5 years ago, I was in Antwerp with my photographer’s roundtable. As we are currently locked-down, it’s time to remember. There are two posts on that trip. post1 and post2.
a photographer's view to the world – a traveler's blog
In my last post, I mentioned the bridge you have to cross for reaching the fairy pools. Here we are! This is the bridge. The gaps between the stones are about 50-70 cm (appr. 2-2,5 ft). While the stones are broad enough to stand, solid and quit plane, I’d recommend to cross it carefully. Especially, when they are wet. You know, wet polished stones might become slippery. And these stones are polished by the boots from all the people crossing the bridge. Having a solid hiking pole will help you much 🙂
It’s amazing. Today, I start in my seventh year of constantly posting monochrome images. Seven years ago a photographer located in Melbourne, Australia, started the Monochrome Madness Challenge. In the meantime, the challenge in its original way is retired. Here in my blog, you can find my contributions to MMC by simply following the tag “mmc“. Despite MMC is retired, I follow my tradition and post a monochrome image each week here in my blog with the same tag.
I love monochrome images for decades. They are so interesting because of the play of lights and shadows. In my digital workflow, I’m using a software imitating the chemical workflow instead of only desaturating the images. Thus, I get images of the same quality as I got from my old film lab. Unfortunately, the software I’m still using is retired for some reason I don’t understand. It’s successor isn’t that good. So, I don’t mention it here.
In the later part of my adolescence, I have had my own photo lab and was able to develop monochrome film and also do my own prints in the darkroom in the cellar of my parents’ house. Beside my SLR I used an old Voigtländer plate camera, built around 1927. Despite the age, the camera is still working. Once, that camera belonged to my grant-father whom I never met. But, I got it from my grant-mother, when I was in my early twenties and quite experienced in photography.
I also used the camera as a requisite in some steampunk-themed shootings as you can see in the attached image.
The German singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey once sang a wonderful song about parentship. The title is “Keine ruhige Minute” (not a quite minute).
He describes lovingly the changes which come into your life when you get your first kid. He is wondering, what he has done with all the time before the kid was born and what all changes: i.e. repair toys, being a horse for the kid, loud noise, and so on.
The chorus is
Keine ruhige Minute
Ist seitdem mehr für mich drin
Und das geht so, wie ich vermute
Bis ich hundert Jahre bin!
(Not a quiet minute
Since then, there’s more in it for me
And that’s how I suspect
Until I’m a hundred years old!)
As the song goes on, the perspective changes. Instead of complaining, he starts noting all the positive things he gets from the kid. One of the verses says:
“Ein Haus wird doch erst ein Zuhause
Wenn eine Wiege darin steht!”
(a house only becomes a home when there is a cradle in it)
In the German language, there is a big difference in meaning between “house” and “home”. while you can have many houses and live in different places over the years, only one can be your home. The home isn’t necessarily the one your currently living in. Often it’s the place where you grew up. A place with very strong feelings and where you know quite everything about. Maybe it’s the farm of your grant-parents or the quarter where your parent’s house stood. In either case it’s the place where your heart beats stronger when coming nearer to it. And this connection keeps strong over the decades and survives even the passing of the beloved people (grant-parents / parents / aunts / …) who used to live there.
You wonder, what I’m telling here? It’s time for Lens-Artists Photo challenge and Amy asked for “At home“. I have 3 adult kids. But, todays 10 years ago, we got a cradle in our kitchen. Our cat got 4 pretty babies. When the time came, 2 of them moved to another family. But the oldest and the youngest stayed with us. The mother, unfortunately, died, when her kids were about half a year. The youngest is also not with us anymore. She died these days 3 years ago.
In the image below the kittens are 4 weeks old.
Here’s a quote from the birth announce:
“Last night our family grew enormous. Our cat gave birth to 4 kittens. One kitten every about 90 minutes starting at 8:30 p.m. At first she gave birth to 2 black girls, than a tabby girl and at last a tabby boy.
Even the mother is only about 9 month old, she did it very well.”
