Friday, February 07, 2014

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

  We are sweltering in a long, long hot spell down here in Oz right now; too hot to be doing thinky things like paleography. So I have embarked on the Great Flickr Project to put all my medieval photographs somewhere in cyberspace, caption and annotate them, organise them into something coherent and useful, and perhaps revive some of my old projects on medieval visual culture. I mean, how hard is it? It's just a bit of digital image jiggerypokery, updating my ever so complete database, doing a bit of sorting and recataloguing, and lo and behold, I will have a smorgasbord of medieval feastery  to play with. Easy peasy.
  The photographs, mainly from Britain but also some from the Continent, were taken during the course of a number of extended visits over the years, but all in the days before digital photography was a goer. I had a reasonably good SLR kit, but it was really urban guerilla photography. Certain sites banned tripods and/or flash and sometimes you had to be pretty quick on your feet. I used slide film, so what was in the box was what was in the box.
  They have been digitised and databased over the years, so I know what they all are (mostly), but they are in totally random order, batched in folders of around 100 images because that was what you could put on a CD-ROM. Coherent sets of images are scattered all over the place, but that doesn't matter because I've got a database, you see.
  It's been great fun upgrading the quality of the images to compensate for having to take the original photographs in a variety of bodgy lighting conditions, trying to do long exposures by bracing myself against a pillar with my shoulders, with knees bent and elbows tucked in. I'm sure some church and castle visitors thought I was practising some strange antipodean form of yoga. But the results give some satisfaction. I can even correct those ones where I slightly lost my sense of verticality. Terrible temptation to sit fiddling with the digital dials to just get it a little bit better.
  Of course, the database isn't quite as comprehensive and detailed as it might be. That means some time spent googling around to get more information. The pictures were taken some years ago, and things have happened. Discovered to my horror that one church I had visited had completely burned out not long afterwards. A quick check of stats says I have over 5500 images in my database, not all of which are mine but mostly. I have currently uploaded 140 and used 0.00053% of my allowed 1 terabyte of Flickr. So far they are all of misericords and other bits of church woodwork. I gotta work faster!

  Meanwhile, does anybody recognise this dude? Not all databases are perfect. Check out here every so often and see how I'm getting along. Maybe the paleography would be easier after all.


DaveP said...

Re identifying images?
Watch this then take a look at google images. Just upload the pic to google and it tries to id it?


Dianne said...

Good thought. I didn't know you could do that. Unfortunately, the only images it came up with were copies of the one on this blog. The similar images included a strange assortment of monochrome brownish beige subjects, including a lion cub, an archaeological site and an aerial shot of river terraces. Perhaps I have a shot of a totally unknown misericord.
Still, a useful tip to file for another occasion. Thanks for the information.