Well, I am still working on my list of digital maintenance tasks. The task I had not previously mentioned is the one that occupied much of last week’s spare time. My current computer is beginning to hold up orange danger signs, saying “Warning, Warning, dead electrontics graveyard soon. ” It has been a very good machine and paid for itself years ago. This meant I had a research project. I ended up purchasing a Dell XPS 15. When it arrived, It looked great and I started loading my suite of tools onto it. Loading software is only a little more interesting than watching dust collect. Things did not go well.
In the course of doing my research I realized that given the heat issues with some XPSs I should purchase the premium support plan. Dell also offered me a really good price for the plan. This was a good decision as the first computer sent to was deemed faulty by Dell. A new one at no charge to me is on its way. Yea Dell.
Last night I had visions of a Chinook arch forming over the Rockies, and pink peaks at dawn. This morning I got out of the house before 6:45. I was at a nearby Starbucks way before it opened and had to forego my morning hit. My standard hit is a quad grande Americano 3/4 full, no cream no sugar, just black starter fluid. I drove to my planned location without coffee until reached an Okotokes A&W. The coffee didn’t kill me. No Chinook arch. No pink peaks. On the drive home I did though, in dawn’s grey light, capture the photo below.
And so the year comes to an end, not with a whimper but a bang (apologies to TS Eliiot).
I have thoroughly enjoyed having a 2 week stay cation. I have had the opportunity to go on a number of photo rambles, some alone and some with company. All were a treat. I am particularly pleased with some photos. Other are like Air Canada (so what), and I will not burden you with those. I have also started to think again about the emotional and communicative elements of photography. Two days ago, I read the following article by Colin Dutton: http://www.manfrottoschoolofxcellence.com/2017/10/reading-photographs/. He proposes an exercise of describing photos you find strong, in a way that communicates some of the heart, content. and nuances of the image. I accept the challenge, and it is one that I will take up once I return. I have read Blake, and recent signs from the universe suggest it is time to re-visit at least some of his poems with now older eyes.
Yes, I will be leaving this blog for a week or two for two reasons. The first, is that I will be returning to work, and that will require my focus and concentration in the immediate future. As well I have some very dry and boring webmaster tasks to undertake. The site needs to be secured, there are some anti-spam referral tools to find and install, and I need to obtain some new domain names to protect my name.
I initially planned to spread the following collections over a number of posts. Instead, I present them to you all together.
Collection 1. I love winter light on the prairies. Earth and sky are at time indistinguishable. In that frozen sleep, there is both hope and beauty.
Yesterday was a good day photographicaly. Keith and I had great amble and babble along some of the trails in South Glenmore Park yesterday. My objective was to try my hand at white on white. I am happy with the result. I do though think I need another iteration of adjusting the colour. That said I hope you enjoy them.
This post was first published on Thursday Dec. 14th. On a subsequent read I concluded that my thoughts were good, but the writing lacked bridging. Today, Saturday, I revised the post.
This sequence of posts began with a quartet of “near day” photos. It is therefore fitting that this series ends with these “end day” photos.
“Mountain Liight” was one of the books published by the late great photographer Galen Rowell. Sebastiao Salgado is a Brazilian photographer known for his large self-assigned documentary projects. Bedsides his incredible photos with and of people, he has also some great mountain photos that hearken back to masters of black and white photography such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
Given the body of stunning work from people like Rowell and Salgado, a not unreasonable question would be, why bother taking another photograph at all? There is an answer in my past and there is my current answer. Once upon a time I could answer this question using verbiage that was all too self-important, and all too precious. Now, I treat myself a lot less seriously, and with much more humour. The current answer is not nearly as hevay handed. I get pleasure and satisfaction from the photographic process and walkabouts. The photographic process compliments my appreciation of walkabouts, and the walkabouts contribute to the photographic process.
In a world in which humanity consistently demonstrates it has no moral right to continue, it is a gift to be reminded of the marvel of living.
Here is the next series of photos from our recent visit to Banff. The first 3 are from the shores of Two Jack Lake. The 4th photo was taken from the edge of the Bow River down the street from where we were staying, the ever so reliable Banff Park Lodge.
Here is the first of the 3 or 4 galleries from an extended weekend in Banff shared with my wife and 2 friends. Last year we made the same trip, and the day time highs were -25 C. This year it was down right balmy and we could walk comfortably from town to Bow Falls. I was struck by the contrast between dark waters and old ice.
First to Keith’s comments of yesterday, and the term of the day from a work discussion that is applicable to the transient nature of digital images. The term is “termporal validity”. Photos have always had an element of time in their DNA. A challenge of digital media is that they lack tactility. Furthermore, we are so inundated with noise of all sorts, most media has a very short temporal validity. A book is tactile and as Keith wrote yesterday a book has prescence over time. In other words, a book has longer temporal validity. Furthermore, a book has structure, conversations and relationships that exist among photos, and across pages. I can return to a book. It is true, I can return to a digital image, but the digital return only engages a single sense.
