Friday 8 November 2013

51: Fake Moustaches and File Mortality

Hello and welcome to edition 51 of the Railwaymedia blog. This will probably be quite a short one (hopefully!) as I've not really been anywhere, especially since I returned from my last Foreign trip to Austria and Hungary (as detailed in my previous blog).
I have actually been working more or less solidly since my return; this week would usually have been a full week off and so I would have probably made a day trip to somewhere further afield but I have had to make do instead with a couple of photos taken whilst at work. It looks like yet again I will more or less miss the Rail Head Treatment Train season, unless I get chance to photograph one or two over the next couple of weeks, though this will have to be done in between night shifts.
DRS have as usual got the contract to run a few RHTTs throughout the country and so they are having to press their older locos into service a bit more. 6K05, the Carlisle to Crewe afternoon departmental has on several occasions produced a class 37, not that I have been able to photograph any of them, but they have also had to resort to using pairs of them on their long distance Scotland to Daventry liner trains. Being at Carnforth the other day I waited for a picture of 4M44, the 0847 from Mossend, expecting the usual 66. 37605 and 37259 were a pleasant suprise, though had I known what was hauling the train I would have picked a better location than this.
Also still running along the northern section of the West Coast Main Line is the hired in London Midland class 350/2 unit that Trans Pennine Express are using for driver training in advance of the introduction of their own class 350/4 units, the first of which was delivered to Britain this week. The 350/2 spends the night in the sidings at Preston, not a location where vandalism is common, however for the last 3 months two security guards have been posted each night on the end of the old parcels platform to protect the train. I assume this is part of the contract between TPE and London Midland but the poor blokes doing this must be getting frozen now the weather is colder.
With the weather now chillier and wetter I feel less guilty about spending so much time at home on the computer processing and sorting out pictures rather than going out taking photographs. As regular readers might perhaps know I am constantly, it seems, going through all my pictures on my site reprocessing them to try and at least get a fairly consistent quality to how they look even if I don't always manage to improve them! From time to time as a result some of the thumbnails on the albums, in particular the 'Archive of Trips' section, may be missing as it is a time consuming job to keep checking these after I have updated pictures in another section. Images on some of the older blogs here may also be missing too whilst awaiting me being able to update the links to them.
The other big job I am doing in parallel is renaming many of my pictures files. Storage is a big issue with digital photography. Chris Nevard in his Blog recently mentioned the fact that whereas film transparencies, and to a large extent prints, can last almost indefinately given the right type of storage, noone really knows how well digital image files will survive over the years.
Partly through learning from experience, I now back all my files up on two external hard drives which I try to avoid having plugged in at once. I had one fail on me a couple of years ago. Fortunately I still had my original RAW files on CD-ROMs so was able to back most images up again, but it took a long time. I am not a fan of 'cloud' services, and it would be certainly foolhardy to rely on them alone. Many people lost a lot of images when the Fotopic site crashed a few years ago. You also need to bare in mind that if you use RAW files then as these are to the camera manufacturers specifications so they may not be able to be decoded in years to come.
The photo above is a case in point. When my (single) hard drive crashed I had to then retrieve my original RAW files from their CD-ROMs and convert them to TIFF files before putting both on my new pair of hard drives. The 317 seen here at Upminster was one of two files out of maybe 30 on that particular disc that for some reason are now unreadable. As a result I have been left with just the full resolution JPEGs that were stored on a seperate CD-ROM. Fortunately my reprocessing was of reasonable quality so it hasn't been a massive loss but I do have some pictures where my original processing was quite frankly terrible, so in effect I have lost those images completely.
File names are another element that I am concentrating on at this moment. It has taken me all week so far to go through the files on my hard drive to ensure my file naming is standardised. Generally it is as I have from the outset of digital used a fairly simple file numbering system which is {train number}+{location}+{date}. Except the odd occasion where you take more than one picture of a particular train on the same day this guarantees a unique file name for each picture, along with the basic details of what, where and when always being visible.  
Apologies if all this is off-topic to some of you but I really believe it is essential to take full control of the safety of your images as soon as possible. Oh, and also don't forget to let your wife, husband, girlfriend or partner know what all your CD-ROMs and hard drives contain. In the event of your death they may very well come across prints or slides and pass them on to a fellow enthusiast but a hard drive is too easy for them to overlook and either wipe or chuck in the skip. Even a photo of a class 142 or a 317 EMU in 100 years will be valuable to enthusiasts then!
 So thanks for reading as always, I will leave you with a shot for 'Movember', the now annual event supporting male prostrate cancer that encourages men (or I suppose women if they can) to grow a moustache through the month of November. Northern Rail are supporting the cause this year and have 'grown' moustaches on all their trains. Some of them have been placed centrally but others have been put in some odd places! Bye for now.