Archive | photography

27 hour vacation

This was the only image i took last weekend. terrible i know, i was actually carrying two cameras and an iphone…but the 1st thing i did was turn it off and i took this one the next morning when the sun came up and i was looking at the time. i was gone about 27 hours…i didn’t take one of the dogs, so i had to come back and feed her…and by that one of the cats had pushed a gargoyle off the mantle, and the kittens had dumped out the water in their cage. I am making plans to go again next weekend for 48 hours. At least that’s the plan… I will take both dogs…still have the chihuahua…who REALLY didn’t like getting wet in the lake…and i need to make sure no one is left in cages. the two juvenile kittens are going to a foster home, the one Boarding cat left in a cage was let out…she went back in the cage immediately..she likes her own food water and litter boxes go figure.

I have two kittens rescued on Friday, really little ones, this is CORKY, her tail is short and curled like a corkscrew. I still have to trap her sister and her mother…i locked them in the garage, adding food and water every day..the kitten in the garage is too small to set off the trap by herself. hopefully by the end of the week she will have gained enough weight to be trapped. Then mama and kittens will either have to go to a foster home…or …. come with me. i will see what happens, mama was very hostile when i trapper her the 1st time, if she’s nice, i can actually get another group to take all four. The dilute calico kitten and the mom have no tails. very cute.


sir scan a lot

I spent nearly the entire day yesterday scanning in a whole book…well actually i only got two thirds scanned before i got too tired and I know I was tired because i ended up fucking up a few pages in a row and then i fucked up fixing the fuck up.

I have scanned and photographed many many entire books and this is what i can share with you.

#1 Don’t ZONE OUT and don’t do it while you are tired..this is the kind of task that if you make a mistake you can go 50 pages before you realize it and then have to go back 50 pages to fix it.

Hint #2 Scanning is slow so do something else while waiting..but THIS is the not mindless task, so the OTHER thing should be less mindless..NOT the other way around. see above. if you are doing something complicated with your right hand you will fuck up with your left. I basically listened to an audiobook and played Bejeweled while i did this. and stopped BOTh when i screwed up.

Hint #3. MAKE THE PAGE NUMBERS MATCH THE FILE NAME.. yeah i know pain in the ass to start off..because if the cover is file 001 that makes the actual page one File 007. But trust me on this.. once you have a folder full of files it is easier to find the exact page you need to redo and if you import them all into a PDF it is easier to sort them. THIS took me a long time to figure out..i thought i was too smart to worry about this.

Hint #4. Scan or photographs on pages SEPARATELY. Which means scan all the pages of the book then go back and to the images. the pages you want at 300…IF You want to print them..but the images you want much much higher if you want to clean them up for insertion. I forget this when i am photographing a book on location…i need to start remembering it. Photograph the PAGE then take another of just the image. This makes more sense later when you are working with the image files and you realize you need to open a page file and then extract the image etc etc etc.

Hint #5 pick a fluid file type, something you can change into something else.  if you are going to use WINDOWS IMAGING TO OCR (which needs a TIFF file) check to see if the TIFF you can create from your scanned is valid… mine weren’t and it is a pain in the ass to open every one of 300 pages in Photoshop to resave them in a different format yatta yatta … i use an OCR file that works with images, so a JPG works just as well. if it’s not hundreds of pages you can simply scan to a multipage PDF…but i find over 7 or 8 pages it is WAY to easy to mess up the page order and sometimes the computer just throws up its hands when saving and says ‘ no way jose’ i’d rather build the PDF myself later with the raw images. especially if i am using larger image files than needed.

