Dauphin Island, Alabama

…is where I spent my holidays. When Granny died in April, Mom decided she wanted to spend the first Christmas without her away from home. She and Phil have been going there for weekends for a few years now, but I’ve never been. Anyway, they rented a house that was like 3 minutes walk to the Gulf of Mexico, it was nice. It’s not warm this time of year of course, but I don’t mind the cold. And I like beach towns in the off season, although Mom says it’s pretty quiet even in summer. It doesn’t have any major touristy draws, it mostly attracts people who either have a boat or just want to spend time near the ocean. Mom and Phil closed on a condo while we were there, so maybe I’ll see more of it. It’s not too bad of a drive, we left at 10:30 and got there about 4:00.

I shot some film, but these are just digital shots.

Dauphin Island Cemetery

I found this at one of the cemeteries on the island, propped against a tree.

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I found this beach out at the end of the island, it had a lot of tree trunks with the roots exposed. I think Hurricane Ivan probably eroded that end of the island and pushed the beach up into what had been a stand of trees. Barrier islands are pretty unstable and really don’t last any time at all, in geological terms.

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Audubon bird trail

There’s an Audubon bird trail that leads to a little lake. Apparently Dauphin Island is the only place in Alabama that John James Audubon drew birds, although he drew them all over south Louisiana.

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Driftwood macro.

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New Year’s Day was our last full day, we had incredible skies. You can see some of the natural gas platforms in the distance. At night they’re lit up and actually look quite pretty. Anyway, as long as they’re not oil–no tar balls washing up on the beach.

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Lomographers of Acadiana: Algiers Point, NOLA

This was October’s meetup. Algiers is an old neighborhood, only the French Quarter is older. It’s on the Westbank, but because of the way that the Mississippi River curves around New Orleans, it’s geographically east of the Eastbank neighborhoods. And the most direct way to get there from western Louisiana is to cross the river twice: first via the Hale Boggs Bridge in St. Charles Parish; then again within the city, via either the Canal Street Ferry or the Crescent City Connection.

It’s a quiet neighborhood, mostly residential, since tourists rarely bother to cross the river. It’s really pretty though, I could see living there if I lived in NOLA. It felt like a real place, and not like the amusement park that the French Quarter and even some of the adjacent neighborhoods sometimes feel like.

Some of these were taken with the Smena 8M and some with the Polaroid Z2300.

French Quarter from across the river

Algiers Point is directly across the river from the French Quarter, you can see St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo.

Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church

The door to the organ loft was open in this Catholic church, so Hope and I poked around up there. I guess this leads into the bell tower.

Opelousas Street

Algiers Point is supposedly Hoodoo Central in NOLA, but none of the rootworkers advertise. I guess people just know about them if they live in the city and are into it. I’m positive that this place–which looked like a store building, not a house, but didn’t have any signage and had a residential-type door–was one of them.

Preston B. Delcazel Memorial Park

The Snow Dome

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Lomographers of Acadiana: Mini Mississippi Road Trip

These are just a few digital shots; I also shot most of a roll of Fuji Neopan, Kodak Ektar, and medium format Velvia, but I didn’t finish any of the rolls. Hopefully I can do that this weekend and send them off to Dwayne’s on Monday.

Oh, and I shot a pack of Silver Shade in my SX-70 that looks GORGEOUS. I complain about The Impossible Project–although they’ve made some improvements to the Color Shade, it still has exposure problems and needs a half hour to develop. Although I appreciate that they are working on improving it, rather than just resting on their laurels because enough hipsters were willing to shell out money for the original sub-par film. Apparently they were scanning it and making corrections with PhotoChop, which, what? Do you not understand what INSTANT film is supposed to be?? But the Silver Shade I have no problems with, I love every photo I’ve ever taken with it. My oldest ones are about 18 months old now, and I haven’t noticed any fading, discoloration, or crystallization.

Yesterday my friend Trish and I roadtripped into the Natchez area of western Mississippi; Trish is self-employed as a massage therapist and has to work most Saturdays, so she doesn’t come to many of the regular meetups. I wish we saw each other more often, because she’s probably the only other childfree atheist in Louisiana.


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We had lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard just outside of Natchez, on US 61. This… is not progressive, I admit it. But they have really good pie, so I made myself enjoy it as kitsch.

