A Photographic Recovery

Way back in 2006 I had the chance to go to Death Valley with a friend. He brought his nice film camera and I borrowed a digital camera that, while I had used before, was not that familiar with.

I committed one of the cardinal sins of photography. I did not look at any of my settings before I started shooting.

The photos were of lower resolution than the camera was capable of, and, even worse, had a time stamp across the bottom corner. Here is one of the shots.

A Photographic Stick in the Sand, 2006, original res with timestamp version
A Photographic Stick in the Sand, 2006, original res with timestamp version

These files have sat for (checks calendar) let’s just say a long time on my computer. I had not the heart to delete them, but they were still a disappointment.

You see. Death Valley is beautiful. If you ever get the chance, go. Even if it is hot (bring water!) It is worth it. And yes, the experience was still with me, but I had still wanted to have some nice photos to go along with it.

Well. Here we are in 2023. I had recently purchased Photomator for the Mac. (There is another post here about me searching for a solution for my photos, but later) I’d used it on my phone for a few years, and decided to give it a go due to how great Pixelmator Pro was.

As I was playing around with the app, the tools and the interface I found myself back in 2006 with these photos. So, starting with the repair tool, I gave it a shot. And was amazed.

  • Repair removed the timestamp from a good number of images without too much compromise.
  • Super resolution upscaled the image from 1280 X 960 to 3840 x 2880
  • The ML Tools and some color adjustments corrected the older camera’s issues

And they look great, take a look at the same picture.

A Photographic Stick in the Sand, edited 2023, higher res and color corrected
A Photographic Stick in the Sand, edited 2023, higher res and color corrected

Are they as good as they could have been had I actually paid attention to the settings on the camera? No1. Are they good enough that I am now happy with them and am going to post them to my Flickr 15 years later? Absolutely.

I know these tools aren’t new, especially for you Photoshop experts. Which, I am not. It is more the ease and the integration with the rest of my workflow that brought these to my fingers (without a subscription cost).

And perhaps a willingness to do alterations to my photos I had not previously considered. (Afraid of, perhaps, crossing the line from “edited” to “modified”)

There is a happy epilogue to this, as I was able to get to Death Valley this year with my nice camera and I was very careful with settings. (I did forget my wide angle lens, however. Maybe next time…)

Black and White picture of Badwater, Death Valley, 2023, scaled to 50% to reduce size
Black and White picture of Badwater, Death Valley, 2023, scaled to 50% to reduce size

  1. Technically the camera had a 5 MP sensor with a RAW resolution of 2560 x 1920. BUT, I believe the natural output would have been better than an upscaled one. Also these photos were JPG, as I had not yet taken the leap to RAW. ↩︎

Baby, There’s a Bull Outside

When I think of the song “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” I also often think of the bull on wall street.

The Charging Bull of Wall Street is a 7,000 lbs bronze statue that was installed in the middle of the night without permission, raging against the crash of 1987. It was to represent “the courage and the willpower of Americans against the greed of Wall Street1.”

Then Fearless Girl showed up in March of 2017 and completely changed the meaning of the piece. Now the bull wasn’t the oppressed, but the oppressor. Now the American people, the American future, was represented by a child, standing her ground against it, unflinching.

The Bull’s artist, Di Modica, was not happy. The placement of the girl had changed the meaning of his work2.

There is a very interesting discussion there about art and boundaries. Can one change the meaning of another’s work? What is the right, the responsibility, of one artist who makes a piece that connects to another and changes completely the original artist’s intent?

And yet, with “Baby it’s Cold Outside” that’s exactly what Time itself has done. Yes, there is much discussion about the origins, which are progressive and feminist. The fact that the two singers are in harmony is also a huge part as well. This isn’t a single phrase, nor just dialogue, but a song, and all parts work together.

But that doesn’t change what Time has done to the phrase “…what’s in this drink?” Once a playful joke, is now a very real danger faced by millions of women. The man who doesn’t take no for an answer. The decision between the snow and the sleepover. All of these things ring to a different sound now.

Which makes the analogy to the Bull and to the drink complete. If you view the Bull alone, as raging against the greed of 1987, it will look different than if you stand back and see the Fearless Girl standing defiantly in front of it.

“Baby it’s Cold Outside” is both progressive and problematic, based more on where you are standing than anything else.

So like it. Or don’t. Just make sure you look at the whole picture first.

  1. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/charging-bull.asp ↩︎
  2. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-charging-bull-sculptor-fearless-girl-20170412-story.html ↩︎

A Fedi-Moving Day

I used Calckey as my primary fediverse server for 6 months. There were things I enjoyed about it, and then some things not so much.

I use YUNOHost for my backend, and due to that, was not able to update from Calckey to Firefish. I started looking into what I could do, but most the advice I saw dissuaded the changing of the server software on the same URL.

Near the end, most of the profile images were not loading. I was getting constant “Retry?” prompts, and errors and reloads.

Calckey is a pretty good software suite based on Misskey which too is pretty good. So I am pretty sure this was more on my end than theirs.

Still, with the errors, constantly reloading, it was time to move on.

I am not able to get YNH to install Mastodon. So I kept looking. Pleroma was there. I set up a test server and loaded my follows and gave it a week to play around with.

I prefer the Calckey UI. However, after I found the themes and played with them some, Pleroma grew on me more.

What it did bring to the table was the ability to use apps on my phone. The Calckey PWA did not meet my needs.

Calckey is fighting until the end, however. I am writing this stuck in a “Rate Exceeded” issue where I can’t move my account yet because the server won’t let me. Which is frustrating because I am, in fact, the server admin.

My pleroma is currently themed to look like Windows 95, something I am apparently still nostolgic for. Hopefully soon moving day will be complete.