Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Vinny the Voigtländer Vito BL does Jackson (Abandoned Films 08a)


Mr. Vinny, my little Voigtländer Vito BL camera, shares shelf space with a bunch of other cameras. He does not get out nearly often enough. Although well over 60, Vinnie is still a sturdy, well-built little fellow (I wish I could say the same for me). He has a rigid body and a 50mm ƒ/3.5 Color-Skopar lens. This is a unit-focus 4-element lens, Voigtländer’s masterful 1949 revision of the classic Tessar formula. This may be one of the best of these post-war 4-element lenses, and, of course, it was was fully-coated. The refined lens and the precision of the entire system contributes to Vinnie’s excellent optical output.

Last October (2021), I heard Vinny say, "Come on, take me to the big city." I loaded a roll of Kodak BW400CN film and took Vinnie to Jackson. 

BW400CN Film

BW400CN was a C-41 monochrome film. It was intended to be used by photographers who wanted convenient black and white prints from any store or photo shop with a C-41 processing machine. Kodak discontinued it in 2014.

I have mixed feelings about the BW. Sometimes, the tonality was very pleasing and the results looked good; other times, the dark areas were muddy and nasty. Even though Kodak claimed that it was extra fine grain, I found it to be surprisingly grainy and it often looked gritty. But that sometimes worked for me because I frequent gritty places. Regardless, I had three rolls left to use. I exposed them at EI=320 but probably should have given more exposure. This group of Jackson pictures is from the first roll, which may have degraded with time. It was X-rayed at least once during a trip to Asia, which may account for some loss of sensitivity and fog.

If you want a current film that can be processed in C-41 chemicals, Ilford still sells its XP-2 in 135 and 120 sizes.

East Jackson

Junior Achievement of Mississippi, High Street, Jackson

This is the abandoned Junior Achievement building at the very east end of High Street, just below the Pearl River levee. The organization educated young people in business and economic issues, taught them financial literacy, and prepared them for work and careers. However, Junior Achievement of Mississippi failed in the 2009 recession and left its building behind.

Bayou at High Street, Jackson (1/300 ƒ/11, green filter)

This is a typical bayou, or stream. This one separates Junior Achievement beyond the thicket to the left from the BMW automobile dealer off to the right. This bayou may be too small to support any alligators, but I avoid wandering down in the brush and muck.

Morris Ice Company, 652 S. Commerce Street, Jackson (yellow filter)
Morris Ice Company, 652 S. Commerce Street, Jackson

The former Morris Ice Company is an interesting time capsule of early 20th century industry. Ice was critical in the hot southern summers for hospitals, food preservation, brewing, food shipment, and keeping your martini chilled. Mr. Pickering, who was planning to redevelop the old factory, let me photograph inside in 2019. The Covid must have disrupted his plans because I have not seen any changes there since 2019. But a company that builds wood canoes still rents part of the space.

South State Street, view north (1/300 ƒ/11, yellow filter)
Dot Com Motors, 1011 S. State Street, Jackson (1/300 ƒ/11, yellow filter)

State Street is a major north-south street running through the heart of Jackson, The southern part of State is pretty grungy, with closed car dealers, tire shops, and warehouses. The Corvette in the first photograph has been perched on its post for at least three decades. A former fast food restaurant once hosted Dot Com Motors. I supposed it wanted to be modern.

West Jackson

Tarrymore Motel, Hwy 80 west, Jackson
Former Coca Cola bottling plant, 1421 Hwy 80 west, Jackson (1/125 ƒ/16-22)

During the post World War II era, Highway US 80 west was a thriving industrial and commercial area. Old-timers recall sophisticated restaurants and motels, and major companies established factories there. 

Today, Hwy 80 is a wasteland of closed hotels, empty factories (like the Coca Cola bottling plant in the photograph above), low-end fast food restaurants, payday loan shops, used car dealers, and abandoned warehouses. Homeless people have occupied old hotels and stripped the fittings. I am baffled and have no explanation for the decay. But this is not unique to Jackson; many other American cities have experienced the same hollowing out and decay of their infrastructure. 

Long-term readers may remember that I have photographed on Hwy 80 before. It gets worse as the years pass. 

4986 Hwy 80 (west of Metrocenter Mall)


Vinny enjoyed his outing to the big city of Jackson. His Prontor shutter is accurate, and his little 4-element Color-Skopar lens is highly capable, sharp, and free from obvious flare. He demonstrates top quality German precision manufacturing and has aged well (better than I have!). Thank you for sharing his excursion.

The Kodak BW400CN film worked out well for these frames. It is grainy, but that is fine for some topics. The film has been discontinued, and I recommend you readers not bother trying to find any. Use Kodak Tri-X or Fuji Acros instead. I will post more photographs from this last group of BW400CN rolls in the future.


