Friday, December 05, 2008

Baby Shane Beaumier. Gilroy

You may recall the two-day Cambodian wedding I photographed last year in San Jose. Guess what, (alright it really isn't much of a guess since you've probably already read the title of this post) they had a baby!

We got together at a neighborhood park near their new home to take some pictures of baby Shane. Shane has been to the park a few times I'm told, but good things happen when the photographer shows up! He got to ride in a baby swing for the first time and seemed to really enjoy it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter Musings: November 2008. Data Storage I: NAS, USB, SATA...

Data storage seems to be a hot topic these days as RAW format files increase in size, cameras pack denser sensors, and adoption of digital capture is approaching saturation in all realms of the photography business. Issues like capacity, workflow, and processing speed are things we now have to deal with. Topics covered here will be internal versus external drives and USB/Firewire or networked storage.

Please keep in mind that a variety of factors can affect computer performance like how old your processor is, how much RAM you have, how many applications you have running simultaneously, file fragmentation, free hard drive space, and how long you have been running the same OS installation.

Internal or External?
If you like waiting around for images to load then continue using external USB or FireWire hard drives as your primary working disk. On the other hand. If you believe time is money, install internal drives and take advantage of your computer's SATA controller. Here's why. The slowest variety of SATA is spec'd to be almost 3x faster than USB2.0 and FireWire400. It is 50% faster than FireWire800. Last I checked, it is much easier finding the faster SATA II drives which is 6x and 2x faster than USB and FireWire, respectively. These figures hold even when taking into account protocol overhead which reduces the overall data rate. Unless you reguarly switch your USB drive between computers it is better to go with an internal drive.

Most computers purchased within the last 4 years have SATA controllers. You might be nervous about cracking open the computer chassis to perform the installation, but it really is easy as pie these days. All it takes is a screwdriver and the instruction manual telling you where to plug cables into the motherboard. Once powered on, format the new drive and you are ready to go. Your drive will automatically take on a lettered drive designation along side your other drive(s). An added benefit is that internal drives cost less.

NAS or USB/FireWire?
A NAS (network attached storage) is a device with one or more hard drives and (often) an embedded computer controller. Some may offer advanced features like FTP, access to files via a browser, multi user administration, streaming media services, RAID support, the list goes on. At its heart, every available consumer NAS is a basic file server meaning it provides transparent access to files that may be stored on another physical machine. The main benefits are the ability to share data between any computer on the network and the rate of transfer.

Why should you consider a NAS?
There are three reasons I have a NAS. At some point your computer hard drives will fill with files you do not use frequently like 3+ year old wedding images. It is necessary to off load them somewhere safe yet accessible in case you need it for a project later on. Maybe you also want to maintain temporary backup copies while you work in case your internal hard drive should fail. You can also use the NAS to store things like documents and music files so you can access them from the workstation or laptop with swapping plugs and cables.

These devices increasingly come standard with Gigabit Ethernet ports (10x faster than standard Ethernet) which is handy when transferring large amounts of data like image files. Raw data rates approach SATA speeds which is much faster than USB. Speed is a huge motivating factor as is built in redundancy. With hard drives so cheap, you can buy a multi drive NAS that can be configured as a RAID to protect your data. There are very few USB/FireWire RAID options. More on this in the next post.

Install internal SATA drives whenever possible, they will provide the best throughput for images that are actively accessed or maintained in a library like Bridge, Lightroom, or Aperture. They are also cheaper than external options. Network your workstation to a Gigabit Ethernet enabled NAS instead of using USB drives and be sure to use Gigabit Ethernet routers and switches. Configure the NAS to support Jumbo Frames to maximize network throughput.

I have decided to split this Winter Musing into two posts for November because it covers such a broad range of data-related topics. In the next post I will cover data archiving.

FYI, I am due an upgrade but run WindowsXP Pro SP2 on a 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 with 3GB of RAM. I have 4 internal hard drives: 250GB for applications, temp files, and OS, 250GB for images, and two 500GB SATA I drives for currently active libraries. I also have a Lenovo T60 laptop sporting a Core2Duo, 3GB of RAM and a 100GB hard drive. NAS-wise there is a 250GB Buffalo Linkstation which I use for shared files and a 1TB Buffalo Terastation configured as a RAID5 for my image archives. I just ordered a 500GB Netgear ReadyNAS Duo which will be my new RAID1 file server. Another RAID5 is in the works too because the Terastation is running short on room.

