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Again it makes me think about the whole idea of historical accuracy vs. great presentation…

October 16, 2011, 4:32 PM

So this Sunday afternoon, I’m at my desk at the house, hard at work restoring photo sets from 2003 for Schumin Web. And as I do this, I’m constantly thinking about the work that I’m doing, and how I should be doing it.

I made the decision early on when planning this restoration and conversion to be amazingly thorough. In a few of the quote articles that I’ve restored, I replaced the images with different but similar ones. These were cases where the source of the original images was a little murky due to my not having tracked where these images (that weren’t mine to begin with) came from. It was unfortunate that the handling of that was sloppy, but I was much younger at the time, between 19 and 21, and didn’t know any better. Now I’m much better about image credits and such, and the only images these days that don’t get an image credit are the ones that I own myself. Two quote articles that are getting new images entirely that I can think of right offhand are the fireworks quote from 2001, and the relaxation quote from 2002. It’s nothing drastic, though. Just replacing the images with sloppy sourcing where the specific photo is not crucial to the discussion with similar free content from Wikimedia Commons.

Then the other part of this is the photo sets. The images there, like everywhere else, are being reprocessed from the original material to improve their appearance. Let me give you an example of what this entails, from the “Autumn Leaves” photo set:

Photo from Autumn Leaves, as originally run  Photo from Autumn Leaves, as restored in 2011

The image at left is the original version of the image that was published in 2002. The image at right is the new version of the same shot. The older version is pretty much the original shot straight out of the camera, as that’s how I used to publish things back in those days. I did a lot of my work too fast back in those days. I would shoot a photo set on a Tuesday, and it would be on the site by the next Sunday. Basically I would turn these things around within a week. It takes a lot longer time to turn a photo set around these days, but it’s because I do a lot more work on it. The writing is better and I spend more time working on the images, doing things like cropping, enhancement of colors, and things like that. I like to think that my photo sets look better now than they used to.

Throughout the whole process, I’ve questioned whether I should be redoing the images at all. On one hand, these old images as they existed were a part of the site and that was how it was, and watching as elements improve shows growth in how I do my material. On the other hand, the site’s not yellow anymore, either. It was yellow for two years, it was white for a year, it was a weird tan color for a year, and it’s been blue for seven years now. So the site has gotten several redesigns since these sets were done. Autumn Leaves has now been through five site redesigns – 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, and the ongoing WordPress conversion. Plus I don’t have separate masters for those old photo sets. Just the CDs with the original material. So my abilities are limited with the older photo sets because I don’t have full-size masters for the images as they were run on the site. Plus even the larger images that ran on the site have that bug in the corner of the images that I was doing for a while. I now consider that kind of practice to be obnoxious, and I hate that those images have the bug on them right now. Plus you know how most images since about 2005 have that black border around them? That’s directly on the image – it’s not done through CSS. Getting rid of that would degrade the image quality, and then if I ever were to switch to a dark background, I’d have to redo all of the images to change that border. So to fix all of these problems, I’ve got to go back to the original images and just start over. The new WordPress site does those borders with CSS, and of course, the bug was just obnoxious, so that’s finally going away for good.

So in the end, even if I lose a little historical accuracy in redoing the images, I think it will make a better site overall. Plus it’s not like I throw anything away anymore. I have the final versions of the site as they existed before they were replaced in 2007 and 2010. So the ASP version of the site that existed before the site briefly went down in 2007 is archived on my coputer. So is the 2007 version of the site, which was replaced in June 2010. I expect to archive the current (2010 design) site on my computer as well. So technically, I can revive any of these at a moment’s notice. The old college-era versions weren’t retained in complete form like these, so if I ever wanted to bring my 2001 “Circles” design back, I’d have to design it again from scratch based on the screenshots or something. Of course, if I’m going to go to that much effort to bring back an old version of the site, I might as well just design something totally new instead.

Web site: Convert Static Site To WordPress. I'm doing it completely manually.

Song: I have been listening to No Pink Spandex interviews while I've been working on stuff today. Yes, I'm a bit of a nerd, but I think you knew that already.

Quote: I wonder if this isn't more of a re-versioning of the site than a restoration? What do you think?

Categories: Schumin Web meta