21 November 2011

Sepia Saturday 102: Fish Tales

Chet Warwick and the one that didn't get away. Photographer unknown.

While I would love to tell a 'fish tale,' Chet Warwick actually caught the one that got away! When I heard of his fishing adventures, I suspected 'fish tales' -- these must be over-blown stories. His wife’s anecdotes of high waves, broken-down motors and remote bays were all confirmed by his sons. His sons were a mix of willing and unwilling participants.

I would definitely have been an unwilling participant -- I have caught two 'trophy' fish.  These are my only catches (not counting my husband). The first was a sucker (not my husband). I begged mercy and the fish was reluctantly released. (Don't tell the Fish and Game Wardens.)

My next fish was a real trophy - at least in dollars or memories per pound. Five days, four people, four out-of-state fishing licenses, two white-striped bass --  one caught by me!  Fish weight....  I think they were over the limit. (Don't tell the Fish and Game Wardens.) Enjoying canoeing all day; roasting fish over the fire with my husband and parents; listening to the 'Grand Canyon Suite' bouncing off the cliffs in a bay on Lake Powell; priceless!

And now I leave you to go fishing for more tales at Sepia Saturday 102.

Chester Arthur 'Chet' Warwick (1903-1973) was my grandfather. He was a jeweler by trade and a fisherman by heart.

17 November 2011

Sepia Saturday 101: The Honeymoon Hitch

Amaryllis 'Mern' Hopkins, February 1952

There is something enticing about vintage cars especially when filled with intriguing passengers - in this case, my mother sporting a walking cast. (Every time I see this photo I have to wonder if my mother actually drove the car with that cast!)

Amaryllis 'Mern' (Hopkins) Warwick
Chester Arthur Warwick
ca 1953

My mother and father were avid skiers. I suspect their wedding date was chosen with the spring skiing season in mind. But fate would put a hitch in their honeymoon plans - at least the skiing part. My mother broke her ankle shortly before her wedding day.  She actually walked down the aisle wearing the cast so prominently displayed in the photograph above. There are no wedding pictures commemorating her hobble down the aisle, making this picture even more precious. Mom always related her wedding story with a smile as broad and infectious as the one in the photograph.

Mern Warwick, March 1952, Honeymoon

For more posts inspired by the photograph below, see Sepia Saturday 101.

11 November 2011

Sepia Saturday 100: Thanks for the Memories!

When Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen launched Sepia Saturday 100 weeks ago, their expectations were for a short run, perhaps through the Christmas holidays. One hundred weeks later, Sepia Saturday is still going strong thanks to the inspirational photos that Alan finds each week. The collage consists of the photographs that have inspired 25-35 bloggers to share their own photos, memories and stories each week. It was a joy to see the photographs that came before I started with Sepia Saturday 89.  Here's to another 100 weeks!  Thank you Kat and Alan!

For other images and stories inspired by 100, check out Sepia Saturday 100.


Unfortunately, the collage does not allow you to enjoy the images used in its creation. This video is nearly 11 minutes in length and features 93 of the 100 Sepia Saturday photos. Small image sizes were used in the hope that it would facilitate viewing, but it does make for rather small images that are best not viewed full screen. A few images were no longer available online. The video is set to 'Brilliante,' from Claude Bolling's Suite for Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Piano Trio.  A fitting theme for the brilliant idea behind Sepia Saturday. True to form, Sepia Saturday has me trying new things!

08 November 2011

Tech Tuesday: Scanning Documents - Getting it Right the First Time

October was the first time I participated in ScanFestScanFest takes the drudgery out of scanning as you chat while you work and since much of the work of scanning is done by the computer, it is nice to have someone to 'talk' to while you wait. It is particularly fun to see images of the photographs that people are scanning!  November's ScanFest will be on November 20 at 11 am PST.

My goal at ScanFest was to scan some archival original letters and family documents.  Since there are many of these that will need to be scanned, I also wanted to set up a scanning profile that would give good results without needing to do touch-ups later in photo-editing software.  This is not a strategy recommended for photos.

One of the more important tips came from Brett Payne of Photo-Sleuths who suggested using a backing sheet when scanning photos.  This technique was also invaluable for scanning documents as it makes the edges of the paper more prominent removing any doubt that the scan might not be a complete image of the original.

Most scanners have profiles that can be set and saved for a particular task.  For archival documents, the base settings I used were:

Output resolution: 300 ppi
Output Type:  Color
File Type:  TIF
Save to File:  My Scans > Date
Base File Name: STR_DOC_00001 (with automatic incrementing set for subsequent scans)
No sharpening

In the scanner software, I was able to make these settings the default for one of the scan buttons.  Scanning in color was recommended by the other participants in ScanFest and also in Ctein's Digital Restoration from Start to Finish.  A relatively low output resolution was used since it is unlikely these items will ever be used in a print publication - the few that might were scanned at 600 ppi.

