Photographer on the Road - Drew MacCallum
  • Sun, 12 Mar 2017 19:43:00 +0000

    Time for an update- and a "Tech Tip"- "Nerding Nerding Out Workflow"
    Well, its been almost a year since my last post- why do I keep doing that? Oh well, guess that's just how it goes.

    I have been thinking for a while to start doing some "tech tips" on photography since really, that is what I am good at. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my first (personal not business) Facebook Live posing- if not, here is a link- Facebook Live. In that video, I show a new (to me) portable hard drive I am using for my 2017 OTR Images (on the road). Since posting that video, I have finally upgraded my home file system and photography workflow.

    Now here is where most people's eyes glaze over and you go back to facebook looking for cat videos...wait, don't do that yet...Fist, this is NOT that hard. Second, this is targeted for the casual to heavy photographer, not a hard core pro who shoots gigs upon gigs at a wedding or sporting event so stay with me.

    The Challenges:

    1. 8 Hard drives sitting on my desk attached to multiple computers
    2.  Image files stored EVERY WHERE!
    3.  Backup- safety measure in case of lightning strike, drive failure, or other disaster

      Creating the process:

      First you have to get somewhat organized. I was fairly organized by date, event or project using Adobe Lightroom, however, it was spread across 2 2TB drives and a few portable drives. So I sat one day drawing on a napkin how I would think my worklfow SHOULD look....My drawing skills are quite awful, so here is a recreation of that sketch-

      I know, I know, your thinking- that's NOT 8 drives... no, I am simplifying here. I have already told you my "OTR" drive is my portable 2017 disk. If I fill that, I purchase another drive to continue 2017. So that's the easy part. Here is where it got complicated. I was storing files across MANY drives but NO real backup plan. If a drive failed, the chances were, it MAY have been copied to the other drive if I remembered. So here is what the above system does- First, one of the 2TB ("A") drives is legacy images (Selects from 2016 and earlier from those other hard drives that are no longer cluttering my desk that are now sitting safely in a gun safe). The other ("B") is a TimeMachine system (iMac) back up. Since TimeMachine likes 2x the space of the backed up items, this is 2x my 1TB internal hard drive of the iMac. The portable drive is automatically copied to the 6TB RAID the instant it is attached to the computer. Here is an important note- The RAID is my WORKING HARD DRIVE NOT MY BACKUP. RAID drives are never the back up, but that is for another tech article.

      What you need:

      In order for this to work you will need to put in place a few tools to help.
      1. A good fast RAID or LARGE storage area. (I picked up one of these in a 6TB configuration on a close out sale- G-Technology Studio RAID.
      2. A reliable cloud storage system. I am currently using BackBlaze. I like the simplicity, mobile access and monitoring and for the price, it seemed to be what I needed. 
      3. A customizable drive cloning software. For this, I am using Carbon Copy Cloner. This is what automatically copies the portable drive to the RAID. There are PC applications as well such as Acronis True Image and others, but I have not tried any of them so do your research.

        The Process:

        Once those are in place you can build a very easy, quick workflow that is somewhat bulletproof and uses a 3, 2, 1 plan (3 copies, 2 different locations, 1 off site).

        The 2TB drive and the portable drive are basically the unedited files, the "raws" if you will. Those two drives get copied to the Backblaze cloud along with my local hard drive (yes, I know its on the TimeMachine, but that's a LOCAL BACK UP).
        Also, My Lightroom catalogs are stored on the iMac HD, so that keeps ALL my settings from the image edits. If for example I have a RAID failure and have to re-edit an image, I have a copy of the Lightroom catalog I can pull down no matter where I am and access the images.
        Lightrooms image directory is the RAID. This is SOOOO much faster than using a standard external drive- that's what RAID's are best for.

        I think that's enough to get you started, or at least thinking about your workflow. This is such an important part of being a photographer. Just imagine what would happen if your hard drives were zapped by a power surge or worse, you had a fire in your house. Where would all those important memories be?

        Until next time, see you on the road :)


        1. Wed, 06 Apr 2016 09:03:00 +0000

          Truly On The Road
          Well, this photographer is truly on the road. The road to Long Island New York. Gone are the 180 days a year on the road teaching, demonstrating, and giving work shops. My days as a Canon Product Educator with Markerstar are done (very bittersweet feeling)... However, I'm still very much involved in the photo industry and will still be at shows and events across the USA. 
          I'm going to now work for Canon USA in Melville, NY as a Senior Technical Specialist.  I'll get to work with new exciting products, act as a media person for Canon USA, help research and drive new ideas for products and much more. 

