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.


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.


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.


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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Road Trips

The Michigan Road pedestrian trail in Indianapolis

Ten years ago walking or biking in most of Indianapolis meant taking your life into your hands. Large portions of this city have a suburban or even rural character thanks to 1970’s merger of this city and its county. Lots of cul-de-sac neighborhoods, strip malls, and industrial parks have been built since then, especially in northern Indianapolis. Wherever new development went, so did bigger and better roads optimized to move lots of cars and trucks. Bikers and walkers were largely out of luck.

That didn’t stop people from walking or biking those roads anyway, especially the poor and working class trying to reach jobs beyond the last bus stop. Rush hours were dangerous for them. The city has been working to change that, and to encourage leisure walking and biking, by building a network of bike lanes and pedestrian trails. They connect walkers and bikers to jobs, shopping, and parks.

My bike

A few years ago the city completed a pedestrian trail along Michigan Road from 42nd to 86th Streets, a distance of about six miles. I’ve been meaning to bike it since it opened but just got to it the other day. I picked it up near my home at Kessler Boulevard and rode north. This is the northbound trail as it passes by Crooked Creek School on the northwest corner of this intersection.


This asphalt trail was routed along concrete sidewalks wherever they already existed. In some places the trail adjoins the road and is bordered with a curb. In other places a grass strip separates the trail and the road.

Yield to Trail Users

The trail’s character changes frequently and, usually, abruptly.

Michigan Road Trail

From Kessler to just north of 71st Street Michigan Road is a mixed bag of retail and light industrial, some of which has seen better days. Then the road reaches Augusta, a former town. If you didn’t know it was once a town, you wouldn’t guess it. Strip malls and box stores simply give way to a collection of older homes, most of them repurposed as businesses.

On the Michigan Road trail

North of Augusta the trail’s terrain begins to roll gently. It makes me wonder if Michigan Road once did here, too; the road has been flattened.

Michigan Road trail

North of 79th Street, the road passes by some newer residential subdivisions and crosses a little creek.

Michigan Road trail

This is the loveliest section of the trail that I rode all day.

Bridge on Michigan Road trail

Oh, just one more photo near that creek, just because it’s so lovely.

Michigan Road trail

I’ve lived here long enough that I remember when none of these neighborhoods existed. This was all farmland through the late 1970s, and some of it was still farmed as late as the mid 1990s when I moved here.

Northpoint Village

As the road nears 86th Street, the character changes again as it enters a major shopping district. The Pyramids, a local landmark, come into view.

Nearing 86th St.

The portion of Michigan Road I covered on this ride is busy with vehicular traffic all day, especially at rush hour. I drive it a lot and find that most traffic exceeds the posted 45-mile-per-hour speed limit. Walking or biking this road used to be risky at best. But now it’s easy and even enjoyable.

Even with the pedestrian trail, Michigan Road remains challenging to walk outside daylight hours as there are not enough street lights. This is a problem in many areas of Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Star interviewed me briefly last autumn for a story about an elderly man who was struck and killed on Michigan Road near my home. The Star tries to link lack of streetlights to his death. Read that story here. Very recently, the city has struck a deal to add 4,000 street lights into unlit portions of the city. So many Indianapolis streets are unlit that I wonder if 4,000 lights will be enough, but it’s certainly a start.

Life, Road Trips

Strolling through Old Town Carmel

Our first wedding anniversary was in early July and we got away for the weekend to celebrate. We didn’t go far, just to Carmel, a small city on Indianapolis’s northern border. We stayed in a B&B for the weekend and enjoyed Carmel’s downtown.

I brought my Pentax ME along, fresh from its overhaul. We took our dinner at Muldoon’s, an Irish pub on Main Street. The Guinness is always fresh! I photographed Margaret inside as we waited for our food.


Carmel has branded the core of its downtown as the Arts and Design District. Several art galleries dot the district, and on several summer Saturday evenings the galleries all open their doors and offer music and noshes. This was one of those Saturdays, and so we did the gallery hop. It was fun.

Carmel Arts & Design District

The best work we saw, in this little building behind the accordion player, was created by students. Some of it was quite good, and a couple pieces were astonishing.

Just a random accordion player

We walked quite a bit through Old Town. That’s what friends who have lived in Carmel have always called the area, anyway. The town began in 1837, was incorporated in 1874, and became classified as a city in 1975. But through the late 1980s the city remained small and largely sleepy. Since then Carmel has expanded dramatically, consuming giant tracts of farmland for miles around. Tall office buildings and sprawling cul-de-sac neighborhoods have been built at breakneck pace. The construction boom has not escaped Old Town.

Downtown Carmel

When you get a block or so off Main Street, you get a sense of what the town used to be. But only a sense, as Carmel has become a wealthy suburb. There are no fixer-uppers or bargain homes left in Old Town. And some older homes have been torn down in favor of new construction. Fortunately, the newer homes we encountered had style that harmonized with the older homes.

