Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Chasing photos (Pt 1, hopefully)

Two weeks ago I was wandering the street of Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka when I contrived to mislay my camera, a dated Canon model Canon EOS XT 350D, black with a 55-200mm zoom lens. Re-trace footsteps at hotel (Bay Vista Hotel), nearby laundry, the ultra-slow Mandarin restaurant over the road, nada.

Now is not the time to point fingers but ultimately I believe I put it down during some form of transaction and that when the penny dropped that it was no longer to hand, too much time had passed (overnight basically) to be absolutely sure but also enough time for the new 'owner' to have decided what to do.

Tragedy with such things is not the camera but what's on the SD, sorry CompactFlash, card - luckily backed-up before leaving UK but still the whole trip - Jaffna, islands, Uppaveli, Passikudah, Arugam - in brain memory only and if the new owner has "erased all" then even this blog is for nothing. So typical, so why blog about it?

Well, on the off chance that the SANDisk 4Gb CompactFlash card still exists with the photos on and that the battery has gone flat (it was well down but yes I know it's £4.99 on ebay for a charger, 21 of which have been acquired on the uk site in the last month) then possibly the camera is literally sitting around somewhere be it in Sri Lanka or on someone's travels.

Anyway, once back here and "over it", I have become slightly obsessed with the notion that the interweb can find my camera and SD card. How might that be you ask? Turns out there are a number of sites that endeavour to help:

Stolen Camera Finder

You can test SCF as I have made a couple of my own images on Flickr public....

Camera Trace

Camera Found

Specifically - Example image off my camera from 2014

You will see lots of reports of lost, quite a few found but it appears not so many returned to owners - a Venn diagram of these different communities would I think show only a thin overlap!

Facebook Lost and Found Camera

Shutterdial

Photosearch is unavailable

Plus I have used Flickr for years and their recent upgrade includes auto-upload and much improved search tools.

The key to most of these sites is your camera serial number - mine is 3520738633 - and the fact that it may be stored and retained in the EXIF that accompanies every digital image. I say "may be" because it seems looking back that not every image has the serial number in. Anyway it looks like these sites are essentially crawlers going to Flickr, Picasaweb and others (though it seems many sites - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc strip or corrupt the EXIF data but happy to be corrected on that).

All very well but still why blog?

Basically, because so far have had no joy at all and have been trying date ranges, serial number, locations, tags (I'm guessing of course), camera type and serial number.

The search tools unsurprisingly rely on matching your search parameters with publicly available data. This means for example that any photos uploaded with the latest Flickr uploader will not be searched by these tools as they are private by default (although of course a user could change that plus they may be surprised with what is automatically uploaded if they look at their photostream - the CF card probably had a thousand or more images on!). The same applies to Panoramio, 500px, picasaweb although I think only Flickr makes the full EXIF searchable.

The camera contains no automatic GPS chip or geo-tagging so relying on others to tag photos and/or make them public seems a tad ambitious. But then maybe this exercise is too - which is to use the power of social media to crowd source the serial number 3520738633 from private and family and friends on Flickr.

The camera can go hang - I reported it to the tourist police in Arugam Bay by phone when I got back to UK as I forget to do it there even though they are just down the road from the hotel; though am yet to get a report number the hotel did call me say that the police have been in to follow up which based on a text message is pretty impressive imho though whether it will impress Columbus Direct remains to be seen - the real desire is get hold of the images.

So, the purpose of the blog?

It's to see whether having tweeted the link to this post that that desire is ever realised!

So, to my small band of followers a RT would be great (can this go viral?) and if I get to write a Pt 2 I'll be delighted!