HINT #6 yes virginia you can scan least I do. If the book will fit sideways on the scanner with no loss of text, i scan both pages at the same time. With my epson scan utility I can create little vignettes around the text on each page, HOWEVER they are still sideways images. Though my OCR programs will rotate when i got to open them..and of course i could open Photoshop and do them each individually which i loathe.   Simple WINDOWS PREVIEW function lets you rotate the image file the right way up and then save with the same name. so while the scanner is cranking away at pages 8 and 9, I am previewing pages 6 and 7 and rotating and saving them.

this brings me to Hint #7 DON’T LET THE MACHINE GET TOO FAR AHEAD... just be about 2 or 4 pages behind in the preview…because you may have just flipped the page before it finished page 7 and now you need to delete the page 7 you just saved and rescan it, AND  you need to change the increment number the scanner is using so the image syncs up. OR if you don’t want to rescan 6 and 7 together you need to change the FRAME on the scanner so it just does ONE page. then you notice that 8 is out of alignment and you rescan it but you named it wrong and have to change the file name..see it gets complicated if you are too far ahead…you COULD skip bad pages and come back and rescan later..but there WILL be other bad pages to rescan so why make more?

HINT #8 STRAIGHT works better. by page 190 the text will drift and you will say to yourself..what’s a little drift? and later when the OCR program can’t READ it and you end up transcribing an entire page, you will be kicking yourself for not taking the time to flatten the book and line it up..

HINT #9 take a break…even if it is DAYS in the middle… otherwise you will just keep making mistakes and throw the book against the wall. I did 100 then another 100 now the last 100. THEN i get to work with the text.

After I have all each page as a file…i can use them as is, or using Adobe Acrobat..which i love …or another PDF creator. you can group them together and make PDFs out of them. If you just going to print the pages it doesn’t matter, but smaller multipage documents are easier to work with than a big fat large one.

LAST HINT. SCAN THE TITLE PAGE. If you are photographing or scanning..don’t skip any pages with text. even if you aren’t going to use that page. When you look at all the pages in the folder, you brain should account for them. Most of the time i don’t NEED the title page but having it in the folder with the other images, tells me exactly what’s IN the folder at a glance.

NOTE don’t do this to books that can’t survive the process. most of the time i am working with more fragile books and documents, instead of flipping them upside down…i use a decent digital camera and try to adjust the levels so that the page is legible. but then most of the time THOSE publications can’t be read by OCR properly and I end up transcribing them 100%. BTW EVEN if you run OCR or bonus get to DOWNLOAD scanned text files of books from…MOST of it is not usable as is. there is a carriage return at the end of every line and the OLD fonts don’t like being read…hence the H comes out like li and the 8’s like 3’ is just faster to type them from scratch.

so, you have a camera

someone on the Unclutterer forum..yes there is such a thing…asked for a group think about what to do with their old camera she had in her basement… is my advice:
I HAVE cameras in my fact…i’m the person people GIVE those cameras too.

Clean it and check the battery and run some film through it.
if you were going to give it away you’d need to know if it works anyway.
if you aren’t willing to do that much then donate it.

Once you run the film through it, if you enjoyed it.
then try taking it out with you,  shoot 1 roll a month or something.
If you find you AREN’T using it for 1 roll a month,
then donate it to a student.  the camera needs to be loved not dusted.

Mike Raso at Film Photography Project
will take your WORKING donation and give it a student of photography.

35MM film is still made – you can save money by letting the drop off place JUST DEVELOP the negative and sleeve it, then scan the negatives and use them as digital images.

a GOOD 35mm Camera is still a good camera and holds its value.
my Canon AE-1 is the camera i would still choose over any of my digital cameras and is the one i grab in case of file,  a Pentax K100 is about the same.
Lenses are still available and reasonably priced.

120 film is still made but hard to get developed. there are some places that will develop it reasonably…..i use Blue Moon Camera in Portland – they are fast and inexpensive, and their customers service is awesome

The Medium format is still popular with a certain geek element..the plastic artsy HOLGA camera keeps the 120 film alive…but developing is inconvenient so it is NOT like having an instamatic. I use it in my Mamyia 645 which is the size of my arm.

127 film isn’t really being though you can still order it at about $9 a roll…. it is being cut from sheets of kodak or the b/w is from eastern europe. development is REALLY hard, use Blue Moon or find someplace that uses the old fashioned dip and dunk machine. (all those cute antique cameras use this size)

110 film is also not really being made though like the 127 you can still GET IT at Frugal Photographer along with 127 film

35mm ABS film is NOT being made… if you have a 35MM camera that takes those little cartridges dump it.

