Monday, April 6, 2015

Here is old stuff

I haven't posted to this blog in quite sometime but today as I was uploading some images to my PhotoShelter account for a client, a thought occurred to me I thought I would pass on here.

A client called and asked for some images. I had them on my laptop that I had with me. This MacBook Pro is running the latest Mac OS X. I forgot that there seems to be some bug in uploading to PhotoShelter with this latest OS, at least for me. It seems to never upload or if it does takes forever.

My work-around has been to use one of my XSERVE's which is running MAC OS X Snow Leopard Server. I seem to have no trouble using Safari and the PhotoShelter uploader on the webpage. Loads quick, no problems, gets the job done.

And it is this use of older technology that occurred to me earlier. I think it's always a good idea to keep a computer running older software just for times like this. It saved my bacon no doubt. I would not have been able to upload these images and they HAD to be at the clients today for publication in the magazine which goes to press tomorrow. If I couldn't have gotten them to the client in time, the entire job would be pointless.

So here's to Snow Leopard Server software, old XSERVE hardware and a new MacBook Pro all working together!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

serve me up

It's been too long since I last blogged. Since then, I bought an Apple Xserve as well as two Apple Xserve RAID boxes. The idea is so I may have ALL my images online so I may access them as needed. Prior to this, I had (and still have) all the images archived to CD or DVD. I never liked the idea of archiveing to DVD simply for the fact that if I lose one CD, I lose around 50 images. If I lose a DVD I could lose as much as 300 images. And what I mean by lose is one CD or DVD becomes unreadable for some reason or another. But now with my Nikon D800 and it's crazy large file size, DVD's make more sense. Still, I have to catalog the DVD and retrive it off a shelf to access the images I may be in need of. OR I could archive to DVD then copy the images over to my RAID box and use Adobe LightRoom to catalog the RAID and access the image files as needed. The cool thing about using a Xserve and RAID is even though it somewhat old (OK VERY old in computer years) it's still useful and relativley cheap for what you get. I have about $32K in hardware if bought new for around $1,700.00. Currently, my server has 18 terabytes of storage. and really I could have more if (when) I replace all the 500GB drives with 750GB drives. It would give me 25TB total.
I have been watching ebay daily for deals on Apple Drive Modules (AMD) for the Xserve and RAIDs. I have been able to buy brand new, still in a box 500GB ADM's for as little as $25.00 I picked up a lot of three 500GB ADM new in boxes for $90.00 for the three with free shipping. This is one way I have been able to fill all fourteen drive bas in the two RAID boxes for less than five hundred dollars. I have gotten brand new 750GB drives for as low as $35.00 with free shipping. The Xserve is a "Late 2006 Quad core" model that came with two 2.66GHz Dual core XEON processors. Again, off ebay, I was able to buy a matched set of two 3.0GHz dual core XEON processors for $7.00 ea. that and some thermal paste and she is running like a top! I got a quad channel fiber card for $100.00 SCORE! All of this hardware is packed in a 9U server rack I picked up off Craigslist for $40.00 And it was just a few blocks away from my house. I'm running cat6 and cat5E cables I picked up from the Computer Goodwill store in Austin. The server is running OSX 10.6.8 server which is fairly straightforward but I've had to brush up on my UNIX skills quite a bit. It has been both a breeze and a challenge setting it up and I am learning a lot working on it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

¡Exprésate! - España day two and three Toledo

The morning had us driving to Toledo or so I think. Again, I was shooting TIFF not RAW files so the metadata is not that detailed. The timeline might be a bit off. I remember having our driver pull over so I could make some images of these amazing red wildflowers. I always made a photo of flowers for my Mom, and still do.

Flowers for Mom - Images by Don Couch

Toledo was a blast to photograph. Running around the small narrow streets photographing the people and the incredible architecture. At one point, Ivan, one of my "fixers", was driving our van down this very narrow street and the mirrors rubbed the sides of the buildings. He just laughed and said, "That's what insurance is for!'. At one point, we stopped in a jewelry store to photograph the artisans working their craft. There were also many swords made there. Ivan reminded me in the movie HIGHLANDER, the villain Kurgan, says "This is my Toledo sword". (There can be only Juan!)

Toledo - Images by Don Couch

I did get to photograph in the Greco museum. Incredible collection!

Greco Museum - Images by Don Couch

And the train station. Oh man did I ever want that train sign, We actually went back to snag it but one of the workers at the station went out and brought it in. He must have seen Quino holding it. It was so cool looking and I figured it would pack in my suitcase. Oh, well...

Toldeo Train Station - Images by Don Couch

We caught another wedding, much like we did in Mexico city.

