It Can Always Be Better

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ask The Retoucher #34 - Bad SD card, Picnik

I received this message from a gentleman through the website for which I have volunteered since 2001:

Question: On a hiking trip a camera sd card was damaged and began giving "card error!" messages. When I got home I plugged it into my computer and windows insisted that it needed to be formatted. I first used a free file recovery program to get a few pictures off, but most were too damaged. I then did a quick format and used a better program on it. This program recovered far more pictures, but when i click on them to open, they are either unable to be opened or mostly corrupted. This happens in every program I try to open them in, including Paintshop Pro 7, Picasa, Windows Paint, and Windows Photo Viewer. This wouldn't surprise me, except that if you look at the thumbnail images in windows explorer, the pictures look pristine and complete. Clearly the data for the correct image is there for the thumbnail, how can I recover it in a larger form?

Answer: Gideon, this is a little outside of my expertise. However, it sounds like the images are corrupted. Thumbnails are typically generated separately from the main file. So you can have a bunch of images with a thumbnail, but not enough data. Typically, you'll notice the file size is smaller than it should be. In the worst case, you can make screen shots of the thumbnails—especially if you can make them bigger. Other than that, it sounds like you may have lost them. Sorry!

I'm always one to try and learn from mistakes and prevent their occurrence. That said, one must always have a back-up and a back-up for the back-up! Redundancy is a key element for happiness in the digital world. When hiking in the wilderness, besides carving a billion ASCII characters into the trees and rocks, there are few options available.

Some suggestions would be to upload images from your camera using a smartphone (assuming you have the right service and it's working in your location). You could also copy the camera contents using Bluetooth, an optional card reader or a slot.

Looking for a free web-based photo editing program? Try Picnik. This is a quick and easy way to work on digital pictures and order them as prints or on merchandise. The functions are quite easy to use. The interactive help menu is also excellent. With the knowledge of photo retouching basics and Picnik, you can accomplish a lot of work without the expense or hassle of software upgrades.

Please send your questions and problem photos, your location—and genealogical society affiliation if appropriate—to Eric for future "Ask The Retoucher" columns. Visit Photo Grafix online for more information.

Eric runs Photo Grafix, a humble photo-retouching studio in Evanston, Illinois (USA), making photo illustrations and improving photos for hundreds of people and companies worldwide. If he doesn't know the answer, he won't rest until he finds it. Eric Basir is at your service: With each "Ask The Retoucher" article, he'll help you successfully tackle your digital photographic problems. 

Interact LIVE with Eric during the weekly Ask The Retoucher Photoshop Q&A show, every Saturday at 10 am EDT (9 am CDT, 8 am MDT, 7 am PDT)

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