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What a Tangled Web… The 2021 Edition

January 16, 2021

I try to do this post every couple of years, and now is as good a time as any.

A friendly reminder from your friendly neighborhood information security guy who is also a photographer…

When was the last time you backed up your photos? That includes your cell phones.

My standard phrase is (with apologies to Bill Shakespeare): What a tangled web we weave, when in backups we do not believe.

For the 2021 edition… a lesson learned.

Last spring I discovered that the image archive on my main machine was missing three days worth of shooting. As were my backup drives. How did I know they were missing? Mostly because I had the images in Lightroom (or snapshots of them), but I didn’t have the images on my primary hard drive. Nor on any of my backup drives.

Three shooting days gone.

I cursed a bit. No, I cursed a lot.

I always considered myself to be very disciplined when it came to doing backups, but obviously I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. Truth be told, I often have instances when I figure out I’m not as good as I thought I was.

While I was irritated, I had to let it go. Nothing I could do about it then and I had other things to do.

And then in early November I found them again. Short version of the story: They were on my last computer that I had used for image processing. Somehow during the copying process from old machine to new, something went awry.

Which leads me to this year. I have every intention of replacing my current image processing computer with a new one. The current rig turns 5 years old in the spring and just in terms of reliability and operating system age, it is time for a new one. And this year, I will be much more careful about backing up everything.

So I’ll say again…

When was the last time you backed up your images?

When was the last time you made a backup of those images and put them somewhere safe outside of your house? Somewhere far enough away that if a major disaster hit your house that it would not also be affected.

And when was the last time you checked to make sure you really have what you thought you had?

The Obligatory 2020 Recap

December 18, 2020
tags: ,
© Jim Miller – American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

This has been one hell of a year.

I could probably end the blog entry just with that, you would nod your head in the affirmative, and I could save both of us a lot of time.

This year’s recap has been tough to write. This is my third attempt at writing this because I don’t know that I can truly do this year justice.

COVID-19 sucks. Too many deaths. Too many economic lives destroyed. Too many 2nd and 3rd order effects caused to people’s mental health and their relationships with others that will never be well-documented. Too much sadness. As this year comes to a close, two vaccines with great promise seem to be here or on in the wings. I pray that it helps return some degree of normalcy to our world and healing can begin in earnest.

This has been a rough year for me. I struggled with a new medical issue that I was diagnosed with in late 2019, yet was expected to somewhat maintain a stoic “Only a flesh wound” type façade. COVID-19, and the restrictions imposed from it, has not helped. Much collateral damage as I started to get better.

I have avoided COVID-19 (as best as I can tell), but people I’ve worked around have not. They have all recovered. Their exposure also gave me an opportunity to spend quality time at home, waiting out the potential that I might have gotten it. Thankfully I could work from home. Thankfully I have been able stay fully-employed.

I broke somebody’s heart this year. My heart was broken. Neither of us intended to. Neither heart has mended nine months later.

Photographically this year has been both very productive, yet very disappointing. I was really great at image processing up until about June. I got a good photo binge in this year, traveling in a socially distanced way through Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming (with brief brushes with Missouri, Iowa, and South Dakota). I also got a trip into South Texas before COVID-19 started to rear its ugly head. But life got in the way in July and my opportunities to make and process images slowed to a glacial crawl. Life is just now starting to return to normal now.

As the year ends, I’m somewhat starting over in a new city with a new job and a new perspective in terms of starting points for photography trips. I hope that as the snow melts that the grip of COVID-19 will be melting as well and that 2021 can be a year of recovery for us all.

To you and yours, a very happy holiday season in whatever manner you celebrate it. Come on back for 2021.

About the image:
American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
Stafford County, Kansas – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
ISO 400, 1/250 sec at f/10 – No Flash
Portfolio Addition Pending


September 24, 2020
© Jim Miller – Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa)

Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa)
Boulder County, Colorado – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
ISO 400, 1/250 sec at f/18 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1030
Image Size in Portfolio: 3986×3189

Rest in Peace, Bob

September 16, 2020

My long absence from the blog is interrupted by a few words about my friend, Bob Zeller.

Bob passed away yesterday just a few weeks short of his 86th birthday. His health had been failing for a short period of time, complicated I’m sure by his lifelong struggles with Marfan Syndrome.

Bob was many things.

He was an Airman, having served in the Air Force from 1955-1962, when he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome. That diagnosis prompted a medical discharge from the Air Force after seven years of service. It also planted him firmly in San Angelo, Texas, where he spent most of his post-Air Force life.

He was a musician. A great saxophonist, he was inducted both in the West Texas Music Hall of Fame in the Pioneers & Sidemen category and as a member of the Cavaliers in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. The Cavaliers are best known for their hit “Last Kiss”–later covered by Pearl Jam in 2000.

