Saturday, June 24, 2017

Country Stores 16: Windham's Gro, Caile, Mississippi

In April, I was driving south on Mississippi highway 49W, and about half way between Indianola and Belzoni was this little country store. The store looked unused, but a car to the left indicated that the house behind was occupied.
The faded sign said, "Sid Winham's Gro, Caile, Miss". Possibly a reader can tell us about Sid Windham or when the store was last open.

Photographs taken with a Rolleiflex 3.5E with Schneider Xenotar lens using Kodak Panatomic-X film. I scanner the negatives with a Minolta Scan Multi scanner using Silverfast Ai software.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Country Stores 15: Poboy Don's, Tallulah, Louisiana

Just east of Tallulah, Louisiana, LA route 602 takes a wide swing through the farm country south of Interstate 20. An old country store sits at the corner of Montrose Road and 602. It was a active little shop and snack bar in 1989, and I took some photographs on 4×5" Fujichrome 50 film. I do not know when the store closed, but my Tallulah friend said he remembered eating there about 20 years ago.
In recent years, my friends and I have been biking on 602 because it passes by ponds with plenty of birds and alligators. But the old store has been closed at least since 2015.
Vermilion flycatcher, an occasional and rare winter visitor, LA route 602 near Mound
Smooth bike riding on LA 602 and very little traffic.
The 1989 frames were taken with a Tachihara 4×5" camera and 180mm Caltar IIN lens on Fujichrome 50. A generous friend gave me an Epson 3600 Photo scanner, which has a light cover large enough for 4×5, so I am slowly scanning old transparencies and black and white negatives. The 2017 black and white frames are from a medium format Hasselblad with Tri-X professional 320 film.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Country Stores 14: Wagner Grocery, Church Hill, Mississippi in the heat

This is a continuation of my irregular series on country stores. It was almost 95° F. one typical day last summer; I had received my Rolleiflex back from repair and wanted to test it. Where to go? Well, Church Hill, on Rte. 533 south of Alcorn State University, had an old country store, so off I went. It was also a good opportunity check some long-expired Kodak Ektar 25 film. This was one of the finest-resolution color print films ever made, and I had 5 rolls still in the freezer.
By the time I reached Church Hill, the temperature was converging on 100° (37° C.) and the light was harsh and glarey. OK, typical Mississippi August day. Just be careful to not drip sweat into your viewfinder. There is an old wood grocery store on 533 a bit north of Church Hill. There was no name on the building. It was secure, so not a derelict.
Just to the south, the elegant stone Gothic Revival Church is on a knoll at the road junction. Dating to 1857-1858, it is said to be the oldest Episcopal Church in Mississippi.
Right across the street from the Episcopal Church is the historic Wagner grocery. The building is reasonably sound and may be under renovation.
This is a crop from the full-size TIFF file showing the Coca-Cola sign on the building facade. Notice the amazing detail recorded on the Ektar 25 film.
Like many rural stores in the old days, this one served as the local post office for the town of Church Hill.
The detail and texture from this 1950s 5-element Schneider Xenotar lens and the Ektar 25 film is quite amazing. I have no complaints. A modern medium format digital camera likely would show more detail, but this looks different than digital. Note that scanned at 48-bit full color and at 2820 dpi, the 54×54 mm negative from the Rolleiflex results in a 218 mbyte uncompressed TIFF file. This film probably contains even more detail, but I do not have a higher-resolution scanner. The Rolleiflex camera was tripod-mounted for all frames.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Mississippi Delta 19: Into the Woods in Redwood

