Monday, July 26, 2010
Unearthing Hidden Treasure
On Saturday night I was sitting at the computer (I know, it's a bit pathetic). I was doing some work in addition to scanning negatives. For the latter, Priya bought me a small scanner a while back that I am using to bring my pre-digital past into to the digital era. As I was painstakingly preserving my 35 mm. negatives over the years, I often thought that this was an exercise in futility as I would probably never need them. Now, as I unwrap these small bundles of negatives, and one by one pass them across this scanner, I am quite thankful that I kept them.
I was a slow convert to digital photography. The early quality was poor and the cameras were expensive. As the prices dropped and the quality improved, I still resisted. My first step was to request a floppy disk of my photos when I turned the roll of film in for development. After doing that for a period of time, my friend Russ upgraded his digital camera and gave me his old one. That was all it took. After using it for a while, there was no turning back. Even after a kayak mishap a few months later where my new digital partner slipped out of its protective sleeve and sank to the bottom of Monterey Bay, I decided to press on and replace it. The transition took place around 1999 and so all of the photos prior to that are in negative and/or photo form.
The first camera of my youth was an "instamatic" which didn't even use 35 mm. film. I still have most of those negatives which are probably about 15 mm. and they're a bit of a pain to use in the scanner. Fortunately or unfortunately most of the photos from those days are crap so there are not very many to scan. I moved on to a small 35 mm. camera when I was in college and the quality of my photography moved from crap to bad – in spite of a sophomore year photography class where I learned how to develop the photos myself in that nearly dead vestige of the pre-digital era called a darkroom.
As I trudge forward a couple hours at a time scanning my past, I am relieved to notice that my hairstyle has changed little from what it was when I was 4 years old. I'm a little thinner on top and gray is now becoming more dominant but it's basically the same. I grew it long in the early 90's but the ponytail-length hair eventually became a nuisance and one day while on holiday in Amsterdam I chopped it off. Since then it's been the same no-comb coiffure. Generally speaking I have rarely been one to take fashion risks. As a result, I may provoke some yawns when I appear in the photos of my past but I also incite far fewer snickers than some of the other people whose past is also being brought to light by this exercise. Beware you readers from my past who allowed me to photograph you with bad hair, you who thought the greatest thing about digital photography was that it happened after the 1980's. I've yet to decide what I'm going to do with all of these little digital gems.