Lomographers of Acadiana: Fort Jackson

April’s meetup had to be re-scheduled because of Granny’s funeral, so it was last Saturday. I chose Fort Jackson in Plaquemines Parish, a decommissioned masonry fort from the 1820s. There are a lot of those south of New Orleans, but most of them are closed right now because of Hurricane Isaac. I didn’t find anything online that said Fort Jackson was closed, and in fact there was a Civil War re-enactment there just a couple of weeks ago, so that must mean it’s open, right?


PICT0996, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

*bangs head repeatedly on nearest hard horizontal surface*

FUCKING LOUISIANA, I SWEAR. Of the many, many things that are annoying about this state, top of my list right now is that our parks and historic sites are constantly getting shut down due to hurricanes. And since fixing them up isn’t a budget priority, they stay shut for months or sometimes even years–and then by the time they get them open again, oh hey look out, here comes ANOTHER FUCKING HURRICANE. Katrina shut all the forts down for so long that they were only open for about 18 months before Isaac came along and shut them all down again.

What’s frustrating is there were still lots of people there; even just the outside is pretty interesting, and it’s right on the river. If they opened it and charged a small fee, they would probably have enough money to fix it up by the end of the summer. Maybe I’ll write a letter to whoever is in charge of parks and rec for the state. I’m not going to bother with Jindal, because he’s a Rethug douchebag who doesn’t give a shit about this state outside of how he can use it as a springboard to higher office. Good luck with that, brah.

However, driving through Plaquemines Parish gave me an idea for another shoot. I kept seeing signs for a town called Pointe a la Hache, which I thought sounded interesting, so I Googled it when I got home. It’s the parish seat, but it’s very near where Katrina made landfall, so it got pretty wrecked and only about 200 residents have returned since the storm. So it’s got kind of a ghost town vibe, and there are a lot of ruined buildings. The courthouse was damaged by arson over a decade ago and has been left as is, there’s been a “temporary” courthouse in nearby Belle Chasse since. The parish council has tried 3 times to move the seat to Belle Chasse, but it always gets rejected. Louisianans: we love to pay lip service about how much we cherish our history, but we don’t want to actually spend any money on preserving it. *sigh*


PICT1003, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

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First roll from the Smena 8M: slightly expired Fuji Superia 400

Saturday was my Lomographers meetup, in Jackson. It was kind of blah, the town looked more interesting on paper. Like, every other building was on the National Historic Register, even if it was built yesterday. And we couldn’t even find the abandoned building that (allegedly) used to be part of the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System. I think it’s on the grounds and whoever took the photo that I saw just didn’t want to admit they were visiting someone there.

But it’s still fun to get out of the house and see other people and take photos. Lunch was good, too–we went to a BBQ place and I had a bacon blue cheese hamburger. And afterward we stopped off at the Port Hudson National Cemetery, which is on the way back to Baton Rouge. It’s kind of humbling, all those thousands of identical tiny white headstones. But next month (or rather, later this month) I’m going to have it at Fort Jackson, a decommissioned early 19th century masonry fort in Plaquemines Parish. That can’t help but be interesting!

However, the main objective of the day, for me, was to test out the Smena 8M, and mission accomplished. It took me like a half hour to figure out how to load it; eventually I realized that the original take-up spool had gone missing and the seller had included the guts of a 35mm film canister to make up for it. Which means the film lead has to be trimmed on both sides, instead of the one side, as it comes. The ends of 35mm rolls–the end that fits into the canister, not the end that sticks out–are very narrow. I’m also pretty sure that the lens cap is not original to the camera, it has threads on it, like the seller pulled it off a bottle. It was very thoughtful of them to include it, and to stick a little hammer and sickle pin through it–that’s just fun!

I like the camera a lot, it reminds me of the LC-A+ in that when it’s focused on infinity, you get perfectly clear photos; but when focused closer, things can get interestingly fuzzy, because there’s no focus aid and you’re always just guestimating. (With the LC-A+ it’s because there are only 4 focus settings, so you’re never really perfectly focused.) I didn’t notice any camera shake blur, either that trait has been exaggerated or I just have uncommonly steady hands. Maybe all those years of needlework!


487649-R1-20-4A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

See what I mean about “interesting fuzziness”?


487649-R1-23-1A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Nice saturation of color, too. It really is a good lens for a cheap camera. I believe the Soviets always had good optics factories, so even their “proletariat” cameras had quality lenses.


487649-R1-09-15A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

487649-R1-07-17A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

487649-R1-00-24A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I finished up the roll around the house when I got home in the evening. This shot really captures that lovely, golden late afternoon light. (It’s slightly double-exposed because it was the last frame. I could crop it out, but I don’t really mind it.)

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Lomographers of Acadiana: Tremé

(These are just some photos I took with my digital Polaroid, I haven’t got film developed yet.)

After re-scheduling once because of the holidays and again because of a member’s work schedule, we had our “December” meetup the second week in January. In my quest to explore all the neighborhoods in New Orleans, we met in Tremé, which incidentally celebrated its 200th anniversary last October. It was the main settling place for free people of color prior to the Civil War; and remains racially diverse and of historical importance to the city’s African-American, Creole, and brass band cultures.

I’ve been told, and read in online articles, that Tremé is a sketchy neighborhood, but I think that’s a lot of pearl-clutching nonsense. I felt perfectly comfortable there, and no one gave me a second look. That’s not to say there aren’t pockets I probably wouldn’t wander around alone at night, but the same can be said for all of NOLA, or any big city.


wing shack snack, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This is where we met for lunch. The name is actually Wing Shack, but it’s spelled on everything as Wing Snack. There are about 20 different flavors and most of them are “dry”, meaning they aren’t serving you shitty overcooked wings covered up with a lot of sauce. I got the garlic parmesan wings, ranch fries, and ghetto punch, which all the Yelp reviews recommended. I think it’s Kool-Aid mixed with pineapple juice? It’s sweet enough to make your teeth ache, but in a good way.

