How many copies do I really need?

JH
Posted By
Jim_Hess
Nov 19, 2003
Views
317
Replies
14
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Closed
I have decided that it is time to start a major debate that will show a lot of disagreement among us. I have read several messages that say that before you work on an image, you first should save a copy of the image and then open the copy to do all of your work on. Personally, I feel that this is a waste of time and hard drive space. Whenever you open a file in Elements, or in Photoshop for that matter, once the file has been opened you are working on data that is in computer memory. You are not working directly on the file that is saved on your hard drive. Working with digital photography is not like putting a piece of paper in a typewriter. Once you have loaded the file, the file is released. I have verified this by having the same file open in both Elements and Photoshop, and have been able to save in either program independently without any problems. Whenever I work on a photograph one of the first things I do is create a copy of the background. So this extra layer makes it impossible for Elements to save the file as a JPEG image. Elements is smart enough to know that it has to save the file has a PSD document. So even if I just close the file and confirm that I want to save it, Elements is going to prompt me for a name for this new Photoshop document. When that file is saved it is saved independently of the original JPEG that was downloaded from my camera, so I now have a copy of the original. If I take the time to copy of the original before I start to make my changes, I end up with three copies of the file. And although I have plenty of hard drive space, having multiple copies often can become confusing to me.

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DS
Dick_Smith
Nov 19, 2003
Jim,

I don’t know if this helps any or not, but when I open an image in PSE I always duplicate it onscreen, and close the original. It helps me in case I get busy and have to leave, the new file I’m working on doesn’t overwrite the original.

I think the whole thing is real a personal decision, anyway. It works for me.

Dick
EM
Eric_Matthes
Nov 19, 2003
Most images will be fine, because of the warnings and duplications menu. But over time, there’s going to be an image you crop and you’ll want the original back, or some other command that cannot be undone by going back to the original layer.
Besides, PSD files get big quickly. I like having a CD of original TIFF files that I can start fresh from.
JH
Jim_Hess
Nov 19, 2003
Eric,

So what are you accomplishing by saving TIF files to a CD? I’m assuming here that the camera downloads JPEG images (at least that is what my camera downloads unless I choose high-resolution TIF images). It seems to me that you would be just as far ahead saving the JPEG images to CD ROM and then converting when necessary. The JPEG files are substantially smaller than TIF files. If you are in fact converting your JPEG images to TIF images, then the file has been changed during the conversion and you are not saving the original, unmodified images.
J
jhjl1
Nov 19, 2003
I think it depends on how many major crashes you have had over the years and how much data you have lost in those crashes. I now keep the Canon RAW file, a tiff copy and while still working on an image sometimes a psp or psd if I need to retain layers for any reason. I also keep jpeg’s once they have been sized for web. I have these copies on two different computers as well as CD for additional backup. I understand this sounds obsessive but with the low cost of storage these days I would rather be safe than sorry.


Have A Nice Day,
jwh 🙂
My Pictures
http://www.pbase.com/myeyesview
TF
Terri_Foster
Nov 19, 2003
I think the reason most of us make a backup copy before editing is because a person can get distracted by husbands, kids, pets, etc., and accidentally accept a change made to an original. I like to keep my originals because as I learn more editing techniques, I may want to go back and redo them…or edit them in a different way to be used in a different project.

Terri
EW
Ed_Wurster
Nov 19, 2003
wrote in …
I have decided that it is time to start a major debate that will show a
lot of disagreement among us. I > have read several messages that say that before you work on an image, you first should save a copy of the image and then open the copy to do all of your work on. Personally, I feel that this is a waste of time and hard drive space. Whenever you open a file in Elements, or in Photoshop for that matter, once the file

WARNING!!!
This message contains an exercise that IF carried out could result in loss of data. Please sit on your hands as you read this message. Do not perform these steps. Do not allow your children or pets to carry out these steps.

Jim,

Here is a mental exercise for you.

Open the file on your hard disk that you value most. It’s a treasured photograph of your parents from 40 years ago. This is a file you spent many hours on, fixing imperfections and so on. Maybe the original photo was lent to cousin Joe, who moved six times and can’t find the original.

It’s a very large file now, as you have many layers (and backups as you prepared in the file itself.)

So this file may take 30 seconds or so to save. You just tried out a fantastic technique you read about on the internet. Results look really good, so you decide to save this new layer.

This is just a mental exercise right? As the file is saving move your foot over to the power strip, say "Power Failure!," and tap the switch OFF.

Ed
BH
Beth_Haney
Nov 19, 2003
This is definitely a matter of personal preference. Not only that, but there’s a Trash or Recycling bin on every computer, so anything a person doesn’t want to have stay on their hard drive can be easily deleted.

I archive all JPEGs from my camera, so whenever I’m working on an image in PSD or TIFF, I am, essentially, already working on a copy. I often will duplicate the larger file when I’m editing so I can refer back to the unedited version to see just what kind of "improvements" I’ve really made.