To me, he was all of those things. But he was also a mentor and a friend.

I met Bob and his bride, Ann, in the bird blind at San Angelo State Park, probably in 2007. His images coated the inside of the blind, giving new birders an idea of what they might find while sitting in what was nothing more than a converted shed with big windows.

As a bird photographer, I was very, very raw. My bird photography had been limited to some shooting in Iceland where I’d had some nice shots of puffins.

I spent many a morning in the blind with Bob and Ann. Without trying to teach or formally instruct, Bob taught me a ton about photography in general and bird photography in particular.

I am forever grateful to him for those informal lessons. I am the photographer I am today because of Bob.

In the years that followed, we continued our friendship. He’d always help with identification help or whatever else I needed.

Bob was a great photographer. He was an even better man.

Bob, it was a privilege and an honor to have known you. Rest in peace, my friend. Rest in peace.

Busy with Other Things…

May 17, 2020
© Jim Miller – Feeding Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)

I’ve been taking a break from the blog. I wish it were good things. I’m glad it wasn’t for bad things. It has just been things.

I have been working in earnest at reducing my backlog with some significant success. As I wrote this post this Sunday morning I have now gone through and harvest images from 97 of my photo shoots. Leaving a mere 165 left to go.

I found in some cases I had previously finished harvesting the shoot, meaning it was just bad bookkeeping on my part. In some cases I had started to work on them at some point and then stopped, meaning that there wasn’t that much work to do. In other cases I had not touched the shoot, meaning that I had much work to do.

My goal for the year was getting my 1,000th image into the portfolio. I cleared that hurdle earlier this month. Which sounds like it is time to set a new goal.

I still have not been back in the field to shoot. Covid-19 restrictions have kept me at home for the most part. I’m hoping maybe next weekend I will go out for at least a little while. Colorado’s current Safer at Home restrictions end after next weekend and word is that Rocky Mountain National Park may be open for business the following week. I really need to get back into the field.

I hope that you remain safe and well.

About the image:
Clouded Skipper butterfly (Lerema accius)
Bexar County, Texas – December 2012
Canon 60D, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
ISO 400, 1/160 sec at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0159
Image Size in Portfolio: 2624×3280

Burning Down the Backlog…

March 19, 2020
© Jim Miller – Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)

In my day-to-day job we talk about burning down the backlog. Effectively, we have identified things that need to get done, but are not the highest priority when we discovered them. So they go into the backlog. Those items still have to be done. When things slow down we can go back and fix those issues. And in doing that we say we were successful in burning down the backlog.

Effectively I’ve created a huge backlog of processing to do over the years. For me, a day of shooting is a wonderful stress reliever. A bad day of shooting is better than a good day doing just about anything else.

And when I got those images home, I’d look at them. I’d share a few on Facebook. I’d edit a few and make them part of a blog post. I might even process a couple and put them in my portfolio. But the rest would sit on the virtual shelf in my hard drive, collecting virtual dust. They became my backlog.

Winter is still very much a reality here in Colorado. Some medical concerns keep me from traipsing out in the snow to do some shooting. And COVID-19 looms as its own threat.

I have completed processing my first three shoots of the year. So I am burning down my backlog of previous shoots and am being very productive at it.

Right now I am in one Lightroom library of shots from early 2016. It consists of five different days of shooting.
– One very productive day at the Rocking R6 Ranch near Laredo in Webb County, Texas.
– Three quick visits to Crescent Bend Nature park in Cibolo, Texas.
– And a day trip out to South Llano River State Park near Junction, Texas.

And when I get those five done, I will only have 215 additional shoots to harvest images from (out of a total of 262 total shoots from my Canon 60D and my Canon 7D Mark II).

I really need to do something about my backlog…

About the image:
Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)
Kimble County, Texas – February 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/500 sec at f/10 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0856
Image Size in Portfolio: 3198×2558


March 17, 2020
© Jim Miller – Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)

Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
Webb County, Texas – February 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 500mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/640 sec at f/10 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0850
Image Size in Portfolio: 3451×2761

Larger Size Posted At FlickrExplored March 15, 2020


March 15, 2020
© Jim Miller – Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/400 sec at f/9.0 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0815
Image Size in Portfolio: 3904×3123


March 13, 2020
© Jim Miller – Audubon’s Oriole (Icterus graduacauda)

Audubon’s Oriole (Icterus graduacauda)
Webb County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 300mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/160 sec at f/7.1 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0827
Image Size in Portfolio: 3379×4424


March 11, 2020
© Jim Miller – Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/320 sec at f/14 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0806
Image Size in Portfolio: 3006×3757

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