Once upon a time I was a techie. I could write batch files in DOS and in multiple flavours of Unix. I could make the tools do what I thought I wanted. Now, my approach is much simpler – I just want the damn thing to work at a price I am willing to pay. I couldn’t justify the cost of a nice printer. Instead I bought a cheap printer. The cost of the ink nearly forced the cats into starvation. The printer is gone and the cats are happy. If I need to print a batch of photos, as part of a workflow, I use Costco. Up to now I have only printed 4 x 6. Printing 5 x 7 as part of “seeing what works” is a new element.
The penultimate topic of the day is price. I use Blurb.ca and they frequently have sales. The discount is often but not always 40% off the list price of the book. In the case of the most recent book it had 2 versions. The first version was a paperback version on a premium paper I like. I wanted to to see if the flow was correct and if some photos needed lightening.
Details for the softcover prototype
Number of pages – 56
Number of photos – appoximately 75 photos, 5 of those pages contain a combined total of 24 of those images
Size of pages 9.5″ x 8″
Cost book 39.39, gst 1.78, S&H 11.99, 40% off 39.39 -15.76
Details for the hardcover are as above
Cost book 53.59, gst 2.21, S&H 11.99, 40% off 53.59 -21.44
Total for the project is less than 85.00 and I leave it to you to compare that to the wonderful work done by Resolve.
One last thing before I go. I took a minor detour on the way home from work today and took this hand-held panorama.
As some of you know, I enjoy making photo-books. Typically, each book contains 70-90 photos on 50 – 60 pages. The first book was done in 2013, and had a scrapbook feel to it. Last year I began again. Initially I had envisaged 1 book to record our trip to Venice, Zagreb, and London. When I sat down to create that book I resolved the resulting cacophony of ideas by dividing the project into 7 smaller projects. Those 7 smaller projects and their status are as follows.
A Tale of Three Cities – London (envisaged)
A Tale of Three Cities – Venice (completed 2016-11)
A Tale of Three Cities – Zagreb (completed 2016-06)
The Little Book of Venice (completed 2016-06)
The Street Book (completed 2016-05)
The Design Book (envisaged)
But you only count 6. The 7th on the list is the Book of Skies and that is today’s topic. As I mentioned earlier this month, I also recently completed a book for my family, Kawagama. So, of the six books so far, 2 were particularly successful. The Street Book and Kawagama. I attribute their success in part to my own clarity of heart and purpose. Therein lies the photographic problem of the month. Where’s the clarity of heart, when it comes to sky. Looking at photos on the screen only takes me so far. The Book of Skies may contain only 30 photos, and I would like all approximately 150 candidate photos strewn across the floor.
This is where Costco comes in, and a problem of machine processing. How do I get 150 photos mostly with a 3:2 aspect ratio machine printed on 5 x 7 paper without having the image cropped? Read on.
Summary for Machine Printing on 5 x 7 Paper
Collect your photos of interest
Export photos as jpgs sized to 6.5 “
Change the canvas size for all the jpgs to 1400 x 1000 pixels
Send to Lab
Detailed Instructions for Machine Printing on 5 x 7 Paper
I know you are a clever reader and don’t need to be told all required mouse clicks.
Using Lightroom create the collection of candidates
Within the collection, rotate all vertical photos so that every photo in the collection now appears horizontal
Assume the photos will be printed at 200 dpi and there will be ¼ inch border around the photo. Each photo will be printed 1300 pixels wide (6.5 x 200)
Select all photos in the collection and export to the working directory of your choice. The key export settings for this exercise are under “Image Sizing”. Check Resize to Fit; Choose Long Edge; Leave Don’t Enlarge unchecked; Choose 6.5 in; Set Resolution to 200 pixels per inch
Aside: PC users, you will need a copy of Irfanview (www.irfanview.com). If you don’t have a copy of it already, please explain why. Sorry Mac Users, I don’t know the iOS equivalent.
Now we get clever or at least mildly entertaining
Open Irfanview and click on the menu item under File labeled Batch Conversion / Rename
Add all the files you exported, which are now in the working directory (step 4), to the “Input Files” area
Near the top right of your Irfanview screen, check “Use Advanced Options“ and click the “Advanced” button
Somewhere near the bottom of the middle column, check “Canvas Size” and click the “Settings” button
Set the canvas size to 1400 pixels wide and 1000 pixels high
Click the “Center” radio button.
Click Ok to return to the batch processing screen and click OK again to return to the main screen
Click the “Start Batch” button
You now have all your photos sized for printing on 5 x 7 paper in a way that the printing machine won’t mess with your carefully considered original framing
I will be going with Costco, because at ca 0.39 / photo I can’t print that cheap
Strew photos across the floor while listening to Coltrane, possibly “Kind of Blue”
I have now completed 2 iterations of a photo book for family members. They are now in appreciative hands. The working world continues to go well, and is at times mentally exhausting. Today though is a day off, which means I was up early enough to photograph the dawn. I was also up bright and early Saturday morning. The first photo is from Saturday and the other two are from this morning.