SlickPic collections. I could then delete all previously flagged photos in my library, then flag all the photos in the temporary collections. This done (over a period of four days), I then mass deleted all the unflagged photos. Now I have only 671 high quality photos on my working drive that are (or were) on my SlickPic gallery. Things now happen much more quickly when I’m working with my photos.

The lesson I learned from this experience is to flag only those photos uploaded to SlickPic. This way, I have the future option of knowing what photos I might want to delete to save working disk space. I also learned to delete the worst of the worst photos before importing into my Lightroom library. This is especially important for bird photos, since I often have the shutter set for high-speed or continuous shooting. One outing can produce several hundred photos.

Perhaps you have been through this experience. If so, how do you manage your photos?

Writer’s Slump

My wife and I have been out on many local bird-watching outings this spring. Between tramping around in the woods and streams of Western, NY; and selecting, processing, and uploading photographs to my on-line gallery, I just haven’t been able to apply myself to selecting the most interesting photographs for WordPress short-stories. Adding to my photographic workload was how to separate and  delete about  14,000 “unwanted” photographs from my wanted photographs–all clogging up my Lightroom catalog on my external working hard drive. Although I make weekly back-ups to a second external hard drive, my on-line gallery is linked to my photos in Lightroom, so upsetting these would have caused me a major headache.

In any event, after about 20 hours of testing and proceeding cautiously, I figured it all out (I also learned that to make this much easier in the future, the only photographs I should flag in Lightroom are those that I post to my on-line gallery).

Still, I would rather be out with the camera than sitting at the keyboard.  However, I promise to come up with something!

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