Most Slide film is not being made, even fuji just discontinued their best slide film.

Polaroid went bankrupt – over the century they basically made 3 different types of instant cameras.

film for the ORIGINAL LAND Camera is no longer being made. this is the classic one your grandfather had….i almost said your father… it has a bellows and the film was on SPOOLS and had to be painted to stop the development.

the 100 series...(200, 300, 400, 600 )  this it the traditional kind that got pulled out from the SIDE and peeled away.    FUJI still makes film for that… it’s not too expensive, has to be ordered online and it still fun for parties. BUT the batteries for these cameras are $15.    So you CAN buy them altered for AAA or get yours altered.

The PX70 film for the SX series camera is NOT being made.  This is the film that SPITS out the front you see it a lot in the movies.  This film had a small battery IN the box with the film.

this is a much loved camera and film….the guys from the IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT   bought an old Polaroid film factory in europe and have been trying to REPLICATE the film ever since.  they have many different PX70 style films available  as yet they haven’t succeeded in their task
but a LOT of people buy the film at $10 a pack of 10 shots

HOWEVER barring all that..

FUJI bought the patent on Polaroid’s process. they make a SMALL instant camera that produces a business card sized image. it’s cute and it’s fun, it’s cheap and all the big box stores carry the film.  unless you are seriously into photography buy the Fuji INSTAX and save yourself the headaches.

This reminds me i have a boat load of cameras to list on ebay.


transcription prescription

So i was presented once again with a pdf of a spreadsheet printout WITH grid lines..this little gifty came from the city development office – it’s an inventory of historic houses in town done in 2007…the city has since not only lost the original spreadsheet version but they lost the pdf version..they did find the paper version and faxed it to me which turned it into a PDF. so far so good…now how do you get it BACK into a spreadsheet?
I have had this problem before…if you try running OCR against it, all the grid lines get interpreted as letters, lines underscores etc… basically it’s a train wreck. Transcription is actually faster..but there are 500+ plus lines in this document so i’m not that enthusiastic…
Strangely because i have been doing so much document manipulation for transcription the solution came to me in my sleep…PHOTOSHOP…(i recommend Photoshop’s cheap…hell it’s free if you buy the right scanner)

1. Open the multi-page document in Photoshop, it will let you choose which page.
2. Rotate the page, if needed.
3. enlarge until you see a grid line clearly.
4. Using the magic wand, SELECT the grid line. this will automatically select all the connected lines.
5. DELETE Yes you will also loose any letters that are touching …i lost small ‘g’ and some ‘p’s
6. You will probably have ungrabbable ghost lines, use Menu–>Enhance->Adjust Lighting–>Brightness/Contrast. and crank the Brightness until the lines disappear..and the contrast until the letters darken up. Relax you just want the letters to be read by the OCR.
7. If needed SAVE AS …a TIFF file…Microsoft’s Imaging program likes .Tiff files for OCR…i like FreeOCR..correction i LOVE the program FreeOCR but it will open nearly anything, including TIFs and JPGs…

Results vary according to your scanning area.
Ideally you want it back in spreadsheet ready FIELD delimited form…
but since i am missing letters and will have to do a lot of proofing
this format may suffice which lets me insert commas where i want the fields to end:
3 Annis 716-3-25 1910 Tri Ie Decker Arlin ton x 2
4 Annis 716-2-4 1900 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3
6 Annis 716-2-5 1895 Arlin ton x Double worker housing 2
7 Annis 716-3-24 1895 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3
9 Annis 716-3-23 1895 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3
10 Annis 716-2-61895 1895 Arlin ton x Double worker housin 2
11 Annis 716-3-22 1895 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3

you can of course SELECT columns to Scan..and end up with something you can paste into a spreadsheet in sections:

Here endeth the lesson

water sports

i spent too long on the water yesterday…i burned my shoulders…i did have sunblock in my ditty bag..but i didn’t think of it…i am usually only out about an hour or two and get back before the sun is high.. however after a little trail work i went out to pick trash ..and take photos…and the rowing was easy and next thing i know five hours passed by…i had brought the new battery and motor too..but i forgot that i needed to install the little brass terminal widgets… so it was rowing…i have still got new oars on my wish list at amazon….rowing backwards is a pain in the ass in the sanctuary as the river has really sharp curves…i look funny rowing forward in that section…kayak would be a better option.

