whistlestop caboose

The view from the back.

My Photo

www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flowers after the storm

We had a very wild thunderstorm last night and this morning I tiptoed out to the garden in fear. Battered flowers, fallen stalks of fennel and tarrogon, at the very least.

I was wrong. Nature does a remarkable job of protecting its flowers, which look too delicate to survive wind, much less whale-like thrashing and blowing, which was what the storm brought us.

Here are the flowers that survived so neatly.

Note the happy bee. There were dozens of bees, so that this meadow was quite noisy.

Top to bottom: poppies and shasta daisies; columbine; daisy; rose; freesia; lily.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Who can we shoot, and other tech woes

Water reflecting boats is nice; boats reflecting water is even nicer.

It's the end of a long week of technical woes, with Cablecom, our ISP heading the list of makers of unhappiness. My GenevaLunch news site has suffered badly from no Internet connections 4 of the last 7 mornings, when most news is posted. This is all due to maintenance, but the advance alert said 10-15 minutes, not 3-4 hours.

We have survived it and I used some of the time to take new photos for the banner for that site, which I have really enjoyed posting, late at night when the Internet was working!

The scrambled hours have meant, however, that I've fallen behind reading many other blogs I like to keep up with. Next week should be a different story since I've decided to work away from the office - Cablecom plans to keep "maintaining" things for another two weeks. Christopher in Hawaii wrote a thought-provoking piece about how hard it can be to deal with other people's reactions to our words, that I would like to comment on. I've been alerted to an interesting blog by a UK journalist who lost a foot in Iraq and now writes an anti-landmines blog, one of about a million things he does.

Meanwhile, while shooting pictures for GenevaLunch I had some discussions about my right to take photos. If the subject interests you, please visit my Tribune de Geneve blog.

The sun is shining, the mountains are beckoning, and guests will soon be arriving. Time to check the strawberry patch for this evening's dessert.

New neighbors and the cat with blue eyes

Funny the things you notice first about new neighbors. We didn't see anyone moving into the apartment directly across from ours, which probably happened during the work day. We didn't notice a change in noise or music. If the curtains changed, we didn't see that.

And then suddenly, there was a new cat in the window, with startling blue eyes. He sat and stared and stared at me, until I felt obliged to get a camera. Thanks to him I noticed a new blue lamp shade, a TV that wasn't there before and bingo! I worked out that someone had just moved in. A second cat showed up a minute later, but he was more interested in the birds zooming around in the street, taunting him, and he never looked over.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Alpine medley

Ladybug, ladybug, don't go so fast!

I had no idea ladybugs were speedy little creatures until I tried to photograph one eating aphids. I tried and tried but the speed at which it was clambering around this fennel plant, devouring green aphids, was remarkable. I now believe firmly in the value of ladybugs, if I ever had doubts. I have learned that I should leave the yellow eggs they lay alone: they deposit them near good food sources - in other words, near aphids. I was very excited until I learned that ants like to eat ladybug larvae, and nearby, hiding under a rock, was an ant colony.
Other garden helpmates are Farmer Bernard's cows, 14 black Val d'Herens fighting cows. They fight when they are coming into heat at the start of Spring, to pick the strongest one, the cow that will lead them up the Alpine paths with a sure sense of the best route. Now that summer is here the cows peacefully munch down the meadow next to my potatoes and onions. In two days they will kick up their heels and run up the road to their higher summer pasture, where they stay until September.
If the cows keep their eyes down they will have help running up the mountain in a straight line.
And if Tara keeps running away with a giggle just as the photographer shoots, she will manage to stay out of photos! And poor Granny in England will have trouble seeing an entire face. This is Tara's new haircut, stage 1. Stages 2 and 3 are getting the front straight, then tidying the bottom. Stage 1 was chopping off a few inches, roughly. Patience then ran short.

Alpine garden strawberries today

Mmmmm they were worth waiting for! See them in the garden yesterday (and this full size, if you like strawberries), on flickr.


