The Curse of Holiday Photos

Returning from holidays is so fraught.

Do you want to take guesses about where weve been?

Do you want to take guesses about where we've been? Terracotta tiled roofs, gorgeous sunshine, distant mountains...

This time around, we did not arrive home at close to midnight, knowing we had to go to work the next morning. We are trying to be better with our holidays – instead of packing in as much holiday time as possible (leaving in the wee hours on the first day off and arriving home during the witching hours on the last day off), we are aiming to leave and arrive home at sensible times, so that we don’t end up feeling rushed and exhausted post holiday, usually prompting oh-so witty repetition of, “We need a holiday!”

No.  This time around, we arrived home at midday, and had all day to unpack, do laundry, re-stock our fridge, lament the death of some plants, upload photos and just generally chill out prior to returning to work.

Mostly, we did laundry, which necessarily involved unpacking, so that was helpful.

It has, however, taken me a solid two weeks to sort through the photos, as we are now taking the Fuji and the Caplio with us on trips and this leads to an excess of photos (yes, even more than usual).

We were in Florence!

We were in Florence!

The first thing I do when uploading photos is download them from the camera. I look at them desultorily, change the orientation of the ones that need changing and delete the obviously crap photos. Then, it all seems too much and I stop and do something – anything – else instead.

Its too much, looking at this and thinking, I have to go to work tomorrow...

It's too much, looking at this and thinking, I have to go to work tomorrow... (We also went to the Cinque Terre.)

The next thing I do, sometimes that day, sometimes the day after, is copy all the photos across to our external hard drive. If I have let two days pass before transferring the photos from my laptop to the external hard drive, I start getting panicky visions of my laptop and the cameras melting (or, more likely, being stolen) and all the photos being lost.  Transferring the photos can take forever, so that is usually the only task I have time for. Well, that’s untrue. I cook dinner or wash the dishes or read a book or … you get the drift. I just don’t do anything else that involves a computer.

Then, I delete the photos from our camera. This step used to give me flutters of nervousness, but I have since become quite brutal. Once I have saved two back ups, I cease to care about the photos on the camera.  If somehow I lose the photos at this stage, I can only be philosophical.  Dems da breaks, doll.  It actually aggravates me more to pick up a camera to take a photo, only to realise that to upload the recent photo, I will have to upload hundreds of old ones.  Ooh, that makes my blood boil.

Some time later (a few days, a week), I go back and have a more careful look at the photos, sorting out the ones that are good or that I want to keep for whatever reason and tagging them for uploading to our photo website. Sometimes, my partner does this and I am oh-so pleased because that’s one task I don’t have to. Sometimes, I do this task alone. Occassionally, and best of all, is when we do this task together.

One of those photos that is not so good but that really has to be kept for documentary purposes: My entree of seasonal vegetable quiches, from Il Grotto, Riomaggiore.

One of those photos that is not so good but that really have to be kept for documentary purposes: My entree of seasonal vegetable quiches, from Il Grotto, Riomaggiore. Highly recommend that restaurant.

We have different aesthetics: I might disregard a photo he wants to keep or he sees potential to post-process a photo successfully that I would have considered a no-hoper. He has a better eye for post-processing than me. I just have an eye for, “Good photo; Crap photo; or (a difficult category) Oh, bummer that photo didn’t work but we’re uploading it to our website anyway”.

This photo  has had no post processing.  The flower really was that insanely coloured.

This photo has had no post processing. The flower really was that insanely coloured.

I have recently discovered the joy of cropping. Yes, friends, I am entering the digital era. I belong in the camp of “the photo as it is” and often we lament our camera’s inability to take panorama shots. But you know what? With the huge amount of megapixels our camera has, you can make a panorama from a ‘meh’ landscape picture and turn it into a ‘wow’ landscape picture.

Since discovering cropping, I’ve been returning to my photos from Viet Nam and rehabilitating some of the photos I discarded just by cropping them. Magic.

Ha Long Bay looks better in panorama.

Ha Long Bay looks better in panorama.

After choosing which photos to upload, we upload to our photo website. This, too, is time consuming and by the end of the process, I am exhausted and do not want to do anything else computer related at all. Again, oddly, it involves nothing but waiting around while a little bar goes from one side of the screen (green) to the other side of the screen (red) telling me of its progress but I find this so enervating that I am left with no desire to go near the photos once they have uploaded.

Finally, a few days (sometimes a week) later I or my partner return to the photos, to arrange them in order (for some reason the website mucks up the order when we upload) and write a caption for each one. I love looking at photos, but I like to have either (1) the photographer present telling me stories about each picture or (2) captions, even if the caption is merely descriptive of what my eyes are seeing. I’m happier with a photo of a blue flower that says, “Blue Flower” than with a photo of a blue flower without that same, (some would say unecessary) commentary. It would be better of course, if the caption said, “A blue flower I saw while we were descending this crazy steep mountain and I almost died. No photo of me almost dying, sadly.” Some of my Sweden photos are so captioned.* So, in the interests of practising what I preach, I caption all my photos, even if the caption is really bland.

A Cat.  In a Basket.  (Resident cat belonging to the people who rented us our apartment in Riomaggiore.)

A Cat. In a Basket. (Resident cat belonging to the people who rented us our apartment in Riomaggiore.)

And then, I/we have photos uploaded that I can share with the world (lucky world). The process is refined such that it now takes weeks, rather than months.

Except that I still have not finished uploading my Viet Nam photos – that trip was in December 2005.

Rather a long winded way for me to show you some photos. And I will shortly be off on holiday, again. This time to Wales for lots of cycling and, hopefully, hanging out with some puffins. More silence from me. (Is it really a month since last I posted?  And I had been doing so well!)

* I have a tendency towards melodramatic exaggeration in my daily life, especially out on hikes.** E.G. Why be just peckish when you could be dying of starvation? This trend towards overstating things has got more intense since living in England: because everyone else tends toward understatement (except in relation to the weather***), I just have to go veering off in the completely other direction.

** I have only almost died once on a hike. I’ll tell you about sometime.

*** Dear Met Office: It’s not a thunderstorm unless there’s thunder and lightning. Visit Brisbane, now that’s a town that can show you thunderstorm.



  1. I am so looking forward to the part where you finish uploading and start sharing them with the world. But I suppose I shall have to wait until well after your next holidays to see more of Riomaggiore. I love that dreamy shot of the city by the coast. And that psychelelic flower is astounding – who could come up with such amazing designs?!


  2. Ha! It’s like that with food blog photos too. I create separate folders for each recipe or restaurant and then must add to it when I visit the restaurant and eat more dishes.

    I also have to shuffle my photos in proper order and title and number them too.

    Although, maybe it’s just with Canon, but I don’t have to delete my old photos to upload new ones. The program automatically reads new photos for uploading. I have to specify if I want it to upload old photos too.


  3. I’m paranoid about losing photos and have similar flutters of anxiety about deleting the pics off the camera itself (even though I’ve backed them up all over the place). My mother drives me mad b/c she loves keeping her photos ON THE CAMERA. Every time I d’load her most recent pics, I have to scroll around a rabbit-warren of folders…

    And I know not of your photoblog – is it something you publicly share? With my mummy-brain firmly in place at the moment, I’m contemplating starting up a children’s book review blog…madness, I say, when I can’t even check my email regularly.


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