Classic Negative Film Simulation (Changi Jewel)

I meant to post this weeks ago, but it was only recently that I managed to find time and get around to doing it.

I went to Changi Jewel for a mini photoshoot with a couple of my friends. They have not been to Changi Jewel and they wanted to take some photos of the place. Armed with my new Fujifilm X-Pro 3, I took some photos of this beautiful place, sticking to Classic Negative Film Simulation. Just like with previous photo session with my family and relatives during the Christmas gathering, I stuck with one film simulation and just shoot.

Classic Negative is really beautiful. I can understand why this particular film simulation is great for street photography. It has a certain look to your shots that captures the essence of the scene, without saturating any colours that might potentially pop out in the picture. Although I find that this particular film simulation is weak against greenery and natural foliage (other film simulations can capture green really vividly), Classic Negative is still able to provide a unique look to my photos. Although I have been to Jewel before to take some photos, previously with my Olympus camera, but coming here again and sticking to just Classic Negative provides a totally different look to the shots I took. Here are some samples below.

Changi Jewel, captured at the moment the sky train zips past.
People standing on the glass bridge, offering a magnificent view of the entire Changi Jewel grounds.
Order and balance.
Sun rays providing natural light into the dome.
My friend seeing Jewel for the first time. He is using the Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II camera, exactly the same camera that I had before I made the switch to Fujifilm.
The lighting was absolutely magical on that day. Coupled with Classic Negative Film Simulation, it makes the shot even more magical.

Disabling my Smugmug account

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I have been using Smugmug to host some of my photographic works over the past few years. The photos that I took from my trusty Olympus OM-D camera were all saved and backed up using the Smugmug file storage services. Now I am disabling the account because I haven’t been using the website much. The past year alone, I barely uploaded any photos at all. And while the file hosting services are fantastic, I am under-utilising the services and wasting money away. So now I am downloading all the photos that I have hosted on the website back to my computer, where it will be stored somewhere else, at least somewhere without a website as a front to showcase some of the best works. It might on OneDrive, since I have tons of space there. Goodbye SmugMug!

One week worth of uploads.

So how long does it took for me to upload almost 500GB of photos to Amazon Cloud Drive? Almost 8 days, non-stop. My Macbook Air was literally switched on, 24/7 for an entire week, so that I could get every single 65,000 or so photos totalling close to half a terabyte uploaded to the cloud. It was not fun at all, especially when the Amazon Cloud has no native sync support. It simply offered a desktop app, where you simply drag and drop files to the app and it will upload to the cloud. The good thing is that I consolidated all my photos in a single giant folder, consisting of even more folders to organise my photos. So I simply drag that huge ass folder to the upload application and it soon started uploading to the cloud.

Speeds vary, but personally it was generally fast, and I did not encounter connection problems to the cloud servers at all during the upload process. There weren’t any issues of missing files, double uploads, repeated files, or anything like that. The file structure was maintained perfectly, and as the progress bar inched it way to the finish line, the Cloud Drive slowly fills up and the chart tells you how many photos, files and videos you have in the cloud. I am taking advantage of the first 3 month trial period, uploading  a massive number of files in such a short time. I shudder at the thought of downloading every single one of them, should my current hard drive fail and I am forced to get a new one and repopulate my new drive. I wonder how fast it would be over the long term download process.

In the end, while the uploading is a huge hassle and extremely inefficient, it is relatively economical in simply paying 60 bucks year for unlimited cloud storage. I am still mulling whether cloud backup or raid redundancy is the best solution for me, given my needs. While having both is good, as it provides not only local backup, but offshore backup as well, in truth, I don’t really have the luxury of doing that. In the end, I have to choose and weigh my option carefully. The local backup solution required a pretty heavy investment in getting a DAS, or NAS with all the hard drives needed to populate it and creating proper redundancy. The cloud backup solution requires you to upload any new files regularly, keeping to a schedule so that in an even when the drive fails, you will encounter minimal file loss.

I will continue to use the free trial and see how it all pans out in the future. I really do hope that Amazon have plans to add new features to the cloud drive, and perhaps one day, rival that of Dropbox in terms of functionality and ease of use. I still find dropbox to  be the gold standard in cloud storage in terms of functionality.

Amazon Cloud Drive Impressions

The Amazon Cloud Drive offers unlimited storage to backup your files to the Amazon Cloud. A relatively new player in providing unlimited file storage for just 50 bucks a year, its practically a steal. So how does it perform? And does the service suit my needs well? Remember I am trying to find an inexpensive, if albeit inefficient way to back up my photos archive that I have slowly accumulated over the years, either through photography, or from the photos I took using my iPhone.

The Amazon Cloud Drive offers a very simple service to anyone who wishes to upload files, big and small to the Cloud. It has potential, but currently, I feel that the services offered are a little too simplistic and basic. Unlike more sophisticated offerings from Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive, you simply use the web or app interface to upload your files to the Amazon Cloud Drive. No fuss, no gimmicks, it works as intended. However, there are several key features that are not present yet on the Amazon Cloud Drive, features that are already mainstays from the more mature platforms like Dropbox.

For one, there is no auto sync feature. You can download a third party software to manage your files from your computer to the Amazon Cloud Drive, but some of which would require additional fees for licensing and usage of said software.

Managing thousands of files using the simplistic web interface is a little too unwieldy. It does not have the more complex set of features and functions that would make file management from the Cloud a little more efficient. The Amazon Cloud Drive app is a very basic app, that only allows you to upload (or download) files to and from the Cloud. You cannot (yet) do any file management functions from the app. The app only functions 2 things; upload and download. The Cloud Drive is also unable to edit files like word documents, or excel sheets or powerpoint presentation. You can view photos you have uploaded, but for most other file formats, there is very little you can do from within the web interface itself.

However simple it is, the Amazon Cloud Drive, is strangely still my favourite, not just because of its low price point, but also the fact that its a simple, no gimmick Cloud service. Th upload speed to the Amazon Cloud Drive is by far the fastest and most reliable among the other services I have used, making uploading of large amounts of files relatively easy. I organise my thousands of photos into its various folders, making my entire photo collection neat and tidy. Such neat organisation makes it easy to export the same file structure and files within those folders to the Cloud. And because I rarely access or modify those photos that I have already archived, not being able to sync and update the files in the Cloud is not really a big issue, yet. Remember, I am primarily using the Amazon Cloud Drive to merely dump all my photos into a safe place. Yes, I have half a terabyte of photos to upload and it will take days over time, but eventually when it is finished, I simply have to upload any new photos I took and saved periodically, maintaining my file organisation that I have adopted for my older photos.

Will I stick to Amazon Cloud Drive main repository for all my photos? Maybe. I am still split on whether to invest in local storage solutions like NAS or DAS, or simply just go the way of the Cloud. Both has its pros and cons, which I need to constantly evaluate as I consider how I would like to store my photos. But for now, Amazon Cloud Drive is the most cost effective way to keep my photos safe. Until then, it might just be my solution of choice, until something better comes along.

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