Hardly a day went by when I wouldn’t glance at the boxes on the top shelf of the storage closet and say, “One of these days, I’m going through all those old slides and start tossing some out.”
It was not an original thought. On more than one occasion, I’d pulled the boxes down, fired up the lighted slide-sorting table, dusted off the magnifying loupe, and started in. The three storage boxes– 20x8x7– were crammed to the top with yellow Kodak and green Fujichrome boxes each of which held 36 slides. For those of you who are good at math, the total number of slides comes out to approximately 5,300 slides per box. Multiply that times 3 boxes and see what you get. You get one hell of bunch of slides is what you get.
Keep in mind that all of those boxes had been culled once, the day they came home from the processor. Out of focus, over exposed, under exposed, and just plain crappy went immediately to the trash can. The ones that made the cut ending up in slide shows, photo competitions, and sometimes, prints. After that, the final resting place, the top shelf of the closet.
My latest novel, El Fuego, is now in the hands of the editor and for the first time in about a year, I was not involved in plots, character development, and struggling with proper grammar. I had some time on my hands. The boxes called, “Let’s do this!”
I started with a major group of slides, twenty some boxes, of a photo shoot with the Joe VanOs outfit. It was called Animals of North America. They use somewhat trained and reasonably tame wildlife and pose them in natural settings. Okay, call it cheating if you want, but the truth is that all but the most determined and dedicated wildlife photographers will never get a chance to photograph a lynx in the snow, a bobcat in beautiful morning light with mountains in the background, or an awesome Gyrfalcon perched on a lichen covered rock against an azure blue sky..
OMG! I’d forgotten how cool some of those shots looked; sharp, perfect exposure, great composition.. But the little photo editor in my head spoke up, “Warren, you don’t need fifty-five shots of a bobcat on a rock.”
And so it began. Slide after slide hit the round file. Grizzly with a weed in front of his eyes? OUT! Lynx with his head turned the wrong way? OUT! Darling little wolf puppies with one slightly out of focus? OUT! BEGONE!
Now, five days into the project, I have gone through about 2500 slides with about a 10% survival rate. Two more weeks should about get it, I think.
Then there’s the five drawer office-size file cabinet stuffed to the gills with hanging sheets of slides, 20 to a sheet. There’s that. It’s a lot of squinting at a two inch by two inch picture.
The optometrist appointment is in November.