Photography

Today, Google Photos reminded me that this is the first anniversary of the day that Alex, my phone, and I went down to San Pedro Springs Park to take some possible header photos for my blog. I had just discovered the panorama mode on my phone. My older digital camera — which has a wrist strap, so I still use it in situations where I’m afraid of dropping my camera — has a panorama mode that takes separate overlapping photos which I can then stitch together into one. My phone’s panorama mode is one continuous shot. You move the camera from one side to another (or from top to bottom/bottom to top) and the camera makes one image out of it. This works out really well outdoors.  Indoors, it makes the walls look like they’re bowing inwards. It’s kind of a neat effect, but not exactly what you want for an indoor shot most of the time.

Below is the panorama I took of the inside of Grand Central Terminal so you can see what I mean.

Grand Central Terminal Panorama

Grand Central Terminal taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5 on panorama mode

As I said, though, the panorama mode is pretty good outdoors, so I went around to different parts of the park and took a variety of pictures of different parts of the park and sometimes the same part of the park from different vantage points with different aspect ratios (the width-to-height measurement of an image).

Then, once I was certain that I had the layout that I wanted, I looked for an image that could be cropped and/or resized to fit the dimensions of the header image for the layout without compromising the subject. The winner was the panorama I took from the top of the stairs above the springs. And now, one year ago later (to the day!), I’m still pretty proud of that photo.

1. It looks like my step count will likely be a lot better for June than it was for May.  It’s bedtime on June 9 and I’m done with my average step count through June 11.  I will still have to get the actual steps on those days, but if I’m two days ahead already, I doubt that I’ll end up behind like I was in May.  Also, hopefully July will be pretty easy to take care of, despite the 2nd and 3rd being weekend days because July will be our big vacation and I suspect that between running through two airports twice and visiting the Fishlake National Forest*, Salt Lake City, the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Yellowstone, and Dinosaur National Monument (also, possibly Craters of the Moon National Park), I can probably come up with a few steps. It probably won’t be as step-heavy as Italy and New York were because we will have a rental car with us. I have pretty high hopes for August, though, since we’ll be spending four days in Chicago without a rental car.

2.  Originally, our 2017 vacation was supposed to be our return to Europe.  To that end, I started saving up for our 2017 vacation when we returned from our 2014 vacation. Since we’re not going to Europe, but Canada instead, I’m now done saving up for that trip.  Now I am going to continue saving money for two smaller trips next year — a long weekend in Southern California (the last time I was there, Alex was a baby) and the eclipse weekend.  Let’s see how that goes.

3(a). I still have a box full of envelopes of pictures to scan, but the other day I passed the 20,000 picture mark.  I really need to remember to pick up two more SD cards to back up the pictures. Then I have to remember to take them to my safe deposit box. No sense making a backup if I then lose it in a fire or something.

3(b). My dad has a shelf full of genealogical materials.  After I finish my photo scanning project I will, likely, begin scanning all of that in.  Wish me luck.

*Because if you’re that close to the most massive single organism on the planet, it would be foolish not to see (and photograph!) it.  I doubt we’re going to get far enough east on our planned 2018 trip to Washington and Oregon to visit the largest organism in terms of area.

I figure that since my last South Texas Destination, Denman Estate Park, was the home of a major donor to the San Antonio Museum of Art, I maybe should write up the museum next.

At first, I thought that I should make another trip to the museum, but I’ve been there dozens, or maybe even scores, of times over the last 23 years that I’ve lived in San Antonio, so I don’t actually need to go there again before I can write knowledgeably about it.

Then I went looking for my pictures from my last trip to the museum and couldn’t find them.

I know that my last trip to the museum was after my dad moved down here in 2009. In fact, Alex, my dad, and I went to lunch at La Gloria at the Pearl Brewery and then hiked down the Riverwalk to the museum, and the oldest Yelp review I can find for La Gloria is from 2010, so we can probably make that the earliest start date.  I think we must have gotten there after 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, because the museum has traditionally had free admission then and I don’t recall paying admission, though that’s actually immaterial.

The trip must have been before June of 2014, however, because that’s when I got my Galaxy S5 phone.  I originally thought to look at my Google Maps timeline to see if that trip is on there and found that neither the Pearl Brewery nor the museum is on my timeline.

I have opened and looked into every folder in my photos directory between those dates and had no luck.  I’ll keep digging just in case, but I think they’re gone.  It’s a pity, too, because there were some pictures that I was really proud of in there.