Redwood is a small community north of Vicksburg on US Hwy. 61 (the "Blues Highway"). Most people rush by heading to Eagle Lake or Yazoo City, but there are some interesting photographic topics (well, if you like old things, as I do). Redwood is at the southern margin of the Mississippi Delta; north and west of here stretch the flat farmlands and hardwood bottomland of the Mississippi River's alluvial plain.
Abandoned cement silo off Rte. 3. 35mm film, Pentax Spotmatic camera, 35mm Super-Takumar lens.
US 61 swings west after it crosses the Yazoo River, while MS Hwy. 3 proceeds north to Yazoo City. The hulking abandoned cement silos are just off  Hwy. 3 about a mile south of the Vicksburg International Paper Mill. I have photographed these silos before. The tracks serve the paper mill and a rail yard further north.
Quite by chance, I drove up a dirt road across the highway from the silos and found this abandoned concrete structure and some sort of crushing mill. I am not sure what it crushed once. It resembles a giant version of the incense burners you see in monasteries in the Himalaya in Nepal.
Hmmm, a snake lives in the pond underneath the concrete frame. Was water from the pond once used in the crushing process? By mid-spring, poison ivy takes over.
There are a couple of abandoned houses along Rte. 3, but nothing too interesting.
Just north of the International Paper plant, the rails fan out into a rail yard, with a lot of parked rolling stock. The tracks end, and I do not know if they once continued north to Yazoo City. The photograph above is the view looking south, with the paper plant at the horizon.

Most of the square photographs were taken with a Rolleiflex 3.5E camera with Xenotar lens. The film was Kodak Panatomic-X, with expiration date 1989 but it still performs perfectly. I wrote about Panatomic-X earlier this year. The close-up of the crushing mill was from a Mamiya C220 camera with 55mm Mamiya lens on Kodak Tri-X Professional 320 film. I previously wrote about the silos in 2010 and in 2017.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Mississippi Delta 18: Grace Church, Glen Allen

Grace Church is a modest wood frame building at 6260 Grace Road, just east of Mississippi Hwy. 1 in Issaquena County. Grace is not really a town but rather a farming community a few miles northwest of Rolling Fork. Do any of you readers know the age of the church?
There are silos, sheds with farm equipment, and a few homes along Grace Road. I am sure I have missed some places to photograph, so I'll return in autumn. Also, nearby Rolling Fork is worth some more exploring.

For previous articles on the Delta, type "Mississippi Delta" in the search box on the right.

Photographs taken with a Fuji GW690II 6×9 medium format camera with a 90mm f/3.5 lens. The film was my favorite Kodak Panatomic-X, long discontinued but still in good condition.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Vicksburg with Color Film 2017 (test of a Hasselblad)

Clay Street, Vicksburg (also known as the ugliest street in America), 150mm lens.
My friend generously loaned me his Hasselblad camera and gave me some Fuji NHG400 color film to try. The Hasselblad is a 6×6 film camera (like my older Rolleiflex) but instead has a modular design. The reflex mirror is in a rectangular box. A lens mounts on one side, a film-holder on the opposite, and a viewfinder on top. You can switch and swap components as needed, and all these parts click together with remarkable tolerances (similar to how 50-year-old Leica lenses work perfectly on a new body).
Hasselblad 501CM, A12 film back, and Zeiss 80mm f/2.8 CB lens (all 1999 production).
Kansas City Southern railroad line from the Confederate Avenue bridge, Vicksburg Military Park, 150mm lens.
The Hasselblad has a big advantage over the Rolleiflex: you can change lenses. My friend's 150mm Sonnar lens, although about 40 years old, has beautiful color fidelity. It gave a field of view approximately equivalent to a 100 mm lens in 35mm terms.
501 Fairground Street, 150mm lens.
503 Fairground Street.


