Black & White

What’s your reaction to this one? Cool or creepy?

What’s your reaction to this one? I was walking St. James Court shooting houses and this young woman came walking up the sidewalk toward me. The shot was a classic surreptitious “shoot from the hip” shot. I just tripped the shutter on the 635 as it hung against my stomach. I was set for f16 and had the focal point set to about 20 feet, so I didn’t have to focus. I really like the shot, but it also strikes me as kind of creepy, almost like a stalker or something. Maybe if the girl was 80 years old, or a male, it would be different, but a young, fairly attractive female being photographed without her knowledge or permission bothers me. On the other hand, I really like the shot. What do you think? (Click on image for larger view.)

Woman,-Belgravia-Court

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Louisville Waterfront

Water and photography are a natural pairing. The openness and reflective properties of water make for interesting textures and the activities of people on and around water provide us with great subject matter. I have been exploring the waterfront in Louisville – the park, the docks and trails. I never seem to fail to fill up my memory cards and expose all the film I carry when I go down to the river. (Click on images for larger view).

Reading-on-the-Dock This lady was definitely getting her inner Zen going. She was just reading at the end of the dock. I think her serene vibes helped to make the picture. I wanted to know what book she was reading, but I decided not to disturb her. It was probably The Diamond Sutra or something like that.

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I was carrying my Yashica 635 TLR (a 120 film camera) when we walked past this guy. He yelled, “I got something!” and I turned and shot the picture without focusing or even aiming the camera because I thought a big fish was about to explode out of the water. It turned out to be an unfortunate box turtle. The fisherman cut the hook with some wire cutters so it could slip out of the turtle’s mouth and let him go. He said, “I’m strictly ‘catch and release.’ I don’t like killing things.” (The vignette is a Photoshop effect, not the lens.)

The-Belle-of-Louisville-2 The Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating steam ship in the United States. She’s coming in to dock after a cruise up the river. I love this boat.

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Another guy fishing with bridges in the background. This is looking upstream on the Ohio River toward Cincinnati. We talked to this guy and he wasn’t catching anything. He said he’d never fished the river before and didn’t know what he was doing wrong. My hunch is that it was so hot that the fish were deep in the channel, out past where you could cast a line.

Three-Ducks Gotta’ luv the ducks. I think ducks are natural comedians.

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Here’s the crew tying up the Belle at the Third Street dock. That foggy stuff is real live steam from the engine. I particularly enjoyed catching the rope in mid air (and yes, this was done with a digital DSLR).

Barbecue-under-the-Bridge This is the southern end of the Kennedy Bridge where Interstate 65 crosses the Ohio. The massive expressway makes a perfect canopy for a cookout when the sun is beating down.

Third-Street-Docks

See also “Cooling Off in Waterfront Park”

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Cooling Off in Waterfront Park

There’s a park on the waterfront in Louisville, creatively named “Waterfront Park.” Through the park runs a long fountain and wading pool that was put together with an artistic eye. Part of the fountain runs underneath a section of Interstate 64 so that you get not only the cooling water, but also shade. We went down there today and there seemed to be a picture everywhere the camera was aimed. (Click on images for a larger view.)

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Looking for Fish at Willow Lake

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Yashica 635, Tmax 100 (expired) in Tmax

I had a few frames left on a roll so we went over to Willow Lake which is really just a large pond on the edge of Cherokee Park. It was late in the afternoon with a heavy overcast, but I wanted soft light, rather than a hard directional light that clear skies would have provided.

The film was from a batch of expired Tmax 100 that I bought a while back. The film expired in 2004 and I have been shooting it for practice fodder and to test it to see if it still works. It works fine in terms of development. The contrast and tones are right but I got a lot of light streaks which are too small to see at this size, but they would show up on a 10” x 10” print. I’m not sure if this is deterioration of the film or not. I washed some of the negatives in film cleaner to make sure it wasn’t residue from the development, and it didn’t wash out. The worst streaks can been seen with the naked eye. They look like dark, fine hair on the negative. If I was scratching the emulsion, one would think that the streaks would be reversed, looking light in the negative and dark in print.

