Here’s A Way To Post-process And Shoot At The Same Time!

May 9th, 2016

PhotoUploadUpdated May 13: See bottom of post.

Craig came up with an interesting idea for doing post processing but he needs some help coming up with a way practical way to implement it. Here is the idea:

I am trying to lessen my workload and help a friend who has good photoshop skills but is currently seeking work-from-home job opportunities.

I would like to be able to transfer my unedited files to someone (this friend) throughout the day and have him do the photoshop work while I shoot. This would free me up to to do the camera work while he does the post-production. If this works, I could have everything edited and, possibly, already sent to the clients the same-day making my turnaround amazing.

My problem is that I would quickly run out of data on a phone plan (using it as a hotspot) and will not trust free WiFi at restaurants, coffee houses, etc., even if I could plan on being near a reliable one (which I can’t on any given day).

I shoot bracketed jpegs with the file sizes around 4-8 MB/photo. I can have between 200-800 shutter releases per home making the total transfer for each shoot anywhere from 800 MB to 6.4 GB per transfer. I shoot anywhere from five to 10 homes a day (seriously – it’s a good year), so I would blow through any data plan out there very quickly.

I like the basic idea! Of course, the challenge is how do you implement it. I agree, that doing this by using a wireless carrier’s hotspot is impractical because they have such obscenely expensive data charges.

Here are a few ideas for a possible solution:

  1. The fact is that 99% of those homes you are shooting likely have WiFi access of speeds that you if you could access, would allow you to do the upload to DropBox or whatever your favorite service very quickly.
  2. If you got the owners permission and WiFi password the homeowner would probably be happy to give you permission to use their WiFi in turn for faster delivery. I don’t know of people would object to this or not. Many times the homeowner is present when you shoot.
  3. Most modern WiFi routers (like the last two I’ve had) have two WiFi connections. A password protected one and an open one that is for guests and easily connecting TVs etc. Anyone that comes to my house sees “Larry’s Guest Network” which is an unprotected WiFi access that is partitioned from my secure WiFi that all my computers, tablets and phones use. So if you were to shoot my home and I wasn’t here to give you access to my secure network you would have WiFi that uploads at 12Mbit/sec. I don’t know how widespread this feature is. It’s worth checking out.
  4. Another option (I like this one the best) for times you can use it would be to stop by Starbucks and use their open WiFi. I just tested the bandwidth of my local Starbucks and it’s upload speed is 18Mbits/sec. Pretty respectable! Sure is not secure but you could have a special DropBox account just for transferring files. Use the third-factor identification feature of DropBox so if someone at Starbucks sniffs your DropBox password no big deal. In most large cities you could easily do the file transfers jus at Starbucks. This would be a very easy solution. When out in the boonies for a property or two wait for the transfer until you get to the next Starbucks.

Anyone else have ideas on how to implement Craig’s idea?

Update May 13: I’ve verified that the as a new customer you can no longer get unlimited data plans anymore. The only real unlimited data plans are plans that are grandfathered from an older plan. E.G., I have an AT&T unlimited plan grandfathered from the plan that came with the original iPhone I got in 2007. If you don’t believe me see:

If you have an iPhone with one of those unlimited data plans from way back here is how to solve Craig’s problem:

  1. With these unlimited the carriers won’t let you enable the hotspot feature of the iPhone…. I tried it.
  2. What you do is get an SD card to Lightning connector for $27 from Amazon.
  3. Then after your shoot, put your SD card on your iPhone and all your photos are uploaded to your Photo account where your post processing person can access them.

This allows you to bypass the hotspot restriction on unlimited data accounts. Problem solved. I’m pretty sure this is the ONLY solution involving wireless carriers that you can upload the amount of data Craig is talking about that won’t cost you a huge amount of money. Unfortunately, you can not get a new unlimited data plan that is really unlimited.

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19 Responses to “Here’s A Way To Post-process And Shoot At The Same Time!”

  • You could always purchase a mobile hotspot from AT&T and have Wifi anywhere you want. I use it combined with the software Teamviewer, which allows me access to my desktop from my laptop. Very handy to have.

  • It’s possible but all we need is a way to quickly transfer those raw files!

    Did you know CamRanger now has the ability to dump your photos directly to Dropbox? See here:

    It’s a great idea… If you are only delivering small sized mls photos it may make sense to shoot in Small raw / small jpeg so transferring quickly is possible.

  • Also consider shooting one exposure shots. That way you are sending a fraction of the data. Personally I don’t bracket which makes post quick! The reality of this idea might be that you have to shoot one exposure. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Another option would be something like the HyperDrive: Either swing by the editor’s house during shoots, or have someone do pickup from you / delivery to editor during the day.

    Just copy all photos from your memory card to the HyperDrive in the field, and then have the unit delivered to where they can copy them off to edit. The runner could then deliver the unit back sometime during the day and collect the next batch. Maybe not as wireless as uploading to dropbox or something, but it would avoid bandwidth requirements.