The five matching houses on Fairground street are typical 1920s cottages. They are wider than shotgun houses but similarly intended as inexpensive housing for urban working families. I have photographed them before many times.
Fairground Street bridge, 150mm lens (flare is from a  light leak in the film back).
The Fairground street bridge is now closed to car or foot traffic and is deteriorating. One span was built by the Keystone Bridge Company and was erected here in 1895. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
KCS railroad cut from Washington Street, 150mm lens.
Gent with his bicycle, 150mm lens.
I often like to photograph the Kansas City Southern railroad line where it passes under Washington Street and runs through a deep valley between Belmont and Pine Streets. The gent on the bicycle was coming down the sidewalk and we chatted. He graciously let me take his portrait.
Tri-State Tire, 2209 Washington Street, Vicksburg.
This building with its Spanish motif was once an ice cream shop but has been a tire store since the 1970s.
Stairs on the east side of the unused Mercy Hospital, Grove Street, 80mm lens.
The former Mercy Hospital is closed and locked, but must have a lot of photographic potential. Some background on the hospital is in this Preservation Mississippi post.
2314 Grove Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 80mm lens.
This is a typical early 20th century cottage. This was once been a duplex, but one door has been removed.

Thank you, Bob, for letting me use your camera and lenses. But now that I have sampled a Hasselblad, I want to buy one (Hmmm, an element of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) at play here.....).

Friday, June 2, 2017

From the Archives: Washington-Hoover Airport, Arlington, Virginia 1941 or 1942

Eastern Airlines DC-2.
The Washington-Hoover Airport served Washington, DC, from the mid-1930s until 1941, when it was closed and replaced by the modern National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport). Hoover was located about where the south parking lot of the Pentagon is situated. Construction of the Pentagon began on on November 8, 1941, dating these photographs a few months earlier.
When I first looked at these negatives, I thought they showed National Airport. But a friend (a gent in his 80s) from Alexandria, Virginia was highly certain that this was not National. The Wikipedia web page describes the closure of the older airport: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington-Hoover_Airport. That would date my dad's pictures to late-1941, which is possible because I read in one of his 1941 diary entries that he was thinking of buying a 35mm format camera. He bought an American-made Perfex camera, made by the Candid Camera Corporation of Chicago. I assume this roll of film was one of his early tests. The Cameraquest web page describes the Perfex cameras if you are interested.
The film was in terrible condition. Whoever developed it used the brush method, which was described in older photography magazines. No wonder it fell out of favor. My Silverfast Ai scanning software has anti-scratch software, but it could only do so much with these. Still, I am surprised how much detail is visible. The film edge said Kodak Safety Film Plus-X ("Safety" meaning not nitrate-based film, which was unstable and highly flammable).
Unfortunately, there were only 5 frames on this roll with air field photographs. The other frames were rather mundane tourist scenes in Washington (statue of heroic soldier on horse, etc.). This serves as a lesson that as the years pass, scenes or topics that seem ordinary often take on historical importance, or at least interest. But standard tourist sites are rather unchanging unless you include cultural artifacts, such as parked cars or signs.
Gravely Point, Virginia, with dredging underway to prepare artificial land for National Airport. From the Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress; United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division  digital ID hhh.va1677/photos.368605p. 
The old Washington-Hoover airport was soundly criticized by pilots and almost everyone as being dangerous and hopelessly inadequate as the airport for the nation's capital. The runways were short, a nearby dump that was on fire made plumes of thick smoke, nearby radio antennas were a hazard, and Military Road had to be blocked by guards when planes landed or took off. At one time, there was a swimming pool, which children reached by crossing the runway. 

Construction of the new National Airport was mired in the standard political and budgetary malarky (nothing has changed in 75 years). There was even controversy about where the boundary between Virginia and the District of Columbia was located. Read the sordid history in the link above. The new National Airport opened just before our entry into World War II. This was fortuitous timing because the world war resulted in a tremendous increase in air traffic into Washington and Virginia. 

When it opened, National Airport was considered the “last word” in airports – a concentration of the ultramodern developments in design of buildings, handling of planes, air traffic and field traffic control, field lighting, facilities for public comfort and convenience, and surface vehicle traffic control. 
Well, not quite. Across the ocean, in Berlin, the spectacular Templehof Airport was under construction and almost complete in 1941. Please see my 2016 article on Templehof.