In Our Own Backyard….Let me show you my slidesThose of us over a certain age will well remember the old family slide show.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Those of us over a certain age will well remember the old family slide show. The family would gather around the living room, and dad would wrestle the collapsible screen out of the hall closet, set it up in one end of the room, and then dig out the slide projector. The first projector our family had would show one slide at a time as you manually inserted it into the illuminated viewer. The real show began when the first slide came up on the screen because the projector was usually too close or too far away. Then my dad would have to reposition the tippy screen, and in our small living room, it wasn’t all that easy.
“A little closer!” one of us would suggest, as my dad inched the screen a couple of feet forward.
“No, no, that’s too close – it needs to go back a little further!”
And so it went, until the size of the slide image was exactly the right size for everyone to agree upon.
The slides in those early days were made of heavy glass mounted in cardboard frames, and every once a while one of them would crack and that was the end of the slide.
We transitioned to one of the more modern carousel projectors in the early ’60s that made it possible to load dozens of slides – by then made of a vinyl-like plastic – at one time so they could be automatically advanced in sequence. And while the fancy carousel projector made it possible for my dad to sit back and actually enjoy the slide show with the rest of the family, it did have one pitfall. The slides were all loaded ahead of time, and inevitably, several of them would turn out to be sideways or upside down. Rather than stop the forward action of the carousel, all of us would lean in unison in whatever direction was necessary to see the image from whatever angle it was oriented.
We were normally entertained for the first 15 minutes or so. But if the slide show went on much longer than that – no matter what the subject matter – our attention would drift and one or the other of us would inevitably start to wiggle around, anxious to move on to something else.
The family slide show – in pretty much anyone’s family – was often the brunt of a standing joke, but I have to admit I found it quite a thrill to see an image of me holding up my prize fish, or riding my aunt’s horse, or posed on the front step with the family dog projected in living color up on the big screen.
Of course, the advent of digital photography pretty much changed all that. Our photos are now downloaded directly from the camera onto the computer, and from there you can create elaborate slide shows complete with graphics, special effects and even music. Gone are the slides and projectors of old – all you need is a couple of cables and POW – your slide show is up on your big screen TV!
And though slide presentations are a bit more glitzy these days, I suspect that I have bored more than a few family members (and all of my Facebook friends!) with my seemingly endless slide shows, particularly those featuring vacation trips since I love taking photos of everything we see, do and eat.
I recently decided to put my penchant for photography and slide shows to more productive use, however, and volunteered to take photos of activities at our church. Every month I put together a slide show to be shown once a month before church. I’ve had a great time doing it, and it has been well received by the church members as well.
Last month, Ken and I had planned to be out of town the Sunday that my latest slide show of church activities was to be shown so I transferred it onto a jump drive and gave it to one of the other women to run it for me. Our plans changed at the last minute, however, and we went to church that Sunday after all. We showed up a few minutes before the service was set to start, and I glanced through the glass windows into the sanctuary and noticed my slide show was already running on the large, overhead screen in front of the church. But much to my dismay, the first photo I saw was of Ken and me sitting on a giant boulder with the North Dakota Badlands sprawling in the distance.
I reached the computer in three large bounds and desperately uttered “Shut it off!” in an animated whisper to the gal who was running it. “That’s not the church slide show – those are our summer trip pictures!”
It turned out I’d loaded the church photos on the same jump drive as our vacation photos, and she hadn’t looked to see what was what. By then it was almost time for the service to start, so we shut down the computer completely.
I felt as though my face was burning as I slinked into a back pew and hoped maybe no one really had time to notice the glitch. But when we went downstairs for coffee after church, one of the older ladies came up to me and said, “That was quite a slide show you put together this month. I particularly liked all those buffalo!”