It seemed, after 2 babies the mother ran out of black color 😂. Not I was the one who stacked the kittens. The mother did it and even the kittens themselves were constantly climbing one over each other. When living outside in the wild they can warm each other.
In case you’re now interested in the whole song and the lyrics, both can be found online quite easily. By using Google you can find the lyrics and put them into the Google translator. The translation is quite good. By using Youtube you can also find a recording taken from a 1980s tv show. Even if you won’t understand a word, give him a try 😊. You will get to know a famous german singer. Although was born in 1942 and his career started in the early 1960s, he is still well-known for his intelligent lyrics which often make you smile.
Currently, a mysterious series of deaths is spreading in certain areas among blue tits. Recently, I read a report stating about 18.000 death blue tits. Others are already ill. They are losing feathers around their head and sitting fluffed up but apathetically in the trees and on the ground. They don’t flee anymore and id seems, they have problems breathing. It also seems they can’t swallow anymore. So, it might be they are dying from starvation and thirst. It also seems the disease is very infectious but only for blue tits. Other small birds seem not to be affected. Up to now, no certain illness is discovered. But, the region where the German states North-Rhine Westfalia, Hessen, and Rheinland-Pfalz are bordering seems to be the center of the illness. Most of the death blee tits are found in gardens around feeding places.
Photographers nowadays need solid IT skills for their job. How to run a computer. How to install, update and uninstall software. How to do backups. Know your operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux) and the relevant file-systems. Each photographer hoards huge piles of valuable data (the images) on his or her computer disks. They need a strategy to recover the images after a disaster i.e. computer theft, hard disk failures or SSD corruptions (you know, each cell in flash storage has a limited lifetime because the cells die after a certain number of write cycles). Sometimes one is faced with an empty storage card because of an unintentional re-formatting. So, what can you do?
First of all, be prepared! Here you can find information on how to recover such lost files. Get the necessary software now and practice with test data to know the steps when it comes to such a disaster.
In the past, Microsoft brought us FAT as the filesystem. In 1977 it appeared first in MS-DOS. Since then it was developed further and got more features. Because of the ease of organizing data (especially when it comes to sequential writes), it’s still popular for storage cards used by smartphones and cameras.
The computers itself use usually more sophisticated filesystems like NTFS, HPFS, HFS, HFS+, APFS, ext2, ext3, ext4, xfs, btrfs and more. Unfortunately, these modern filesystems are organizing data very differently to FAT and its ascendants like vFAT, exFAT or FAT32. So, recovery data from disks using one of the modern filesystems looks like a game of hazard or spinning a huge wheel of fortune where only one winning chance is set randomly. When using data recovery software you might have luck recovering recently deleted files. On FAT the chance is much higher because of the different principles the data is organized.
Now you might remember having read some reports of found data on thrown-away disks. Yes, that’s true. Forensics are able to recover the blocks of destroyed disks and scratch tiny pieces of data from the disk and reassemble it. Data is organized in blocks. The size of each block is about 512 or 2048 byte, depending on the used filesystem. For getting information like names, account data, credit card information or so, that’s enough. But, look at your images. Each image uses several MB on the disk. To recover your image, it’s a necessity to have ALL blocks and they must be in the right order. A single corrupt byte is tolerable but a couple of bytes can result in a complete loss.
In more than 20 years of handling digital photos, I never lost a complete card. But, 2 or 3 times I deleted a couple of files from the cards unintentionally. In the past, photorec was the tool of my choice. It’s an open-source tool. You can download and use it for free. But, you have to understand, how it works.
First, you have to avoid any further writings on the disk from where you want to recover data. That’s essential for successfully recover files.
The installation of photorec is easy. Linux users can install it usually by using their packet manager, while Windows users need to download it from the developer’s homepage and unpack the zip-file. MacOS users can install it via brew
$ brew install testdisk
Now you open a console (Terminal on Mac or Linux, and CMD on Windows). Next, you start photorec by telling it, where to search
MacOS / OS X
$ photorec /Volume/SD-card (or whatever name the card has)
# photorec /media/SD-card (or whatever name the card has; mountpoint also might vary i.e. /mnt/)
C:\> photorec d: (or whatever drivename the device has, where you want to recover files. Check it with the Windows Exporer)
If photorec recognizes an already started recovery, it asks you if you want to continue the session or start a new one. Next, it tries to read the directory and offers you to browse where the lost data was stored. Photorec can recover several types of data, not only jpg images. It can also recover lost partitions, if necessary. But that’s beyond the subject of this post.