So it looks like I’ll have to go back to the museum after all.  I might be able to return to the Pearl and to the museum on Saturday, May 21, but the museum might be pretty crowded then and I might not be able to get any really good pictures without multiple strangers hanging around in them. Also, Alex and I are both recovering from a pretty nasty respiratory virus.  I feel a lot better, but I’m several days ahead of him and he got hit harder than I did.

Alex spends Memorial Day weekend (for those not in the United States, that’s the weekend before the final Monday of May) and nearly all of June with his dad, so this Saturday is going to be our last Saturday together until June 25. We have plans with my dad on Sunday, so that’s out.

So, it looks like if we can’t go on May 21, I won’t be writing about the museum until at least June 25 and at that point I might as well wait until Alex gets back from his dad’s and then go before noon on a Sunday or after 4 on a Tuesday when we can get in for free.

So I guess I’ll start working on a different South Texas Destination just in case.  Maybe I’ll do the Botanical Gardens.  I can find lots and lots of pictures from there (we’re members and get in for free). . . .

To recap, I lost my data drive back in December and have been trying to catch up to where I was the last time I backed up, in September.  I am also backing up on a daily (or at least weekly) basis.  I have a 32 gig SD card and every day (or two, or week, but no less frequently than that), I find every file I’ve changed that day/two days/week and copy it to a directory named for that day’s date.  I’ve been doing this since December and I still have 24 gig free on the card.

The most challenging part of this process is finding the files I’ve changed that day.  I have Windows 8.1 and one of the changes from Windows 8 is that when you search for files, it also pulls up the directory, so that, if you have, say five pictures in that directory, all modified that day, you will end up finding ten files — the five files and the five files in the directory.  I don’t know.  I’ve been trying to figure out why it does that, and, more importantly, how to stop it.

This also makes it hard to take a count of how many pictures I’ve scanned in.  I think I’m at around 4,700, but don’t know for certain.  I’m currently in the middle of scanning in a book of pictures of my uncle and his family that I think my mom inherited from my maternal grandfather.  I think I’m pretty close to halfway done with this book, but I just realized that I should probably be scanning in the captions from the back.  I’ve done that with other albums, so I should do it with this one.

That sound you heard was my head hitting my desk. Repeatedly.

Just don’t let me forget to back this stuff up tonight. . . .

45 minutes later: Apparently I hadn’t missed that many captions, because I’m now caught up on scanning in the backs of the pictures just in time to give my dad his eyedrops, take my own inhaler, and head off to bed.

So, I tried to mess around with my computer right after coming home from my sixth day in a row at work and accidentally deleted everything on my external hard drive.  Fortunately it hadn’t been *too* long since I’d backed up — only about two and a half months — so I only have that much work to do over again.   Don’t ever try to do creative things with your computer after six straight days at work.

So I’m now at 3,200 pictures and 121 postcards scanned in.  It won’t be that much time before I’m caught up again.  I hope.

In other photographic news, for some reason I used to divide up my pictures by the camera I used to take them.  It seemed to make sense to me at the time, probably because before I started this blog, I only took a few pictures once in a while and it was easier to remember which camera I used.

Now, though, I’m taking dozens and scores of pictures every weekend (I’m not so far gone as to be taking hundreds — yet) and I’m losing track.  So, I am also moving the pictures from my phone pictures directory into my main photographs directory.  And since I’m going so many places now, I have started to mark the directories with the destinations inside.  This is particularly interesting when it comes to my pictures of Italy, because my camera was on San Antonio time the whole trip.  This means that one “day”‘s pictures generally spans two days in Italy.  So that’s fun.

So now I’m rescanning pictures, and moving pictures from one directory to another, *and* rebacking up the pictures taken with my phone.

And in other photography news, Alex and I went downtown today to see if I could get a good Christmas picture to post in a couple of days.  I think I have the perfect one chosen.  We took a lot of pictures (I took 61 and I don’t know how many Alex took), and did a lot of walking (about three miles) and didn’t get back until after dark.

I’ve been contemplating what to do for offsite storage of my photographs, because there are no guarantees that the originals, or the copy I keep on my external hard drive, or the copy that I keep on my C: drive won’t all be lost.  I started out pricing cloud storage options and trying to extrapolate how much space I might need in the future (bearing in mind that I’m about 75% done with this project and I take new photographs every week and that my photograph directory is currently at 62 gig).  I finally just bought a 64-gig SD card, copied almost all of my photographs to it (the SD card had 59 gig of space on it, so something had to give and that thing was the pictures from my phone because they’re already backed up on Google’s servers) and stuck it in my safe deposit box.