I drove down a country road today, looking for a place called the Chateau de Vullierens, in the Swiss countryside. I took my daughter out of school to see the doctor and decided that we needed to do something nice afterwards to make up for the unpleasant part of the morning.

The chateau is famous for its iris gardens. Tara, who has physical and mental handicaps, might like the open spaces and benches in the shady woods with their giant 300-year-old trees, I thought.

The weather is hot and endlessly sunny at the moment. I had plans to come back as soon as I could and get to work. My list of things to do was long and the day in the office short.

We drove around a bend in Etoy, a farm village above Lake Geneva. Suddenly, there was a cherry tree that I don't notice during the year but every June I watch this magnificent bearer of fruit as its branches quickly get heavier and the fruit turns red. Every year it becomes covered in cherries. In another week long ladders will be leaning against it.

I paused in wonder at the curious honesty that Switzerland manages to breed: someone probably snitches a few of these cherries, but not many. People walk by, admire, and move on.

Then, driving through a small town called Cottens I slowed down without thinking about it and took a deep breath. The air was pungeant, almost intoxicating, with the sweet, sweet smell of freshly mowed hay.

There is no other smell on earth like this. For just a moment I longed to be a farmer, living next to this, breathing it in all day and all night.

At the iris park we sat on the grass and watched bumblebees move in and out of tall foxgloves, very orderly about their business. Their droning was hypnotic. I forgot I was wearing a watch.

I had to get Tara back to school, but then, passing another newly-mown field and slowly down to breathe it in, I was tempted, so tempted, to just forget all obligations and wander around taking photos all day. I stopped at the top of a hill with a view of multi-toned green crops in long stripes, the deep blue of the lake behind them and the pale hint of high Alps further back, almost lost in the hazy heat.

I thought again about Christine who wrote in a comment here that she longed for those meadows and easier times of childhood. An article that I read yesterday in China Daily came back to me. It suggested that if you're feeling down you should just take a day off. It turned out to be directed at World Cup widows, and I'll have to go back to find out if they mean women should not bothering going to the office or they should stay out of the kitchen.

My father came to mind, as well. I thought he was very religious when I was young because every year he went to Mount Mellory Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa and spent a few days on retreat with the monks there. When we picked him up he was calm and always had a loaf of the best white bread I've ever tasted, with their own honey. It was sweet in every way, having him home again.

My mind drifted to Chartreuse and the monastery there, south of Geneva, in France. I was racing around in that part of France once, doing research for a travel article, with too many tasks and too little time. I gave myself 15 minutes to visit the monastery while husband and small son napped in the car.

I fell in love and would have begged them to take me in, right there and then, if they had taken women. It was tranquility itself: whitewashed walls balanced the ancient wooden beams and windows of the simple cells. Monks chanted somewhere in the distance. Faint sounds of hammering and garden tools clinking drifted in through a long open corridor. The view from the hillside monastery was magnificent, offset by the comfort of the orderly rows of herbs that go into the famous alcoholic drink they make.

What I was really looking for was a small escape hatch, a moment and a place where all obligations could be suspended and I could be a quiet speck in the universe.

I think the Chinese might be right: we should give in to these urges sometimes.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Unnaturally oppressive events (UOEs)

Life toodles along reasonably well much of the time and then BAM! you have a day or a week of UOEs, unnaturally oppressive events, where the other guys, whoever they may be, seem to get the other hand.

I'm having one of those weeks and (this won't surprise you) technology is the culprit. So bear with me for a day and let's just take a look together at one of nature's predators. And then, if you feel like it, you can join me in shouting

(by the way, that's a rosebud he's feasting on)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Climbers are not falling off the mountain

A little while ago I posted a photo from flickr that someone else took. The truth will out: check out the followup to the original posting. We can all sleep at night now, knowing these people are safe, more or less.

For those of you interested in bio gardening (why do I think this is not everyone?), here you have the living proof that ladybug larvae really do go after nasty little green aphids! My rose plants were covered in them and I'm trying to turn into a bio gardener, so I put out about 35 of the ladybug larvae, which are supposed to eat 100 aphids a day each. I looked a day later and was astonished: it works!