When you’re fine with the position, photorec needs a location on a different disk to copy the recovered data to. After that, it only needs time.
FAT filesystems don’t delete the data on the disk when files are deleted. Instead, only the first letter of the filename in the directory is replaced by a ‘?’ which makes the file invisible and marks the occupied space as reusable. So, the magic is, photorec reads the directory and scans for filenames starting with ‘?’. Then it looks up each filename and checks based on the location information (block numbers) stored along with the filename if the relevant file is completely available (all blocks from the chain of blocks ’til the end-of-file mark). If so, the blocks are copied to the chosen target destination. But, the filename is lost. Instead, the name of the first data block, where the file was stored, is used to keep filenames unique.
As photorec runs in the console, not everyone feels skilled enough to use it.
Recently, I got a review version of a newer data recovery software: Disk Drill by CleverFiles. It’s available for Windows and for MacOS and has a visual GUI to be handled with the mouse. On MacOS the current version needs at least the latest version of Mavericks. But older versions are also available for download, in case your MacOS is still running an older version of OS X for whatever reason. Disk Drill comes as an app to be pulled in the Applications folder only, to get installed.
I installed Disk Drill on my Macbook, which I’m also using for developing my images.
So, I have a lot of images on my disk (raw data), which I process and delete after processing them. Thus, I should have a lot of files potentially being recoverable on my disk. It’s a 512 GB SSD formated with APFS. The deep scan has run for about 40 minutes. But, as expected, Disk Drill found nearly nothing! No raw-file, no jpgs, no text documents or spreadsheets. The only files Disk Drill found were a couple of files I have had in my trash bin, which was emptied just before installing Disk Drill.
My other tests were on a disk formatted with Windows NTFS and an SDcard from my camera formatted with FAT.
Recovering files (raw data written by my digital camera) from the SDcard was very successful, just like expected. A 256 GB drive was scanned in a couple of minutes and offered tons of recoverable files.
I also run Disk Drill on a 1 TB NTFS hard disc formatted by Windows. The scan lasted nearly 3 hours while the well-equipped computer got a lot of stress and the fans run at a high level for certain times. But, I was able to work with it as usual for the whole time. In the end, the so-called deep scan found a reasonable number of recoverable files of different types. Unfortunately, all of them lost their names and were offered to me for recovery grouped by file type. Hard to find the file you accidentally deleted 😦
So, the result is not much different from the outcome of photorec.
Similar to photorec, Disk Drill also works with sessions. But, differently to photorec I was unable to make Disk Drill forget the saved session and do a re-scan after i.e. running a cleanup (I tried to wipe out some files I don’t want to be able to get recovered and check if they are unable to be recovered)
Disk Drill has a couple of further functions.
You can open a backup of an iOS device (as long as you know the recovery passcode) stored on your computer and recover files from iOS backup (iTunes). Works great. You can get contacts, appointments, reminders, photos, and even files.
There’s also a cleanup function. It seems it is to wipe out unused space. But, in fact, I was unable to find any result. So, I can’t say, what this function is doing.
Next, there is a function suggesting it could duplicate the boot disk, but instead it only creates a boot media similar to the recovery boot mechanism you always have on your mac. So, I have to stay with Carbon Copy Cloner for this feature.
After finishing my tests I uninstalled Disk Drill. Unfortunately, a not-quitable tool survived in the menubar. I had to dig through my applications folder and my Library folders to find where this tool resides to delete the files. After a reboot, it was finally gone!
Now it’s up to you to decide, how often you have to recover lost files and on which filesystems they are stored. I was very interested if a professional tool is better than the open-source tool. The lack of a GUI is a point against photorec. But, in my opinion (as an IT pro for more than 30 years), that’s not so dramatic. I even found the text interface much more straight forward and clearer than the GUI of Disk Drill. On the other hand, I guess, Disk Drill is even more complicated than photorec.
