Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All The Pretty Little Pixels


Dave was the one who thought I should get a digital camera. He said it would be really useful for my artwork. I didn't want it, because I'd have to learn something new, and I hate that. He bought it for me anyway. A week later--I'm sure this has happened to all of us--I wanted to draw a picture of a Tyrannosaurus rex peering through gingko leaves, but I didn't have any reference material for a gingko tree. (The tyrannosaur was hard to come by too.) So I took my new camera a couple blocks away and fired off some shots of a gingko tree. My computer hoovered them right up and displayed them for me. Damn. That was slick.

The thing took better pictures than my fancy camera and cost nothing to process. Now I can point it outside my window and fire off fifty pictures in a row of my resident alpha hummingbird, whom Dave named Hannibal Nectar, just in case he turns his head just right and I get the bright fuchsia flash. Three or four of them will be terrific, but all fifty of them will be in my computer. I've now taken four billion photographs, give or take, and they're all in there somewhere. If I need to find one, I have to remember about when I took it, and that is not my strong suit.

In fact, if you asked me to name three things that happened to me in the Eighties, I wouldn't be able to slide a stake into any one thing for certain. One of the things would have really taken place in some other decade, and one of them will have happened to somebody else altogether that I have confused myself with. Remember when I fell off the back of the boat trying to give a toast? and someone will say that was Harold. And you weren't there. Oh.

Or if I'm trying to find a picture of a particular person, in theory I should be able to use the face-recognition feature on the computer. But I've boycotted that little sucker ever since the day I got an odd angle on a 4-H exhibit at the state fair and my computer asked if it was me.

There has to be a way of organizing these things. I hadn't had the digital camera that long--long enough to have a couple thousand photos though--and Dave said, you know? You should pick out the best ones and print them out and put them in a real album, like the old days. But the sheer volume of photos is overwhelming, and has a way of stripping you of your last round tuit.
There it is!

Somewhere I have a good photo of an automobile that is completely covered in moss. It would be a great illustration for a blog post about our local climate.  I needed it once and by the time I'd flipped through all four billion photos on the machine I realized I could take a new photo of a different mossy car faster than I could find the original, and I was right. I don't know where anything is. I have no idea what to do about this problem. It's like riffling through my entire vocabulary in alphabetical order to find the end of my sentence. Sadly, in fact, I happen to know it's exactly like that, dammit.

Supposedly there's some kind of cloud out there where I can put all my photos, but that sounds awfully ephemeral for someone already contending with brain fog. Once I sent them up there, how could I rain them back down?

It doesn't matter what you have a picture of now--if you ask people if they want to see your candid photo of Donald Trump in an updraft, they'll say sure! and wait for you to finger through everything on your phone, or they'll slouch behind you at your computer waiting for you to find the shot, but they don't really want to see it. Everyone is sick to death of looking at a screen. They're just being polite. People do still like pawing through the old albums. Time passes more reasonably in the albums; flip a couple pages, you gain a few years. They look at pictures of you thirty years younger, and then back at you like you're a cautionary tale. They're alarmed, but they love it.

No, I'm not scanning THOSE photos for you.
Some day my computer will blow up and smithereen my photos, and that will be that. It's just as well. They'd just be a burden for my nieces and nephews some day when I'm dead and gone, and besides the naked pictures they might be interested in are all in the old film-photo albums anyway. I've put on a few pixels since then.

53 comments:

  1. Wooo, Hannibal is really pretty! I've got all my photos in virtual albums, but it isn't easy to go through them like a real live one would be, you know. Who hasn't gained a pixel or two over the years? :-)

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    1. Truth: I've lost a few in the last couple years. I am now at a weight that would have horrified me forty years ago but I'm kind of happy with it.

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  2. I am with you. The only ones who enjoy going through my iPhone pictures are my little grandkids - it is still fun for them. This year a New Year's resolution is going to be organizing my photos. We'll see...

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    1. New Year's Resolution! Good idea! Those always work!

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  3. What a colorful hummingbird. Ours are "just" ruby throated. Go with Lightroom...it helps edit and organizes. Or purchase a software that allows tagging...although tagging itself can be a nightmare. OR you can be like me a delete most of them, because they really are not worth saving.

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    1. I'm pretty sure the iPhoto on the Mac lets me do organizing, but it's just one of those things that make me feel all sleepy just contemplating it. So. Tired.

