Friday, 29 April 2011


While the world goes mad, swooning over the nonsense taking place in London today, I have nonetheless been grateful for (yet another) day off work, so I can get on with putting together a book of my "university walls & windows" photographs.

It's a severe discipline, editing a picture sequence. Matches which seemed made in heaven must be put asunder (sorry, for some reason marriage vocabulary is leaking into my brain from somewhere) in the interests of the wider whole. Some favourite images won't make the final cut, because they don't fit, or seem to send the sequence in unwanted directions -- an image can actually be too good or too self-contained for a book.

This is a screen shot of me using BookSmart this afternoon, the (free) Blurb book composition software (yes, I am still using Windows XP at home). It makes the whole business of viewing page spreads and sequences so much easier. I used to make 6"x4" prints and assemble them in a "landscape" slip-in photo album, and it was a lot of work. Worst of all, it worked against wanting ever to change your mind, once parts of the book were assembled -- the frustration of simply moving everything up a page was immense. It reminded me of work in the days before PCs (ever typed an office memo with carbon-paper copies? Those were not the days). With BookSmart you can tinker endlessly.

I have a pool of 400 plus photographs to draw on: of these, about 150 are in the "select" category, i.e. resized and saved as JPEG files, ready for use in BookSmart. As I think I've said before, I'm keen to keep the book to 80 pages (it will keep the price down) and am using paired, facing images. That means the final book will have something like 100 images in it, which is a lot.

Both of these are useful constraints. It's too easy to let a book grow into a baggy monster by simply adding more and more. Also, creating suitable pairs and then ordering them into a satisfying order demands a lot more attention to the flow and "narrative" of the book than the usual "blank page / photo / blank page / photo" arrangement, not least because the book's viewers will have no choice but to notice that I'm up to something a little more sophisticated than just shovelling the pictures in. I hope so, anyway. I suspect most photo-book users pay little or no attention to the ordering of the images, which is a pity, given the effort that will have gone into it.

So, I'm set for the extra long weekend, and almost hoping for rain. An odd stretch of days this, with royalist pomp and circumstance at one end and May Day marches at the other. I must re-read Guy Debord's "The Society of the Spectacle" sometime soon...


Gavin McL said...

Well no rain yet round here but I hope the matchmaking goes well.

It's a while since I last commented we've been on holiday and then dealing with the aftermath - you begin to wonder why you bother.

Ecclesiastes is very quotable, though I know none by heart apart and I had to leaf through our copy to dig it out.
After being brought up on the new testament in RE lessons Ecclesiastes is a bit of a shock, but a good one.
I liked your photos from the borders - the angel especially. I pass through a cemetery on the way to work and I have tried to take photos of the angels that dot the site but have never really been successful.
Look forward to the book - must try harder on my own projects -taking some photos would be a start I suppose

test word "perizes" - this may bode well for mirrors windows walls


Mike C. said...


Ah, took me a while to work out, but you mean "perizes" as in "what do perpoints mean?" I think I'd be happy with a few "sersales" ...