So far.

Monks and World Cup on opposite sides

Did I say something about monasteries and the World Cup? Check this out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Coriander Thai dreams and Irish dreamholders

At the end of the day (see end of previous post), I like to think good thoughts about tomorrows. One nice option is a Thai meal in the near future. Here is a pot of coriander from Schilliger Garden Center in Switzerland, in a cache-pot, or flowerpot, from Nicholas Mosse in Ireland. Each one makes me smile. Put together they create a distinctly happy note. Put the Thai meal on a menu in the next day or two and we're sailing.

Ratatatatat, a riff-raff kind of day

June arrives filled with promise, of sunshine and sleeveless days, billowing clouds, smiling people because they have their vacation tickets tucked under their pillows so their hands can drift their during dreamtime.

And then, every year this happens: delightful June just distintegrates into stuff. No other word for it, just stuff and more stuff. I start to clean the cupboards, pull everything out, wash wool sweaters and oil bikes in a joyous fit of energy, and then I never get around to putting any of it away. Too much is going on at school, for kids and for the teacherly husband. Messy details at work seem to overtake the big picture. The tax department, which I thought would be busy perusing everyone's forms, starts to send letters. I will never understand the Swiss tax system, which sends, in one week, letters about overpaying one set of taxes while underpaying another and by the way, why did I not send in the last set of forms. Forms?

So here is today: thoughts about Nancy, sitting on an island in the Caribbean, wondering what she's done with the champagne glasses and if they are prone to hurricane damage (she likes champagne); thoughts and more thoughts about Christen near Boston, who longs for the days when we were kids and happily drifted through meadows; wonder about someone from Colorado looking at this blog - my nephew who spends summers fighting forest fires out that way or my old college roommate, to whom I haven't talked for years - did she somehow find me on the Internet?

Here is more of today: I have a wonderful young volunteer who came by to learn the basics of GenevaLunch. She is smart, energetic, excited about learning journalism ropes and most importantly, she has initiative, which I could see within minutes. She spent 20 minutes writing 2 sentences (from French to English, a news story summary), and then smiled and took notes while I reorganized it and explained why. She'll be fine and I'm fine knowing that. Meanwhile, I wrote a short report on the state of the Swiss economy, according to the International Monetary Fund. Rusty economics-comprehension skills were put to work. Translation: took me longer than it should have. Why can't everyone measure unemployment the same way?

IIPM students from India, enjoying a visit to Saint-Prex, Switzerland

Off I went to give a lecture on corporate communications in times of crisis to a group of MBA students from IIPM, a business school in India that has just had a write-up in the Financial Times. We looked at four companies, and how they have all suffered when they forgot a couple golden rules, which are: a) if a company doesn't communicate, its employees will, in the form of gossip and b) never, ever think you are immune from disasters and crises, the latter being what happens when you don't manage communications for the former.

Enough about work. I came home and read three short stories, a form of playing hooky. My husband, like everyone else in this village was watching the World Cup, judging by the sounds of TV and fans from nearly every household. The only place where I can imagine "World Cup" drawing a blank might be the USA. I suspect even the monasteries here have a giant screen.

And then I had some California wine with Swedish meatballs and watched Brazil and Croatia start their football/soccer game. I looked for e-mail from my son in China, but of course there was none. Lizzy, the GenevaLunch apprentice, graduated from college last year. I suggested she might want to try her hand at writing a guide to leaving home. She thought it might be kind of short, at least to start. "Don't write me, I'll write you - when I need money."

Dogs are barking, occasional cheers go up in the darkening village as a handful of people cheer for Brazil (Switzerland and France had no goals, so it's a draw).

The world is small. I remembered that a Brazilian woman, Gracinha, who lives in Portugal and posts amazing flower photos on flickr just posted one in brilliant yellow/blue/touch of green, saying "I love my country!" Football.

