Some more information: I have found a backup in Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backups/ on my Time Capsule from December, but it does not appear to have a date in its name. Instead of ending with a date and time, it ends with a long hexadecimal string. It looks like iTunes only recognizes backups with dates in their names.
Perhaps I can restore this backup and somehow actually use it, or is it just some utility file?
When you sync your device to your computer you are not copying photos and videos from your device to your computer. To do this you need to connect your device to your computer and run iPhoto if the computer is a Mac or on a pc run what ever image capture application you usually use to transfer photos from your camera.
This will backup you photos and videos to your computer. I also suggest, since hard drives can and do fail, that everyone backup important photos and videos to at least one other location. Even better would be to have everything stored in three locations with be of those being a place away from the location of the computer.
You might try to use iTunes to see what might be recoverable. Connect your phone to your computer and run iTunes. Select your phone in iTunes and select Summary in the row of tabs. Then select restore from backup. I'm not sure your photos will be there but it might be your only hope.
Thank you for the responses so far.
To repeat a couple of things, because I guess I wasn't clear in the OP:
I do not use iCloud.
I regularly connect my Phone to my computer and back it up. In fact, I backed up by phone as recently as a week ago.
There are no recent backups on my Mac, only very old backups from the a previous iOS update. When I use iTunes it offers these very old backups and one from today, after things got wiped. The recent update wiped out my recent backup. That's why I'm upset.
I have found a more recent backup on my Time Machine, but the name of the file does not contain a date only a hex string. I wonder if I can fool iTunes into using that somehow?
OK, I think I'm really close to a restore. I have the backup file from a few weeks ago in the backup directory, but iTunes doesn't seem to see it; it's not being offered as an option for backup.
I'm not optimistic that this file actually contains my lost photos, but at least I'll get something back, like all of my contacts and Application data.
Does anyone know how to get iTunes to recognize a backup file?
My girlfriend just had a similar thing happen. She orginally got her iPhone 5 2 months ago. Sunday morning she clicked the recent update. As it downloaded it prompted her to plug into itunes. When she did it said that the install failed and she would need to restore the phone to continue. Not really know what any of that meant, she restored the phone. After that she had no photos, no contacts, no apps and no calendar.
She is really only concerned about the photos (her sister just had a baby, she took the photos) we took it to the apple store and the guy said there was nothing that can be done. Seriously, no photos could be recovered. were probably talking about 500 mbs of photos.
I checked for the restore files and one said 11/26 a few days before she bought the phone and then 2/3/12 with a time after the wipe happened.
Icloud doesnt have any photos. Is she really out of luck like the Apple store guy said, is there really nothing that can be recovered. I've erased a memory stick before on my camera and I was able to restore all photos, wondering if there is something like this that can be done. Any ideas?
Also, if you have backups of the machine with iTunes on it, restore the backups directory to the state it was in just before the update, then restore the phone from the most recent backup.
**If you do this, be sure to turn off automatic backups on the phone! Otherwise it will immediatey wipe out your old backups when you plug it in.***