Firewire (IEEE-1394). Apple's external serial bus standard intended for use with professional A/V equipment. This technology was favored for its high data rates. The two most common implementations transfer data at 400 Mb/s and 800 Mb/s.

Gigabit Ethernet. A networking standard that supports data transfers at 1Gb/s. Also known as 1000Base-T or IEEE 802.3ab.

NAS. Network attached storage which is simply mass data storage accessible via a computer network - commonly Ethernet.

RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). A configuration where multiple hard drives are linked to provide a larger overall storage space and data protection. There are several versions including RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10

SATA (Serial ATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment). A fast internal computer data bus technology that hard drive makers have adopted and built into modern workstations. It replaces PATA, EIDE, and IDE technologies. Currently exists in 2 flavors: 1.5 Gb/s and 3.0 Gb/s.

USB (Universal Serial Bus). A simple and ubiquitous external attachment method for all sorts of computer peripherals like flash memory, printers, webcams, hard drives, etc. The main selling point was the ability to hot-swap a peripheral without restarting the workstation. Competes with the Firewire standard. These days most USB devices are USB 2.0 and transfer at rates of up to 480 Mb/s

Winter Musings are monthly posts between November and February. They cover a range of topics related to wedding photography with couples and photographers in mind. I hope you will tune in next month. Comments and requests are appreciated!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Erika and Ed's Wedding. San Francisco

Ceremony at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park and reception at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco.

Erika and Ed have been together for about 12 years and decided this was the year they were going to tie the knot. They moved away from the San Francisco area many years ago but it has remained one of their favorite places. So much so that they returned to get married!

They worked in reverse and hosted an intimate dinner the night before the ceremony. Close friends and family were invited to celebrate with them. Erika and Ed met with me a little before the dinner to photograph around the unique Mission District restaurant. It was getting dark but we managed to squeeze in a few good frames. This particular area of San Francisco really amazes me because of its juxtaposition of old with new and discount with luxury. It's definitely a neat part of town to wander around in.

Erika and Ed chose to have their ceremony on the Monday following the reception because it was a special date - her grandparent's anniversary. That morning they got ready at the Hyatt Embarcadero. Ed wore a blue pin stripe suit and Erika wore a custom made dress with a large blue bow. Golden Gate Park was very pleasant that morning with the sun beaming down as they exchanged vows at the pagoda near the Strawberry Hill waterfall. The simple ceremony was very personal as most of the audience had contributed small facts about the couple to the officiant. Afterwards, it was all smiles, hugs and cupcakes! A friend and pastry chef made the treats you see in the tower. They looked pretty tasty! Afterwards, friends and family left for Dim Sum giving us some private time to photograph the new married couple.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hilda and Nicholas's Wedding. Palo Alto

I can't believe it's been over a week since they were married! I got a little behind.

Ceremony at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Palo Alto and reception at the Decathlon Club in Santa Clara.

Hilda was getting ready in San Carlos. Her sister kept a very neat house which provided a great backdrop for the dress, shoes, rings, and veil. (Note to future brides, if you want
great images of yourself getting ready, cleaning the rooms up a bit and concealing the clutter will help your photographer out a lot.) There was a great backyard and large paned windows that I enjoyed taking advantage of. Hilda looked great and her highlights photographed well.

Off to the church to meet the guys. It was yet another pleasant day in the Bay Area; we took the opportunity to photograph outside. Across from the church was a well-maintained neighborhood park - a perfect setting for the groomsmen. With 9 guys, I needed lots of space! A few quick shots and it was time to get married. The church was built in 1901 and featured some beautiful stained glass!

When we arrived at the Decathlon Club for the reception, the mariachi band was already playing. I haven't photographed a wedding with a mariachi band in a while - I love mariachi bands! I like the silver details on their pants and skirts, their coordinated clothing, and the great music of course. The group serenaded guests during dinner. It was a great celebration and ended with one of my wedding favorites - a fine cuban cigar. Yes, hecho en Havana. My humidor of Cubans are beckoning me too... Maybe after the last wedding of the season I'll celebrate a year of great clients, weddings, and new found friends.

Thank you Joaquin and Michele for thinking of me when you heard Hilda and Nicholas were getting married!