Word and Image

Technical tips

Perfect subject

Panorama. It’s never too late to learn a new trick. Colleen suggested… inspired, a true muse. Right time, right place, right subject, a panorama is not for every image. You are looking for something that does not require height and is long (width). Great idea! The mantle Santas were perfect! The room was too busy. And the Santa’s on the table were not squared away. Close but no cigar. That reminds me of Three Kings of Orient are smoking a rubber cigar… till there were none…. Silent Night. Right subject… it makes a rather stunning panorama. Perfect. Apple iPhone has had this trick for a while; it’s easy. Photoshop? You can do it. It’s work. I have lured into how easy Apple is!

Alternately, the images don’t make themselves. There is some planning and thought involved. I got down closer and squared. So, it’s still a work in progress.


Once in a lifetime

Photography of the night sky is an entirely different subject and one I am not likely to master. The skies cleared after a cloudy rainy day and we got to see the confluence of Jupiter and Saturn. Ian and Liz saw the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter. I got two white dots. Actually, my camera got the dots. I could only see one by naked eye. And if I shot long exposure, there was streaking due to movement of the planets – us and them. But hey! I got something. …. Two bright lights in the sky. That was exciting. ??? umm… sort of, kind of, oh! What the heck! It was night photography. Hubble telescope, we ain’t. This event, this close happens about every 2000 years. Nice. I’m glad I was here for this one.


Hard to get… two ways

It’s hard to get me a present. By this point in life I am fortunate to be pretty content and, stuff, I got. Colleen tried. She giggled and held her breath till it came. Yes, it’s my first – a front pocket wallet. Who thinks of these things? Colleen! I’m impressed. I have never seen nor thought of one. Hard? I just got done scanning 80k+ thousands of slides. The left screen shows ducks walking in the street. Thanks to Feather – the cat – I am reminded of it. Now, find it. Okay, here’s my logical thinking. Go to the image info – metadata. Get the time this image was shot. Go to my slides scanned and find the scan time (when it was scanned). Voila! Not so hard after all. Ha ha, I’m not going to go looking.


PC

Not (PC)! – There was the old joke about Polish people and changing light bulbs. You can’t do that humor. It could incur objection from all sides…. So, how does a Chinese (former) neurosurgeon get to a light fixture 16 feet above his head? (No, retired not dead.) Answer: Two seven foot (P)oles?

I do not own a cherry picker. And if I did, I could not get it into my house. How the #@#$! do you get up 16 feet to change a can light bulb? My spiffy 50, 000 hour LED blew fssst! after about 3 months. Colleen heard it sizzle just before it died. I nearly fell off the ladder the last time around. They make grabbers about 3 foot long. Bulb changer? They sell it at Home Depot. It won’t grab that bulb inside the fixture. Some more cursing #@$#%!!! please. Who the “f” planned this? Internet – they sell a 12 foot grabber. Really?! Damn!! It was not many $. The grabber unscrewed the bulb. The changer (yellow) got the new bulb screwed in. 50, 000 hours. It will be a long time till I change another bulb. Ha ha. It took five minutes with the right tools at hand. The internet? Rent a cherry picker. Build a scaffold.


Film

Kodak’s fate was sealed when I got my first digital DSLR Nikon D70. It took a bit but not too long. Film? Slides? Gone. Like VHS tape. Gone. Film and slide scanning has gone through many iterations. There are cheap ways to get the job done. And then there is Nikon scan at 4000dpi. It is good? I guess. It has reached cult status. There are a few mavens who know and repair scanners in need. I was in contact with a couple. Characters? Yes, in the nicest sense there is a community of people out there who scan. I didn’t know how enthusiastic and will probably not know. I’m not on Facebook. I daresay everyone has their own workaround and solution to getting the job done. I have pictured here two scanners and two bulk loaders running day and night to get the task completed. No one in my family will ever care or be able to do this. Fine! Madness! Me. Yeah, I’m nuts.

The doughnut? Entenmann’s chocolate. If you live in NY or thereabouts, this is what you grew up with. My kids loved them. We kept them in the freezer (out of reach). When they could reach, I camouflaged them in a chocolate raspberry box (they hated raspberry). As the father there were ingenious strategies to keep one’s treats. My kids would raid my den for candy when they were desperate. I hid them well too. The doughnut – it happened to be in proximity to the scan photos. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.