The TIF file format was chosen because it is a popular loss-less format that is likely to be supported by most applications.  Should I wish to post to the internet, converting the file from a TIF file to a JPG file is easily done in Lightroom and most other photo editing and cataloging programs.  Since I use cataloging software to manage my digital collection, I chose not to use descriptive names for the items.

Without making any other adjustments, the settings resulted in the following scan (converted here to jpg and 75 ppi):

The image fairly closely matches the original but is actually lighter and brighter! Navigating to the Lighten/Darken settings in the scanner, there were several corrections being automatically applied by the scanner:  Highlights 35, Shadows -16, Midtones 0, Gamma 1.8.  Resetting highlights to 0 produced an infinitely better image.  Resetting shadows to 0 had minimal effect. 

Gamma optimizes the contrast and brightness of the midtones in the image.  From past experience, changing the gamma settings can often make it easy to read even the lightest documents without overly darkening the entire image.  Small adjustments to gamma settings can make big changes in the image.

Resetting gamma to 1.5 (.3 lower) and all the other settings to 0 produced a much more legible image and removed the glare that was present in the default scan.  The image below is nearly identical to the original.  For this scan, it would not have been necessary to reset the gamma.  The ink had faded more in some of the other documents and the gamma had to be set even lower to get a legible scan.

The remainder of the documents were scanned by resetting the automatic corrections to 0 and adjusting the gamma to make the document legible - no subsequent image adjustments required!

If you have any tips or tricks to make scanning archival documents faster, better or quicker, please share them in the comments!

04 November 2011

Sepia Saturday 99: Fiddling Around

Chester Arthur Warwick, far right, ca 1923-1933, photographer unknown, probably Columbus, Ohio
Pictured at far right is Chester Arthur Warwick (1903-1973) fiddling around on his banjo. The photo was probably taken ca 1923-1933 based on Chester's age at the time (20s). There is not a violin in sight.  But, when it was time for my sister to choose an instrument to play, a violin emerged from Grandpa Warwick's attic. This was very fortunate for my sister who put it to excellent and delightful use.

Violin would not have been my first choice of instrument though I didn't really think about it much at the time. A violin was available and it was always assumed that I would play it. I found practicing violin more torture than pleasure. (Who wants to listen to yourself screech when you could listen to your virtuoso sister!) Once a piece was learned and you could actually play it, now that was heaven on earth.

My first recital is indelibly written in my memory and preserved on film as well. I can still remember my knees shaking and am thankful that no video or audio recording remains!  I made it through the piece but only because Mrs. Rumberg relinquished at the last minute and allowed me to use my music.

Liz Stratton, Mrs. Rumberg's Recital, Longmont, Colorado
Over time, Mrs. Rumberg learned how to insure my pieces were memorized before the annual recital. No waltzes or marches! She sent me home with 'gypsy' music, La Traviata.  Only much later did I realize the music was from an opera!  Now, what exactly was Mrs. Rumberg trying to tell me with her choice of opera?

Sepia Saturday 99  features a photograph depicting a troop of musicians including a few fiddlers. Had such a 'gypsy' ensemble been one of the school's musical groups, I would, no doubt, have practiced my school music more! For other takes on this musical theme, see Sepia Saturday.

01 November 2011

Opening Day 3: Dear Diary ...

Each month I open, catalog and archive a box of memorabilia.  Box 3 contains diaries dating  from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  I've done some work with these diaries and love the additional detail they provide.  It is time the contents were scanned and properly archived.

On Opening Day 1, I demonstrated a technique for making a record of box contents by photographing as you unpack.  It was an infinite improvement over trying to describe each item!  But, one of the drawbacks is that some items had loose papers inside.  No problem as the location of the item can be recorded during the scanning process.  But, since archival storage materials were determined during opening day, the unique needs of the inserts were not taken into account.

Stream-lining the process, for each diary, I first photographed the lead page of the diary indicating the year.  I then removed loose papers from the diary and photographed them.   Loose papers were then placed flat in an archival quality folder labeled with the diary year and author.  Before the final archiving, some items will have to be stored  separately - newsprint is notorious for causing problems.  If a particular item is deemed worthy of scanning, the scan will replace the photograph in my digital catalog (see Creating an Archival Finding Aid with your Digital Cataloging Software).  Below is an example of the photograph catalog of one diary.

The value of the receipts and other diary inserts is easy to underestimate.  Having worked with these diaries before, it is critical to know that Jack was a dog!  I might not have thought to include dog licenses before beginning to transcribe the diaries.  It is impossible to predict what will be important.

Already I am thinking about the next steps.  For diaries, digitization questions hinge more on what to scan than complex scanning issues.  The items in the diaries include newspaper clippings, paper and stamps.  There are some interesting storage considerations.  Finally the fun part!  There are many different ways that people have shared diaries - publish (online or in print) or only share with family? annotate transcriptions or not?  print or not?  complete or partial transcription?

If you have any recommendations on diaries or have seen any great examples of diaries in print (online or offline), please share them in the comments.