16 theaters

Times Theater, Rochester
Rochester, IN; Canon PowerShot S95
Ohio Theater, Madison
Madison, IN; Nikon N2000, 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor, Kodak Ultramax 400
Indiana Theater, Terre Haute, IN
Terre Haute, IN; Kodak EasyShare Z730
Palace Theater, Crossville, TN
Crossville, TN; Canon PowerShot S95
Park Theater
North Vernon, IN; Canon PowerShot S80
Lafayette Theater
Lafayette, IN; Olympus XA, Agfa Vista 200
The Crump
Columbus, IN; Pentax K10D, smc PENTAX-FA 28-80mm F3.5-4.7
Chicago Theater
Chicago, IL; Canon PowerShot S95
Plainfield, IN
Plainfield, IN; Kodak EasyShare Z730
Victoria Theater
Wheeling, WV; Kodak EasyShare Z730
Franklin, IN
Franklin, IN; Kodak EasyShare Z730
State Theater
South Bend, IN; Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor
Rees Theater, sign lit
Plymouth, IN; Yashica-12, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, Rodinal 1+50
Arcada Theater
St. Charles, IL; Pentax K10D, smc PENTAX-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL
The Palace Theater
South Bend, IN; Nikon Df, 28-80m f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor
The State Theater
Logansport, IN; Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, Ultrafine Extreme 100

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The Morris Performing Arts Center

The Morris Performing Arts Center
Kodak EasyShare Z730

I don’t know which of my photographs are good, but I do know which ones please me. This one pleases me for its bold colors, especially the blue sky and the red awnings on the building. I also like its composition, with the corner of the building roughly on the left vertical 1/3 line. I wish that stoplight wasn’t intruding from the right. I remember well, even though I made this photo 14 years ago, that I couldn’t find a pleasing angle on the building that also eliminated that stoplight.

For years, I’ve placed into this Flickr album the photos that please me most. Now I’m beginning to print them and put them in an archival box. I’ve wanted to do this for years, but as is typical with me I put it off thinking I lacked the time. Margaret bought me a nice box at Father’s Day, which nudged me to start.

I’m printing these photos on 8×10 paper without cropping them from their original aspect ratios. I’m uploading the digital files to Costco, which doesn’t have a native way to do what I want. So I’m editing each file in Photoshop first, adding white space around each image to expand it to the 4×5 aspect ratio. Costco prints them that way just fine, on Fuji Crystal Archive paper with what they call a “lustre” finish, which seems to be another way of saying “matte.”

I bought some acid-free interleaving paper from B&H to place between each photograph in the box. I also bought some Stabilo All pencils from Amazon so I could write key details on the back, the same details I write under each photo in this “single frame” series. A regular #2 pencil doesn’t leave a good mark on the photo paper, but the Stabilo All pencil does.

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single frame: The Morris Performing Arts Center

The building formerly known as the Palace Theatre in South Bend, Indiana.

The Von Lee

The Von Lee
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL

This may look like a former movie theater, but only this entrance remains. Behind it is new construction.

This theater opened as the Ritz in 1928, and was renamed the Von Lee in 1948. It’s a half block from the vast Indiana University campus, on a street that most students consider to be Bloomington’s main drag.

In 1988 I saw at least one movie here, maybe two. I had a girlfriend at IU and we could walk here easily from her dorm. I remember the auditorium being cramped. But we didn’t think much of such things then. Enough old theaters still operated that it was just how it was sometimes. Newly built theaters offered only three or four screens then. The mega multiplex was several years into the future yet.

You’d think that a university town would have been able to find a community use for an old theater. Well, they did. The Indiana Theater stands a few blocks down this same street. It fell into disuse just like the Von Lee did, but it found fortune in being reused as a performing arts center in 1995. I suppose a town Bloomington’s size can support but one such venue. The Von Lee’s auditorium was demolished in about 2006.

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Photography, Preservation

single frame: The Von Lee

A quick look at the Von Lee Theater, what’s left of it anyway, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Palace Theater, Crossville, TN

Palace Theatre
Canon PowerShot S95

My sons and I spent one Spring Break in a cabin at Cumberland Mountain State Park near Crossville, Tennessee. We went into town one evening to see what was up, and we came upon this gorgeous theatre sign lit.

The Palace opened in 1938 as a first-run movie theater. It operated that way until 1978 when growing competition forced it to close. It was restored in the early 2000s to be a community center and event venue.

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single frame: Palace Theatre

The Palace Theater’s sign in Crossville, TN.

Road Trips

Movies on the Michigan Road: The Skyline Drive-in in Shelbyville

You might be surprised to know that 20 drive-in theaters still operate in Indiana. One of them, the Skyline, is on the Michigan Road, in Shelbyville. And it’s expanding.

Skyline Drive-In

Things didn’t look so good for the Skyline in 2008 when I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end. I photographed its sign then — and noticed the For Sale sign posted nearby. I figured the Skyline’s days were numbered.

Skyline Drive-In

Joe Gaudin, an independent filmmaker in Shelbyville, bought the struggling venue. Audiences were thin for the first few years, but in time he turned it around. It thrives today. Gaudin told me that his theater draws devoted drive-in fans from a 75-mile radius.

I won’t tell Gaudin’s whole story here — look for an article on the Historic Michigan Road Association’s Web site soon that does. My wife, Margaret, has become our marketing director, and she plans to profile interesting businesses and their owners all along the Michigan Road. Shelbyville was our first stop on that tour.

Skyline Drive-In

But I will say that Gaudin believes adding a second screen will secure his drive-in’s future. He’s working now to make it real, and he hopes to open it during 2020.

Skyline Drive-In

The season hadn’t begun yet when Gaudin met us, and of course work was beginning on the expansion. This is what a drive-in looks like under those conditions!

Skyline Drive-In

Gaudin showed us the projection room. We got to see the modern digital projector, critical to the drive-in’s ability to show first-run movies. But next to it stood the film projector and its lighthouse. This is vintage equipment. RCA manufactured the projector in 1948. I didn’t find a manufacturer label on the lighthouse, but Gaudin said it dates to the 1930s.

Skyline Drive-In

The vintage equipment lets him run old monster and exploitation movies that never made the leap to digital. Those movies create some of the most popular weekends at the Skyline!

I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.

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Inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre

Inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre
Olympus XA
Film Washi D

I was in an experimental mood with this experimental film. My wife and I were in Chicago and bought tickets to see the new production of The Phantom of the Opera. It played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, built in 1926 in the French Baroque style.

I made this photograph in the auditorium before the show began. The Film Washi D made good use of the available light, delivering rich blacks and sharp contrast.

The fine folks at Analogue Wonderland gave me this roll of film in exchange for this mention. Film Washi films go in and out of stock at Analogue Wonderland; see their entire selection here.

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Film Photography

single frame: Inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre

A peek inside Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre on Film Washi D.