Friday, December 8, 2017


It was Day 292.

I was happy with the photo but something went wrong when I posted it. Technology isn't perfect and when it goes awry, I've tried to deal with it as best as I can. I've adapted, using the tools that are at my disposal at that particular time.

I've taken some crappy photos in my daily photo project. Some aren't sharp, some are desperate, last-minute photos of whatever is around me as the hours of the day have dwindled and I have looked around to shoot just anything, so that I can fulfill the criteria that I have set upon myself.

One photo is a fake, but I'll talk about that one as my project winds down. Perhaps, if you follow my Photo of the Day (POTD) project, you've discovered it already.

But sometimes I can take a good picture and process it, only to find that the technology for rendering it on social media has let me down.

I first noticed this issue when I first tried uploading a photo from my camera onto my smartphone. Because I shoot in RAW on my D-SLR, the size of the file exceeds what my phone can accept. In those cases, I upload at the recommended resolution. The results, for the most part, are fine: at least, for viewing on-screen.

But something went wrong on Day 292.

It was Thursday, October 19. I had just dropped DD16 off at her fitness class and had an idea for my POTD. It was a bit of a cheat: my self-imposed rules state that I cannot take the same photo twice. For example, if I shoot a photograph of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, I cannot shoot another Peace Tower photo. But that does not mean I cannot shoot a photo of Parliament Hill again. It's just that the Peace Tower cannot be the central subject of that shot.

I've taken plenty of POTD shots in which the Parliament buildings appear, but the subject has always been different. The city scape, from the Gatineau side of the Ottawa river, at night; a view of the canal, looking north, from the Mackenzie Bridge; a storm approaching the festivites on Canada Day; the fireworks festival, again over the Ottawa River; the sound-and-light show, projected on the central block.

They all counted, as far as I was concerned.

I had already photographed the Vimy Bridge. It was April 14 and we were experiencing a lovely sunset on an early spring day. The family and I had just dined at a local Barrhaven pub with my parents and were planning to get together, at my house, for dessert. My folks had to first stop at their house and feed their dogs. I told them that I would take my POTD and then meet them back at my place.

I had already envisioned the shot in my head. I only wanted the arches; not the roadway. The sunset was better than I thought: practically cloudless and orange. I took a couple of shots and went home.

With DD16 at her workout, I didn't have much time and knew I couldn't go far. I thought of the places I had already shot: the transitway, the railway crossing on Fallowfield, the old school on Strandherd, at Jockvale, the old traveller's motel on Prince of Wales. I thought of Vimy Bridge and thought, I've already done that, but then told myself that I hadn't gone after the roadway in the other shot. At night, I could get light trails.

Ten minutes later, I was standing in the first place where I had come, a couple of years ago, to capture the newly opened bridge. Now, beds of tall grass made the spot where I stood, between the two roadways, crammed. It was a challenge for me and my tripod.

Four photos, and I was done. I ran back to my car* and returned to where my daughter was working up a sweat. I still had lots of time before she was done, so I took the photos off my camera, put them onto my phone, edited one, and posted it to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.


The next day, I copied that photo to my Pictures album on my office computer. I keep hundreds of my best landscape-oriented photos here, where my desktop background changes every 20 minutes. My screen saver is a slideshow of memories.

Something was wrong with the photo from Day 292. On screen, it was immensely pixellated. When I selected the photo in Flickr and tried to zoom in, it wouldn't zoom. I quickly realized that this photo ended up as a low-resolution shot.

The sad part was that I really liked this shot. I liked the colours, how they popped from the screen. I liked the light trails, though three of the four photos I took had lots of streaks of headlights and tail lamps. But the resolution in which it ended up being saved did not make this photo worth keeping.

This issue bothered me for 48 days, when I finally made a decision: I was going to redo the photo.

I picked one of the other images I captured. This time, I didn't upload it to my phone or tablet, did not use Snapseed to do the editing. The RAW image was stored on an external drive, from where I imported it into PaintShop Pro and performed a new edit.

When all was said and done, I liked the new photo better. It was sharper and the colours were more true to the image than the ones I made explode through Snapseed. This is how the shot was meant to look.

I had fulfilled the criteria of my project: I had captured an image, edited it, and shared it on social media. But when all is said and done, it's not the image quality that I wanted for this project. On Wednesday, I replaced the photo in my POTD album with the new one. I did not delete the old photo: it still appears on Flickr, just in my Night and Ottawa albums.

Instagram still has the original as my Day 292 shot. At that resolution, you can't see the flaws.

Did I cheat? If so, I only cheated myself. But it is my project with my rules, and I say I can improve the photo if I want.

After a minimum of 48 days.

My POTD project runs to the end of the month.

* I didn't really run. My feet don't let me do that without inflicting severe pain.

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