Our first stop was the “ghost” town of Rodney in Jefferson County, although there are still a few people living there, and we actually saw a UPS truck deliver a package, which kind of blew my mind. To get there you have to drive through the campus of Alcorn State University (the first land grant college in the US, built during Reconstruction to educate freed former slaves, which makes it an interesting place in its own right), then take this narrow unpaved road that’s kind of tacked onto the end of a parking lot. You go down for a couple of miles–and I mean DOWN, like the road was blasted through low hills. It’s really weird. Then turn right, go a couple more miles, and suddenly you come out into the town.

I didn’t take many digital photos here, just a few pictures of the 2 churches.


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The inside of this church is pretty much gutted; the pews are still in there but they’re all knocked onto their sides, and the walls have been stripped down to the lathing. And I wouldn’t recommend going inside during summer, because I saw like a hundred wasp’s nests stuck to the rafters.


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This Presbyterian church is on the National Register of Historic Places and there’s been a little restoration on the inside.


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It was fired on by a Federal gunboat during the Civil War and there’s still a cannonball sticking out of the front. The story is that some Federal soldiers tried to attend services (the preacher was said to be a Union sympathizer), Confederate soldiers arrested them, and the USS Rattler started blasting away.

Then we went to the Windsor Ruins, which are only about 15 minutes away. They’re the remains of the largest antebellum Greek Revival plantation in the state. The plantation grew cotton and was so large that part of it was in Louisiana. It survived the war, only to burn down in 1890. The only thing left is the columns, plastered brick with metal finials and a few scraps of wrought iron balcony railing connecting some of them. It was wonderfully eerie to come upon them suddenly, standing all alone, propping up thin air.


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Here’s a couple of the Silver Shade Polaroids.

It was a lot of hours in the car yesterday–3.5 hours to get to Natchez and almost another hour to Rodney (although Trish did all the driving and we left my car at the restaurant)–but so worth it. And Natchez itself looked really interesting, I plan on going back there some day.

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Plaquemine & Iberville Parish

These are just some digital shots, I also shot 2 rolls of 35mm in my LC-A+ and some instants with my Land camera–chocolate and B&W, the film was expiring so I wanted to use it–that came out BEAUTIFUL. One day I’ll get a scanner.

The weather has been GORGEOUS for the past couple of weeks, cold and mostly sunny. I’m one of those weirdos that enjoys cold weather–I find it exhilarating–and since I moved to south Louisiana I treasure cold days like rare jewels. It’s unusual to get such a long stretch so late in the winter, when we do get actual cold weather it’s usually in January. Tomorrow it’s going to be warmer and may rain; Wednesday it will be nice (to me) again; then it looks like a steady warming. So this week is probably the end of it, and before you know it, those ghastly stinging caterpillars will be swarming all over everything. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as VENOMOUS CATERPILLARS until I moved here. It seems like the farther south you go, the more poisonous and aggressive everything becomes. Maybe the late cold weather will have thinned the herd? Fingers crossed.

Saturday I spent the day in Plaquemine and the surrounding countryside. Plaquemine is the seat of Iberville Parish, but it’s only about half the population of Abbeville, Iberville is an even more rural parish than Vermilion. However, their downtown looks like it belongs to a bigger town; the Plaquemine Lock was in operation until 1961 and I assume that brought a lot of money into the town. It’s a historic site now, with a park and a museum. Anyway, I had driven through the town a couple of years ago on my way to White Castle and thought it was pretty, I’ve been meaning to get back.

I also spent some time driving along LA-405, which runs alongside the Mississippi. I love the River Road highways between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, you never know what you can find.


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I re-visited the “smallest church in the world”, the Madonna Chapel in Bayou Goula. I saw it a couple years ago. They leave the key in the mailbox for visitors, you can just let yourself in.


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I came across this cemetery in (I think) Point Pleasant. The oldest graves date to the 18th century.


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This was on a mausoleum. I’ve always thought cherubs were creepy, especially when they’re eyeless and crusted with dead bugs.


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It had some interesting monuments that were a little worse for wear.


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This obviously used to be a trailer park, you can see the old foundations and the bank of mailboxes was never removed, but someone’s using the land to graze horses now.