anyway while i was out i grabbed some photos of people USING the trail and the river…this is the first time i have seen folks using the river for anything other than fishing. I wish the images of the kayakers were better but for some reason the telephone and macro come out well but the straight up shots look crappy…it really has never been the same since we both took that river spill. the camera didn’t go in but the bag got a little soggy bottom.

of course now i lost the well paying job, i need to have a camera serviced..actually now i will have two fuji’s that need servicing. the other one is still in the box that came back from the Fuji repair the time i didn’t have the i regret it because i could be using one and sending in the other. oh

i started a running list of things i will buy once i get money flowing again…cameras are always at the top of the list. I did make it a point of buying a new trolling motor and battery charger when i had extra money…i skipped the batter because i did figure it was something i would eventually find used or be given one..and i was. ..i regret not paying off more bills but having the boat and motor ready to go without borrowing something ahead of time – really helps me stay sane.

i’m going to try to go out and row more… another thing on my list is a kayak..once the water drops in the summer it will be harder for me to get the jon boat..the trash collecting vehicle …into the sanctuary…but alas that’s another thing for my list.


i suck at proofing..i have to do it multiple times…i don’t know if it is because i can’t SEE the errant punctuation mark, or i am just a lazy person who can’t be bothered with the details. I am still on track for 12 books ready by June..maybe not just June 1st. not big rush most of this stuff is over 100 years old, it’s not going anywhere.
Every time I try to explain my concept about my project I discover something else I hadn’t planned on…I am now in the middle of transcribing a 1929 local history by a guy who wasn’t a very good writer and I ‘got right’ with the idea that I should clean it up for clarity’s sake. So, i’m using the same part of my brain that I use when I edit live people: “if i have to read a sentence twice to understand it, it needs fixing.” Just because it’s part of the original material doesn’t make it untouchable. The original will still exist in the universe…well some of them…some of the things i have collected for reprinting are original manuscripts, which may very well disappear over time, but since I am trying to create new editions for new readers, it is my responsibility to make sure it can be read.
Still haven’t stopped screwing around with Phelps’ Tenth of January…I added a dozen or so footnotes, a bio of the author..and the local special collections librarian is down with adding a into. But I still need the cooperation of an educator..that I am still trolling for.
But the cover I think I knocked out of the park. I finally found an illustration that suits the cover design but it is also from 1913 so I could appropriate it freely. I did photoshop it a bit to give it the look I wanted, but I think it gives you a good sense of the content without telegraphing the horrific ending to the story.
I spread the proof copies out on my desk and I am really tickled about the ‘LOOK’ of the line. I think it will make a good presentation. Though I finally stopped ordering proof volumes and have started downloading the proof PDFs and sending them to Fedex Office to be printed…$20 and a 10 day wait versus $4 and immediate availability. I just can’t proof properly off a computer screen…i’m old school, I need a piece of paper on a table top with a ruler and a highlighter…other tricks are to go backwards in the text, from index to title page. They say read it outloud, which never works for me, I am already reading it out loud in my head and my eyes just fill in the broken parts.
Another stupid thing is I had to buy more highlighters…I had given away a bag of them doing the great purge..


I spent the last few days with a tech from North Carolina controlling my computer trying to FIX different bugs in my computer that were preventing me from running Photoshop 7, which i desperately need, so i can run the half tone dot removing filter over some images I have swiped from various sources. I need to make them print worthy for the books I am producing. I am also having issues with Adobe Distiller compressing my images to 150dpi which is NOT print worthy, and the list goes on. So far he’s worked for about 15 hours for me and i still have no idea how much I will be paying him, he says choose your own amount based on the results..but i KNOW what an hourly tech costs so i’m stressing about how much i CAN afford to pay and how much i SHOULD pay….i think i should just send him my wallet…but that would be an insult.

