Lonely little window

Lonely little window
Nikon N2000, 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom Nikkor

Kosmo Foto Mono
Rodinal 1+50
2020

I live in a modern vinyl village. It’s not my cup of tea, but it made practical sense when Margaret and I got married and so here we are. We both hope to move on from here when the nest empties.

While we’re all on stay-at-home orders during the global pandemic, my photography is limited to my house and, when I take a walk, my neighborhood.

The houses all present well from the front, but they paid zero attention to what the sides and back look like. Windows, when they exist, are stuck wherever it made sense from the inside, without regard to how that would look on the outside. Our house has windows on the front and back, but the sides are huge, unbroken slabs of vinyl. Some houses have windows inserted in random places. The pictured house has this one window on this side, in the extreme lower left corner. It just looks weird.

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Film Photography

single frame: Lonely little window

Lonely little window

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COVID-19

Photos from a vinyl village

Since the global pandemic has left us all stuck at home, I’ve been taking a lot of walks around the neighborhood. I still want to make photographs, so the neighborhood has been my primary subject.

It’s a nice neighborhood. People take good care of their properties here. The houses are all very similar in design but as you drive through everything looks tidy and cheerful.

Reflected vinyl

Yet this isn’t my kind of place. I yearn for the city grid, with streets that actually go places. I miss interesting and quirky local businesses; out here, it’s all chains. I miss living in an older home, solidly built. These houses feel like they’re built of balsa wood and papier-mâché.

It’s not all bad. It’s incredibly convenient to live near major shopping. We’re right by I-65, so we can go anywhere in central Indiana quickly. And we get spectacular sunsets here.

But as Margaret and I talk about where we’d like to live when the nest empties, I’ve been clear: not here.

I walk around the neighborhood every day I can during our stay-at-home orders, to get some exercise and breathe the air. The main road loops through the neighborhood. Streets branch from it, leading to the clusters of houses.

Down the main road

I’ve been bringing a camera along on most of these walks just to scratch my photography itch. It’s made me see some things that I’d been glazing over. High-voltage power lines bisect the neighborhood. Retention ponds are everywhere. Boxes stick up from the ground all over the place, even in peoples’ front yards, to ease access to utilities. And a petroleum pipeline runs under the neighborhood, or at least that’s what all the tall yellow-and-white signs above it say.

And then you look at the houses themselves. They present well from the front, but around the sides not so much. Many houses, like ours, have no windows on the sides. The acre of vinyl siding is really unattractive. When there are windows, they seem randomly placed. I’m sure the windows’ placement makes sense from the inside, but on the outside it’s disharmonious.

I’m thinking about a project of deeply photographing this neighborhood, and then publishing a book. I could start with all of the beautiful scenes and slowly shift to all the ways this neighborhood is actually banal, and even sometimes ugly.

It’ll be fun to explore this idea, at any rate. It’s not like I have many other photographic subjects while we all stay at home!

Other coronavirus reports from Khürt Williams, Steve Mitchell, Shawna LeMay, and Gerald Greenwood.

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Preservation, Road Trips

Inside St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shelbyville, Indiana

Margaret and I were in Shelbyville for the day a couple weeks ago to meet with a few business owners. Margaret has become the Communications Director for the Historic Michigan Road Association, and she is starting to profile businesses on or near the road for our Web site.

We got to town more than an hour early for our first appointment, so we parked on the square and walked around taking photographs. St. Joesph Catholic Church is an imposing structure on E Broadway St., which is also the Michigan Road. It towers over the surrounding buildings.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

As we photographed the exterior, a car pulled up and a fellow got out. He introduced himself to us as Jack, a member at the church. We got to talking and after a few minutes he asked if we’d like to see the inside. Well, of course we would! He called a staff member to see if a visit could be arranged. It was, and shortly we were in.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

It just goes to show you that you never know what beauty lurks in any town. Shelbyville isn’t the flashiest town on the Michigan Road, but my goodness but does it have this gorgeous church.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph’s stained glass windows are simply stunning. I did my best to capture the deep, rich color.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

I checked: Emil Frei and Associates is still in the stained-glass business, and has been since 1898. Emil may have been from Munich, but he based his business in St. Louis. Today, it operates in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

We were incredibly fortunate to meet Jack, who unlocked this tour for us.

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Photography

Views of Monument Circle from the Columbia Club

My wife and I were invited to her employer’s annual party, held at the Columbia Club on Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis. The Columbia Club is an old-fashioned members club, the kind we can’t afford. But the owners of my wife’s employer can, and they reserved a block of rooms for anyone who wanted to stay the night. We couldn’t turn down the chance.

Our room overlooked Monument Circle. I got out my Canon PowerShot S95 and made a bunch of photos.

Monument Circle at night
The Monument at night
The Monument at night
Circle Theatre and the IPL Building

We took a brief walk after the party ended. Salesforce Tower is right behind the Columbia Club and was lit like this.

Looking up, on the circle in Indianapolis

In the morning, I made more photos from our window. It was a gloomy day.

Monument Circle in the morning
The Lacy Building
Down Market St.
Down Meridian St.
The Monument

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Inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre

Inside the Palmer House Hilton
Olympus XA
Film Washi D
2020

Because I never take notes as I shoot rolls of film, once in a while I get an image back that I can’t place. I shot this whole roll of Film Washi D in Chicago, so it’s narrowed down that much. But I couldn’t remember whether I shot this inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre or the Palmer House Hilton. Peristent Googling turned up images that confirm this as the Palmer House.

Whichever it is, the Film Washi D did a nice job in the available light, delivering good tones in the marble. I like how the light falls off, giving this scene an air of mystery.

The fine folks at Analogue Wonderland gave me this roll of film in exchange for this mention. Film Washi films go in and out of stock at Analogue Wonderland; see their entire selection here.

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Film Photography

single frame: Inside the Palmer House Hilton

A peek inside Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton on Film Washi D.

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Inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre

Inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre
Olympus XA
Film Washi D
2020

I was in an experimental mood with this experimental film. My wife and I were in Chicago and bought tickets to see the new production of The Phantom of the Opera. It played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, built in 1926 in the French Baroque style.

I made this photograph in the auditorium before the show began. The Film Washi D made good use of the available light, delivering rich blacks and sharp contrast.

The fine folks at Analogue Wonderland gave me this roll of film in exchange for this mention. Film Washi films go in and out of stock at Analogue Wonderland; see their entire selection here.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Film Photography

single frame: Inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre

A peek inside Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre on Film Washi D.

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