A few pictures of Lowell, Massachusetts after the snow on 20 December 2009…
What time is it? Wintertime.
Boarding House Park
Tremont Gate House and Western Canal
Christmas at the Wannalancit Mills
Pursuant to a previous post, “Photo Backup Scheme,” I’ve settled on a scheme for editing the EXIF data in my digital photos (and sometime in the not-near future, my scanned film photos). The changes I make to EXIF data in my digital photos falls into three categories: (1) corrections; (2) identifying information; and (3) geodata.
Before I go on, don’t ask me why I do this. OK, I’ll tell you: it’s a sickness, a compulsion. These photos go further in telling my story than I do, so I want them to be correct. And I expect them to survive long after I’m dead, so want them to explain themselves without me. Yeah. Weird. Kirk Kittell: caveat emptor.
I use two tools to modify EXIF data:
The first thing I do before editing photos in ExifTool is create an edit folder within the album of interest. The photos that I want to modify go into the edit folder, and I run the ExifTool command on the entire folder. It’s much easier to do this than to work with individual photos. Also, if I screw up editing the EXIF data, it’s easier to undo the effects if I’ve just edited a subset of photos instead of the whole album.
(1) Corrections. The only corrections I make are to time. My first digital camera was sensitive when it ran out of batteries. If I pulled the batteries out to charge them, the camera would demand to have its time reset when I reinserted them. I didn’t always do this; I know this because some of my photos were apparently stamped as being taken in January 2004, almost a year before I got the camera, a Kodak CX7530 Zoom.
Each camera has its own set of native EXIF data, specific to the brand, sometimes further specific to the model (e.g., here is the list of Kodak tags). To fix the dates on the Kodak CX7530, I’d run this command:
exiftool “-DateTimeOriginal+=0:0:0 0:0:0” “-CreateDate+=0:0:0 0:0:0” “-YearCreated=0” “-MonthDayCreated=00:00” edit
DateTimeOriginal and CreateDate are general EXIF tags; YearCreated and MonthDayCreated are specific to Kodak.
(2) Identifying Information. Simply, I add information that identifies me as the owner, a general description of the photo, and copyright information.
exiftool “-Copyright=Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0” “-OwnerName=Kirk Kittell, http://kirkkittell.com” “-SerialNumber=0000000000″ -UserComment=”Saguaro National Park, Arizona” edit
Also, I learned from Patty Hankins that if someone uses your photo without permission, it helps to be able to identify it, which is why I’ve included the serial number.
(3) Geodata. Geotagger is very handy for this. Geotagger works with Google Earth: open Google Earth; center the view where the photo was taken; drag the subject photo into Geotagger; Geotagger adds latitude and longitude geodata to the digital photo.
If I take a photo from a plane window — which happens sometimes — I also add the altitude (in meters, which is the standard) via ExifTool.
exiftool -GPSAltitude=5000 edit
OK, how do I figure the altitude? I use bbTracker on my phone. bbTracker logs the GPS data on my BlackBerry 8310. If I take a photo out of the window, I make a note on the corresponding point in the track.
Hey, this is a late post on this topic, but it’s not like I’m running a high traffic site here. Here are my photos for Project 365 from a week ago. Tomorrow I’ll post photos from this week, thus completing a manipulation of space-time by separating a week by a day. Or whathaveyou.
All in a Day’s Work
For Johnson Space Center’s Safety and Total Health Day, there were a number of booths and demonstrations, including this one by Clear Lake Kuk Sool Won. I think I’d like martial arts such as this. But. I don’t think I’ll be in the area long enough to really get into the groove.
I’m obsessed with the idea of how to backup the digital life that I’ve strewn across the internet and also accumulated on my laptop. Last year — and I suppose this year also, if I turned it on — my laptop was dying. When I was at ISU in France in summer 2006, I fell asleep on my laptop and busted the adapter. After two years with a power adapter borrowed from a European computer, the cord melted, sparks flew, etc. Naturally, I blame the French.
How to back up photos has taken the bulk of my archival brainpower. If my laptop died, the worst possible scenario is that all of my digital photos that weren’t burned onto CDs would be annilihated. It would be selfishly devastating. Maybe that sort of thing doesn’t keep you up at night, but I worry about it. It’s not the loss of property that worries me — it’s the loss of history that worries me. What I’ve seen is what I’ve become. I’d like you and others to see it as well, if only out of my own narcissistic tendencies (i.e., please tell me my photos are amazing).
