Temporal Anomalies

I just finished retouching a scan of one of Dad’s slides from 1958. In the picture, Grandma is watching my cousin Bill, as a baby, by her living room table.

Bill and Grandma
Bill and Grandma

I was zoomed in at 100%, retouching away the dust spots and mold, moving over the picture millimeter by millimeter.

Inset of his hand
Inset of his hand

As I got to the section by his hand, I noticed he had his hand on a spent flashbulb.

If you saw one, would you even know what it was?

Back then, if you wanted to do interior photography of people, you used a flash gun with expendable glass bulbs filled with, I think, magnesium wire and oxygen that burned instantly to produce one pop of light. Dad must have used it for one of the previous pictures, set it down on the table, and the baby picked it up, as babies are wont to do.

One-shot flashbulbs were replaced with flashcubes when I was a teenager, soon to be replaced with electronic flash units, good for thousands of pictures, replacing calculations of guide numbers and distance and f/stops with automatic exposure.

It got me thinking—how much of our current everyday technology will be obsolete and unrecognizable in a few decades?