Mystery slide roll: Laura Plantation

I found another mystery roll in my desk, this time a roll of Fuji Velvia. I had no idea what was on it and anyway it was expired, so I took a chance and had it cross-processed. Cross-processed Velvia always comes out red-orange with purple skies, while Lomography’s slide film is usually more blue-green. I expect theirs is made with the knowledge that it’s probably not going to be processed in slide chemistry. (Or if not made, purchased and repackaged–I’m not sure how much of their films are in-house creations.) Has anyone ever made a list of how different brands look cross-processed?

Slave cabins

Laura Plantation

Kitchen building

Maison de Reprise

River Road

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Latest roll in the Diana F+

I didn’t use this camera much in 2014 and lately I’ve been re-discovering my love of it. I want to start using my Holga again as well; since I got the instant back for it that’s all I’ve done with it, but it was meant for medium format film and it takes great photos with it.

Valcour Aime family tomb

Maison de Reprise

Stations of the Cross

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Laura Plantation, Vacherie, LA

I went to this plantation a few years ago, before I moved to Louisiana and was just visiting my parents during the holidays. But I didn’t bring any film cameras with me, just my old clamshell Olympus digital, and only took a few photos of the inside of the house. So I always meant to go back. These are just some shots I took with my cell phone, but I also shot some slide in my Ultra Wide & Slim—I haven’t decided whether I’m going to cross-process that or have it processed as slide—and a few Neopan shots in my Blackbird.

Maison de Reprise

Slave/sharecropper cabin

Maison de Reprise



Laura Plantation

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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.


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.


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.

laura plantation

My brother Rian has a thing for River Road plantations, so we usually see at least one every visit. This year it was Laura Plantation in Vacherie. It was owned by four generations of the same Creole family, and always ran by one of the women. The last one sold it for less than $20,000, even though it was making millions in sugar every year. The story is that, as a child, she asked one of the old (black) field hands where the scar on his face came from, and he told her that when he’d been a slave on the plantation and tried to escape, her grandmother had her initials branded into his face, so he’d never forget he was her property. The plantation totally repulsed her after that, but her other siblings were all mentally ill or learning disabled (inbreeding, yay!), so it had to go to her. Her name was Laura, and her father named the plantation for her (it was orignally called DuParc) to sweeten the deal. But she must have never made peace with it, because she eventually sold it, got married, moved to St. Louis, completely disowned her Creole heritage, and died at 101. And that’s not just some bulshit they made up for tourists, because she published her memoirs in the ’40s, after reading Gone With The Wind and deciding it was a bunch of over-romanticized, sentimental crapola.

This was a woman after my own heart. Just earlier that very visit, I was expressing frustration with the way people in that area of Louisiana cling to the rotted-out hulks of houses rendered uninhabitable by hurricanes, constantly picking at the scab by visiting them and refusing to have them torn down. I don’t get the idea of investing all your emotion in some malarial patch of swampy ground, just because a billion generations of your ancestors never had the guts to GTFO. That bullshit just breaks your heart in the end. Fuck Henry, Louisiana; it’s all going to be under water eventually anyway.

Anyway, photos:

laura plantation verandah

The main house was yellow, red, and green. Creoles liked color; that whole solid white/neo-Classical architecture that you probably think of when you think of antebellum plantation homes was an Anglo thing.

laura plantation wine bottles

The second owner’s husband’s family owned a vineyard back in France, so she also ran a wine import business out of the plantation.

laura plantation wine bottle planter

One of the ways they used the wine bottles was by planting them neck-down around tree and flower beds. I’m pretty sure my mother is going to steal this idea.

Here is the full set. They actually let us take photos inside of the house, which is rare.

relax, nerd

Okay, I had a bit of a hissy fit when I got into work this morning and found a mess. There’s always some kind of karmic retribution for daring to have something else going on your life other than your fucking job. Stupid Puritan work ethic! Why couldn’t America have been colonized by lazy Catholics?!

Anyway, I had a great time on the actual vacation. The first week there were a lot of people — my mother’s younger sister and brother, my sister — who came just for Granny’s birthday, so we mostly just visited and ate. Although the day before the party, Jamie and Rian and I went to an antique mall in Washington, Louisiana that’s in an old schoolhouse. And the following Saturday, Rian and I went back with the ‘rents. I bought several old pins both on both trips, and Mom gave me some, then Granny — who has entire shoeboxes crammed full of old jewelry — gave me some more. I like tripled my gaudy old pin collection on this trip.

I also scored some awesome old cameras: I picked up an old Kodak Duaflex on the 2nd trip to the antique mall. It may not work, but it was cheap and I decided to take a chance. It shoots 620, but you can modify 120 rolls to fit in it. Or I could use it for through the viewfinder shots. Then Phil gave me his old Zeiss Ikon Maximar 207/1, which he bought in Germany, when he was in the Army. It was an antique back then. He said I could have it a few years ago, but between all the hurricanes and the moving, it went missing until recently. It shoots plate film, although I’ve heard about rollbacks that can be hacked onto it. I have to do some research. But even if I can never use it, it’s cool just to have it.

It rained like a motherfucker at least part of each day for the first 10 days or so, complete with lightning; thunder close enough to rattle walls; and once, a double rainbow afterward. It was also humid as a sumo wrestler’s buttcrack, but I was expecting that. However, the last few days were sunny and almost not humid.

Other things we got to see: The Academy of the Sacred Heart, the inside of The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Shadows-on-the-Teche, Laura Plantation, and Cypremort Point.

There was also a visit to The Rosary House (it cracks me up that they have a website), where I may or may not have gone crazy and purchased three rosaries. (I totally did.) They were half price! Rian also bought one, and for some reason this shocked our mother, even though he was the only kid of hers to actually be baptized into the RCC. My great-grandmother didn’t want him to wind up in the infant’s limbo and actually wrote a letter to my mother — in English, which couldn’t have been easy — expressing this, so Mom did it to placate her. But I think she’s always kind of regretted it. Too bad Momo died before the Vatican was like “Yeah, that was just some bullshit we made up to scare everyone. Sorry about that.”, then she needn’t have fretted.

We didn’t go to New Orleans this trip, because no one was insane enough to think treking around the city in near 100% humidity was a good idea. Maybe at Christmas.