This past week my happy little household (em, excuse me, “mansion”) was host to some friends from out of state. Included in this gathering was a lovely almost-three-year-old little girl who I knew would need a trip to our local butterfly house at the Cox Arboretum. I have not been there myself, but thought this a good time to make the trip. After all, what child doesn’t like butterflies? And for me it would be a chance to drag along the camera kit and snap lovely after lovely picture of these gorgeous insects. In addition, as the Butterfly Festival starts in less than a week I assumed the butterfly house would be rife with picture opportunities. However, as this blog has repeatedly intimiated, Mother Nature cannot be trusted.
We toddled along, as one does with a three-year-old in tow, and took in the lovely surrounds of the park. I stopped to snap a picture here and a picture there and grew ever so excited about the pending foray into the house of butterflies. We eventually arrived, made our way inside and were what? What is the best word or phrase to describe the moment? Underwhelmed? Disappointed? Irritated? Desiring to take Mother Nature by the neck and throttle her till she turned blue? Well, any of these words would suffice so I’ll leave it to you to select the one you wish.
I think you could count the number of butterflies on one hand. Certainly no more than two. Disaster. Debacle. What three year old would be beside herself with glee and excitement when the butterflies were more rare than honesty in the current White House administration? And FORGET about the three year old….what about me! What was I going to photograph? I had dragged my kit around in the rather unpleasant heat and humidity of this particular day just so that I would get glorious pics of wonderful and possibly exotic Lepidoptera. But no. Once again Mother Nature had shown herself for what she truly is: one mean chick! Still. I didn’t come away completely empty handed, which is something I suppose.
Of course, the insanity didn’t just end there. No. That would have been way too easy. However, in all fairness this particular instance of insanity was completely self-induced and in no way related to that bitch, Mother Nature. (unless, of course, you consider that I am really nothing more than a somewhat domesticated beast of nature and, therefore, directly related to that spiteful Mother Nature) Today I transferred the image files from my camera’s media card to my laptop, where I was going to review them and select the ones for upload to Flickr. As has been my trend of late, I worked with the RAW image files instead of the JPEGs. I reviewed each image, made the necessary corrections (very little really – a few tilts, but a fair bit of cropping), and thought about performing a batch operation to create JPEG files at the requisite file size that I use for upload to flickr (1024 x 683 pixels). Normally I use two different apps to perform these steps, but today I opted to use just the one (Capture One 4) to work with the RAW files and to create and size the JPEG files. But I ran into a problem, of my own making of course, when it came time to convert my edited RAW files into JPEGs. As I had a number of images I wanted to make use of the batch processing feature. This way I could convert to JPEG AND re-size to 1024×683 en masse.
But I couldn’t get it to work. All the files were ready to go and all were selected, but when I pressed “Process” the software would only process the first image in the group. “Okay,” thought I. “What now?” Well the first thing I opted to do was check that I had, indeed, actually selected all the files. Check. Next I opted to consult the Help file, which was full of useful information, but only confirmed, at least at first glance, that I was doing everything correctly. Check. Confusion and irritation began to cloud my mind. I opted to check online at the software manufacturer’s web site, where I came across a short instructional video which covered this very endeavor (batch processing). Again, I felt certain that I was doing everything correctly, but what is the saying? Is it “The devil is in the details”? Well it seemed that I was doing everything correctly EXCEPT that I needed to be pressing the laptop’s Shift key when I selected the Process icon on the screen.
So neither the trip to the butterfly house nor my attempts at batch processing went quite as flawlessly as I had hoped or anticipated. But let me say this: I would rather be out having a bad day with my camera than a good day doing a lot of other things. I so love just the process of taking pictures. The feel of the camera gear in my hands. The sound of the shutter clicking. The minor shift of the lens when the image stabilization kicks in. The quick thought processes that occur when trying to compose and frame a shot on the fly. It’s all grand. It’s all a high. I sometimes think that the actual pictures mean less than the process by which I obtained them. But I’ll have to ponder that further and save those thoughts for another day.