Friday, December 26, 2008

Scanning: No Method to Our Madness...

No, there was no method to our madness in scanner experiments. (Want to know about method? Remind me to tell you about Professor Ziggy and the chocolate-chip cookie recipe.) As a result of our haphazard method, I went home with a hodge-podge of file sizes and types. I had one interlaced .GIF of a painting, "Sisters"; one .JPEG of "Ghost in Pajamas" (a colored pencil illustration); and one I-don't-know-what of Bugbones. (Working with that thing was another story.) After uploading my artwork, I found that I really liked the interlaced .GIF. It made for a cool download! Still, a .JPEG would have been the better choice, I learned. GIFs are better suited for computer-generated images. Alas, we didn't save any images in uncompressed formats. This would impede my options for working with the files. I left Terri's house with three photo files and a covetous desire to own my own scanner. I proudly e-mailed my images to Philip, the fearless guide of The Artist's Exchange, and we conversed about art. Then I began my next challenge: uploading files and placing them on my web page.

Oh, the perils of Bugbones...

Scanner Chronicles: To Compress, or Not to Compress

We soon ruled out the photo file formats we hadn't heard of ~ a wise decision, in my opinion. We were getting to be old hands at Windows95, with enough shiny worn off of our brass to know that if we didn't recognize that extension, chances were, Windows wouldn't either. I knew from reading tutorials, as well as hellacious trials (or mostly errors) that .JPEG and .GIF formats were highly desirable for Web usage, but .BMPs weren't recommended. We did our first scan at 100 percent and were surprised to see the size of the nose on that painted dame! Re-sizing as a visual necessity was a given if we wanted to see more than one eyeball at a time without scrolling. It wasn't hard to resize, but neither of us knew enough about resolution or compression to know that these settings could affect the download speed of a file being fed from a web page. Nor did we know what "interlaced" meant. Of these options, we chose at least one of each, not knowing whether any of them would work for my intended purpose. Thus began my scanning career.

Let the Scanning Begin!

Now began the operation of scanning in earnest. Neither of us knew what the heck we were doing, but we were game to try. I was too shy to admit that I wanted to scan a silly black-and-white doodle of a bug for Bugbones; so, I whipped out a photo of one of my acrylic portraits and popped it onto the glass. Immediately, we were faced with an array of puzzling choices. Change resolution? Scan as grayscale? Scan as 12-bit or 256 or 17 million colors? Save as a .BMP, a .GIF, a .JPEG? (which we had heard of). Or a .TIFF, a .JFIF, a .PSF? (which we hadn't heard of). And perhaps a dozen others. Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Oh, the perils of Bugbones...

Rituals of the Non-Techie

I arrived at Terri's with high hopes. Immediately began the time-honored ritual among stone-age non-techies, of ferreting out various plugs and gizmos, figuring out which one went where, and attempting to boot the machine, while keeping fingers crossed. The big fear was that hooking up more than one piece of hardware at one time would provoke the dreaded growl and threat, "Illegal Operation!" As a matter of fact, this ritual is not limited to non-techies, but seems to be a time-honored tradition among IT professionals, from what I've observed in the offices where I've worked. The thing did boot up, and I looked forward with relish to performing my first scan. My Bugbones logo would soon become a reality.

Oh, the perils of Bugbones!

Trip to Terri's: Scanner, Here I Come!

My friend, Terri, had been wanting me to take a day off and come for a visit. Now she had the perfect lure. "I have a scanner," she said. "You might come over and use it. I also have a photo-editor. I don't know if that's what you need, but it does some pretty cool things." It's not that Terri actually had to lure me to her house for a visit. It's just that I was working as a temp then, so my finances wavered between flat broke and in the green. When I was working, I had no time for a trip. When I wasn't working, I had no money, and was hesitant to burn a tank of gas for a trip out of town. My '72 Ford LTD got twelve miles to the gallon. A fill-up, in 1999, was not to be taken lightly. It was a life decision. You see how it was. But the lure of the scanner was stronger than the fear of being flat broke and stranded. I filled up that gas hog and hit the road.