Here are photos taken by a camera I have fallen back in love with --- my 10-year-old Canon SD780 IS, which I took to China in 2010. Last Saturday morning, I walked up and down Piedmont Avenue, to snap images of the devastating impact of Corona on a number of small businesses, the "mom and pop" shops that give the Avenue rich personalized color and culture.
The most crushing blow of all, the closing of Issues, owned by two lovely people, Joe, and Noella. They stocked magazines and books from all over the world. And the customer base was, surprisingly, predominately younger.
Unable to get any loans to carry on, Noella, seen here, issued a touching farewell on their Facebook page: "We never wanted to make this announcement. We wanted ISSUES to be a special place in the community forever. We poured our hearts and our souls into ISSUES and Oakland for thirteen years and it was our baby. Again, we are devastated and heartbroken. Thank you for making these years so amazing for us. We never could have done this without all of you. Please take care.With all our hearts, Noella & Joe"
I counted around six to 8 shops on the Avenue that appear to be either closed or on the verge of it
Only a block down from Issues, Gaylord's now stands empty, too. It came out of the early 1970s, fostering a funky youthful atmosphere, very laid back. You'd order at the register, and you could hang out there for hours. Local paintings on the walls, excellent salads and sandwiches. I never thought this place would go dark.
I went to the Piedmont Grocery over the weekend, the first time in around 10 weeks, just to get fresh Salmon.
At Pete's Coffee. People are very good about honoring each other's six feet. Virtually everyone wears a mask.
Remember newspapers, and how they once fought for space in the racks? We are getting closer to the cold, alienating intersection at MacArthur Boulevard.
And there it is, the long winding boulevard whose name conjures up the worst images of Oakland. This is where the wonderful neighborly look and feel of Piedmont Avenue abruptly ends. Cross the street, and that world is gone.
I hope he's not gone. My barbershop, with a note on the door stating "temporarily closed". A good sign -- hold that thought, I tell myself. Recently out of desperation, I raised a pair of scissors to my face in the mirror, and was able to clip away some of the hair around my ears. I am thinking of asking Van, assuming he returns, to give me a very quick two or three minutes in the chair, just for the essentials, at full price.
Lonely settled morning. I know that man with the dog, the latter a delight when he wears his little bright red vest and skips on air. And here they are, closeup.
We talked about the closing of Gaylord's. He said that it seemed to be going downhill the last couple of years, and thinks that we may witness more closings. He is like many people you pass over the years, to whom you never quite come to introducing yourself.
A picture before and after all viruses
Back to camera talk
Enamored of the sharper detail from my first iPhone, purchased four years ago, I saw no need to carry the Canon with me, hastily letting go of it.
But of late, four years after I deserted it, I have begun wondering if a camera can be so overloaded with "pixels" as to create impressive images that exceed in detail what the eye actually sees? That is, if they produce their own dazzling creations, ever more microscopic, rather than honest reproductions? Are the images produced by my Canon more impressionistic? Or might they also be closer to the truth? Looking back through the scrapbooks I keep, I marvel at the photos it had produced for me, such as those in China.
Take a close look at the photo, above, of a painting by my grandfather, Carl August Heliodor Hammarstrom, snapped by my Canon. Notice the faint white streaks above the sun drifting left and upwards? I snapped the same picture on my iPhone SE, which makes the streak more distinctly pronounced, and the sun a little brighter, something I do not see when I stand before the actual painting on the wall.
And thus, I can say with reason that what I considered might be driven by my sentimental loyalty to things that last and work well, is more than that. And I am left with a re-found respect for this little camera. How could I disrespect a camera that so accurately captures the subtleties of my grandfather's brush? It feels good to be back with an old friend in my hand.