Saturday, September 18, 2010

Too Bad We Ran Out of Film

When I was nine, my parents and I spent a week in Rome on vacation. We had a great time, in spite of the broiling heat, the World-Cup crowds, and the fact that the best meals we had were at a Chinese restaurant. We also took a lot of pictures—well, I say “we”; in fact my parents took a lot of pictures. I think my contributions were a couple of poorly focused shots, one of my parents and one of some pigeons in a piazza.

On our last full day we ran out of film. (Some of you may remember the days when cameras used “film” to record images.) It was the end of the trip, so it didn’t seem worth it to buy a whole new roll for just that day—and so we didn’t. But, of course, we saw plenty of places and things that were worthy of photographs, and our litany became “Too bad we ran out of film!” It turned into a catch-phrase joke that we’ve used then and since for years.

In these digital times it’s rare to run out of memory for images, but now photo enthusiasts are far more likely to suffer another sort of setback: having their camera batteries die. Since we’ve moved to DC my camera’s batteries have run out any number of times, but there are only three occasions that really stand out in my mind as being particularly frustrating.

The first was in May; I was walking along the part of the rock-creek parkway that skirts the zoo, and there across the creek I spotted a fox—a real live wild fox, not affiliated in any way with the zoo (unless it was planning a visit). I turned on my camera and took a quick shot before the camera was done focusing—and that was the only image I got, because the damn thing unceremoniously shut down, and in spite of all my pleas and attempts to turn it back on, the view-screen remained dark, the little line of text announcing sternly, mercilessly: “charge batteries.”

I never saw the fox again.

Just a couple of weeks ago, after I’d made my loop through the zoo and was on my way towards the back exit and home, I saw the baby gorilla playing with an adult—I think her mother—lying down next to her, then rolling around in the grass and throwing herself on the adult—behaving like an adorable youngster. Guess what happened when I tried to record this event.

And just this past week I started an early walk in the zoo, feeling virtuous and sleepy, and spent a little too long taking pictures of sun-bathing lemurs. –I say too long because, just as I started to get further into the zoo, I spotted a deer and her half-grown fawn strolling by the concession stand. I rushed for my camera, quickly changing the ISO to capture a picture in the low light—and was told that my batteries were dead. I managed to coax a single, poor shot out of the camera before it shut itself down.

Now, I’m not saying that I’d rather not have seen the cool animals and behaviors I’ve witnessed—better to have seen them than not. And it’s a pleasure to be able to relate them, even without accompanying images. I still remember our trip to Rome, too, and the gelateria we found on our last day, even though there’s no photographic evidence of the place.

Still, it’s too bad we ran out of film.

[another situation, a different day;
still, I did want some image
to illustrate this with]

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Not bad photos for a camera with no batteries. I'm so glad you remember Rome, even unphotographed.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Although you may run out of film or camera memory, I doubt your own able brain won't store these moments. Sometimes we are so busy taking pictures we forget we need to "see" what's in front of us rather than film it. This is not to say I don't love seeing these pictures every day. I think you are taking them for us more than yourself.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...