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Who would have ever thought that “A Protest Against the War” would be such a pain to prepare for restoration?

October 5, 2011, 12:16 AM

This falls under the category of things-you-did-back-in-the-day-that-you-didn’t-realize-would-be-such-a-pain-to-deal-with-today. I’m currently getting things together to restore all the photo sets from 2003 for the WordPress site, and right now I’m specifically working on A Protest Against the War.

First of all, you remember that set, right? That was the first time I had ever been to an anti-war demonstration, and thus the character of this set is different than most other photo sets for political demonstrations. After all, it is in the Photography section, and thus is formatted like Photography sets (“Photo Essays”, as they were called back then) were formatted at that time. Protests now normally go in Life and Times, and take the form of a heavily-illustrated narrative. Then the wording sounds a little too academic in places, which was unusual for a photo set then, and still is today. When I wrote the text for that set, I had just completed a course in western political theory, which explains where all the academic-sounding wording came from. In rereading it this evening, I really had to think about what I was talking about back then.

The quality of the photos is all right, but the post-production processing was poor, as the color is a little washed out and the images are too light. That’s what this whole restoration is about, though – redoing the post-production work on the photos and generally making it all look better, plus fixing any mistakes, writing in more context (for instance, a lot of older photo sets lack explanation for some things because I considered them a given at the time), adding more links, and updating the photo set to match any new conventions being introduced on the WordPress site.

The reason this is going to be a pain to do is because I really fiddled with the timeline on this set. The photography is divided into three areas (Freedom Plaza, H Street near the White House, and 18th and K), and the material is thoroughly shuffled around in the three main areas. Thus locating the original photos has been somewhat bothersome because I don’t necessarily remember where they fell in the original timeline. Then I also sometimes got creative with how I cropped some of the photos, and that will make relocating them a little interesting. I’m still proud of one particular photo, though. Check this out:

One particular photo as run in the "A Protest Against the War" photo set

Not a bad photo. It could be worse. But she wasn’t the intended subject of the photo. Here’s the original:

The original, uncropped photo.  Looks like someone got upstaged...

Looks like someone got upstaged. I took the photo specifically of the man, but I got a clear shot of the woman with a better sign in the background. I noticed that during post-production, and that became the photo. Weird.

But yeah, I chopped up the timeline pretty badly on this one. The photos that I took at Freedom Plaza are completely out of order. The order you see there doesn’t correspond with reality at all. And that’s making it a royal pain in the behind to locate all the originals. But I’ll make it all work somehow, I suppose.

Otherwise, it’s been a long time since I went through the discs that had the photos from April 12, 2003 on them. It’s been long enough that the photos that aren’t in the photo set look almost foreign to me. The man in the photo I discussed earlier is easy to forget about. But considering that I took 354 photos of that protest and only used 122 of them in the set, for every photo I used, there’s another that I didn’t. Some are alternate versions of ones I did use, and some just didn’t make the cut. Some are okay work, and some are just bad (thus why they weren’t used).

Then there are some photos where my opinions have changed. This photo in particular stands out in that regard:

A man carries his dog during the protest

The original caption for that photo read, “I have nothing but respect for this gentleman, who was so kind as to carry his dog when the dog began to tire. Kindness to animals is always important…”

That’s what the Ben Schumin that existed in April 2003 with no protest experience thought about a man bringing his dog to a protest. Contrast that to what the Ben Schumin that existed in October 2009 thought about the same idea in this Journal entry, after having experienced a lot of these types of things:

The way I see it, if you’re going to take someone in your care to a political demonstration, take your kids – not your dog. Or if you don’t have kids, take your spouse, significant other, or friends. At least those people can vote, or will one day be able to vote. Taking your children to political demonstrations gives the kids great exposure to how the First Amendment works, and teaches them to get involved.

But your dog? Seriously. Dogs have no interest in human politics. Dogs will never be able to vote, and dogs also really don’t care if your taxes go up or not. And besides that, protests just aren’t great places for dogs, particularly small ones. In a crowded protest scene, dogs can get their feet stepped on, and since most are below waist level (with the exception of a Great Dane, maybe), it’s easy to miss seeing them and then trip over them. Plus what if a protest suddenly turns ugly (as occasionally happens). The dog is going to be scared out of its mind, or think it’s being attacked or something when all of a sudden a situation starts to fall apart. There are times at a protest when one must be prepared to run like hell for one’s own safety, and are you really going to be able to do that with a dog, and ensure both of your safety? Additionally, some of these protest marches can be tiring on the humans, especially on a hot day. What about the dog?

So my advice to all those thinking about taking their dog to a demonstration: DON’T. Seriously, leave your dog at home. It’s being really irresponsible as a pet owner, because too many bad things could happen to an animal at a protest march. People know what’s going on and take necessary precautions. Dogs, as domesticated animals, are very much dependent on you to keep them safe, and with so much going on at these things, don’t do it.

Besides, I can almost guarantee that the dog doesn’t care about the issue, and would be more than happy to just sit at home and lick its own crotch while you go out and exercise your First Amendment rights.

There you go. And the Ben Schumin that exists in October 2011 agrees with the (much heavier) 2009 version of himself on the dog issue, who would today say that the man at the protest in 2003 was an idiot for even bringing his dog along in the first place. If you want to give your dog some exercise and fresh air, take it to a park and bring your pooper scooper along for those little surprises that dogs tend to like to leave in places. Don’t take your dog to a protest. If you want to go to a protest, great. I’m happy for you. See you there. Your dog will be waiting for you when you come home. I also never thought I’d later have such a strong opinion on something like this that got kind of a minor in-passing mention before. The earlier opinion will be retained, however, for historical accuracy. But I’ve clarified myself now. It pays to read the whole site, you see.

And that’s that. I’ve spent waaaaay too much time on this, and I’m up way too late. But it’s interesting about what I think about these old photo sets in the present time. I should do a Video Journal or something discussing these old sets and give a blow-by-blow on how I view them now.

Web site: A Protest Against the War

Song: I know I've shown this before, but it's still the most adorable video ever.

Quote: Okay, time for bed...

Categories: Myself, Schumin Web meta