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  4. I come from an era when photographers took a roll of film (@36 pictures), printed a contact sheet, and chose one or two. Nowadays people who post their pictures, like my son, posts them all, whether they're any good or not.

    As much as I enjoy technology, I think it tends to make us lazy. Except for getting a really good show of that gorgeous bird.

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    1. Ooo! I just found three unshot rolls of film in the refrigerator. When was the last time I cleaned out the fridge? Irrelevant. Anyone still use film?

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    2. The relevant question is, "Does anyone still develop film?"

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  5. Hannibal Nectar is an awesome bird! And yes, I do prefer my old photo albums, though I can get quite lost in the e-photos, too. I have over three thousand on my laptop, and it's telling me my start-up disk is full. Now what? I mean, where can I store these things? I can't part with my precious memories. Without photos, I don't know where I've been.

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    1. That is a fact. I have one photo of a garden party we had for the neighborhood and we made everyone wear nametags and I still go to that one to remember who somebody is.

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    2. I'm photoed, therefore I am!

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  6. I went through all those stages, and then I decided to organize my photos. I moved all my photos into one folder, and then I made a new one for new downloads (I've started making a new one every year). Then I bought Photoshop Album, which catalogs all of them. You can attach any labels you want, and then when you click on that label only those photos will come up. It's kinda fun if you like that sort of thing. Plus, I got a separate external drive that plugs into my computer, and I back up all my photos and the Photoshop Album catalog. There are other programs that will do the same, including some that store on the cloud, but I haven't kept up with them. Sorry, that's way too much information!

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    1. You lost me at "organize my photos." Good try, though!

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  7. I have a Personal Geek (my son) who thinks that Microsoft is Evil and Bill Gates is the Anti Christ. When I have a computer problem I just make grunting noises and point at my Mac and son fixes it lickety split. All my photos from my digital camera live in my iPhoto files on my computer, unorganized, where iPhoto keeps prompting me to do something with them and I keep resisting. I put them in folders of my own categories from time to time. I am T Rex.

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    1. I knew I should've had kids. We bought a rental house and stocked it with kids for the same purpose. It's working okay.

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  8. Love Hannibal Nectar - what a great photo and nickname! And I love your final line: "I've put on a few pixels since then." Haven't we all? :-)

    I have the same problem with digital photos, but I've taken to naming the ones that I figure I might actually want to find again. Sometimes it works...

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    1. So I'm thinking maybe some day when it's cold and dark and I have something I really need to do that I'm procrastinating about, I'll go through every dang picture and do something with them. Name them. Put them in special folders. I don't know.

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  9. My computer informs me that I now have 18,561 pictures stored on it (mostly found, not taken by me), so I know what you mean about the difficulty of finding things. You need to come up with a system of file names that makes sense to you (HNectar-1, HNectar-2, MossCar-1, etc.), and rename the photos as you save them in the computer. It will keep them in alphabetical order so you can find them again when you want them.

    Computers do have limited life spans, so it's worth copying your pictures to a flash drive every so often. There will be some you don't want to lose.

    How's the ginkgo tyrannosaurus coming along?

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    1. I do have an external hard drive. Isn't that grown-up of me? The T rex came out fine. I would've scanned it and put it on here but there is a giant piece of furniture up against the cabinet it's in. We're having floors put in.

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  10. I almost stopped at "Hannibal Nectar", cuz really, how do you beat that?

    But I didn't. Because you're funny.

    Pearl

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  11. You made me wonder, so I checked: 5,986 -- that's how many photos I have on my laptop. Actually there are a couple of hundred more waiting to go into iPhoto on one of those procrastination days you mentioned. At first I kept the photos in folders by month, but then I had to remember what month I took them. It worked fairly well because I could remind myself, "he was wearing a shirt with short sleeves," and could pretty well guess it was one of the months between April and November. Maybe. For the last several months I've been thinking a better system would occur to me. So far it hasn't.

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  12. Well if you haven't just EXACTLY described the problem, there. And then there are the times that I remember, maybe, something blooming, and so can guess at the month, but still don't remember the year.

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  13. I have filed my photos by subject and by the month I took them in. And still lose them. And I shudder to think just how many there are.
    Sigh. And then I think that they are all filed in my brain somewhere - and wish I had a filing system for it too. One I could use.

