Photography

Eastman Double-X 5222 in the Olympus Stylus

I have a terrible habit of buying four or five rolls of a film I’d like to try, shooting one roll, and then buying four or five rolls of another film I’d like to try. I’ve repeated this pattern enough times that I have probably 50 rolls stockpiled in the fridge. So I put a moratorium on buying more film until I shoot what I have.

The last time I shot Eastman Double-X 5222 I used my Nikon F2 and a 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens. This movie film gave me blacks so deep I could have fallen into them, and textures so rich and realistic I expected to feel them if I touched the screen. So when I decided to shoot another roll I chose an entirely different kind of camera: my point-and-shoot Olympus Stylus. I wanted to see if the film behaved differently.

I didn’t get the same rich blacks this time, but I did get the same realistic textures.

Around the Corner

I was at church for a meeting, so I made some quick photos. Once again these images invite me to touch the screen to feel the rough brick.

West Park Christian Church

I brought the Stylus inside to shoot a couple rooms, which were set up for our day care to resume the next morning.

First Steps Day Care

I love the moodiness created by the window light and the corner shadows.

First Steps Day Care

The church is in an old city neighborhood with alleys. Ours is concrete and was probably poured 100 years ago.

Concrete Alley

On the way home I passed this run-down building, which I bet began life as a grocery store. I am impressed with how well the clouds rendered, especially since I didn’t use a yellow or orange filter.

Used Tires

I took the Stylus along on a too-brief visit to South Bend, my home town. I was there on business, but I made a few minutes for a coffee at the Chocolate Cafe downtown.

South Bend Chocolate Cafe

I miss South Bend. I’d love to run a little bookstore in the State Theater building. Too bad this shop owner thought of it first.

Idle Hours

A storm rolled in quickly as I walked a couple blocks of Michigan Street. In reading the light the Stylus misguidedly decided it needed to fire the flash, serving only to create flares off every reflective surface. If I didn’t need to explicitly turn off the flash every time I power up the Stylus, I’d shoot it a lot more often.

Michigan Street

Still, I’m not getting rid of my little Stylus anytime soon. It fits into my jeans pocket and packs a great lens. And it liked the Double-X just fine.

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Photography

Favorite subjects: Crown Hill Cemetery

Is it weird to like photographing cemeteries? I’m drawn to them. When I’m on a road trip I stop to tour even the most ragtag patch of graves. But I prefer beautiful cemeteries, and Crown Hill is easily the most beautiful of any of the cemeteries I’ve photographed. It could be my favorite favorite subject of all.

A cemetery could be the best place for an introverted photographer to go when he needs some alone time. I seldom encounter other people in cemeteries, and when I do, they leave me alone. But my wife sometimes comes along. I know it’s love because being with her is nearly as good as pure alone time. We love to take photo walks together. She took this photo of me at Crown Hill on one of our walks.

A portrait of the photographer

Nikon N60, 28-80 mm f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor, Fujicolor 200, 2015. Margaret Grey photo.

The Civil War still raged when Crown Hill was founded in 1863. It was the city’s second major cemetery even though it was located, at the time, outside the city limits.

CrownHillMap.PNG

Imagery and map data © 2017 Google

Spanning 38th Street along the Michigan Road, Crown Hill started at 236 acres and expanded over the years to its current 555 acres. More than 200,000 people are interred here, from everyday citizens to titans of industry, celebrities of their time, one President, and three Vice Presidents.

The cemetery got its name from a notable hill on the property that came to be called the “crown” of Indianapolis. It’s the highest elevation in a notably flat city. Standing on the crown, you can see for miles.

Let’s start our photo tour at the crown and take in the view. I’ve shot it over and over. I love it.

Indianapolis from the heights

Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

Long view

Nikon N2000, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Kodak Ektar 100, 2014

Many of the most prominent names in Indianapolis have tombs on this hill. But at the very top lies a poet who, in his day, had rock-star celebrity status.

Looking uphill at Riley's rest

Pentax ME, Fujicolor 200, Sears f/4 80-200mm zoom, 2013

It’s hard to imagine now how any poet could be so adored as Riley was. At around the turn of the 20th century he was the nation’s most-read poet. His public appearances could bring out thousands of people. Indiana schools were required to teach his poems in the 1910s! His 1916 death was front-page news across the country. His body was allowed to lie in state in the Indiana Statehouse, an honor previously bestowed only on Abraham Lincoln. So it was small wonder that he was buried at such a prominent and visible place.