This part of Tremé is probably what people are referring to when they say it’s not the best neighborhood in the city. It’s right off the freeway, which brings crime into any neighborhood–you pay and pick up your order via a bulletproof rotating door, which I’ve only ever seen in episodes of The Wire. But still, on a Saturday afternoon, it doesn’t feel dangerous. And anyway damn, those wings are worth possibly getting grazed in a drive-by.

There is currently a renovation effort underway in Tremé, and one of their aims is to remove the freeway on/off ramp, to cut back on crime. North Claiborne Avenue was one of the most prosperous black business districts in the country prior to its being built in 1966. I doubt that was a coincidence.


underpass, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Wing Shack is just a carry-out place, so this is where we actually ate: under the freeway overpass. There were a few people there, eating wings or drinking beer or whatever. It was kind of like a park. I don’t know who’s responsible for the murals, but I suspect Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, whose headquarters are in Tremé.


st augustine, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

We went to St. Augustine Church, which is the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the country and was one of the earliest integrated churches in the south. Although how it happened is kind of funny: free people of color used to buy extra pews for slaves, and when white people heard about it THEY started to buy pews, because damn if the church was going to have more black than white congregants. It was integrated out of spite.


st augustine 1, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

It was locked, so I don’t know what it looks like inside.


treme, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Being an older neighborhood, Tremé is on higher ground than a lot of the newer ones, and was largely unscathed by the flooding after Katrina.


backstreet museum, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Around the corner from the church is the Backstreet Cultural Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the African-American culture of the neighborhood. It has displays of Mardi Gras Indian suits, and exhibits on social clubs and jazz funerals.


indian masks, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Masking started as a way to honor the Native Americans, who along with slaves invented jazz in Congo Square, and sometimes sheltered runaway slaves. The suits are made by hand and must only be worn once. They can weigh up to 70 pounds!


peacock headress, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

castle breastplate, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This was my favorite: an elaborate, 3-dimensional front piece shaped like a castle, complete with turrets, a courtyard and moat, and a model horse in the doorway.


marie laveau, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

We ended the day in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which I always thought was the French Quarter, but apparently it’s kind of a boundary area. Which makes sense because the Iberville Projects are behind the cemetery, and that’s where Storyville used to be, and Storyville was part of Tremé. (Parsing all the different NOLA neighborhoods is immensely satisfying to my inner OCD.)

I haven’t been there since before I moved to Louisiana, and it seemed smaller than I remembered it. But when I stopped to think about I realized of course it’s just one square block, like all the old neighborhood cemeteries. (The ones out on City Park Avenue are a different story altogether.) I think it seemed bigger because Mom and I went on a walking tour, and it took a long time to see it all. It’s extremely dense.

The cemetery is also a place I’ve been warned away from, because of the aforementioned projects. Everyone always says to only go in a group. But again, on a Saturday afternoon, that’s needless paranoia: that cemetery was full of people.

I was kind of depressed at how much Marie Laveau’s (alleged) tomb has deteriorated. People keep drawing on it and scratching off the mortar, and it looked like the offerings hadn’t been cleaned up in weeks, some of the stuff had mold growing on it. Clean it up or Marie’s gonna getcha! (Incidentally, the only grave in the country that’s visited more often is JFK’s.)

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Diana F+: Louisiana Renaissance Festival

This was the November meetup, although we had it on December 1st, because the last weekend in November was Thanksgiving weekend. I figured people probably had plans with their families. I also shot some Velvia in the Lomo LC-A+ that I’m probably going to get cross-processed, and a roll in the wide angle Pink Slim Dress. But I only shot about half of those rolls so I have to finish them.


1222NEG0012, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

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July Lomographers of Acadiana meet-up: Old State Capitol (cross-processed slide film in the Yashica MG-1)

This was where me met for July’s meetup.

Hope likes to joke of one of her cameras that has an especially loud auto-advance that it’s her “spy camera”; I have a similar joke where I refer to my Yashica MG-1 as my “action camera”, because like all range-finders, the focus needs a lot of fiddling to get just right. (It’s also heavy enough to beat off rabid wolves.) I really like this camera though, especially for non-standard films–slide that’s going to be cross-processed, red scale, black and white. And there’s something about pressing the shutter button and advancing the film (you do that with a lever, not a dial) that I just really, really like. Like, it’s physically a pleasant sensation; I enjoy the noise it makes, too. I dunno, it’s hard to explain but that little ping! zzzip! that I both feel and hear fills me with such visceral joy.


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lomographers of acadiana: avery island

 


679884-R1-23-1A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Choot ’em. But only with a camera, because Avery Island is an animal sanctuary.

 


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This little temple contains a Buddha statue that’s almost 1,000 years old. Funny place for it to end up.

 


679883-R1-07-17A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

We’re not having a regular meetup this month, because I’m attending a NOPA workshop about how to write grant proposals. It starts at 9:00, which means I’d have to get up at like 5:30, which, ugh. But learning how to actually get paid to take photos is worth it.

Naploeonville, LA: Lomo LC-A+, Fuji Velvia

 


fuji velvia 14, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

 


fuji velvia 12, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

 


fuji velvia 6, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

 


fuji velvia 16, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

 


fuji velvia 27, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

 


fuji velvia 32, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

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