Chopsticks

If you are not interested in fllm/slide scanning… ha ha, I don’t care. This drew a giggle from Colleen. Cheese curls will leave orange stain all over your fingers… and on your slides. So, I used chopsticks to eat them. Simple, the fingers never touch the product and the slides stay pristine. In a completely different thought you see a Nikon bulk slide loader SF 210 and SF 200. Subtly different, the cost of the 210 is hundreds $$ more. Of course, it’s better?? Actually, it’s easier to get a used SF200 from the eBay gods. You know the deal? You bid. It’s an auction that goes for a week. And in the last 30 seconds the real bidding starts and someone swoops in and steals the device from you. Did they need it or was it speculation and trade?? The bastards. I’m not into that cutthroat nonsense. I finally did win one and am/was now scanning with a double setup. That was sweet. Half the time for scanning… and, I’m currently still eating cheese curls with those chopsticks. I have spent a lot of time posting on scanning. It occupied my time for quite a long time this year. Who knew?


Do you care?

No, probably not…. Hey! It’s my blog. Ha ha! So, there was glitch in the Nikon scanner. Long story short, you wouldn’t likely care for the details, it needed a couple replacement motors. I just love it when they give me the parts they removed. It’s a nice touch. Now, I have something more – to never throw away.It works again. Dust! Cat hair! They are the bane of clean scanning. You don’t want it in your scanned image. Nope! Not! Ha ha! Try and avoid it. I have an overhead ceiling fan. Ray, the cat, stepped on the remote and turned it one. In a testament to my cleaning skill, the room looked like snow was falling, a blizzard!! It was cat hair and dust from the blades, The visual alone is worth a laugh. I was shocked; Colleen giggled.


Digital

Whether you’re interested or not, I have shot more than 596,000 digital images since June, 2004. That would be 4251 (days) entries in my database out of 6200 or so days in the past 17 years. It’s nice to be able to review my data. It has been quite a journey through digital. I have evolved so much. Parsimony held me back when I used film. The cost of digital has dropped while camera technology improved so much. I am thankful. Truly! There are gems among my early digital. I am happy to say I am better than I was and not as good as I’m gonna be. By way of comparison, I shot about 117,000 slides over 32 years from the 70’s to 2004. I make it a point to try to shoot something everyday.


Insanity

I am unable to reliably compare my mania to others (who scan slides). But, I have an external hard drive with nearly 2 tb of scanned slides. I can tell you there are about 117k legitimate slides. This covers the 1970’s to 2004. In early June, 2004, I received my digital Nikon D70 and David’s graduation was the occasion of the last slides I took. Boom, just like that. I was digital. Jules hated digital for a long time. “They don’t look real.” And she could always tell the difference. Today, she tells me, “But dad, I always have my phone (iPhone 12) and it’s so handy when Noa does something cute.” My darkroom and all its equipment sits in the basement gathering dust. Digital is “free!” I just got 256gb SD cards for $20 a piece. A roll of film today would run around $9 a roll of 36 images. 256gb of memory card will give tens of thousands of images. It’s FREE! I am still poor from my film days and parsimony was ever with me. It’s why I bulk loaded my own Kodak slide film, developed it, and eventually printed a few. When I finally had money, it was a long time to shed those habits. Now, it’s off to CVS or Mpix for prints/enlargements with minimal turnaround time. Efficiency? It takes about a minute to scan one slide. You do the math. External hard drives started at around 40mb and now are up to 12tb. Memory keep dropping in price as my need keeps increasing. No need to be efficient or sparing, there’s always more memory you can get. Eventually, my kids asked, “Dad, why is the dog your screensaver on your phone?” “Because,” I replied, “I like the dog better.” I’ve come a long long way. i hope there is still a ways to go.

It was holiday ritual, the family group shot. In retrospect, any picture was precious no matter who had their eyes closed or was making a funny face. Duty. I’m glad i did it. I wish I had been more diligent. There were a lot of missed opportunities too.

If you would believe it, my kids liked raking leaves. Go figure. And then they would jump into the pile from ladders and trees. The compressed them for me to make bagging easier. It was an annual fall ritual. Fondly, I remember the time.

Some of the earliest slides come from my med school years. Yes, I lost a lot of early memory and experience before I started keeping track.


Lemonade

You know – if you get lemons, you make…. Peering into the picture not many viewers are particularly interested – I daresay, none – to see two Nikon slide scanners. It’s not a good pic. One is lying on its side and the other is upright with a bulk loader, Oh boy! We’re going downhill and losing audience fast! My spiffy loader was making more noise than a blender on “smoothie” setting. It’s ok for a smoothie but for hours on end… even my cat objected. I started with one scanner and one bulk loader. One bulk loader failed – noisy. So I bid on eBay and won another scanner and bulk loader. Bidding is brutal. These things are in demand! I intended to ditch/sell the scanner but…. two scanners scan faster than one. I eventually bid on another bulk loader and won. Now I had two complete scanning systems with two laptops running simultaneously. You can see the new battery box in the background. That battery change meant following 99 steps. Amazing in itself, that darn thing turned on and worked – not quite right, but eventually. I’m pretty pleased. It saved me a lot of time. Hey! I’m retired. But, I was saved a lot of time. I did waste a lot of time getting to be efficient. Alas, I will promptly have forgotten when and if I ever scan again.


