I’ve been taking a lot of pictures over the last few years, but the majority have involved the lass in some way. Now, of course, there is a lass mk2 as well (and yes, I have been taking a few pictures of her too). However, this does not mean that I don’t occasionally try to focus on the other sort of photography, the sort with fewer humans and more, well, attempts at “art” I suppose.
And as it happened I had a “free” afternoon on the day of the annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk – the fifth annual, I think – on the 13th of october. The maximum amount of fifty people had signed up for the walk in Trondheim, and quite a few thousand kroner worth of photographic equipment set off – with its owners – from “Blomsterbrua” toward Nyhavna, Lade and Svartlamoen.
I spent so much time messing about at Nyhavna that I didn’t make the rest of the route the organisers had planned, but there was so much to take pictures of that it hardly mattered. I left my camera on M for once, forcing myself to actually consider shutter and exposure time. You can see the whole set on Flickr. Some of the pictures I played around with in Photoshop, some I’ve left SOOC.
Here’s one I played around with…:
Whereas this is SOOC:
I had fun. And it was nice to meet such a lot of other local photography enthusiasts.
Not satisfied in ressurecting my book database, inviting a massive updating job, I’ve decided to change my image cataloguing software, too, opening a whole other can of worms.
Once upon a time I tagged my photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements. At some point I started digital scrapbooking and for some reason (partly because of the way PE worked), I decided I didn’t want to tag my digital supplies there, so I purchased ACDSee to handle that job. Which it did beautifully, as long as I bothered to put in the effort of tagging.
Then PE crashed. That is, it refused to start in catalogue mode (this is not what the mode is called, but I can’t remember the proper name) and if I started it in editing mode and tried to change over to catalogue it crashed. I searched for solutions online, and found several, nonoe of which worked. I was faced with doing a reinstall and a rebuild, and figured it would only mean putting myself at risk of the same thing happening again. I therefore decided to change over to ACDSee for photos as well, since it seemed to be working so well for digital supplies.
This was, oh, 3 years ago or so.
The last couple of years I’ve been increasingly tempted by Lightroom – especially because I’d like to learn to handle RAW files. And in August Adobe ran a pretty good promotion, offering Lightroom 3 at half off. So I purchased a licence, and I’ve been meaning to delve into it ever since.
Now, if I’m going to be using Lightroom for editing, it makes sense to have the catalogue there as well, no? Well, I thought so. And so I started testing out importing images. And that’s when I discovered a hitch.
See, ACDSee has this nifty menu option: “Write database info to files”, which I’ve been using regularly. However, it turns out it doesn’t write any info to the files that Lightroom can find. It seems (and I’ve only spent a very little time investigating, so correct me if I’m wrong) it only writes information in its own proprietary format. So, yes, you could resurrect your ACDSee database based on it, but you can’t import it into another program.
I mean, I can see that it would make the threshold for changing to other software higher if you should find out about it while considering a change, but as I’d already made that decision, it only made me determined to change as soon as possible so as to not waste more effort. And had I known before I started using ACDSee, I would probably have searched for another solution entirely and NOT purchased the software. And I’m unlikely to recommend it to anyone else now – which I would have otherwise, it works well and has a gentler learning curve for amateurs than Lightroom. Oh, and it’s cheaper.
Anyway. I just landed myself with three years’ worth of photos to tag. Sigh. However, I’d rather make the effort now. Portability is pretty important to me, and when the lass decides to unearth her mother’s photograph collection from that dusty old drive in the attic (or from the cloud or wherever we will be storing such things in the future), I want the image data to be readable to her, and the best way of ensuring that is to get it written to the standardised EXIF/XMP, not some proprietary format thingamabob.
Like pretty much everyone else I know, or have even ever heard of, I’m behind on my “getting photographs into albums”. The backlog is overwhelming, so I’ve learned to focus on a few projects at a time, but even in that context I’m sadly lagging. I got a photo book printed with digital layouts for both sets of grandparents of the lass’ first year in time for Christmas that year. 2007, that is. I finally got the same done for them for 2008 some time last year. May, I believe. I had originally planned on going though and redoing some layouts and adding a few more before having our own version of 2007 printed, but finally decided that would probably never happen and that having those pictures on paper was more important than my exasperation with the look of some of those pages (the first digital layouts I ever did, some of them ain’t pretty). So I got them printed when Shutterfly had a promotion, and the lass was thrilled – and so was I.
So, in terms of digital layouts, I’m working on working on 2009… It’ll be done sometime.
In the meantime, though, one of the things I don’t like about digital scrapbooking is how difficult it is to incorporate ephemera. I’ve always collected it all: Ticket stubs, programmes, flyers, labels and so on, and I have never really found a good way of keeping it sorted and relevant.