The system I’ve developed for myself goes as follows. The basic idea is to (1) keep the whole of the photos in multiple places so they can’t be destroyed in a single oops moment; (2) put the best out there where others can enjoy them.
1) photos.kirkkittell.com. All of the digital photos that I’ve ever taken are backed up online at photos.kirkkittell.com. You can’t see them all. For every set that I add to Flickr, I unlock the corresponding album on photos.kirkkittell.com. There are a lot of junk photos there; there’s a reason they weren’t all added to Flickr. The photos are all open for rating, so perhaps the cream will eventually rise to the top. Or not. I don’t care. The purpose of photos.kirkkittell.com is solely backup, not entertainment.
2) Flickr. I try to add only my most interesting photos to my Flickr account. The truth is: the more photos there are, the fewer you will see. Too many is overwhelming. That’s why the number of photos in my Flickr account is decreasing even though I’m adding new photos every week. I’m separating the chaff, which will still be visible at photos.kirkkittell.com.
3) Panoramio. I really like Panoramio, though it is not as full-featured as Flickr. Panoramio is cool because you geotag your photos, and if they’re selected by the staff, they show up in Google Earth. As a geophile, I enjoy scanning the Panoramio layer in Google Earth, getting a feel for what the places actually look like.
4) Panoramas. (Not to be confused with Panoramio.) For years, I’ve been taking shots that I later wanted to stitch together into panoramas. Finally, in October, I discovered hugin to do this. And I’ve been on a roll since then: see my panoramas on Flickr.
That said, I’ve been working slowly through my old photos. It’s a long process. My goal is to process one album of photos every week. At this rate, it will probably be a year, maybe two, before I finish. It takes time to add tags, descriptions, geographic locations where the photos were snapped, etc. Some of this is easy: editing the information on Flickr; some of this is difficult: editing the EXIF data on the photos.
So far, I’ve completed three albums this year:
|Big Bend National Park, 26-28 January 2005
|Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 28-29 January 2005
|Saguaro National Park, 30 January 2005
Conclusion: “Yes! I am inveenceeble!”
Postscript: Hey, Ben, the next album out of the showroom will be for you: life in Mojave.
This week, I focused on taking 15 second exposures for my Project 365 photos. Some of them turned out pretty good — I like “The Tower” and “New World.” It would be a lot easier if I owned a tripod; instead, most of these photos are shot from ground level with my camera propped on my bag. The long exposures have a cool effect on the scenery — especially when there are clouds in the background.
(Secretly, I really like the “Hurricane Freezer” shot.)
Twenty-five straight days of Project 365 and no sign of slowing down yet…
Building 1, NASA Johnson Space Center
My name is Kirk and I am addicted to making panoramas such as this. Look at this photo in full resolution. You can practically read the things on the desks. (Just kidding, Security.)
Clear Lake Panorama.
A panorama at sunset from the Lockheed Martin building on Space Park Drive. (This newer Clear Lake panorama looks better.)
Hey, add me as a contact on Flickr. If you want to. No pressure.
You know what keeps me sane here in Houston? Not much. But I found something recently: the Project 365 group on Flickr. It’s a simple concept: take one picture every day and post it to the group.
Participating has been a surprising amount of fun so far, despite the short distance I cover during a given day; I live 1 km from work and I walk the same route every day, three times a week I go for a run, three times a week I go to the gym, once a week I go to the grocery store. Within those boundaries I only take my camera with me to work and back, so I have about a 1 km stretch twice a day along Space Park Drive to find a shot that moves me. I have not been disappointed so far. By looking for a view to share with the Project 365 group, I have to keep my eyes open every day along a well traveled trail — the kind of trail that would, generally, fail to keep my attention. Now the street has my full concentration. By transitive property, a little bit more of life has my full concentration. Through small, insignificant steps, I will extract myself from these doldrums yet.
So. Here are the photos that I took during week 2009-W02:
And, as a special New Years bonus, here are the other four photos from the first week in January:
Connect with me on Flickr: kittell.
Also: I’m testing WordPress Flickr plugins on this post. See
kittell.tumblr.com/post/69765284 if you have any opinions about Flickr plugins for WordPress that I can use here.