Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A portmanteau blog today

Seems there's lots to talk about now that I've unearthed the old photos. I've dug down to the bottom of the box. I was mainly looking for family photos at first, and set a bunch of others aside for the moment. I've finished the first pass through, where the negatives match, or mostly match the photos.  If I see one photo I want, I'll typically do them all. What's left is negatives with no photos, or negatives that don't match the photos, or ones where I have to decide if it's worth digitizing. I'm not sure what my criteria will be there.

While for many photos we don't know the exact date, not even to the nearest year for sure, there's a series coming that I not only know the exact date, but the time of day as well. Just over 13,900 days ago, if you want a hint. I just hadn't known I had negatives for it.

These two are even older than that, back to when we first moved into the house in the fall of 1984, because that's when the house next door was built. We had barely moved in, and being poor as church mice we had hardly anything to put in the house. So far I haven't seen any photos from the townhouse we lived in just down the street. I'm pretty sure we had the camera then. 

A brief real estate digression. We bought the property and built the house for $94,000 all up. We put down $10K which was essentially nearly every bit of cash we had. We were terrified. That mortgage seemed like all the money in the world, and the interest rate of about 13% didn't help. But between our two annual incomes we were making a large fraction of that mortgage. We scraped by at first, by the skin of our teeth.

In fact that's one of the reasons Linda didn't change her name. I wasn't hung up about it, and by changing her name her bank would have merged our bank accounts and worse, closed out her independent credit card. We were close enough to the line that we could easily foresee circumstances where we might need to take advantage of both credit limits.

Gradually the interest rates dropped and we got raises. We changed to a weekly mortgage, and put a bit extra on every year, sort of split between RSP and mortgage. At first the amount going against the principle was essentially nothing, but our equity gradually grew. We ended up paying it off in 13 years, I think. You have no idea how freeing it is to own your own home, free and clear.

Buying the house was foundational to our current lives. It gave us emotional and financial stability. Every now and then I wonder what it would be like to live in some of the places I see. A swanky condo in a nice part of town. Some of the homes in the rich parts of town. A funky loft downtown. We've seen a few places where if we didn't already have a house, we might have bought, but haven't seen anything so nice as to drive us to sell this house.

But I now feel sorry for people looking to buy their first home. Prices are stratospherically stupid, requiring what I think of a really high annual salary to carry the mortgage. Interest rates are going up. Anybody that doesn't already have a home with lots of equity, or a winning lotto ticket, or very generous parents, is taking on a mountain of debt, a  whole mountain range of debt.

When we  bought the house the intent was to live here until we couldn't anymore. We didn't know if our kids would eventually drag us out because we couldn't cope, or we'd dwindle along until something happened that made it clear to us we needed to move into assisted living. Even so, we're prepared to pay for that assistance to come to us. Now people buy houses as an investment, a place to live a little while, then flip it for a bigger place. A huge part of our economy is mortgage dept, and household debt. Eventually it's going to end badly for a lot of people.

Even if I say so myself, this is one of the best of both of us. For the life of me I don't know who took the photo. It was not a timed shot I set up and rushed to be in frame. The cat might be Thorin, it's hard to tell. Same colour as Nefertitti, just a bit smaller.

What looks odd now is there are no trees visible, other than the sapling to my immediate right, which isn't there anymore. Now there are lots of trees that would be visible from here, and a couple are the height of a 3 or 4 story building.

Oh heck. Why not give you a current photo for comparison? This is today, a few minutes ago as I write this. Taken with an infinitely better camera and lens, at a somewhat wider focal length. I wanted to include the big tree in our neighbour's front yard. I'm amazed it's still alive after the several attempts to kill it. He wanted grass under that tree, not pine needles.

Only two couples have lived in that house. The couple that built it moved out shortly after, and a couple from Hong Kong moved it. I suspect we're going to get new neighbours soon. The Mr passed away about a year ago. Two years ago? The Mrs had a fall and is in care now. Nobody really expects her to come back. Their son is living there some of the time, but he has a home of his own not far away. I'm expecting a for sale sign any time.

AMA. Ask Me Anything. This is often something I do about this time of year though I'm a bit later than usual. I've had some great questions from my readers in previous versions, and I'm hoping for the same this year. Sometimes I find it hard to write about something, yet a question will set me off. I could give you a link to previous versions, but I'm feeling lazy. They're easy enough to find in my blog archive off to the right. 

So feel free to AMA by leaving it in the comments, or sending me an email to keith at nucleus dot com, or texting me if you know my number. Anything at all. 

Facebook has been annoying me more than usual lately, and I'm thinking it's time I took a vacation from it. Is no Facebook February a thing? While the number of items is still somewhat weighted towards friends, the ads take up much more space, and the reels or clips or whatever the video thingies are called take up more yet. However I'm pretty sure I'm not seeing all that my friends post, and sometimes it doesn't show me something that was there earlier, which is annoying AF. Lots of times I like to think before I comment, or want to come back to a post for some other reason.

