Continuing with my free-associating from the previous post...
I had occasion to pull out another old photograph of Zander as a kid yesterday, because I wanted to show it to his girlfriend. It happens to be a picture I took in 2001 with my very first digital camera, an Olympus C-3040z. He was leaving the house one September morn for the first day of second grade.
Fortunately I have a print of it, because, in one of my many sorties into different makes and kinds of image-editing software, I inadvertently threw the original file away. I thought I was deleting a duplicate folder, without realizing that the thumbnails actually represented the master files. I forget, now, what the software was. Historical, no doubt, at this point. So now the print is a prized unique original—not a great shot in the eyes of the world, but a shot of a type many parents want to preserve.
And when I dug the print out last night, I noted to my consternation that a corner of it had been jutting out from the stack of prints it had been living in, and the exposure to light has caused that corner to start to discolor. (Tough to see above, but look at the door jam on the left and the blue siding that's beginning to look red.)
Uh-oh! Remedial action is indicated. Better get this thing scanned, before it deteriorates even further.
This isn't a rip against "digital photography" per se. You can lose or inadvertently ruin negatives, too. But it does demonstrate that entropy of various permutations casually attacks all photographs as time meanders onwards—digital ones not excepted.
A bad day for a skinflint
And speaking of that first digital camera, I finally did the dastardly deed a few weeks ago. This relates back to last weekend's post about recycling, too. Sorry to make you look at the unappetizing sight of my kitchen trash receptacle (I'll make it small), but here's that selfsame Olympus C-3040z in its ultimate disposition—the one I took that second-grade picture of Z. with.
I have to admit, this does bother me about digital imaging. I bought that camera in early 2001 for more than seven hundred dollars. Its value when I tossed it was—well, it had to have been, because I wouldn't have tossed it otherwise—nuthin'. Not almost nuthin'—nuthin'. It wasn't just that it's a mere 3-MP camera that takes the now-obsolescent "Smart Media" cards; but it was also broken—as in, it didn't work at all. Wouldn't take a picture of any sort. And not only broken, but totaled—that is, it would have cost more to repair than working ones can be purchased for on Ebay. So: can't sell it; can't use it; can't fix it. Only one thing to do with it. (Well, two, the other being "recycle," but I mentioned that already.)
Seven hundred bucks, sitting on the trash heap. (I should have salvaged that strap—don't know why I didn't, except that camera straps, like lens caps and hoods, seem to breed and multiply here at Chez TOP. The house is full of them.)
Positively pains my frugal nature, it do. I'm over it, but it took a while.
If I had the patience and the proper personality, I could count the keepers I got from that thing and figure out the camera-cost per good shot I got. Don't even want to think about it.
Compare that to, say, my aunt's Zeiss Contessa, which she got as a college graduation gift (I believe) in the early 1950s. She died twenty years ago, and her daughter, my cousin, eventually gave the camera to me. Not only does it look pretty much just as sporty and spruce as it did when it was new, it also still works just fine. I've actually used it to take pictures with in the last decade. (And to add insult to injury, old Contessas go for more on Ebay than old Olympus 3040s do!)
I don't use that Contessa much. There are, of course, lots of reasons one might not want to use old cameras.
But I'd never throw it away.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Ed Hawco: "Regarding your thumbnails mishap, I think it is worth noting that some of the early image management software that came with digital cameras was really, really bad. Poorly designed, unintuitive, etc. (I work in the software industry, so I have an eye for bad usability.)
"Here's an example. The software that came with my Canon Digital Elph (aka IXUS) S100 that I bought in 2001 was terrible. It was some Canon-branded thing that allowed basic image manipulation like brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.
"The first time I used it, I opened an image, made a few adjustments, and saved. It presented no options for saving; it just saved. Next time I opened the image it looked terrible! I finally realized that the default setting (in "Preferences"—I didn't even know there was a Preferences menu) was 50% compression on save.
"50% compression of a JPG, as default! I was in a rage for about three days. Not so much because of my one messed up image (it wasn't important), but because of that completely stupid setting. I wondered how many people had ruined good and important images the same way, all because some idiot or two at the software company had no sense of how people—particularly newbies (which at that time was just about everybody)—actually use software.
"Man, that was nine years ago and I still get steamed just thinking about it...."
Featured Comment by Archer Sully:"A good friend of mine transferred all of his digital files (10k or so) to a RAID for safety. One day he decided to upgrade the RAID, but he made a mistake when reconfiguring, and POOF! Years of photos gone, with only a few lowres files left in cyberspace.
"I've had my own losses of course. I took an OM-1n and a Canon S100 'Digital ELPH' (still my favorite camera name) to Madagascar in 2001 for a Total Eclipse. Of course the memory card for the Canon failed on the way there, so I had to shoot film the whole time. But now, nine years and a divorce later, I have no idea where either the negatives or the prints are, and that includes the totality shots I took through a lovely little Takahashi Sky-90.
"The long on the short of it: Nothing lasts, except our feelings about what we shot. I can still summon a shadow of the emotions I felt on the beach in Madagascar when the Moon's shadow came rushing at me over the Mozambique Channel, even without the images I took (on Kodak PJ640, IIRC). Being able to look at the pictures again would help, though."