Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photography Blog by Trifon Anguelov Photography

1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 | http://www.trifonanguelov.com


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How To Recover Photos from Memory Card


Wires by Trifon Anguelov PhotographyAsk few wedding photographers what is the biggest fear they have and the majority would most likely answer: Losing the digital images after a wedding. It’s the absolute nightmare as these images cannot be easily recaptured.

Try to replay the wedding so a wedding photographer can capture the images again?
Most likely won’t happen. Imagine how the bride and her family would feel if all of their wedding images have been lost forever. No wonder many file lawsuits against the wedding photographer they have hired and request hefty compensations.

Digital cameras and specifically DSLRs have gained huge popularity and are the most widely used type of digital cameras by professional photographers currently. They use CF (Compact Flash) or SD (Secure Digital) memory cards to capture and store the digital images and sometimes the images cannot be read or retrieved from the memory cards. The reasons and how to prevent this from happening are topics for another blog which I am planning to write soon.
For now we will focus on the question: What are the options to recover digital images from memory card and what is the software or services available?
There are three types of photo recovery solutions currently available on the market:

  • Memory Card Vendor Solutions
  • Independent Software Application Developers
  • Data Recovery Service Providers

Memory Card Vendor’s Solutions:


Many memory card manufacturers offer digital image recovery solutions to the customers who purchased their memory cards. It is part of the post-sales support which differentiate them from the competition and all of these are doing pretty good job on recovering digital images.
Although these are offered by a specific memory card manufacturer for their specific memory cards, they are capable to recover images from memory cards from different manufacturers.
The recovery software is designed for the specific memory card specifications these manufacturers produce and sale, have been tested on the manufacturer specific memory cards and are usually supported by their software development teams.

The recovery software is offered for a specific period for free with the purchase of a new memory card. The software download link and activation code is provided into the memory card package. The only catch is that the activation code is valid for a specific period or time after which am yearly renewal is required at additional cost.

Related: How To Prevent SD and CF Memory Card Corruption

Below are two image recovery software solutions from SanDisk and Lexar which do pretty good job and are affordable considering the sentimental or professional value of the images they can recover:

Image Rescue from Lexar:

SanDisk Pro Rescue from SanDisk:

  • URL: http://www.lc-tech.com/pc/sandisk-rescuepro-and-rescuepro-deluxe/
  • Price: $40 (Standard Edition), $60 (DeLuxe Edition), $250 (Commercial Edition) for 1 year subscription
  • Features: Available for Windows operating system only. Recovers images, video, email, documents or simply anything stored on the memory cards. Supports wide variety of memory cards. Allows you to see a preview of the file to be recovered which is useful if you are looking to cherry pick a file to recover. Formats and securely removes files from the memory card.

RecoveRx from Transcend:

  • URL: http://www.transcend-info.com/Support/Software-4/
  • Price: Free
  • Features: Offered for both Windows and Apple OSX operating systems. Recovers digital files, documents, audio and video files from all types of memory cards, MP3 music players, USB flash drives, external hard drives and solid state drives. If also offers memory cards formatting and password protection in addition to recovery data files.

Related: How To Repair Corrupted USB Flash Drive

Independent Software Application Developers:


Apart from digital recover solutions by memory card manufacturers, there are software programs created by independent software development companies which are competing into this lucrative market. These software developers have created a solutions capable of recovering photos from all major memory card brands. The cost varies from free to below $100 per activation and their capabilities and user interface friendlies varies.

Software development is a very competitive business, so when considering which solution to purchase or use, check the memory card compatibility and latest updates available before making the final selection and purchase.

Here are few software solutions which do pretty good job on recovering pictures from memory cards:

Recuva:


  • URL: https://www.piriform.com/recuva
  • Price: Free or $25 for registered commercial license
  • Features: Can recover a single file only and securely deletes files from the memory card. Setup Wizard is useful to do the initial setup. Can recover mp3, images, videos and documents

Zero Assumption Recovery (ZAR):


  • URL: http://www.z-a-recovery.com/
  • Price: Free or $60 (single user) / $200 (site license) for commercial license
  • Features: Available for Windows operating system only. It has been around since 2001 and was first used in MS-DOS on 486 CPUs so it is very successful and reliable.

