Monday, February 16, 2009

Colors in my Memory


Another sick day, another day of scanning. Today (technically, yesterday at this point) I concentrated on color negatives, which are more difficult to handle than the slides. Because of the way they load into the transparency carrier for my scanner, there is more variation in position of the frames. So, in addition to fiddling with getting the film strip loaded, I need to modify the marquee position for all eight shots. I've scanned four rolls of film today, and it has taken over six hours. That is just for the scanning - I've also spent another two hours post-processing in Bibble and uploading to Flickr, just for the first two rolls.


Why bother? In addition to still being sick and not wanting to leave the house today, I am really excited about bringing these photos back to life. These four rolls plus three more still to go are from our honeymoon trip to Arizona. In October of 2002 (6 months after the wedding because I didn't have enough vacation days built up yet in April) we flew into Phoenix and rented a car. We had no set plans. With a Motel 6 directory and a few good guidebooks we drove wherever we wanted and did whatever we felt like that day. I had brought my big camera, all my lenses, and my full-size tripod - photography would be an important component of the trip.


You know how disappointing it is when you get the prints back and the photos don't look as good as you remembered the scenery looking? The colors aren't right, the exposures are all washed out in the sky and the shadows are too dark to see inside? The red is gone from the rocks and they look normal instead of alien, so you amend your memories and put the pictures in albums and the trip is over.


Guess what. Digital photos aren't the first to have white-balance problems. With color-positive slide film, the colors are what they were. With color-negative print film, there is a lot of interpretation involved when making prints. Look at a negative - it certainly isn't exactly opposite of real-life color. Even in good photo labs, where the color adjustments are done by humans and not machines, those humans are not YOU. They weren't THERE. They are guessing at how those pictures are supposed to look, and they are going to get it wrong.


Solution: scan the negatives. Post-process in Bibble. Use click-white to choose areas you know are neutral, keep clicking on different points until the color balance looks correct. Use fill light to bring out the shadow details, use exposure adjustments to lower the skylight. Watch the histogram and the preview image. The information is still there in the negative - you are just telling Bibble how to interpret the inputs to create an output that better matches what you know you saw.


I'm very happy with the results so far. What do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Slide Show

Originally uploaded by prismglass

This is one of my favorite photos. I just happened upon it while on a walk with my camera.

I've spent most of today scanning slides and uploading them to Flickr. It has worked out well as an activity on a day that I am recovering from a nasty cold. Scanning is repetitive, not requiring much in the way of decisions or movement. Just clicking and waiting. On a normal day it would drive me nuts. Today it fit my capabilities perfectly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ir de vacaciones

In less than a week we fly to Cozumel, Mexico for our vacation. I've never been on a standard tropical-beach vacation before, but after the winter we've had it seems like a VERY good idea. It is fun to have "buy bikini" as part of the pre-trip checklist, because it reminds me how different the weather and the priorities are going to be down there. Having this to look forward to is helping my mood because it encourages me to brush away the little annoyances before they build up. Mental conversation example snippet: "This email I got highlights a problem with my design that I couldn't have anticipated. That's unfortunate, but I'm not going to let it get to me today because I'm going to Mexico next week."

I studied Spanish formally for four years, but never really felt like I "got" it. I'm not great at retaining memorized information, so when they would leave one verb tense to teach another, I'd forget the details of the first one. What works better for me is listening, reading, and absorbing from context. When used in addition to "book learning" grammar and vocabulary lessons, I do much better. My upcoming vacation prompted me to give Spanish another try.

Because of the demographics of the town we live in, I hear Spanish spoken frequently by the people around me in everyday situations. I can choose between several Spanish-language radio stations here as well. Plus, with the internet I can now get, for free, Spanish reading material from all over the world. So, even though my formal instruction is a set of Intermediate/Advanced CDs for the car and some review/practice books, I feel like I'm actually learning and progressing this time.

The last, biggest hurdle is getting over my hesitancy to actually use the small bit of language that I know. Cozumel is a tourist destination, so English is all we really need. Will I be able to get over my fear of saying something really stupid, or in the wrong tense, to a total stranger?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Dinner

I've had fun recently by packing a few kitchen toys and prepped ingredients into bags, and cooking Sunday Dinner for friends in their kitchens. I made chicken thighs with peppers and onions for K+H, and just tonight did custom pizza for B+J. (Though, I almost left the pizza dough in the fridge here, and the second pizza turned into improvised calzones when I screwed up transfer onto the baking stone.) Sunday is the only day of the week I get a good solid block of time to spend on food prep and cooking. It is also prime hanging-out time with friends before getting back into the work week. By cooking and hanging out, I get the most out of my Sunday evenings.

I like the Produce Saver containers that Rubbermaid has out now. They have a vented lid and a tray at the bottom of the bowl to keep your fruits and veggies elevated, extending their life. I bought mine at our local Target. The larger size (14 C) has been really useful - a 5 lb bag of carrots will fit when peeled and sliced into carrot sticks. The 5 C size is good for one celery heart or a bunch of parsley. Thanks to these nifty plastic things, I can eat more fresh vegetables because I can process them on Sunday to use all week.

A lesser-used but no less loved kitchen toy is my stainless-steel saute pan by Cuisinart. The generous size is great while I'm cooking with it, not so good for cleaning. It absolutely does not fit in the dishwasher, and it barely fits in the sink. If it was a little larger, I'd need to clean it in the bathtub. All is forgiven: the results from browning meats are worth the hassle, and it is soooo shiny!


There aren't many photos of the photographer


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