Riley's rest

Kodak Pony 135 Model C, Fujicolor 200, 2013

Schoolchildren traditionally leave coins on his tomb. It is all donated to the Riley Hospital for Children.

James Whitcomb Riley

Olympus Stylus, Kodak Gold 200 (expired), 2013

This little child, sitting next to Riley’s tomb, will forever read Riley’s rhymes.

Riley reader

Canon PowerShot S95, 2011

Many of Crown Hill’s most interesting grave markers are on the hill.

Home Sweet Home

Pentax ME, 80-200 mm f/4 Sears Zoom, Fujicolor 200, 2013

Head

Pentax ME, 80-200 mm f/4 Sears Zoom, Fujicolor 200, 2013

Short steps

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Kodak Portra 160, 2015

Crown Hill is also a showplace of cemetery architecture. As a bridgefan, I love the bridge that carries 38th Street over a road that connects the north and south portions of the cemetery. When you drive along 38th Street you might never know the bridge is here. It was built in 1925.

Crown Hill bridge

Canon PowerShot S95, 2011

On one visit, we met mama deer and her fawns at the bridge.

Under the bridge at Crown Hill

Canon PowerShot S95, 2011

One of my favorite photos from Crown Hill is this one from under the bridge.

Tunnel *EXPLORED*

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Plus-X, 2015

Crown Hill has two entrances. This gate, built 1885, awaits at the south entrance.

Gates

Olympus Stylus, Kodak Gold 200 (expired), 2013

The actual gates are ornate iron affairs.

Cemetery gate

Yashica-D, Kodak E100G, 2014

Just beyond the gate stands the Waiting Station, built the same year.

Crown Hill gate

Kodak Pony 135 Model C, Fujicolor 200, 2013

The 1875 Gothic Chapel is just down the road from the Gate and the Waiting Station. It held James Whitcomb Riley’s body for a year while his burial site was prepared.

Chapel

Kodak Pony 135 Model C, Fujicolor 200, 2013

57 private mausoleums dot the grounds, and they can be stunning.

Columns

Voigtländer Vito II, Kodak Plus-X (expired, cold stored), 2015

This mausoleum holds the body of Carl Fisher, who founded the Indianapolis 500 and the Lincoln and Dixie Highways.

Fisher

Sears KS-2, 135mm f/2.8 Auto Sears MC, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

Many of the less prominent gravesites have interesting markers, too.

Grave marker

Canon PowerShot S95, 2011

Test

Certo Super Sport Dolly, Model A, Kodak Ektar 100, 2017

Even graves that have plainer markers seem more interesting because of the lovely setting.

Barney

Nikon N2000, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Kodak Ektar 100, 2014

Autumn is stunning at Crown Hill. It’s my favorite time to go.

Autumn at Crown Hill

Nikon F2AS, 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Autumn at Crown Hill

Nikon F2AS, 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Autumn at Crown Hill

Nikon F2AS, 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

My favorite subject within this favorite subject is the National Cemetery. Established in 1866 and administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, this 1.4-acre site inters primarily Union Army soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Crown Hill National Cemetery

Yashica-D, Kodak E100G, 2014

795 soldiers are buried here.

At Crown Hill

Nikon F2, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016

The plain markers’ sober, dignified typography makes them compelling.

James Richard Bradford

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016

Charles H. Ackerman

Yashica-D, Kodak Ektar 100, 2017

I have regularly taken my sons to Crown Hill for the portraits I make of them. There are plenty of places to make portraits that are not obviously in a cemetery. But this spot before military graves was interesting enough to me that I photographed it anyway.

Damion

Nikon F2AS, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016

Let’s take one last trip up the big hill for a parting view of the city.

Overlooking the city

Voigtländer Vito II, Kodak Plus-X (expired, cold stored), 2015

I believe I will miss Crown Hill the most of my favorite photographic subjects. Maybe I can get Margaret to drive down with me sometimes. This is one worth hanging onto even if it does take me a lot longer to drive to it now.

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Dilapidated

Dilapidated
Olympus µ[mju:] Zoom 140
Fomapan 200
2017

This is the cutest house in my old neighborhood. It’s so cute compared to the other basic brick and frame ranch houses on every street that you wonder how it got built there.

