Le Feu et L’Eau

Fire & Water is a local arts festival in Arnaudville that I went to on Saturday. It was an absolutely gorgeous day: low humidity, sunny, about 72 degrees. It’s put on by NUNU Arts & Culture Collective, which was started about 10 years ago by the painter George Marks, when he moved back to Arnaudville from Baton Rouge. It’s a small town, I don’t think there’s even 1,500 residents, and it had been slowly sliding away since the 1960s. But if you go there now, there are galleries and studios and a couple of really good restaurants and the Bayou Teche Brewery. You can buy some art or watch a demo or even take a class.

I really enjoyed the show and seeing what other artists in my area are up to. There was a little bit of everything: painting, pottery, quilting, mosaics, poetry and short stories. And photography; John Slaughter had a table, and there was someone doing tintype portraits (which I had done a few years ago). I bought a copy of John’s new book, a collection of photos of Catahoula hounds, the Louisiana state dog. They are some gorgeous photos, I really admire people who can photograph animals. He was nice enough to sign it for me, too.

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I picked up some information about joining; I let my membership to NOPA lapse a couple of years ago because I just felt like I wasn’t getting anything out if it. I live too far away from New Orleans to really be involved in that arts community, which took me a while to come to terms with because I do love the city and it has given me some amazing photos that I am truly proud of. However, I have no desire to live there full-time; I’m just not a city person and I never was. The planning meetings for NOPA were always on weeknights, and even though the workshops were usually on a Saturday I rarely went because I’d have to get up at like 5:00 in the morning to be there on time.

So long story short, I’ve been looking for a more local arts community to join. NOPA had the advantage of being focused entirely on photography, but it was just too far away. Lafayette has a similar group, but their website says their focus is specifically on digital photography, which doesn’t make me feel like I’d be welcome. I’m not going to decide anything until the new year, but an artist’s membership is just $25 annually, so it does seem like I could try it and not be out too much if it doesn’t work out for me.

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Smena 8M: St. Landry Parish

I learned a valuable lesson about this camera the 2nd time I used it: the rewind knob sometimes doesn’t work–maybe because the original take-up spool has been replaced with the guts of a 35mm film canister–and trying to force it will just rip the end out of your film roll. Sigh. So now I remove the film inside a changing bag and rewind it by hand.

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Framing is tricky with this camera, what you see through the viewfinder is always tighter than what actually gets photographed–when I looked through the viewfinder at this scene, I pretty much only saw the building.

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Still, this lens has awesome color saturation.

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You can get pretty close-up, too.

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The photos were a little overexposed, I used 200 speed film and stopped it all the way down to F16, but it was a really bright day. I think I’ll stick to Ektar in this camera unless it’s an overcast day.

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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.

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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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