My Favourite Window

November 12, 2011

Technical Report

It's raining in the Secret Garden - filling the ephemeral stream, making the grass grow... I am only just recovering from editing my last post.  Of course it was an emotionally draining exercise. I think everyone who has read it would appreciate that (many thanks for all the lovely comments and emails over the course of this week); but the business of sourcing material and making it sit on the page is both exhilerating and tedious.

So, as I slowly brought photos and text together, I was ready for this family gathering; this memorial picnic on Elwin's mortal anniversary. Here we are enjoying being together on that sunny Sunday afternoon last week - Elwin's curiously blended New Zealand family: both of his wives, his four daughters and his four grandchildren. 

I am acutely aware that the grandchildren did not make it into my micro-biography of Elwin.  I am also aware that one of the drawbacks of second-time-round fathering for him, was not being a truly active grandfather to Paul, Kelly, James and Nathan. However they all seem to delight in deferring to their young aunties - Bryony and Kitty - and have shown both of us love and support always.

One of the many memorable things that happened in Elwin's last living week, was Kelly's 21st birthday, celebrated on 1st November with a family dinner and just a few milestone photos taken, including this one of Kelly with her maternal grandparents.  Looking at this photo of Elwin now, I see that his tiredness and poor circulation is due, not so much to a good night out, but to a very worn out heart.

One of the last photos of Elwin then.  What a trip down memory lane it was for me searching through albums, 

photo packets,


and family records  as well as computer files.

Often I knew exactly which photo I wanted, but there were surprises too that made it hard to choose. 

For long-time followers of Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden, you will know that I have used old photographs to tell stories before now.  Handling them is a treat in itself,  while reading the hand written notes on the back (not enough of those), and wondering about the context of that moment-in-time is tantalising. On the back of the leading baby photo of Elwin is a written indication, maybe, that he had not yet been named after a favourite brother: the caption reads simply Harold's boy. And although I was familiar with little Elwin and his push-along elephant, it wasn't till I set it alongside text referring to Bridge St, Buckingham, that I realised that the eponymous bridge is there in the background, and that Elwin is playing outside his grandparents' front door.

How to get old photographs into my computer?  I realise that I should use my scanner, but the scanner so far has only given me black and white images looking exactly like early photo-copied photographs.

So I photograph the prints (and for Elwin's and Barbara's wedding shot, a slide projected onto a screen) with my digital camera for transfer to my computer.  For best results I need to capture them with diffuse daylight, and take a number of shots to be sure of a sharp image since my eyesight can't tell on the camera's screen. 

Someone like Owen of The Magic Lantern Show who sometimes posts print-photographs from his film camera days, will readily spot the cast of light and shadow, and ripple of paper in my photographed photos.  This process takes time, as I then edit the photos for use in my blog, but I enjoy doing it - working with the prints, handling with care, observing the way the light falls...
I do not enjoy placing photos and text on my blog.*@&!
I am not a computer programmer: I cannot "use HTML if you like."
I am a woman who grew up with pride in her copybook,

where I wrote and arranged illustrations with an eye to pleasing balance, placing elements of a story just as I wanted them - with pen and paper, and sometimes with the use of scissors and a pot of paste.

For the layout of In Memoriam I had intended to follow the form of my Blog anniversary post, where the photos sat more or less where I wanted them when I put the cursor at the point in the line where I wanted to insert the photo.  How is it that this no longer works?  The photos resolutely jump to the top of the page or some nearby gap.  Aaargh.  Is it silly to think that Blogger is neglecting me because they are developing their Dynamic Views format, and no longer maintain old-style formatting? 

Having managed to insert photos between lines, I could not then backspace the text that had moved itself down the depth of the photo without losing the photo.  I spent quite a lot of time stabbing in the dark over this, and for any eagle-eyed, repeat visitors to the post you may have noticed that some photos have indeed disappeared. It was just too chancy to try replacing them and losing others after I had added the early wedding photo retrospectively. I am not happy with the final look of Elwin's memorial post, and there are still a couple of photos that I want to add.  I would like to even out the text too.  Does it matter?  Probably not to my readers, but I would like to feel the satisfaction that I usually get after working on one of my complex posts - especially for the perfectionist in my life.

But since today is the anniversary of Elwin's holiday funeral I will close this post with another photograph of a photograph - from Elwin's sister Lizzie in England - of the coffin lid; a work in progress.

And for a reminder of a day that felt more like an intimate folk-festival than a funeral you can visit The Not-So-Secret- Garden


Steve said...

I am scanning photos too - hundreds and hundreds that I found filling several drawers in my grandfather's old house. I am not rushing the job... but rather taking my time and savouring it. Giving each photo the time it deserves. Trying to place it it time and family history. Seeing the old world through his eyes.

Jeneane said...

Well done you. Yes taking time is important and annotating might seem sacriligious, but without memories attached to them they become nothing but curios. And don't we know, being the grandchildren viewing the old photos, how fascinating they are. There's no reason why your boys' children and my grandchildren won't be as interested as you and me, in these family records.

the cuby poet said...

I was captivated by this post with the complex mix of photo/computer speak, happy thoughts with emotion woven through all the way to the end. Enjoyed the celebration of Elwin's life on the link post. Claire X

The Sagittarian said...

You're very clever, loving this blog verily!
All my old 'real' photos are still locked up for now, but one day I will have to begin the task of scanning them. My mother has a huge boxful of old photos which I want to name and date while she is still with us to help do so..and I know my brothers will never get round to doing that with her. I am really looking forward to that tho', the real trick will be her finding the time to devote it all to me and the photos on the day. She gets busy making felt, spinning and weaving and making paper etc I will have to book ahead! :-)

Jeneane said...

The Cuby Poet: I'm glad you appreciated and enjoyed this post, Claire. It was fun putting it together. I do enjoy weaving the old with the new and mechanics with emotion.

The Sagittarian: Gee thanks - glad you enjoyed it too. When you can eventually get to your own photos there will be a lot of poignant memories there. Your mother sounds wonderful with all her crafting. I began going through Mum's photos with her early this year, and found it was best just to take small amounts that came to hand rather than trying to be too orderly about it. You can order them later, getting the memories down is the vital thing.