Card Rescue:

  • URL: http://cardrescue.com/
  • Price: $40 (single licenses)
  • Features: Available for Windows and Mac operating systems. Recognizes all major file formats (JPEG, TIFF, PSD, etc) as well the RAW formats from all major camera manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji). The scan for recoverable files takes between 5-20 minutes and the success rate if about 90%.

Photo Rescue:

  • URL: http://www.datarescue.com/photorescue/
  • Price: $30
  • Features: Available for Windows and Mac operating systems. Created back in 2001 but has been updated lately which is always good to have more recent version available. Recovery utilizes a Wizard which makes the recovery process even easier. One time license is good so there are no additional perpetual cost after the purchase.

Card Recovery Pro:

  • URL: http://www.cardrecoverypro.com/
  • Price: $50
  • Features: Available for Windows OS only. Created back in 2002 and can recover multiple file formats: images, audio, video and documents from digital cameras, memory cards, mobile phones and iPods. It supports RAW digital image formats from all major digital camera manufacturers including Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus, etc.

PhotoRec:

  • URL: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec
  • Price: Free (although donations are accepted and help the developer’s of the project)
  • Features: Available for both Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. It’s an open source software released under GPLV v2+. It recognizes more than 440 file formats (check the documentation for full list) and has been tested with major camera models.

Photo Recovery:

  • URL: http://www.stellarinfo.com/digital-media-recovery.htm
  • Price: $39 (Basic) or  $78 (Platinum Edition)
  • Features: Available for Windows and Mac operating systems. Recovers RAW files from all major digital camera manufacturers (including Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Pentax, Sigma, Olympus, Panasonic, etc). The company claims their software can recover digital images even from formatted memory cards which is impressive and has 30% improved files scan.

Data Recovery Service Providers:


Apart from the photo recovery software a photographer can use to recover images on its own, for those who don’t have the time to recover images or are able to recover the photos by using the applications above, there are also photo recovery services. These services are specializing into data and image recovery from data storage media (hard drives, memory cards, USB sticks, etc).

The advantage of using these services is that they have perfected the recovery process and have proprietary software and technicians able to recover photos from memory cards. They work with both government agencies, corporate clients and individuals and can deal with various types of data loss reasons. Their services are fairly priced considering the value they provide. The cost varies but it’s generally below $60 for a memory card. Considering the value of wedding images on a single 64GB memory card, this is very affordable.

Here are two photo recovery services a photographer can use:

  • Tekserve (www.tekserve.com) in New York City, NY is a service provider and provides data recovery services. They have been in business since 1987 and are Premiere Apple Service provider. The company is offering free estimate for the recovery cost and guaranteed their services by no charge policy for data that cannot be recovered. Rush service is available and this is a real time saver for any emergencies.
  • Flashback Data Recovery (www.flashbackdata.com) in Austin, TX. They do data recovery for the FBI, but anyone can use their services. Free estimates are available online and it’s simple as filling an online form with the data recovery request and receiving an estimate within 1-2 hours. And if you lost images from your computer’s hard drive or external storage array, they have Class 10 clean room to repair the hard drive before attempting to perform the recovery. They also have No-Data, No-Fee policy so you would only pay for their services if they are actually able to recover your data.
  •  1st Data Recovery (http://www.1stdatarecovery.com) with locations in USA, Canada and UK and 22 years of data recovery experience offers support for lost data on: hard drives, RAIDs, NAS arrays, data tapes, digital camera memory cards and sticks. Supported files are RAW, JPEG, TIFF, PCX, DWG, etc. They event support recovery of data from dead, deleted, formated, corrupted, fire and water damaged hard drives, removable media and data tapes. Check their FAQ section for types of recovery they perform, but the list looks impressive.
  • Data Recovery (datarecovery.com) has four clean-service full-labs in USA and Canada. Founded in 1998 is has long history of data recovery and currently has Class 100 Data Recovery Clean Room. You will get 24×7 support and assurance that your data will be recovered. The proof?  NASA, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft are just few of their clients. Not only their can recover photos from a memory card but all sorts of files from a single hard drive, arrays, iPhone or laptops. Online chat and recovery request available for your convenience.

