Last night I filled a box with four carefully wrapped, priceless reels of our family history and got it ready to ship to Kodak for transfer to digital video. In all, there’s about 100-110 minutes of footage spread across each of them. They’re going to return a couple of thumb drives and a download link along with my reels, and I’m hoping the money spent will be worth it. I have no idea what quality to expect, but I’m hoping the result will be better than anything I can do myself. Dad tried transferring stuff to VHS back in the day but we all know how that technology made out; I’d rather have this digital so I can update the format if I ever need to.
After busting my ass in the heat painting the house, I did some organizing on Sunday to go through all of my camping gear and figure out what we’ve got and what we might need. It’s all been spread out across the basement and garage since we went last time, so I feel a lot better about having most of it in one place, ready to go. This time I’m dealing with teens who have been glued to their screens for two years, so it’s going to be a much trickier situation to navigate. Just as I’ve gotten them to detox and see the beauty of real world, it’ll be time to throw all our shit back in the truck and head home. I hope they don’t band together and kill me; my safety is dependent on the fact that they can’t drive a stick.
As I was working all weekend, I found that I needed to keep pulling my glasses on and off to focus on small details, and I finally got fed up with it. It’s been an issue more and more, and while part of me is still too vain to admit I need bifocals, the time has come. When I do the bus renovation with Brian, I’m going to need a set of safety glasses, so I thought I’d be smart and have a set of progressive lenses built in to them to avoid this issue. But that means I need a prescription. I’ve got an appointment today to have an eye doctor test my reading vision, and I’ve found a place online that will cut me safety glasses for less than a fancy set of designer frames. So we’ll see if I can wear a set of bifocals without throwing up all over myself.
Some shiny things that caught my eye this week: An article that goes through the do’s and don’ts of buying antique Soviet film cameras. I’ve read different things about how awesome and how faulty they can be so it’s nice to have someone detail the pros and cons of various models and lenses. I still need to try putting film through the Zeiss TLR I’ve got sitting on the shelf to see if I can get it to work, so the chances of me buying one of these is zero.
Also, I’ve had a search set up through WatchPatrol for months for a cheap WW2/Korean vintage A17 field watch that would alert me when a working example came up for sale. Given the amount that were issued I would have thought there were barrels of them in a warehouse somewhere, available for $30 each. Apparently not. Vaer watches has designed an updated quartz version of the traditional Korean War-era vintage A17 in a 36mm case, which is the perfect size for my wrist. They’re quality movements, so they don’t come cheap, but if I had $200 laying around I’d grab one.
I wasn’t aware of this, but the password manager I’ve been paying for over the last (7?) years was purchased by a private equity firm at some point in the past year. Surprisingly, they have suddenly gotten a lot more bitchy about their free service. Most of what I’ve read suggests moving to LogMeIn or Bitwarden as an alternative, which I’ll have to consider if/when they try to monetize me further.
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I can be vain like everyone else, and so I must embed this portrait of Nox that Jen took yesterday.
When we were up at Mom’s house, I finished a roll of 120 film that had been sitting in the Yashica since 2017, and I sent them out to be developed last week. From the results I see here, it’s pretty clear I can’t leave film in the camera for that long.
That having been said, some of the defects in these photos are kind of cool.
I can easily photoshop out the two dark spots around Zachary’s head.
This one is from the winter of 2017 when Jen was making galettes with Finn.
This is the last shot on the roll, from up at Mom’s house.
While I was in New York, I fully intended to load up the Ikoflex with film and shoot more. But looking across the internet I found a bunch of conflicting information about how to load it, what film to use, and what film it was designed for. The big issue is loading the film into the camera and aligning it so that the frames align up with the shutter. The Rollieflex and Yashica have two arrows on the back that align with markers on the film. The Ikoflex doesn’t have that set of arrows.
Further investigation is obviously required. I’ve got a couple of rolls of ooooooold film that came from the Mildew House along with the Yashica, so there is some sacrificial film I can use to practice.
I got an email from Cousin Margaret yesterday with a quick note and an attachment. She’s making big life changes and planning a move, and has thus cleaned out her family house and sold it. Among the many papers and boxes left to her by her parents, she gifted me a box of cameras, all of which are amazing. But in going through some of those papers recently, she and her partner came across a piece of paper documenting where the Zeiss twin reflex came from: it was one of four captured items her father brought back from Germany in 1945. Wow. Thanks again Margaret!