We walked around the lake looking for interesting angles. Marian started looking for fish in the water and I realized there was repetition of form between her pose and the shape of the lake which was interesting, so I shot the picture. The soft light gave a dreamy mood to the scene. With a little touch-up in Photoshop to get rid of the streaks, I had a picture, but I’m wondering is this expired Tmax is more trouble than it’s worth.

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Louisville’s Central Park

Arbor-at-Central-Park-Louisville Of Louisville’s great parks, Central Park is probably not the most impressive. It’s about the size of two city blocks, square and flat. It has a building in it that once was an athletic club but is now a substation for the Louisville Metro Police. It has a wonderful arbor which supports an ancient wisteria vine that gives shade to the whole thing. Most significant probably is the stage for “Shakespeare in the Park” which runs every summer and gives people the chance to come down and see Shakespeare’s plays performed for free.

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I happened to catch a show on KET done by metro councilman Tom Owens, who is also a history professor at the University of Louisville. Tom Owens knows the history of Louisville like no one else. His knowledge of each inch of this earth at the Falls of the Ohio can only be called supernatural. In this show, he was doing Central Park and St. James Court in Old Louisville. His narrative of the creation of the park and St. James Court from a hunting camp owned by the DuPont family fascinated me. On a hot Sunday afternoon we went down to Central Park to soak up the history and shoot some pictures.

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Central Park is one of the Olmstead parks which give Louisville its distinctive character. Frederick Law Olmsted designed 18 parks in the city of Louisville. He was characterized as “the father of landscape architecture” and I wouldn’t trade our Cherokee Park for New York City’s Central Park, which Olmstead also designed. Louisville’s Central Park must have been a challenge to the master landscape architect. To be fair to Olmstead, he didn’t have much to work with on this patch of ground. There are no hills, no naturally occurring waters or interesting outcroppings of rock – just a flat rectangle of ground. He built the athletic club, laid out the sidewalks and fountain, and planted some trees. I can’t think of anything he could have done that he didn’t do that wouldn’t be totally artificial, and artificial wasn’t Olmstead’s style.

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Colonade-at-Central-Park

And yet, Louisville’s Central Park has something that no other park in the world has: it has St. James Court across Magnolia Street at its southern edge. From the St. James Art Fair information site:

“In 1890 after the Southern Exposition site was cleared, William Slaughter led the development of St. James Court, one of Old Louisville’s most renowned neighborhoods. Centered on the picturesque fountain, the court was envisioned as a haven for turn-of-the-century upper class and was completely occupied by 1905. Slaughter set up deed restrictions to ensure that all houses on the court were constructed of either brick or stone. From its start, court residents established a homeowner’s association, one of the oldest in the country. Described as the epitome of Victorian eclecticism, the neighborhood included homes in such styles as Venetian, Colonial, Gothic and others. The Conrad Caldwell House on the northwest corner of St. James Court prominently features the turrets, towers and bay windows associated with the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style. Through the years the court has been home to several city officials, judges, doctors, writers, poets, and business leaders. St. James Court residents are proud of the unique history and friendliness the neighborhood offers. When strolling through the tree-fringed court, you too will experience a vibrancy and vitality that no suburban neighborhood can match.”

So, when you visit Central Park, not only do you see an historic old park, but also, you can stroll down a shady boulevard where Louisville did its best to create a little piece of Victorian England in the 1890’s.

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Some additional reading on the history of this area:

A History of Old Louisville’s Central Park.

St James Court and Belgravia, Louisville, Kentucky

Satellite Picture

St.-James-Fountain

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The Iron Horse

Like millions of other American teenagers, I couldn’t wait to get a driver’s license so I could go racing off in one of my dad’s cars. I scarcely noticed that sometime between my childhood and early teens, the great passenger trains had vanished.

208-1 The Old 208 Close-up, Yashica 635 with Ilford Delta 100

After all, cars are much more fun. You can go where you want to go, when you want to go there. Cars are freedom and individuality; railroads are institutions. And, it didn’t help that when the railroads had a virtual monopoly on overland transportation, they took advantage of working people by charging exorbitant rates to ship farmers’ crops to market. When I was a kid, I never heard a single lament for the passing of the trains.

