St. Landry Parish, Louisiana

Last weekend the weather was slightly less hot and humid than it had been for the past 10 days or so, so I went out shooting. I really don’t want to spend the entire summer cooped up indoors, so if we get the occasional weekend that isn’t totally unbearable–or raining, we get most of our rain in the summer here–I’m going to go somewhere. When Mom and I were cleaning out Granny’s apartment (before she died, when she was in the nursing home), I found a guidebook for Acadiana, which is comprised of 22 of the 64 parishes of Louisiana, stretching east to Cameron Parish and the Texas border, west to Lafourche Parish, and as far north as Ayoyelles Parish.  (We live basically smack in the middle of it.) I’ve bookmarked about 2 dozen pages, so I shouldn’t run out of ideas anytime soon.

Saturday I explored a little bit of St. Landry Parish, which is about an hour north of us. I’ve been there a couple of times, but mostly just to antique, and once to go to Evangeline Downs in Opelousas. Some of the parishes are tiny, or are basically just one town or city and some surrounding rural areas, but St. Landry is both fairly large and contains several towns and communities. In fact, it’s probably going to take at least another trip before I see everything that I want to. I like the area because it’s a little hilly, and reminds me a bit of the Bay Area. I miss the hills and mountains sometimes.

First I went to Arnaudville, which for the past several years has become something of an arts center for the area. There are several galleries and a lot of south Louisiana artists have studios there, and there’s even a place where people can take art classes. I mostly saw painting and sculpture, not much photography. But I did find some abandoned buildings to photograph!

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Lots of black-eyed Susans blooming this year.

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You see a lot of these rusty old arrow signs in the country around here. A lot of people run businesses out of their homes (or barns) in the rural south. I always wonder what they used to advertise.

As I was leaving town I saw a sign for Leonville, less than 10 miles away. Leonville is in my book, it’s a historic town that was founded by free people of color before the Civil War. Alas, there isn’t much to the town itself, other than a couple of gas stations and a convenience store, so I used the rest of my film up on the church and cemetery.

St. Leo the Great church

Interesting details on the stained glass.

I was too close to the town of Washington and my favorite antiques mall (the one inside the old schoolhouse) to resist swinging by, but I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without. There was a pretty big stash of old Kodaks and Anscos in the gym, but most of them were pretty beat up.

There were a couple of Baby Brownies, but they were both broken. Even if I never use the camera due to the difficulty in obtaining 127 film (there’s one company in Croatia that still makes it, and a few boutique sellers who wrap their own onto salvaged spools and custom-made backing paper), I’d still want it to work.

There was a Kodak Tourist that was in perfect condition, but I don’t really need another 620 folding camera. Still, it was marked down from $45 to $30… and I actually don’t currently have a 620 folding camera, I sold my Foldex 20. I might give it a home if it’s still there next time I go.

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acadiana, diana f+, 35mm, cross processed slide film

This is the roll that the so-called “pro lab” sent back not even developed. My solution was to run it down to Walgreen’s. Of course they had no idea what cross processing was, but I was like “Just pretend it’s a normal color negative roll and don’t freak out when the colors come out all weird because that’s what I want”. And they were like “Whatever, it’s your film and money”. Actually this doesn’t look as wonky as the other 35mm slide film I cross processed, but that one was shot in the Golden Half so maybe that made a difference.

The problem with having a dozen cameras is that it takes a long time to finish a roll in any of them. I have rolls in the Golden Half, SuperSampler, Blackbird Fly, Brownie Hawkeye, AND the Pink Dress; I’m stuck about 2/3 of the way through on all of them.

Plus I’ve been a little busy this week; since I am now able to send out my resumé in a form that potential employers would actually want to read, I’ve been scouring the job sites a lot more thoroughly. I’ve gotten a few polite replies, which is a courtesy most employers in California aren’t even bothering with any more. Eh, nothing for it but to keep plugging away. I’m not desperate, the living situation is still pretty harmonious. Especially since Mom hurt her back this week and has been passed out on Valium and Darvocet. I’ve been going to the grocery store every afternoon — and the one I like is a few towns away — and cooking supper. That’s not a complaint, I LIKE cooking. Plus when I cook, it’s always something I want to eat!

the golden half in acadiana, including many cemeteries

I just like photographing in cemeteries. They’re quiet and pretty and the subjects tend to stay still.

I like the Golden Half more every time I get a roll back. The fixed focus gives you charming spots of blurriness, a soft focus you don’t often get in 35mm cameras.

Some of these were cropped for tighter focus, a complicated process involving cropping each half apart, cropping them both seperately, then sticking them back together. You can tell where that was done because when I put them back together I didn’t bother with the thick black line that seperates each half. Usually this was done for aesthetics — to omit excessive blank foreground, for the most part — but I must admit that in a couple of places it was done to crop out my finger. It’s totes embarassing to admit that still happens. In my defense, the Golden Half is a teeny weeny camera with an unusually wide lens — meaning it’s quite flush with the body of the camera.

In other photography-related news, I really need to get my own scanner. The first time I sent a roll from the Golden Half to Dwayne’s Photos, they seperated each half into a single image, which I did NOT want done. So now I send it with instructions, and they manage to keep the two halves together, but they take it TOO far: they don’t even physically cut the negatives and send me back the roll enclosed in a section of cardboard tube. *facepalm*

I sent this last roll off with a roll of slide film that I shot in the 35mm back for my Diana F+ with no mask, so the image covers the entire surface of the negative, including the sprocket holes, like this. (Not my photograph.) The idea is that the holes and even the printing on the edges of the film become part of the photo. I asked them to a) cross process it, which they’ve done before, and b) if possible, scan it with the medium format holder so the entire image would show.

Well, I guess that’s not possible (too labor intensive is my guess, as a friend tells me you have to tape the negatives down when you do that), so they sent it back not even developed. Which really annoys me, because I specifcally said if possible. Since it wasn’t, they should have called or emailed me. I would have told them to just print and scan as usual, at least then I’d have something to work with.

To make matters worse, there are a couple of negatives from the Golden Half that they printed, but didn’t scan. And one of them was probably the coolest image on the roll: I went to Intracoastal City a couple weeks ago, where there are a lot of dry docks and breaker’s yards. And I took a photo of a bunch of shrimp boats crowded together in dock, so close their masts were practically touching; and one of a boat that had been pulled onto land and was listing to one side. Maybe that’s a common sight around there, but to me it was profoundly unsettling. It was like that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when Bob Balaban and Francois Truffaut find all those ships in the desert. And they didn’t scan it! I have the print, but it’s overexposed. If it was scanned, no problem, I’d just kick the exposure down a couple notches. Assholes.

I always had good customer service from them before, I don’t know what’s happened to that company. I’m starting to think that I should just take all 35mm to the damn drugstore, because at least if they fuck up it’s only a 5-minute drive away. And the fact that they don’t really know photography might be an advantage, because it would never occur to them to make changes (ie. cutting images in half) that I didn’t ask for.

But if I ever want to do sprocket hole photography, I’m going to have to scan it myself. And if I buy a scanner, I might as well scan everything myself. At least that way I won’t have to deal with other people “helpfully” color correcting or cropping my stuff.