I got my first look at the “antique” photos that will run in the basketball book. I admit, they came out much better than I expected but a little bit worse than I was hoping. They came out…muddy…and flat. The strange thing is that they are still cool pictures. Okay, most of them are cool.
This is a book about the basketball era from about 1908 to 1981. It covers how basketball was invented in 1891 and how my alma mater was involved locally in Baltimore from the very beginning but the narrative of the book really picks up when the first teams were getting off the ground and that was during the ought years.
Probably the best photo, of the old timey ones, is a spooky, deserted-looking gym from the original college site on Calvert Street. The strangest aspect of the photo is that basketball was played in that gym and there are nine posts in the middle of the floor. When you are using a pommel horse, rings, and free weights or parallel bars, posts in the middle of the floor don’t bother anyone. But devise a game where people are running willy-nilly and passing a ball around and suddenly a post in your immediate path takes on new significance. I am running it as the inside front cover.
Using this picture to kick off the book has several nice effects. First, it’s arresting. Second, if someone isn’t shocked, they are in disbelief. Third, it might pull them into the book. About the picture quality: It’s not good. It’s fuzzy in a sort of Titanic-under-the-water-with green-corrosion look. I guess the photo is poor enough to be intriguing, especially since I am running it in a sepia tone. I am super-imposing some other old timey pictures against the gym picture, used as a backdrop.
But in trying to wind up the book, now that the editing is mostly out of the way, it’s going to be decision time and the decision is going to be whether the subject matter and its placement is enough to overcome marginal quality. The writing more or less parallels the pictures. The saving grace is that the material is so different and basketball-interesting that the photos will not be National Geographic crystal clear won’t be an impediment to enjoying the book.
In most cases the picture will be worth at least a thousand words and in some cases considerably more.
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