Now, of course, since the pictures from my phone are currently 7 gig, I will certainly outgrow a 64-gig SD card by the time I’ve scanned everything in, so once I’m done-done, I will probably need another two SD cards for the pretty-much-final backup.  I hope my dad finds our photo album from our Canada trip before I finish the boxes that I’m currently working on.  I would, of course, feel obliged to back those up after scanning them in, which will take another SD card.

At the moment, I now have 4,764 photos and 135 postcards scanned in.

 

It was a big deal the first time I ever used our family camera.  Our Swinger had cost my folks around $20 in 1965.  Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $150, so I really don’t blame them for waiting until I was seven, even if it was frustrating to see things that I wanted to photograph and not to be allowed to.

Twenty-nine years later, we put a camera into Alex’s hands for the first time.  He was three. We were at EPCOT and Alex was really fussy. Alex was normally a very easy-going kid, so was unusual.  We asked him what was up and he indicated that he wanted a camera.  He had grown up seeing us taking pictures, so he certainly knew what a camera did by then.

We had one of those disposable cameras on us, so we handed it to him. We figured that he might be able to work out how to work the shutter button and we’d have one picture taken by him as a souvenir.  Alex lifted that camera to his eye and pushed the shutter button.  And then he advanced the film and took another picture.  You could have knocked us over with a feather.

So we bought another disposable camera for me to use (my ex had the digital camera) and continued our day. By the end of the day, we had bought him another camera, and when we went to my folks’ house the next, day, he went through a few more cameras.  And he went through a few more during our side trip to Key West that week.

And even from the very first, he had a pretty good eye.  My mom told him that she wanted him to take some pictures of people (my mom seemed to think that the purpose of a camera was to take pictures of people and absolutely nothing else).  And it seems to me that a few pictures of family members once in a while is fine, but I’ve never been that big on taking pictures of (family member) in (location) and then (other family member) in (same location) and whatever.  So Alex took a picture of my dad (whom he adores) and then my mom suggested he take a picture of his dad and me.  So his dad and I posed and Alex looked into the viewfinder and then took a step back.  He looked in the viewfinder again and took another step back.  He did this another couple of times and then finally took the picture.  When the picture came out, there were his dad and me smack in the center of the picture.  And way, off to the viewer’s right was my dad.  That kid, at the age of three, knew how to get the shot he wanted, and he wanted my dad in that photo.

Eventually, of course, we bought him his own camera, an inexpensive digital camera. He took pictures for another couple of years and then when he was in kindergarten or thereabouts, he stopped.  When he was twelve, I think, I bought him a Black Friday special camera and then another year or so later, he got the picture-taking bug again.  He has been taking pictures pretty steadily since then and has filled up, I think it’s two SD cards with pictures in that time.

My mom loved post cards.  She probably bought hundreds of them over the years.  And as I was going through my photo scanning project, I just skipped them, since they are under copyright to someone who isn’t me or a member of my family.  This means that they aren’t really my property to do with as I please (particularly with regard to using them in my blog).

Originally I told Alex to have his children digitize them at some point in the future, but I have changed my mind.

My mom died in 2006.  All of these post cards were bought within her lifetime, so none were created after 2006.  For quite a few, I know what year they were purchased.  This gives us kind of a baseline for figuring out when they will lapse into the public domain.  So that they don’t get mixed in with our photos, they are going into a separate post cards directory.  Then I am separating them by year.  If I know what year we bought it (say, the picture of the church tower at Jamestown that I am looking at right now, which was purchased in 1979), that is where I put it.  If I don’t, then it goes in a directory labeled “2006.”  That way, we can track when, if ever, it goes into the public domain.  Right now, my oldest one is of a Holiday Inn in Nashville where we stayed in 1973.  The way the law goes right now, it will enter the public domain in 2069.  If I live that long, I can use that photo however I want at that point (unless, of course, the law changes between now and then).

If I had the time or the inclination, I could probably come up with some kind of boundary years for some of these post cards.  For example, I just found a post card of a different Holiday Inn in Nashville.  Looking at photos of Holiday Inns in Nashville today, I do not see that motel at all. I looked up the phone number and found the actual address.  It’s a grassy area now.  I could, conceivably figure out when the building was razed, which would give me the latest possible date my mom bought that post card.  Or I could just tell my descendants that they can’t use that picture until 2102. This is probably more likely the way I will go.

