(from the 1st annual 28th Avenue Halloween parade, in 1994)
On Sunday the neighborhood held our 13th annual Halloween Parade. The hosts the the previous 12 years, the Andersons, moved away last year, so this time we were the site of the staging ground and the after parade party.
Our block does a Halloween parade, with live music, every year. In the summer we also have two block parties (one with a talent show). There's old time music jams in people's backyards and contra dances in the street. It is events like these that make it unlikely I'll ever move from this block. As the Block Captain this year, I feel a particular responsibility toward maintaining the sense of community that makes this street a special place to live. I know the names of everyone's kids, and most of their pets. I have seen kids grow from toddlers to teenagers.
One time the neighbor girl came by, she and her sister were baking. “Do you have any eggs?” she asked. “No, I'm afraid I don't, but I bet Sue next door does. They're not home, but here's the key.” It's that kind of neighborhood.
At the first Halloween parade there were mostly toddlers on the street. They're grown now, and the youngest were from new neighbors mostly. The teens from years past stood apart, not quite willing to be at the center of the scene, but not willing to not be a part of it either.
Here are two sets of pictures, one from this year's party, and a set from previous parades over the last 13 years.
Over on Photostream Colin Jago has completed a series of posts on best practices with ColorNeg in a monochrome workflow. A while back I wrote a note on the Mac release of this amazing conversion plug-in for converting scanned negative film to a positive image with everything intact. Colin tells you how you're really supposed to do it. He has a rare talent in expressing deep technical information in a readable form. You don't have to be a deep geek to understand it. I know, because I'm not one.
I had a request for a photo that someone saw in my web archive. My archives go back a long way--I've had a website since the mid 90's. I was working digitally with my photos before I even owned Photoshop, by getting my film scanned onto Photo CDs and using PaintShop to mess with the files and post them on my website.
Rather than dig through my file cabinets looking for the film and scanning it, I went to my box of Photo CDs and found the image. The date on the disk was March 1998, less than ten years ago. Guess what? Photoshop couldn't read the image files. It appears my entire library of pcd files is unreadable.
A little Googling showed me that there is a plug-in on the installation disk that allegedly makes these files viable. I installed it, tried it, and it didn't work. Then I found the fine print in the Readme that told me the plug-in doesn't work on Intel Macs.
Weirdly, iPhoto automatically loads pcd files and displays them as jpgs. But for the life of me, I can't figure out how you get an image out of iPhoto and into another program. IPhoto is one of those dumbed down Mac programs that lets you only do things the Mac Way. I can order a print. I can make a calendar. I can eliminate the red-eye. But I can't save the image file. I sent it to the Desktop, thinking, oh, that's the exit, but Mac has another logic to it. It's not my logic. I now have the image as my Desktop wallpaper, and I don't know how to reverse my way out of that problem. I finally emailed the photo to myself.
This is what managing a digital library is going to be like from here out. One day you expect to access an image, only to find out the format has been abandoned. Your first signal that there is a problem is going to be when it's too late to fix it.
I came home with 145 gb of data. I'm five days into processing the files, and I'm getting a little tired of it. This is not the fun part. It's why they pay me. The shooting I do for free.
Here is what happens when I start having to work for my supper. It starts with organizing the files from the get go, with the first card dump. I've found no more efficient ingest program than Photo Mechanic. What is a wonderful feature with the Mac version is that it automatically dismounts the cards after the dump. During the download I start my edit in full screen mode, ticking off the images destined for the trash. Some people believe you should never throw away an image. I am not of that camp. When I shot film I threw away my slides during my initial edit. This is no different. There are bad exposures and out of focus errors and fourth rate pictures that will never have a life. I don't want them, and I surely don't want my client to ever see them.
I then open up the dated folder in Bridge, which on a Mac opens up amazingly fast. The first thing I do is sort by capture date (I shoot with two bodies), then rename with a date code--YYYYMMDD--an underline and a sequence number. Then I apply a copyright metadata template and enter a caption for the batch in the Description field.
Before I clear my cards I have copied the day's folder onto two external hard drives, so that it is in three places. If I'm feeling especially paranoid (and obsessive paranoia is a good thing in a back up protocol), I'll burn an assignment onto DVDs and ship them home.
Now the processing part. The way to think of attacking a large mountain of data is to go from general to specific. There are corrections that apply to all images, to some images, and to individual images, and that is the sequence in which I make my corrections. I use ACR in Bridge for all my processing, and I have a set of processing templates. There is a Default template that has settings all images will have for all the adjustment tabs, and these include: exposure setting at -0.55, Black Point at 8, Clarity at 5, CT at 5400 and +4, and in the lens correction, Defringe at Highlight Edges and a Lens Vignetting at +25.
I have two different Camera Calibration settings for my two 5D bodies (they really do see differently) that I apply to each set (Bridge has a Filter setting for camera serial number). The Fors protocol is a great way to calibrate your bodies. If a lot of my shooting has been in indoor environments, I have another template that changes the color temp settings back to As Shot, but leaves everything else alone.
I apply these settings in Bridge by highlighting the selected images, right clicking and going to Develop Settings, which will list the templates you have made in Adobe Raw Converter. I have not needed to export anything to ACR yet.
Then I attack the images in smaller batches. I select images shot in the same lighting environment and load those in batches into ACR. It might be 5 images, it might be 300. These I correct in smaller and smaller groups, using the Synchronize button repeatedly. I correct one, select everything I shot at the same time, and apply (a tip--hold down the Option key and you bypass the menu selection.) I scroll down the images, and make individual corrections as needed so that the batch looks alike.
Something I am still trying to train myself to do, while shooting, is to stop bracketing. In digital, it is far more efficient to make the same mistake again and again, then to make a series of different mistakes and hope to nail it right once. In RAW there's a pretty wide latitude of forgivable errors. With slide film there's not, and it's rather deeply embedded in my brain that if I'm looking through a camera it's got slide film in it. I can't help myself sometimes, and I make more work for myself when I get home.
I can do about two to three thousand images a day, and still see straight. I take breaks. And I book a massage when I'm done with the job.
So, the cheerleaders tell me they're going to the "tunnel." "What tunnel?" I ask. "Oh, we make one. They run through it." You have to understand that I know nothing about football, and I didn't know what they were talking about until they and the band formed two converging lines, and held a banner at the end.
I'm making my cultural anthropology shots in this exotic scene, and having a great time. I'm wandering up and down the lines, and I work on this wonderful image, of a cheerleader holding the banner, and it's backlit like a big white screen with parts of "Homecoming" in big backwards letters.
"Hey cameraman, turn around," a girl says. I see a human wall, not unlike the bulls at Pamplona, bearing down, very fast. A hundred big, burly football players, running full bore, are about to crush me.
The band members talked about it the rest of the game. "You should have seen your face!" They'd never seen anyone sprint so fast in their lives.
I can only hope that someone in the grandstands got it on video. It's a YouTube moment if ever there was one.
At the restaurant there were a group of students from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where I'm photographing today and tomorrow. I had them look through my picks and vote for which one should be the Photo-of-the-day on my Daily blog. Here's what they chose from.