208-2 The Old 208 , Yashica 635 with Ilford Delta 100

The last time I rode on one of the great trains was when my mother took my sister and I on the Texas Chief up to Oklahoma City to visit my grandfather in Norman. It was like a luxury hotel on wheels. I couldn’t have been more than about nine years old, but I remember it as if it were yesterday.

French-Lick-Train-Station-1Train Station, French Lick, Indiana, Yashica 635 with Ilford Delta 100

When I was a kid, my dad could drive down the middle of the highway steering only with his knee while he lit a cigarette with his Zippo lighter. This drove my mother crazy, but you could do that then because there were so few vehicles on the road. In Texas, you could often drive for quite some time without seeing another car. Things have changed, and changed a lot since those idyllic days. Today we face streets and expressway choked with millions of vehicles almost 24 hours a day. Half of the time I set out to drive from Louisville to Lexington, I am delayed by a multi-vehicle accident. Today, the air is turning toxic, the planet is said to be heating up, and the Gulf of Mexico is filling with crude oil where a living ocean once thrived. In the days of my youth, gas was 25¢ a gallon. Today, people are going into debt to fill their tanks. Times have changed.

Passenger-Cars,-French-Lick Passenger Cars, French Lick, Indiana, Yashica 635 with Ilford Delta 100

I can’t help but think that our friends across the pond have been smarter than we have on the issue of trains. Only we gave up our trains – England, Europe, Russia, India, Africa, China and Japan all kept and developed their railways. Only we relegated our great trains to the pack mule role. Ours still run, but they carry only new cars, coal, chemicals and other bulk freight.

208-3_antique_effect The Old 208 , Yashica 635 with Ilford Delta 100, antique effect from Photoshop

It would be great if we would re-think our ideas about the trains. I know I would use them. I think a vacation on a train would be terrific. Just being able to hop on a train and ride to Cincinnati to see a Reds game would be a hoot. I wonder how many cars we could get off the road if we had a railway system that took people where they wanted to go. How many amphetamine-crazed truckers would have to find another line of work if our railways were truly operational? How many tons of hydrocarbons could we keep out of the atmosphere? How many Deepwater Horizons would we need if we were running the trains?

You can buy prints of these photos and others on Red Bubble by clicking on this link

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Time to Get Angry

Dead-Gas-Station

“Dead Gas Station” Yashica 635, Kodak Tmax 100

This gas station was a BP for a long time, and it flourished while it was a BP, but then the owners started mixing gas from other low-price vendors and BP cut them off. It wasn’t long before the station just failed and closed. Now, its carcass sits by the side of Newburg Road looking dead and forlorn. I have spent thousand of dollars here in gasoline, but now I have to drive over to Popular Level Road to a Texaco, soon to be a Marathon, to fill my tank.

With millions of gallons of BP oil gushing into the the Gulf of Mexico, and ruining a place I have loved all my life, I find myself wishing that we could make all the gas stations look like this. Maybe we could build electric cars, and rebuild the railroads. Maybe in some places we could even go back to riding horses. That would suit me fine.

I remember how the gas companies gouged us so badly a couple of years ago and helped to bring on the recession we now suffer. $4 for a gallon of gas, just because the hotdog speculators in the commodity pits bid the price up. They didn’t give a damn about us, or the country that allowed them to make a killing. “Killing the golden goose” has never been more true. I hope all of those creeps are out of work now. The world fell into a recession, and they eased the prices, just enough to keep us from going bankrupt trying to get to work, that is, those of us who still had work. Then this spill happened. It is no small wonder that the rage against the oil companies has boiled up. The rage will drive BP into liquidation, but if that is all that happens, we will have proven again how stupid we are.

It’s time – really, it’s past time – to get angry. It’s time to get angry about they way we’re getting screwed. It’s time to angry about what’s happening to our planet. It’s time to quit talking and start making some solutions happen. We have all been passive for too long. We have all been unwilling to suffer any inconvenience or do without any gadget for too long. It’s time to start saying “No” to the machine.

Although I can’t imagine why you’d want it,
you can buy this print on RedBubble – just click this link.

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More Weird Friends

Weird-Friends-4Nikon F3, 50mm f1.8 lens, Ilford FP4

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