Overall, us regulars on the forum strongly encourage newcomers to work on copies. We’ve seen too many posts from people who have worked on the original JPEG from their camera, done extensive editing and resaving, cropping, resampling, and who knows what else, and then they post and complain about the quality of their 72ppi print. Sometimes the "damage" just can’t be undone, which is sad.

And, you know, nobody has to pay any attention to what we say!
TF
Terri_Foster
Nov 19, 2003
Beth has a point. I just did that very thing. I forgot to change the image size before cropping and editing. It was all in 180ppi instead of the 300ppi I prefer. Luckily, I had my originals…so I was able to just delete out all of the incorrect edits.

Terri
JH
Jim_Hess
Nov 19, 2003
Ed,

I like your little mental exercise. But that isn’t the point. My argument is primarily aimed at the issue of making a backup copy of the original downloaded JPEG image from the camera before starting to work on the image. In my workflow the first step is to routinely create a layer which is a copy of the background, all of which is being done in memory. Once I have loaded that JPEG image, all of the changes that I make to it are done in memory while the original downloaded file sits unmodified on my hard drive. If I inadvertently click on the close button on the image I’m working on, even though I confirm that I want to save it, it is going to be saved as a Photoshop document because it has at least one additional layer. When that file is saved I have my copy and the original is still on my hard drive intact, unmodified, etc.

Of course if I have a photograph as valuable as you indicated in your example, you can rest assured that it will be archived. I’m just saying that it is not necessary to worry about creating all these copies at the beginning of the editing process. At least my workflow doesn’t seem to require it.
EW
Ed_Wurster
Nov 19, 2003
wrote…
Ed,

I like your little mental exercise. But that isn’t the point. My argument
is primarily aimed at the issue of making a backup copy of the original downloaded JPEG image from the camera before starting to work on the image. In my workflow the first step is to routinely create a layer which is a copy of the background, all of which is being done in memory. Once I have loaded that JPEG image, all of the changes that I make to it are done in memory while the original downloaded file sits unmodified on my hard drive. If I inadvertently click on the close button on the image I’m working on, even though I confirm that I want to save it, it is going to be saved as a Photoshop document because it has at least one additional layer. When that file is saved I have my copy and the original is still on my hard drive intact, unmodified, etc.
Of course if I have a photograph as valuable as you indicated in your
example, you can rest assured that it will be archived. I’m just saying that it is not necessary to worry about creating all these copies at the beginning of the editing process. At least my workflow doesn’t seem to require it.

I understand your work flow. Everyone else does not. When I write or give advice here, I assume the reader is a beginner. Non-beginners can skip the first step, or any step for that matter.

Ed
JH
Jim_Hess
Nov 19, 2003
OK all, ’nuff said. 🙂
JW
JP White
Nov 19, 2003
I have found one option in Photoshop elements that does NOT automatically rename a file when you go to save it. Save as web. This will save with the same filename as the original as a default. Note that ‘save as’ either adds .psd extension (preserving the original jpg) or if you choose .jpg adds ‘ copy’ to the filename preserving the original.

My practice is to copy all newly acquired digital images into a subdirectory called ‘negatives’ (OK they aren’t actual negatives, call it a personal quirk). I then work on the images in the parent directory. Better safe than sorry. jpg’s don’t take up much disk space anyway, it’s the psd’s that’ll make you buy that extra big harddrive.

JP
EM
Eric_Matthes
Nov 19, 2003
I have two sources of digital images. I get jpegs from my digital camera, which I convert to tiff for archiving. I am realizing that I could save the original jpegs, because that act of saving does not compress the images further. (This saving is really just copying, since the image is never opened in viewing software at this stage.)
I also scan slides, which I save as tiffs so they never go through any compression. I start to tell myself I don’t need to back up images so often, because in the grand scheme of things a couple days’ lost work is not much. But then I realize that each session, I work for an hour or two. I don’t want to repeat any of those hours. Storage is cheap enough to make backing up very easy.
All is fine in the computer world until our work comes crashing down in a virus, power outage, equipment malfunction etc. Then we rethink our ways. I lost a lot of time on the lovsan virus, and that reminded me to protect myself.
CS
Chuck_Snyder
Nov 19, 2003
Jim, it’s a good topic; thanks for bringing it up.

My workflow is based on two principles: 1) Always save the pristine original, be it a JPEG or RAW; and 2) never save an edited image as a JPEG, unless it’s a Save for Web copy. I do get nervous when I open a JPEG original and perform some single-layer edits like cropping or straightening or – sometimes – Auto Contrast or Auto Color Correction. I try to remember under those circumstances to go ahead and Save As a TIFF or PSD. I also add Edit to the image name to help make the distinction. I’ve consumed a lot of hard drive space (relatively cheap) and CD-R’s (dirt cheap) with multiple edits of the same image; very little discipline in that regard. Never saving an edited image as a JPEG is based on the well-documented deterioration that takes place each time an edited image is recompressed.

Your suggestion to make a duplicate copy of the background is a good one. It wouldn’t be redundant for me, because in most cases I perform sharpening on a duplicate layer. Thanks for the tip!

Chuck

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