St. Martin Parish

The fleeting period of pleasant, early spring weather (warm but not hot, breezy, sunny and not humid) has given way to late spring’s humidity and daily thunderstorms. Yesterday was intermittently cloudy but there wasn’t any rain forecast, and after several weekends of not shooting I was chomping at the bit. I wanted to stay close to home, in case the weather got cute and decided to rain after all. I decided to explore some of St. Martin Parish, which is only a little more than half an hour’s drive. I’ve never really seen much of the parish outside of St. Martinville, the parish seat; and Breaux Bridge, which has several antiques stores that I like.

Fournet Cemetery

Fournet Cemetery in St. Martinville. I was driving past it when I realized I’d never been inside, the only cemetery in the town I’ve been to is the one behind St. Martin of Tours.

Durand Oak Alley

This is an oak alley that I was surprised to come across, I’d read about it but for some reason I thought it was on the River Road. It used to lead to a plantation house owned by a wealthy planter named Durand, but the house is long gone and now it’s just an exceptionally well-shaded rural road. The legend is that Durand imported a bunch of large spiders and set them loose in the trees to spin giant webs, and on the day of his daughter’s wedding he made his slaves climb the trees and blow gold dust into the webs. I guess I associate that kind of decadence with River Road planters more than Acadiana planters.

Station of the Cross, Catahoula Highway

This was the main thing I set out to photograph, I read about these stations of the cross in Acadiana: Louisiana’s Historic Cajun Country, which I got for Christmas. (Or rather, I bought it for myself with a gift card.) They’re nailed to oak trees along the Catahoula Highway, about a mile apart. I think the original ones were put up in the 1920s, but these don’t look that old so they must make new ones every decade or so.

Skoolie shack

This was in Parks, a little town between St. Martinville and Breaux Bridge, and I had to put my usual shyness about photographing private property on hold, because what the hell? I’ve heard of converted school buses, but this is like someone duct-taped one to a shack and made them into a single structure.

I couldn’t resist poking my head into my favorite antiques store in Breaux Bridge, Lagniappe on Bridge Street, before I went home. I found a cute Instamatic, but it was a model that shoots 126, Kodak’s proprietary cartridge film, which of course they haven’t made in decades. There were some models that shot 110, one day I’ll find one.

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Random stuff: Kodak Ektar in the Ultra Wide & Slim

Adam's Fruit Stand

Adam’s Fruit Stand in Matthews

New Canal Lighthouse

New Canal Lighthouse, Lake Pontchartrain, NOLA

Leeville Cemetery

Leeville Cemetery

Moresi Foundry

Moresi Foundry, Jeanerette

St. Roch shrine

St. Roch Shrine, NOLA

Steamboat house

Steamboat House, Holy Cross, NOLA

Association tomb

Association Tomb, Valence Street Cemetery, NOLA

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Edgard, LA: Slightly expired Fuji Neopan in the Yashica MG-1

More adventures along the River Road with my Yashica. I really like shooting black and white in this camera. Although the roll I’m currently working my way through is in the Ultra Wide & Slim; I’ve never shot Neopan in that before so I’m curious to see the results. Hopefully we have decent weather this weekend (Sunday looks better than Saturday so far) and I can finish it up. I’m also waiting for this book to arrive from Amazon (should be today), which hopefully will give me some more ideas. I picked up the Mississippi edition last weekend and have already marked several pages!

Slave cabins

Caire's Landing

Old grocery store

Caire's Landing

Slave cabins

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Laurel Valley Village, Thibodaux, LA: slightly expired Fuji Neopan in the Yashica MG-1

I’ve been here before a couple of years ago; I always wanted to go back and shoot some black and white, so I had one of the meetups there a couple of months ago.

Cabins

Cabins

Old tractor

Burned cabin

Cabins

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Metairie Cemetery, NOLA : slightly expired Fuji Neopan in the Yashica MG-1

This weekend was rainy and thus no good for photography; I spent a good chunk of it uploading photos that were taken over a period stretching back to last September. These were taken a few days after last Christmas, when I took my sister to New Orleans. If you’re ever in the city and only have time to visit one cemetery, I recommend Metairie (which yes, is actually in NOLA and not Metairie). St. Louis No. 1 is more famous, but for sheer volume of weirdness, you can’t beat Metairie–it’s one of those enormous cemeteries that you can drive around in. And you don’t have to pay to get in there, unlike St. Louis.

Egyptian tomb

Sphinx

Angel in the trees

Grieving woman with wreath

Tomb of shipwreck victims

Tomb of Josie Arlington

I always found black and white film to be particularly well-suited for graveyard photography. The grain really goes with photographs of carved stone, and the subjects don’t have a lot of color anyway.