For the last few years I had a virginal copy of Marshall Lee’s Bookmaking on the shelf in my bedroom. I had bought it new and shelved it thinking it would from across the room, somehow inspire me to produce beautiful books. But a couple of months ago, when I got on this cut everything in half kick….which i must admit i have been slack off on lately, I sold it. For a good price I thought as even used copies sell for about $20…this I know because I just had to rebuy it!!

Long story short..i know too late .  .  . I’m trying to produce the best looking copies I can,  i keep running into issues, MOST of them, like the image thing, I have already have a fix in my tool kit for it. However adapting 19th century print styles for reading by 21st century readers, with their limited vocabulary, attention spans and eyesight, I’m dumbing things down just a little bit. I chose Goudy Old Style for the 19th century stuff, mostly because I can read it without my glasses and it still looks OLD. I’m also changing the words that end with -tre and -our to -ter and -or; these guys just can’t make the leap from US to UK. The other liberty I want to take is to take long swaths of text quoted from other sources and set it apart so it’s not just hidden in the text surrounded by quotation marks…the little editor in my head is screaming ITALICIZE! but I need to look it up and make sure I’m not being a dumbass.

Today I am holding my 1st hard proof of Pehlp’s “10th of January” short story.  as you can clearly see from my blog posts,  I just can’t proof from a screen, i have tried; but give me a paper copy and i’m golden.  I took the liberty of giving the short story a subtitle so you have a clue about what you are getting it’s “the Tenth of January, a tale of the Pemberton Mill,”  it’s like an American Girl story, cept she gets trapped in a collapsed mill and burns to death…cheery no?

I sent the first draft off to be printed but I don’t think it’s enough.  I am giving it footnotes with definitions for the words we don’t use anymore.   Also included now is the wikipedia entry for Phelps on the back page.   I am going to see if i can get the Special Collections Librarian/Pemberton Mill expert to help me add some more contextual material so that if someone wanted to READ this and never heard of the Mill Tragedy of 1860, they could catch up. I’m considering it all ‘added-value’ for my ‘touchable books’ series.  I’m already considering myself a parasite making money of the long dead….wait a minute…i haven’t actually MADE any money.   I think I found a flaw in my project.

touchable books

when i typed the header, I keep hearing susan sarandon singing “toucha toucha toucha touch me” in the background. ….over the last few days i have been talking about my new ‘project’ to the local librarians who know me. I was caught off guard because i hadn’t actually planned beyond producing the books, i figured the marketing would take care of itself. Where i started with 3 or 4 target books, my list of titles that i WANT to produce has swollen to about 15,  and that’s books i have collected the materials for…and then there are a couple i will need to that’s like 18. I better get my shit together as i am really liking what i am doing and other people seem to like it as well ….this is never good this is when i usually shoot myself in the foot to get out of combat.

Remember, last week i had a little too much money kicking around and instead of paying a bill like a responsible grown up, i bought toys? well i thought i bought a toy…turns out i missed having a straight up camera in my pocket like an amputated limb. Once I started carrying it around I was snapping a LOT more than i have been with the damn Iphone which thought it CAN do a lot of things, it really isn’t as dependable and as easy as a camera.

I have spent the last two days collecting materials for future volumes. LOVE that camera.   Using my formula, i am taking MY cost for printing and ordering the book, so far between 2.50 and 3.50 and i am doubling it. THAT’s the wholesale price for 10 copies for the local museums, libraries and giftshops…then they can double THAT price and use the books as a decent fundraiser. i am even in talks with the coffee shop on the corner, but i need to spend 100 bucks on a display unit..i will need to sell 50 books to make that back, so no way am i making money. And so far…i have only given copies away..the local libraries can have their 1st copy for free…and considering the well worn and badly reproduced copies on their shelves? they will be coming back to buy an easy 10 of each I am sure.s hanging out with special collections librarians…the folks who mind the books you aren’t allowed to take out of the library. And these are the folks whom i do not have to sell on the idea of producing a line of what i am calling TOUCHABLE books. In the last 20 years our civilization has been digitizing our reference materials like mad. however we spent nearly no time using these digital versions to create touchable books so folks can HAVE them. Don’t even START with me about those fucking Print On Demand producers…they are churning out what can best be described as bound photocopies for USURIOUS rates…i mean what the fuck? the writer and subjects have been dead for 100 years, you used a machine to scan the book, and another machine to print it, a minimum wage slave to box it and you want THIRTY fucking bucks? that’s ballsy….but i digress.

