Fuji Neopan (expired) in Wide & Slim

This has been one of my favorite film/camera combos for a while now. I only have a few rolls of Neopan left, but I feel like I’ve progressed through all the stages of grief and I’m ready to start trying other options. (Don’t talk to me about pack film yet, though. Too soon.)

Dugas Cemetery

Abandoned house

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Fort Macomb

Luling Mansion

In other news, I’ve gone back to my old idea of trying to find a ghost town in southern Louisiana. I did dome research on it about 4 years ago but gave up because websites were always mentioning “ghost towns” that no longer existed. They would turn out to have been washed away by the river when it changed course, or totally demolished to build a section of highway, or wiped off the earth by hurricanes. One website claims Bayou Goula is a ghost town, to which all I can say is that those are some pretty lively ghosts.

Morrisonville in Iberville Parish seemed like a good bet, it was small community on the River Road that had to be abandoned in the mid-90s when Dow Chemical spilled vinyl chloride. There’s nothing left but the cemetery but I thought it might make some interesting photos anyway, with all the pipes and industrial crap in the background. However, the Dow facility has grown around the site of the town in the intervening years, and the cemetery is now on private property. It’s theoretically accessible by the public, and a security guard gave me a phone number to call, but no one ever answered. So that was a big, fat goose egg.

Back to the drawing board. If you know of anything, please leave a comment.

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I honestly have no idea what happened here

This is a roll of black and white that I shot in my Blackbird Fly and the whole thing came out so terrible that Dwayne’s Photo put in that little slip of paper that basically says “this film is fucked, we did the best we could”. The film was expired Fuji Neopan, but it’s been in the fridge since the day I bought it and it shouldn’t be THAT bad. I also, for some reason, took almost a year to finish the roll, so maybe having the film sit for months wasn’t a great idea. Some of the photos are from Jennings, which I shot during the first semi-decent weekend we had last fall, and I finished the roll at Talbert-Pierson Cemetery a couple of weeks ago.

Or maybe the camera just doesn’t play nice with black and white. Who knows? Also a lot of them are out of focus for some reason AND there appears to scratching of the negatives. So why am I bothering to blog about a terrible roll of film? Eh I dunno, I kind of think some of the photos have an interesting, aged quality to the them. You be the judge:

Maison de Reprise

Bayou le Batre

Jennings, LA

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Our Lady of Tickfaw

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In which I find fame and glory at last: Lagniappe Magazine

So I got some interesting news a couple of months ago that I’ve been kind of sitting on: I was contacted by the editor of Lagniappe Magazine, he came across my blog and wanted to do a story about my photography of abandoned stuff. Lagniappe is a local arts & culture magazine based out of Lake Charles. I said yes, of course.

I got a PDF of the story this morning; I’m mostly pleased with the result, and it seems like he dug pretty deep into the blog archives. He emphasized my political leanings more than I would have in a story about my photography. I guess I tend to think of Sarah the Photographer and Sarah the Wild-Eyed Marxist Bomb-Thrower as different people. (He also makes it sound like I’m against the Keystone Pipeline and I’m not, really. I’m not crazy about it, but it feels pretty inevitable and it’s not like hauling crude oil around by rail is much safer. Say rather that I’m against Big Oil and their stranglehold on our energy infrastructure.)

Anyway, enough of my yap-yappin’, here just read it:

Capturing Louisiana’s Mysterious Places

Upon further reflection, it was perhaps not very nice to say that Holly Beach looks like a “Central American barrio”. Sometimes I forget that people actually read this thing. Mea culpa.

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Terrebonne Parish, Smena 8M

Pointe-aux-Chenes

Pointe-aux-Chenes

Pointe-aux-Chenes

Abandoned house/cemetery double exposure

Tezcuco Plantation

Okay, that last one was actually Tezcuco Plantation.

I have some money coming to me, and although I’m being #fiscallyresponsible and using most of it to open a checking account (I’ve only had a savings since I moved to Louisiana), I did use a little of it to buy a couple of wishlist items. A new fountain pen, of course, specifically a limited edition Sailor Sapporo Four Seasons (the Meigetsu or Autumn Moon pen). Got a good deal on eBay, about $20-$30 less than American distributors are selling it for, and free expedited shipping from Japan. And also this camera:

zorki4

It’s a Zorki-4, the Soviet-made Leica knock-off, and I got it from the same Etsy seller I got my Smena 8M from. He has extremely reasonable prices for cameras guaranteed to work, even with the cost of shipping a hunk of metal all the way from Moscow (about 1/3 of the overall price). This model was released for the 50th anniversary of the 1917 revolution, hence all the Soviet bling. Lots of these cameras were commemorative releases.

Dosvedanya, comrades!

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Adventures off the beaten path in NOLA

Earlier this month, a friend of mine realized a long-deferred dream and moved from Wisconsin to New Orleans. We had Good Friday off from work, and I drove to the city to both take her to a “welcome to Louisiana” lunch and to photograph a couple of things on my list.

Fort Macomb is in the Venetian Isles neighborhood, and although it looks like the country it is in fact within the city limits. (You may remember it from the last episode of the first season of True Detective, where it stood in for Carcosa, the mystical/cursed city of the King in Yellow.) I’ve been there before, but only shot the outside from the adjacent marina dock. While I was able to get around a couple of chain link fences this time, alas, the front entrance had been padlocked and it would take someone a lot more athletic than I to actually get inside.