Yet for as long as I lived there, it received care that was indifferent at best. At present it appears to be abandoned, with gutters full of crud, that decorative front-door shutter hanging loose, and a lawn that has turned to weeds and hasn’t been cut in weeks.

As you may infer from the tenses I’m using in this post, I’ve completed my move and now live in Zionsville. I’m happy the move is complete, and I’m thrilled to get to see my wife every single day.

Photography

single frame: Dilapidated

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Road Trips

I love the Michigan Road, but I don’t always like living near it

The Michigan Road sucks. At least it does where it passes near my northwest Indianapolis home.

It’s still the Michigan Road, built in the 1830s to connect the Ohio River to Indianapolis to Lake Michigan, opening the entire northern part of Indiana to settlement. I will always love it.

But a long section of the road has been a part of my daily life for more than 20 years, and frankly, I try to avoid driving on it.

As a major artery, Michigan Road’s speed limit is 45 MPH. Especially since the late 1990s when the last portion of the road was widened to four lanes, traffic really flows fast. The road is designed to swiftly move lots of cars. Yet lots of businesses and even entrances to residential neighborhoods line the road. People turn left all the time, and there is no central left-turn lane. Rear-end accidents are common. It has happened to me twice.

MRBumperBash1

These photos are from the first accident, which happened a half block south of the 1852 Aston Inn house. Can I admit to still feeling satisfied, even five years later, that the other guy’s car sustained so much more damage than mine and was probably totaled? I was stopped behind a car turning left when I noticed this guy coming up fast. The crash was unavoidable, so I pressed hard on my brake to avoid hitting the waiting car before me. It’s amazing the crash didn’t do more damage to my car. And yes, someone’s head smacked the other car’s windshield in the accident. That fellow disappeared the minute I called the cops. Arrest warrant? Here illegally? Hope the concussion was worth it.

MRBumperBash2

Lesson learned: drive in the right lane, even if left-lane traffic is moving faster. The frequent left turns just create too much risk.

MR_NW_Ind

Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

Meanwhile, this 2½-mile section of Michigan Road, from Kessler Boulevard north just beyond 71st Street to the former town of Augusta, has seen happier days. It’s a sad sight to drive through.

This strip’s heyday was probably the 1960s and 1970s when this road was still US 421. A building boom brought strip malls, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and motels.

Today, those strip malls are aging. You won’t find a Kroger or a Target here — it’s all second- and third-tier retailers and service providers. The motels, gas stations, and restaurants that remain have been repurposed for other uses. Many of these buildings have received minimal maintenance and show their age.

This mishmash of shabby businesses provides a poor introduction to the area, which is filled with middle-class neighborhoods.

This used to be a shoe-repair shop, but has been vacant for a while.

Pink building

I applaud the creative reuse of this former motel as a day care, but I wish it could be made more attractive.

Kiddie Factory

This aging strip of shops is at least kept tidy. The barber shop owner gave his overhead sign a fresh coat of paint in the last couple years; it had faded to near illegibility.

Barber

The pedestrian trail built a few years ago robbed this little strip of some of its parking. I can’t imagine that these tenants were happy about it. Here’s a 2008 photo that shows cars parked at these doors.

Getting your hair done on the Michigan Road

Mr. Dan’s is a small local burger chain. I photographed it in 2015:

Mr. Dan's

I don’t know what happened that the joint is called Mr. Dee’s now, but their reuse of the existing signs has all the grace and style of a knuckle sandwich.

Mr. Dee's

Ace Lock and Key has been on this corner for longer than I’ve lived in Indianapolis. This building looks like its first use was as a gas station. It’s an attractive little building.

Ace Lock and Key

When I mentioned the kinds of retailers you won’t find along this stretch of Michigan Road, I mentioned Kroger and Target specifically because this strip once contained both. Kroger was on the left, and Target was on the right. They moved out just before I moved to the area, and the buildings were vacant for years. Now it’s a grading facility for school standardized tests.

Fomer Target/Kroger strip

The strip mall on the southwest corner with 71st Street/Westlane Road has changed a lot since I moved here. This was once a full-line Marsh grocery store, but for most of the time I lived here it was a dim, dirty store with only basic grocery items. They chained up the carts. Someone at the service desk had to come unlock one so you could use it. Such class. Then Marsh closed it and discount chain Save-A-Lot moved in. Unfortunately, they also tore out Marsh’s attractive facade and rebuilt it with this windowless wonder. At least it didn’t go vacant.