Done

At long last 117k slides give or take….have been scanned. You may not even know what a slide is. It was a long and tedious task. I got unbearable sciatica sitting. It’s better (my sciatica)! The task was completed. I ended up with two scanners going full on. That certainly shortened my task. But it was long….!! I had scanned 28k in 2018… and about 89k this time around. Hey! It all adds up. Am I happy? It is a legacy task. Maybe someone will look through – my kids? – and scratch their heads over this motley collection one day. Oh, yes, there’s a database to track people, places, and dates. It’s a sketchy description that will leave folks wondering who some folks are. I had two sets of drawers full of slides – 32 in the first, and 14 in the second. You’re looking at one large drawer of near 4000 slides. Yeah, two of everything. Nuts. It just turned out that way. It’s all neat and put away. And, I am sitting up relaxing and staying off my sciatic nerve. We won’t be doing this again anytime soon. We? Yup! The cats and my dear wife missed me from August to December. I’m back!! … and the dishes are still in the sink waiting for me….


Polaroid slide film

It’s the emulsion stupid. Polaroid made instant slide film for a short while. Thank goodness I only used it a few times. Scanning it on a film scanner is hell. The developer/author of Vuescan told me it was grain and “user error.” Nice. Indeed, no one seemed to remember the film nor how to scan it. ICE – it’s software to remove dust magically during the scan process. It uses an infrared scan simultaneously to “map” dust and mark it for removal. Aha! Turn off ICE. You can do it. And the result is remarkable. Second, reduce grain. Problem improved. It ain’t great. The Polaroid film itself was not a good film. Thankfully, I only shot a few rolls. Probably, it’s why the film never took hold. I solved the problem by letting the solution percolate slowly in the background of my mind as I did other tasks. Ha ha! Brilliant! I’ve solved other problems that way. It’s remarkable what the background processor in my head will come up with. The great and wonderful internet did not have an answer for my problem. So, as a public service to you few who care, here’s the solution. Ha! An original answer.


Ice

ICE – it was software developed by Nikon to get rid of dust on your slides. Magic! The dust just was removed. Gone! Amazing?! You bet! Do you care? No! You don’t use slide film and you aren’t scanning and dust is dust, but what do you care? I would have to blow away (dust) and clean each slide before scanning. I don’t understand how it works and the dust disappears. But, I can sure appreciate that a daunting task was made easier by software written to make magic happen. And, yes, this was a terribly overexposed image used for illustrative purposes. I don’t understand how it works. I consider myself an end user. It works. Thank you very much.


Changing batteries

I’ve done it before in older Macbook laptops. Then, they (engineers) changed things! The battery was a simple in/out affair sort of like changing a flashlight battery but with a few screws involved. Nope, not any more. When I took the time to read the instructions, it was 90+ steps and required removing the guts of the computer in addition to disconnecting some very fine connectors. It was heart surgery tough. Fortunately, I was a brain surgeon (in a previous career). Skill!! And nerve! Ego! There is a disclaimer that comes with the battery. Let a professional do it! That’s little solace when you already have the battery in hand. However, this is not for the faint hearted! You can see the old battery. It’s old cells are completely bloated. I came by this realization when I was scanning old slides and noticed the bottom of the laptop computer was rocking. Ninety steps later the computer turned back on. Ninety ++ steps!! The keyboard did not work. Keys? Nope! I missed re-connecting the cable. Disassembly, voila! It works! Then, I discovered the keyboard backlight cable had been missed as well. The instructions are explicit. Don’t forget the cables! But, the cables are tiny. I missed them. Finally, it works. It was challenging. Don’t try this at home. I might not the next time out.


Slide Scanning

I have embarked on insanity. I am scanning my slide collection again. It’s a long story. And there are a lot of slides. A lot! Don’t ask. A lot! I have a “real” scanner. It’s merely a matter of time and timing. Let’s say thousands… it could take months at minimum. It’s scanning all day every day. I have them stored in drawers. I never assembled the cabinet after my last move… another hanging project. This way everything will be on a portable (multiple) hard drive. Meanwhile, I have dedicated a laptop to the task. And, slide by slide, drawer by drawer… it’s good to have an understanding wife who puts up with my obsessions. Yes, I did say – again. Don’t ask. 🙂


Scared

I was in the closet. Don’t ask. We have a window in a closet. Would that make it a room? The window faces northwest in the direction of the Comet Neowise that was in the news. A challenge. I don’t do astrophotography. I still don’t. The weather was cloudy on most nights. Hey! It was the steamy hot part of summer. Nada! Nothing! Nuthin’! I never knew for sure if I was looking in the correct part of the sky. Urban light pollution was abundant. The effort was a miserable failure. Scary? I was in the closet and couldn’t hear Colleen calling. She nearly had a heart attack looking for me. Sorry. I came out of the closet with moon shots. (poor choice of words? Don’t ask.) Discovery?! There is a man in the moon. I have seen him. The ancients were right. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it.


