Photographs and the Peace Corps collection, just the beginning.

There is a small antique bureau in our dining room area.  I believe it belonged to my parents.  I don’t think we have opened the drawers in years.  Several were filled with photographs.  In no way did it represent all of our photographs, but various boxes and envelopes with photos usually grouped together for some reason.  An empty album with a box of photos and memorabilia from a trip to Ireland — never put together.   A box of Peace Corps pictures.  Another box of my elementary and high school photographs.  Photos from Diane’s teaching. Large format and older photos from the Smith and Profy families.  A folder of 8×10 black and white that I printed in my New Hope darkroom.  An envelope with many  that had probably been taken from family albums for some gathering — can’t remember if it was my parents anniversary or my mothers funeral. I sorted everything into groups.

When we lived in Boston and I worked in the book bindery, I made a large green leather photograph albulm (blue pages).  It measures about 15 by 15 inches.  At the time Diane and I raided our parents’ collections, selected got our best pictures and created a special family album.  The last pages contained photographs from the 1980s.  From then until today, we’ve used a variety of storage methods — plastic pages in 3 ring binders, small albums for 3 x 5 photos or 5 to a page.  Some albums were family pictures, Jenny and Rob’s wedding, other specific trips — Italy, Germany.  I have about 7 from the  nine years I traveled to Nicaragua. Sometime after 2000, with the arrival of digital, I have filed selected printed shoots together, chronologically, in old small wooden file cabinets drawers.

After cleaning out the bureau, I pulled all of the photos from the large leather family album.  Many were falling out; some were missing, raided for uses like school projects.  Then I pulled out all the albums.  Now the question is what to do with all the loose photographs.  More file boxes, shoe boxes were once popular.  Albums?  What size, how to group them.  Is it desirable to digitize them.  Remember I have thousands of 35 mm slides that should be digitized.

I found a small empty 3 x 5 album that would hold about 100 pictures.  There were about 100 pictures from our Peace Corp training for Libya in Bisbee AZ.  Perfect now we have a Peace Corps album.  For fun I copied  a few with the phone.  Just the beginning.

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Lost in the clouds

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It happened.  I have worried about this for years. And now its a reality.  I lost the record of a year of my life.  2011 to be exact.  Well more specifically the photographic record.  Let me start from the beginning. Last week I bought a new Apple laptop.  Today I went to HGP so Mike Jacobs could transfer my documents — mainly photographs from my external hard drive to the new laptop.  As with many computer projects, somethings aren’t as easy as you would think.  Mike couldn’t find the most recent back up.  But he soon discovered why.  I backed up the Dell several times in 2010 but none since then.  Now I really thought I was backing up.  I had read that with the drive connected to the computer,  the back up would be automatic.  I trusted what I read (or think I read).  Over the years, I even checked to see that the new data was backed up.  But it seems I was looking through the external drive to my Dell hard drive.  Today Mike proceeded to backup the Dell and he will transfer the 2010 backup and what’s on the computer (2012-2013-2014).  Problem there is no 2011.  Lost.  Gone.  Somewhere in the cloud.

At home I checked my journals (all hand-written).  Travel journal — just a few weekend getaways.  No big loss.  The daily journal told the fuller  story.  2011 was the year Eli was diagnosed and treated for neuroblastoma.  Maybe it’s a year I would like to forget.  But there were some great moments and I think images.   We spent a lot of time in Gladwyne and the hospital.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures of Eli.  But I did shoot a lot of pictures of Viv.  In fact I thought of self publishing a little book, “A Day in the Life of Viv.”  Never did publish it.  Lost, but wait.  I remembered I did a sort of back up.  I printed many of the better pictures. Just  need to find them.  So it seems that 2011 may not  be totally loss. And there are moments worth remembering (after 60, photographs really help memory).

This isn’t the first time I have loss data in ( or is it to) the cloud.  In fact it happened last week.  The camera on my I Pad didn’t work.  Apple doesn’t fix Pad cameras  but replace.  I got a new Pad.  Downloading the data from the cloud (which was almost filled) took some time.  I thought it was finished and left the store but it had frozen with a few pictures left.  A Google search let me know this happened.  But I figured out how to stop the download.  Was actually quite proud of myself.  I had already loaded all the photos from my phone onto the new laptop.  And then I downloaded the new operating system (having cloud space now available).  So I proceeded to downloaded the new system to the Pad.  Installation however erases the data and it seems there was never a back up for the new Pad.  Remember I learned how to stop it.  So all the photos on the Pad were lost in the cloud.  Fortunately most were Internet downloaded images and photographs people had sent me.  Remember the camera hasn’t worked for months so I I didn’t take pictures with it.  But lost all the same.

Our growing reliance on digital data and the  potential for digital has worried me for some time. It also is  related to outdated technologies.  I have thousands of 35mm slides (several hundred Kodak trays and many albums).   I have many cans of Super 8 mm film.  In the Spring with a groupon coupon, I decided to digitize some film. I sent my Peace Corps film and my Harcourt Bindery film to a company in CA.  I got a call — no Bindery film!  What? (In Boston, I had worked for a leather book binder; this was my best film.)  I had many phone conversations with the people at Scan Digital.  Thy looked.  But.  They eventually returned the Peace Corps film and a DVD.  But the Bindery film.  Lost.  Gone.  Maybe not in the cloud.  In the trash?  I do have a Scan Digital credit.

So much of our documentary record is now digital.  E-books, music, e-mail, digital movies and photographs. We are told that the older technology is obsolete. Last year HGP did away with VHS players (outdated, clutter).  Problem: some of the tapes I used in class were VHS copyright and couldn’t be converted to DVDs.  Please return the older technology.

I have often wondered about the historical record.  We are still looking for Nixon’s lost tapes.  How much will be lost in the cloud.  In addition to all my slides, photographic prints, Super 8 film, I have many records, cassettes, CDs, VHS tapes and DVDs. And I don’t want to count the books.  The number would agitate Diane.  Do I digitize all of this?   Do I get rid of the casettes (I actually pulled out a tray of them recently to play an artist who I was reading about).  Sell all the records and books?  But I worry, will I lose a lot in (to) the cloud.  Who is saving e mails for the historical record.  I guess I will need to learn about  back ups.  Scan some slides, digitize some movies, read a bit online, buy fewer CDs and DVDs but I doubt  I will get rid of all the hard copies.  Imagine if I had done that with all of the 2011 photographs.  It would be a lost year photographically anyway.

A footnote.  I wrote this post 2 times.  Had just about finished and the I Pad froze up.  When reopened the draft was gone.  No back up.  Is there a lesson here?

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