Conclusion:


I hope that, you as a photographer or simply an owner of digital camera would never need to recover your pictures from a memory card, but in case you have to do it, you have a good guide on what options are currently available to you. The data recovery is a field in which many software companies specialized for many years as well there are many new entrants who are trying to establish themselves.

I am not sure after 2-3 years these same companies would be still offering digital image recovery solutions but one thing is for sure: With the rate of which consumers generate pictures the amount of memory cards and photos being captures has exploded over the past 5 years. Even as the Wi-Fi enabled cameras and cloud storage solutions for digital photos are getting available and more affordable, the memory cards are here to stay for at least another 10 years.
If you found this information useful  and think your friends could benefit from it, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can review his current Wedding and Events Portfolio and Book an Online Appointment for one of his services.

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Five Easy Steps to Prevent Memory Card Corruption and Losing Your Photos


Grid Picture by Trifon Anguelov Photography Long is gone the time when analog photography was the only option to capture memories or images from everyone’s life. It used to be the only option back in early 2000, but in the last 10-12 years with the emergence of the digital imaging this arcane technology gave way to the digital cameras.

The old film rolls which were bulky and could store between 24 to 36 frames where quickly obsoleted by memory cards which were able to store thousands of images and didn’t require a trip to a photo lab in order to see the final images.

With the digital imaging and memory cards, everyone who had a digital camera could see instantly the captured image, retake it immediately if the first image was not as expected and can instantly share the digital images with everyone as soon as they finished downloading them from the digital cameras.

Welcome to the digital revolution and instant gratification!

But as with every new technology there are some caveats which consumers have to face. In the case of the memory cards the caveat is the probability of having a corruption or data loss on the memory card. This ranges from memory card reader not being able to recognize the memory card, to memory card read errors, to no images found on the memory card, to read errors for some of the images while the rest of the images are downloaded just fine.
While some of the above errors could be contributed to memory card hardware failures or permanent damage to the memory cells on the memory card, some of the failures are from not properly using the memory cards or simply caused by the users themselves. Each memory card and digital camera manufacturers have guidelines on how to operate their cameras and use the memory cards, but very few consumers bother to read these guidelines and even so follow them.

Well while not an absolute guarantee for 100% memory card corruption free experience, here are five easy steps along with the explanation why they are important to avoid memory card corruption and lost of your precious digital images:

1. Always Format Your Memory Card Before Using It:


Each memory card storage is divided into two parts: one for the images metadata and one for the images itself.

The metadata contains the pointer to the location where the images are stored, image type, the date the image was taken, image size, etc. It is the catalog or index of the images stored on the memory card.

This is the most likely reason while the images cannot be accessed or read from the memory card. Without the metadata (or index) the memory card readers cannot index the images or read them. The metadata corruption unless caused by corrupted memory cells can be prevented by formatting the memory card after each successful downloading of images and before each use. The formatting resets the metadata (zeros the pointers to the existing images) and prepares it for new use.

The other reason is that the images have been stored on a corrupted memory cells and cannot be read later. This is nothing you can do about it and the best fix is to discard the memory card and purchase a new one.

To format your memory card, you would need to insert the memory card into your digital camera and navigate the setup menu to the option “Format Card”. Please, consult your digital camera manual on how to do that. Keep in mind that there is another camera option “Erase all images” which is different from the “Format Card” option. The memory card metadata is reset only with the later and not the former option.