  • 1-How about after shooting a home, read the card to a named file on your laptop between shoots. No need for wifi during that exercise. Use a different card to shoot the next house while those previous images load. When you have wifi available, call your buddy and tell him he can access to some files. Instead of beginning processing, he could save the originals to his own computer to avoid losing you while you don’t have a wifi connection. Then he works on them between wifi connects.

    2- program a drone for delivery to and from your buddy. Place cards in a small envelope and send them Amazon style.

    3-Uber driver delivery

    4-Shoot first shift 9-5, your buddy downloads and processes second shift 5-2am

    5-meet your buddy at the 4th house. Give him the cards with the first 3 homes. He stays busy til you are done for the day. send him a Dropbox invite for the rest.

  • What part of the world do you live in? I’m in the US and have unlimited data for $40 a month. If you can’t afford that, you need to raise your prices.

  • Shoot smaller JPGs and look for a better data plan.

  • Thx for all the input. I’m in the southeastern part (tidewater) of Virginia. We are the most populous part of the state which helps maintain the work load. @Jeff: $40/month is no problem, but does that include using the phone it as a hotspot and do they throttle your data after a certain point? Those are the normal limitations I’m seeing with that model. If not, I’d do that in a heartbeat. @anonymous: what are the latest, reliable overseas post companies/people? And what are the charges? I know that has been a discussion, but didn’t know what’s new in that world. @mike h…: LOVE the drone idea. I can just imagine the waiver you’d need for that!! :-). Finally, as for meeting my buddy, he’d be too far to meet and wants to be a stay at home dad with twin infants, so that’d be problematic for the foreseeable future. Thx again!

  • Craig, I think the scenario Jeff is referring to is to get a dedicated mobile hotspot. It’s a separate device about the size of a hockey puck (or the CamRanger) that connects to mobile data towers using LTE or whatever compatible connection is available. You can usually add one to your existing mobile phone plan for about $40-50 with unlimited data transfer. Since you’re in a larger city, you will probably have LTE everywhere you go, which makes for transfer speeds comparable to a home broadband connection.

  • @Jeff/Brandon – Here’s the problem. When wireless plans say “unlimited data” you DON’T generally get unlimited data. Specifically, which carrier gives unlimited data for $40/month? I think you’ll find that if you go over a specific amount of data your charges increase rapidly.

    My wireless provider is ATT and they gave true unlimited data to original iPhone purchasers (which I was one). ATT soon realized they made a mistake and no longer give unlimited data and they don’t allow unlimited data users to turn on the hotspot feature. I just called ATT to verify this and it would be very expensive for me to get a plan that allowed me to use the HotSpot feature of my iPhone and the only thing about it that is unlimited is the charges!!

    Who has a wireless plan that would accommodate Craig’s bandwidth requirements stated above? 60Gb a shoot x 40 shoots a month! That’s 2.4 Tb/month… ask your wireless provider what that would cost!!

  • @Larry, you’re right—based on what I can locate, the service quickly gets expensive regardless of carrier. Wow, how data prices have changed since I last checked on this not that long ago. That said, I did see something on AT&T’s website that if you have AT&T Internet service and/or (?) DirecTV, they will provide the option for an unlimited mobile data plan with access fees to vary based on device type. Depending on Craig’s current mobile carrier, it could be worth looking into.

    One other alternative to the WiFi password or guest network could be if the owner/seller will allow you to plug directly into their router via Ethernet, which would prevent you from having to gain access to their password, but it has the same effect as you being logged into the same “family” network. Some people might still find that request a bit invasive, though.

  • @Larry – T-Mobile. It’s unlimited with throttled speed after a certain amount of data. Even a 6 GB transfer wouldn’t take terribly long at throttled speed. If Craig has a laptop and can run those files through something like JPEGMini, that drops 6 GB down to a few hundred MB which will cruise through cyberspace with even the slowest throttled data.

    The big question I have is why Craig is shooting up to 800 frames per home. Even if he’s going balls-out with 9 brackets, that’s still almost 90 images which is about 3x more than any human needs to see.

  • @Brandon – yes you are right Ethernet is an option and you should look for it but there was a very short era that wired Ethernet was put in homes (between about 2000 and 2003). We had two rentals in the Seattle area that had wired Ethernet and they were built in 2002 and 2003. Starting about 2004 builders quit running Cat-5 (Ethernet cable) because WiFi is WAY less expensive.

    @Jeff – When I look at the T-Mobile website it says that 18Gb/month (their maximum data cap) is $60/month. The only way you can go higher than 18Mb is you can do 3x that if the part over 18Gb is video streaming. This is FAR from unlimited data. All these carriers use the word UNLIMITED data but they all have limitations on the amount of data you can use.Pricing by wireless providers is simply predatory! I’m still waiting for someone to show me a data plan where you can upload 2.4Tb/month and pay under $500. I’m still a doubter.

