Saturday, April 28, 2012

Captioning Methodology

A few readers have inquired into the process that I have for finding pictures and making captions. If that doesn't interest you (and I can't really blame you...), then this post isn't for you.

Anyway, when I have some free time, I (like a lot of you, I suspect) like to prowl around the web finding pictures that ... um ... catch my attention. Sometimes I'll see a specific picture that I like and I'll save it to my downloads directory. Other times, I find a whole series of pictures. Those I download usually to a folder named with the day's date. I've got a looooooot of photos in those sorts of folders.

Other times, rather than searching for new pictures, I'll spend my time looking through the pictures that I've downloaded, finding ones that I want to keep -- either because I just like the picture or because I might want to use it for a caption. Those pictures get moved into a permanent folder (and sub-folders). The other original downloads that don't get moved into a permanent folder get deleted (hey, I've only got so much disk space). When I come across a series of linked images, I'll often put those into a sub-folder together to be used for a longer caption (or not).

Then, when I'm feeling creative, I'll start going through these permanent folders, just looking at the photos one by one by one. My usual process is to look at the photos until one grabs my attention or suggests a caption. Rarely do I have a caption in mind for which I need to find an image, though it does happen sometimes (and when I think of a caption without an associated image, I usually make an effort to either write the caption out or at least put a few notes down so that I'll remember my idea).

When I find a photo that triggers the idea for a caption (or when I find an image to go with a caption that I've thought of), I load the photo into my graphics program. I've been using Plasq's Comic Life for Windows. I'm thinking about upgrading to Comic Life 2. It looks like the new version has some cool new features (especially with word balloons); but it also look like it adds a lot of complexity, too.

Anyway, I find that once I get into a creative mood, I am often able to create 5 or 6 captions at a sitting. But I've also discovered that I need to just "go" and not stop and proofread or tweak too much. When I do, I find myself getting bogged down and don't wind up creating too much. Lose the mood, so to speak. So I create the captions, knowing that they may be slightly flawed but keep going.

When I've worn out my ability to create new captions I quit. Sometimes for a few hours; sometimes for a day or two; sometimes for several weeks. It all depends on time and mood.

Then when I next get a chance, I go back through the captions that I've made. I use Photoshop Elements to crop them. I also try to do a quick proofread (I should do a better job, but hey...). When the captions are "ready" I put them into a my "to be posted" folder.

As you've seen, I try to post one caption each day. When I finally load a caption into Blogger to post, I give a final proofread. And unfortunately, at that stage I tend to find lots of little errors that I missed before. When that happens, I skip posting that caption and move on to the next one. The captions that I skip are put into my "to be fixed" folder for next time I get some time. Unfortunately (I'm using that word a lot, aren't I?) it often takes me a while to get back to those captions that need to be fixed. Hence the delay in posting the second part of "Boys Heart Me" (and it was finding a typo that needed to be fixed in "Fertility Treatment's Unexpected Results 2" that prompted me to write this post...).

So that pretty much sums up my methods. Any questions?

And now back to our regularly scheduled captioning...

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