Toledo Wedding - Images by Don Couch

We went back to Toledo a bunch of times. One thing I remember is Marta would allow me to "play". In Toledo, I did some panoramic shots. It was nice working with someone who would let me try new things. I'm pretty sure the pano made it into the textbook. At this point, I'm not sure if Mark Cooper was there or not. If I recall correctly, Marta had something to do or something so HRW sent Mark to fill in.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

¡Exprésate! - Ten years ago today... España

We begin shooting in Madrid, Spain. We have been in Madrid for two days now location scouting and sorting out the talent. But on this day... I get my laptop stolen! Somewhere in the background of this image, thieves are making off with my laptop. It was a group of men in suits. These guys were so pro, it was like an American Express commercial, one guy distracted the maître d', one distracted the talents mom who was watching our bags and a third made off with my brand new laptop. I remember Marta coming up and telling me "Your laptop just got stolen". I shook my head and kept on working. Really nothing more I could do. After this shoot, we went to the police station to make out a report. In some ways, I was lucky it was brand new, there really wasn't any information on it yet and we did have insurance. My welcome to the Old World...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

últimos días - last days

At this point, we would have been back home in Texas. Somehow, the timeline got a little messed up but hey, "It's Mexico, Man!". Also, I know I am missing some CD's. Where are my images from Puebla? And more from inside Diego Rivera's studio? (BTW per the WIKIPEDIA - Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez)

Diego Rivera - Images by Don Couch

 I know I had some sunrise volcano images as well as more studio food shots. I'm sure the Cd's will turn up as I start to sort the rest of the archive out. As of right now, I'm showing 2490 images spanning 98 CD's for the Mexico les of this project. At this point, I didn't know I was going to get the rest of the entire project. I had expressed my desire to both Paul and Marta to do that but didn't think it would happen. The next two legs were El Paso and Miami. No real loss there for me to not get those. Bur some time in the next few weeks, I got a phone call from Cindy. I still have the scrap paper I wrote to Brenda "We got the all" on as Cindy was telling me this. We were so excited. Spain was next. It was here that my laptop got stolen on day one, I met Mark Cooper, a dear friend to this day and I learned more Spanish.

final days - Images by Don Couch

 One of the funniest stories happened at the airport when we landed in Mexico City. At this point, I really didn't know Marta. We'd met about a year earlier on a developmental program for this project but that was just a one day shoot in my studio in Austin. I think the next time I saw her was a few weeks before we were scheduled to leave for Mexico. Anyway, before leaving the U.S., Brenda was so worried I would get ill from the food or water in Mexico that she packed canned chicken and crackers for me to eat. Well, we had so much equipment packed that when we landed, Marta and I just split up the bags to go through customs quicker. Unbeknownst to Marta, this "care package" of food was in one of the bags she picked to mule through customs. All of a sudden there are inspectors and custom agents clamoring around Marta. Turns out there was some kind of ban on imported chicken from Illinois or Iowa, some farm state. So the inspector had to check the origin of the cans of chicken and poor Marta is standing there probably thinking, "Why would he be packing chicken?". If I recall correctly, I packed that chicken BACK into the U.S.

National Autonomous University of Mexico - Images by Don Couch

Sunday, April 14, 2013


So now we are in Coyoacán (ten years ago but I'm beginning to wonder about the timeline) wandering around photographing. Not a bad way to spend a day. We found our way into an Italian school somehow, it may have been by design, I just don't remember. Maybe Paul and Marta might comment here and straighten things out. We stopped to get our souls cleansed (Mine took a bit more scrubbing). Like Xochimilco, Coyoacán is one of the sixteen boroughs (delegaciones) of the Federal District of Mexico City. It is one of the nicer parts of the city. At some point we came across an art show. It was an open street market. I bought Brenda some amber earrings here as well as a book. I also bought myself some clothes. I remember all the beautiful paintings. I felt bad photographing the paintings, kinda like a tourist would do instead of buying them but I wasn't there to shop. Except for earrings, books and clothes...

day 11 - Images by Don Couch

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Friday, April 11, 2003,  we went to Xochimilco, one of the sixteen delegaciones or boroughs within the Mexican Federal District. Xochimilco is known for its canals, leftover from what the extensive lake and canal system that connected most of the Valley of Mexico. Along the canals are man-made islands called chinampas. These islands were a way the ancient people of Mesoamerica grew crops on the shallow lake beds and lived on the islands. Today, colorfully decorated boats called “trajineras” tour around these canals and islands. Many of the locals have parties and celebrations on the trajineras. It was a lot of fun floating around the ancient canals of Mexico City photographing. The history of the Xochimilco and the lake itself are much of what made Mexico City so great. Lake Xochimilco plays such an important role in the history of Tenochtitlan, Moctezuma and Cortés.

Xochimilco - Images by Don Couch