I leaned out the window and barked at a beautiful dog, who paused and gave me a deep bark in return. His owner gave me an odd look, then continued to chastise her little girl. "You do NOT accept anything from people you don't know, I don't care how nice they are. If a man tells you you're pretty and tries to offer you something, you shake your head and walk away. I WILL NOT accept this: that you are friendly with people you don't know."

The little girl, 7 or 8 maybe, with a swishy summer dress and flop-flp shoes, was annoyed with her mother, that was clear.

I wondered what the background to this was. I thought about Lesley in Canada, who talks to groups about teaching children to say no to strangers. She lost a daughter a very hard way, at the age of 11. People listen to Lesley for a good reason. So maybe this mother was very sensible. Probably.

And then I thought about how we all long for the good old days, when, in theory, kids could chat with strangers. It probably wasn't ever quite like that.

Before going back to work on my new Tribune de Geneve blog, now that it is dark out and I should be winding down, I visited flickr. Vasta is a kind and generous young man in Toronto who looks at my photos, and I enjoy seeing his and his comments. He suggested in one that I visit "a live recording of a bit of a spoken word piece i recently performed called you are what you eat. "

I loved it! I read it first and then remembered I was supposed to listen to it, so I did that. I laughed and felt a few tugs at my heart (poor woman! poor Vasta!). At one point he shouts "Boom!" and that set my Swiss village dogs barking again.

The world is small. The Internet is fun.

It's been a June kind of day, with just lots of stuff going on. Best on such days to make sure you keep some of the good stuff for the end of the day. That is a photo that makes me think of scrumptious Thai meals in days ahead, but I can't post it here for some reason. Check out the next post!

Monday, June 12, 2006

my new Tribune de Geneve blog

It's official and it's out: my first post in the Tribune de Geneve, Geneva, Switzerland's main newspaper, ran today. It's called "Hat's off!", about the lives of people who wear too many hats. Figuratively, literally, I'm one of them. At the very least this gives me an opportunity to photograph all of my hats, which is the best excuse I can manage for the cupboard space they continue to occupy.

Please pay a visit: http://www.tdg.ch/tghome/interactif/blogs.html. It's the bit in English not too far down the page :-). Follow the arrows to get to the blog itself.

This is the Tribune de Geneve's pioneering effort to publish an English blog, so I would like to see as many visitors as possible. Thanks, all of you!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Orange is the rose for 2006!

Orange is the rose for 2006!
Orange is the rose for 2006!,
originally uploaded by ellengwallace.
Yet another flower! I'm sending you to flickr for it so you can see the large version - for those who like orange, dive into it!

On a flower kick: the alpine meadow

I seem to have flowers on the mind this weekend. Here is the meadow between the chalet and Farmer Bernard's fields. The sun has suddenly brought out all the flowers.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Moonlight and iris

The sun was setting and the moon was rising. The irises, tucked in among some blue-green young spruce trees, turned an extraordinary color for a few minutes.

A peony pink kind of day

Peonies on the go

A friend gave me some beautiful peonies yesterday. They had a good day, these flowers, starting down in the valley, moving up to the mountainside for sunset and moonrise, which happened about the same time. They sat out on the veranda while the moon brightened, then went indoors and enjoyed a painting called "Prayerscape" by Ghanaian artist Ablade Glover. This morning the peonies were up with the Alpine dawn, a paler shade of pink than the flowers.

From dusk

To dawn

Friday, June 09, 2006


We've just declared it summer! The lawn is mowed, some of the weeding is done, gin and tonic are on the shopping list and there is enough of last year's sun cream to get through a gloriously sunny, warm weekend, some of it in the hammock.

Too bad for those people stuck in front of the TV.

A little hello from our friends in the garden:

May everyone be cheered by June sunshine this weekend.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Breithorn being climbed - 4,164 metres (13,661 feet)

I don't usually post other people's photos, or not often, but as I turned my thoughts back to Switzerland, I came across this. It stopped me in my tracks (I hope they all kept going in theirs).

