A long time coming

My late husband, John, loved photography. He had a good camera in the days when the newest phones were cordless but on a landline and cameras needed to be loaded with film. When we moved here he set up a darkroom in the loft to develop black and white images but sent colour ones off for processing. I was happy to help, happy to go out with him and stand around while he set everything up, happy to let him spend on equipment but I never really understood the fascination of ‘f stops’ and ‘exposures’.

Then 10 years ago he died and left hundreds – literally hundreds!, probably thousands – of his photos – all in the form of slides. What can you do with slides? Would I really put up the folding screen which was torn and would have to be replaced, then set up the projector and fiddle about stacking books under its feet to get the picture on the screen and twiddle the focus….? I piled the whole lot into a blanket chest and got on with more urgent things.

Then about 3 years ago I asked my daughter to help me sort through them. We turfed all the boxes out on the bedroom floor and agreed it was time to be ruthless. If we liked the picture or it was of someone we knew it would stay. Everything else would go. If there were two of the same scene or very similar we would keep only the best one. Even with two of us and no messing about it took all afternoon. We got it down to 30 or so. We put those back in the chest. Neither of us could face doing any more with them!

Time passed. Obviously slides were useless to me. If I was going to keep the photos they had to be turned into some more accessible form.

Then I culled our vast collection of books putting the ones I was pretty sure I didn’t want to keep into the loft just in case I changed my mind ( if you missed it you can read about it here https://goingbattyinwales.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/scrappy-storage-of-possible-scrap) and took down the shelves. That left a blank wall with marks where the brackets had been but not to worry – I wanted to redecorate anyway!

The resulting blank white wall looked rather bare! What it needed were some pictures. All I had to do was get the slides turned into something I could hang up. I discovered that the Camera Center in Carmarthen could do the job. After tracking them down to a redundant chapel behind the market I took my slides in and asked them to digitise them and store them on a disc so I could see them on the laptop and decide what I wanted to do with them next. That was a few days before lockdown last March and it was only when my hairdressers reopened that I ventured into town and collected them.

More time passed while I looked at them, thought about which ones I wanted printed and what size each should be. I was concerned that the wall would become a shrine to John so I added a few of my own photos to the disc. I went back into the Camera Center with the disc and a list. And we locked down again! Eventually I was able to collect the prints. Now all I needed were frames.

The wall, like almost all the ones in this house is wonky not flat and the ceiling slopes and swoops and bows. A regular array of identical frames would look drunk! So I needed a variety of styles in 2 sizes. Bargain Box in Newcastle Emlyn has a good selection of inexpensive ones. The lady on the till was a bit surprised when I bought 20!

Then it was Christmas and I had decorations up. And then, as I have told you I lost my nerve. Deciding how to arrange them felt too much of a challenge. Getting the drill out and making holes in the wall felt scary. What if I didn’t like the result? What if I made holes in the wrong places? What if it was all a big mistake and I had wasted my money?

The afternoon before I took all the decorations down, knowing the place would look bare and unloved without them, I gave myself another good telling off and fetched the drill from the workshop. I measured the wall, marked the space on the bedroom carpet and laid out the frames. Then started putting pictures in the smaller ones. When I got to the bigger ones I discovered that my occasional numerical dyslexia had struck again – they were a size too big for the photos!

I very nearly panicked and put everything back in the blanket chest! However a visit to Amazon found me a box of mounts which would solve the problem and they were delivered next day. Everything was laid out on the floor again, the pictures framed and photos of the layout taken so I could follow it to drill my holes.

By the end of the afternoon they were up. The art world will not be in raptures. They are competent photos of nice scenes which I recognise.

Why didn’t I do it ages ago?

25 thoughts on “A long time coming

  1. Tracy Perez January 29, 2021 / 12:41 pm

    It’s lovely

    Like

  2. The Snail of Happiness January 29, 2021 / 12:45 pm

    They look wonderful. I can’t wait to be able to come and visit to see them (and you, Roo and Orchid too, of course!).

    Like

  3. Sue Joseph January 29, 2021 / 1:17 pm

    You didn’t do it ages ago ‘cos the job was waiting to help in the lockdown loneliness to make you feel satisfied with a job well done and remember the times and places the pictures were taken. Well done it looks great. Sue x

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  4. j January 29, 2021 / 1:28 pm

    ‘Why didnt I do it ages ago?’ Because the timing now is perfect!!

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    • Going Batty in Wales January 31, 2021 / 10:57 am

      You are probably right. I needed to let it get to the top of the list of things I felt the need to do.

      Like

  5. Jasmine Dale January 29, 2021 / 1:29 pm

    ‘Why didnt I do it ages ago?’ Because the timing now is perfect!!

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  6. nanacathy2 January 29, 2021 / 1:47 pm

    What a fabulous picture wall. You have some great pictures all with wonderful memories. What a sensible idea to include your own pictures.

