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When I go out for a shoot, I often shoot photos that I'd like saved in multiple folders on the SD card, so that I can figure out later what's what.

For example, if I go out to shoot trains, in the time between two trains coming by, I might try out an experiment, such as shooting the same thing with different apertures or lenses. When I return, I don't want all these photos mixed together, because I won't know which photo is for which purpose, and likely delete some of them thinking, "Why did I take eight photos of exactly the same scene?"

Another example is when traveling. I might spend a couple of weeks in another country, and I usually leave my laptop at home, so I don't want to return with thousands of photos, which becomes a pain to sort through. Instead, I'd rather create folders of each place I go to then and there. Keep in mind that I might go to a park a couple of times, so the park photos won't all be together when sorted by date. So it becomes a pain to find them out when they're mixed together with all the other photos.

My camera, a Sony NEX-5R, does support a "Create folder" menu option, but that just creates a folder with a useless name like 104558, mixed together with a dozen folders automatically created by the camera, so this is not useful.

I considered carrying multiple SD cards, but it's not convenient to swap cards when I'm outdoors in an unforgiving environment, and it's like to cause more harm (losing a card) than good.

Is there any other solution to this problem?

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    Why not just take a notepad and make a note like "Folder 104558 - Slow shutter speed experiment, Anyville, June 8" for each folder. Or if you have a smartphone which you will have on you anyway, use that. – ElendilTheTall Jun 8 '14 at 9:33
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The camera is a very poor tool for organizing photos, even if your camera did have a way to name folders it would have been painful to use because of the small screen and no keyboard.

But you can shoot photos that will help you organize the pictures later, a common trick is to shoot a picture of your hand before each photo set so you can easily see where one set ends and the other begin.

Another option is to shoot a note with information about the picture set (or, when traveling, a sign with the name of the place you are visiting).

And, if you try the same scene with different settings those settings will be saved in the photo's EXIF data so you don't have to record it as part of the file/folder name.

  • Thanks, Nir. I will keep the hand trick in mind. Please note that that multiple "folders" of photos can overlap in time and place -- the example I gave of going out to shoot trains, but conducting an experiment of some kind in between two trains. And as for settings, let's say I perform an experiment where I compare the same scene shot with different apertures. My problem is not that I can't later tell the f/1.8 photo from the f/2.8. Rather it's that I don't know whether the f/1.8 photo is part of my experiment or is a photo shot for its own value. – Vaddadi Kartick Jun 8 '14 at 14:35
  • I've accepted this question for the "hand" trick, which is a solution to this problem. Is it elegant? No. Does it work? Yes. And that's what matters. – Vaddadi Kartick Jul 13 '14 at 1:06
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To be honest, I wouldn't bother with multiple folders or SD cards. Here is why.

  1. you say one of the reasons is that you want to separate pictures made with different settings and lenses. Programs such as Lightroom allow you to search based on lens, aperture, f stop, focal length and any other metadata stored in the exif of your photos. So this point is a non-issue. Just shoot, play around and worry about it later.

  2. You dont want to go and sort through thousands of pictures. Why? Don't you look at your pictures afterwards? You would want to sort the keepers from the non-keepers anyway. I wouldn't do this on the small camera screen as something you thought wasn't a keeper may turn out to be a great photo when viewed on a larger screen.

  3. If you dont shoot raw, you should. Search the site for why. If you do shoot raw, you will go through your pictures anyway to pick the keepers and then edit them. As you do this, just select multiple photos shot at the same location and tag them.

  4. Similarly a typical workflow in say Lightroom involves going through all the pictures and determining keepers from not and then edit the keepers only. During this process you can tag your photos with more info than just location.

  5. Also, you are probably not at different locations at the same time. Take out your phone or a notebook. Jot down the place you are at and the time (no need to jot down the time if the note app already does that). Or checkin on facebook or in another app. This will give you a time and place reference and also keep a little log of places you went to and the order. Assuming the time on your camera is set up properly, you can search for that particular time frame in Lightroom and then tag all your photos in bulk.

  6. Since your camera does not have GPS, if your phone does, you can snap a photo of the location before the start of your shoot with your phone and GPS tagging enabled. Then, import all your shots in your photo management program, sort by time, and tag all photos taken after the initial tagged photo with the same location

  • Let me respond to each point separately: 1) That doesn't help, because if I see an f/2.8 photo, for example, was it part of a test, or was it a photo of a subject I want to keep? 2) I was trying to say that I'd much rather sort through four folders of 500 photos than one folder with 2000 photos. 3, 4 and 5) I shoot RAW, but it doesn't matter whether I shoot RAW or JPEG, because if I shoot a bunch of photos at a certain location, some may be part of an experiment, and others not. – Vaddadi Kartick Jun 8 '14 at 14:24
  • @KartickVaddadi: in that case, you can have one folder for experiments and another for everything else. Later in post, tag based on folder and then additionally tag based on date + checkin information as described in #5. I also added another option #6 above – Rado Jun 8 '14 at 14:48
  • As I wrote in the question, the camera keeps creating folders every now and then, so I'll have a dozen folders, with no clue which of them is the one I manually created. And it's not easy or perhaps even possible to switch back and forth. As I said, tagging based on location and time isn't going to work, because the photos from my experiment may be interleaved with "real" photos -- the example I gave of going out to shoot trains, and in between two trains arriving, performing an experiment of comparing depth of field or something. – Vaddadi Kartick Jun 8 '14 at 14:55

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