But oh, how the amount of computer storage dedicated to image files explodes. If someone runs amok with digital camera(s) trying to document every living thing (and some nonliving, like fossils and skeletons) on 80 acres in all seasons...that's a lot of images. And though we started with a little point-and-shoot that produced much smaller files, we progressed to digital SLR...and then to shooting "fine" rather than "medium" pixel density images (for perfectly reasonable scientific reasons--needed the pixel depth) and...more and more and more images flowed into the invisible closet of the work computer.
I was complaining to a friend about the increasing weirdness of my work computer, which kept announcing that it was low on working memory, or slowing down when I had things open, and she suggested I check how much of my various drives were filled up. (She is a techie--I am at the level where I really need those little pictures of a disk with one part pink and one part blue.) The results were...slightly alarming. Her suggestion: get all those image files off the main machine.
Thus began hours (and hours and hours and hours) of watching little file icons drifting across a window while a blue progress line moved very, very slowly across the same window and the "clock" announced how many minutes were left until the task was done. Every year had a folder, within which were a hundred or so other folders, and thousands and thousands of files. And every file was bigger than big.
The year folders took an hour or more each to transfer via USB (a cabled USB) to the external drive. Then I tried to delete them from the main machine. "Too big for recycle bin" it said. Did I want to just have them go poof, with no possibility of return. Wincing, I said yes. That was quicker than the transfer, but still took some minutes.
Luckily, it was possible to do some work while this was going on, though sometimes the display backed up and I'd typed several words beyond what showed there.
What I need (the word "need" here is used somewhat ironically...does any amateur really need >7000 images/year of plants, animals, birds, bugs, amphibians, etc.?) is a computer dedicated to photography. Enormous vasty storage (why stop at terabyte drives? Why not petabytes?) and external drives and a really good monitor (since the ancient one I'm using is showing signs of decrepitude...and "ancient" in this sense means >10 years old.) Then old faithful here could settle back into relaxed handling of writing and writing alone. It has plenty of disk space for that. Whole novels take up less space than one image. Additional computers, however, would take up space we don't have. (Writer-devotees of the TV show "Castle" enjoy it in part because it is so joyously unrealistic....spacious Manhattan apartment, time to solve mysteries instead of writing books, and--in both that and other TV shows depicting writers supposedly at work--sumptuous offices lined with bookshelves. Not stacks of manuscript in the process of re-organization.
However, with the excuse of "research" dangling in front of me, and the surge of glee that comes with having an image accepted into a scientific database, first county record of X, it's not likely that my photographic enthusiasm will die. Next acquisition will be a terabyte external drive, because this computer's too old (I've been told) to stick on it its innards, and clearly I "need" one.
IAt least I've got some of the bulk off the data drive--some 70 Gb--usage is under 50% again.