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"I think I found your camera": Visual clues help man solve mystery
The Post-Star ^ | 04 Aug 2012 | Jon Alexander

Posted on 08/06/2012 8:03:41 PM PDT by Theoria

HORICON -- The camera John Noerr found at the bottom of a small creek north of Pharaoh Lake in early July could have belonged to anyone.

It wasn’t until he took the Cannon XT digital camera back to his parents’ home on Schroon Lake that he discovered the crusty, soggy memory card still worked, with the most recent picture time-stamped in June 2009.

And the 581 photos it contained led the Poultney, Vt., art teacher on a three-week journey to find the camera’s owner.

“I started to realize there might be enough information here to track this guy down,” Noerr said Saturday.

The memory card’s contents contained a hodgepodge of urban streetscapes, photos of apparent loved ones and random signs.

He noticed most of the photos appeared to be in one general area, which he believed to be in one of New York City’s outer boroughs.

It was details like specific bagel shops and a unique purple door that caught his attention in a single self-portrait of an unknown woman.

“There were a lot of dead ends I followed,” he said.

But just two photos served as Noerr’s “holy grail,” a shot of a young woman sitting on a front stoop of a house numbered 327 and a shot taken seconds later of the sky that captured a street sign reading 3rd Street.

Noerr spent hours digitally walking New York’s streets using Google’s streetview.

“I toured every 3rd Street in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, he said. “Then I saw a sign for that bagel shop, took a left and there it was, that purple door.”

He had found the right neighborhood, Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge community, and minutes later house No. 327.

Using public tax records he found the last name of its owners, the Comeau family.

That’s when the 39-year-old educator turned to social media.

He googled the last name and found the woman from the self portrait on Twitter and started a conversation.

“I said, ‘I think I found your camera in a stream in the Adirondacks,’ ” Noerr said. “She said, ‘I’ve never lost a camera in the Adirondacks, but my brother did.’ ”

It was Michael Comeau’s camera and Noerr finally contacted him Tuesday.

“There was a moment it could have belonged to any number of 7 billion people,” Noerr said. “Then, there was a moment when it belonged to just one.”

Comeau accidently dropped it from a bridge while camping in the area with friends in the summer of 2009, he said.

“I had kind of given up on it,” Comeau said.

Among the 581 photos included countless memories that Comeau has no doubt forgotten about, he said, as well as family photos of now-deceased relatives.

“It’s one of those little miracles,” Comeau said. “It’s totally bizarre. I can’t wait to get it back.”

Comeau said he intends to make a book out of the 581 pictures that spent three years entombed at the bottom of that small Adirondack creek.

But what would drive a man on summer break to undertake such an investigation?

Noerr said it’s because the information available in the digital age offered the opportunity.

“Because it’s possible,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world on Google Earth.”

And Noerr’s side-career in photographic investigation may not be over.

Late last week, he contacted an American tourist in Greece who posted on the Internet he had found a camera on a Mediterranean island.

“I’m trying to find a specific restaurant on the island of Corfu,” he said.

TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Miscellaneous; Outdoors; Society
KEYWORDS: camera; cameras; newyork; photography
Something different, Nice job, Mr. Noerr.

DESCRIPTIONThe last photo the camera took before it fell in the creek

1 posted on 08/06/2012 8:03:46 PM PDT by Theoria
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To: Theoria

Cameras don’t take pictures. People take pictures ;-)

2 posted on 08/06/2012 8:39:21 PM PDT by Hatteras
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To: Hatteras
Just this last week I found a camera on a highway, the lense was smashed but the camera, a cannon eos 7d worked and contained a 16 gig memory card full of new born baby pictures with it's glowing mother. One picture was of a desk with a check on it, this picture was 12 mega pixel. I was able to blow it up enough to read and found the owner of the camera.
3 posted on 08/06/2012 8:57:34 PM PDT by jyro (French-like Democrats wave the white flag of surrender while we are winning)
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To: jyro

Amazing! Cool story:)

4 posted on 08/06/2012 9:01:22 PM PDT by Beowulf9
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I think you are one of many camera people on FR—ping to you.

5 posted on 08/06/2012 9:43:51 PM PDT by beaversmom
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To: Theoria

Neat story. I love that kind of thing. Thanks for posting.

6 posted on 08/06/2012 9:44:37 PM PDT by beaversmom
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To: beaversmom
I use a massive antique Minolta strap that could tow a dump truck. If you find my camera in a creek keep pulling, I'll still be at the other end of it.

Modern camera straps tend to be dinky little shoestrings and a heavy camera lens combo hurts my neck. I dug around on Ebay and found a new in the bag Minolta strap from the mid 80s. It's 2" wide and doesn't hurt my old red neck.

7 posted on 08/06/2012 10:27:31 PM PDT by SWAMPSNIPER (The Second Amendment, a Matter of Fact, Not a Matter of Opinion)
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To: Theoria

Great, great story! I’m a nut about mysteries and when I hear about a story like this it really gets my detective juices flowing.

Back in 1994 I was living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, when my oldest daughter (who was 2 at the time) found a ladies wallet in our basement. I was doing laundry and she came up and handed it to me. I never could figure out quite where in the basement she found it. Anyway, I checked through it and found it was from the late ‘70s. I found a name, and cross-referenced it with others in Cheyenne. I ended up finding the owner’s Mom, who put me in touch with her daughter. I called her and told her my daughter had found her wallet. She remembered being at a party at our house (long before we owned it) back in the ‘70s and her wallet was stolen.

To make a long story short, she wasn’t too interested in getting it back. I told her I’d hang on to it at my work and she could come by anytime and get it. Two years went by and she never showed up. I finally pitched it. I love stories like this, but I guess the feeling isn’t the same for everyone.

8 posted on 08/06/2012 11:32:23 PM PDT by Kharis13 (That noise you hear is our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.)
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To: Theoria

Great story. Love my Canon.

9 posted on 08/07/2012 4:21:58 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: Theoria
I find these types of lost/found tech articles a lot more gratifying.

hey! hand check!

10 posted on 08/07/2012 9:17:12 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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