PhaseOne PhaseOut

Late last year PhaseOne announced they would no longer support iView Media Pro, the image cataloguing software which I’ve relied on for almost 20 years to catalogue my digital image library.

I’m trying to be charitable towards PhaseOne for this development as I understand the code which underpins iView is being made obsolete by computer operating system advances (32 bit to 64 bit for the techie-types), though I think they could have been more helpful and understanding in helping photographers make the transition.

Instead I was offered the eye-wateringly expensive option of subscribing to PhaseOne’s editing and cataloguing tools, which I don’t want since I already have LightRoom for editing, or using a third-party cloud-based library solution which is A) quite expensive, B) Cloud-based and C) Doesn’t reflect the way I work.

What iView allows me to do is locate any digital file I’ve taken since I went digital in 2000. A client can request a file from any year since then and I’ll be able to get my hands on it. iView was simple, robust and did only what I needed it to do (which is why it was simple and robust), but nothing lasts forever.

And so I’m looking at NeoFinder, the closest replacement I could find which doesn’t assume I am either an amateur with very small, occasional cataloguing requirements, or NASA with thousands of users and millions of digital assets to keep track of.

The switch-over isn’t going to be entirely pain-free. I had hoped I could just export my iView catalogue to NeoFinder, but to do that I need to have all my CDs, DVDs and external drives connected at once. Setting aside the 9 external hard-drives I now have, there’s the small matter of the 360+ optical discs which would all need to be mounted at once. It’s be fun to try, but it’s not happening.

As I write this, NeoFinder is chugging through my first external drive. That’s around 78,000 image files! This may take some time.

NeoFinder also works differently to iView and this is a bad and a good thing. I used to just select individual key images from a job and throw them into iView, but NeoFinder doesn’t work that way. You pretty much have to build a catalogue of the entire volume (hard drive).

While this can seem slower, it can be done in the background of other tasks – for example me writing a blog post about cataloguing software while my cataloguing software creates a new catalogue. It will also, I think, reduce the risk of important key images being missed, which was something I very occasionally managed to do in the past. It was always a correctible error, but good to know NeoFinder will be more belt and braces.

I appreciate this may not be the most thrilling, inspirational post for you to read so please accept my apologies and this virtual cupcake (non-redeemable anywhere and no cash value), but it’s one of those dull things you can’t live without, like Essential Waitrose Quinoa. If I don’t keep track of all the photos I’ve shot, it becomes a nightmare for me and a deep inconvenience for my clients.

It’s all fine though. I know once I’ve gone through this process, I should be good for the next 20 years. Fingers crossed.

 

All Dressed Up…

Not all my work involves taking portraits of business people in offices, though it’s fair to say a lot of what I do is exactly that.

Just before Easter I started on a project with BBSRC, one of the UK’s research councils, to produce a set of images of their facilities for use in their new website, on social media and in printed reports – in fact all their corporate communications. They’re moving away from using generic stock wherever possible and towards featuring their own research scientists and facilities to better communicate what they do.

This first stage of the project required some forethought and planning, because I was going to visit research units where biosecurity is a consideration. In other words, I couldn’t just walk in from the outside, with my camera, and start snapping away.

It wasn’t a full “hazmat” situation, but I was required to take a shower and change into supplied underwear, scrubs, disposable boiler suit, gloves, hair cover and face mask before going in, and although my camera gear was unlikely to cause a problem, I opted to use it for the most part inside a waterproof housing. Not least because at a future date, I’m going to have to use the housing in a facility requiring even greater biosecurity than at this one, so it was a good opportunity to try using the camera in the housing while wearing a face mask and gloves.

Thankfully I didn’t have to spend the entire day shooting like this because an underwater camera housing is rather like a penguin; graceful under water, unbelievably clumsy on dry land. It was great practice and I learned a few things about what I could and could not do when working this way, but it didn’t half make my hands ache as I tried to work the lens and controls through the PVC camera housing. I also discovered that with the face mask, my view into the viewfinder would steam up every time I breathed out. I did a lot of breathing control during this session!

To respect the client’s licensing, I won’t be sharing the photos I took for them here, but as the project progresses I hope I can show you some behind-the-scenes and outtakes along the way.