Monthly Archives: April 2010

How to recover your lost photos

At one point or another many photographers will inadvertently loose some photos either by a hardware/software failure or user error. Either way it can be a horrible experience. Hopefully you are backing up on a regular basis so to not loose your entire photo collection. The one problem with photo backup is that you have to get the photos to your computer to back them up. What happens if you are out in the field and accidentally delete one of your memory cards? Depending on the size of the card you may have lost hundreds of photos. Luckily, more than likely you can still recover all of the lost photos.

There are many photo recovery tools out there today, many cost money and a few are free. I always prefer free even if the software is a little hard to understand at first glance. I’ve spent time and time again looking for a good and free solution for photo recovery and I finally found something. PhotoRec is a free open source project that is designed to recover your lost files from a hard drive or memory card. It is also available for many operating systems including Windows, Linux and Mac.

To test the software out I took a 512MB memory card and formatted it in the camera, deleting all of the photos. Also note that previous to formatting, the camera reported the card as being about half way full. Now that we have a freshly formatted card, lets see how PhotoRec does as far as recovering those photos.

Drive Select 

As you can see from the screenshot above this is not your typical looking Windows application. If you remember the days of DOS it will look much more like a DOS application than your traditional Windows program. You must use the keyboard to navigate around the application but luckily for us it is fairly straight forward.

The first window that comes up will ask you what drive you have your memory card in. You should be able to recognize the drive by the size PhotoRec reports back. You may also find the label of the drive helpful as well. In my situation I needed to select the third option which was reported as a 512 MB drive with the label of Generic Flash HS-CF.

Partition Select 

The next window asks for the partition table type. If you are using a Windows PC like I am, you should select the Intel option.

Partition Type

Next up is the partition you want it to search in. If you are using a memory card you most likely will only have two options here. The entire disk and the partition your camera makes. My camera is a Canon 10d and you can see in the screenshot that the camera has labeled the partition as EOS_DIGITAL. This is usually the name of the drive that shows up in Windows when you first put your memory card in the computer.

File System Select

Now you need to tell PhotoRec what type of filesystem it is. Again if you are using Windows it will be the “Other” option.

Search Options

Now it will ask if you want to search the entire card or just the free space of the card. If you still have photos that you can see on the card you can choose to only look in the free space. If you want to be sure it finds everything possible, you may want to tell it to search everything.

Recovery Location

The next thing you need to do is tell PhotoRec where you want to put the files it finds. Once you are in the directory you would like the files to be copied to you can press the “Y” button to indicate Yes this is where I want my recovered files to go.

Recovery Status

Now you can sit back and wait for the files to be copied. Once the program is finished copying the files over you can go to the folder you specified to take a look at them.

Recovered Files

Here you can see the deleted files it was able to retrieve. It was not only able to recover the files I had just deleted but also files that had been deleted many months ago. As long as you have not used up the space that that your old photos had used the program should be able to recover them. This is an important point to realize. If you accidentally format your memory card, do not shoot any new photos to it. The old files are still there but once you start taking new photos it will start using up the space the old photos reside on removing the capability of recovering them.

Meta Data part 3

Continuing a discussion of meta data and the additional information that a camera attaches to each photo you take and how that can assist you in becoming a better sports photographer.


CCD width = 28.12mm

This is a calculated value that is of no use at this time.

Exposure Time = .003 (1/320)

This is the shutter speed, how fast your shutter opened and closed. Exposure time is controlled by the shutter speed. Along with aperture this determines the amount of light that reaches the sensor. Shorter shutter speeds are used to freeze fast-moving subjects.

Aperture = f/4.5

The aperture or size of the opening of the hole that allows light onto the sensor. Remember the smaller the number the larger the opening so I could have made the opening larger by going to 2.8.

ISO = 3200

The ISO for this shot was set very fast at 3200. Remember this is essentially the “speed of the film” and although there is trade-offs you typically want faster to freeze action and motion.

Exposure bias = 0.00

This is typically modified with a small dial or button with the + or – sign. In this shot it was not adjusted, but this meta-data shows you if you used this feature to underexpose or overexpose the photo. Useful in high contrast situations and an easy change to make.

Metering Mode = Matrix

This represents the mode your camera is set in to “meter” or “calculate” the exposure from the current light conditions. Matrix mode in the Cannon camera evaluates the light in all zones of the frame for its calculation. Other common settings are “spot” which calculates from one very small area and center weighted which concentrates on the middle of the frame.

Exposure = Normal Program

Exposure refers to the lightness or darkness of the photo. I shot this with the exposure mode set to normal. Most cameras will have auto, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual.

Thumbnail = 160 x 120 pixels

This is the size of the preview thumbnail that is included in jpeg files. So within the header of this photo is a thumbnail that is 160×120 pixels in size.

JPEG Quality = 98 (422)

JPEG Quality represents how much compression has been performed. The higher this number the less compression that was performed. The maximum number on this camera is 100 so 98 is quite high indicating less compression and higher quality. Although 100 is the maximum number it does not mean no compression was performed.

Unique ID

I’m not aware of the ID being used by many cameras or software programs at this time

Sports Photography Preparation is the Key


It doesn’t matter if you are going to shoot your child’s baseball game or the High School state championship football game,  you will most likely get better sports photos if you are prepared. There are a couple of things that you should take into account when getting ready for a sports photo shoot.

Get your gear ready

This might be the most important. You don’t want to get to your destination, have everything setup to find that your battery is nearly dead. This and many other mishaps can be avoided by simply getting all the equipment together the night before the big event. This includes blank memory cards, charged batteries, lenses and camera. Depending on whether you will be indoors or outdoors and the weather you may have additional accessories that are required.

Whatever the equipment requirements are it is always a good idea to get them all ready and packed so when you are ready to go and can just grab your gear and be on your way, confident that you have what you need. You may even want to make a list of what you need for different sporting events so it’s easy to bring out that specific list when you are planning on a shoot.

Scout out the location

Obviously you aren’t going to be able to check out a location before hand if it’s out of state or country, but when possible it’s a great idea to check out the location you plan on photographing at beforehand. A great time for this may be something as simple taking a family member practicing at the facility or location.  You should definitely check out the location, walk around and find great spots that will make a great photo.

You don’t necessarily have to check out the location a day or two early. If it’s a sporting event like volleyball, you can get there a half hour early so you get the perfect spot in the stands. If it’s something like a soccer game, it may not be too important as you may be moving to different positions on the side lines as the game progresses, but you may actually miss some shots of the kids practicing (that’s right, you can get some great shots before the game actually starts).

Remember these tips and you won’t have to worry if you forgot your flash card at home, or worrying about getting a great spot to shoot from.