Finding lost photos

Today I wanted to find a moody photo of a lighthouse for use in a small project. I like taking photos of lighthouses when I get the chance, so I knew I had several to choose from. While my computer has a neat text search facility to find files, it can’t locate photos of specific subjects. So I used Flickr’s search to go through the lighthouse photos I’ve uploaded there. Settled on this one:

Square and Round

This is a photo I took of Macquarie Lighthouse in Sydney, using black and white film and a Lensbaby lens. Flickr says I took it in November 2010. So then I looked through my photos on my computer for November 2010 (I have all my photos organised by year, month, and date). And I couldn’t find it.

Photos taken on digital cameras have the date encoded in the file, so you can be relatively sure of what date they were taken. But this one was taken on film and then developed, and then scanned at some later date. So I figured the Flickr date might be when it was uploaded, meaning it was taken some time earlier.

Now, I acquired a big batch of black and white film around the start of 2009, and I knew this was taken with some of that batch. So I had roughly a couple of years of folders to search through. I did so… and couldn’t find this photo anywhere.

Then I figured that maybe it was on the start of a roll that I hadn’t finished in 2010, and I searched forwards for the next time I took photos using black and white film. I found that that was actually 2016, when I took a trip to New York City, and took a film camera with me. And indeed, I found in my 2016 New York folder that the first few photos were obviously taken in Australia, not New York! And some were of a lighthouse! Aha! I thought I’d solved the mystery.

But as I looked through the photos, I noticed that the lighthouse wasn’t the same one. I’d found a different batch of misplaced black and white film photos. In fact, I didn’t recognise the lighthouse in these photos. Now I had two mysteries. Where were these photos from?

I searched through my photo folders, looking for any clues, but fruitlessly. Eventually I posted a photo to my friends’ Discord and asked if any of them recognised the lighthouse. It turned out that one did, because it was the lighthouse near his parents’ place up the coast in the town of Port Macquarie! With this lead, I looked through my folders for a trip to Port Macquarie, and found one in 2013. These photos belonged there. So I moved them there and wrote up some text notes to remind myself in future that they’d come from the same roll of film as some images from New York, 2016.

The second mystery was solved, but the first remained elusive. I went to my calendar in Flickr to see what else was uploaded around the same time… and I found several small batches of black and white film photos that I recalled taking. I looked for those on my computer, and found none of them!

Finally I realised what must have happened. I probably scanned the negatives myself at work, using the high-res film scanner they had there. And then uploaded a few of the shots to Flickr. But then I must have been stymied by the work policy of keeping computers relatively isolated. When working there, we essentially had no way to transfer files off a work computer to a personal one, other than asking a manager for permission to do so. You couldn’t email yourself an attachment without CCing a manager; you couldn’t plug in a USB stick without notifying IT; you couldn’t use Dropbox; and so on. But there was one hole – I could upload photos to Flickr. I must have done that from work, and then never figured out any way to get the original scan files home.

So I assume my original files are gone. I then spent an hour or so downloading the highest resolution copies from Flickr, and sorting them into suitable folders so I can find them again easily next time. All of this took a few hours, and pretty much killed my afternoon, during which I’d planned to do a bunch of other stuff.

Earlier in the day, I went on a walk with my wife and Scully. I took a couple of panoramas from the point, looking across Sydney Harbour. The first is from above Greenwich Baths, a small public swimming facility made by netting off a small cove of the harbour, looking across the water towards the centre of the city:

Greenwich Baths panorama

The second is a more expansive panorama, with the city at the left and the harbour stretching off to the right.

Mary Carlson Park panorama

COVID news: 319 new cases in the previous 24 hour period in New South Wales, up from yesterday’s record of 291. And 5 deaths, which is just horrible. I’m really beginning to think these numbers simply aren’t going to turn around with the current lockdown strategy, and we’ll just have to wait until 80% or more of the population is vaccinated, which is estimated to be around November or so. Media and a lot of the public are calling for the lockdown measures to be strengthened, but I really don’t think this government wants to do it.

Also, I used a mapping site today to determine that I haven’t been more than 2.8 km from home since 20 June, almost 7 weeks ago.

New content today:

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