          BUT! This is not the end of POTR! I hopefully will have more time to shoot for myself. 
        2. Sun, 01 Nov 2015 22:07:00 +0000

          Capturing the Classics: Old Cars and Antique Trains With Rick Sammon and Canon
          This past weekend I had the oppertunity to work with Rick Sammon, Canon Explorer of Light here in the Atlanta area to assist with Canon's Live Lerning Destination Workshop. We took 8 attendees out to 2 locations; the Southeast Railway Museum and Old Car City. These are two places I have never been- odd since I have lived here for well over 20 years- I guess I need to explore my city more huh... The workshop was centered around getting great images using some of Ricks techniques. I have to say, it was one of the best Destination workshops I have had the pleasure of working on. Here are a few images from my camera...

          Canon EOS 5DS EF11-24mm f/4L USM

          Canon EOS 5DS EF11-24mm f/4L USM

          Canon EOS 5DS EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5DS EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5DS EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5DS EF180mm f/3.5L Macro USM
        3. Sat, 11 Jul 2015 15:25:00 +0000

          It happened again...

          Ok, it happened again... I neglected this site for WAY too long... so, I introduce to you a new fresh look at The blog is still here (hopefully I update it more), a new gallery for viewing- you can still purchase pieces through my FAA page  and I will be working on incorporating that into this new site. In the meantime, feel free to browse, click, and if there is something you MUST have on your walls, and its not in my FAA gallery, email me and I will make all your dreams come true...well, at least dreams for art on your wall.


        4. Tue, 20 May 2014 23:14:00 +0000

          Painting on the Lake
          Here we are again... on the road in Salt Lake City, UT for a team meeting. A few of us got in a day early and decided to head out and play south of Salt Lake City and light some night sky... and some other things... turns out, that lable that says "do not hold mortar in hands" is a good suggestion. It typically results in a trip to the ER. This time our co-worker was somewhat lucky (if you can call it that) he can still count to 5 on his right hand.

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

          Here's "The Shot" that will probably be the most expensive shot Jeff has ever done lightpainting...

          Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM
        5. Mon, 12 May 2014 21:41:00 +0000

          Arches, Cowboys (and Cowgirls) and Sunsets
          One of the great things about my "day job" is I get to work with some AMAZING people in truly breathtaking locations. This past week I was out in Moab Utah in Arches National Park and based at Red Cliffs Lodge. If you have not been out to that part of the country, your soul would greatly rewarded making the trip. Photos just cant do it justice in any way.

          The workshop was with the Canon Destination Workshops and Tyler Stableford the Explorer of light. He's one of the few who's as sharing with his knowledge as he is talented.

          So if you're ever in the area, stay at the Red Cliffs Lodge and spend a week or so roaming in Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. 
          Sunrise through North Window looking at Turret Arch

          Sunrise in the Windows of Arches National Park

          Sunset towards Double Arch from North Window

          The "Three Gossips" at sunset

          Of course it would not be a trip to the desert if I did not do some light painting :)

        6. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:58:00 +0000

          One Last Spin in Valley of Fire

          This is probably the last trip (this year) for me to Valley of Fire...but you never know :) so we took advantage of our NAB travel to Las Vegas and went out to the desert again. This time most of our team that could make it in early went out with us. We had a great time but I can tell you this, when you get 13 people who all are Canon educators, the knowledge level is pretty high and you better be on your game...otherwise, well take a jab at each other at any opportunity, needless to say, we laughed pretty hard the whole trip. I work with a GREAT team!

          There is just something about the sunsets there that are inspirational.

          Of course, we had to break out the "illuminating tools"...

          The "river of light" was not added in PS, modified a little, but...
          Here is the original, which do you like better?

        7. Mon, 24 Mar 2014 00:20:00 +0000

          Beaches, Birds and Barns
          Yep, March came in like a lion...and continues to show no sign of becoming a lamb (work or weather related). Since the last posting on our travels to Las Vegas for the WPPI show, I have been all over the southeast US.

          We'll start in Cocoa Beach Fl and I had a real bug to get up early and get some sunrise shots at the beach, but first upon arriving in the hotel, while on the phone with my boss, this little guy was working hard on a tree outside my balcony-

           I was able to get up and get a decent sunrise. Its mornings like this I really wish I had remembered my ND filters to get a really smooth look to clouds and water... I need to get a second set to add to the other camera bags... back ups are always a good thing.

          One friend told me it looked very "Bay Watch"ish... in which I pointed out the HUGE difference- theirs is a SUNSET, this is obviously a SUNRISE! 

          Next was St Simons Island GA where I was able to get some sunrise shots before a workshop in Jekyll Island. These are from the St Simons Pier

          Again, I am wishing for my ND filters...maybe its time to invest in a Variable ND filter! Yep, that's it, I HAVE to have one now.

          From St Simons, I headed over to Jekyll Island for a Canon workshop with Parish Kohanim, a truly inspirational photographer and instructor, I HIGHLY recommend you take a workshop with him or at least go see one of his lecturers. Since I was working the workshop, I dont really try real hard to get images, since its our job to assist the attendees, but I was able to get a couple keepers...

