I have been supplying digital images to clients for many years, using a mixture of optical discs (CD/DVD’s) sent by post or by uploading to a server such as YouSendIt or Dropbox. For me online delivery provides speed, a guaranteed delivery time and a reduction in the use of environment damaging plastics and paper.
As a commercial photographer I need online delivery, proofing and storage. These are essential elements to my workflow. Having a service provider like Photoshelter has enabled me to provide a consistent, secure and adaptable solution to send images to clients. Along with tools for proofing and collaboration there is also long term storage of image files in almost all formats.
Access & Downloading
Clients can access image files by a secure link accessible only to a specific user login or a password. The default for all client galleries is no access, this makes galleries very secure. From this starting point I have to manually select those who have access. I never provide password only or open access to galleries unless this is requested by the client. Permission to access and download images is setup initially by entering the recipient client’s email into the Photoshelter address book. I then send a link to the client, which directs them to a login page. An email and password is requested at this point. Clients who are receiving access for the first time will have to create their own password by creating an account.
Clients set up with a Photoshelter account can access all the galleries I have shared with them. This can be achieved by viewing the ‘Client Area’ from here its possible to see a list all of galleries and gallery collections. Its also possible to see shared light boxes as well.
Lightbox – A lightbox is a way of collaborating on selecting images and sharing specific images with either myself or another collaborator.
Proofing Tool – Streamlines the process of viewing and selecting images to be shared with me for the purpose of processing and optimising.
Downloads – From the gallery page its possible to download images as a batch or individually.
Photo shelter has continued to advance its technology and provide better tools and value for money. It is now possible to store images long term online in the cloud. There are plans to integrate the Lightbox and Proofing Tool to make the whole system more user friendly.
After considering the options I opted to configure the 4 drive R4 Promise Pegasus unit with RAID 10. Despite losing half the available storage I felt this would suit my image editing workflow best. Providing fast throughput while providing a good level of redundancy should I lose one drive or even two, I would still be able to continue working. As soon as the R4 begins to get near to full capacity I will remove images which will already have been backed up.
A little about the unit and my initial experience.
The R4 ships ready to use configured with a RAID 5 logical drive. As soon as you plug the unit in, it begins the synchronisation process which takes several hours. The drive comes with the Promise Utility app already installed so you just have to drag this to your applications folder. Once the syncronisation had completed I decide to go ahead and change from RAID 5 to RAID 10. The process of configuring a new logical drive using the Promise Utility application is straight forward once you discover how to do it. As a first time user of both a RAID drive and to Promise, I didn’t understand the need to delete both the logical drive and disc array in order to change the RAID level. Helpfully the Promise utility app provides a wizard for simplifying this process however it does not automatically delete the array and drive when you want to change raid level in fact no options are available in the wizard until you have deleted those two elements. I was puzzled by this at first and disappointed that the Promise Pegasus Utility manual did not feel the gap for new users and explain the need to delete the disc array and logical drive.
It took some quite extensive research via the net to discover exactly what was needed. I also contacted Promise support although this proved to be a complex and unhelpful process.
Going to invest in a Promise Pegasus 4 disk RAID array for the purpose of keeping much of my image editing work away from from my main on board computer hard drive. I would like to also have a large volume where much of my recent work can be kept in order to access it quickly. I currently store job images on my onboard computer HD while editing and processing. This work gets backed up daily to three external hard drives. Two are kept on site and eventually archived, with the third kept off site . I also back up my onboard hard drive to a bootable copy. While also backing up other important files to cloud storage.
This has worked as a great backup system for many years until the release of the new Apple Mac Pro. On this computer onboard storage is limited to 1TB maximum. Because of this I very quickly have to move job images onto the external hard drives in order to make room for new work. This is fine although often I need to access the work on the external drives for a quite a long period. Finally it would make sense to have the current active work mirrored, so that if I do have a HD failure I can continue to work, while the failed drive is replaced.
The options for the best RAID levels are a choice 0, 1, 5, 6, or 10. Each provides advantages and disadvantages with respect to performance and security. I am not going to provide an explanation of each. A good explanation of the different RAID levels can be found here by this excellent blog post by Pre pressure.com http://www.prepressure.com/library/technology/raid. or on wikipedia.
So the question is which RAID level would be most suitable to provide performance and security with 4 discs?
This will be my 15th year taking photographs for some of the most prestigious private and public healthcare organisations. I began my freelance career in 2000 and I have since amassed a great deal of experience working within many varied healthcare environments from A&E, operating theatres, ITU, paediatrics, Oncology, x-ray, cath lab to general /dental practice, care homes for the elderly and services for those with learning difficulties. I have met wonderful staff and patients who agree to be photographed in sometimes difficult circumstances.
I have enjoyed this type of work a great deal as it has offered me a chance to work within exciting but challenging situations with often strict time constraints and space to work. Photographing operations provides some of the most interesting and challenging healthcare photography to create, I feel privileged to be allowed into this environment and to witness critical life saving work in progress.
My first experience of photographing an operation was during a hip replacement procedure at a private hospital. I was apprehensive at first and daunted especially when the time came to put on scrubs and enter the theatre, having a vivid imagination does not help. My fears though were quickly dispelled by the understanding staff who were in good humour and put me at ease straight away eventually goading me to get closer to the action and better images, they recounted tales of other first timers to operations who fainted during their visit requiring medical assistance themselves. Its tempting in these situations to stand in a corner and remain there, out of the way of the busy staff, fearful of distracting anyone or stepping into a sterile area. Some of the best images I have taken were at close proximity to the staff and operating area. Of course sometimes this is not appropriate and remaining out of the way in a corner is the best place to be. I am still learning about working in these environments and discovering new ways to approach the subject matter with unique viewpoints, use of lighting and exposure.