What's the Reason for the Season?

What’s the reason for the season?
Canon PowerShot S80
2010

I remember well making this photograph ten years ago. A little church within walking distance of my home planted a row of pine trees on the edge of their property, I imagine to block the sights and sounds of the busy main road. For many years at Christmastime, they strung lights around them all. It was lovely, especially at night.

It was just ten degrees out that mid-December night I decided to walk over there and photograph the scene. I brought a tripod — I would need to make long exposures with my Canon PowerShot S80, which was my primary camera then. I made a couple dozen photos here that night. I would have made more, but neither the camera nor my hands could abide the cold.

Back at home I sorted through these photos and selected two that turned out well, including this one. I then wrote a post about Christmas that used them both.

That post was about coming to terms with Christmas. Most of my time as a Christian had been in a church that did not celebrate the birth of Christ. The Bible did not expressly authorize it, the logic went, and therefore we should not do it. This is a niche position in Christendom.

I left that church over its legalism and landed in a more mainstream branch of this faith. The churches I’ve belonged to since all celebrate Christmas. I struggled with it for a long time. Writing that post helped me come to terms with it. I’ll re-share that post here tomorrow.

Last year at church it fell to me to give the Christmas Eve sermon. (You can read it here.) How far I’ve come in my journey!

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Photography

single frame: What’s the reason for the season?

A lit cross at night.

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Hinkle Hamburgers

Hinkle’s Hamburgers
Canon PowerShot S80
2009

There’s a lot to like about Madison, a small Indiana city on the Ohio River and at the beginning of the historic Michigan Road. One of those things is Hinkle’s. They make a mean hamburger — grilled crispy on the edges, with pickle and grilled onions on a soft bun.

As you can see, this sign is a little weatherworn. Fortunately, it’s been restored since I made this photograph. But in the process it changed color. When you visit Madison, look for the dark green Hinkle’s sign! It’s right on Main Street.

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Photography

single frame: Hinkle’s Hamburgers

Hinkle’s Hamburgers, a Madison, Indiana institution.

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US 50 in Brownstown

Brock’s Restaurant
Canon PowerShot S80
2010

As I put together this series I was struck by how many neon signs I photographed lit during the day. I’ve always figured places turned their signs on at dusk.

Brock’s is in Brownstown, a small southeastern Indiana town on US 50. I love to visit little towns like this in my travels and find gems like this sign in them.

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Photography

single frame: Brock’s Restaurant

The neon sign for Brock’s, a restaurant in Brownstown, IN.

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Moon-Lite Motel

Moon-Lite Motel
Canon PowerShot S80
2009

You’ll find the Moon-Lite Motel in Versailles (ver-SALES), Indiana, on US 421. That’s also the Auto Trail alignment of the Michigan Road. I’ve seen other photos with the neon fully working — the MOTEL letters light up in pink.

You never know what you’re going to get when you choose to stay at an old motel like this. Thank heavens for Google and its reviews, which say that this is one of the good ones.

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Photography

single frame: Moon-Lite Motel

A neon motel sign in Versailles, IN.

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Felke Florist

Felke Florist
Canon PowerShot S80
2009

If you’ve never been to Plymouth, put it on your list; it is a charming small Indiana city. I came to appreciate it on my many passes through as I explored the Michigan Road in 2008. Its intact old downtown is filled with viable local shops; well-cared-for homes dating to the mid-1800s line the Michigan Road leading in and out. Terre Haute, Muncie, Goshen – they all wish they had a main drag like Plymouth’s.

Once I drove through Plymouth at twilight and Felke Florist’s sign was lit with beautiful bright red neon. I so regretted that I didn’t have my camera with me. And then on many subsequent trips through town, the sign wasn’t lit. But then on this particular afternoon it was — inexplicably, as it was four o’clock in the afternoon. Fortunately, my camera was sitting on the passenger seat. You’d better believe I stopped for this photo!

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Photography

single frame: Felke Florist

A neon sign for a florist in Plymouth, Indiana.

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1957 Ford Ranch Wagon c

Ranch Wagon
Canon PowerShot S80
2013

I’m ending this series on classic cars as I began it: with a photo of a badge on the flank of a colorful station wagon.

This time it’s a 1957 Ford. The Ranch Wagon sat at the bottom of Ford’s wagon hierarchy as basic transportation. If you wanted a swankier Ford wagon, you opted for the Country Squire.

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Old Cars, Photography

single frame: Ranch Wagon

Ford Ranch Wagon badge.

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