I spend a couple of hours reviewing two groups of slides, and select out about 2% of them for scanning, either because they are particularly fine scenics or because they show Marian and me in not-bad poses.
About photography and slides before 2005
There’s time to mull some more on the contradictory problem of why we kept the slides all those years and so rarely looked at them. In fact, one group I went through, “116 Eastern Canada 1996 (328 slides)” I am pretty sure had never been seen since 1996. It was a nice trip: in a rental car we hit Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. On return we would have spent several evenings going through the slides and discarding at least half. Then Marian would have spent a couple of days cataloging and numbering them. Then we would have had Jean and Bill over for an evening and projected the final show for them.
Then they went into a box and probably stayed there undisturbed until today. So, why did we even bother? I can come up with an answer, not a good answer, but an answer. It’s that the taking of the pictures was an important, satisfying hobby for both of us. Looking for picture subjects added a lot to the experience of traveling. It helped us remain aware of the quality of light, the texture of the sky, the shape of the land. So did the activity of taking pictures, trying different angles and zoom ratios and ways of framing a scene, looking for just the right composition.
In those days the payoff for this effort was delayed until weeks later when the slides came back and we could project them. Then we could go through and critique what we’d got, congratulate each other for the good ones, select the best, decide how to sequence them for a nice program. That was fun and satisfying. And showing the final product to our relatives that one time, that was validation for our work.
From today’s perspective, having to finally do something with these relics, I kind of wish we had just dumped the slides into the trash at that point. But we had two reasons for keeping them. One, the finished set of slides represented so much time and care and effort, it would have been unthinkable to just throw it away. And two, there was always the possibility that someday we’d pull the set out, put the slides back into carousels, and project the show again. A few trips, we did show more than once. Very rarely more than twice.
This particular show, Group 116, seemed really flat. The scenery wasn’t dramatic; we didn’t get any super shots of quaint Vieux Quebec or anything. I set aside five (5) of the 328 for scanning.
Slides in the digital era
One huge difference in digital photography is that you know immediately, on the back of the camera or the face of the iphone, whether you got the shot you wanted. If you didn’t nail it, you can frame it up and take it again. Well, for scenery at least. People and animals may have moved away or stopped being cute. A second difference is the freedom to shoot many more exposures. We were always aware that every slide ended up costing 25 cents or more by the time it was processed; and always aware that the camera only held 36 exposures before you had to reload. You were miserly with your shooting.
A third difference is that you can fiddle and fudge and crop and edit the images after the fact, while a slide was a final product, unchangeable, its exposure and framing fixed at the instant you took it. One satisfaction of scanning old slides is that if I want to take the trouble, I can improve contrast or brightness, even edit out annoying wires (or people). So over the past decade I’ve moved quite a lot of our better work into the digital domain, on disk and into the cloud. Here’s one slide from Group 101, for example.
Of the groups I’ve gone over in prior years I’ve scanned anywhere from 50% to 100% of the slides. I’m applying a much finer comb to the unexamined groups I’m going through now. Partly it’s impatience; I want to get this job done. Partly it’s that I feel quite ruthless; if a picture doesn’t engage me strongly for its own sake, it doesn’t make the cut. Previously I kept more pictures because Marian liked every picture to have a context, be part of a sequence. She’s not here to comment now, so I’m keeping only the ones that really pop visually, or really tell a story about us; and narrative be damned.
Normally there are two docents for the 2pm Saturday tour and we can split the groups. When I walked into the lobby today I could see the place was busier than usual. There was only one person on the front desk, so I helped for a while doing the bag-check thing. I was hoping another docent would show, but nope. So when I started I had a tour group of more than 40 people. I’m pleased to say that at least 30 were still with me at the end, an hour later, and several thanked me for my interesting talk.
My new/old laptop was to have been delivered Friday. Signature required. So I was home all day and it didn’t come. Tracking said it would be delivered “Tuesday by end of day.” But of course when I got home from the museum there was a FedEx tag on the door. Shit.
I tried to get into “my” FedEx online account to get more info. It has been a year or more since I last used FedEx. Apparently at that time (whenever it was) I created a FedEx account. I use LastPass, and it had a record of my FedEx user ID and password. FedEx recognized the user ID but said the password was wrong.
Ohhhh-kayyy, now what? Well, I can answer a security question. Good! “What is your father’s middle name?” What?!? My father never had a middle name, that I know of, and I would never have set that as a security question. Never mind, click the option to send me an email to reset my password. Ten minutes later — no email.
Ohhhh-kayyy, I will call them. Call the customer service number, which is answered by a pleasant female-voiced robot with a zero IQ. Please say, she coos, what you want to do. “Hold a package.” She gets that, but then, she wants me to “say” the door tag number. I read it out, “D T 7 3 3 0…” etc. “Sorry, I didn’t get that. Please say the tracking or door tag number.” “DEE. TEE. SEVEN. THREE. THREE…” “Sorry, I didn’t get that.” I start mashing the zero button until she deigns to connect me to a guy with a strong east-asian accent.
He is able to tell me where the package would be held, if it were held: Newark. If I want to hold it, he’ll have to transfer me to a different department! If I don’t hold it when will it come? He says because it is “FedEx Home Delivery(tm)” they deliver Tuesday through Saturday, so, Tuesday. Can he give me any time window? No, just before 8pm. I point out this is a twelve-hour window. (I don’t mention how it was supposed to have arrived before 8pm Friday and didn’t.) He can’t do anything.
I decide I will take my chances on delivery (but I double-dog betcha it comes Monday, not Tuesday); can he help me get a new password? No, that’s technical support, would I like that number? No, not really. I give up on the phone.
Back on the web, I just create a new “personal” FedEx account, different user id but all other info the same. FedEx has no problem with this; it is not bothered that the same address and email are (I assume) already registered. Well, perhaps not, as that password reset email never arrived (and yes, I did think to check Marian’s email account too). Might I have possibly created that account so long ago that I had a different email? It’s been at least five years since I had a different one. Who knows.