Appendix A, Filters

Voigtländer filters are confusing to buy because the company used a numerical code to describe their various types. The table below summarizes the filters available in the 1950s and 1960s. A label such as 301/32 meant type 301 filter (light yellow) in the 32mm size. Some of their lenses used filters that pushed on, but others were threaded in various sizes. For the smaller lenses on Vito cameras, an alternative is to buy a 32mm Series VI adapter and mount Series VI filters. These are inexpensive but somewhat inconvenient in the field. The genuine Voigtländer filters are elegant, coated, and compact. Focar filters were for magnification, i.e., diopters.


Voigtländer Filters    
Name Type Factor Code
G1 Light yellow 1.5 301/32
G2 Med. Yellow 2 302/32
Gr Light green 4 306/32
Or Orange 5 308/32
Uv Haze   317/32
85C or A Color correction   318/32
SF Skylight   325/32
Focar 1     303/32
Focar 2     304/32
Focar 0 f = 2m   342
Focar A f = 1m   343
Focar B f = 0.5m   344
Focar C f = 0.5m   345
Focar D f = 0.15m   348
Hood     310/32
Note: /xx means lens diameter. 32 is push-on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

More Decay: Raymond Road and W. Highland Drive, Jackson, Mississippi

After walking around the deserted and trashed Nova Park apartments at 1115 Raymond Road in southwest Jackson, I drove a few blocks eastward. There were more empty apartments and abandoned houses.

This was another empty apartment just east of the Nova Park that I described in the previous post. It was a different architecture but still a generic commercial unit. However, it looked reasonably modern and intact; why was it empty? Some of the air conditioner units had already been looted.

Further east, I saw some tired and closed stores. 

And then there were the tired and abandoned homes. The brick Craftsman cottage with the tile roof was a handsome little home in the day, with well-done brickwork? Look at the interesting arches. What happened? Where did the residents go? 

From I-20, you can see another group of empty apartments near the turnoff to US 49. These are (or were) the Highland Square Apartments on West Highland Drive. I drove by, and most are forlorn and empty, but not trashed. As of 2021, it looked like a few units were still rented, but most were closed. Once again, what happened?

This ends our short tour of Raymond Road and West Highland Drive. Stand by for more Jackson exploration in the future.

I took these photographs on Fuji Acros film using my 1949 Leica IIIC and its original 5cm ƒ/2 Summitar lens. I added medium or deep yellow filters for scenes with sky.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Trashed apartment, Raymond Road, Jackson, Mississippi

Raymond Road is south of Interstate 20 in Jackson and connects Terry Road with MS 18 a few miles to the west. I rarely drive on Raymond Road, but in early 2021, I came across the abandoned Nova Park apartment complex at 1115 and could not resist stopping. It yelled "Dump" and "Come photograph me."

From a distance, the buildings look reasonably modern and intact, just architecturally boring. The roofs are fine. What happened?

Pass through the gate on one side and the trouble starts immediately. Like other apartments that I have photographed before, it looks like the tenants left in a hurry. Their possessions, televisions, toys, and junk are strewn about. The sheetrock has been trashed as vandals stole metal.

The worst thing about any abandoned property in Jackson is that it becomes a dumping ground for old tires, personal trash, and construction debris. Is there no municipal mechanism for disposing of materials? The perpetrators have no civic pride or regard for how they hurt nearby residents? Tires mean pockets of standing water, which means mosquitoes in summer. Trash demonstrates how a neighborhood is degrading.

I drove by about a year later, and, from the street, the site looked about the same. The hollowing out of America....

These photographs are from Fuji Acros film taken with my little 1949 Leica IIIC camera and its 5cm ƒ/2 Summitar lens. For most frames, I used a medium yellow filter and measured light with a Gossen Luna Pro Digital meter. I scanned the frames with a Plustek 7600i film scanner.  Click any frame to expand it and see more details.

Thank you for reading and standby for more Jackson adventures. For older articles, type "Jackson" in the search bar.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

More Treasures! Smith's Appliances, Magnolia Road, Vicksburg (Abandoned Films 05d)

Smith's Appliances on Magnolia Road in Vicksburg sells old machines, freezers, and odd treasures. I love places like this, and Mr. Smith generously let me take photographs inside during 2020 when I was on one of my episodes of exploring around town.

As you can see, Mr. Smith emphasizes gasoline and motor-oriented artwork and souvenirs. There were also some household appliances, and I assume he repairs and sells them. 

I took the black and white photograph on my last roll of Panatomic-X film with my Leica M2 camera with 35mm and 50mm Summicron lenses. I measured the light with a Gossen Luna-Pro Digital in incident mode. This roll was grainy and underexposed compared to the previous one that I used in the Adolph Rose Antiques. I assume this roll had aged too much despite having been (supposedly) frozen in storage. It is a warning that expired film is always a bit of a gamble. But the grittiness works well for this type of topic; please click any frame to see more detail.