Formatting the memory card would reset the images metadata on your memory card (this is the pointers to the digital images stored on the card). The images itself would remain in tact until they are being overwrite with the new images you will take. This is the reason why the images can be recovered even after the card is being formatted (granted you have to use the card after the formatting). The image recovering software reads the stored images on the card and reconstructs the metadata on the memory card, so the images can be read and accessed again.


2. Never Delete Images On the Memory Card From Your Computer:


Some users delete the images from their computer (Mac or PC) simply by going to the mounted memory card which appears as a storage device, navigating to the folder where the images are located and deleting them.

What this does is that it removes the pointers to the pictures WITHOUT properly updating the metadata (I hope you read point #1 above) on the memory card. This leads to inconsistent metadata which could cause your existing and new images to be mixed up later.

The proper way to delete all images from your memory card, so you can release the used space is to use your digital camera menu and format your memory card before using it again.

If you are deleting photos from your memory card from your computer, it has been confirmed that Canon camera users will encounter the ill famed ERR-99 error messages. Although this is a camera generic error not specific to a memory card problems, it has been confirmed that memory card corruption is one of the reasons for this error.

Related: How To Repair Corrupted USB Flash Drive

3. Use Memory Card Readers Instead of Downloading From Your Camera:


Each digital camera manufacturer provides drivers for their cameras so they interface with the major operating systems and computer systems consumers use to download their images. Each digital camera needs to be connected via USB cable to a PC or Mac to download the images and the connection and images transfer is made possible if the software drivers are installed and kept up to date in each computer.

If the drivers are not installed or corrupted, so the pictures download or access could become corrupted too. This is the case when consumers use different digital camera models or trying to download or share the memory card on another computers.

The advantage of using memory card reader is that most likely this reader has already the required software drivers installed and all memory cards are compatible so the chances to have a corruption is minimized.

4. Use Smaller Size Memory Cards:


Memory card with smaller storage capacity have smaller number of memory cells compared to memory cards with larger storage capacity. It is just a numbers game: The more memory cells a memory card contains, more of them can become corrupt and fail. Using a memory card with enough capacity to capture all images from your event plus 30% buffer is a good idea instead of buying a memory card with the largest available capacity.

Another advantage is that is you buy eight 16GB memory cards instead of one 128 GB memory cards and one of these 16GB memory cards has a hardware failure you would still have seven 16 GB memory cards (or 112GB of storage) while if the single 128GB memory card encounters memory cells failures you will have zero memory cards available and zero storage. And if you are still not convinced of using smaller size memory cards rather than larger, take this recommendation from Lexar: Smaller cards use less battery power from you camera, so you can shoot longer with the same battery too.

As the saying goes: Never put all your eggs in a single basket! Although the memory card manufacturers would give you an incentive to do otherwise by making the large capacity memory cards cheaper than multiple smaller storage memory cards providing the same storage capacity.

Related: How To Recover Photos From Memory Card

5. Don’t Use the Same Memory Card For Multiple Events:


If you have adequate number of memory cards, using a single one for one event or session only can prevent you from losing the pictures from multiple events in case a memory card corruption occurs. I usually change the memory cards for each event and never record two events or sessions before first downloading the images from the first session.

Memory cards are very affordable nowadays and this is a good way to further protect you from losing precious pictures.

Conclusion:


The five steps listed above are easy to follow and perform even if you have a point-and-shoot portable camera and taking images on a family event. These are good practices which would minimize the probability of software memory card corruption and save you time and money trying to recover your pictures.

Remember that memory cards are using NAND flash memory which first varies from a manufacturer to manufacturer and second it wears off after usage. While you can prevent software corruption the hardware corruption is hard to predict and prevent. Still there is one thing you can do: If you are thinking to purchase second-hand memory cards, inquire about how and for how long the previous user has been using the memory card. Frequent writes and deletes contributes to the wear of the memory card and you might be better off spending a bit more money for a new memory card and peace of mind.

If you found this information useful  and think your friends could benefit from it, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can read more about the author on his Wedding Photography Site.


