BOSTON (CBS) – Photographers flock to the Public Garden’s pair of swans. But tourists take pictures at their own risk. That’s the lesson one family learned a couple of years ago, at least according to Andy Ihnatko, a technology columnist for the Chicago Sun Times.
He enjoys visiting Boston, and during a trip here in March of 2012, he caught the Public Garden’s lagoon at a time when it had been drained. Curious, he walked through the empty basin — seizing an opportunity few have.
“From about ten yards away I saw this shiny metal thing, embedded in the mud,” Ihnatko explained. “I walked over, and it was the top half a camera.”
The device was a completely corroded Kodak, but Ihnatko figured he’d just stumbled upon a challenge.
“I’m a nerd and nerds like puzzles,”as he puts it.
After some failed attempts to see if he could retrieve any photos from the camera, Ihnatko turned to a company called Drive Savers. They have what he describes as an incredible ability to bring data back from the dead.
“I knew there was a good chance that something could be retrieved from this,” he adds.
He was right.
In just a couple of days, the company had in fact worked its magic, recovering 140 photos and two videos.
Ihnatko had assumed the camera was under the lagoon for one season, but it turns out the last picture taken was on June 24, 2010, “so it’d actually been down there, underwater, for two years — frozen twice, thawed twice, and back from the depths.”
Since Ihnatko isn’t the owner of the photos, Drive Savers will not give him all the images. They only released a handful of pictures, none with faces visible.
The next-to-last photo is of a little girl, seen from behind, sitting on the edge of a Swan Boat in the middle of the lagoon. The last picture is a blurry shot of one of those famous swans. Presumably, the little girl dropped the camera in the murky water at that moment. And there it sat for two years.
Ihnatko has taken this on as a personal quest. He has searched for the family via social media, going so far as to look for other pictures taken on the lagoon that day in the hopes that he might find a clue. Even seeing just some of the pictures is enough to know that this camera belongs to a family with small children; many of the images appear document tender family moments and celebrations. Ihnatko imagines that the family would love to get those pictures back.
“Wouldn’t you like for somebody to have found it,” he wonders, “somebody who knows who to call to fix it, to make that call, and then try to find you? So, you try to pay it forward a little bit.”