Today there's some stupid popup about cross app messaging that I'm not interested in, but it won't go away. So if you rely on Facebook to remind you to come visit my blog, or you don't want to dig through your bookmarks folder, feel free to send me your email and ask to be added to my Blog Notification list. Then you get first notice of blog updates on either platform, and often there are some extra little tidbits. Feel free to send the request along with the AMA suggestion. 

Of the Day



Film (new) I've skipped a bunch of winter scenes. We're going through a cold snap right now, and I'm getting quite enough snow and ice without looking at more of it in photos.

Film (old)
The back yard under the first bit of construction, with Sebastian returning from his rounds. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

More point and shoot

This has been fun! My readers who have been keeping up with the story already know I've been digging through a box of old photos with the idea of digitizing the negatives. If you haven't been following along, you can catch up here. The unexpected prize was finding a trove of negatives about 70 years old, you can read about that on my other blog here

Today is a personal journey about some of the photos that have emerged so far. It's likely to be a pretty erratic journey, just so you know. All of the commentary about the photos could start, "At some point along the way..." For almost all the photos we don't know exactly when they were taken. Not even approximately. I found 3 photos of our friends John and Brenda and sent them to her, and she can't remember what the occasion was either, so it isn't just us.

How quickly we forget. I learned early in my work career that I had to take notes of what I'd done along the way. My boss at the time sent me a spreadsheet and asked me to produce a similar one, with some of the same data, but including some other data, and grouping it a certain way. My fingerprints were all over the spreadsheet, but I had no memory of how I'd produced it, and I hadn't kept the SQL that generated the base data. I had a sweaty couple hours reproducing the SQL and creating the spreadsheet because he wanted it right away. After that I kept notes, keeping snippets of SQL and the creative thought processes. Sometimes it included photos of a whiteboard diagram. Sometimes I dropped the actual SQL into another tab of the xl, just in case it came back to me. That saved my bacon more than once.

But, as has become clear, I didn't do the same with the photos. Some photographers keep a notebook of all their photos, and I did when I was starting to work with film recently, and still do for the 6x9 camera, but I wasn't even remotely a photographer back then. The best we can do is go by the evidence of the photo, the furniture in the house, which cats or cars, the state of the yard.

Maybe get a beverage, this might get long.

1. There are two sets of photos of a trip to Glacier National Park in the USA. We can no longer remember if it was one trip or two. We sort of remember driving to the top as a day trip, and sort of remember coming home from something via Logan Pass, quite literally taking the scenic route. 

2. As I'm looking at the negatives I'm trying to visualize what it looks like as a positive. There's several of this critter, but as I was looking at the negatives I was trying to remember why I took so many of a rock wall. I didn't see the critter until the positive came up. Someone told us it was a wolverine, and the photos when looking on line would seem to support that. As ought to be clear, it didn't eat or maul us. Maybe it had just eaten something and wasn't hungry.

3. I'm not sure if the purple-ish tinge is the actual colour of the rocks or is an artifact of processing. 


5. An assembled panorama from two photos that were not taken with the intent to merge them. Such a concept didn't exist for most people then. Even now, taking digital photos with the intent to merge them doesn't always work.

6. Some of my readers have visited our home and know of the lattice flower bed out front. Here it is under construction. Between the sun itself, and the light reflecting off the south facing window, the grass just burned up, so we decided to put in a bit of a patio. That was a fun project.

7. Nefertitti. Yes, she is expressing her personality.

8. Amelia. These cats lived together for a while, with Amelia joining us after Sebastian left us in 1998. With the best of intentions, Amelia had a bit of a tough life with us. Nefertitti bullied her a bit, just like she tried to bully everyone else, except Sebastian didn't put up with it. After Nefertitti left us we got Bernard, and they did not get along at all. Poor Amelia got beaten up pretty bad before we found another home for Bernard. Then we boarded her while we did major house renovations. I am convinced that she did not recognize us, or the house when she came back, and treated us like we were new humans. She was always a twitchy cat, if a car door slammed on the street she was out of our laps and downstairs. In her entire life the only people that opened the garage and came in that door was us, but as soon as she heard the door opening she was looking over her shoulder ready to run. The vet at the end of her life told us she probably had a bad case of dementia. You can read more about her here

9. Linda in Swan's Boutique hotel in Victoria BC. We went there several times to get away from winter. Oddly enough there are no other photos of the various trips, although they could be in an envelop I haven't got to yet. 

10. This might well be one of the earliest photos I've found yet, taken shortly after we built the house and moved in. Sebastian is checking it all out. The car is an 83 Honda Accord hatchback, and was the best car I've ever owned. I'd be happy to drive it again, if somehow another new one showed up. Alas.

Of the Day


The last of the three black and whites at different focal lengths.

A trio from a winter walk with friends along the Bow. Kodak Gold 200. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023


That first attempt at an opening didn't go so well. Let's start again. From the top!

