Thursday, 4 July 2013

Saving and filing digital images - a potential nightmare

Well, the link to and from my website works and although I'm still shy about sending it to everybody on earth or cluttering the clouds, a couple of helpful comments from the small group I posted to show that the system is working. Now it's my job to work out what its use-value could be, in addition to saving paper and starving our postal systems in the process. And showing off.

I've shot so many digital images, made beautiful scans of historical and relatively contemporary analogue prints, and downloaded from the web so many interesting images by others that I now have a dozen external hard drives to search for "backed up" copies. One problem is that I didn't know what I was doing so made my first digital photos (in 2004) as jpegs because my then computer system could not open raw files. Later, to much advantage, Ian Macdonald, (who got me exhibiting again, through his Matakana Pictures gallery) advised me to shoot raw, which I habitually do now.
One early problem was that I stuffed up quite a few images when I was learning to use the dodging tools in Photoshop. Being colour blind I could not see the effects of the holding back and burning in that I was accustomed to doing in black and white silver printing. It had to be pointed out to me by Mala Mayo, who is a fine photographer with astute colour vision, that I had stripped out layers of colour as well as tone with my dodging. Very dodgy indeed. But then, when I was learning to print my own black and white images in the 1950s, the print quality wasn't so good either.
Another issue is that I used to turn the jpegs into tiffs so ended up with two sets of the same images, favouring the tiffs with subtle improvements. After that I made small jpegs from my tiff files so they could be emailed and took up less storage on my computer's hard drive. That seems ok, except that I am trying to get rid of surplus copies now that my upgraded computer system can handle more and bigger files with ease. I forgot that my very first original files were jpegs, so while banishing my surplus jpeg files, I accidentally trashed some of my earliest jpeg-only images. Which, I imagine, is the equivalent of ruining negatives or transparencies by spilling tea or coffee on them, without any possibility of enhancing them with the wear and tear.

Greer Twiss, John Leech Gallery, Auckland, 2010
Greer Twiss exhibition John Leech Gallery, Auckland, NZ, 
13 July 2010.
Anyway (as we all say today), while searching my collection of external hard drives for elusive Te Atatu images for my upcoming book, I came across some photographs I made at the opening of Greer Twiss's sculpture show at John Leech's gallery, Auckland, three years ago. I intended to burn a set to a CD for him but that never happened. Instead, today I am able to put a selection of jpeg copies of the best of them in Dropbox for him to pick up. When, that is, I can find his email to let him know. That's progress for you.
As usual, a few of the images seem quite good to me, so I will share them here as well, and might even put a set on my blog as an example of a fairly typical art show opening in Auckland. Which means: no formality - no introduction to the artist/s, probably on the assumption that everybody knows each other anyway! But they don't. I cannot put names to some of the faces in my pictures. The process of actually selling some of the work is also discreet. Nobody asked me to take any photos but I did. And so did Gil Hanly, who has an extraordinary record of the Auckland art scene, and as also for the social-political scene she seldom misses a significant event. Claudia Pond-Eyley, Paul Hartigan, Robert Ellis, TJ McNamara, Robin Lush, Allan Smith, gallery owner Gary Langsford, Dee Twiss and John B Turner were among those in attendance. It was a good show.

TJ McNamara and Gary Langsford behind admirers at Greer Twiss show, 2010


1 comment:

  1. I share your dilemna's with photos, John, particularly after taking up digital photography. Thousands clog my harddrives. Thousands more are "backed up" on scores of CD's. Have you ever tried to open a dozen different CD's and waited...and waited.... for them to open one-by-one? Everything is labled, thank god! But just the same...I sometimes awaken at night anxious...because I don't seem to be able to cross ALL the tees and dot all the i's and still have time for the FUN of photography! Good luck with sorting yours. Tere