My current scanned photos count, by the way, is 4,386.  I have also scanned in 16 post cards.

And I finally found the April 2014 National Geographic.  It was in Alex’s room, just as I had suspected.  So be expecting that sometime in the next month or two.

Alex and I just returned from looking for the “blood moon.”  It was too cloudy in San Antonio to see it, so I looked at the Clear Sky Chart website and saw that the sky seemed clearer out west on Interstate 10.  It seemed that the farther west you go, the better viewing conditions were, so Alex and I headed west.  We drove until we left the city lights behind and then went even farther west on local roads.

When we finally reached a place where we could see the moon, we put on our hazard lights and pulled over to attempt to take some pictures.  A family in an SUV stopped to make sure we were okay, and we explained what we were up to.  They recommended that we drive even farther out on that road, so we did.

We stopped just about at the maximum of the eclipse and attempted to take some pictures.  I say “attempted to take” because it was still pretty cloudy, so all we got, for the most part, was darkness with a little smudge of light in it.  I am thinking about getting one of those apps that will average them together and perhaps bring the moon out a little more in the pictures, but maybe I will decide that just having made that drive and seen the moon is sufficient.

All I know for certain is that it’s getting towards 11:00 here and I’d better get to bed if I want to get up to see Alex off to school in the morning.

I played around with the edit functions of my phone last night and came up with some kind of image representing the moon that I saw last night. It’s not perfect and, in fact, is kind of blobby looking, but at least it’s visible.

September 27, 2015 Blood Moon

The supermoon eclipse of September 27, 2015, seen from northwest of San Antonio, Texas

In an attempt to remember all of the places that I’ve visited, I asked my dad to dig up all of our old photo albums.  I originally just intended to scan in the travel-related photos, but the project just kept getting bigger and bigger.  I now have scanned in more than 2,000 photographs and am on what I had originally planned to be my final photo album, but my dad has found five boxes of albums, so I suspect I may just be getting started.  And it’s not just albums. About three weeks ago, I dug out an old photo box that my now-ex and I bought to put our photos in since we didn’t have the discipline to put them into albums.  I just got effectively all of them scanned in.  I say “effectively” because my son had a pretty good eye for photography from a very young age. When he was three, we started letting him have those disposable cameras.  A stack about two inches high of the photos in that box are likely to be his and I have yet to get them scanned in.<!–more–>

My current album is mostly photos of my mom and her family from the 1940s.  Back when my mom was alive a cousin said that he was doing digital photo restoration, but she “heard” (and I am pretty sure I know from whom she “heard” this) that converting to digital is a waste of time.  Then she gave me the spiel about how because of technology, we wouldn’t be able to access digital photos forever, but anyone with eyes can see printed photographs forever.  I offered to do the scanning so that she could just send the disk to the cousin.  And I actually got a start on the project.  I got two photograph albums in (those photos are on a different external drive than the one I have attached to my computer right now) when everything sort of fell apart.  My mom died and my marriage ended.  My now-ex also took the scanner, since it was technically his.  As a result, stopped scanning the photos.  The album that I am on now was my next one up and I really wish I had done this album first or second, because if my mom had seen the shape of some of these photos, she would have agreed wholeheartedly with scanning them in.  A number of these photos are faded almost beyond recognition, and some are actually falling apart.  In an ideal universe, perhaps leaving the prints alone would work.  But right now, when these photos are 70 years old, I am thrilled to be able to preserve them as they are.

And I know that technology will change, but one of the sources I found says that the life expectancy of an “unmanaged” collection of digital photos (by “unmanaged” they mean that no one is there to port them over to new technology) is 20 years.  I fully hope to be here longer than that.  If all goes as planned, I have at least 30 to go and am doing my best to make it another 50.  I have too much traveling to do to die in the next 20 years.  Just in case, however, I have asked my son to donate a hard drive with all of this work on it to a library or archive after my death.  If I am not here to manage my photos, then an organization that exists to preserve memories can do it for me.

On that cheerful note, on to explaining the reference to Cincinnati in my post title.  Sometime when I was a small child, someone referred to something that had gotten out of hand as it having “eaten Cincinnati.”  I am not sure who it was or what the context was, and Google is not helping me.  However, it stuck and now I use it the same way.  Only in this case, I can say that this project may really have eaten Cincinnati, since I have Cincinnati (circa 1987) right here:

Cincinnati, from Covington, Kentucky

Cincinnati, August 1987, taken from across the Ohio River, in Covington, Kentucky.