Friday, September 30, 2016

Vicksburg from the Archives, 1993-1994, Ektar 25 film

I recently had some old Kodak Ektar 25 film negatives scanned that I exposed in 1993 and 1994. Even with the passage of only 20 years, you can see changes in slow-moving Vicksburg.
Let's take a walk on Washington street and head south. This is the Vicksburg Cafe at 1625 Washington Street, formerly at the corner of Washington and South Madison. I do not remember when the building was torn down. And now I realize why the Warren County library, seen to the left, did not have an entrance on the south side. The architect likely felt there was not enough space for a driveway and entry stairs. But now this is an empty lot, and this side would be a much more suitable entry area for the library than its inadequate and awkward parking lot on Walnut Street. And the library's entrance on the north side of the building is totally useless.
F&G Beverages at 1701 Washington Street has thrived and grown. The drive-through on the left is gone now. Whenever I bicycle by, the store has customers. I better not write what I think of this demonstration of small-town prosperity.
Dollar General has also thrived, but this building at 1713 is gone.
This is the view north from the corner of Washington and Bridge Streets. The former Mississippi Hardware company is in the distance to the left. In World War II, the build housed a fabric and sewing manufacturer.
Nick's Auto Parts, in the old brick corner store (1733 Washington Street), is closed.
The next building south was the Vicksburg Seed store. I recall that several additions or porches on the side were torn down over the years.
This view looking north is over the railroad viaduct.
If you turned east and walked up Belmont Street, from some of the parking lots on the north side, you could look north over the railroad cut. There were once a number of houses and gardens (mini-farms) on the slope. Most are gone now. Some of the shotgun shacks were the classic Vicksburg type where the entrance was level with the road but the back projected out over the slope, supported by wood posts. A retired city engineer told me that these post houses cannot be rebuilt or permitted if they collapse. But they were common in the early 20th century as a way to accommodate the area's complicated topography.

I took these photographs with a FujiFilm GW690II medium-format camera with 90mm ƒ/3.5 Fujinon lens using Kodak Ektar 25 film. This was a fine-grain, contrasty emulsion, and was a bit hard to use but spectacular if you wanted fine detail.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Continuing Decay in 2016: North Mill Street, Jackson, Mississippi

Dear readers, I wrote about Jackson's North Mill Street in the area near Union Station in a previous post. Let's continue our tour heading north.
Mill Street parallels the Canadian National Railroad tracks and the rail yard. Jackson has always been a major rail center. The best view of the rail yard is from the Woodrow Wilson Avenue crossover. The photograph above shows the view looking south.
There were once private homes on Mill Street. This abandoned early 20th century cottage is at 1112 N. Mill Street.
1154 Mill is a lounge with residence above.
1326 Mill Street is an abandoned supermarket. I do not know where residents of the nearby streets shop.
Clear water was bubbling out of the ground on the lot next to the supermarket. I have noted before that Jackson must lose a tremendous amount of its drinking water to pipe breaks and leaks.
The Magic Spot Sports Bar II is at 1836 North Mill. It has an ambitious mural on the north wall.
Jackson Generator and Starter Service occupies this 1927-vintage factory building. I was glad to see that it was a going concern.
Respect for the customer was molded in the concrete about the door.  I wish more companies today followed this golden rule.
A warehouse with a former spur line is at the corner of Lorenz and North Mill. It was locked but clearly unused.
Neglected 18-wheeler trailers were in the muddy field north of the warehouse.
More clean water was gushing from a break in the hydrant.
A paper recycling company occupied a steel shed and fields at 3002 North Mill Street. I could not tell if the company was defunct because the rolls of baled paper were out in the rain, seemingly abandoned.
This is a Tri-X film photograph of the recycle facility.
Drive west on West Mitchell Ave., and at the corner of Commerce Park Drive, an empty pink warehouse once housed the Traderhorn Discount Store.
The aerial photograph from Google Maps shows the railroad turntable. Tracks fan out to where there would have once been a roundhouse. One day I will try to get permission to take some photographs of the turntable (Update: not allowed).

This has been a rather gloomy view of west Jackson. This area was once a vibrant commercial and manufacturing district, but now many buildings are empty, the roads are crumbling, and the buried infrastructure decaying. I just don't have any answers.

I took these photographs with a Fuji X-E1 digital camera and various Fuji lenses.