Here and there remnants of a Carmel gone by do lurk about. The Monon Railroad passed through Carmel back in the day, and its depot still stands.


The depot is a museum. We hoped for transportation exhibits, but instead it was all about Carmel high-school basketball. What an odd place to put a museum like that!


Carmel’s government has had bold, strong leadership for more than 20 years, and they relentlessly build their vision for a winning small city. Their definition of winning differed from mine. I liked finding what was left of Carmel as it was.


Yet we enjoyed our weekend in Carmel. As we set the challenges of our lives aside for a couple days and just soaked in being a married couple, Carmel was a wonderful place to get away. We could have driven home in 20 minutes, but we felt like we were a hundred miles away. This is the B&B we stayed in, and it clearly was a home built at least a hundred years ago. It was charming, by the way; we’d stay here again.


Margaret and I keep dreaming about where we’d like to live when we are finally empty nested, and Carmel’s Old Town had been on the list. As great as Carmel was for an anniversary getaway, it didn’t feel like home to us. So we will keep looking.


Light and color at the Indiana State Fair

It’s become personal tradition that I go to the Indiana State Fair at least once when it comes around, which this year is August 4-20.

New this year is the Skyride, which spans 1,400 feet across the fairgrounds’ front promenade. While it’s cool, the reconfiguring necessary to accommodate it cut out a lot of pedestrian space. It was crowded. I’d rather have the old configuration back.

Skyride along the fair's mains treet

But the Skyride didn’t take away any space from the food booths. All the usual vendors are back.

Funnel Cakes

My favorite two foods at the Indiana State Fair are the smoked turkey legs and the Indiana ice cream from the ice-cream barn. Oh my, the turkey legs are outstanding. Dairy doesn’t sit as well on my stomach as it used to, so I forewent the ice cream this visit. Frowny face.

Fresh Turkey Leg

I like photographing the midway the most. There’s so much to focus on, and it is challenging to capture the moving rides at just the right moment to make interesting photographs.


I am pleased I got that fellow with his arms out like that, and the young woman looking like she was calling out to someone.


We went to the fair after work and stayed until darkness fell. At dusk, the lights go on.

Midway entrance

Dusk is my favorite time at the fair. The hot sun has gone away and the lights are on, yet there’s enough natural light to see well.


The games seem even more colorful at dusk than they do in daylight.

Fabulous prizes

The midway is just at its most photogenic when it is lit.


I like to get people in the foreground of my fair-scene photographs, especially when they’re doing something interesting. I was super pleased that three Indiana State Police officers wandered into my shot as I was composing, and that my Canon S95’s shutter lag was not so bad that I couldn’t keep them in the frame.

Ferris wheel

Where night falls slowly in July, it falls quickly in August. All of a sudden, it was dark.


We came out of the midway and walked the back half of the fairgrounds, where booths are set up with all sorts of things for sale, from hundred thousand dollar farm tractors to ten dollar pendants.


By this time we were tired. I bought my traditional giant bag of kettle corn, and a box of taffy for my youngest son, and we headed home.

History, Road Trips

For sale: Michigan Road Toll House

Toll house

When railroads came to prominence in the mid 1800s, traffic dropped dramatically on roads like Indiana’s Michigan Road. What followed was an early example of privatization: many roads were sold to private companies to operate.

Toll house markerThe Michigan Road was one of them. Several companies bought pieces of it, made various improvements, and operated it as a toll road. One such company was the Augusta Gravel Road Company, which operated a segment of the road that passed through northwest Indianapolis. In 1866, they built this toll house (read more here.)

And it’s for sale. With two bedrooms and one bathroom, this 1,100-square-foot house comes with two lots totaling more than 10,000 square feet. It’s been a rental in recent years, and is in sad condition inside. See photos at the listing on Zillow, which also has better exterior photos than mine.

Toll house

Its price is so low that if I weren’t in the middle of paying huge college bills for my sons, I’d buy it. I don’t know exactly what I’d do with it, as it’s too small for my family, but I sure would hate for this house to fall into the hands of someone who can’t appreciate its place in history.


Wrecks Inc

Drive carefully
Pentax Spotmatic F, 35mm f/3.5 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar
Kodak Ektar 100

I photograph this sign a lot. I love it! And I drive by it frequently as it’s on the way to Margaret’s.

This time I photographed it from the driver’s seat of my car. The 35mm lens I used let me do that easily from the side of the road, where I had pulled over. Whenever I photograph this sign with a 50mm lens, I have to back way up from it to fit it in the frame.

The more I shoot 35mm lenses, the more I like them. It’s such a useful focal length for road-trip photography. I don’t have to back up nearly as much to get things into the frame, yet when I want to move in close I can still do so credibly.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Drive carefully