22 June 2019
Recently I added several new galleries to the picture section of my website. The pictures themselves were taken a few years ago, but the collections were only picked out and uploaded over the past fortnight — a change in how I store camera output required me to decide which ones were of likely interest, and hence kept somewhere for easy viewing. A large portion of the pictures I felt were interesting — because I would want to view them as collections in order to remember an event or place, as opposed to individual pictures of specific scenes — were ones that by and large I was comfortable making public.

Somewhere New Zealand Sometime late-2013 Something in China

Even though the photo collections I make public will omit a lot of pictures I personally would want to see again, in practice I am far more likley to review one of my pruned public photo galleries than to dig through my archives. Preperation for publication is my tried-and-tested way of keeping track of stuff.

The underlying motive

For the last few years my laptop was my de-facto archive of camera files but with my collection approaching the 50GB mark, I felt this was not good use of valuable SSD space. The problem is that having decomissioned my RAID file-server in 2012 my only current option for mass storage — for me this is 100GB plus — is USB hard drives. However one problem with portable drives is browsing pictures being painfully slow compared to SATA-connected solid-state storage, and as a result I would want to keep at least a subset of images on something that would be less painful for casual browsing.

Forgotten scene

Going through the archives I found that the “subset” of pictures I would want to keep around on faster storage was a lot larger than expected, but a large proportion of these were of a specific event and/or place — in some cases ones I had completely forgotten about. Forgotten or otherwise these collections were ones I would want to look back as a set rather than interest in a specific scene, which makes them candidates for the sort of pruning and editing I would do to a set of images before making them public — the gallery of Ostica Antica which consists of 68 pictures taking up 3MB was distilled down from a raw set of 178 images taking up 954MB.

Forgotten scene

While I was in China I chalked up something like 15 gigabytes worth of material, which by any measure is far too much for casual viewing — I put up galleries for the weekend trips to Xiamen, Ningbo, Wuzhen, and Hangshou since they were nicely self-contained, but never got round to making anything coherent of the pictures I took in Shanghai. For a raw set this large it needs to be broken down into sub-sets, otherwise it is just too much for casual viewing; In contrast my 2012 New Zealand trip could have been split in half, but I felt that the resulting sub-sets would have been a bit on the small side — a regret I have with my Edinburgh Trip, which in hindsight was pruned too much and now I have no idea where the original data-set is.

Allotment between railway

A cooked view

For various reasons the pictures that are picked out for a public gallery — as opposed to a private collection — will be a conservative subset due to pruning and censorship. With a public gallery the intention is to present a generally positive and interesting overview, as opposed to a catalogue of everything that was seen, which is intended to be browsed in a matter of minutes. In contrast with a private collection the purpose is to present a complete portrayal, which means keeping around mundane and even potentially embaressing pictures — the idea is to keep pictures that evoke thoughts I had at the time, but would be completely lost on anyone else looking over them.

Driving to new job

Privacy concerns

A notable feature of my picture galleries these days is that they do not have any identifiable people in them. These days privacy concerns are a major consideration in many juristictions, and this is one of the reasons why I have removed all the collections that relate to university events — what happened on student bar crawls 15+ years ago is simply best forgotten. Companies I have worked at in more recent years have blanket “no recording” policies that among other things disallow publishing pictures of other employees at company events, and in any case the identities of others are usually tangental to the purpose of pictures I normally take. Of course there are also pictures related to events which it is hard to resist the urge to delete the lot.

Probably best deleted


As is always the case with digging up the past, I recalled both stuff that I was happy to discover and stuff I would have preferred to leave undisturbed. Nevertheless what I choose to make public is basically the former, and by making it public it will not be forgotten for another five or so years.