The three people who read this blog have doubtless noticed that I post a lot during the summer, and then slack off in the fall and winter, with some additional activity on school breaks. The reason is obvious: teaching school takes a lot of time. And so does blogging. When something has to give, it’s the blog that has to yield.
Why is blogging so time-intensive? For me, it’s not the writing. I write about as fast as anyone I know, and while the final results are not always as elegant as I’d like, they are usual coherent enough to get across my meaning.
Rather, the problem is the pictures. It became apparent to me when I started blogging that, unless you’re running a political op-ed blog, you really need illustrations. Editing those illustrations and pictures is time-consuming and requires considerable attention to detail. Most image-processing software looks a lot like the picture at the top of this post, and is, well, less than intuitive. So how do you use it?
First, you have to decide a reasonable number of photographs to use to illustrate what you’re going to talk about. Then you have to figure out which pictures to use and which you don’t. (Sometimes this is easy; sometimes it takes a lot of time to choose between multiple shots, each of which has something that the others don’t.) You then have to import the picture to your photo software, which is sometimes easy, and sometimes not. Often the pictures have to be rotated (don’t ask me why smartphones aren’t really very smart in this respect), and then almost always have to be cropped, which you don’t always get right on the first take. Then the size has to be adjust downward so that they will load quickly on the web (typically I try to reduce them to a width of about 800 to 1000 pixels, and reduce the size by reducing the quality somewhat so that the final result is a size between 35 and 80 kilobytes, compared with between 1 to 4 megabytes when they were offloaded from the phone.)
All this takes enough time to be annoying to the blogger, or, at least, to this blogger. I typically use between 5 to 15 photos per post. For example, the last post I did about team tests had seven photos which took me about 45 minutes to edit. After that, the writing was easy and only took about 15 to 20 minutes. That makes short articles feasible, but makes the description of a longer trip a lot harder. I haven’t come close to covering the three days I spent this summer driving around eastern Washington, and many people have noticed that I have yet to finish descriptions of our trip to Death Valley last December or our return trip to Ash Meadows in the spring (I think I got as far as Las Vegas, which was only the first day of the trip). I haven’t even begun to write up my trip with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to the Owens Valley in June of 2016, or some of the other trips that Kathy and I have taken. So I ask your patience as I wade through the thousands of photographs and prepare them for publication. After that, the text is easy!