I attended the wedding of my friends Marie-Caroline and Franklin this week-end and took the opportunity to exercise my somewhat rough wedding photography skills. Some more debriefing shall follow shortly and the finished product should be ready by the end of the week.

Much gigage was produced (a bit under 3000 frames) and a slight lossage experienced so today I’ll begin with a little story about storage…

I use a Vosonic X’S-Drive VP2060. It is quite old now but still works perfectly fine despite travelling quite a bit in my bag. Six months ago I wrote about the main risk inherent to my storage procedure :

“It is very unnerving to have no way to control wether or not copy from CF to hard disk was performed successfuly. I have not had a failed copy ever but the nagging risk remains in the back of my mind. That is why a review screen is no luxury and it is the primary reason why one of these day I will upgrade to something with a review screen”.

That was excellent foresight : this week-end I lost the entire content of 1 GB Compact Flash card full of reception candids because I failed to transfer it to my portable hard disk. The Vosonic X’S-Drive VP2060 gives no way to confirm wether or not a picture has been copied on the disk so I expected that the occurence of such loss was only a matter of time. The direct cause is of course user error, but the lacking ergonomics of the Vosonic are a large factor contributing toward it.

I now understand I should heed to the advice of other photographers on Photo.net: ditch the hard drive when operating under time pressure and instead bring as much CF storage as necessary. Chris Newkumet puts it best :

“I hope you’re not intending to download cards during a wedding and then format and reuse those cards at that same event. For one thing, there’s rarely time to do that given how quickly things move in a typical wedding schedule. And I’d never trust an assistant to do that, either. As Bas said, with the going rate for CF cards, there’s no good reason to do it. My advice–buy 7-8 gigs of CF capacity, fill each card, tuck them away safely and then take your time when you get back home or to the studio downloading the images. I shoot 1,500–2,000 images during a typical 10-hour wedding date, and I can tell you I need to sit down later and make sure I’ve accounted for all of them before I can rest easy. As for the portable storage devices themselves, the only one I have any experience with is the Epson and I can tell you it’s pretty slow. I think these gadgets are fine for traveling and what not when you have time at the end of each day to download cards”.

Experiencing a loss definitely got the lesson nailed in pretty well. And considering it was only a loss of about 350-400 frames (maybe 50 keepers at my going rate) it was a rather cheap lesson.

Portable (CF reader + hard disks) combos are still nice when working at a relaxed pace. The debate still rages about wether they should be used to free up CF space or only as a backup, or wether burning CDs is a a better option, but for me the choice is now clear : a portable storage device for travelling and a stack of CF cards for event photography.