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Start Me Up: file browser essentials > Saving Your Digital Negatives

Saving Your Digital Negatives

Okay, I know this is the File Browser chapter, but there are just a couple of critically important things we have to do before we actually open Photoshop.

Step One.
Plug your card reader (Compact Flash card, Smartcard, etc.) into your computer and the images on the card appears on your hard drive (as shown). Before you do anything else, before you even open Photoshop, you need to burn these photos to a CD. Don’t open the photos, adjust them, choose your favorites, and then burn them to a CD—burn them now—right off the bat. The reason this is so important is that these are your negatives—your digital negatives, which are no different from the negatives you’d get from a film lab after they process your film. By burning a CD now, before you enter Photoshop, you’re creating a set of digital negatives that can never be accidentally erased or discarded—you’ll always have these “digital negatives.”

Now, what if you don’t have a CD burner? That’s easy—buy one. It’s that critical, and such a key part of your digital setup. Luckily, burning CDs has become so fast, inexpensive (you can buy blank, writable CDs for around 10¢ each), and easy-to-do that you can’t afford to skip this step, especially if you’re a professional photographer.

Step Two.
My personal favorite CD-burning software is Easy CD Creator for Windows or Roxio Toast Titanium for the Mac (its interface is shown here). It’s become very popular, partially because its easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface is a real timesaver. Here’s how it works: Select all the images from your card reader, then click-and-drag the whole bunch into the Toast Data window.

Step Three.
After your images appear in the Toast Data window, double-click the tiny CD icon in the window and give your disc a name (you can see the name highlighted in the example at left). Then, simply click the Record button and Toast does the rest, leaving you with a reliable, protected set of digital negatives. If you’re the extra careful type (read as “paranoid”), you can burn yourself another copy to keep as a second backup. There’s no loss of quality, so burn as many copies as you need to feel secure (remember, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you).



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