I just had a colleague come in who had taken lots of photos on holiday but was unable to find them after an occasion where they went into the menus to try and fix an issue after the camera was dropped  I ran my favourite utility, PhotoRec, and we realised that the photos were gone entirely, with little explanation as to why. I suspect she had overwritten the files by taking more photos, which is a data-recovery no-no So with that in mind, here’s a quick post giving a simplified and brief explanation of how media storage works and what you can do in order to prevent your own photographic catastrophe . This isn’t a how-to for PhotoRec / TestDisk, as there are plenty of tutorials out there for that.

In the digital world, speed is important, and storage controllers (that is, devices that read and write to your storage) take shortcuts to ensure things keep zooming along. For example, if you move a folder between two spots on the same disk, the controller isn’t going to spend forever physically moving your files, bit by bit. That would be like moving a house, brick by brick. Instead, a storage controller does the ol’ switcheroo, taking the label off your folder, and giving you the label of another folder instead. The folder hasn’t moved, but to anyone looking at it, it has, because the label has changed. This is why you can move 100gb of movies from one spot to another on your disk in seconds, but copying them over for a friend takes hours.

Digital storage also takes these sorts of shortcuts when dealing with deleting files. In order to delete a file properly, you need to overwrite it with 0’s. But if you have a 4gb movie, that’s a lot of 0’s to write. So what the controller does, is mark the file as deleted. It’s still physically there on the disk, but the system ignores it, because it’s been told that the file has been deleted. When a new file comes rolling along, it moves over the top of the deleted file, so it’s finally deleted.

As you can see, this makes file recovery easy with a tool like TestDisk which ignores the system saying “Nah, this file isn’t here” and makes a copy of the file on another disk, because the file is still there, but it’s just been marked as “invisible” essentially. As you can also see, if you keep shooting, you’re overwriting the “deleted” files, and you have almost zero chance of getting those files back. Even if you don’t take a photo, your camera might still perform some kind of maintenance which causes data to be written to it, and you obviously don’t want that.

So if you’re on holidays and your card stops working, just eject it, pop it in your bag, pop in a second card (you do have one, right?!) and keep on shooting. Unless your card is snapped in two or burned out or in the mouth of a dolphin you were taunting, there’s a good chance you can get your files back

The image at the top of this post is one I took in Sydney back in 2013. I had to recover this, along with a ton of other files with TestDisk because I had accidentally formatted the card, not realising that I didn’t have the photos stored on my PC yet.

So the TL;DR version of this post is:

  1. If your card is cactus, eject it immediately. Don’t write to it!
  2. Take it to your nearest willing IT guy as soon as possible, or use TestDisk / PhotoRec to recover it if you know how
  3. Make sure you carry many cards with you, just in case one dies. Storage is so cheap, you have no excuse!
  4. Keep backups of all your files and import them onto your PC as soon as you get a chance! Even if it’s just one photo, back it up! Your daddy taught you good, right?

I’m doing a 365 challenge at the moment. A photo a day for a whole year. It’s been fun, except when it comes to Facebook photo management. I didn’t realise until about 100 days in, that Facebook was lumping all of my photos together into one post. People visiting my page would see nothing, except for “David Gray Photography added 100 photos to the album ‘365 Challenge 2015′”. This was very frustrating, because I was working my butt off to post content, but Facebook wasn’t showing it. I resorted to “double-sharing” my post. I’d upload the photo, but tick “Hide from News Feed”, then I’d go to the photo, hit “Share” and share it with my own page. It seemed to work, but I knew there had to be a better solution.

After some more research, I discovered that there is a “Change Date” button in the uploader. By default, Facebook sets the date of the photo to the date you created the album (i.e. January 1st). This might work for photos of a birthday party or a wedding, where it all happens on the one date, but for a steady stream of pictures over the course of a year, it was not good.

Fortunately, Facebook gives you an option to set the dates after upload. To do it with 180 photos would take forever, so I created a bookmarklet which would find and store the month and day (Facebook gives you this info as a tooltip, which is very handy), simulate a click on the “Change Date” link, set the day / month boxes as necessary, simulate a click on the “Save” button, then simulate a click on the “Next” button. This essentially allows me to repeatedly click to set the date for all of my photos. 100 photos in, only 90 to go. Too easy!

If you’d like to use this bookmarket for yourself, drag the link below, up to your Bookmarks toolbar:

Automatically change Facebook photo date

If you’d like the source to inspect and change, check out the JSFiddle. As this was written for myself, the code is going to be messy and all over the place, but I didn’t have time to write neat code.

If you’d like to turn the source into a bookmarklet, or you’d like to write your own, check out this bookmarklet generating site. Put some code in, hit “Convert” and you’ve got a bookmarklet, ready to drag to your toolbar. Just note that Facebook blocks external scripts, so you can’t use jQuery on code destined for Facebook.

