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The Source of Distress

My Great Big Europe Trip of 2005, referenced many times throughout this blog, had the explicit goal of collecting as many photographs of aged, distressed, broken down, and patinated surfaces as possible. I had an idea for a book and accompanying DVD/website that would provide a reference that documents how surfaces age. It would be called, "The Source of Distress" because I thought it was a bit clever, but also because Things Fall Apart was already taken, and even more recently taken (Things Fell Apart by Jon Ronson). I armed myself with an Olympus C-8080, 8 MP digital camera, a portable CD burner that accepted a variety of photo card formats (the Roadstor, an absolute workhorse), and a stack of blank CDs.

I was in a relatively new relationship with Lisa at the time, we had moved in together in a shared house near Broadway and Fraser, and she had just started a very good gig as a scenic painter at a tourist attraction in Gastown called "Storeyum." We decided (although really, I decided - our relationship has changed a lot since then) that she would keep working her job and living in our room in the house while I went to Europe for at least five months. She would join me in Portugal for a couple of weeks in September, then return to Vancouver while I finished up the trip. I have a lot of feelings about some of the decisions that were made at the time, and, in retrospect, I now wish we had increased her time there at the expense of mine. But that was how it transpired.

The trip was very successful; I took thousands of photos. They occupy 181 CDs, and I have finally transferred almost all of them to our new and much bigger hard drive. This blog post is at least in part a response to all those photos rediscovered at my fingertips. The book never happened for a number of reasons, but still I have all these surface photos. I would like to do something with them.

The main problem with the photos now is that they are not high enough resolution to be useful as stock photography. At the time, 8 MP was pretty good but pales by current day standards. Photo dimensions from the Olympus are 3264 x 2448 at 72 dpi. The dimensions from the replacement camera, a Canon PowerShot G6 purchased in Toulouse (plot twist!) are 3072 x 2304 at 180 dpi. Obviously, the Canon was a significant upgrade which took better photos, so I suppose I should cultivate gratitude towards the thief who lifted it out of my bag while I used a computer at an internet cafe. The reality is that even the Canon's photos aren't high res enough for a graphic designer to use in projects that require very fine grained images,

The photos are big enough, however, for most web applications and also as a purely visual reference for artists like scenic painters. They're also big enough for me to use as fodder for photo manipulations, something I've been doing quite a bit of.

These aren't all the categories I have in mind, but they are most of them. Missing at the moment, for example, are plastic, glass/ceramic, and cement/concrete. Each category would be broken down into subcategories based on the material's application. So "Stone" would be divided into categories like "Wall," "Steps," "Floor," and "Carved." This issue of how the photos are grouped and presented is only applicable to the book version of The Source of Distress, however, as the accompanying database on DVD and website would be searchable via tags. Although now that I think about it, such a DVD/website would also have a browse function, and that would rely on categories.

Maybe I'll devote a section of my website to some of these photos and put them up as Public Domain. I'm already doing that at sites like Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay, Hm. The problem is available time, as always. Regardless, here are some examples of what I'm talking about.









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