Today I made the final clicks on the Vox Populi volume which I can bet right now …NO ONE will buy. I will give one to the Lowell Library but aside from that…it was just something i liked. I read the pieces i liked them…i had to practice Indexing anyway..and the cover is a work of art. I found the actual 1840s papers on microfilm, printed one of those really bad copies that we surprisingly still produce in the 21st century, then i photoshopped the hell out of it. I think it looks awesome considering…i even added the paper’s internal advert as a frontispiece. It reminded me, i need to start using the cover art as frontispieces so that folks can see the whole illustration.

That was then, now i have a few more titles on the hotplate. I am aiming to stay with methuen/lawrence titles until i run out…since those are the sales venues i have..then i can spiral out with interesting local titles i find. i started pairing up short pieces and some of them have to wait until i find something to pair it with. Tonights victim is..or rather ARE two pieces by the same author. A local historian in 1896 did a reading about the Merrimack Valley and then in 1900 did one about the Fall of the Pemberton Mill…so I am pairing them, adding an index…and after talking to the librarian I am going to add a little backmatter to bring his Pemberton Mill info up to date….it makes me feel that I will have earned my $2.50…$8.95 suggested retail price.

making book

i just spend a few straight days putting together another local history, they are addictive….the more i can get my hands on the more i want to reprint. i am even looking into a getting a free standing rack..i know the coffee shop at the corner will carry whatever i can produce…damn sight more interesting than postcards.

While i was putting this one together i made some decisions about the series as a whole.  once i do the most prominent titles, i want to double back and do what i did with the Vox Populi volume.  Find more smaller pieces to publish standalone or paired with like items.

And Indexing is key – most of these titles don’t have an index so if you are just using them for referencing you have to skim the whole thing to find what you are looking for.  You could of course just use Google books…but the appeal of doing local histories is that people are likely to buy them just to put them on the shelf.  which brings me to my other decision..This last volume had a lot of wasted pages in it.  those engraved portraits were on plates..with blank backs. so that’s two pages for one picture and a paragraph (we won’t even discuss how they were just sprinkled through the book in no particular order)  basically i extracted them all and dumped them alphabetically in the back two up on a page so i am getting 4 images into the same space they used for one.   including an index i think i can keep the page count under 250…and the cost UNDER $20…hopefully well under.  I’m not making all that much money on these but then i didn’t write them…i am just reformatting them and reprinting them.  Mostly i am doing this for my own amusement…that’s much more important to me than most things.

After I get enough of these under my belt, i think i need to put together a Methuen History since we don’t have a decent one.  and i have a few folks who want me to do some more NEW titles.  the reprints should balance out the NEW titles nicely.


i traded trash with the neighbors one night…i was putting out a chair and they put out this dresser. it didn’t have anything really wrong with it. it does need a sand and paint, and one of the drawer braces was broken and basically popped back into it’s socket. i was going to put it on freecycle. it’s 16″ deep, i think it’s for a small child or baby. but it’s of a rather solid wood design and since it is so shallow…i have an idea for it.
I am trying to get a grip on my camera equipment, cameras, lenses, accessories, prints, frames and mats etc…my plan is to sand and spray this..i picked up a rustoleum paint/primer in gloss black. I have a bid in on some old fashioned clamshell drawer pulls…and today i picked up some rubberized shelf liner to line the drawers. Yeah gloss black sounds like I am asking for trouble, but i want it to look like real office storage and not just a co-opted baby dresser.
I feel an Instructable coming on. I will take pictures as I go with my new camera. I still have to finish redoing my ‘office’ and haven’t found a spot for it yet – but it’s a damn sight smaller than some of the workbenches i am getting rid of.

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