I was trying to meld together several different streams and it wasn't working. In no particular order. Working with old negatives, trying to evaluate the image as a negative, but still being surprised by what I end up seeing in the positive. Thinking about how much better working with negatives is, when curly film isn't an issue. Looking at images this morning and wondering which should go onto the daily VERO update, and thinking there were some odd images I've made along the way. Odd images and curly negatives and a catchy song I happened across added up to the Oddball character in Kelly's Heroes. Thinking about avoiding the negative waves in day to day life, and avoiding people that put out such waves. A bit of realism is all well and good and often prudent, but it is possible to go overboard on it.

All that, while watching a documentary on the Cutty Sark and the great tea clipper races of the 1860's. Plus a comment from a dear friend about internal monologues or images. Oddly enough, it's mostly monologue for me, not images. 

Which isn't a smooth segue, not even slightly. Now I'm thinking of what I ought to do today after dropping off returnables to the bottle depot. Maybe taking one of the cameras along, wondering what the light will be doing in a little bit. Kind of disjointed thoughts, if you haven't figured that out already.

1. Linda, coming to grips with disjointed thoughts, sketching out her plans.

2. Some recent oddball images.



5. A winter serendipity. Actually there's two serendipities, but blogger got pissy about me organizing them in the right order.





Of the Day



River reflections

Nefertitti, one of the cats who used to live here. She looks like a little fluff ball, and she was a tiny kitty, but was absolutely indomintable. Which is also a serendipity of one of the above photos.

Which I suppose isn't as good a header as I thought, since several of the above photos are film. But the ones here are recent captures with one of the good film cameras. Michelle obliging me during a walk in Fish Creek, on Kodak Gold 200.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

The past is a new project

Somewhere in your house I'll bet there is a box of photos, maybe several boxes. Not you, mom, I know you've cleaned out all but a few favourites during your last move. But the rest of you, yeah. Maybe there's a photo album or two, but unless you're really organized, that's it.

It worked like this for us. We had an inexpensive point and shoot, and usually forgot to take it places. When we remembered, I took most of the photos, on the theory that if I was holding the camera it couldn't be used to take photos of me. Eventually we'd reach the end of the roll, and typically we took it to Black's because they had a store in a mall near us, and near our local library. It was common to pick up or drop off books and photos on the same trip.

Do you remember what that was like? We'd get the envelop of photos and sit on a bench nearby to leaf through them. Usually there'd be at least some we had totally forgotten about because they had been taken months ago, maybe several months ago. Some wouldn't turn out at all, some would be blurry or really badly exposed, and some would be amazing.

They'd go back in the envelop and might come out again to show a friend or family member, or to be put into that mythical photo album. But most likely they would go in a box and never be looked at again. The box would gradually fill up. We have several dozen envelops and the box is pretty full. 

If you've been following along on this, and my photoblog, you'll know I've been putting film through some old cameras, and putting some of the results in my blogs. Just yesterday I posted some Christmas lights on my photoblog using Cinestill film. The intent with these is to have fun, learn a bit more about photography, and in an ideal world produce some interesting photos.

The same time I handed in those to be developed, I finished a roll of black and white film in the small camera. I digitized those yesterday, using a technique involving two panes of special glass to hold the negatives flat. That went very well.

A couple things related to that came to fruition yesterday. One, a while ago was a buddy who had inherited stuff from his recently deceased parents which included negatives from before WWII. I showed him the process, but the carrier made it a bit difficult. I've mentioned the glass to him, but he's deeply involved in some projects of his own just now. I'm also unearthing an old Mac computer, and trying to find all the related parts. I'm still looking for the original keyboard and mouse. In the process of this I unearthed the box of photos, and enjoyed opening a few at random.

This is one of the reasons why looking for things takes so long. One is there are lots of places to look. The other is discovering other things that might have been the object of a search at another time, or that lead you down memory lane. The older I get, the more attractive memory lane seems to be, in some ways.

Many of the photo envelops include negatives, and some of the photos are pretty good. Some are from early in our marriage and include our cats of that time, Sebastian and Nefertitti, so they are of historical interest to us, at least. I was amused to see photos from our first back yard reno process, which included building a stone retaining wall and steps to the back door. The really amusing part is that I still not only had hair, but had a beard as well. This dates it to the very late 80's or early 90's. There may be earlier yet photos. 

I'm going to gradually work my way through the photos and digitize those that seem to be worth doing. Some may make it here, with suitable commentary. As a side note I'm not going to go to extraordinary lengths to make these photos perfect. I'll try to minimize dust spots and hair as I put the negatives on the glass, but I'm not going to obsess about it. I'll colour balance the photos, but I'm not going to clean them up. After all, these were taken by people who were not photographers, using a point and shoot camera with a plastic lens, on unknown film stock, with unknown settings, and developed by a lab that was processing and printing some large number of rolls of film per day. This is decidedly not an artesinal process.

Here's a few from the recent roll of black and white.

1. South Glenmore Park.





6. Big Hill Springs park, film from a walk with Sean a couple weeks ago.


8. Me. Almost none of my readers have seen me with this much hair. And Sebastian, the terror of the local cat neighbourhood.

9. The first back yard construction project in progress.

Serendipity from 2017.

Of the Day



River Reflections