Sunday, December 10, 2006


Last night I was at a performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. I hadn't seen Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for some time largely because I have enough friends in good amature choirs that I more or less have obligations to see that I get quite a lot of this sort of thing as it is. In fact the main reason I'd heard PBO in the past is because they used to hire these choirs. But they're an excellent group and have a professional chorus as well these days (turns out I and the gal I was with knew three people in the chorus) and are generally nifty.

The point of this isn't to give them a plug - don't think they really need one - it's to tell the following story.

It was raining really hard. Not quite Biblical, not even really newsworthy since it's been dryish lately and as far as I know things weren't soaked enough to have landslides or anything. But clearly in the "I'd rather not be on the freeway" category. The performance was in this lovely large church in Lafayette of all places... whose roof leaks. In particular it apparently started leaking right over the organ and string section before they let us in, and there was some concern that if the rain perked up again it might start leaking again and if so they would stop the concert as long as necessary.

Now, one of the things about PBO is it's all period instruments and they list all of that in the program. For the horns that might mean made by so-and-so in 1983 in the style of so-and-so 1720. But for the string instruments for the most part they're actual period instruments from the 1700s.

The show must go on and all that, but I imagine it's generally considered irresponsible to let the roof drip onto your 250 year old wood instrument.

Luckily the rain stopped and we got through the next three hours of Bach without incident (although somebody in the row in front of me did fall asleep - it's a lovely piece but there's a lot of it.)

But this got me thinking about the time scale involved and how long my photos will last. I should probably write up a little table sometime about the various methods of making pictures and how long they should last. One very interesting site is Wilhelm Research where they test this stuff. In particular the inkjet data is interesting - if you have the very best printers, ink, and paper they're decent and improving all the time. But you do something like use 3rd party ink and the numbers get very bad - and I think most photographers aren't trying to cheat anybody, they're just not that technical and they're trying to save a buck.

Anyway, it's nice thinking that just like those instruments, 250 years from now somebody might be rescuing one of my platinum prints from a leaky roof.


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