Secret Butterfly Gathering

Secret Butterfly Gathering
Secret Butterfly Gathering,
originally uploaded by JoelDeluxe.
Certain times of the year, I long to get on an airplane and go somewhere I haven't been. I've been to the western U.S. but never to New Mexico and now I know that every June there is an important conference there.

Check out the rest of Joel's magnificent butterfly convention shots on flickr.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

World Cup egg on our faces, soon

Today I bought World Cup eggs and bread. I doubt I will watch any of the games, but I will happily eat a picnic.

Thank you, Coop, our local supermarket, for finding a way to make the event interesting for me.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Swiss plumbing, part 2

(update at the end)

The plumbing lay on the floor this morning, just as it had done last night.
"Do you think the dishwasher is linked to these?" he asked.
"No, not at all," she replied confidently.
He started the machine and returned to his online backgammon game. She continued to write.
"Hey, what's all this water shooting out in the kitchen?" cried out their son, who heard the flood over the sounds of Lordi. Remarkable.
They mopped up the flood, removed the baseboards, agreed to look at the plumbing again later. And then they took a walk in the sunshine, hand in hand, because sometimes plumbing crises drive people together. They talked about many things, but not pipes.

Later that day the son flew to China, the parents went back to their computers, and the pipes, after minor attempts to reassemble them, remained on strike. The dishes were done in the bathroom and a future of eating out for every meal was briefly contemplated.

They walked off into the sunset but not before leaving the keys for the plumber. He came by and was amazed that the sink had been draining at all for the past 20 years, since the evacuation hole was 15cm too high for gravity to do its job properly. It just goes to show how long you can get away with doing some things less than brilliantly well. We have all known people who spent their entire careers doing that, so why are we surprised at plumbing systems?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Who invented Swiss plumbing?

The art of dismantling pipes

This morning I noticed that the kitchen sink was draining too slowly. I had had a good night's sleep, was cleaning cupboards after taking a brisk one hour walk through the vineyards and I thought, aha! time to clean the drain. I poured bleach down the drain and forgot about it. Also forgot about doing the dishes, which is how I noticed the non-draining water.

An hour later I returned and to my surprise, even bleach had not done the trick. The water was sloooooowly seeping away. I hunted for the rarely-used plunger and energetically went to work. I had to put two fingers in a two-hole something or other on the side of the sink while plunging, which I thought accounted for my lack of success. The water drained a bit better but there wasn't that whoosh! and then water disappearing that you expect from a plunger job.

"What's the water all over the floor from?" asked my husband as he refilled his tea mug. Oh dear. There was a puddle, but when I looked more closely it was a small flood. I had plunged the pipes apart and they were happily leaking beige-gray water.

The obvious next step in this situation, since this is Sunday on a holiday weekend, is to take apart the pipes. I enjoy taking things apart. I like to work out the logic of the construction, see the difference it makes and so on. I worked out that there were too many pieces to be entirely logical and the difference was a sudden smell of sewage in our kitchen.

I spent the afternoon cleaning all the bits and pieces of pipe, soaking them in bleach, using a chopstick to clean off the stubborn bits and so on. It was not a pleasant job but sometimes in life you just have to get on with it and do these things.

The lack of art or even science in mantling pipes

The moment came to put it all back together. This is not a very original story, I must admit at this point. It could not, of course, be done.

"You should have take a photo," said my husband, drinking more tea from a safe distance. After a while he took pity on me and he tried to reassemble the under-the-sink. After two minutes of joint labor I retreated to a distant room. Now and again I heard bellows, interspersed with swearing.

Marriage is about sharing the good and the bad, so together we climbed the stairs to the neighbors' apartment, to ask if we could photograph their plumbing. The man repairs bathtub enamel, so we assumed he might have greater expertise in the pipes area than we do. He and his wife lamented the sad state of their plumbing. I photographed it and here it is.