          Its hard to get a bad photo when you are working with professional models...

          I was planning on going back to get some sunrise shots at Driftwood Beach, however a storm rolled in and all we had was clouds and rain in the off to the next site.

          One of my accounts had scheduled a shooting event at Sylvan Heights Bird Park. We had about 30 attendees and a boat load of gear for them to try, I had the opportunity to bring a Canon EF 200-400 f4 L with me and get some shots.

          The workshop was over and the staff and I were all exhausted, but we still had an hour drive back to town, so two of us decided to make a few stops along the way to see what kind of images we could get of what seemed to be hundreds of old barns and structures in eastern NC along the way.

          Well that wraps up this post, its off to Vegas (again) in a week, so keep an eye out for more LightPainting.
        8. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 18:59:00 +0000

          Early Mornings and Late Nights

          Whew! I am in need of a recharge! The last few weeks have been hectic- I am writing this post as I am doing laundry in a hotel in St Simmons Island, GA. Over the last few weeks, I spent the night camping in the desert, worked another show in Las Vegas, traced the outer edge of the state of Florida from Tampa to Miami, and now prepping for a workshop with Parish Kohanim in Jekyll Island, GA.

          My boss and good friend Jeff Jensen and I decided to get some REAL camera time in the Valley of Fire (yes, we have become a little obsessive with that place) by going out to WPPI a day early. The goal was to scout for new locations so we could do a team building shoot, and to get some new light paintings done.

          There are few places in the world where every single direction you look is as breathtaking as Valley of Fire. If you get to spend time there, make sure you see a sunrise or sunset, we got BOTH.

           5D Mark III f22 (HDR in Nik)

          While the colors did not really "pop" like we wanted them to, the cloud cover was somehow "blown away" and by nightfall with no moon at all, we had stars... LOTS of stars.
          5D Mark III f5.6 10min ISO 400

          The "Cabins" were a great location to play with some new lighting tricks, "domes" and EL Wire we brought with us...its a good thing Jeff drove his Suburban, we had LOTS of gear.
           5D Mark III 14mm f5.6 6min ISO 400 and 6 or so pops of 3 600EX-RT's placed behind and on top of the cabins. the blue "smoke" is the EL Wire.

           We did one last shot that night on the way to the campsite, setting up a camera with an intervelometer to capture star trails. This is a 34 image stack from a  5D III 14mm f2.8 30sec. Thats either a plane or aliens streaking through.
          Well, I did do ONE more that night... my little tent light painted. 
          Like I said, sunrise or sunset, either one (or both) are spectacular!
           5D Mark III f22 1/25th sec ISO 250

          Team Time

          We did manage to convince some of the rest of the team to come out for some more on another night. I think we could have just left the cameras in the car and had just as much fun... but we did get some great shots.
          5D Mark III 14mm f4.0 3.5min ISO 400

          While Jeff spun an orb, I was waving the EL Wire to make a "river of light". Our coworkers were not sure what to think of this odd behavior until they saw the images on their screens... 

          And then....
          5D Mark III 14mm f6.3 4min ISO 400

          This was the first time they had seen the steel wool set ablaze... 

          5D Mark III 14mm f4 6min ISO 400
          And for one final shot, we broke out the wheels again... NOBODY was going to come down that road.

        9. Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:42:00 +0000

          Light Painting the Stars
          On a recent trip to Las Vegas and Phoenix, a couple coworkers and I had the bug to get out to the desert and do some light painting. We had been out to Valley of Fire several times before, but never really explored much. This time would be very different.

          Driving to Valley of Fire is a short one and a half hour trip (a little longer if you stop at the truckstop and fireworks stand for some amusement). Our usual spot is at the parking lot at the end of Mouses Tank Road. There are a few really great spots there (see some of my images in the gallery). This time we decided to hike in a bit. Down to an old movie set that is still standing and offers a GREAT backdrop. 

          Here you can see a remaining wall of a "Spanish Fort" behind the Orb. 

          Since we had near perfect skys, and just a sliver of a moon, we decided to set up a new little toy we had with us. The PowerShot S120 from Canon. Usually we just see these as point and shoots, not really intended for "creative use", but when you have 4 seasoned pro photographers jaws drop in unison when they see what this little camera can do, you know its much more capable. 

          Canon PowerShot S120 Star Trails Mode

          Here the S120's "Star Trails" scene mode was used...yes, this is fully automatic. All you do is choose how long you want it to go, and place the camera. The rest is up to this litle beast. 

          Of course, we could not stop there...

           What can possibly go wrong with steel wool on fire and spinning it around in the dark?

          We are heading out again in about a week, I'll try and post sooner this time

          Canon PowerShot S120 Star Trails Mode

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