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How to Transfer Your Shoot Images Back to Your Home Office for Post-Processing

Published: 11/05/2018


Adam in Atlanta asks:

Have you ever discussed the transferring of image files from the field (at a shoot) back to a computer at the office so someone can post-process the images?

Yes. In fact, we've discussed this a couple of years ago. You can easily transmit your photos using either CamRanger to a DropBox account or by using an iPhone to iCloud. There are probably other ways too. The crux of the problem is how do you get a fast enough internet connection without paying an arm and a leg to your cellular provider? Don't be deceived by the term "unlimited" that many cellular providers use. There is no such thing as unlimited cellular anymore! Unlimited plans always have limits that if you go over, you pay big time!

Here are a few possible solutions:

  1. The fact is that 99% of these homes you are shooting will likely have WiFi access of speeds that, if you could access, would allow you to upload to DropBox or whichever your favorite service very quickly.
  2. If you got the homeowner's permission and WiFi password, they would probably be happy for you to use their WiFi in turn for faster delivery.
  3. Many WiFi routers (like the last two I've had) have two WiFi connections. A password protected one and an open connection for guests and easily connecting TVs, etc. Anyone who comes to my house will see "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 (or my neighbors) and I wasn't there to give you access to my secure network, you would still have WiFi that uploads at 12Mbit/sec. Always look for open WiFi networks.
  4. Another option 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 its upload speed is 18 Mbits/sec. Pretty respectable!

So if you don't have too many RAW files or use one of the above options, uploading to a post-processing assistant back at the office is very workable.

Larry Lohrman

9 comments on “How to Transfer Your Shoot Images Back to Your Home Office for Post-Processing”

  1. Another option that I use if I have a full day is to bring my laptop with a copy of Lightroom installed and have it ingesting images from the last job while I'm working on the current one. I used to have a car power adaptor that died, but I plan to get another one so I can have files going into the computer while I drive. Once I'm back at the office, I merge the libraries and copy the files. The most amount of time for me isn't copying the images from the card, but converting to .dng, applying my RE import preset and creating previews. If all of that was done by the time I got home, I'd be in good shape. The transfer could happen while I put batteries in chargers and brew a cup of tea. I'm going to build a SSD external drive to transfer files and that should be fast enough to be finished by the time I've done all of my other tasks when I get back.

    I don't have time to do any editing on the images until I get home, so putting them online doesn't help me at all. In fact, it means I have to download them again since I don't leave my computer on all of the time.

    Many cell companies (and there are currently only 4 primary carriers and perhaps only 3 if Sprint and T-mobile combine) throttle back data past 22gB per month on "unlimited" accounts. It doesn't take too many jobs to use up 22gig leaving you with 3G/2G speeds for the rest of the month. Uploading is also much slower than downloading. My service is 10mb up and 105mb down and that's really fast for where I am. Many people still only have 3/20 service.

    If your service area isn't too large, it could be an option to hand over memory cards to somebody at some point during the day or swing through the office. It's also possible to have an assistant that is doing some image weeding so you aren't wasting bandwidth with frames that you going to throw away. I'm working on the assumption that you are so busy that you need to find a way to get a jump on editing and delivery. Adding an assistant could be a good way to speed up work on site just like a digital tech can during a fashion shoot. If you are so busy you need an assistant but can't afford one, that's a good indicator that it's time to raise prices.

  2. Another thing to be aware of is to be careful when the phone carrier pushed out their 'latest and greatest' phone plan. While they will grandfather your current plan, if you upgrade to the latest, there is no reverting back. The deal killer with me, while currently paying for a hotspot on one phone and the latest plan bundles it in, they drop the speed from 4g/LTE to 3g, both 'unlimited.'

  3. Last weekend I had two houses back to back, and then I had to go elsewhere that night. I have Lightroom 6 on both my laptop / home PC (not CC/cloud) so I was able to import the images onto my laptop, quickly stack them for Enfuse processing, let Enfuse and presets run. Then when I got back, I exported those images as a catalog and imported into my primary station, from where I did the final color adjustments and final edits and delivery. Work on my home PC was minimal because the time consuming work was already done.

  4. I sometimes stop by the office. By "the office," I mean that I am a licensed agent and since I pay a desk fee, I might drop in when needed and use the internet. I don't have internet at home and with the way things are going (Net Neutrality repeal, limited options in ISPs, etc) I may not until AT&T or Verizon roll out their 5G since not a single ISP provides out here. No, I'm not in a rural area and yes I'm in the city, which makes it even more bewildering. I've even tossed around the idea of getting a community desk space if it weren't so damned expensive!

    But, I manage somehow to get my photos delivered from home most of the time with my AT&T mobile service. If you get unlimited since they brought it back, there's a plan that allows you 10gb of hotspot data on each device. I have a phone and iPad pro, and my wife has a smaller iPad in addition to her phone if needed for 40gb total. It's been needed. AT&T does throttle data at peak usage times, but hotspot data is 100% metered, meaning going over is another charge on the bill rather than throttling so I can't sustain this a lot longer. It's certainly a solution for when you need to get the photos out somehow, however. But Ken brought up a good alternative, which is just loading them on your laptop while on the road so they are ready to edit when you get home.

    Some neighborhoods have wifi for the entire community. Only once have I managed to connect to a guest one in a gated community where I often get shoots, though. Most other houses are either vacant or owners aren't home, and I sometimes feel like I'm asking a lot if I want to get on their internet and they aren't home.

  5. @Ryan, There are satellite internet options. Hughesnet and Exceed I think are two of them. It's not the cheapest or fastest way to go and there are data limits, but it could be an option that lets you at least send out your finished work when you aren't at the office.

  6. @Ken Brown

    I had considered satellite at one time. I actually had it a number of years ago and the upload speed was downright atrocious. Has the technology improved? To just be able to upload it seems like a moderately expensive deal to have satellite internet, especially with it being metered; we wouldn't be able to use it for about anything else. But then my wife might go for it. She works for a multinational consulting firm that deal with customer service at telecom companies like Frontier, so we have considered writing a request letter to AT&T and having it escalated to see if they will send us a proposal.

    I also looked into fixed wireless broadband and had no fewer than four companies come out to see if they could install. They have to have direct line of sight to a radio tower with no objects in the way blocking it, and none of the companies could make it happen. The radio towers are usually water towers, and the nearest and best one is obscured by forest across the lake cove. My only option would be to have the little radio dish put on our dock, which would probably be prohibitively expensive given how much cabling they'd have to run from there to the house, and given the amount of money we spent having the electricians trench and pipe electrical lines out to the dock.

  7. I do as Ben and Noel do... after every shoot I hop in the car, ingest into my laptop, stack and Enfuse. I then hit a nearby Starbucks, do any necessary Photoshop edits, and upload to my home server. Many of my jobs are at least 30 minutes apart so this makes use of the drive time.

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