Munnar tea plantations and the art of backing up

Sunrise in Vatakanal.
Sunrise in Vatakanal.

It’s been well over three months since my last post, and most of that is because of a major technical failure in Munnar, India. I had just finished three weeks of shooting in the mountains of South India, the Western Ghats. I started in the rain forests of Kodaikanal and then took several busses to the world-renowned Munnar Tea Plantations.

The following photos will live on in the digital realm, simply because of my negligibility. I thought I was being diligent by backing up my selects on my computer harddrive and then uploading them onto my server (photoshelter.com), but one hot evening, all went to sh*t!

Let me back up for a second (pun intended) and explain my process. It was simple, maybe too much so, I would copy my files to an external harddrive, edit off the external, and then save my selects on my internal harddrive. And when I would get internet, I would upload those selects to my online server. I saw the potential for failure, but of course, I didn’t actually think it’d happen to ME! Oh, the naivety…

At home I have two harddrives devoted to RAW files, everything that comes off of a flash card is copied to two places, immediately. But while traveling, and these past months have been for personal devolopment and my stock agency, auphotos.com, I decided to go light. And yes, I was bit in the ass, hard!

In the throngs of excitement and living off the grid, I wasn’t able to upload to my server, nor had I spent much time editing. After three weeks of 5 a.m. wake-ups, several hundred kilometers on a motorbike, I finally found myself sitting in 100-degree heat, editing and backing up my files. It was during this much overdue backup that my external decided to fail — I got the knocking (clicking) noise of death. And the past three weeks of work was suddenly in jeopardy. Let’s just say, my heart sank. My elation turned to depression, and I thought all was lost. And in a way it was. But in another light, looking back several months later, it couldn’t have happened at a better time: I wasn’t on assignment for anyone, I only had my personal money invested and despite (months later) being out of pocket $2,000 to recover the files (which I have yet to receive), I have learned one significant lesson! Harddrive failures can happen at ANY TIME!

Let my lesson be yours too. Don’t be lazy, be diligent. Back up after every shoot. And in two places. Always travel with two harddrives, no matter the locale!

The following images may only live on in the digital world (my DNGs/TIFFs were all lost, but Utah Data Recovery is giving it their best). Keep your fingers crossed!

Morning above Munnar, India.
Morning above Munnar, India.


Tea plantation, Munnar.
Tea plantation, Munnar.


Plantation workers.
Plantation workers.


One of several plantations.
One of several plantations.


Sunrise viewing above Vatakanal Falls.
Sunrise viewing above Vatakanal Falls.


Another angle.
Another angle.


Smog creeping in. Kodaikanal.
Smog creeping in. Kodaikanal.


Photo sharing.
Photo sharing.

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