Fort Macomb

Fort Macomb

Fort Macomb

Fort Macomb

It probably doesn’t look much different inside than Fort Pike, which is only a couple of miles away. More overgrown, probably. I was fortunate enough to get inside of Pike during one of the brief periods it was open to the public—it’s always getting shut down due to hurricane damage and/or budget cuts. It’s the only Third System fort in Louisiana that’s even sometimes open to the public, and a perfect example of one of the things that makes me deeply angry about this state: they view “lock it up to keep out anyone who might be interested and then ignore it” as the depth of their responsibility to the historic places in their care.

ANYWAY. So then we went to the Luling Mansion, built for a cotton merchant just after the Civil War and somehow managing to survive into the present day, the former grounds surrounded by modern development and the house itself carved up into apartments inside.

Luling Mansion

Luling Mansion

Luling Mansion

Oh, and we also made a quick stop at the St. Roch shrine, because that place is awesome.

St. Roch chapel

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Talbert-Pierson Cemetery, Vernon Parish, Louisiana

A couple of weeks ago I was idly Googling “grave houses”, I don’t even remember why. I was under the impression that the only cemetery that had them in Louisiana was Istre Cemetery in Acadia Parish. It’s only about an hour from Abbeville and I’ve taken photos there a couple of times. But to my surprise, another cemetery was mentioned in the results: Talbert-Pierson in Vernon Parish, near Pitkin. So of course I resolved to go there as soon as possible. Last weekend was unusually cool and, except for some early morning showers, clear, so off I went. It’s about 2 hours from Abbeville, but I was in Lafayette Saturday morning for the Friends of the Library sale, and it was only about 90 minutes from there.

What I find the most interesting about grave houses is that no one really knows what their original purpose was. It could have been spiritual, or just practical, as a way of protecting graves from animals and weather, or some combination of the two. Every once in a while someone will construct a new one, but always in a cemetery where there are older ones, and says it’s “tradition”. But nothing starts as a tradition. People like to claim they’re a “Cajun tradition” in the areas that have them, but that’s flatly untrue—if it was, there’d be hundreds or thousands of them all over south Louisiana. (Added to which, Vernon Parish is Central Louisiana and doesn’t have a particularly strong Cajun influence.) They’re much more common in the upland or mountain south, so it’s more likely the first ones were constructed by someone who’d moved south from, say, North Carolina or Kentucky. And other people liked them, so more got built, and then it became a tradition in that cemetery.

Talbert-Pierson has more grave houses than Istre, about a dozen as compared to 3 or 4. They’re also in much better shape; although with one exception over a grave from 2003, they’re over the graves of people who died in the late 18th/early 19th century, so I assume some caretaking is going on. They’re different in design as well: where the ones in Istre are exactly like miniature houses (complete with windows and locking doors) that completely enclose the grave, the one in Talbert-Pierson are more open. They’re like picket fences holding up a roof, and most of the burial mounds are covered in shells. (Vernon Parish is well inland, but the Calcasieu River is nearby.)

As always, these are some digital shots and film will follow:

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

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Midori Traveler’s Notebook

This is another journaling/planner system I’ve become interested in. It’s a popular option because of how customizable it is, but the standard Midori brand cover is leather and not cheap. A less expensive option is the “fauxdori”, which are popular for reasons involving money, veganism, and/or just wanting something different than a plain brown or black leather cover.

Fauxdori TN

I found this knock-off “boho string journal” being sold at Michael’s under their store brand Expressions for $15 last month, it came with a blank white paper insert and a brown kraft paper insert. But I figured it would go on sale and I’m in Michael’s at least twice a month. Sure enough, the next time it was in there it was 40% off, so I scooped it up. I ditched the white paper notebook, the pages of which felt overly thick and too pulpy to be fountain pen-friendly, but I kept the kraft paper. Kraft paper is more or less all the same. I also didn’t like the charms it came with–too “15-year-old girl’s diary”–so I swapped them for a St. Joan medal and a fleur-de-lis I had on hand, leftovers from chaplet-making.

Fauxdori TN

Here it is after I added a Field Notes graph notebook (the large “Arts & Sciences” edition) and weekly planner with memo and lightweight paper journal, both Midori TN brand. So I guess my “fauxdori” is at least semi-authentic. The pen is an eyedroppered Pilot Petit filled with Sailor Yama-dori.

Fauxdori TN

The kraft paper notebook will function as a kind of scrapbook. In a TN, the different notebooks are attached to each other with large rubber bands, and the middle is slipped through an elastic that runs down the inside spine of the cover. So you have different notebooks with different layouts, but they all function as one journal/planner.

Fauxdori TN

The Field Notes may just be for, well, notes; but I’m going to do some research on bullet journaling this weekend and that may be something I want to get into. I’ve stayed away from it before now because it seems like it involves a lot of color-coding and I don’t really want to haul around an entire craft store with me.

Fauxdori TN

The weekly planner (to which I added a lucky money envelope, a finishing touch on a lot of my journals/planners) and the journal will be used primarily for photography projects and road trips… things that involve actual travel, so to speak. My Hobonichi Techo functions more as a mini-journal and I don’t see there being a lot of overlap between the two. I like to think of the Hobo being a journal of internal life and the TN as one of external life.

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