Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

December 12th, 2008:

Scanning Some Personal History

We live in a wildfire zone, and there’s not much to be done but make it easy to run if we have to. That leaves everything we have to go up in smoke, and while most of it is replaceable, a good deal isn’t. The worst of it is our photo album set and our boxes full of loose photos and slides. I’ve been scanning them as I can, but it’s a slow business and may not be done for a long time.

It has been a good opportunity to look critically at the photos as they come to hand one-by-one, and decide which are worth keeping come hell or high water (or a wall of fire) and which are not. People rarely throw away the bad ones, even when they’re out of focus or virtually identical to three or four others on the roll. I’m so used to nuking lousy digital camera shots that I was surprised that so many bad slides remained in the boxes, including a few that were so out of focus or exposure that it was difficult to tell precisely what they were. I guess I figured that they were paid for and therefore could not be wasted, like the last few ounces of a huge pile of heavily spiced pasta that you can’t bring yourself to eat but can’t bear to put down the disposal.

In going through a box of slides, I realized that I was only scanning about a third of them. The rest were bracketed attempts at excellence that missed the mark or just plain booboos. (Having a small light table to preview the slides certainly helped.)  I had to smile when I realized that I only keep about a third of my digital camera photos too, depending on what they are. I do better at things that sit stock still than I do at QBit and Aero tearing around the house or trying to do tricks.

So in fits and starts, Carol and I are preserving an era of our history together that isn’t in the photo albums, because (for the first three or four years) we took slides almost exclusively. It’s startling to see myself as an adult with hair, given that it’s now a small and shrinking percentage of my life, basically, 1970-1985. (The photo here is from the backyard of our first house in Chicago, the summer of 1978.)

Sunrise Surreality

When the sun comes up, the eastern horizon is sometimes clear while the rest of the sky is overcast. This can make for some interesting color effects, especially on the tall pines immediately across the street from us. The photo here was snapped perhaps five minutes after the sun broke an unusually clear horizon.