Nevertheless, I repeat my statement from above: be prepared for the disaster because the disaster situation isn’t a good time for such a complicated topic. Get a tool and make yourself familiar with it to avoid making a disaster situation worse.
Despite the lockdown and other problems resulting from closed shops and working from home the last couple of weeks were quite busy for me. So I was unable to join the Lens-Artists Challenges. But this week I’m back. It’s Leya’s turn this week and she challenges us with “morning“.
Mornings are a great time to go out for taking photos. You get wonderful crisp air and beautifully soft and warm light.
Sometimes it costs you very much …
I saw these nice English telephone boxes last year in Wales. As we are currently hindered going out and are locked in our homes to save us from getting infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus for several weeks now life becomes kind of boring.
As so many of us are currently locked at their homes similar to sitting in jail and certainly have talked to nearly every relative and friend. Every housekeeping is done, reading, listening to the radio and watching TV or binge-watching whole seasons becomes boring. So, maybe it’s interesting to talk to a complete stranger, whom you only know slightly from reading her blog posts.
Although I’m not alone, but I’m curious about talking to people and get to know a bot about how they feel these days. Therefore I’m offering a skype call. Simply talk half an hour or so. No specific topic. A bit like you could do when meeting someone in a metro or a bus station.
Therefore I make an offer: do you want to talk to me? I’m offering a skype call. If you’re interested, drop me a line in the comments. I won’t publish that comment and only use the email address you’re leaving me, to contact you for negotiating a suitable time slot. You know, I’m in western Europe and located in CEST, that’s UTC+2 (because of the daylight savings time).
You can find your timezone i.e. when looking on the world map published at Wikipedia and then use Google by saying for example “13 PST CEST” and get back “22:00h”. So, you can see, it’s 10 p.m. (= 22:00h) for me when the people in i.e. San Fransico or LA have 1 p.m. (= 13:00h; PST = Pacific Standard time).
So, anybody interested? I’m curious for you 🙂
You know, each first Saturday of a month I meet with some other photographers for our monthly roundtable. We’re not only sitting somewhere and talking. But, we meet somewhere to walk around and take some photos. Later we’re visiting a restaurant for having dinner.
Currently, this isn’t possible because of the governmental restrictions because of the Covid19 pandemic. Although the restrictions here in Germany are not so hard as they are in France, Spain or Italy, where you’re not allowed to leave your home for other topics than going to work, doing your groceries or walk your dog (only very short distances are allowed). Here in Germany, we’re still allowed to go out, but we need to keep a distance of at least 1,5m (~5 ft.). Only the essential stores are allowed to open: supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, doctors, hospitals. Everyone else should work from home, wherever it is possible. Even doing your groceries is quite hard under these circumstances. Some products are rare in the supermarkets and out for weeks now like flour, toilet paper, pasta or yeast. But, most products are available even though not in every supermarket.
Back to our monthly photographer’s roundtable. We met yesterday as usual, but not at about 14:00h as we usually do. Instead, we met at 19:00h. And we did not meet in person somewhere, but we set up a video conference to see each other and talk a bit. To have a specific topic to start with, I organized a theme for us. As I have some inspiring cards for photographers, I drew one card for each participant and transmitted a photo of the card via messenger last weekend. So everyone had one week to prepare some images to show during our video conference. As everyone had a different topic to work on, it was very interesting to see the results. 8 of us 10 regular participants were there. The two missings were prevented for private reasons on short-notice. Nevertheless, it was a nice evening (considering the circumstances).
My topic was “backlit”. All images are taken with my DSLR camera and were not a result of post-processing or some other graphical works. All images are taken last week. The images are looking way better in a bigger size. So you can resize them by clicking on then.
So, being not allowed to leave your home must not hinder you to take your camera and take some photos. In case you don’t have an idea, drop me a line and I’ll give you an assignment for the next week 😀
Take care and stay healthy