Friday, January 02, 2009

Photo Forensics: 13.5 Years Ago, a Detour

Long time ago I took a trip with a friend through Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia.

My brother was working at Glacier National Park at the time, and we stopped in for a visit and some hiking. Mom was in the area. I believe she and I intersected in Spokane (?) and then went our several ways. She was headed off in one direction and I in another, but we were covering some of the same ground. I believe Glacier National Park was on her to-do list too.

This was June 1995. At the time I had just one sister living in Washington State. She was getting heavier that summer. Sometime around August she suddenly got much lighter. I came out for that episode too.

Lately that sister unearthed a roll of film from Mom’s camera, so old that a lot of the colors aren’t quite right anymore. Still, you can see what was in the pictures. I’m pretty sure this roll dates back to that trip.

Here’s a picture I took, also on film, of Swiftcurrent Lake at Glacier. This would have been from somewhere around Many Glacier lodge. Sorry about the size and lack of detail: I’m just grabbing the shot from my Website, not going back and finding the original negative or the original scans.

Now here’s one of the pictures from Mom’s roll of film:

Check out that distinctive white diagonal stripe of snow on the left. Notice how it matches a stripe in the center of my shot. Then look at the contour of the hills and snow above that. Clouds hide some ridgeline in my shot, but see the little triangular white patch in Mom’s picture, around the center of her picture, and check how it matches a tiny bright dot in my picture.

So I suspect the scene is the same, and because the snow is sitting in such a similar way all over, I would bet that Mom’s picture was taken around the same time as mine.

Another picture I took, from a slightly different point, shows the ridgeline clearly matching Mom’s. Notice that in my pictures there’s still snow up by the ridge. In Mom’s, that snow has melted. But it’s the same place:

This shot of mine includes the same diagonal white line of snow, plus some more detail that matches Mom’s shot:

Next it looks as if Mom headed south through Montana and into Idaho, stopping at Bear Lake on the Utah border for a strawberry shake at the Home Town Drive-In, which apparently has expanded some since she was there (looks as if the windows she saw are still intact on the right side of the building):

I don't know why anyone travels anymore. You can see all the same things in Google’s Street View.

From there, heading south along the lake, Mom stopped to at least take pictures of two more drive-ins with raspberry shakes, within a two-block radius. (A banner proclaimed “Raspberry Days.”) One of the diners, sadly, appears to have gone under. But its big raspberry tank (?) in the parking lot is still there, as it was in Mom’s picture:

From there, other than a few more landscape shots showing Bear Lake, there’s nothing until Mom gets to Salt Lake City, where she takes a picture of the state capitol from a northeast-facing window in the Family History Library:

I’m left puzzling over why Mom didn’t take more pictures on this roll. Did she have another camera with her? (Quite possible.) Between Glacier and Salt Lake, she could have taken Interstate 15, but Bear Lake is off that beaten path. Knowing Mom, and looking at the map, it seems more likely she came south from Glacier via Yellowstone in Wyoming, then cut over to 15 by way of Bear Lake.

She had time to stop for raspberry shakes in Bear Lake. Why not a single picture all the way through Yellowstone?

One way or another, it’s a nice set of memories to share these many years later.

* * *

Update: My sister clarified where the film came from.

After Mom died, my sister found this disposable camera under a pile of other miscellany in Mom’s bathroom. It had been buried, probably when Mom unpacked the car after her 1995 trip, and it wasn’t unearthed until 11 years later. (My sister told me this last month when she handed me the pictures. The memory stick in my brain that held that conversation got full between then and now, and I swapped it out for a new one.)

That explains why this roll had so few pictures, and why they were so grainy. While Mom worked her way through the disposable camera, trying it out, she probably shot a dozen rolls on good film, in perfect focus, on her sophisticated 35mm workhorse. She saved this camera for some test landscape shots. All the pictures of family members and geysers and glaciers and wildlife were preserved for posterity in her fancier camera.

I’m sure there’s still some story behind why Mom was shooting with a disposable camera on this trip. I know for a fact that on my parallel trip I also shot some pictures with a disposable camera, as well as my regular Minox 35mm camera. Kodak was marketing the disposables at the time. Some of them had custom purposes. The one I had was designed to shoot panoramas, and it did. I experimented and was happy with some of the results. But Kodak didn’t put its best film into these cameras, and I never got hooked. Why Mom had one (a telephoto, if I understand my sister right), I don’t know. I might even have given it to Mom to take on her trip, at the same time as I got my own. Or she got hers independently, or someone else gave it to her. Who knows?

Four years later, in Wyoming, we had great fun, and got great results, by buying disposable cameras for a bunch of grandkids and letting them take pictures of everything they saw while we grownups took pictures of what we saw. It was a great chance to see what each child thought was worth documenting.


Kangamoo said...

Nice knowing that those are 13 years old, at least that is how old the large bump is. I like the comparisons of your pictures to hers. That would make that very old film, in film years.

Kangamoo said...

Is this how we hand down the traditions from one generation to the next. 2 of my kids have taken photography classes in high school, and the youngest 3 all have cameras of their own. The youngest saying that he is going to be a photographer when he grows up. I am just hoping he grows up.

Papa Bradstein said...

I believe she was testing them out. I think she had a panorama disposable with her on that trip too. Or maybe it was on another trip, but I believe that I recall seeing panorama shots from it. Or maybe I'm transposing your panorama with her telephoto. But the telephoto would explain her taking photos of distant objects. I bet that if we could find her photos from her SLR from that trip that we'd find parallel photos, since she likely would have intended to print both rolls and compare quality.