I still have yet to put film through it—and there’s half a roll left in the Yashica—but I think next week we might take a trip into the local park and recreate some of our pre-cancer family photos from 2017.
I love you, blondie. Happy birthday!
I’d hoped we could do something a lot more interesting to celebrate, but as with everything else, COVID has put the kibosh on that. So we have steamed crabs on our menu for tonight, with a scratch-made German Chocolate cake for dessert.
As of today, I’ve digitized 184 albums from Rob’s collection, for a total of 39GB of music. I had to dissect the first player because I could not get the motor to work for love or money; it just sits and makes a screeching noise and no amount of cajoling will get it working. Because the carousel spins 360˚ all the way around the unit, there are sections where plastic shields cover the CDs inside and it’s impossible to put them back in place once they’re pulled out. Rob tossed all of the plastic cases and kept the sleeves inside CD binders, but I don’t have those here, so I’ve got to find another way to store them once I’ve pulled them out. I think I’m going to find a 3/4″ dowel at the Lowe’s and build a quick spindle to store them vertically in a stack, because that’s the only way I can keep them organized once they’re out. 165 is less than half the capacity of the first unit—they take 400 discs total, and there’s another unit sitting on the floor that’s equally full.
The next chore will be to replace the duplicate files in my collection with the newer, better quality files (these are in .m4a format, which is lossy but an improved format from .mp3). I’ve got a number of incomplete albums that suffered from a strange glitch iTunes had back in 2004 where it dropped the first track on each album I ripped, so I have to find those and update them as well.
The photo project has concluded, and after a week and a half’s painstaking manual work I’ve sorted through the folder year by year to organize everything by Month/Day. This served to allay many of my fears that I’d lost entire months of photos, because of the fucked-up way iPhoto and Aperture catalogued things. As I stepped through each folder I found folders of photos that belonged in subsequent years, and as I slowly moved things to where they should be it became clear that I hadn’t lost anything. I also weeded out gigabytes of duplicate images that had been spread out among the folders, which freed up a bunch of space.
Next up is installing a small SSD boot drive in the spare slot above the DVD drive, so that I can keep all four internal slots free for data. I’m going to try to trick it to load 10.11 so that it’s running a somewhat more up to date OS. (I’m running 10.11 on a MacBook Pro through deception that is the same generation as the tower and is arguably less powerful).
Along with a fancy camera, there’s another tool that’s equally important for any photographer: photo processing software. In my early days of shooting I used Photoshop exclusively, and fixed and saved photos one at a time. In the mid 200’s, Apple and Adobe came out with products that were designed to catalog and process photos in batches, so that a photographer could download a couple hundred shots from a camera and quickly browse through them all for the best picks.
Apple’s Aperture was a great product during the years they supported it. From a UI/UX standpoint, it was incredibly intuitive to use as a beginner, and only offered tools as the user gained experience. I used it happily and built several fast, powerful workflows to process photos—especially handy when I was shooting daily. It was discontinued in 2015 and I used it for several years afterward until I was forced to switch to Lightroom. I had nothing but praise for the frontend of the application, but but the filing job it did behind the scenes was so fucked up I’m only now digging out of the hole it put me in.
Two weeks ago I bought an enormous 8TB NAS drive for our basement server and consolidated all of our photos to the new drive. This included an existing 4TB photo drive and two external drives I’ve had bumping around my desk for three years (shame on me). Most of that work involves manually moving photos into properly organized folders. This is, in practice, as boring as it sounds, and should have been done years ago.
See, the way that Aperture did things for a while was to dump photos into a dated folder not based on the date the batch was taken but the date it was imported. Sometimes it split photos up, out of order, and put them into subfolders with long date-stamped names—sometimes 30 or more folders in one main folder, and most often empty. Later, after an update, it stuck random photos in successively named folders called “Roll XXX”, with no connection to date or batch.
What I want is to catalog photos by each year, month, and day they were taken so that I can see a photo from a particular batch without depending on photo processing software, and so that I can tell immediately if I’ve got multiple copies of a photo on the same drive (something else Aperture liked to do). There were a couple of cases where I had five or six copies of the same batch of photos for no reason.
So, I’m going through each year’s folder and splitting out the months and days and re-filing everything, and it’s taking forever and giving me carpal tunnel syndrome as well as a satisfying sense of accomplishment, because when this is done, I’ll have a real sense of what’s here and what’s missing—and then I can go and look for the missing files in my binders of DVD backups.