Losing…My Mind

At some point while shooting digital, you’re gonna face the hard reality of images disappearing from storage media - whether it be CompactFlash, SD or some other storage device. Trust me, it will happen usually at the least opportune moment, while shooting for a client or capturing a special event.

Fortunately, in most cases the files still exist on the card, even though they aren’t showing in your software. They just need a little coercing to make their way over to your hard drive for processing. Thankfully software exists specifically to help us out of this bind.

I just recently encountered this situation while shooting a benefit concert in the north country of New York. I inserted my 16 GB CompactFlash card into the reader with a little over 1000 images on it, eagerly anticipating how the photos turned out. When the import page came up in Lightroom, only about 70 image thumbnails showed up. Uh oh. Panic started to set in. After sticking the card back in the camera, I knew the images were on the card, just not showing.

Next step was to find a piece of recovery software. In my case, because I was using a SanDisk card, I ended up downloading RescuePro for $40 and installing. Sure enough, it was able to find the files and download them to my laptop harddrive. The process took a good hour or so to complete, but was worth every penny and every second.

So, a couple of quick tips to consider:

  1. Use reputable brands - Sandisk, Lexar, etc.  It’s tempting to buy that $40 16 GB card. Don’t. (No, I’m not getting paid by any of these companies.)
  3. Re-format your card in camera EVERY time you clear it. This prevents a bunch of different errors that can arise by simply erasing all images. Others say to do this every now and then. My practice is every single time.
  5. Treat your cards nicely. It’s all too easy to toss them around, shove them into a pants pocket or leave them on a car seat. Treat them better than you do your car keys.
  7. Don’t pack your cards full of photos - leave a little space on them.
  9. Avoid deleting images from your card while in-camera in the attempt to pack in more shots. This can cause data corruption issues. Think ahead and buy a few additional cards. Software like Lightroom and Aperture make the process of deleting images very easy in post.
  11. Avoid using the newest, ultra humongous cards for a bit. Let someone else test-drive them and prove that they’re worthy. Carry a couple of smaller cards instead.
  13. Switch out older cards for newer ones over time. Like anything else, they do suffer from wear and tear.
  15. And lastly, if you do encounter a data loss situation, have a copy of an image recovery utility available.

Hopefully, these tips will help a little. In the end, these types of situations may well happen even after you’ve taken all precautions.

10-July-2011 | Techniques & Tips