Two thousand and fourteen

January 4, 2014

A new year filled with new experiences and lots of things to learn. How did I spend the evening when it switched over? I was at home, watching TV, I did go out for a quick walk, and then went back home again. When the clock reached 00:00, the whole city lit up with fireworks, sadly I didn’t get my camera, but I was really impressed and a bit surprised that there were so many fireworks going out almost simultaneously.

I’ve spent the rest of the week just sitting around home. Remember last year, when I made a resolution not to get stressed up over everything. I think I managed to successfully keep that resolution ’til the end. But now, when we’ve got a new year, I started out just stressing about everything. My main concern is our apartment, the lease will end in May, and we really don’t have any plan for what we’re going to do. We might get it extended until November, but after that it’s a definitive show stopper. (You generally can’t lease an apartment in second-hand for longer than two years).

DarkRoom

In order not to go crazy, Paulina advised me to do something rather than just sit around. I’ve been doing photography since 2010/2011. Which means I’ve acquired somewhere north of 20,000 images, most of those shots are in RAW. I decided early on that I needed to categories the images somewhow. The system I choose was to order everything by date. Here’s an example of the directory tree.

// Top folder is the year
2011
// Second level folder is the day
// YEAR|MONTH|DAY so it gets sorted correctly in the file explorer
-20110101
// And then there's all the images
--IMG_0023.CR2
--IMG_0024.CR2
--IMG_0025.CR2
-20110506
--IMG_0523.CR2
--IMG_0524.CR2
--IMG_0525.CR2
2012
2013
2014

So far this archival system has worked pretty well, if I remember that something happened last year’s fall, I’ll just go to the folder 2013 and go through each folder that is marked for the fall.
But as my image count is rising I’ve started to have problems finding more specific images, say that I need an image of a winter landscape, I then need to go through all winter months (for all the years) and check all the images. Not really effective.

What I’d like to do is keep my current folder structure, but with an added capability of tagging images and sorting them to different “virtual folders”. I know Adobe LightRoom has these capabilities, but I’ve felt like it doesn’t really work with shared network drives. All my images a stored on my local server and then shared through Samba, which is great, because I don’t need to store an images locally on my laptop, but it’s bad because I’m having the problems that I have.

In order to tackle my boredom (which results in me stressing out), I’ve started to build a “small” PHP-project that you hook up to a folder (the folder can then be mounted as a Samba or NFS share), the PHP application than scans through all the images, reading the exif data and creates a similar virtual directory structure that you can browse. It also creates (or extracts) the preview images from the RAW files which means you can easily and fast browse through the images in your browser.

What this essentially does is give me all the capabilities that I want (and seeing as it’s my project I can add whatever functionality I’ll need later on) without messing up my real folder structure. I can keep my workflow of just “dumping” new images to the networked drive, and the application will automagically sync these files to it’s own index. The most important aspect of the application is that it never changes the files that exist in the archive, you could basically only give the application read permissions (as in it can’t write anything in the destination folder).

I’m calling the project DarkRoom (as in opposite to LightRoom), if anybody’s got a better suggestion for a name, I’d love to hear it! If I ever get this project done, I’ll probably release the source on github, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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