Friday, May 20, 2016

The Elusive Organizing Ideal

My head is still spinning from the season finale of The Blacklist, so I hope I can write a lucid post!

I've realized as I've thought about this post throughout the day that it is going to be at least as much about theory as it will about my actual organizational conventions. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

When I started scanning these slides of Dad's with the old scanner a few years ago I hadn't had any exposure to the many organizational techniques and ideas of my fellow GeneaBloggers and other genealogists. I just filed them on my computer in a way that made sense to me at the time, which was by carousel (that's the slide holder that fits into the projector and, in my case, has capacity for 140 slides). Although I have modified my file naming somewhat, I am still doing it this way and it turns out that this is something of an archival method of organization because I am organizing them the way that I got them. This, according to this post by Sue Adams, which I found referenced in this post by Tony Proctor, is an archival arrangement; grouping records according to their creator and in the same order as their creator. Of course, real archival organizing is much more complicated, but at least Tony Proctor's post, and the others he refers to within, gave me some assurance that this was a valid way to organize my images.

My Epson Perfection V370 gives me the following screen when I'm ready to scan:

At the purple arrow I'm telling the program where to save the image files and at the green arrow I am giving all of these files the same prefix, in this case "Car1." which will then be followed by the number of the slide's order in the carousel. This file name doesn't tell me anything about the image itself, only which carousel it came from and which slide number it was in the carousel. Metadata will tell the rest of the story.

This is what that looks like on my Mac. Tags go in the box on top at the red arrow, if there were people in this slide (Pennie was my dad's Collie, not a person) I would have used additional tags like their Dollarhide number and last name. The file name is filled in automatically at the blue arrow and I use the comments box to add my name and copyright as well as details about the photo. All of this information is searchable.

Organization is one of those things that is very personal and what makes sense to me may not make sense to you and vice-versa. That is why there is no one way to do this, there is no ideal way except for each of us.

I will probably continue to use this method with at least some of my other image files. The posts I referred to above are full of good ideas and things to consider but I do also want to keep things relatively intuitive and simple. I hope this system will stand the test of time, but as they say, only time will tell.


Wendy said...

Your presentation is very clear and easy to follow. I need to reorganize my pictures.

JL Beeken said...

I do like the metadata approach because it's searchable. Do you use software that allows you to add some of this in batch mode? And is this searchable in a universal way by other software?

Since slides and photos came to me in no particular order (I don't think plastic bags constitute 'order') I didn't try to imagine one. I just added the source of them to the metadata and let it go at that.

Anna Matthews said...

Thank you, Wendy.

Anna Matthews said...

No, you suggested that to me once before, but I haven't looked into it. Is adding information by the batch practical when only some of the information is the same in each slide. I do past in the last bit, Taken by Stephen D Matthews...

I have found that when I add metadata on my Mac and save the file to Dropbox and then download it to my PC at work which has Windows 7, that the data is still there. I haven't tried it any other way yet.

JL Beeken said...

Here's some of the metadata fields I use:

Caption, caption writer, keywords, object (type), photographer, source, copyright, city, sub-location, state, country, credit, contact email ...

A lot of that can be put on a template and added with one click. Caption and keywords (for this I use the names of the people in the photo) obviously cannot.

Depending what I'm doing, photographer, source, copyright and addresses can be on a template. Having processed tens of thousands of files this way I can't even imagine doing it one at a time one field at a time.

I don't know anything about Macs but it looks like from your screenshots that you're using a limited version of metadata possibilities. But then I can't see all of it so maybe not.

And you're also saving your scans as JPG which is a no-no for archival collections. I put up with JPG on my digital camera, but the ancestors ... Never.

Anna Matthews said...

Yes, the Mac has very limited fields for metadata compared to Windows, so I'm putting a lot of information in the comments field, but that also means that I can cut and paste a lot.

In a previous post I explained that I scan each image twice, once as a tif file for archival purposes and once as a jpeg that can be more easily shared on blogs, FB, in emails and with family.

JL Beeken said...

Sorry, I don't recall your other posts about this.

It's not necessary to scan twice as a TIF file can be re-saved as a JPG. Then you've got both.

Windows metadata is very peculiar compared to standardized metadata fields. I certainly wouldn't use it as a viable comparison to anything.

I'm just suggesting (with a quiet scream) that if you're launching into what will be an ever-growing filing system based on metadata that you work with software that is worthy of your time and effort.

I know Photo Mechanic has a Mac version. That's my personal choice. XnView MP is the multi-platform version of XnView. It's free. There are others I've heard of but haven't used so I can't comment; BreezeBrowser, IDimager, Adobe Lightroom ...

Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

Anna this is inspiring. Looks like so much work, but really will pay off big in the long run.