Road Trips

The Green Lantern on the National Road/US 40 in Illinois

I’ve written about the National Road in Illinois many times before. But as I work to deprecate my old Roads site, I need to bring a few articles about the road in Illinois from there to here. This is one of them. This is based on recent research and a visit in 2007.

As we came near to Effingham we could see a tall neon sign in the distance. As we got closer, we could see that it was grand.

Green Lantern

Sadly, the building behind this sign had burned about a month earlier, on the night of June 5. It had stood since 1938, first as a bar, then as a fine dining establishment, and most recently as a roadhouse of sorts. For many years, it was the only place on US 40 for several states that was open Sunday nights, when it drew crowds from a hundred miles away.

Green Lantern

The owner pledged to rebuild, but it never happened. In 2014, the site was sold to someone who maintains it as an investment. I looked the site up on Google Maps (it’s here). The last time a Google Street View car drove by, which was in 2019, someone was selling yard sheds on this lot.

I hope this great sign was saved!

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No Outlet

No Outlet
Agfa Clack
Ilford FP4 Plus
LegacyPro L110, Dilution B
2021

Now that my new (used) dedicated 35mm scanner has solved my problem getting good scans of my 35mm negatives, I’m less satisfied with the medium-format scans my flatbed delivers. These scans are miles better than what my flatbed can deliver with 35mm negatives, but they’re still not great.

With this roll, I played around with VueScan’s built-in film profiles. VueScan has a paltry selection of them, far fewer than what rival SilverFast offers. There was no Ilford FP4 Plus profile, for example. But I tried the Kodak T-Max 100 profile, and it immediately balanced the contrast in these negatives.

The Clack is capable of better sharpness than this. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get good sharpness from my flatbed. Could it be the device itself? Or is it the software; should I try SilverFast? Meh, bleh, what a pain. It’s just easier to send my film to the lab and let them deal with it.

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Film Photography

single frame: No Outlet

A sign I photograph a lot because it’s right by my home.

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Wrecks, Inc.

Letters suspended in air
Kodak Monitor Six-20
Ilford FP4 Plus
LegacyPro L110, Dilution B

2020

I put some film through my Kodak Monitor in November. It’s the last camera I’m evaluating in Operation Thin the Herd, my project to shrink my camera collection to a manageable number.

You’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out whether the Monitor stays or goes. I write this blog in advance and that many posts are simply in the queue ahead of it. I try to always have at least two weeks of posts scheduled. But it has the unfortunate side effect of time-shifting my work. That post will show trees with leaves still on them — leaves that fell off within a week of snapping the shutter.

Sometimes I move scheduled posts to later dates so I can show you photos I’ve recently made. But at the end of the year I always write (or rerun, as this year) a couple Christmas-themed posts, do my annual list posts of old parked cars and favorite photos, and post my annual recap post. It obviously doesn’t make sense to move those to January!

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Film Photography

single frame: Letters suspended in air

Letters on a giant neon sign.

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The Saratoga

The Saratoga
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2009

Not long ago I showed this sign in my lit-neon single frame series. I found this photo from my 2009 tour of the National Road (US 40) in western Indiana that shows the sign in its context. It’s a pleasing scene from downtown Terre Haute.

Terre Haute is a blue-collar town of about 60,000 people. That’s big enough that you can’t know everybody, but small enough that after you live there for a few years the locals are largely familiar to you.

When I lived there, I used to stop by a little diner downtown for breakfast. Most days the county sheriff ate at the stool next to me. We’d nod and smile as he sat down. I worked with a fellow then who went on to be Terre Haute’s mayor now. This is how life goes in a city of this size, and I miss it.

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Photography

single frame: The Saratoga

Outdoor dining at The Saratoga in Terre Haute.

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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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