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    • Going Batty in Wales January 31, 2021 / 10:58 am

      Mine are taken with my phone and technically less good but it would have been so easy to exclude myself.

      Like

  7. Laurie Graves January 29, 2021 / 2:07 pm

    I think that photo wall looks fantastic! Why didn’t you do it ages ago? Maybe because it was a heck of a lot of work and you had to get up your courage to make holes in the wall? Your reluctance is perfectly understandable to me. 😉

    Like

    • Going Batty in Wales January 31, 2021 / 11:00 am

      Thank you Laurie. I felt a bit of a wuss because I have made lots of holes in lots of walls but judging where these went was trickier since the hanging loop is below the top of the frame and by a different amount on each style. Plus I had lost confidence during lockdown.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie Graves January 31, 2021 / 2:17 pm

        The lockdown has had a way of sapping confidence. It wears on us all.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. tialys January 29, 2021 / 2:41 pm

    It looks fabulous. A daunting task to begin with though which is why you were putting it off.
    We just moved house with 2.5 packing boxes full of photo albums, most of which we had already moved with to France 16 years ago. I really need to go through them and do what you did with the slides so I have a manageable amount but, for the moment, they are taking up a whole bookcase. One day…..

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    • Going Batty in Wales January 31, 2021 / 11:03 am

      At least in albums you could look at them even if you never do! But from now on I am determined that if a picture is worth keeping I will put it where I will see it and albums will be culled!

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  9. tidalscribe January 30, 2021 / 12:29 am

    Well done. My late husband has left behind hundreds of large prints and thousands of digital images on his computer. When we first went to camera club 16 years ago, half the members were still using real cameras and swearing they would never go digital.We had competitions for slides and prints. Now the club has a television screen and the computer puts digital images on the screen. We still have print competitions, but slides are long forgotten! Because of all Cyberspouse’s exhibition work there are boxes and boxes of paper that go with his two printers and piles of mounts. I know the pictures in the computer will be hard to check, because he could never find images he was looking for. Among all the landscapes and experimental stuff will be pix of our holidays so one day …

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    • Going Batty in Wales January 31, 2021 / 12:07 pm

      John had a digital camera for Christmas in 2010 and took 2 photos indoors just to learn how it worked, He felt ill by lunchtime and it proved to be the final straw – he died in the January never having picked it up again. I have used it but actually it is so bulky that I prefer my phone! I found I had to feel ready to face the task of sorting through his pictures and even then needed my daughter’s support. One day you too will be ready..

      Liked by 1 person

      • tidalscribe January 31, 2021 / 12:18 pm

        Thanks, I too much prefer my phone and have only ever used simple cameras. Luckily our camera club aims to be a social club with an interest in photography as I have never understood any of the technical stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. DawnGillDesigns January 31, 2021 / 10:47 am

    I think mismatched frames are hugely underrated. I really like the alignment you have here – they all look level and well spaced, but pleasingly random (which is harder to achieve than people think!)

    Like

    • Going Batty in Wales January 31, 2021 / 12:10 pm

      Thank you Dawn. In the end having laid them out on the floor and used my phone to record what went next to what I just did it by instinct – hold up the next one, guesstimate where the hole should go, drill it, hang it, pick up the next… There is still some space at each end for a few more when I happen to take a really nice one.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. onesmallstitch January 31, 2021 / 7:42 pm

    your picture wall is wonderful and I hope you enjoy it, possibly adding or moving frames around over time. It is completely understandable that it took you time to “do it” there ares so many memories and emotion attached to your husband’s photos and I like that you added some of your own as well. Well done!

    Like

    • Going Batty in Wales February 2, 2021 / 10:33 am

      Thank you Jean. Your suggestion to swap things around from time to time is a good one.

      Like

  12. anne54 January 31, 2021 / 9:44 pm

    It looks great! So many pluses to this ~ you have cleared the space in the attic, have a redecorated wall, and most importantly, you have revisited so many memories. And brought those memories to a place where you can see them.
    By the by, the Commander range of adhesive hooks and other forms of wall attachments work really well. They claim to come off cleanly, without pulling off the paint, and in my experience they work well. I like how they give me more flexibility with displaying things.

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    • Going Batty in Wales February 2, 2021 / 10:41 am

      Anne I feel so touched that you have broken your silence to comment – Thank you. I hope that whatever has been preoccupying you is resolving and you will be back to blogging soon.

      I did look at those command hooks ages ago and I think I bought a couple to experiment with but they went into a ‘safe place’ and you know what happens then! Come the day i couldn’t face going online and trying to work out exactly what I would need so stuck to the familiar. For now I will swap pictures around exchanging ones of similar size but when I redecorate again I will use something less permanent than screws. I have another wall of drawings and prints which needs decorating when I can go shopping for paint again so I will certainly use them there.

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