Joseph Bergmann

Hello Daniel,

My name is Joseph Bergmann.  I own a small camera repair shop in Philadelphia.  I discovered your web site while searching for the owner of a camera left on the doorstep of my shop.

I believe you may have been in contact with the owner because of the images I found in the film in the camera.  One of them is a picture identical to a picture on your home page entitled Location: unknown. The picture shows a gull and rowboat in the foreground on a beach, with a ship anchored in a harbor and what appears to be a castle on a nearby hillside.  I’ve attached a copy of the photo from the camera.  I believe I also received a caption for this picture, which I’ve included below.

Sepia photo of a gull perched on seashore rock beside an old rowboat, with a sailing ship in harbor and castle perched on nearby cliff.

Every evening, just at dusk, a solitary gull returned to perch on a rock next to the battered rowboat. The ritual persisted, night after night, until the ship finally left the harbor.


But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here’s my story:

I’ve heard you do good repair work. Will you please look at my camera? The shutter seems to have locked up. Thanks. John M.

That’s the note I found one morning last summer when I arrived to open my shop.  It was taped to a scuffed-up camera bag propped against my door.  Inside the bag, wrapped in a blue bandana, was a Nikon F2.  I looked up and down the street and shook my head in disbelief.  Who would leave a camera like that out where anyone could walk off with it?  I mean, no one uses cameras like that anymore, but it’s a legendary piece of equipment.

I hadn’t worked on an F2 in at least 15 years, but it didn’t take me long to get everything running again.  A week went by and no one came for the camera.  Then a second week passed.  I rummaged through the  backpack, but all I found was a roll of exposed film and a small notebook.  I looked through the notebook.  There were just four entries, and they didn’t make any sense to me.  I also found a name and address at the back of the notebook.  Actually, it wasn’t an address–just a town: The Reverend James McEwan, Durneharra, Scotland.

So, I wrote a brief letter to the Reverend McEwan, asking whether he’d ever heard of a photographer named John M.  I used the Durneharra address and put the letter into the mail.  Then I sent the film out for developing.

A couple of days later, when the prints were returned, I could barely believe my eyes.  The envelope contained four remarkable photos.  The rest of the film was blank.  Whoever had taken the pictures had removed the film from the camera after the fourth photo.  But now the entries in the notebook made sense.  Each was a perfect match for one of the photos.  I knew I had to find the camera’s owner.

A couple more weeks passed, and still no one showed up.  Then, one afternoon, this letter arrived in the mail:

In addition to the photo of the gull and ship, I’m including a copy of another photo from the camera, along with the accompanying caption from the notebook.

I’m very interested in knowing whether you can provide me with any other information about this photographer.  I still have his camera.


Joseph Bergmann


Fractal image of spiderweb-like white lines on a black background.

I crept to the edge of the forest and peered up into the sycamore tree. The tiny spider was balanced on a single strand of silk stretched between two massive branches. The creature paused for a moment. Then, reaching upward with its front legs, it began to gather moonbeams, quickly spinning them into an exquisitely delicate web.


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