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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Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis

Ghostly church
Kodak Six-20
Kodak Plus-X
2010

The first time I photographed Second Presbyterian I was shooting my folding Kodak Six-20 and some Plus-X that I bought pre-respooled as 620 from B&H. The entire roll came back looking like this, to my disappointment.

I came across the negatives recently and they look normal. My wife bought me a new flatbed film scanner for my birthday, and it takes medium-format film, so I may try scanning the negs myself when I get moved and settled.

I’ve reviewed the Kodak Six-20 twice: here and here.

Photography

single frame: Ghostly church

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Photography, Preservation

Favorite subjects: Second Presbyterian Church

This is a favorite subject that I haven’t shot very much. It’s truly a favorite subject in that I really enjoy it. I wish I made it over there more often for photography! It’s striking, a “whoa!” moment the first time you come upon it while driving north on Meridian Street in Indianapolis.

Second Presbyterian
Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X 400, 2017

It reminds me of Westminster Abbey a little. The architect must have been going for that style.

SecondPres.PNG
Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

But this building is not Westminster Abbey’s contemporary: it was completed in 1960 on Indianapolis’s Far Northside. Surprised? But the congregation dates to 1837, making it one of the oldest in the city. It’s also one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in the United States.

Second Presbyterian is perhaps best known for hosting the 1990 funeral of Ryan White, a boy who contracted AIDS via blood transfusion at a time when this disease was ill-understood and greatly feared. His fight to attend school in his hometown of Russiaville, about 45 minutes north of here, made the national news and was instrumental in helping our nation understand that AIDS was not just a “gay disease.”

Over 1,500 people attended White’s funeral, including then-First Lady Barbara Bush, Michael Jackson, and Elton John.

Since then Second Pres has led a lower profile. Here’s hoping I’m raising it ever so slightly today, because this building is just lovely. I’ve photographed it over and over.

Second Pres
Minolta Hi-Matic 7, Fujicolor 200, 2011
Second Presbyterian
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Arista 100 EDU (expired), 2015
Second Presbyterian
Canon AF35ML (Super Sure Shot), Fujicolor 200, 2011
Second Presbyterian Church
Kodak Monitor Six-20, Kodak Ektachrome E100G, 2011

A handful of times I’ve shot some of the building’s details.

Second Presbyterian
Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X 400, 2017
Second Presbyterian
Canon AF35ML (Super Sure Shot), Fujicolor 200, 2011
Second Presbyterian
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Arista 100 EDU (expired), 2015
At Second Presbyterian Church
Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax, Kodak Gold 400, 2017
At Second Presbyterian Church
Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax, Kodak Gold 400, 2017

Even though I love this beautiful building, I just haven’t figured out how to shoot it. There have got to be more interesting details, more dramatic angles, but I struggle to find them.

Second Presbyterian
Canon AF35ML (Super Sure Shot), Fujicolor 200, 2011

So I keep shooting it straight on. Fortunately, it looks great that way.

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Faith, Film Photography

Hot dogs on Holmes Street

You might not think free hot dogs are a good way to meet your neighbors, but they worked fine for us at West Park Christian Church on Indianapolis’s Near Westside.

Church event

Our church is in the Hawthorne neighborhood, just steps off old US 40 and the National Road. Its houses were built in the first couple decades of the last century. Our building is on Addison Street, but our parking lot is on the lot behind us and it empties out onto Holmes Street. As cars and pedestrians passed, we called them in. Many stopped.

Church event

Rob, the husband of our youth pastor, manned the grill. Here he is talking to our lead pastor’s wife, Sue.

Church event

On the left is Wanda, who brought one of her friends. At right is one of our neighbors who stopped by with her children.

Church event

Jay brought his DJ gear and provided the soundtrack.

Church event

He has quite a nice little setup.

Church event

He and Phil (right) are our sound engineers on Sunday mornings.

Church event

Our little church has its challenges. We’re small in number and often lack enough people to carry out our plans. Sometimes we don’t collect a large enough offering to cover expenses. Heck, sometimes we show up on Sunday morning to find we’ve run out of communion supplies. Frankly, we count our blessings every time our worship service happens without any glitches.

But we are good at just being easy-to-approach people in our community. People find quickly that we are the most non-threatening, easiest to talk to Christians they’ve ever met. The hot dogs were just our clever ruse to let our neighbors find that out.

Nikon FA, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Agfa Vista 200

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Film Photography

The evolution of the Eastern Star Church

It had been a cornfield, this plot across from my neighborhood. Once in a while I’d get stuck on the main road behind a tractor or a harvester that had just completed some work here. Right in the middle of Indianapolis. And then one day about seven years ago heavy equipment cleared a dense line of trees by the road, revealing the fallow field beyond. This sign went up, followed by the framework behind it.

Church Coming Soon

As the trees came down I figured a neighborhood would be built here. I wasn’t excited. The road is narrow and busy enough without a hundred more cars trying to get in and out every day.

Church construction

And so I was happy that our new neighbor would be a church. And not just any church: the giant and well-known Eastern Star Church.

Sunrise over the unfinished church

This nearly 100-year-old congregation began to experience explosive growth about 30 years ago. Since then it has planted three new churches and expanded from one to three locations around central Indiana. This is the third and newest location.

Eastern Star Church

The church has been a respectful neighbor. They designed their parking lot so that it empties not only onto the main road, but also through a neighborhood to the north and the cemetery through the south, to disperse exiting cars evenly.

Eastern Star

Traffic moves pretty smoothly on the main road every Sunday morning, especially since police are always on hand to direct traffic. Sometimes I happen to return home from my church as Eastern Star lets out, and I seldom have to wait more than a minute to turn into my subdivision.

Eastern Star Church

The church brought an unexpected benefit: it extended my ability to take an evening stroll. My little subdivision has but five streets. Walking the same loop gets old fast. But now I can cut quickly through the church’s parking lot to reach the large cemetery beyond. It’s a nice, long, varied walking loop. I could walk there before, but I had to either walk a mile on the shoulders of busy roads, or drive. So I never did it.

Eastern Star Church

So why do I have so many photographs of the church? Because I’m forever testing a new-to-me old film camera, and the church is an easy subject. I can walk to it in five minutes.

Eastern Star Church

And so I’ve captured it in all seasons and at nearly all times of day. These photos are in chronological order, by the way.

Eastern Star

Really, little has changed since construction ended. A little more landscaping. The signs out front are a little different now. The trees, so spindly when planted, are filling out.

Eastern Star Church

It’s interesting to me to review these photographs and see how the church and its grounds appear on various films, through various lenses, at various times of day.

Eastern Star Church

We think we know a thing or a place because we pass by it all the time. But I think we easily come to fail to actually see it — our minds have put it into a box, have made it a known quantity.

Eastern Star Church

These photos show some of the variables that go into what a place looks like. This church’s structure is certainly fixed. But how we see it is not.

Eastern Star

Moreover, you would see it differently from me.  I would enjoy seeing how you would photograph this same place.

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Church bus

Church bus
Nikon N8008, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor
Kodak Tri-X 400
2017

I went on my first of three mission trips to Mexico 13 years ago, riding this bus nonstop from Indiana. We even slept, badly, on its cramped seats. But now this bus is discarded, moldering in a field.

Hazelwood church is in farm country about a half hour west of Indianapolis and a few minutes south of US 40. It’s a surprisingly large and active church for being so rural.

Film Photography

Photo: Church bus.

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