Detail

We’re beyond just another pretty flower. I have been striving to get detail – close-up of the inner anatomy of flowers. For some flowers it’s not an easy task. The angle and the light conspire to obscure the target. Bees have it easy. But it’s not so for me and my camera. And then, you get it! Serendipitous? No, skill. Ha ha!  It’s more like 50% close your eyes and shoot, and, 50% skill. Eh? Let me tell you that it took all summer to get to the point where I got these shots.


Pan(dem)ic

I am a firm proponent for cameras. After all, right tool, right situation. Soup should not be eaten with an iPhone for a spoon. Alas, I am shoveling shit against the tide. Digital camera sales are 10% what they were in 2010. Aha! Everyone has one. The system is full! Nope! Not hardly, it’s more like everyone uses an iPhone as their prime camera. Can you really squeeze all that power down from my trusty digital camera into the little itty bitty iPhone? Uhhhh… no! But that doesn’t stop most of the world from using iPhone. My lament, a lone voice among so many iPhones. I suppose you can drive either a Hyundai or a Porsche. You choose. The camera fallout: fewer cameras to choose from. It’s not so bad. Hardline phones have evolved into mobile communicators. We see the world through two eyes. There’s no telephoto zoom on my eyeballs. Check the fine detail in the flowers. iPhone would have a hard time matching my camera. Easy or hard, it’s a choice. I shall not let a podiatrist do my brain surgery.


(Happy) – memory

I pulled up a random pic in Lightroom. Boston, near the Old North Church, fall, 2016. How did I know? Colleen’s white winter jacket with liner. I got her those earrings. Nikon D200?? It was retired in 2014. Aha! I had dropped my Nikon D610 to the ground (October 2014) necessitating major repairs. Ha! I almost forgot that!

Jules has said it: “I don’t know what I remember because I’ve seen your pictures all my life.” True enough. Or: my own memory is linked to the cues from the pictures I have taken. … my external brain drive if you would so understand. Otherwise, I would have no direct recollection without the image posted here. But, now, I do recall much of that cold fall trip to Boston. Colleen? Her memory would not be so clear as mine on the events of that day. It seems that taking the picture “cues” my brain differently to recall events. Ha ha! (Photographic) – memory.


Morning star

I got a picture of the morning star. It’s the tiny white dot in the lower right quadrant. Shooting the moon was the challenge. The dynamic range of the image overexposed the moon. I went to manual exposure, got the moon’s detail, and tried to blend it back into the photo. It’s complicated and not perfect but closer to what I saw. … sort of.


Ruby throated

Hummingbird. In flight. Ho hum…. It’s a BIG freakin’ deal!! If you are the consumer, pics like these are a dime a dozen. Someone has come before and patients sat and waited and waited. Amazing! They got a shot and it’s commonplace enough that … yawn. It’s not an easy shot. No way! I got one. The circumstances were just perfect. It won’t happen again for me. That’s what makes this so special.


Good – Bad

The upper right and left are examples (i.e. poor exposure, composition) of pics placed in a newsletter posted by “cat proud” weavers who can’t take proper pics of their beloved cat. I laughed at Colleen. She contends they are sound (cute) photos. I disagree, of course. There’s no excuse for accepting a bad photo.

iPhone or camera? Jules makes a cogent argument for using her iPhone nearly exclusively. It’s always at hand. She will concede a camera is better. But iPhone is right handy. Me? Obviously, I’m all about the camera. (She shot with my camera.) Ha!


Rembrandt light

Rembrandt light. Before I forget, this lighting scheme reminds me of that. I have created a studio set up by chance. We were merely cleaning up and straightening things out. (The spinning wheel has provenance back to the 1860’s.) Colleen thinks I’m a genius. I work along the theory that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Whatever! The effect first worked on my cat. And now it’s wildly successful on another precious subject. Gee, sometimes I am very humbled to get worthy shots.


Exercise

I have a good example of the zoom capability of the Sony RX100 VI. Three successive photos show the telephoto detail of the hydrangea in the distance. How far? … near ½ mile. You can’t see the petals. But, that dot of color indeed is a large hydrangea bush.

Of, course, if you saunter over, you just might get some nice blossoms.