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Save Your Photos As You Edit

Have you ever been working on an image and had the computer crash? Sucks, doesn’t it? All that hard work, down the proverbial tubes.

I remember a few years back working on an image in Photoshop. It was a restoration of an old photo I was doing for a family member (I was “volunteered” since I “knew about those darn computers”).

So, I scanned it in, then carefully retouched and repaired all the damaged areas. I’d been at it for nearly 2 hours and it was really coming along great. Then the program crashed.

All was lost.

So, I decided to be fanatical about saving. Every time I did something to an image, I saved it. Seems like a good idea, but turns out it’s not. Experience is a brutal teacher.

See, I was working on another image and did something to it that I believed was an improvement. I thought it looked fantastic, so I saved it. As I continued to work on it, I realized that I really shouldn’t have done what I did a few steps ago after all. However, I couldn’t go back, since the image was already saved with the mistake. After a few choice words, I decided the image was lost.

So, here’s my current method. When I open an image, the very first thing I do is a “Save As” and add a “-1” to the name of the image. So, if I had a photo called “waterfall” I would save as “waterfall-1” (saved in TIF format so I don’t lose any quality).

Now I do some work to the waterfall-1 image. Rather than just doing a save, I do another “Save As”. This time I call it “waterfall-2” (again, saving as a TIF).

This process continues on as I work. Sometimes I’ll end up with 10 “stages” of an image. The nice thing is if the program crashes, or I change my mind, I don’t have to start completely over. I Just jump back to a previous image and restart from there. Once I’m 100% satisfied with the image, I save the last one with a regular name and delete the rest.

Also, note that I generally don’t go this crazy over every image I work on. Most of the time I only need a couple very minor adjustments and things are set to go. However, if I’m in a project that is going to take some time, this trick can be a real lifesaver.