Aperture and a Few Favorite Photos

In between trying to get a number of paintings done, I’ve spent one full day of each of the last two weekends importing my images into Aperture, the digital photo manager that I had pre-installed on the iMac. I think I’m almost halfway there. All of Kenya 2004, Mongolia 2005 and 2006, two trips to Wyoming and one to Montana are in, plus some personal stuff and photos of paintings. The two trips to Mongolia come to 5,792 total. Kenya 2004, the art workshop safari with Simon Combes and nine other artists, totals 5,116. Wyoming, which includes Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the areas around Jackson and Dubois totals 3,824. Can you imagine how much paper and ink it would have needed if those had been prints? Or plastic, paper and ink if they were slides? And how much shelf space I’d need. So far, it’s all on the iMac’s hard drive, which will be backed up to our Buffalo Terastations.

Digital is by far the most environmentally friendly way to acquire and store images and music. I’m ready for movie downloads to our tv anytime now.

elephant-and-vehicle.jpg Samburu 2004

Aperture’s image organization system is based on projects, albums and folders. Half the battle was understanding how I would want to find things well enough to set up the essential system before I started importing. I finally went with projects based on location. Images can only be in one project, but can be in multiple albums. So, I’ve done the initial imports into country projects that have specific location albums in them. Therefore, the Mongolia project has albums for Hustai National Park 2005, Hustai National Park, 2006, Khomiin Tal 2006 and so on. I had realized when I was still working with IMatch on the PC that I needed to be able to not only go to a specific location, but also when I’d been there, so this time every location name also includes the year. The next step will be to copy all the animals into specific species albums, along with various landscape features like rocks and trees, time of day like sunsets, and weather features like clouds. Everything will be batch keyworded and have appropriate metadata added. Maybe by the end of baseball season.


Marmot at National Museum of Wildlife Art (He’s real.)

I bought an after-market book on Aperture with a DVD tutorial that I’m working my way through. I got a handle on importing and dove in because my images look so completely stunning on the glossy 24″ iMac monitor that I needed to start working from it immediately. I’ve been cruising through a bunch of my photos this afternoon, especially all my argali reference from Mongolia, and I can honestly say that for the first time I can really see what my 6mb Nikon D70’s can do. Wow.


Local herder and I at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Mongolia

My paintings are going to take a big step forward. John Banovich, who I was fortunate enough to have a workshop with, told us that “you are only as good as your reference”. That is so, so true. I can’t even believe that I ever thought that 4×6 or even 5×7 prints would give me a good result. I now have the equivalent of huge transparencies that I can work from in daylight.

Hope to post some new paintings by late next week. Heading down to San Francisco for the weekend and taking along a blue heeler from the shelter who needs to go to rescue. Next entry I’ll tell the story of my first transport two weeks ago. Super short version-four dogs, ten hours driving.

The Big Conversion (Gulp)

Well, I’m finally doing it. After using IBM-based PCs for almost 15 years, I got a spiffy new iMac with the 24″ monitor a couple of weeks ago. It was a no-brainer once I decided that there was nothing to do but suck it up and re-catalog my 8,000+ images. All my music CDs are done- over 400 of those. Eight football games and a few week night hours of The Weather Channel and Animal Planet later.

I’d been toying with the thought of doing this for awhile, but the clincher was when my husband, who has over 40 years experience with computers, stated that he was “scared” of working with my PC-based image management software, IMatch. That got my attention. It turns out that while the program does what I need quite nicely, it’s a nightmare under the hood for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with since I have a tenuous grasp on the technical problems myself.

First impressions? I feel like I just traded in a Model T Ford for a 2008 Ferrari. Microsoft should be afraid, very afraid.

I’ll be re-cataloging my images using the Apple product Aperture. I had it pre-installed and, after the machine had arrived, learned of the existence of Lightroom, the Adobe product. Aperture seems to put more emphasis on organizing images anyway, which is what I really need it for. I can use Photoshop (upgrade time) for tweaking.

Needless to say, I can hardly wait to start painting and drawing from the phenomenal glossy iMac monitor. It’s as much more luminous than the Planar flat screen I’ve been using as the Planar is from the prints I used to use.

In the interests of simplicity and consistency, I was planning to replace my beloved IBM X31 with a MacBook Pro. But wait, Steve Jobs just announced the Air ultra thin notebook. Whew, that was close. Glad I didn’t have the money right away. Clearly, in the Apple world, it’s crazy to buy anything significant after about October in any given year.

In other news, I got an email a few weeks ago from someone in Germany who had been on my website and saw the photos of Mongolian herder’s dogs I have there. Berit Kaier is a member of a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of these dogs, called Tibetan mastiffs, and is putting together a brochure about the dogs. She was hoping that I would give them permission to use some of my images. Of course I said “yes”. Here is what I sent her-

Photographed from train, spring 2005


Western Mongolia, fall 2006

Mongol Dog Gobi

Gobi Desert, fall 2006


Near Hustai National Park, spring 2005; the basket is for gathering dung to use as fuel

The dogs have a reputation for being “protective”. In fact, the traditional greeting when approaching a ger (Mongolian for “yurt”) is “Hold the dogs!”. The only aggressive one I’ve encountered so far was the mother of the puppies, above, and the woman did have to hold her while we went into the ger. Otherwise, they’ve kept an eye on us or even seemed friendly. Since I hadn’t had a rabies vaccine, I had to resist any temptation to pet them, just in case.

The purebred version is threatened by inbreeding with other types of dogs that have been introduced into Mongolia, like the German Shepherds the Russians abandoned when they left Mongolia in 1991. I saw what looked like purebred shepherds living the feral life around Ulaanbaatar and I have seen quite a few dogs that obviously have shepherd in them- prick ears and the black saddle.

The herder’s dogs stay near the ger and, I have the impression, get scraps when an animal is slaughtered or they fend for themselves. In the reserve where I did the Mongolian Argali Earthwatch project, the researchers were surprised and somewhat dismayed to find that one of the major causes of argali mortality was predation by the mastiff dogs.The next trip to Mongolia is planned for September of this year. Along with everything else I want to see, I hope to find out more about the dogs and get a lot more photos of them. I think that they would make interesting subjects.