Tips & hacks for issues you will probably never encounter : #1 RAW Images & Google Photos Backup

Everyday i seem to stumble upon issues that takes quiet sometime to figure out, sometimes hours or days until i get my head around a fix or how to get something to work. One simple issue may take you hopping through different links, forums and discussion groups, until you probably come up with your own recipe of steps to get things to work as you reach your “Aha!” moment..

One month later, i will probably face the same issue and forget what i did to fix it, to go through the same loop again! regardless how many notes or bookmarks i keep to remind myself!

I have no idea why not until recently that it did occur to me, that regardless how these issues may seem unique to me, that there might be at least 5 more people somewhere around the world that may be going through the same hassle i had to go through to get something simple done!

Backing up my photos is today’s issue for instance

So i decided to start a mini series of some of issues i face and how i managed to hack/fix them. While most people may not encounter those issues, this is meant for those struggling few the same way i did.

#1 RAW Images & Google Photos Backup

(The Short Version)

If you want to backup your RAW images to Google Photos backup yet for some reason you found they don’t get uploaded/backed up. Its mostly because your photos were created by an un-supported Camera Model/Format that Google doesn’t support yet.

A quick hack is to convert your RAW images using Adobe Lightroom to DNG format while overriding the default setting to include “embed the Original RAW” file within the DNG. This way you will be able to upload your images to Google Photos Backup without losing any proprietary information that you usually lose when converting to DNG.

(The Long Version)

Trying to take baby steps towards photography as a newly found hobby, i purchased a nice new FujiFilm X-T1 camera and subscribed myself into one of those online photography courses @ creativelive.com

I got introduced to RAW images & how they hold more data about images than normal JPEGs which makes photo editing much better if i shoot photos in RAW format as they hold much more information and data, one down side to RAW was “SIZE”.

RAW files can go up to 40 MB each which eats up a lot of storage so i decided to back them online!

Google Photos Backup is a nice service where you get to upload all images, pretty much like iCloud Photos, Dropbox and lots others. One feature that was interesting is that they support uploading “RAW files” which is perfect for archiving RAW images for later use.

For Days i was able to upload 1000s of photos with various sizes and formats except my RAW images, although Google clearly states that they do support uploading RAW files.

Jumping through forums, discussion groups and posts about other people facing the same issues, i finally reached the conclusion that not all “RAW files” are born equal!

RAW files are truly digital negatives, by means they are unprocessed & their compatibility related to the Camera manufacturer , Sensor and other photography hardware.

Google on the other hand supports a handful of RAW file formats for different Camera vendors or models.

Apparently my FujiFilm X-t1 isn’t one of the lucky ones!

The only work around to upload and backup my precious photography collection (most of which are duplicates by the way) was to convert them to “DNG”… huh!

Going through another Wikipedia link to find out what that is, “DNG” is another format developed by Adobe as an alternative to RAW and arguably with smaller size and what Adobe has been pushing to be more of a standard. After some Googling around, it was clear while DNG is great, it comes at a cost, such as not being compatible with lots of Imaging softwares Vs RAW. Also once you go DNG there is no way back to RAW. I probably didnt have any insane photos that i fear to lose some of its meta-data if i go on with the conversion, yet why should i? Its MY meta-data!

So while i am about to surrender to the fact that i should wait for Google to update their service or i should convert to DNG and backup my library and save storage, i stumbled upon the best of both worlds!

THE FIX

To Convert to DNG i mostly use Adobe Lightroom, in which they seem to have a buried option when you convert RAW to DNG where you can embed the RAW file within the DNG itself not just the JPEG preview, this way you end up with a DNG file that contains the original RAW image & in a compatible format that Google Photos understands.

Finally, You end up with a slightly bigger file size but you get to keep everything you want and offload the storage into the cloud without sacrificing anything.

So if you shoot RAW and you are a backup/archive freak like myself, this is how you do it without giving up to Google or Adobe :)