Nine years ago I entered my sophomore year of college – the year I learned that there was more to life than good grades and Physics homework. That I had limits and couldn’t spend my life learning everything (much as I’d like) – there just wasn’t time to take it all in.
My dad’s Olympus OM-2 made the trip with me to school and I’d continue to shoot film for a number of years. I remember walking in the cold fall air the half-mile or so to Walgreens to drop off my film and returning 4-5 days later to see if it was ready to pick up. There was an excitement of dropping off film and waiting for it to develop. Would the colors be right (this was a drug-store processing service, after all)? Would half of my film be exposed during processing and ruin the whole roll? Would I have enough money to pay for developing? Did I need to pick up more film/camera batteries?
In October 2001 I bought my first digital camera, justifying the expense on that small Polaroid POS from Wal-Mart because it would reduce some film development expenses. It would serve as a gateway to a more refined genealogy of equipment: the Canon A20 (with screw-on telephoto and fisheye lenses), the Sony F707 (complete with Sony branded card holder and watertight Pelican case) , the Canon 30D with a real telephoto lens and now the 5Dmk2 paired with a nice set of L series lenses. It’s hard to remember how exciting it was to develop 240×320 (!) digital images and strange to look back at a camera with no removable memory. I remember the strange glitch-shots it would occasionally generate and vaguely recall a video function when hooked up to my Dell laptop (I might be making that part up).
The Polaroid 320 served a nice transition from film to digital as it had no display and held only 18 images. There was still an uncertainty in whether a good image (at 320×240, at least) was captured or whether you moved the camera that made film so exciting. Because it was a POS digital, you also wondered whether you picked up a strange glitch image or if you were about to run out of memory.
I’m glad I have these small memories – here to remind me of when my attention was spent on the little things in life and that those things still matter. To remind me of where I lived, of the few friends I had, of those things which enchanted me and gave some room for shared imagination (where I generally keep my imagination private). Of walks in the woods, of snowy fall days, of learning how to drink tea, and of megalodon jaws. The genesis of my habit to pick up Hot Wheels for my dad and my most active exercise regime of all time. Of good people now gone or out of touch.
The sunsets from my dorm window were always nice – hot chocoloate, hot tea, and an oversized mug full of 10c noodles on the windowsill.