Save-a-Lot

Across the street is the dry cleaner I’ve used all the years I’ve lived here. It was once a drive-in restaurant.

Griffith Cleaners

By all accounts, the food at this Vietnamese restaurant is delicious. The former fast-food building could use some love, however.

Pho 54

Here’s another tidy, aging strip. The clock-repair shop has been there longer than I’ve lived here. I had them repair a watch once, and they did a nice job.

Strip mall

It sure seems to me that this solidly middle class part of town would be able to attract higher-line businesses and improved facades.

Houses are sometimes sandwiched between the various commercial buildings along this section of Michigan Road. Many of them have seen happier days.

House on Michigan Road

A few houses have been well cared for, but it’s far easier to find ones that could use some TLC.

MCM

Over the years some buildings have seen great improvement. This building was vacant for years, and was clearly in sorry condition a couple years ago when this funeral center bought it and renovated it.

Serenity Funeral Services

St. Monica’s Catholic church and school has always been well cared for. A couple years ago, fire destroyed the section of the building at about the center of the photo. The church immediately rebuilt it.

St. Monica's

When I moved here, this U-Haul location was dingy and depressing. Some years ago it was renovated inside and out, and looks great.

U-Haul

This lot was vacant for a long time until this church was built.

Praise Fellowship Family Center

A bowling alley once stood on this lot, but it went out of business five years ago or so. This storage place opened only in the last year or so, and its graceless design says “industrial park” more than “shopping district.” Its setback from the road is also considerably shallower than anything else nearby, which makes it an imposing presence. It’s wrong for this section of the road.

Storage

A few auto-parts places were built along this corridor in the last 10 years or so, and they’re well kept. This is the one I visit most often.

Advance Auto Parts

I do understand this much about retail: the shiny, new shops always go where the money has moved to. If you drive just four miles north of here on Michigan Road, into Carmel, you’ll find solid retailers like Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and The Home Depot, plus shiny chain restaurants and coffee shops. Perhaps that’s why this section of Michigan Road is left to molder. It only takes ten extra minutes to get to the nice shops from here.

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Road Trips

Historical structures on the Michigan Road in northwest Indianapolis

On my recent bike ride up the Michigan Road pedestrian trail in northwest Indianapolis, I passed a number of historical structures that I photographed when I surveyed the Michigan Road in 2008. Surprisingly, they have changed very little! Here are some then-and-now photos where the then and the now are pretty similar.

While the old Crooked Creek School building was demolished in the 1980s, the entrance arch remains allegedly on its original spot just north of Kessler Boulevard. Here it is in 2008.

School No. 7 / Crooked Creek Elementary School

And here it is in 2017. Sadly, the top of the structure is a little damaged. How does damage like that even happen?

Arch at Crooked Creek School

This 1840s farmhouse at 6358 Michigan Road was vacant and for sale in 2008.

1840s farmhouse, 64th and Michigan

It remained vacant for a long time before someone finally bought it and lived in it. I think it’s been sold one more time since then. I live around the corner from this house and drive by frequently. I’ve watched many exterior improvements be made — all faithful, thanks to protective covenants Indiana Landmarks placed on the house.

1840s farmhouse

A you-pick blueberry patch went in next door. It is kind of startling to find such a thing within the city limits! I’m pretty sure it’s run by the people in this old farmhouse.

Blueberry patch

The Aston Inn at 6620 Michigan Road was built in 1852 and, for a time, served as an inn for travelers. In those days, it was still a full day’s journey from here to downtown Indianapolis! Here are my 2008 photos.

Aston Inn

Aston Inn

Little has changed in 2017, except that the trees and shrubs in front of the house have grown to block the house. I’m sure the owners hope the greenery will turn down the volume on the traffic noise from always-busy Michigan Road. But it’s a shame not to be able to fully see this great old house.

Aston Inn

Aston Inn

In Augusta, the 1832 Boardman House, at 7716 Michigan Road (right), stands next to this block house that looks to be from the early 20th century. I photographed it in 2008 both before and after the owner de-ivied it.

Augusta

Augusta - Bordman House

Boardman House de-ivied

Boardman House

I met the owner of this house once and he said that it is an extremely sturdily built structure, with walls a foot thick (I think) on the bottom story and hand-hewn exposed beams overhead in the cellar. He has since sold the house. The new owner has cleaned the place up nicely. The block house has been de-ivied, as well.