  • Step one is to get the image count down. Do your walk through, make your shot list and work through the job. 800 frames is “spray and pray”. I rarely shoot alternate compositions and haven’t had a customer ask for one yet. Take your time and be confident that you are capturing the one or two angles of a room that tell the story and you will deliver to the customer. I rarely hit 200 frames on a job and there will be a bunch of test images while I tweak flash placement and power. Even if I’m shooting brackets, I don’t go 9 exposures deep.

    If Lightroom is part of your workflow, ingest the previous job’s images while you are photographing the current assignment. I have lens correction, dng conversion, copyright information and metadata keywords applied when I transfer photos into the computer. If I am doing this process remotely on my laptop, I create a new catalog for the job that I can copy over to my computer at home to do the editing. This can save a bunch of waiting around while photos are ingested.

    A wireless data transfer through a cellular provider will be expensive. There is only so much radio bandwidth and cell companies have to pay for it. “Unlimited” plans are up to a certain value of “unlimited.” The $40 all you can eat packages are good for a certain amount of high speed data which then throttles down to a lower speed which will then throttle down to a cancelled account if you hit the upper percentile of customer data usage. With the right car and local services, you may be able to put up a mast and get wireless point to point internet service. It will be more than DSL or Cable internet, but it’s easier to deploy than satellite services and may offer high speeds and unlimited service (for a higher value of unlimited).

    The best alternative might be to meet with somebody at lunch to take the images you have ready and deliver the rest of the jobs at the end of the day. I have no problem with my customers delivering within 48 hours. I usually deliver the next day before lunch, but if I’m busy, it might be the next day after close of business. It’s not the fast turn around, it’s doing what you say you will do. I think that some people are creating their own problems by over promising, especially delivery times. Give yourself some breathing room so you don’t have to make excuses later.

    Look for some internet cafés or Gamer Caves around town. A small local ISP might have an office where you can arrange for some bandwidth at a low cost so you could stop in, plug in and upload your images.

  • @Larry – Maybe it’s because I’m on prepaid. $40/month, no fees or taxes, unlimited data. Granted, not much high speed, but that’s what Craig is looking at if he’s not willing to use public wi-fi or splurge on bigger high speed caps (or stop by home and upload images).

  • @Larry, it’s too bad that builders aren’t installing ethernet cables in many homes. As more content and services are delivered through the internet, Wi-Fi can get bogged down. If 4k TV takes hold, fuggetaboutit. The last new development I looked at had phone wires daisy chained from outlet to outlet. What a waste. Home run cables would have been more useful and CAT 5/6 cable would have been just as easy to install and much more versatile. Back in the 80’s I worked for a company that designed and installed high end home theatre systems, phone, alarm and background music. The home run pre-wire in those same homes gives them a lot of options. When 10B-T became the norm, ethernet cable was added to the bundle. Even Cat 3 cable can sustain faster throughput than Wi-Fi.

    I have Wi-Fi in my house so I can tote my laptop around anywhere, but I ran CAT 5 from my office to the bedroom and living room to stream media at full speed. It works noticeably better that way and I can still bang away on my laptop over Wi-Fi while streaming high res video to the TV.

    I worked on a SBIR contract to evaluate wireless sensor networks on rockets to minimize the mass of wiring required. There were all sorts of issues trying to get it to work on a theoretical basis (actual hardware would have been a “phase 2” contract.) Wired systems are much easier to deal with.

  • If there is Xfinity (Comcast cable) in the area you are shooting in, Comcast has been software-upgrading their routers over the last couple years to have a somewhat open hotspot at every house that subscribes to Xfinity. Even if the property you are shooting isn’t a subscriber, chances are that some house nearby is a subscriber. In your device’s WiFi menu, it shows up as “xfinitywifi”.

    Catch: You have to be an Xfinity customer yourself so you can log in to the semi-open network.

    What I don’t know:
    — If they have a data cap
    — How Comcast feels about commercial use
    — Reliability

    It’s just an idea. I’ve used it for personal use several times with my phone, and it’s handy. If it works and has no limitations, there would be no extra cost to you.

  • Asking people for their wifi access seems the best plan IMO, although shoot less seems good advice what ever solution you pick!

    You could shoot outside first, then swap card to put the outside card into phone/laptop and upload as you shoot inside. Or if you have general success with asking about wifi, upload house one pictures at house two, house two at three etc etc. If wifi doesn’t work, or you’d prefer to hotspot on the go, rate pictures and only upload the guaranteed picks first. Give a few shots for your friend to work on, upload the rest later.

    Of course the real answer is if same-day-turn-around isn’t paying enough to cover a huge data plan, it’s probably not worth offering.

  • I like the idea of using the clients home internet to upload the pics, you don’t need the WiFi password bring a Ethernet cable and connect directly to the router most of them have a couple of Ethernet ports faster and easier.

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