Wednesday, March 4, 2009

15,000 photographs!

I estimate I've taken 15,000 photographs of China since I made my first trip way back in 1984. That's a lot of photos!

I took 2,400 photos on our last trip to China alone. Of course, I was shooting mainly to illustrate the podcasts I was working on for I eventually did seven podcasts on Beijing for them, and they should be available for sale soon. VTT likes 65-75 photos per podcast, but I tried to shoot at least 300 pictures for each podcast topic, so I could pick and choose the best ones. As it turned out, my favorite photo of the trip was not one I used in a podcast. It's the one here, of a couple of butterflys getting up close and personal with a flower at the ancient village of Cuandixia.

Keeping track of that many photos is no mean feat. When I lived in China, and shooting two to four rolls of film a week (more if I went out of town -- I once shot four rolls in two hours at a minority village in South China), it was time-consuming to do this. When I got a roll of film back from the developers, I immediately wrote the subject matter on the back of each picture. Negatives came in flimsy paper sleeves, so I wrote the roll number on that. Then I matched the photo to the negative, and wrote the roll and negative numbers on the back of the photo. When I returned to the United States, I made photo albums out of large three-ring binders and plastic photo sleeves.

That was in the days when I was using a film camera. Now I shoot digital. No more albums, which I miss as I enjoy looking through my China photos from years past. Of course, I coiuld make prints from my digital photos, but I'm too lazy I guess. My photos are now organized by trip or by the day I took them, then copied to a CD for safekeeping in case my computer crashes. I use my China photos for writing projects, so I keep them on the computer. Also, I've set up my screen saver as a photo slide show, so I can see my pictures in random order that way.

I'll never go back to film cameras. The quality of digital photography is improving so rapidly. Plus, I like the size of the digital camera. I have two, and both fit in my jean pocket to whisk out when a photo op pops up. I used to keep a film camera, along with a couple of lenses, in my backpack, which got to be extremely heavy after awhile. Sometimes I wouldn't take it with me, and, of course, that's when I missed out on the best photos. I probably would have taken five times as many photos if I'd had a digital camera when I lived in Beijing.
Please see my web site for more information about travel in China.

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