Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Rechargeable memory

About a week before Bonnie died, my Canon S100 did. Unlike her, it could be resurrected. Two days before she died, I took it in to have that done. It was a lens error problem, which Canon had a policy of repairing out of warranty because the problem was so common. I got the camera back this afternoon.

Bonnie's passing highlighted a couple of things for me, because I spent much of my spare time last week roaming through literally hundreds of thousands of digital photos, looking for good shots of the cats I've lost to bank into the digital frame I bought. Towards the end I came to the S100 shots. I was astonished at the quality of them; a clarity unrivaled by pretty much anything else in my collection except some of the really choice Rebel XT photos. If I'd gotten to regretting the purchase a year and a half ago as essentially pointless, those beautiful photos of her and Max straightened me out. I'm glad I had it fixed, and even more glad I bought it in the first place.

Another thing was the change in Bonnie herself. I kept the SDHC card out of the camera when I took it in, but oddly enough, in that whole month, I never bothered looking at the photos on it. Some were recent enough they weren't stored or backed up, and I saw them for the first time today. For most of thirteen years, I knew Bonnie as a robust, even faintly plump, cat. It was really only in the last two months of her life she was noticeably thin. I spent most of last week re-enforcing my standard memory of her with shots from the bulk of her life, pretty much overwriting my recent perception of her.

Then I saw the shots I took of her in mid-April. I was shocked at the sight of her. This came on gradually, but seeing it this way was like having it happen literally overnight. Here are two shots of Bonnie, both taken with the S100. The one on the left was taken February of 2012, not long after I bought the camera. The second is from April 19th, the Friday before the Monday she went in for surgery, and just a bit over two weeks before she died. Look how loosely her collar hangs on her. That's the exact same collar. The vet techs must have noticed too because when she came back from surgery, it had been shorted to hug closer to her neck again... something I would never have been able to do, because it was like admitting she'd never fill that collar out again. Part of me resents them for doing that, but most of me loves them for making that caring gesture. It was facing the obvious... something I had to do looking through the images on the card today.

Digital photograph was once just a happy lark. It was a way to keep neat things I saw; take possession of them. Share them. Increasingly, though, as the years turn now into decades, it's becoming external memory; a record of things and people (human and otherwise)  I've had and lost. It's still fun, but not the simple pure fun it once was. I forgot, when I started, that time would move on, and imbue these photos with a meaning I never intended, or ever hoped for, back then.


Jim Grey said...

Sounds like you had a similar moment as I did when I discovered that photo of Sugar before her death.

Glad the S100 is working for you, despite its repair trip.

barefoot hiker said...

Hi, Jim, thanks. :) Well, at least it was just a trip. When I got there, the guy noticed a ding on the lens casing that he thought would invalidate the out of warranty fix and cost me something like $200, but he put it in anyway and they decided to fix it for free. I'm glad to have it back.

You're right, I remember you blogging about how you didn't really see what was happening to Sugar till, in literal retrospect, you saw the photos. I did see Bonnie's degeneration, but it was slow, and I "saw" it more with my hands when I was petting her than with my eyes. Yesterday was when my eyes really caught up with my hands.