The picture habit: On 37,000 pictures in three years after a week of bad pictures

Hotel Dossier with Nick’s American lads, the second bar of the night, having realized I had not remembered to take even one picture that day.

This week was packed and long in a way I haven’t had to deal with in a while. One day started at 7a and went to 10p, schedule filled the entire time. Another went from 8a to 11p, with a 20 minute break that went to someone else’s problem. Yesterday was a mere “start at 8:00, go to 5:30” day, but the cumulative sleep loss and churn of the week made it a day to be gotten through, not won, punctuated by doubling back on things that should have been handled but simply had not been.

I have been trying to re-cultivate the habit of having a camera with me and looking for opportunities to take pictures, but when I finally got to take a look at the haul from the past three days I could see the slow leak of energy and remembered how I was settling on things to shoot because the few minutes I could scrape together to do that didn’t involve giving myself the time to sink into the shooting groove.

So it was sort of hard to sit there last night with the iPad and swipe through the pictures I did get, taking a stab at making something out of them and realizing there just wasn’t anything there. Ideas I sort of knew were not a great idea were glaringly not great ideas. Fatigue and being hurried meant I hadn’t paid attention to the technical merits, so no amount of cropping or reconsidering could make images I was happy with.

At the same time, I had that recent experience of going back and counting how many pictures I’ve taken since my interest in photography was rekindled several years back–37,000 images give or take in about three years. And then I look at the places where I keep the pictures I like and see a few hundred and consider all their siblings: The almost-but-not-quites, the ones I thought were the good ones that turned out not to be, the bad ideas, the good ideas poorly executed. Then I see the other pattern: The places I go back to over and over, either because something didn’t work the first time but I knew there had to be something in there, or because something finally worked after not working and I wanted to go back and figure out what. Every place has a combination of time and perspective that elevate it. If I were great at taking pictures, maybe I’d be able to see those things without being in the right place at the right time, but as it is I have just taken to following the advice “be the person who goes back.”

Anyhow, 37,000 images, most of which I don’t like at all. Just me trying to figure things out, either as a matter of technical skill, mastering the device that’s taking the picture;or vision, being in the right place at the right time and seeing the right things; or craft, taking something that wasn’t very well thought out and drawing a good image out of it. It’s all just practice.

Sometimes the practice is capturing the right thing at the right time. Sometimes the practice is finding the right thing out of the wrong thing. Sometimes the practice is just making myself sit with the things that can’t ever be the right thing and letting them teach me as much as they can before I set them aside.

AppleScript has always been my vice

There was something I was supposed to be doing, and then there was the ugly reality that after I moved everything back over to WordPress, some of the images were lolling out of the margins of the primary column and a bunch of posts were categorized as “Uncategorized.”

At first I was content to just plod along with a canned BBEdit search/replace. Then it was tedious to click on the search box. Then it was irritating that there was something wrong with the way MarsEdit and BBEdit were talking.

The really lovely part of it all, though, when I got completely snagged on trying to turn what BBEdit calls “grep search” into AppleScript, was remembering that BBEdit is a really, really well behaved AppleScript citizen. I just had to click the record button in Script Editor, perform the actions I wanted to script, then click the stop button, and there was an AppleScript I only had to tweak a little. Then I saved it in BBEdit’s Scripts folder, gave it a keyboard shortcut, and all is well.

Some settling may have occurred

IMG 0610
Foster Floodplain Natural Area, Portland

Micro.blog was great, as it turns out, for getting the stick out of my ass about blogging again, while also presenting enough limitations that I decided I wanted to go back to something with a few more publishing affordances.

I learned that I wanted to be able to just squirt a photo or a slightly longer thought off into the ether; and that I also wanted to be able to sit down and have a longer thought. I learned that for the former use case, I’d be happy with not a lot of niceties.

It also gave me a lot to mess around with this weekend. Still cleaning some things up but you can go back four or five pages in the history and it’s not horrific.