AfterDawn Forums

Best Way To Store Digital Images, DVD, Online or Prints?

This discussion thread has 22 messages.

Hello all

I have about a thousand photos on my pc and maybe a couple of hundred on my laptop (they've built up since I had my daughter). I was talking to a lady at work and was saying that I was going to back them up onto DVD or CD but she said that they dont last long on these and I may lose them after a while. As all of these photos are precious I want to store them for a very long time or as long as possible.

My question is should I back them up onto numerous DVD's, upload them onto an online photo sharing site, get them all printed out or go old school and take them to a photo shop on a memory stick and get negatives created?

I was thinking maybe negatives would be good as my dad had hundreds and he's had them for years, ones from the 60's.

All opinions welcome.

▼▼ This topic has 21 answers - they are below this advertisement ▼▼
AfterDawn Advertisement
Personally - I would do any 2 of the method you prefer. Ideally negatives have had proven staying power.
-If you had them soley online - what if their server crashed and they had no backup or went belly up.
-If you rely only on cd/dvd, and that disc was corrupt/damaged/stolen? Same with photos. How many times have we heard of someone losing all their photos in fire/flood?
Thanks for the reply.

I think I will get them onto negatives but I just have to find out how much they'll be and where they do this and also make a few cds/dvds so that I have copies plus also my parents have them too just incase anything does happen in either house. Someone also suggested an external hard drive so I might look into this too.

Thanks again
Your daughter's grandchildren will appreciate being able to manipulate and print photos taken of their grandmother, showing life in the early 21st Century.

The invention of the compact disc makes me wax poetic, for I think it is possibly the greatest unrecognized invention in history. The longevity appears to vary greatly with the writer, and the dye. However, if you store them in a format documented in libraries, they can always be transferred to newer media & formats with no loss of data at all. This is the first long-lived medium that does this. Were it invented 2000 years ago, we could watch Jesus of Nazareth lecturing on the Mount of Olives in the same detail that it was recorded.

I should place them on Verbatim or Taiyo Yuden Silver Lacquer DVD-Rs, which burn 4.7 GB at 18x 'play' speed, store them in a dark place whose temperature doesn't vary, and avoid soluble substances (such as glue or some plastic vapors) in the container. There are safe pens. Though I've never burned a coaster (taking precautions), I should store a second set off site.

I should also keep a small set stored under worse conditions, to test every decade or so. I should imagine, though, that such a collection (at minimal storage cost, by the way) should easily last until 'the last DVD is played'.

Even if one replaces the rapidly decaying silver or color dyes in negatives with archival gold (which people did), the flexible plastic decays. Magnetic media needs 'refreshing' every three years, though the Mylar lasts much longer. Librarians at your local university would know for certain.
keep them on the hard drive but also put them on discs as film won't be around much longer.
DVD is a cheap & reliable storage method, as is an external HD.
Personally, I would suggest making prints of most of them, as there's something special about looking at a physical print as opposed to a computer screen.
Just drop off a few discs at a local lab & pick them all up a few days later

Indeed, printing digital photographs is an interesting field in itself. However, printing thousands of photos might prove expensive. Though I archive all photos, I print only my favorites: perhaps one from a shooting.

Isacc appears associated with a professional photo lab, so may have good information. Do these labs create traditional negatives, then traditional photos?

Newer Photos

Epson has a multi-purpose printer that uses several dyes to print right from one's computer; and my HP has six or so inks that look beautiful, but may lack the 'depth' of some other methods. These images aren't made with light-sensitive chemicals, so they claim a longevity much greater than traditional dyes.

Digital Picture Frames

If you don't want your display of pictures to look like a computer you can buy a digital picture frame that stores 20 or so photos that can alternate. This, of course, really is a computer's LCD screen run often with Unix! There is a newer technology that behaves exactly like ink on paper, but it is still expensive and in black & white. Here are some instructions on making one's own digital picture frame (though its shape will likely be 3:2, that of the standard LCD monitor):

Storing Photos in a Light-sensitive Emulsion

Additionally, I have some reasons why not to convert digital photos into traditional negatives. Kodak's 'Kodachrome', we're told in the Wikipedia, offered about 25 megapixels (a pixel being a little, irregular blotch of chemicals in an emulsion) in a 35mm negative. This is better than the current 8 megapixels in an image. This, of course, determines only the size of photo that can be made or degree of cropping one can perform; and the resolution of the original digital image would define this size & degree.

Here are some suggestions for the cold storage of traditional photo dyes:

All of my father's Kodachrome and Ektachrome negatives and prints are badly degraded now, either too red (from degrading in light), too blue (from degrading in the dark), or have yellow edges. Regions on many black and white photos are becoming completely black, suggested they weren't washed well. The silver also anneals, making photos appear grainy. This addresses the first reply, not the one above.