Happy renaming!

Last night I printed what has arguably been my first useful thing on my Buccaneer. I came across this lens cap holder a little while ago, but didn’t think to print it until last night. I needed to change the dimensions, so I took the Thing into Thingiverse’s customizer, adjusted the parameters, save it to my account, then printed it.

“Customizer” is a feature on Thingiverse that lets you easily modify certain objects. For example, the lens cap holder let me change the strap width and lens cap diameter without needing to touch any other programs — I simply typed into the text box what my strap’s width was (38mm) and what my lens diameter was (77mm)  and it gave me back a file that I could shove straight into the Buccaneer app and print. There are plenty of other customizable things out there, from music boxes to luggage tags and almost everything else inbetween.

The cap holder was incredibly tough to get on (and off) my strap, as there was literally no wriggle room, so next time I might try 39mm wide instead. As you can see from the image above, I eventually managed to get the holder on, and get my straps back on in the right orientation, but it took a fair amount of struggling and bending to get it on there!


Last night I 3D printed a model of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. It took roughly 8-9 hours to do on a reasonably high quality setting. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The resolution is so good, you can actually see the ridges on the wheel near the shutter (on the left-hand side of the photo) and the individual buttons on the rear of the camera (not shown). The bottom is quite “rough” from where I had to snap away the supports (that kept the lens from sagging while printing) but overall I’m impressed.

This also gave me a chance to play with the “infill” setting in the latest version of the Buccaneer 3D printer app. When printing, the printer adds in a honeycomb-like structure to the inside of the print to make it sturdier (so the inside is not completely hollow, but it’s also not completely solid) and most 3D printers let you pick this percentage. The higher the percentage, the sturdier your print will be (with less chance of roofs caving in, as was the case with my TARDIS test print), but the slower it’ll print and the more plastic it’ll use. The default for the Buccaneer is 20%. I dropped it down to 15% which shaved some time and filament use off the printing total.

My next print is going to be a “davidgray Photography” sign for an upcoming art and craft market. I’ve designed it myself in Sketchup and saved it as an STL in Microsoft’s 3D Builder app so we’ll see how that goes!

Under the suggestion of a fellow Arcanum member, I purchased Royce Bair’s “Milky Way Nightscapes – A guide to photographing the Milky Way“. It’s 140 pages of practical tips on how to photograph the milky way (as the title obviously suggests). I’m still learning astrophotography, but it’s proven useful so far, even after a quick read.

In the book, it goes over many things, including how to remotely compose your shots before you even leave home (using free or cheap software such as Stellarium, along with Google Maps), post-processing using Adobe Camera Raw, lighting the foreground with a variety of lights (and even includes formulas for calculating light intensity and such) plus ideal camera settings for various print types.

If you have $20 USD and a keen interest in astrophotography, it’s well worth a look. The weather has been rather terrible most of the last week, but we’ve had some great weather this weekend, so I’ve had more chances to get out and put into practice what I’ve been learning. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m slowly getting there!

EDIT: Want to see the failed print in action? Video at the bottom of this post!

The Buccaneer sitting pretty, filament loaded, ready to start printing.

The Buccaneer sitting pretty, filament loaded, ready to start printing.

After almost a year and a half of waiting, I finally received my Buccaneer 3D printer. The printer, which was funded with Kickstarter, has experienced delay after delay, a fairly high number of staff joining and leaving, plus the ever growing angry backer crowd who were annoyed by lack of communication, delays in refunds, removed features and not knowing for sure when they were getting their printers. But those issues aside, was it worth the wait?

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The last few nights I’ve been out and about shooting the stars. It’s one of my first few times doing so, so I still have much to learn. My first port of call on Sunday night was Blue Rock Dam, a place about three quarters of an hour from home. It’s 11km from the nearest major town, about 2-3km from a small town, and about 20km (or more) to the nearest power station, so I was well away from light pollution (though you could still see some in the final shot).

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Today I travelled to Melbourne to visit my aunty, who was hosting a lunch for various family and extended family members. To get there, we had to travel along Eastlink, a tolled road that takes you to the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Along the way, there are plenty of green and orange perspex panels that line the road, seemingly purely for decoration. Turns out that due to a parallax effect, they make a really neat long exposure photo!

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And here’s another shot from Mayday Hills. I do have other photos asides from ones taken at this location, you know. Just check out my portfolio!

This place really gave me the creeps. Nowhere else on the tour did as much as this location. I guess partly because there was a bed down there, all set up, and it looked like it had been slept in recently. One of my big fears when exploring places like this, is meeting someone inside, when you don’t know they’re there. Continue reading