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This is the lock, the building is the old lockhouse and is now a museum. The Plaquemine Lock was designed by the same engineer who later designed the lock on the Panama Canal and was the first governor of the Canal Zone.


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Plaquemine for the most part still looks fairly prosperous–the town didn’t dry up and blow away when the lock shut down or anything. But there were a few creepy old buildings on some of the main streets, and this was the creepiest. How terrified do you think the neighborhood kids are of this place?

This Wednesday Trish and I are going to Mississippi and I’m so excited! Weather for the Natchez area is a high of 59 and 0% chance of rain, so it looks like a perfect day to shoot.

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McComb, Mississippi

Last Saturday was beautiful: sunny, very low humidity, and actually honest-to-dog COLD. I drove over to McComb, MS (about a 3 hour drive); I was there last year but spent most of the time on the Bogue Chitto River and only went into town to have lunch at the Dinner Bell.

My biological father was born there, although he actually grew up in North Platte, NE and considered himself a midwesterner. I got a chance to look through the Pike County yellow pages while I was there last year; I didn’t find any Galbreaths but there were lots of Colemans, which was his mother’s maiden name. And in fact, when I was there on Saturday I saw a banner hanging outside of a banquet hall type place, advertising the “Coleman-Trantham” wedding. Could have been a distant relation! I was never close to my father’s family though; other than one of my cousins, I never felt like any of them gave a damn about me and my brothers once my parents got divorced. My grandfather might have, he seems to have been a sweet man, but he died when I was very young.

I was surprised at how run-down downtown McComb was. It reminded me of Detroit in miniature almost; like you could tell the neighborhoods had money once, and some of the houses were still nice, but there were a lot of decayed shells and overgrown lots. But McComb has a very low crime rate–it’s consistently rated as a great town to retire to–so it’s more like the money just moved to another area (up near the bypass maybe, or out into the exurbs), and the downtown was depopulated and is sort of genteelly falling apart in a polite southern way.

I shot a roll of 120 in my Diana and a roll of Fuji Superia in my Golden Half; these are just some shots I took with my digital Polaroid.


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Old advertising murals can still be seen in many Mississippi towns, I saw some in Canton when I was there last year. Shame they ruined this by sticking a meter box over part of it, especially since I don’t think the building is even presently occupied.


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This is the building the mural was on, most of the windows were broken or had plywood over them.


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This was near the train station, there was a whole complex of buildings in various states of ruin. Some still had roofs and interior walls, and some were just the exterior walls and foundation.


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Another mural. This was one of the main streets downtown, there are still businesses in some of the buildings.


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This building fascinated me for some odd reason. Like, I couldn’t tell if it was still occupied or not. Some of the doors are bricked up, but that could just be due to how the interior space was re-organized. I also found it weird that an exterior staircase went from the second to the third story, but not down to the ground floor.


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This is where I ended my day. This cemetery is ENORMOUS, you drive in and it just goes on for acres and acres. There’s also a park with a playground right smack in the middle of it, which I found delightfully morbid. I expected to find Wednesday Addams on a swing.

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I’ve located R’lyeh. It’s near Baton Rouge.

My brother Rian goes back to Chicago today, but he was here for a week and I showed him ’round a bit. We went to New Orleans and I introduced him to some of my favorite spots in Bywater and Marigny–including brunch at Elizabeth’s, where I had the redneck eggs: Eggs Benedict on fried green tomatoes instead of English muffins.

And yesterday we went to St. Francisville and New Roads. The cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church is one of my favorites, and I’ve been to a LOT of cemeteries in the last few years.


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My brother picked up a brochure in the church that talked about some of the families buried there and some of the more impressive tombs. This was built by Ira Smith to be for his whole family, but after he died and was interred within, his heir threw the key into the Mississippi–THREW, not dropped–and it was never opened again.


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This would be a bad place to live in case of zombie apocalypse.


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A lot of the family plots are gated, and some of them have truly creepy details on them.


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This old tomb at the back of the cemetery was the kicker. There was a giant crack right down the middle; also a huge patch of quickmud right in front of it, even though the rest of the cemetery was fairly dry.


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And when we walked around to the back, THE DOOR WAS HANGING OFF THE HINGES AND THERE WERE STEPS LEADING DOWN INTO THE EARTH.

I’m not a superstitious person but I have read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, so I took my photo and GTFO.

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