I understand that both HPs inks and Epson's dyes last much better than photo-sensitive dyes, but, of course, only time will tell. I'm very pleased with the 8x10-inch photos my old HP 5500 inkjet creates.

Small Issues in Printing Digital Images

In the '60s I was able to bribe my secondary-school coach into letting me ruin my health in a darkroom rather than in the gymnasium, taking & processing sports photos. At that time I used every trick known to edit photos, and these took years to master.

Now one can do far more with a simple computer and free editor. As much as I miss the smell of harmful chemicals, nothing is lost if one takes digital photos at maximal resolution; the gains are dazzling. To take them at maximal resolution, so I can crop closely, I download one 'shooting' of about 20 photos to my iPod, freeing the camera's memory. One can fit many of these on a DVD; and digital image editors - free ones - are remarkable. (Caveat: much more than pixel depth & quantity determines the quality of a digital camera.) If you should wish professional editing, most any computer can boot from a Linux CD or DVD and run the free GIMP. If your camera supports PTP (picture transfer protocol), you can even download photos from your camera while using any OS; though some newer cameras will print directly onto little DVDs in the camera!

What is still lacking in photos editors is the ability to fit as many photos as possible onto a piece of letter, or A4, digital photo paper. For this I use Apple's iPhoto.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 17 Mar 2008 @ 15:06
I wouldn't really say *associated* with a pro lab, but I certainly do use them - no they don't create negs, just print directly from your images. They can sometimes do color correction to ensure the prints look good, which is especially helpful if your monitor isn't properly calibrated.
The place I use has given me an ICC profile for their printer, so I convert all my files to that & adjust color accordingly - but those lengths aren't really necessary for general prints...
You'd be surprised in terms of cost - it definitely isn't *cheap* - but my lab runs 6x4's at 15c per print, which is only $150 for a thousand.

The other above suggestions are also very good - although concerning digi frames, I'm yet to see one with a rez that does the photo justice

That's very inexpensive! (Right now a New Zealand dollar costs about US$ 0.80.)

Keeping on topic, it's not a very good way to archive photos; but given the price of inks and papers, a 4x6 might be comparable in price to a little photo on the proof sheets that iPhoto makes. To return to the subject of archiving - and I don't mean to put you on the spot by requesting you acquire this information - would you know whether professional printers prefer CDs or DVDs, and would they like the photo to have an ICC profile attached or have the photo (JPEG, lets say), simply pre-adjusted by ICC profiles.

(This is very important in archiving digital photos: every device (camera, computer monitor, printer) changes the appearance of the image as seen with one's eye. Consequently, an International Color Consortium file compensates for these changes, so the original colors are preserved as they pass through each device. When I last looked, these were hard to find. Apple supports these, but offers only generic ones. I couldn't get one for a popular Sony camera (for perhaps it doesn't need one) or my HP 5500 printer.

There are uncalibrated ICC profiles for converting methods of representing color, but I was left to calibrate them for my own eye, which I don't trust. :-) I can easily envision two different cameras creating slightly different images, so it would be nice if archived photos had attached an ICC profile that converted the camera's image into that of an 'international standard' eye (or just a handful stored separately on each DVD). The Exif data does include the manufacturer & model, so one might archive now and acquire ICC profiles in the future - storing these on a DVD.)

If you should know, what kind of ink, opaque or translucent, does the printer use? (This is asking the brand, I suppose.) Have you any information on the projected longevity of these two kinds of inks, and paper. As usual, when I last looked, I found a vast variety of statements, based (I assumed) on corporate competition.

Thanks for any information. After all, photo albums need to be long-lived, too!
Hmm good questions!

As far as cd .vs. dvd - I really don't think it matters particularly - I know that my lab does like me to have files in folders pertaining to the size of print (eg one folder of all 6x4, one of all 5x7) etc.

Apparently they have one guy who brings in a disc of photos, all under one folder tree, along with a sheet of paper with file names & sizes he'd like them printed... they then need to go through each image individually!

But in answer to your question, I suppose it depends on the computer hardware that each individual lab has. I've used both cd & dvd with no problems.

As far as profiles, I know that my labs printer won't read embedded profiles - you actually have to convert into that color space. Of course you could do JPEGs adjusted to the specs, but as you say you then have a chain of information that can be mixed up by different devices interpreting it differently.

I calibrate my monitor to how I see the prints from that lab turn out when I send them in the ICC profile.
My RAW files go into Lightroom, get white balance etc. adjustments, and then export as 16bit TIFF into Photoshop. I then convert to the ICC profile, and make all my adjustments based on that, as when you convert the colors change slightly. That way I know that what I'm seeing on my screen will pretty much exactly match what I get printed.

