This is a story of three dogs, a man, and a camera that’s not even his.
First, the background about the camera. I am a Nikon boy through and through, having first shot with a Nikon FG-20 back in the 1980s (after using a Minolta X-700 film camera for my first corporate communications job in New York). For some reason, probably at the recommendation of a camera store salesman, I jump ship from Minolta to Nikon when I had to spend my own money on a camera and lenses, and never looked back.
This story, however, involves neither a Nikon or Minolta, but a Canon Sure Shot Tele 80, a little point and shoot film camera from the mid-1990s. My wife’s camera, it was resting comfortably in a dresser drawer for more than 20 years when she found it late last year, with a partially used roll of film already in the camera.
Being a fan of film cameras, I was interested to see what photos we took back around 2002, when this camera was last used, and what photos I can take with it today. I wasn’t expecting much regarding film quality. While the camera was stored all of these years in a temperate environment, I knew the film was more than 20 years old.
I finished the roll using my favorite models, our golden retriever dogs, Meadow and Sutter. I sent the finished roll of the lab and waited for the results.
A Dog Connection
Dogs have a special place in my life. Growing up in apartments with not much room for big dogs, my pets as a child included cats, birds, and of course a tankful or two of tropical fish. After getting married and buying a home of our own, my wife and I got our first dog, Riley, a golden retriever, in the early 1990s. Riley was our first dog, and, although he (and our black and white runt-of-the-litter domestic cat) ran the house, he was not perfect, but of course he was the joy of my life, and to say I developed a deep bond with him would an understatement.
I had no idea what to expect when I received the e-mail that my photos were ready for downloading. I had a hunch there would at the very least be a few photos of Riley, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find more than one photo of Riley in the backyard of what was then a new home around 2002. Considering the age of the film, the photos were good enough.
Of course, with digital cameras, I literally have thousands of photos of the two dogs we had after Riley, and the two dogs we currently have. But photos of Riley are much harder to come by. I did have a digital point and shoot camera when we had Riley, but that camera, and those photos, are mostly all gone. Film cameras were still being used when we had Riley in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the process of taking a roll of film, having it processed, and then printed, was a bit more involving, so we have fewer photos of him.
Seeing Riley when he was younger brought back good memories. Cancer eventually took him, although he lived a good long life and was a wonderful companion. Using the same roll of film over a stretch of 20 years for photos of Riley, along with Meadow, age 4, and Sutter, who is 2 1/2, made me appreciate and value all of our dogs, and pets, and the life we shared with them. In addition to recording memories, this little camera and expired roll of film also is a reminder that cameras, in whatever form, make memories that are priceless.
To quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from his poem A Psalm of Life, “Art is long, and Time is fleeting.”
Indeed, it is.
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