More than just the cherry trees were in bloom during our visit to Lexington Cemetery. Given that these trees’ flowers probably lasted only a couple weeks, our visit could not have been more fortunately timed.
Military graves in Lexington Cemetery Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor 2021
Lexington National Cemetery is a one-acre section of Lexington Cemetery containing about 1,700 graves. It was created in 1861 for Civil War dead. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the graves are arranged in concentric circles around a central memorial.
I love a good cemetery. So, it seems, do the people of Lexington, Kentucky. Their largest cemetery, Lexington Cemetery, was full of people on the spring afternoon Margaret and I visited.
I’d never seen a cemetery with so many people in it. There was no funeral — people were just there to enjoy it, as they would a large park. At first I thought it was a little odd, so many people walking and relaxing in this place of the dead. I like doing that, but I think I’m unusual. I usually have cemeteries largely or entirely to myself. Not in Lexington!
The flowering trees were in bloom on this early spring Saturday. Margaret and I walked and photographed the lovely scenery. And then we came upon the cherry blossoms.
A long lane in the cemetery was blocked to cars, and was full of people strolling slowly through. Easily a dozen people had brought a photographer with them to make individual and group portraits here. We had never seen anything like it!
In thanks for a favor, reader Christopher May sent me a roll of Arista Premium 100 black-and-white film to shoot. This film is widely thought to be rebranded Kodak Plus-X, which went out of production in 2011. After that, Arista stopped offering its Premium 100 film as soon as stock ran out. This roll expired in 2011, but had been stored frozen.
I loaded the film into my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, a terrific little viewfinder camera with a coupled selenium light meter. I hadn’t used it in some time and it deserved some exercise. But also, its lens is put-your-eye-out sharp and I looked forward to what it would do with this film.
I shot most of the roll on a bike ride over to the cemetery next to a little country church not far from my home. I developed the film in LegacyPro L110, Dilution H (1+63), and scanned it with VueScan and my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II.
Things didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Every time I pick up a viewfinder camera I forget to focus a couple photos early in the roll, and this time was no exception. It’s as if not seeing a rangefinder patch or split-image circle in the viewfinder makes me think the image must already be in focus, or something. I also misfocused a couple photos because I’m not the greatest guesser of distance.
But even then, almost all of these images were soft. Several were hazy, as well. I was able to Photoshop most of the haze out, but I was only able to improve sharpness only so much. The photos I’m sharing here all look sharp enough at blog size. The softness comes out at full scan size. If you’re curious, click any photo to view it on Flickr, and once there click the photo to expand it.
The photos above and below are the sharpest on the roll. They give a good sense of what this camera’s Carl Zeiss Tessar lens can do.
I had a lovely time with the Contessa LK, at any rate. I left its ever-ready case on and slung it over my shoulder and across my torso for this bike ride. The leather strap was still solid and strong despite the case showing heavy use.
I finished the roll on a walk with Margaret through the Garfield Park neighborhood in southeast Indianapolis. We’re starting to dream again of where we want to live next, and I’m drawn to some of Indianapolis’s old neighborhoods.
Houses on two streets overlook stunning Garfield Park with its sunken garden and conservatory. Garfield Park is a real hidden gem in Indianapolis.
Despite everything, it’s good to see the signature even tonality and smoothness of Plus-X again. Yes, I believe that’s what Arista Premium 100 is, just as I believe that the also discontinued Arista Premium 400 was rebranded Kodak Tri-X.
I think I need to give the Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK another spin soon, and see if I can improve on these results.
Blue Star Memorial Nikon F2 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros 2016
I don’t have a military bone in my body. My dad tried hard to convince me to go into ROTC in college. Even though it would have paid most of my way, I wouldn’t have it. Dad was serious about men serving their country. I’m surprised now that he didn’t insist.
But I admire the men and women who did and do serve. I’m always saddened to find military graves in a cemetery, because it reminds me that some gave all.
We were just two weeks into stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. I thought I was adapting okay, but as that second week drew to a close I felt myself going a little stir crazy. I felt a strong need to get away for a while. But where could I go?
My wife suggested I just take a long drive. “If you’re in your car, there’s nobody to infect you and you can’t infect anybody.” Brilliant. So that Saturday afternoon that’s just what I did.
The bare-tree months are my favorite time to visit this bridge because it’s so visible. In the middle of summer this is mighty overgrown. You can’t even see the bridge from modern US 40 then. But at this time of year it’s easy to see.
This bridge was built in 1923. It doesn’t look too bad for having gotten zero maintenance since it was abandoned, which was sometime between 1939 and 1941.
Iron’s Cemetery is just northeast of the bridge. Little spring flowers grew all along the path leading to it.
Inside the cemetery, you can see the other side of the bridge. At least you can during the bare-tree months.
Except for the sound of an occasional passing car, the only sound here is the wind. It was lovely to be out in the world in a peaceful place.
There are always lots of interesting details to photograph in an old cemetery. Gravestone letterforms of the 1800s fascinate me. They have such style!
Unfortunately, many of the markers here are in poor condition. Some of them are broken and lying on the ground.
I hate to see any old cemetery in this condition. It’s funny — I won’t be buried in one when I’m gone, it seems like a waste of good ground. Cremate me and scatter my remains to the wind. But for those who did choose burial, good heavens, provide for the maintenance of those graves!
But enough of that maudlin stuff. It helped me regain my internal footing to make this trip. I lingered here well past I stopped finding photographic inspiration, just to enjoy the quiet and the outdoors. Then I got into my car and drove back home.