Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura

About 37 years ago my dad and I went on a safari. No, we didn’t see lions…. or wildebeest… or even meerkat (although, truth be told, that would have been epic.)  Frankly, we didn’t even leave Marietta. It was a different kind of safari altogether. We were in search of the vanishing Cobb County.
Even then, so very long ago, he knew what we had that made Marietta and the surrounding areas special was disappearing, vaporizing, and being ground into indisquinishable landfill fodder. He had the idea of capturing it all on cellulose,  preserved for all eternity in a little metal can.

Now, driving all around town, snapping photos of every old building, house, and tree-lined street  we could find sounded like a laudable exercise. In fact, it sounded, well… fun. And, seeing that my father and I  really never did that much stuff together (just a wholly different set of interests going on) other than yard work… shop work… tree work…. repair work… ( see all those works there?) , I was game…. hell, I – was stoked.

“These are all going to be gone soon. Marietta is changing so fast, in another 10 years, it’ll all be gone… and no one will remember what it used to look like”

I hear you out there…. mentally ticking up the cost of endless rolls of 36 exposure Ekta chrome …. visualizing the stacks of 1-hour photo envelopes… imagining the odd looks from the photo clerks as we deposited shoe boxes of exposed film canisters….
You’re right, that would be ludicrous.

No, his idea was to utilize his 16mm movie camera….

You know the thing. Oddly heavy in the wrong places, slightly pebbled surface to confuse your fingertips

… setting it to single frame Exposure … and me hanging out the window of a moving car; snapping away from the passenger seat.

We were gone for hours.

I capturedphotographed….snapped 2 rolls of film.

Did they come out? I haven’t a clue… my dad never mentioned it again. I didn’t bring it up because I was in the middle of a fast tract move to Savannah to take part in the Hyatt grand opening… either way, the safari faded into obscurity.

I never really thought about it again… until last week. Since I’ve moved in full-time with my mom, my house is a neglected mess. I was clearing out some of the more valuable things at the cabin to bring someplace less moldy…. stuffy…..dank. As I was packing up the camera collection, I hefted the old movie camera.

…it still had film in it. And, I know the last time it was used…. Shortly after the safari we had purchased a video camera, and dad went 360 degrees digital.

…so it has to be the safari…

…and, I don’t know if the film is still viable…

… and, I’m not even sure I want to find out.

Maybe the important thing about the safari wasn’t the archive, but rather the act of him just doing something with me… spending time with a maturing son… because those times, like the aging landscape around my hometown, would soon become a vanished memory…



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