Computing for the beginner: Digital Photography

In the first of two articles on digital photography Colin Cartmell-Browne (  looks at how to transfer images onto your computer and offers some useful tips of good file management.

BEFORE transferring your photographs from the camera to your computer, it’s important to think about file management.

Windows likes to be helpful. So helpful that when you connect your camera to your computer it likes to transfer the files automatically for you. Don’t let it. Invariably it will put them in a one big folder, usually called ‘Pictures’ or some variant of ‘My documents’. This is ok except trying to find the right photograph afterwards can be a right pain.

A better solution would be to create your own folder(s) first and then manually transfer the files yourself – this way you know exactly where the photograph is should you want to find it later. This is not as difficult as it sounds, just follow these simple steps:

Creating Folders

  1. Open Windows Explorer

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

  2. Click on ‘C:’ This is the hard drive of your computer. (see figure 1)
  3. Click on New Folder (depending on the age of your operating system you may need to click: File> New Folder or similar)
  4. A new folder will now appear. Just hit the ‘Backspace’ key and rename it something useful, like Photographs.
  5. To add sub folders just double click the word Photographs and repeat step 3. Eg in figure 2 I have sub folders (folders within a folder) named depending on what the photographs are of.
Figure 2

Figure 2

This may seem like a lot of work but if, like me, you end up with a lot of photographs this classification can help find the right photograph at a later date.

Once you have set up your folders you are ready to start importing your photographs. There are two ways of doing this. One is to use the lead which came with your camera, the other is to remove the memory card from the camera and insert it into a card reader attached to your computer (some computers come with card readers built in, for others you will need to buy a separate card reader). Either method works just as well as the other, here I talk you through using the lead.

Importing pictures

  1. Attach one end of the lead into the computer, the other into your camera. The hole for this is usually underneath a flap or small hinged door on your camera. It will be obvious which end goes into which device)
  2. Turn the camera on
  3. You may get a message on your camera about pc storage – select this option
  4. Every message is worded slightly differently or, as in the case of my Pentax, no message is given at all but the word PC appears on the small screen)

    Figure 3

    Figure 3

  5. Your computer will now ask you whether you want to import your pictures. (see figure 3) Click the small cross in the top right corner. Importing using this method means the computer will chose where the photos go, and not you!
  6. Open Windows Explorer – your camera will be labelled as a removable disk – just the same way as if you were accessing a USB pen drive or similar. Photographs (image files) may be organised into separate folders, a new folder for each day. (see figure 4).

    Figure 4

    Figure 4

  7. Open the folder and you will now see each of the images as a file (you can preview the image by changing the view using the left of the three icons at the top right, click the little arrow and select ‘Large icons’.
  8. Right click on the photo and select copy (or press the Control key and C at the same time) copies the photograph
  9. Click on C>Photographs>FILENAME
  10. Right click your mouse and click ‘Paste’ (or press the Control key and V at the same time)
  11. Windows will now copy the image file from the camera’s memory card to the folder you have chosen on your computer.
  12. You can select more than one image at a time by holding down ‘Shift’ and clicking on the first and last image (will select the whole lot) or hold down ‘Ctrl’ and selecting each image you want to copy.

This might seem more of a long winded way to copy files from your camera to the computer but it will allow you greater control over where the images are stored.

Next month:  looking at a free alternative to Photoshop to manage and edit your photographs.