Keeping copies of original photos

Those of us who remember the days of film cameras still have those “negatives” in mind to keep and guards as the originals of our photos. Digital photography does away with that. Enhancing and manipulating of pictures is so easy even us senior adults can do it. That brings up that question “should I keep a copy of the image as it came from the camera?”

For most of us the answers is “Yes, at least for a while”. In our enthusiasm for bringing out the best in an image it is easy to go overboard and ruin it instead. That’s when it is necessary to step back to an earlier version, or maybe the original.

imageWindows Live Photo Gallery makes the going back easy. There is a control, “Revert to original”, that removes all edits and restores the photo to the starting condition. Live Photo Gallery doesn’t undo the edits, it keeps an original for us. When an edit is made it makes a copy of the original image and saves it in the “original photos folder”.

So, all’s well – end of story? Not quite.

imageBy default Live Photo Gallery keeps originals permanently. Photos take up a good deal of storage space. If you are an avid photographer, it wont be long and that “original photos folder” will be stuffed full and take up a lot of disk space. Indeed it is possible to run out of available storage space and bring your computer to its knees.

Live Photo Gallery can be set to discard the originals after a period of time. That is probably a good strategy. Keep the originals long enough to make sure that you are satisfied with any enhancements, then let them get discarded.

imageThe “Originals” tab in the “Options” dialog allows a number of settings from one day, to one year, or the default “never”, of when to move the originals to the recycle bin.

My own preference is to set this to “One week”. This gives me plenty of time to come back and to change my mind about the corrections I applied.

In case you are curious, the originals are stored in an out-of-the-way location inside your user folder. When you view the contents there by way of the “Go to original photos folder”, Windows demurely hides the actual location behind just an “Original images” label. See the illustration above. You can see the full location description by just clicking on the label in the address bar.

Some of us just shudder thinking that some time in the future we might want to redo the edits in a different way or with a more powerful editing application. What then? Being paranoid about the possible loss of my “precious” photos, I make a copy of the originals as they came from the camera and put them into a backup system. This is one of my routines before I even look at the photos. The important point here is that such archiving is done on separate media.

Should you keep copies of your originals permanently? You should at least give the question some careful thought.


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