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  14. I think it's like anything else that gets cluttered:
    1 - stop taking so many pictures, or delete the ones you don't want ON YOUR CAMERA before you even download them to your computer
    2 - delete photos you already have in your computer, so many per sitting - you have to break it up or you'll go bonkers
    3 - THEN organize what is left.

    I know that this is what you have to do, and yet I have not yet done it.

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    1. Now, there's something awfully sensible about this idea. I could work my way through in segments. There are a lot of things I've done that if I'd thought about how long and complicated they'd be before I did them, they wouldn't have been done.

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    2. But did you note the part where I confess I have not yet done this??

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  15. "I've put on a few pixels since then."

    Murr, you have a way of constructing brilliance out of the ordinary. As an aside, I agree that digital photography has made it harder to find photos. I often wish the files would name themselves in the way I'd name them. "Unnaturally colorful bird in ginko tree and that sort of thing." Sadly, they're only numbered, and numbers aren't my strong suit.

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    1. Oh thanks, Mike. The ordinary is all I have to construct brilliance out of. I have to make do. Hee hee! She said "make do!"

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  16. "I've put on a few pixels since then."

    Well, we all know that the camera adds ten pounds of pixels. Te he!

    My first job after leaving school was as a filing clerk, whilst I waited for my college programme to start, so I got the organising bug early. Still, there's a hole in the market for a very, very, very simple photo organiser. Mmm ... maybe I could be on the way to being a geek granny millionaire. Now if I could only remember what that bird was called, Hannibal Lector, Hannibal the great, Hannibal trifecta, Hannibal conjecture? Oh, I know, I know - Hannibal Spectre!

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    1. Exactly. It does no good to label my pictures if I can't remember how I labeled them. I am not thinking in terms of grand folders: Nature, Mountains, Flowers, Dave, Tater, Miscellany, Copulating Items.

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  17. Now the truth is, it is not the car that is covered in moss, it is the car cover!!! Take a closer look.
    What a a pretty bird!!!!

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    1. After a while, though, Rose, the car and the car cover become one.

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  18. Huh. I plug in the cord from camera to computer and my handy-dandy little laptop tells me it has found x pictures and offers me the option to tag (label) them, so I type a few names into the window, click on import and the computer puts all the photos into a neat little folder tagged the way I labelled it. If i choose not to label, the computer labels the folder with the date of import. From there I can open each folder, rename each photo, (it opens with each photo having the same name as the folder), then rename the folder if I wish. I now have a series of folders labelled by year and when I open them I have a subset of folders labelled by month, each of those has either a mishmash of pictures or a further subset, for instance 2011-July- may have folders labelled beach, roses, kitchen etc. I do it as soon as the photos are in the computer, saves time later.
    I love your hummingbird.

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  19. Of course this doesn't mean that I can find everything I'm looking for in an instant, but at least I have an idea of where to start.

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  20. Forget organizing. Delete, delete, delete, delete, until you come to a good one. Keep that. Go on deleting. Do this every time you look at your photos. It's the only way to keep your sanity. (I learned too late; now I have about 19,000 photos to sort. I mean, to delete.)

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    1. You're right. When you're right, you're right.

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  21. I don't remember writing this, but I'm pretty sure I might have. I don't have humming birds though. I have about 500 shots of the moon and another 1000 or so sunsets. And yet, I can never find the one I want when I need a new facebook cover.

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    1. See, you'd find it if you only had fifty sunsets.

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  22. Exactly. But if I delete any of them I won't have them, and I might need them one day.

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  23. I thought that system was mine. But I failed to patent it, so feel free.

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  24. I recently found two rolls of film l shot in Alaska about eight years ago and have been thinking about having them developed - but what the hell would I do with hard photoes?
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Oh that's easy. You put them in a shoebox with the negatives and put them in a closet.

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    2. Nuh-uh, you scan them into your computer then label them and.....

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  25. After my computer went feet up to Windows in the sky, I lost all my photos and folders. Now I transfer them to a flash drive. And once you learn to get all artsy fartsy with a photo program, you'll learn to take a selfie, and make yourself look 20 years younger..... I just give myself larger boobs and no one looks at my face in my photos.

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    1. If I gave myself larger boobs I wouldn't even have to put on pants.

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