Inks I'm not 100% sure of I have to admit, I have never asked. I do know that the Fuji archival paper & inks that they use are rated to at least 100 years, so I'm not too worried. I don't really see prints as archives as much as just a different way to look at a photo... most of my stuff is still stored on my hard drives / DVDs and truth be told many will probably never see the light of day again. It's a shame really, still good to hold on to everything though, especially when storage is so cheap

Thank you for the excellent information, especially of the processes you take in moving a digital photo from your camera to paper, so the paper photo best matches what you edited on your computer screen. To clarify, your employer does use its ICC profile to take into account the printer, paper, and ink, so it best matches the RGB image taken by the camera. Indeed, it confuses me that the only ICC profiles I've seen that have been customized for a particular model of device, paper, & ink are from Adobe.

I'll just part by offering my opinions on how best to take, edit, & locally store family photos to be archived. Low-resolution photos are often pushed in digital photography, because large ones take room in the camera, your hard disk, and can't be mailed. However, they also can't be cropped tightly. Photos that don't look especially promising can often be turned into beautiful ones by creative cropping. This requires a very large image.

This can be daunting if one's resources are small, for raw (which is not for archiving!) or even lossless tiff images can be very, very large. One can always compress tiff into a lossless zip or gzip file, but I simply have the camera store photos as standard-quality, lossy jpeg (which is excellent), and work consistently with these, with the 'quality' setting always the same.

Because we're discussing archiving, we should say not to archive a raw image, for it is huge, bitmapped, and non-standard. Copying an image stored in jpeg format doesn't degrade it, certain editing operatons, such as rotations and some crops won't, and other editing operations won't degrade it very much if the jpeg 'quality' setting is not changed (and if the format isn't changed to png). I use various freeware editors, depending upon what edits the photo needs. So long as the initial copy is jpeg and the edited image is saved as jpeg (of the same quality), the particular editor is of little importance.

Professionals want to edit 'raw' images, but freeware editors will edit either lossless tiff for the person with a many resources, or (in my case) jpeg. While even professionals may store the final image as jpeg, those more seriously into archiving than I might prefer working with lossless tiff, then compressing these with an open-source application before storing.

However, I try and preserve the quality of my jpeg images as much as possible, and archive these, with Exif data (which can include longitude & latitude), and ICC profiles stored separately. (Devices will change.)

iPhoto has slowly been taught to burn film rolls (shootings) to DVD (using 'one session' strategy, no doubt) and read them back, so few photos need be kept on the hard disk. As mentioned before, photos can be downloaded after each shooting to an iPod or laptop, edited, and each month's or season's photos moved to optical media, one set being archived off-site.

When a huge photo is dragged to Apple Mail, at least, one is given an option of what size to send. So, with an optical disc writer, one might like to set one's camera's image size to maximal, and keep on hard disk only photos during a fix period of time that accumulates about 600 MB or 4 GB--if that makes sense.

Thanks again.
susieqbbb Suspended account
If you want to go all out.

Here is what i recommend.

1. a mac mini

2. ilife 08

3. .mac account

Reason why:

Simplist way to upload pictures into cell phones and even from your very own gallery.

And apple has a backup system incase you lose anything.

Want a example:

Here are 2 from one of my friends


Ms Qbbb,

John's website is wonderful, and illustrates why I've grudgingly admitted the value of .Mac. We've strayed a bit from the topic of archiving, but only because many decisions made during the photographic process affect it.

What you've described seems a minimal, not grand, solution for a student interested in photography: instant gratification by modifying an artistic template. That's one excellent way of learning various markup languages.

However, using a cell phone, one would be tempted to take small photos, just the size for .Mac's personal website. Also, $100 or so dollars a year adds up over a century; and the default 10 GB is shared by e-mail and many other resources. An archival DVD holds over 4 GB, and a second, LightScribe-labeled one can archive that season's photos, and work with iPhoto. (Archiving by season is good for me, for I can always remember the season during which a photo was taken.)

That said, .Mac can be a fine way of sharing selected, edited photos with relatives. (I've been waiting for Apple's personal web sites to offer family sections, accessible by password.)

(One very real problem with sharing family snapshots is that people tend to be unfamiliar with the concept of simultaneous uploads and unaware of how many days it takes to upload 50 large photos taken during a day trip. After the last one appears completely uploaded to Cupertino, these relatives will disconnect, leaving many photos incomplete.)

Nevertheless, your 'kit' would appear to teach the user that:

A computer is just the means by which to get one's peripheral devices to work together toward various goals.

