Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This past weekend I had the opportunity to present one of the workshops at the Nevada Reading Week Conference in Reno. My presentation was on a topic related to The Orange Slipknot--Nevada's Ranching History. I have been working on this presentation since September, honing my talk and preparing a slide show to accompany it. (One of my other lifelong interests is photography—I’m sure I have thousands of digital pictures on my computer, plus boxes and albums of older photographs.)

My information was condensed from a manuscript I was asked to write, that ended up not getting published due to a change in the publisher's circumstances, five or six years ago. At that time, I had already started taking some photos that I might need to illustrate it. A year ago when it first appeared that I would be doing this workshop, I began to look for more Nevada photo opportunities that I may need. Whenever we traveled, I carried my camera with me. My husband got pretty good about slowing down or stopping so I could get a picture of something I needed. And of course the past few months, as it all began to come together, I really hustled to find the last few photos that I needed.

Besides having the right photos, I had to figure out a way to organize them. I decided not to do a Powerpoint presentation but just to let them run as a slide show. It would be a lot less work and they wouldn’t need resized. Then my problem was, how could I control the speed of the slide show, and how would I name or number the pictures to make them come up in the right order? I couldn’t find a way to set the speed of the slide show if they came up in Windows, but I could set it in my digital camera software. So I figured out a system of naming each section of my talk with letters, then numbering the pictures within each section.

Once I decided on 15 seconds per slide, the real work started—copying lots of my pictures in a folder of “possibles,” figuring out which pictures might go where, moving them into the “real” file, renaming them so they came up in the right spot, penciling them in the margin of my talk, changing them around over and over, and timing my talk in 15 second chunks.

Even when I had it all worked out, I still had to go over it many times, making notes where to pause or talk faster or slower. My talk had to be just the right length for my workshop so I pared out words or sentences till it was exact. When it finally worked just right, it was a great feeling! Like finishing a giant jigsaw puzzle! (I always loved jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles.) It was a lot like the process of writing a book—starting with a pile of notes and raw ideas, organizing them, honing the writing, then editing the finished product and producing it.