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How to Photograph Wedding Formals


Bride & Groom Formal Wedding Photo at Saint Cecilia Catolic Church in San Francisco, CA Ask a wedding photographer about what is the most stressful and least favorite part of the wedding day and with no doubt the answer would be: The Family Group Photos or in short The Wedding Formals. I am yet to meet a photographer who would confess that this is what they enjoy and looking forward to do on each wedding.

And yet, the wedding formals are integral part of the wedding and cannot be easily omitted. This is the time after the wedding ceremony when the bride and groom pose with their parents, bridal party (bridesmaids and groomsman), extended family, friends and relatives. The posed and camera aware photos are what many photographers have been taking over the years during each wedding and are deeply engraved into the minds of each couple planning their wedding. These are the favorite photos for bride’s and groom’s grandparents and one way way to see everyone smiling and posed as a group on a single image.

So if the wedding family group photos are so important for the couple and wedding guests, why the formals are stigmatized as least favorite? After photographing weddings for many years already and discussing the topic with fellow wedding photographers, few clear answers emerge:

  • Trying to bring more than 30 people at the same place after a 45-60 minutes wedding ceremony when everyone is getting tired and needs to hydrate or stretch around, is not an easy task. Relatives and friends tend to roam around and chit-chat despite the specific instructions to gather at the formal’s location
  • Strained family relationships make it hard to arrange people into the same photo, smiling and pretending to like each other. Many would even refuse to stand close to each other, not to mention to smile for the photos
  • Macro managing relatives shoving the wedding photographer aside and trying to dictate who should be or not be in the photos. Some go even further by insisting on a particular location and grouping that makes it impossible to get everyone posed
  • Missing family members who decided to visit the bar or check their Facebook news feeds right after the ceremony. Imagine the effort a photographer needs to put to get everyone to put down their phones and look into the camera
  • Various distractions in the area where the family formals are scheduled. Everyone needs to look into the camera, smile, not blink and smile. Multiple shots are required to capture everyone at their best look, which adds time to the  post-processing for downloading, culling and processing these images

So now that we know what the wedding formals are and why are they so hard to organize and capture, what can a wedding photographer do to make the process easier? I have compiled a list of 5 easy to follow steps for making the group photos part of the wedding easier:

1. List All Required Group Poses and Validate The List With The Bride:

First start with a list of poses to capture. It gives you a mental checklist to work with and to look for while photographing the wedding. I am not talking about carrying a piece of paper and checking off each pose you listed, but more like a set of images you must take. If you have photographed at least 20 weddings in the past you would know these by hearth now.

One mistake which many novice wedding photographers make is to sit down by themselves and come up with a list of images, both formal or creative. Even worst, they search online, pick a list and decide to replicate it without one VERY important consideration: Reviewing and discussing the list with the bride and groom. The key to success is to have the list reviewed by both sides (photographer and bride & groom) and agreed on before the wedding. Make sure what you are proposing and planning for would need bride’s expectations. She is your client and paying you lots of money for it.

Why it is important to review the list with the bride is two fold: First she is the one who will review the final images. Second is that she knows better if uncle Fred doesn’t get along with groom’s father and there is no way on Earth he will stand besides him on the group pictures. The bride can give you valuable insights into the family and relatives relationships, something which you might have to learn the hard way.

And while reviewing the list with the bride, ask her who are the important people she would like to see in the formal pictures. How, in her view, these people should be grouped? Listen, take notes and change the list according to her comments. Having the list of poses ahead of time and sending it to the bride and groom to review before the wedding is a great way to prepare. And lastly, don’t forget to take fun pictures as well. Many brides expect not only posed but also fun group pictures, so incorporate few of these as well. It makes the wedding guests smiling during these fun pictures and everyone looks relaxed.

2. Pick and Finalize The Formals Location With The Bride:

Having an agreement with the bride and groom on where the formal picture session would take place is a good start. If you have been on the venue before, propose few locations where you think the light conditions would be appropriate or the background would be interesting. If you have not been in the venue in the past and can visit it, do so. Being at the venue around the time you are planning to photograph the formals would get you more realistic idea of the light and shadows during that time of the day.

