Tag Archives: family

Photographing the Picturetakers

Pictures of People Taking Pictures

Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of photographs.

While I have many idiosyncrasies, one of them is observing and sometimes photographing others who are also taking photographs.

I’ve captured a bunch of photographers taking pictures of their relatives and friends and/or the scenic surroundings that I am also there to record. Some are funny, some are serious. I have a good time recording these picture.

Below is part of my collection. Keep in mind that I am not photographing the surroundings, only the picturetaker. They are arranged by the location where taken and when possible I’ve included the date taken.

Transferring Old VHS Movies

Sharing my VHS movies in the digital age

I’ve had a couple of boxes full of VHS cassettes sitting in the basement for years. When I finally started looking through them, I saw that some of them dated back to the 1980’s – they’re more than 30 years old.

I shouldn’t have been surprised since we bought our first VHS camera when some of our kids were just babies. We have cassettes of babies, of birthdays, of holidays, of vacations, of weddings, of …. I think you can name other events as well.

My goal was to convert them so that the family would be able to easily view them on their computer or digital device. Initially this looked like an enormous task, but soon after I got started this turned into an enjoyable project.

Follow along as I go through the steps.

One of the items on my “to-do list” is to convert these old movies to a form that the family could easily watch and enjoy the events that we recorded years ago. But first I had to locate a VHS player. We hadn’t owned one for years.

I found one for sales in our area for a reasonable cost.

Next I needed a device to convert the video frames to a digital form that is copied to the computer.

Searching the Internet I found this inexpensive (about $10) device. The three connectors (red, white and yellow) plug into the VHS player and the other end is a USB connector plugs into my computer.

If you use a Windows computer, the above Video Converter comes with software to record the video to your computer. I use an iMac so the QuickTime application is used to record the digitized video.

Using QuickTime I watched the conversion of the first cassette on my computer screen. I was satisfied with the high quality of the resulting video and accompanying sound. However I immediately realized that this project was going to take a long time. Since many of my VHS cassettes were “full”, a two-hour recording takes two hours to digitize. Thankfully I could perform other tasks on my iMac while QuickTime was running in the background. To conserve time, I resigned myself to convert only one or two cassettes at one sitting.

By the fourth or fifth cassette I realized that I had a problem. Some of my cassettes were recorded at a “slower” speed (to save money by conserving recording capacity). As these cassettes were played, the movie would run at double speed with the sound garbled. The above video player that I purchased did not have a way to replay at this slower speed.

I tried to fix this by replaying the resulting digitized file at a slower speed but the video and sound were poor.

So I went searching for a second VHS player that was capable of playback at the slower recording speed and found this model for a reasonable cost.

After three weeks of converting boxes of old VHS cassettes I now have a large library of old family movies that I’m able to share with others digitally.

Sample movie converted from VHS cassette to digital mp4 file from 1990

All of the effort turned out to be a lot less than I expected. I’m glad that I undertook this project and have already had lots of feedback from many of the faces in these “old” movies.

Same Place, Different Face

For almost twenty years I’ve been flying to the Phoenix area in April or May to drive Mom’s car back to Michigan while she takes the quick way home by plane. I like driving and this is convenient way to retrieve her car and to spend few days sightseeing.

My wife Kris and I have quite a few grandkids. We thought it would be a treat for one of them to ride along and visit some of the “wonders of the West” on a road trip back to Michigan. This was also a great opportunity for Grandpa (me) to spend a few days together one-on-one. One of the grandkids and I would fly to Phoenix for a day or two to visit and then we’d be ready to hop in Mom’s car for the return trip.

For six different years you can see that I stopped to show them one of the most scenic places in America. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is part of the Navajo Nation in the northeast corner of Arizona near the town of Kayenta. In the valley is a 17-mile drive along which you’ll gaze at dozens of jaw dropping sandstone cliffs and buttes. I tried to stop in the same general area to record each grandkid with Merrick Butte or West Mitten in the background.

Ezra 2011

Eden 2014

Ezra and Eden 2014

Logan 2015

Ezra 2015

Lyon 2018

Izora 2019

Adeline 2022

I treasure these pictures so that I have made 20″ x 30″ poster size enlargements of each of them.

They represent great memories for me and hopefully for each of these grandkids as well.