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Saving Old Film

December 24, 2017

The first camera I purchased with an SD card had a lot of different pics and videos. And it was really cool to see into someone's life. It made me think about starting a series where I collect other photos and publish them. But with digital stuff, you don't know if they've already made copies and saved them. You can't know for sure that the content is at risk of being lost forever.

But when you find undeveloped film, you can be positive that those photos are yet to be seen. It's important to save them and see what would have otherwise been lost.

I got a Minolta XG-7 and 50mm 1.7 for only $8 at St. Vincent's, back on November 29th. It had some film inside, and I finished the roll and mailed it off to get it processed. It was really weird shooting in color after doing black and white for so long. For some reason, only a couple photos survived. Most of the roll was completely blank.

contact sheet of the old film

It's a bummer, but at least I got one photo:

woman at a river with trees behind her and bright rocks blurred in background

Would love to know who this is. If you know the person, please pass it along. I'd love to know the story! Here's a link to the full resolution image. It's compelling as a historical project. Why didn't this roll get developed? It's so strange to shoot a partial roll and then have your camera end up in a thrift shop.

Later in December, I found another camera (127 format) that had a roll of exposed film inside. It looks like a doctor from Washington owned the camera; his social security card was inside the box, along with a gum wrapper and other traces of his story... history :)

So this Friday, the 22nd, I dropped the roll off at Blue Moon in Portland, and I gambled $19 to have it developed. We'll see if anything is salvaged. I also bought a roll of b/w film for the camera. It's got a very simple design. 1 aperture, 1 shutter speed. Just click click click.

back to digital stuff

before any of this, I thought about salvaging old phones and memory cards and recovering photos. It's possible to get data back from things that have been deleted, because most systems just unlink the files from the directory. They don't overwrite the data, so all of the content is there. It's invasive of privacy, and it's a very time consuming process, so I haven't bothered.

ALSO, Linfield's computer policies don't allow much, so I can't even run the program, since I'm not an admin and not in the sudoers file. so annoying. Need to get a laptop, so I can have control over computer and do what I want with software.

I'll update this post as I get more film developed and find more photos. One night this homeless guy was showing me pitures on his cellphone. A few of them were pretty good. It'd be cool to curate images from homeless people and do a show. They were on an old phone, and they probably aren't saved anywhere. What happens if the phone gets stolen, or if the man dies?

A homeless guy named Bill died this year. I won 3rd place in a student show at Linfield with two images, one of his memorial at the parking garage, and the other of a headless mannequin.

flowers on the stair ledge form a memorial mannequin in corner of window with curved glass frame

The series was titled Absense, and I really like shooting at night in the city. And I can't believe I forgot to get ISO 3200 film at Blue Moon. I'll just order from B&H I guess.

It'd be nice to aggregate media and have people backup their images somehow. The technology access is very difficult for homeless people. Would be nice to have a public phone that was actually just a cellphone. Or a laptop running TAILS or something. Just a quick little access point for internet, cell, printing, etc. Something mobile out of a car.

I'm hoping to get involved at the library with education for privacy & other security things for tech, but also just general stuff. I guess they used to have 1 on 1 tech support for people with cell phone issues, mostly older people, but they didn't have enough volunteers to keep it up. So that's an opportunity. Should be good.

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