A truth. This philosophy encourages one to think of devices as tools, to be combined synergistically; and to think of poems, photos, movies as the objects of computing, and consequently think carefully about ways of archiving these.
This post hopefully will be going in the right place as I'm looking to store some images, but mine will be in reverse...let me explain. I am looking to archive my 35mm negatives, about 40-50 rolls worth. Obviously, quite costly to take somewhere [@ approx $1. per print]. So I've tried on my own, a bit. My husband has an HP Photosmart C8180 which will scan negatives. Now I'm not sure if it's me, or the software, but this has proved challenging beyond words. The pictures don't always scan well, sometimes won't scan, sometimes cropped very incorrectly, sometimes orange, sometimes blue...and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I'm afraid I'm not very literate when it comes to scanners a/o photo printing.

So I've googled around a bit, and perhaps the software [or lack thereof] may be the hindrance. I've read a couple of very good things about a program called "VueScan". Not sure if that's the route I should go.

I've also just tried scanning some of the photos themselves on my printer/scanner [HP Photosmart 3135], mixed success with that as well, again, software seems to be a hindrance, and the lack of patience on my part.

I guess I'm looking for suggestions, something in the process to take out guesswork and make this easy for me. I would love software to ask me 'what do you want to do, make a digital copy of these negatives', and 'how big or what quality do want this digital copy'. Is that asking for too much? [LOL @ myself, it probably is]

ANY help, suggestions would be appreciated.
I personally burn them to CD every time the camera becomes full. Our old car would hold 500 pics or so and as it neared full I would burn it to two disk(identical disk) so I had a backup. I keep one in easy access to view and one goes into the firesafe box. This way I have them in two places and if I lost one disk I can make a second backup if needed. This has always worked for me and only cost's around 5-15 cents for every 500 pics!

Just double and triple check that you actually have the pics on the disk before you delete them!!!!!
Originally posted by frustratd:

The pictures don't always scan well, sometimes won't scan, sometimes cropped very incorrectly, sometimes orange, sometimes blue...and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I'm afraid I'm not very literate when it comes to scanners a/o photo printing.
ANY help, suggestions would be appreciated.
I'm afraid I'm ignorant as well. However, I shouldn't advise buying something like VueScan until you find the problem. Surely there's a problem. HP offers free email assistance that's almost adequate. Someone here may immediately recognize this problem and know its solution; but I should try HP first of all. (Just sketch where & when you bought it, that's enough for support.) Then, when they fail; look elsewhere. :-) What you're describing can't be what HP built, surely. They supplied the software, didn't they?

You might also download the user manual to VueScan, or any product, before buying it. Sorry I can't help more.
Thank you Gneiss for the reply. I've been playing with the scan settings and that does seem to be helping. Also have been doing a lot of googling and reading, and learning bits and pieces here and there about archiving photos. I'm on my way [after hours of reading and 'playing' with settings]. Just fine tuning and then down to the work! Thanks again for taking the time to reply. :)
ok....... here is a photo I took over 30yrs ago! It was one of my first photos I took with a 35mm SLR. And look at it today... I scanned the photo and then used Photoshop CS3 to enhance the colors and focus and things:

With Photoshop CS3 I was able to restore this shot that is over 30yrs old and even frame out the photo!

It's all in the matter of what you want to do and how you want to learn. I have an HP scanner.... and it does negatives and slide, too.

Now I have never ever used the NEGATIVE scan feature before! Ever! So I decided to try it out since you are having this problem:

this is my first scan.... so I looked in the settings and found that I did it wrong! I hit scan a picture... when I hit scan negative... this is what came out:

now you notice the lines through the negative and the noise (dots and such).... I went and passed this through Photoshop CS3 and look at what came out:

I took out that line in the picture... put a frame on it and added more natural color to it... you can do anything with an image editing program! Mind you .... this negative is over 7yrs old now... my mother has passed on but the image can be adjusted to anyway you like!
Very nice work! Digital photos are soo much cooler than film! Editing, super imposing, all sorts of cool stuff.
and then there are others who love film! that you can do double exposures and all sorts of other cool stuff that you can't do with digitals! If you wanted a double exposure you have to super impose one picture on top of the other with a computer and photo editing software.... but that's another story!
Originally posted by IHoe:
and then there are others who love film! <SNIP>
Some of us now asthmatics still miss the smell of the hypo. :-) Your previous post about blunders that can occur when scanning negatives is truly wonderful. It's actually the first time I've seen an image from a scanned 35 mm negative.

Because I've inherited the 'family' photos, I shall someday have to acquire a photo scanner. I don't know whether one can scan tintypes, but I'll remember this post when I prepare LightScribe DVDs to mail to all my cousins.

Thank you!
HP, and I'm sure others, have a nice slide for the negatives and slides pictures for the scanner so it will scan them properly! I never ever did a scan of a negative until frustratd mentioned about scanning pictures and negatives. So I tried it before I wrote about it. I like doing things like that.
This discussion thread has been automatically closed, as it hasn't received any new posts during the last 180 days. This means that you can't post replies or new questions to this discussion thread.

If you have something to add to this topic, use this page to post your question or comments to a new discussion thread.