And then Ali Edwards started sharing how she is using Becky Higgins‘ Project Life, and I was sold. Well, I spent a couple of weeks checking out the products in the relevant shops, adding them to the cart, then leaving before actually ordering, only to return a few days later and repeat. And then I suddenly realised I probably had everything I needed in my stash. And I was right.
I had an American Crafts three ring 12×12 album, I had page protectors in various shapes and sizes and divisions and I had paper, plenty of paper. I went with a basic week layout of a double spread of six 4×6 photo pockets, which is similar to the official Project Life spread, except the middle pockets in that are subdivided again. This works, though. Every week I start adding ephemera as the week progresses, frequently moving it around quite a bit before actually calling the week done. I pulled out a series from Junkitz in two colourways and precut a few 4×6 pieces, useful for journalling or for sticking pieces of ephemera to. I’m also adding a few snaps from the Instax, whenever I remember to use it.
Some weeks I add one or more extra page protectors to hold larger images, artwork the lass does or larger pieces of ephemera. Here, for example, is a newpaper article about a charity event at the lass’ daycare to benefit disaster relief in Japan. A local recording artist, very popular with the kids, had a mini concert and so I also have a signed photo of her in another added page protector. I use the technique Ali Edwards has demonstrated of sewing on the page protectors to make them fit if you don’t have the correct size.
Some weeks there are more photos and journalling than can be housed in the 12 spaces, and then I add more page protectors for that as well. In this case I added one 8,5×11 divided into two vertical 4×6 and one 8,5×5,5, allowing me to house a few pictures taken in portrait rather than landscape format and to add a bit more journalling.
Now, to make this work, there are a few things I’ve decided from the start:
I just tag the photos when I upload them and then print in batches every few weeks on my home printer.
I don’t do any processing to the pictures on the whole, in a few cases I’ve cropped a portrait to a landscape, that’s it.
If all I have from an important event is a blurred picture, I use it.
I do a lot of the journalling by hand. My handwriting ain’t pretty, and it’s also partly illegible, but it’s better than nothing, and nothing is what I’d have if I set out to do it all on the computer.
What I have is what I have. Some weeks I remember to get the journalling done immediately, some weeks I don’t. I aim to get it done within a few weeks, but I found myself doing the week before Easter yesterday, and I know I’ve already forgotten details. However, something is better than nothing.
I use my blog, and more importantly my private blog (available to family and friends) to source journalling. The latter is where I try to get down the strange things the lass says.
Last week I started using Evernote on my phone to jot down notes when we’re out and about. We’ll see how that pans out, but making a note there is much less work than adding a blogpost from my phone, so I think it’s a stayer.
There is much to love about the Project Life approach, not least of which is that I now have a place for some of those photos I take that are not family related. When I work on layouts for photo books I tend to either focus on the lass, keeping the grandparents in mind, or on specific “themes” such as the trip to the Gambia. The last few months I’ve been travelling to Oslo more or less every week for workshops on a project, and this results in pictures that don’t necessarily have a natural home in any of my other projects. For Project Life I’ve started trying to take pictures of the various hotel rooms I stay in, for example.
And, of course, I now have a perfect home for some of the lass’ artwork. I’ve tried to keep examples along the way of course, but this way I not only get to display it, I also get it in context, so that even if I forget to date a certain piece, we’ll know when it was done.
In short: I love it.
And, yes, some of Becky Higgins’ original products are now on their way. Looking forward to playing with the various page protector layouts especially.
If you want to see more examples of how people are making Project Life work for them, check these out:
I’ve been drooling over instant cameras for some time. I was on the verge of buying a polaroid camera off ebay when it was announced that film would no longer be produced and I decided against it. Then the Fuji Instax appeared and started making the rounds in the blogosphere. It’s ages since I decided to buy one, I just haven’t gotten round to it, mainly because it’s not available in Norway (don’t ask me why, I have no idea).
So when we were in Dublin last weekend, I knew I had to grab my chance. I’d found one retailer on the net that appeared to stock it, so off to John Gunn we went. I’d planned on getting the mini, but they were out, and also claimed that it was being discontinued. I don’t know whether that is true or not, but it doesn’t matter much, I got the Instax 200 instead, and I’m quite happy with that.
The pictures are about twice the size as the ones from the mini, which is a plus in most situations, and I fell badly for the look. The woman who helped me in the shop had one herself and she said it always gets a laugh when she brings it out. I can imagine, it’s humongous and also looks like a toy camera, and she was a petite lady of at least 50 years of age. “They laugh and then they steal your prints,” she claimed, and I can well belive it.
I haven’t really had time to play much with it yet, but I did buy quite a lot of film, so I’m all set. This weekend, perhaps?
I found out how to capture sunbursts. However, the downside is that you get a VERY deep depth of field as well. So I tried to blur the background. It needs more work, but really, I can’t be bothered right now.