Friday, September 16, 2016

More tests of Tri-X film in Vicksburg and Jackson

With the return of my Fuji GW609II camera from repair (I broke it in Kingman, Arizona on my Route 66 tour), I wanted to check if the shutter was working properly and test if North Coast Photographic's processing of Tri-X suited my preferences for contrast and "look." The following pictures are 2400 pixels wide, so click any picture to see more details.
It is always nice to find a high viewpoint. This is the view looking southeast from the 10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill, which is atop the old First National Bank building at 1301 Washington Street. Most of the floors below have been converted into apartments. The big building in the distance is the WPA-era former Federal Post Office and Courthouse. For many years, Vicksburg District of the Corps of Engineers occupied part of the building. It has been empty for about 10 years and may be redeveloped. The roof in the foreground is St. Paul Catholic Church. The original St. Paul was damaged in the 1953 tornado, and this modern building replaced it.
This is the view from 10 South looking southwest towards the Yazoo Canal. The canal joins the Mississippi River in the distance. The parking garage in the right center was built in the 1970s during the "redevelopment" fad, when tearing down historic architecture and replacing it with parking facilities was assumed to be the pathway to revitalizing urban downtowns.
The Yazoo Canal runs north to the Port of Vicksburg. The road in the center is North Washington Street, which used to be US 61. Now, the official 61 bypasses Vicksburg east of the city. I used an orange filter on the three frames from 10 South to emphasize the cloud texture.
The church at 906 Yazoo Street has been abandoned for several years. The spray paint numbers mean the city engineer has condemned the structure.
Here is the same church in 1996, when it was still active. This is a 35mm Agfa Scala film frame, taken with a Leica M3 camera.
2511 Cedar Street is a condemned cottage. It is a pity; this was probably a rather nice house decades ago.
The last two frames on this roll of film are from Jackson. This is the Canadian National railroad yard photographed from the Woodrow Wilson Avenue overpass. There is a sidewalk on both sides, so you can safely stand away from the traffic. These are hand-held with a yellow filter, with exposure of 1/250 sec. at f/5.65. The amount of detail in these Tri-X frames is impressive, especially if you consider that Kodak introduced the 120 film format for their Brownie No. 2 camera in 1901. The lessons of this roll: the Fuji works correctly, but the frames are a bit too harsh and contrasty for my tastes. If we had overcast gloom, like Scotland, this would be perfect. The Clayton F76+ developer that North Coast Photographic uses does not seem quite right, so I will go back to developing future rolls myself in Kodak's HC110 developer.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Testing a Rolleiflx Camera in Jackson, Mississippi

My new (1960-vintage) Rolleiflex 3.5E camera with Schneider Xenotar lens came back from the repair shop, so I decided to test it one blazing hot day when I was in Jackson. I used some Kodak Panatomic-X fine-grain black and white film.
This is a former gasoline station at 100 East South Street, at the corner of South and Farish. There are still active businesses in south Jackson, but also plenty of empty buildings.
This is a historic warehouse at 300 West South Street. It is now known as the Foundry Lofts and offers modern flats for rent.
Head a couple miles north, to the intersection of West Fortification Street and Bailey Avenue, and we have a view of Bailey Avenue looking south. This is a rough part of town with many empty or crumbling buildings.
This is an example of the many closed businesses, this one at 957 Bailey. Note the window with the word "Wings."
This is a crop of the full frame, with details of the credit card stickers in the windows quite legible. Considering that this Rolleiflex has a 55+-year-old lens, I am pleased. I read that Rollei tested each and every camera for resolution using film. Cameras that did not meet specification were sent back to the production line for adjustment or to have the lenses replaced.
This is the entrance to the now-closed cotton seed oil mill at 1000 Mill Street. The site recently housed a pallet company, but most of the hulking complex of steel buildings and pipes has been out of operation for at least a decade. The bridge to the left carries East Fortification street.
The sun was blazing and the temperature about 99°F. The pavement on East Fortification was radiating lava, and I had to be careful about traffic.
But by late afternoon, the clouds rolled in and dropped a minor amount of rain. But I was tired and headed home. For some color photos of the mill, please see this 2013 post.

Technical notes
Camera: Rolleiflex 3.5 E with 75mm f/3.5 Schneider Xenotar lens (5-element with single coating on all elements).
Film: Kodak Panatomic-X, exposed at ISO 25. It has been expired 27 years but has been frozen. Slow-speed black and white films survive for years in a freezer. After decades, cosmic rays may cause fogging on high-speed films, but this slow emulsion is still fine.
Film development: Northcoast Photographic Services developed the film in a Hostert dip and dunk system using Clayton F76+ developer. I requested N-1 development (pull 1 stop) but the results were still too contrasty and harsh. Also, the film exhibited some reticulation, meaning a rinse or other chemical was too cold. I did some contrast adjustment and toning with PhotoNinja software.
Scanning: I used a Minolta Dimage Scan Multi medium format scanner at 2850 dpi. To run the scanner requires an old computer with Windows 7 and a SCSI card. The Minolta ScanMulti software was written around 1999 for Windows 98 or NT. To keep old hardware going requires not only the device you want to use but also the appropriate cards, wiring, software, drivers, and operating system.

Update: To compare with traditional black and white film, here is a high-tech digital image of the former gas station on East South Street. This was from a Fuji X-E1 camera with 27mm lens.