It turned out to be like ours but reversed and a key pipe chez eux comes out of the floor whereas the only similar thing under our sink comes out of the wall. Trying to match real pipes to a photo of your neighbors', reversed and including key differences like wall versus floor pipes, is enough to try any relationship.

We had a lovely dinner, where no one discussed plumbing. My husband played backgammon online with someone in Russia. My son packed his backpack for China, since he leaves in the morning. I did this and now I am going to read a book.

Here is the state of our sink tonight. I wish I still believed in the tooth fairy, whose day job is plumbing. I'd pull out a tooth and stick it under my pillow tonight. Instead of a nickel or a dime or 5 Swiss francs I would just ask for a little light pipework.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Graduation! Oh the hair, oh the freedom!

International School of Geneva, La Chataigneraie campus, June 2 graduation
Congratulations to those who've waved farewell to school and graduated. It's a time for getting your hair done, talking to teachers who now seem less intimidating (here with a teacher from seven years ago, who was then taller than most of her students), sharing a glass of wine with family and friends, and breathing.

The hair and breathing parts are especially fun.

The advice (everybody gets to give some on this day): you can be anything and anyone you want to be. Now, go for it!

Friday, June 02, 2006

How to get digital photos the right size

The tricky business of photo sizes

Christopher, a garden professional in Hawaii, wrote a nice comment to my post about flowers listening and rocking.

He mentioned the tricky business of sizing photos. I worked as an editor for an education magazine for several years. We accepted photos from amateur photographers around the world and the one thing that seemed to confuse everyone was sizing digital photos. This became a little easier when we created an online photo database for the magazine because the photos were automatically resized. I learned a good deal before we reached automation, so I will share some of this.

Christopher is a good photographer and Christen in Massachusetts not surprisingly wants to make a copy of one of his photos. She politely asked him if she could.

In theory, the answer is yes. In reality, it won't work well. Here is why, with a few tips for managing digital photos.

The case of Christopher

Christopher recently posted a photo of his grandmother, taken in about 1915. He also posted shots of spectacular scenery in Hawaii, on the rainy side of Maui. If I right-click on any of these I get a menu with "properties" at the bottom. This tells me his photos are all 328x246 pixels. You don't need to know what pixels are, but if you're curious, wikipedia will tell you.

Think of pixels in relation to your computer screen's dimensions. The most popular size today is 1280x1024: 67% of the people visiting GenevaLunch, a community web site in Switzerland that I manage, have this size screen. An image that is 328x246 takes up about 1/4 of your screen - check it out.

Christopher's photos are therefore a good intermediate size, large enough to see but not so large that they take a long time to open on my computer.

If Christen tried to print these photos in a larger size they would start to go fuzzy. When Christopher posted his photos he had to select a size, just discussed, but also a resolution, or degree of sharpness. He might have done this in his blogging program, or maybe in a photo program like Photoshop. By default, resolution is usually set to 72dpi, or dots per inch, which is the maximum number most screens see - so there's not much point in going to a higher level, most of the time. We can look at a couple exceptions at the end.

The only way Christen can make a poster from his 328x246 pixels image is to ask him to check the size and quality of his original version of the photo. And that was determined by his camera settings when he took the photo.

Getting your photo sizes right

Step 1: your camera settings

Digital cameras have settings that you can change. Many of us forget this and slip into using the same one. For very special needs I use the high end of my camera's settings, called maximum, but that's rare. Mostly I set it on high rather than maximum, but I have only been able to do this since I started using a 512 MB memory card. With earlier cards of 128 MB I could only take a dozen photos at high resolution and then I had to dump them on the computer - not practical.

I take high resolution because I'm never sure how I might want to use these in the future. It's a precaution in case I want to print them. If I were only going to use photos on the Internet or a computer screen, I would not bother with the high resolution, since the very good quality is not apparent there.

A high setting means I get fewer photos for the same battery time and that the photos take longer to dump onto the computer, to upload to a blog or web site, to upload to flickr, where I usually put them.

Key question: what is the end use for these images?

