Sunday, September 09, 2012


I'm doing a bit of preventive maintenance on my vintage cameras web site and am considering some possibilities for tweaking the design here and there.

I am mostly concerned at the moment with moving all the photos on the site to my own server.  Since I started documenting my collection and my adventures with the cameras about ten years ago I have hosted all the photos at Photobucket.  That worked out well for a long while, but lately the pictures have been served up very slowly at times.  I also have some concern that Photobucket might collapse suddenly, leaving me with the near-impossible task of rebuilding from scratch.  The process is not technically difficult, but it is rather tedious as I must first download the pictures, then change the html code on each web page and, finally,  upload the files to my web site host server.  I'm about a quarter way through the process at this moment.

My objective from the beginning has been to document my experience in using the old film cameras.  I always try to add enough historical details to provide some perspective as to how the cameras fit into photography's long history.  I also share what seems useful about overcoming the basic restoration challenges I have encountered.  Mostly, though, I have focused on the process and results of making photographs with the old film cameras, and tried to do justice to the capabilities of the cameras.

The web site has from the beginning been a kind of random collection in the form of a catalog of my acquisitions over the years.  The basic design of the site has changed very little, but I have worked at incremental improvements in layout and navigation that I hope is helpful to others interested in the art and technology of photography.  The effort has been greatly aided by the progress of all the underlying infrastructure including the search engines, photo editing  and publishing software, and the development of blogging platforms which automate much of the publishing process.

About a year ago, I put some ads on the web site with the hope of off-setting my expenses in running the web site.  I started off with context-sensitive Google ads, and that brought me about a dollar a day.  Not long ago, I switched to ebay ads which seem more relevant to the subject, and the income is the same for me.  I had some Google ads on the blog for a while as well, but they often weren't very interesting, and they seemed too intrusive to me, so they are gone for now.

So my main concerns at the moment are not major changes, but rather some alterations in the interest of security and ease of maintenance.  Even with those modest objectives, it is a somewhat daunting task to keep the machine working well and errors and omissions may creep into the mechanism.  I'll appreciate a heads-up if any problems have gone unnoticed.  In the meantime, my thanks to those who have played along with me over the years.

- Mike


Jim said...

I use Flickr as my image repository, serving both my blog and my domain. I used to self-host images on my site but got worried about potential bandwidth costs. I do pay for the Pro account so I can upload unlimited photos, which is probably more expensive than the bandwidth overages I would have paid otherwise. It's worth it for being able to upload once and use anywhere on the Web.

I've thought about adding a cameras/photo section to my domain but it is SO much easier to update the blog. My current Cameras page on the blog has gotten long and unwieldy, and I could design a more usable page for my main site, but it would take more effort to add a camera and I'm sure I'd go long periods where I didn't keep up with it.

ps. I just finally bought myself an Agfa Clack; should arrive in the mail this week. Those things are surprisingly expensive on eBay.

Mike said...

The Clack is one of those cameras with prices all over the board. They are common as dirt in Europe, but can be hard to find at a reasonable price in the U.S.

It is really a great shooter; that big negative size captures a lot more sharp detail than seems possible. The main thing to watch out for if you have the close-up setting on yours is to not be fooled by the overly-optimistic range setting. It says 3-10 ft for the near setting, but in my experience the sharp focus distance is 7 feet.

Mike said...

I should add that my thinking was the same as yours in setting up the site originally regarding bandwidth. At this point, though, I don't think I should have a problem with my site's bandwidth as the web site doesn't get nearly the traffic of the blog. Also, it is nice to have everything properly backed up on my local hard drive. If I ever need to move things elsewhere now, I should be able to do it with a couple clicks.

Jim said...

Thanks for the tips on the Clack. I'm looking forward to it arriving. I just dropped my last roll of 120 into my old Voigtlander Bessa, though, after finally cleaning it up. I've been meaning to try it for years.

I have quite a backup system here for all my photos, plus my Web site and personal files. It would be quite a loss otherwise if a hard drive were to fry.