House in Augusta

The Boardman House

The Boardman House

Across the street, at 7711 Michigan Road, stands this little structure that I feel certain is a log cabin beneath that siding, which looks from a distance to be aluminum. The shape of the house suggests it strongly. The center door is flanked by windows. There’s a large space above the door and windows before the roof begins, suggesting a typical loft above the ground floor. The sloping-roof addition is a classic way to expand a log cabin. I first photographed this house in 2010.

Log cabin?

In 2017, the siding is dirty and the gutter is hanging low — time for a little basic maintenance. But the house still stands. And I’m still dying to know whether I’m right. I hope the owner stumbles upon this post and leaves a comment.

Possible log cabin

Here’s hoping that I can come back with my camera in another nine years and find all of these structures still in good condition.

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History, Photography

Favorite subjects: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Indianapolis

My first photographic visit to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church wasn’t until 2014, and I regret that I didn’t start photographing this lovely building earlier. It’s just a wonderful subject. Taken at distance, classic shapes of sacred architecture layer before you while cut limestone textures add interest. Moving in close, plenty of compelling details lurk in the nooks and crannies.

Arches

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Ilford Delta 100, 2015

St. Paul’s was founded in 1866 in downtown Indianapolis, but by the late 1930s it was clear that the church’s future lay north of the city, in what was then considered the country. The church secured a plot beyond the Indiana Central Canal on a recently built extension of North Meridian Street, Indianapolis’s main north-south street and grand thoroughfare. People were starting to move out there into newly built, early suburban neighborhoods. St. Paul’s decided that’s where it needed to serve.

North Meridian

Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Gold 200, 2017

St. Paul’s new building was constructed just after World War II  where Meridian makes a distinctive and singular curve as it prepares to cross the White River a half mile to the north.

StPaulsMap

Imagery and map data © 2017 Google

For a subject to be a Favorite Subject, it needs to be close to home so I can reach it easily. St. Paul’s is a short drive down Kessler Boulevard from my home. I pass it right by on my way to Broad Ripple.

I was headed to Broad Ripple, actually, the first time I photographed St. Paul’s. It was evening and light would soon run out. As I waited at the light on Kessler at Meridian I spied the church out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t the first time I’d noticed the church, of course. I’d even been inside it once, for a wedding. But that day I realized that if I just pulled in and photographed this church, I’d have more time behind my camera before light faded. And then the church offered so much to shoot that I came back again and again.

The church’s design provides lots of intersecting planes, which can create interest.

Planter

Canon T70, Canon FD 50mm f/1.8, Fujicolor 200, 2015

St. Paul's

Agfa Isolette III, 85mm f/4.5 Agfa Apotar, Kodak T-Max 400, 2015

Church building

Kodak Six-20, Kodak Verichrome Pan (expired), 2016

Light plays well across this church, creating beautiful shadows.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Nikon F2AS, 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AI Zoom Nikkor, Ilford Delta 400, 2014

Church door

Canon A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF, Fujicolor 200, 2016

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Nikon F2AS, 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AI Zoom Nikkor, Ilford Delta 400, 2014

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Nikon F2AS, 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AI Zoom Nikkor, Ilford Delta 400, 2014

I’ve yet to explore all of this lovely church’s details.

Ring things

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Ilford Delta 100, 2015

Just a random turtle

iPhone 6s, 2016

Serious statue

Canon A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Red berries

Canon A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Angel lighting the way

Canon T70, Canon FD 50mm f/1.8, Fujicolor 200, 2015

As I was putting this post together I realized I had inadvertently created a series of photos that zoom in from this door to an iron bench that usually stands nearby.

Arched door

Canon T70, Canon FD 50mm f/1.8, Fujicolor 200, 2015

St. Paul's

Agfa Isolette III, 85mm f/4.5 Agfa Apotar, Kodak T-Max 400, 2015

Leaves on the iron bench *EXPLORED*

Canon A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF, Fujicolor 200, 2016

One thing I like about photographing churches is that even though I am trespassing, strictly speaking, nobody ever seems to care. I guess I look harmless enough as a middle-aged man with an old film camera in his hands. I stay away when a church building is obviously in use, but frequently I’ve been to St. Paul’s when a few people are about and they always leave me to my photography. If anyone from St. Paul’s ever reads this, please accept my thanks!

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