Tuesday, June 17, 2014

memory keeper

You don't take a photograph, you make it.
Ansel Adams

A year ago I bought a camera; my first DSLR. It also happened to be my first single lens reflex camera of any kind. I carefully inspected my dad's Canon SLR from 1978 (the A-1, Canon's a runaway best seller) before finally deciding which camera I should purchase for myself. Even though I can't convert his SLR over to digital, I can convert his lenses. But that's something I may do some day far into the future.

For now, I live in two worlds: the world of digital photography and the world of print photography. I have two different cameras to serve me in these parallel domains. I have two different media. Actually, I have three. I grew up with my father making slides. He even had a mount for his SLR. He'd set the camera up over the open reference book and shoot textbook photos for slides. This is how he gave presentations up until about two years ago. Then he switched to PowerPoint. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the sound of the slide carriage advancing.

I was home vising my family two months ago when my Aunts came over to go through my grandmother's old boxes. My grandmother passed away 20 years ago, and my dad had stored all her possessions in our crawl space. All her remaining possessions fit into two storage boxes. It took us hours just to go through one box.

My grandmother is the student in the middle of the first row.

What did we find? Important documents, memorabilia, sentimental letters, and many photos. But mostly we found slides. 

We also found a lot of photos in terrible condition. But I couldn't just throw them away. I'll fix them up, I thought, as I put them in my keep pile. I planned to bring them back to San Francisco with me, scan them, and make them beautiful again. 


This is how far I've gotten fixing our old family photos. I don't know how to use Photoshop. I don't have a fancy computer. Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing. But I know I have to keep trying. Because what if it works? What if it turns out technology can not just preserve, but also save, old memories? These memories are so old, the people who actually lived them have long since passed. My grandfather passed away over 33 years ago, his parents long before him. I now have in my possession photos of his parents' parents, going back hundreds of years. 

My great-great-grandmother. Don't get on her bad side.

So what am I fixing the photos for, when all I have are faded photos and hundreds of negatives? How do I even know what I've got? Scanning negatives as a novice is not easy. I'm getting the hang of it, but there are a lot of photos go to through.

In the midst of discovering what is on these negatives, I know that I've got someone's memories. I'll keep going through the negatives until I've scanned them all and seen what's still there. Because somehow these are my memories now too, even if they occurred long before I was born. Unlike digital photos, there is information scrolled on the backside of the photos; names and dates and even phone numbers. I know who, when, and where I'm looking at. What better time is there to make these memories my own as well?

My great-grandmother        The backside of the photo

I'm going to have to score +1 for the real deal photos. And thank my grandmother for keeping them tucked safely away among her most cherished possessions. I can't say I treat any of my digital photos with the same care. I still cherish actual old family photos. So, dust off your photos and look at them. And just because they aren't in good condition, or were overexposed, don't throw them away. Because you have memories that are often worth holding on to. And ones worth discovering; those that you didn't even know existed until now.

More family photos found in the box, restored by yours truly

My Dad's family

Aunt Ferne's graduation

Aunt Robin

Dad's family on vacation

Monday, June 2, 2014

app obsession

I have too many mobile apps on my phone. Or perhaps I don't have enough phone memory. Either way, I frequently find myself running low on phone space. Because I like apps. Well, to be more specific, I like the concept of apps. I like learning about new apps. I like searching for new apps. I like reading reviews of new apps.

Oxford Dictionary Definition of an App

But then I never actually use these apps. Okay, it's not true to say that I NEVER use the apps. I like Yelp. And Facebook. And Instagram. But have I even once opened Yerdle? No. But I might. You never know, it could come in handy. I might suddenly decide to trade something online. So, I'll just keep the app for now.


But I'm running out of memory. Darn 16GB iPhone. Why must I have to delete a selection of already downloaded apps? What if some day my contacts all move to TextMe and I'm behind because I don't have it? Or what if I really want to use Khan Academy and I can't just type "Khan Academy" into a browser on my phone? What will I do then? It'll be a godsend that I already downloaded the app. Wait, what folder did I place it in again? Eeh, I'll just go to Safari and type in the website. This is fastest, and I already have Safari open...

Which begs the question: Are apps even all that important? Or do they just make my phone look busy? And pretty? I have at least 50 apps I'll never use. I'm not exaggerating. I won't join Yerdle. Or TextMe. Or even Blinkist. But I just read about Blinkist. It's supposed to be awesome. If only I could remember what the app does. Oh well, I'll just leave it on my phone for now.

Blinkist: An app about books, maybe? Or blinking?

I checked online to see if my behavior is out of the ordinary. It turns out I am just like all other mobile technology users. Yahoo says that, "between 80 and 90 percent of apps are downloaded, used once, and eventually deleted by users. But deletion often comes only when your device is performing so poorly that a massive overhaul is necessary." Good thing I still have my Yahoo app to research my behavior.

I think it's time to bite the bullet and delete some of these never been used apps. It's true that too many apps slow down your phone. So, goodbye Lens Ink Free. I have no use for you, Symbol. Ohh, but Symbol offers accents. So maybe I won't delete them just yet. I no longer need Cell Splat (I never did), but I'll keep Words with Friends. In my case, it should just be called Words with Mother. She's the only person I play.

And I am not allowing myself to download any new apps this month. Ooh, but I just read really good reviews on the Royal Baby App. So maybe just that one is okay. I'll use it for sure. Princess Kate may be having twins.

You can download the royal baby app here: http://royal-baby-app.en.softonic.com/iphone