Category Archives: Photography

“Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky.”

photo by Cheryl Machat Dorskind

“Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky.

When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us. With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world…”

Diane Ackerman  A Natural History of the Senses

I return to this book again and again – science + nature+ poetry! A must for your book collection.

External Hard Drives – Buyer’s Guide

Photographing Children Naturally by Cheryl Machat Dorskind

Getting Organized

New beginnings are often opportune times for getting organized. When I began working on my eBook, Photographing Children Naturally, published by Trey Ratcliff (Flatbooks), I decided to organize my files and bought three new external hard drives for storage and backup. The first external hard drive, a 4-TB “G -Technology,” was allocated for “time machine” (a backup system for Mac users). I let it run overnight the first time and backed-up my Mac desktop (2.7 TB). As part of my workflow, I run time machine at the end of each day to safeguard my data in the event of a computer crash.      G-Technology 4-TB Drive USB 3.0

The second external hard drive I purchased was a Lacie Porsche P’9230 3-TB USB Desktop Hard Drive. I already have one of these aluminum drives which is full (a minimum of 600 MB free space is recommended); they are attractive, stack nicely on my desk, and are strong and reliable. I use this new Lacie Porsche as a scratch disc (RAM allocated for Adobe Photoshop performance – if you are interested in reading about scratch discs click here) and as my first backup drive when uploading picture files. Once this Lacie 3-GB external hard drive fills to 75% capacity, I will purchase another hard drive so that my scratch disc remains supercharged.

  Lacie Porsche P’9230 3-TB USB 3.0 Desktop Hard Drive

I bought the third external hard drive, a “G-Technology Mini” to travel with my photo files and book documents. It is bus powered conveniently eliminating the need for an AC power supply. The small hard drive can withstand shock up to 100 G’s which is great for traveling, as the item is bound to get bumped around on the road. The G-mini also comes with an attractive faux leather carrying case.

g-technology mini              g mini carrycase

5 important external hard drive features:

1.RPM – I recommend buying external hard drives with 7200 RPM spindle speed (rate per minute of transfer) enabling fast and efficient transfer of data.

USB 3.0 Type A Male to Type A Female Extenion cable 10                               Firewire 800 -9 pin to 9 pin cable

2. Fire Wire and USB 3 Connectors Firewire 800 (for Macs) and USB 3.0 interfaces are fast and efficient. The USB 3.0 interface enables transfer of a 700 MB video file in just 6 seconds as compared to 25 seconds when using a USB 2.0 interface.

 video transfer rate

Thunderbolt Technology – standard on new Macs, Thunderbolt technology supports high resolution displays and high performance data devices through a single compact port. If you have a new Mac, consider purchasing the Lacie 3TB d2 Thunderbolt 2 External Hard Drive.

thunderbolt cable


High-Speed I:O Performance

3. Sound/noise level – the external hard drives grunt, groan, and make other annoying sounds. I purchased external hard drives that are noted as silent. Although, they make some noise, it is tolerable.

4. On/off switch – some of my old external hard drives do not have an on/off switch and I’ve come to realize it’s an important feature. Pulling out a plug to turn off a drive is a bad idea and letting the drive run constantly can also create problems.

5. 3-4 TBs capacity is more than enough to hold my data for a year and remains well priced. There are larger capacity storage units and RAIDs, but I try to keep technology simple and not have all my eggs in one basket. 

The following chart highlights the external hard drives’ key features I have discussed.

Recycle Back-ups

The Library of Congress recommends data transfer every seven years. This means copying the files from old hard drives and CDs/ DVDs and transferring them to new external hard drives. Keep in mind that the new Macs do not have DVD drives – a sign that this data storage solution will be obsolete.

Data preservation can be expensive, but thanks to Moore’s law, memory continues to become cheaper and cheaper. In fact, since I bought my three hard drives new products have emerged and if I were going to purchase today, I would certainly consider the Western Digital My Passport Wireless.

 Western Digital 2 TB My Passport Wireless

  • Wirelessly transfers photos and videos from your SD card 
  • Enables up to eight devices simultaneously
  • Built in rechargeable battery

Three fold backup policy

Industry leaders recommended a three-fold back-up policy: create two external hard drive backups and have a third backup off site in case of fire, flood, or other unforeseen calamities.  The cloud is a backup solution, but as a professional photographer who has (seemingly) countless images, a cloud backup is not practical. With that said, I use Dropbox daily – mostly for reviewing and critiquing my mentoring clients’ work. Dropbox is a great solution if you have a reasonably sized digital library or want to archive specific folders. The Western Digital Wireless Passport also connects seamlessly with Dropbox and Google Drive.

A note about my links

The products recommended on this post contain affiliate links which provide me a tiny commission (at no cost to you) helping offset the time invested in writing the blogs. I have been a B&H Photo customer for over 20 years; I like their commitment to customer service, best prices, and education. In October, 2012, I was invited by B&H Photo to speak at the Photo Plus Expo (Javitz Center, NY) as a guest panelist discussing “Preparing Successful and Employable College Graduates.”  

In conclusion, consider starting the New Year with a fresh start – organize and preserve your digital files with new hardware. Recycle the old and get organized.

All my best,


Dorskind_headshotPhotographing and painting since she was twelve, Cheryl Machat Dorskind is the best selling author of “The Art of Handpainting Photographs” and “The Art of Photographing Children.” Her new eBook, Photographing Children Naturally is available as a pdf download here. She is also a New York Times acclaimed photo artist, a workshop instructor, a college professor, an online photo educator, and a fine art mentoring expert (FAME).