The demise of the Pentax Optio

Readers of this blog will know how much I depend on and love my technology. The Edirol R09 which has been the foundation of my sound-recording practice for 4 years or so now is worn on all the edges; the buttons are smooth; and the complex battery/SD card mechanism at its base has lost some plastic corners and at least one spring. I will continue to use it until it absolutely falls apart, and it will always be my favourite piece of sound-recording equipment because I learnt everything I know about sounds and their capture from my use of this tool.

So it has been also with my beloved Pentax Optio; the camera my parents gave me for Christmas in 2007 and the source of all the photos that have populated my posts and my Flickr account over the past few years. In many ways four years doesn’t feel like a long time for an essential tool to last, but in today’s world of built-in-obsolescence and obscene disposability, it feels like it has performed admirably and with great durability. I have no idea how I should dispose of the camera – or whether it is even possible to repair it – though these are both things to now research.

I have loved this camera and all the adventures we have had together. It has recorded many personally important impressions, sights, ideas and moments over the past few years, and I feel strangely at a loss knowing that if I want to take a photograph today or tomorrow, the trusty little silver box will fail me and document – as it has done all of today and yesterday – only vast, vacant, blank squares of whiteness.

My little camera has bought you edits from every aspect of my life providing context to the many words I have written here, and I feel oddly silenced knowing that I do not in the immediate future have a means for sharing with you my world via images.

It also feels strangely symbolic that the camera which has produced all the images for this blog should choose to give up the ghost now. My Flickr pro account is due to expire, and I feel restless and irritated by my online presence; its styling; its chaoticness and the fact that nobody can ever find anything they want when they come here. I wonder if the new camera I must inevitably purchase at some point might not be combined with a new web-presence; an archiving process of some description; and a paring back of the rambling accounts which have dominated thus far.

But before moving on to revamping, redesigning and reorganisation, I want to take a moment to dwell on the contents of the camera this month, and to share its last harvest of photos with you.

We have biscuit designs from the Reading Museum Huntley and Palmer gallery.

Then some documentation of our cat’s foolish cuteness. I have taken a shameful quantity of photos of Joey with this camera, and as all pet-lovers will attest, the distinctive charms of one’s familiars often prove elusive when one attempts to photograph them. But here is Joey, pretending to be a baby.

A promo shot of myself and the wondrous Stavroula Kounadea being Mixtape Consultants at the Oxford Castle O3 gallery last Sunday; the photo was taken by Isolde who was visiting this month.

Here is Isolde, holding up all the items that Isauq (pronounced ISAK) – her assistance/guide dog – bought to her under the instruction to “fetch BOOT” before an actual boot was produced. He got both of them for her eventually!

Here is Isauq. He charms the pants off everybody he meets and Isolde is surprisingly tolerant of the endless stream of requests to pet the dog, talk to the dog, give the dog treats, play with the dog etc. that she must relentlessly fend off with patient explanations of “he is working; he is my guide dog; please do not distract him.” But I think she understands why everyone wants to play with him… just look at those big brown eyes.

Here is Isauq at work, leading Isolde around the Biscuit Factory environs of Reading.

And here are two glorious aspects of the only remainder of the once sprawling biscuit factory enterprise which once dominated this town.

Our adventures in Reading together led us to the Museum of English Rural Life, where we found a herring basket from Norfolk which I photographed for Kate’s interest, and where my camera steadily died while I paraded a selection of traditional farming smocks for Isolde’s amusement.

Here is the herring swill, designed to carry 750 herring in it!

There are two things to observe here: one is the extremely practical appearance of the farming smock, and the other is my furrowed brow as I attempt to decipher the odd image appearing on the LED screen of my camera.

The mystery – and the smock modelling – continues…

Uncertainly, I pose as an artist in the smock, wondering why there are so many tiny, weird lines obscuring the picture…

…and thereon the catalogue of joyous imagery runs, alas, out.

Onwards to the new things which come when old things expire.

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