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SNAP SHOTS   by Harry Flashman


Time for a time capsule?

Niagara Falls 1911.

Bangkok Floods 1950.

Bangkok Floods 2011.

According to the Associated Press, a time capsule was opened this month in Boston in the US. “A Boston time capsule dating to 1901 contained letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, political campaign buttons and a presidential message on U.S. foreign relations; archivists said Wednesday. The shoebox-sized capsule was removed last week from the head of a lion statue that has long stood guard over the Old State House.”
Now, there are many time capsules buried all over the world, all with the intention that ‘sometime’ in the future, they will be dug up and our descendants will avidly study the contents, saying “Look at what they wore in 2014!” and similar. Things will be very different in 2114. (For starters, none of us reading this will still be around. In fact, will the world as we knew it still be around?)
However, returning to time capsules, take a look at the photograph, taken in 1911, of the Niagara Falls. Global warming was obviously not a problem, it was rather global freezing. That photograph would have been very suitable for a time capsule, as they portray a condition of the world that has certainly changed since 1911. Photographically, it is also very good. Note the inclusion of the figures which give an indication of the size of the falls. I have mentioned this before, but when taking photographs of “things”, if you can incorporate a person in the photograph, you have immediately given a sense of scale to the “thing”.
Now some of you will be thinking, “Where do I get a waterfall that has frozen over in Thailand?” The simple answer is that you won’t, but there are many situations in Thailand that are likely to change by the time someone opens your time capsule in 2114.
If you think back at how your city or village looks today, compared to how it was 5, 10 or even 20 years ago, you will find there have been great differences. I remember that 30 years ago Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok was two bitumen lanes with dirt shoulders each side in the Soi 11 Ambassador Hotel area. The Ambassador itself was about three storeys high, and nothing like it is today. Now imagine what your village is going to be like in 30 years from now. “Ordinary” photographs of your local area will be a wonderful reference in another 30 years. And in 100 years will become exhibits in the local museums.
You could put in your time capsule some shots of the Bangkok floods - then (1950) and now (2011). In your capsule you are giving the future generations an idea of the conditions 100 and 150 years ago. Now that’s a bonus for them!
There are countless subjects that you can put in your personal time capsule, and obviously technology changes so fast that photographs of techo items should be included. Think back to the airplanes of Louis Bleriot or before that, the Wright brothers. Today’s aircraft are the Sopwith Camels of tomorrow. Wireless internet, iPods, Bluetooth, Blackberry, LCD screens - all the cutting edge of today will be the blunted edge in 100 years.
Now one important decision you have to make, is the format for your photographs. Sure you can burn them onto DVDs, but will there be something you can play a DVD on in 100 years? Remember the eight track stereos, or the five and a half inch floppy disks or even Beta-Cam? Try playing one of those even today. Your DVD might be the same in 100 years. How do you download the information?
In my time capsule I will put prints, done in archival quality, and at least I know that my great grandchildren will be able to view the scenes and items and people of 100 years prior. Sometimes simplest is best.
I do encourage you to exercise your brains and think about what might be interesting in 100 years. And photograph it today.

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Time for a time capsule?