My Photo Back Up Workflow in 2018

A couple years ago I started backing up following the 3-2-1 method. Until then I only had a local backup, with a small subset of images on dropbox. At that time, the largest barrier for me to use any of the online backup services was the slow upload speeds of DSL. I actually tried a couple, but I think the estimated upload time of my multi TB photo library was almost 5 years. A bit over a year ago I switched over to fiber provided by Sonic, great service btw, and was able to actually consider a cloud backup solution.

My current library is stored on a large USB 3 disk. I prefer keeping all my images on a single drive, instead of swapping drives searching for part of a catalog. Every couple of years my main drive will start getting close to full, and I will buy a larger drive and migrate my libraries. Smaller drives are then used as backup disks. I have Carbon Copy Cloner set to duplicate subfolders to smaller disks. I use Amazon Drive Photos as my cloud storage and upload after any bog shoot. Unlike many backup solutions, the Amazon is not automated or synced. To me, this is not an issue, as I view this backup as a snapshot.

My primary image library is not the only set of photos that I want to have backed up. I take more and more of my personal photos on my iPhone. Apple does make online pretty easy with iCloud. It is not free, the measly 5 GB they provide for free is woefully inadequate. But even if it were considerably more I expect I would need to purchase an upgrade. The local backup again is done when Carbon Copy Cloner creates its weekly backup of my hard drive.


Flickr and Smugmug

The big news last week was the acquisition of Flickr by SmugMug. As a user of both services, I find this very exciting. I have been using Flickr the longest, since early 2005 I believe, about the time I got my first DSLR (a Nikon D70). As of today, I have over 22,000 images on Flickr.

Flickr strength remains it’s community and image discoverability. Long before hashtags, Flickr incorporated keywords that made it easy to find stuff. Despite all the other photo sharing platforms that have come up since I still rely on Flickr for most of my photo searching and research. Flickr was also the first site (that I know of) to use the timeline based presentation of photos, something many photographers were not used to at the time. SmugMug is another great platform for photographers. Its templates allow very professional looking sites with curated portfolio design, which makes it a great option as a domain host ( Additionally, SmugMug provides the ability to sell images directly to buyers.



Flickr Tags

Some time ago (ok a few years ago) flickr changed the URL scheme for tags, and it annoys me to this day. Previously searching for tags would result is a simple URL something like this

but now looks more like this

This made sharing tag URLs more complicated, and made it harder to edit a tag. While the old tag URL scheme still works, it is not obvious who to get to it. But once you know how, it is pretty easy. What’s even better is that you can change either the username or tag text to change the filtering criteria.

You can view all your tags with

or see images with a specific tag

And you can even edit a tag by adding /edit the end of the URL.

Auto-mating your Photo life with IFTTT

IFTTT for Photographers

IFTTT can automate your social photo workflow. Auto-posting, cross-posting, backing up and keeping inspiring images, all done with no interaction. In most of the examples here I am using flickr and Dropbox because these are primary two services that I use. But IFTTT works equally well for 500px for photos and Box, Google Drive and Skydrive for cloud storage.

Auto Posting

IFTTT can auto upload photos to flickr from various sources, including Dropbox, or directly from the Photos app in iOS.

Auto cross-posting

If you post across multiple sites IFTTT can make cross posting effortless. Use this feature with caution. If you expect the same users to follow you across multiple networks, they will burn out from seeing the same posts on multiple networks.

IFTTT Instagram to flickr
IFTTT Instagram to flickr

Backing up your social photos


Personal Photos


  • Copy iOS screenshots to evernote

Finding other IFTTT Photo Recipes

Finding other Photo recipes on IFTTT
Finding other Photo recipes on IFTTT

Photo Geotagging – My Workflow

I was asked recently about my GPS tagging workflow. Something which I haven’t given much thought too, and I haven’t been that doing that  consistently. This post basically describes the method I find most convenient now.

Tools used

Logging GPS data with Moves app

There are a number of ways to get the GPS data needed to tag the files. I have tried several. GPS photo loggers can collect a lot of data and usually have a pretty good battery life. But there are not many options, most are not mac compatible. I tried one of these, but got a faulty unit and gave up on it. Full GPS units, like Garmin, also collect data that can be downloaded. But the units are generally  bulkier and the screens require more battery usage. iPhone apps are good, because I always have my phone with me. I have used a few different apps here too, Runkeeper is good if you want to also track your exercise progress, but I have used it just because it outputs GPX files. Placetagger is another app that is good for just recording a GX track, and now that it saves the files directly to dropbox. Saving the export step. Both apps worked well, but I found that I would forget to turn them on, and  they had a pretty big hit to the battery life of the phone.

Moves App Screenshot
Moves App Screenshot

The Moves app is always on. So there is never the need to remember to turn it on. It has a fairly low battery draw. But it does have some, so I do carry a backup battery for my iPhone. It records locations, so I can easily review the days activities. it also records my steps, bike rides etc. And it does a really good job identifying them. But the moves app itself only provides a visual way of seeing your daily activities, and only exports images of the day.  Once the developer opened up the app to other developers it became possible to get the raw GPX data out, and is now my primary method for recording my data for Geotagging.

Downloading the GPX Data

The Moves Export  ( service allows you to pull down the Moves data in a GPX format. You have to setup moves to share the data, and give Moves Export permission to access the data. But once you have completed that, it is really easy to pull down each days data file.

  • Start at the “Your Storylines” tab,
  • Navigate to the day
  • Click on the “GPX” button.

If you are looking for a particular day, it may seem cumbersome to navigate day by day with the forward/backward arrows. But you can easily just change the date in the URL string, which  ends with soemthign like startdate=20140228 (startdate=yearmonthday) to the date you want to download. If moves has data for that day you will be able to download it.

Merging data tracks with Adze

Aperture (Lightroom behaves similarly from my understanding) does not work well with multi-track GPX files. Which is most GPX files from moves. There are not a lot of GPX editing apps for Mac. And from the few I have seen, Adze has the best UI. Most of the time I simply use it to merge tracks, but I have also used it to deleted errant GPS points with the GPS point editor. You can also export a KML file if you want to view your location data in google earth.

Adze Screenshot
Adze Screenshot

To merge a multitrack GPX to a single track file

  • Open the GPX file,
  • Select all tracks
  • Choose Merge Selected Tracks from the select menu
  • Save (or Save as…)

Tagging image files in Aperture

Aperture and Lightroom store the location metadata in the applications database, and do not in the original RAW files. Aperture’s tagging is a little different than others I have seen. I believe Lightroom simply tags the selected files based on their times. Another app I have used, GPSphotolinker, also uses the times. Aperture requires you to drag the selected files over the point on the GPS track that matches the first image. This usually is not too hard and would theoretically allow you to shift the set if you time was off a few minutes. But if you have a lot of overlapping tracks, it can be harder to live up than you expect. Otherwise the steps are strait-forward.

  • Load the GPX track
  • Select files and drag them to the correct point on the track for the first track

I used to use GPSphotolinker. Which gave the option of recording the GPS data in a sidecar file, or in the original raw file. But since it no longer works with the current Mac OX. They do make a commercial program called Photo Linker Pro which is compatible, but is not free like GPSphotolinker. I am sure it is an excellent program, but I decided to stick with the Aperture only method instead of buying another app.