Neopan was my go-to 35mm B&W for years, and when Fuji announced they were discontinuing it, I panicked and bought a few dozen rolls. Which I then felt like I didn’t want to use, but of course film doesn’t have an infinite shelf life and now it’s all expired, although it’s been in the fridge since the day I bought it. Anyway, I need to just let it go and actually use it before it gets too much older.

When I went to that camera shop in Lynchburg last November, I was delighted to find that they carried Ilford, the film (and paper) that I cut my teeth on back in high school. I bought a few rolls, since I knew I’d need to find a new black and white film soon. I need to shoot a roll of that and see if it’s as good as I remember it.

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I’ve been wandering

I had planned another road trip this spring, to the Missouri Ozarks. But then my car up and died—it had over 180,000 miles on it, and the problem was actually fixable but not worth the money it would cost—so I had to go into money-saving mode. I don’t want car payments taking a huge bite out of my paycheck for the next several years, so I want to pay for half of a new car in cash and get a loan from my bank for the rest. Well, “new” in the sense that it’s new to me; the plan is to get a Toyota or similar with about 30,000 miles on it from Enterprise.

So I’ve been scratching my photography itch by going out on day trips any Saturday that isn’t a semi-tropical monsoon. The Ozarks will be just as beautiful—more so, even—in autumn.

These are just cell phone shots, I have film out for development.

Leeville Cemetery

A cemetery in Leeville so close to the water (that’s a shrimp boat in the background) that it had to be cemented over to keep the graves from washing away in a storm surge.

Holy Mary Shrine

A roadside shrine in Golden Meadow that I photographed for my Saints of Louisiana project (which I am starting to fear will never be completed).

Adam's Fruit Stand

Adam’s Fruit Stand in Matthews.

Cemetery in Cade, LA

A cemetery in Cade that I stumbled across while driving from New Iberia to Lafayette.

Sailing

Sailboats on Lake Pontchartrain sailing past the New Canal Lighthouse, the last functioning lighthouse in Louisiana.

Maison de Reprise

The “Maison de Reprise” of Laura Plantation in Vacherie. I just photographed it from the parking lot, but I’m having the next meetup there.

Tomb of Valcour Aime

Upside-down torch detail on the original tomb of Valcour Aime (his remains have since been moved to New Orleans) in St. James. Aime was a sugar planter who was so rich he is sometimes called “The Louis XIV of Louisiana”. Google him, he was a fascinating man.

Sugarcane field

Sugarcane field in Vacherie.

Saint Amico Chapel

The Saint Amico Chapel in Donaldsonville.

IMG_20150411_142013_840

And the latest edition to my collection, purchased last weekend at the semi-annual sale at the Old Schoolhouse Antiques mall in Washington. I have a soft spot for Brownies.

Let no one say I don’t fully commit to my weird obsessions!

Hey, did you know that old cameras aren’t the only kind of obsolete technology I collect? I’ve also collected fountain pens for a few years now, and lately have been getting more into vintage pens. That culminated this weekend with my getting up at 5:00 am on Saturday and driving 6 1/2 hours to attend the Little Rock Pen show–basically just one room in the Riverfront Wyndham. But you know, pens are small, and one small-ish conference room crammed with tables of them is still a LOT of pens.

fountain pens

I gave myself a budget of $200 and that’s what I spent, to the penny.

Left to right:

The black pen with mother-of-pearl chips is a Sheaffer Balance from the 1930s. Sheaffers are like the Kodak of mid-century fountain pens. This is my 2nd vintage Sheaffer (I also have a modern Sheaffer 100); a while back a pen friend gave me a brown Sheaffer Craftsman from the 1950s. (If Sheaffer is Kodak, than the Craftsman is the Brownie; they churned out millions of them over the decades surrounding WWII and they’re still floating all over the place.) Like the Craftsman, this is a lever fill. It has new ink sac and a NOS Sheaffer #3 nib, which is about about a modern M-F nib.

The blue and orange pen is a Bexley BX701 in Blue Shimmer. I’m having a hard time pinning down when this series was made, although I can say it’s no longer in production. Bexley was founded in 1993 by a group of vintage pen enthusiasts/refurbishers, so it’s not real old. They are known for oversize pens in funky color designs; I’ve always wanted one but the fact that literally every one I’ve ever seen is amazeballs is kind of why I’ve never bought one. However, blue and orange is one of my favorite color combos, so as soon as I saw this one I knew it was the Bexley for me. It’s NOS with the original M nib (although it’s a large nib for a large pen, and the Bexley M is almost a B in any other pen) and a new converter.

Both of these pens were $100 each, but they were being sold by the same seller so I was like I got cash, make me a deal. And he gave me the pair for $150.

…Which left me with $50 to spend on the green and black pen, a piston-fill Reform 1745 with a custom ground .09mm italic nib. This is in no way an expensive pen, that price was for the grinding, which if done wrong can ruin a pen. I tried their tester pen and wow, worth every penny.

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