This is the question that determines your camera setting. Who will look at these images, and where? Find the best compromise between good quality and practical size in terms of battery use and uploading time. Remember that very high quality photos are big, so anyone who wants to download them will be unhappy with you if they are too big.

Step 2: resizing the files once you dump the photos on your computer

I use Photoshop to do this. I occasionally use Microsoft Photo Editor, which is not as good.

Sizes for photos you plan to e-mail

Be kind: keep them small. I aim for 150-200KB photos if I have to send them by e-mail, for example family snapshots. I will send 800 or larger ones only to people I work with, knowing they have fast Internet lines and very good computers. Larger than 1MB I upload images to my web site or, if they can be public, to flickr, and ask people to download them there.

Sizes for blogs

Most blogs have built-in size limits. Blogger lets me choose one of three sizes, but just calls them small, medium and large. If I try to upload an image that is too large it will simply refuse the photo, but after spending 2-3 minutes trying to accept it. I learned this the hard way by trying to upload photos I had taken on the camera's high setting. The solution I use is to open the photos in Photoshop, go to image/resize and set them at 40-50% of their original size. Sometimes I forget to do this or I love the photo so I make it 60%, and Blogger accepts it but there is a problem. If you right-click on the photos on my blog you should normally be able to see a larger view of it. If the image I uploaded is too large, you can't see it - something Christopher experienced with some of my photos. He thought I had locked them: I simply forgot to make them a smaller size.

Sizes for web sites

You can improve the quality of web site photos somewhat by shooting them at a high quality, but then you should make sure you do not post them to the site at a high resolution. People visiting the site will not see any difference and the larger photos will slow down your site's loading time, which irritates visitors. I save web site images in Photoshop at high quality, not maximum. I try to keep images to 328x246 or on GenevaLunch I run some at 550 maximum on the longest side.

Sizes for prints

I rarely print photos so I'm not an expert here, but in general when you go from digital to print the better the quality of the original shot, the better the print, and print from a saved copy that is larger than the print you want to end up with.

Sizes for commercial printing, including posters, magazines, books

On my camera, a 3 year old Fuji Finepix, I can shoot at 8MB, but I usually shoot at 3 or 5. Why? Because although the quality at 8 is wonderful, it makes the camera painfully slow and one photograph can eat up the batteries. Also, no one sees the amazingly good photo because I mostly put my images on the web or in PC files. However, if you want to make great posters from a photo, this is the setting you need! If I think I will want to use the image in a magazine or book, I go for maximum quality.

Sizes for flickr or other photo-sharing groups

Flickr lets you set the maximum size you want to upload, and it adjusts your photos. Please walk through the four illustrations to this little photo lesson to see what happens when you vary the settings.

I recently saw a series of very large prints made by a wonderful young art photographer in Ireland, Richard Mosse (the Gulf one on his site doesn't begin to do justice to the print version). They covered half a long dining room table. He had invested his life's savings from his next three or four lives in a device that extends the capacity of a traditional Haselblad camera, beloved by professionals, to 40MB. This is a daunting level of quality. The photos he printed could simply not be shot by a regular good camera like mine. We cannot see the extraordinary detail that his prints show because your computer and mine are not sophisticated enough.

A final word: here is the limited-size image that Blogger should allow me to post of the bug photo. The bugs are part of the photo lesson set on flickr, mentioned above. Size: 30KB, 300x200, with resolution set at 72dpi, saved in Photoshop on high quality. So the quality is good but you can't view it very large. This might be a blessing. And Blogger just plain said no, for mysterious reasons. Sometimes no size suits!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Too much pink, with the pink

Yesterday's pink post must have caused some puzzlement. There was supposed to be a photo with it but the image kept disappearing. Here it is and I hope it is less ephemeral than yesterday's pink. I love the flowers on the bush but I especially love the way they brighten the gray stones on the ground.

The scariest thing I've seen today

I thought I would look at my roses. This is what I found. For those who like bugs, you can see them even larger on flickr. Poor rose!