Be prepared with any additional lighting and have a lighting assistant if required. It’s a hectic time and having an extra helping hand is always a good idea. If you are the planning everything type of photographer, having a backup location is an excellent idea.

3. Have a Plan Of Attack:

So now that you have the list (what) and location (where) for the wedding formal photos, it’s time to think about the plan (how). You will have to work with large groups of wedding guests: bride, groom, parents, bridal party, relatives, friends. None of these people would know how you want them to pose and where to stand, so be prepared to give directions and pose everyone. Knowing how to get everyone in a line to avoid wide-angle curvature, how to prevent people casting shadows on each other, how to arrange by height starting from the middle is something you need do.

The easy way to approach this is to keep in mind who the main focal point of the formal pictures is: THE BRIDE AND THE GROOM!

So now that you know that, simply bring in and out important people into each pose. Here are few to start with:

  • Bride, Groom and One Side of the Parents
  • Bride, Groom and Other Side of the Parents
  • Bride, Groom and Groomsmen
  • Bride, Groom and Bridesmaids
  • Bride and Groomsmen
  • Bride and Bridesmaids
  • etc

Ask everyone to look into the camera and prepare to take at least two frames of each pose. People tend to blink and with 10 people in the pose, the chances are you would have someone with their eyes closed. Having second frame reduces this chance. When kids are in the picture, ask some of their parents or another adult to stand behind you and capture their attention. Then snap the photo.

4. Communication Is The Key to Success:

I think we covered all the preparation steps: what, where and how. Now is time to make all this happen. The execution phase.

I have found over the years that a good plan without an execution is simply a delusion. If one knows how to do something but fails to execute and complete it, then nothing else matters. Still a failure.

The key to perfectly executed plan during a wedding day is: COMMUNICATION!

It’s important during the planning to respond quickly to bride’s and groom’s questions and keep them informed during the booking and contract signing phase. It is no different on the wedding day. Everyone is running on their own schedule, lots of previously planned details will change in the last minutes. Keeping the flow of communication between you, your assistant, bride, groom and wedding coordinator is what will make or break a wedding day. Make sure you check how is everything going according to the plan and ask if there are any updates you should know.

Check with the wedding coordinator for any changes or if you have any questions. The other people who you should communicate with during the wedding: The Maid of Honor and Best Man, Mother of the Bride, Ceremony Officiant. They all have information about the wedding and checking with them from time to time, will help you to stay informed.

Remember that is not all about taking amazing pictures but also not missing any important moments and being prepared to adjust to all the changes on the wedding day.

5. Don’t Be a Hero, Enlist a Wedding Coordinator to Help You:

Having a wedding coordinator or bride’s friends help you during the formal pictures is a best way to distribute the load and reduce the stress on you: the photographer. You will have someone who will organize everyone for the group photos, while you will be able to focus on the posing and capturing the shots. Someone from the bride or groom family would know who to get for the pictures, how they look or even their names. You most likely, as a photographer, would not.

Whoever you have helping you can also queue the people in line and keep them engaged while you are working with the current group. Bottom line, having someone helping you for the group photos is invaluable.

Conclusion:

No doubt wedding photographers get stressed out during the formal pictures. Dealing with group of people and directing them to do something which they not always enjoy or would like to do at the moment is not easy.

But there is no a reason to lose temper, get angry or cynical. Being professional and maintaining composure is the key. No matter how beautiful and amazing wedding pictures a photographer would take, the bride would always remember if he or she were rude with her family or friends. The image quality would be always tarnished by a not so pleasant personality. If you feel getting upset then step away, give an excuse for needing a break, breathe deep and come back ready to endure more formal pictures.

If you found this information useful  and think your friends could benefit from it, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can read more about the author and review his portfolio on his website. For complete list of services, visit the Wedding Packages page.