Nuts & Bolts
February 2008

by Bill Pierce

With the introduction of the new Digital Journalist Web design, this is the Happy New Year of the DJ. So, I'm listing a few of my New Year's resolutions.

(1) To spend time familiarizing myself with copyright law.

More important, it's time for me to get off my butt and file more of my pictures with the U.S. Copyright Office.

If you think this is a good idea for you, too, check the U.S. Copyright Office Web site, but also check for specifics on copyrighting photographs.

(2) To always carry a good point-&-push camera with me, just in case.

This isn't as simple as it sounds. With all their features and gizmos, these p&ps are much more complicated than professional-level DSLRs. You may be the exalted master who didn't have to look at the instructions for his latest high-ticket Canon, Nikon or whatever, but if you try that with your amateur point-&-push, it will bring you to your knees.

(3) Perhaps this is a corollary - to finally get around to reading the instructions books that came with my DSLRs. One hates to confront one's own ignorance, but even though I know how most of the camera works, maybe it is time to find out what that button just to the side of the lens mount does.

(4) To accept the fact that one computer "sharpening" doesn't fit all the ways you present a digital image.

I usually sharpen an unsharpened raw file in Photoshop with a radius of .3, a percentage of 300 and a threshold of 2. (Your values may be close to that, but they certainly don't have to be exactly that.) Unfortunately, on days that I'm feeling lazy, that's where I stop.

Truth is, there should be some additional sharpening, dependent upon the final presentation.

The small JPEG at the end of this column benefits from slight additional sharpening to taste at a small diameter. I use .1 pixels. For normal-sized prints and magazine repro, I like 1 pixel (maybe a slightly higher value for newsprint). Big prints... 2 pixels. In any case, when you are dealing with a publication, ask them what they like.

(5) To archive my digital images in the best way possible. I look at all the CDs that I have stored in the past. I realize they've got to go. Well, at least I'll get a lot of shelf space. I look at my auxilliary hard discs...

For now the best storage is an auxiliary hard disc. It doesn't slowly degrade like a CD. It fails. And you tend to notice that. If you have done a double backup of all your pictures and scans on two separate discs, you simply discard the failed disc and use the other to produce a second second disc. And you should produce a third disc to store off site to protect your pictures if your office should ever explode, or burn, or sink into the sea.

I now have six large hard discs; so, I will soon move to RAID storage. RAID stands for Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks. It allows you to back up information simultaneously to two or more discs. For our purposes it is just a box that holds a lot of discs that is more efficient and smaller than the same number of separate discs in their own containers.

Oh, for the day when we back up on the equivalent of a big memory card.

(6) To keep watching the Wilhelm Imaging Research Web site at for information on the image permanence on those baryta papers that mimic silver glossy papers dried matte that I used for years. At last, my future can look like my past. Although it is not a baryta paper, I'll also be watching the Epson Exhibition Fibre which is currently under test at Wilhelm.

(7) To finally put up a Web site.

This month's "picture that has nothing to do with the column" is just a building wall where layers of posters had been put up and torn down. It was raining, and I really wanted to stay dry. But the wall won.

© Bill Pierce
Contributing Writer