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A N'Orleans Saturday Afternoon


Finally got out of the room fairly late in the morning, close on to 11:00, as a matter of fact. The walk started out by going over one block to a local camera store to buy film. Film, you say, in this day of Digital. Didn't you say you own a digital, you ask.

Yes, I do own a digital point-and-shoot. Actually a rather fancy one, but still a P&S and small enough that I carried it with me most of the week of conference. Over those five days (seven, actually, since I was "on duty" from Friday past to Thursday, and a half day yesterday) I make 139 images and one Quick Time Movie, though I'm not sure how I did that last, exactly. Haven't watched it yet, either.


Anyway. Film, yes I wanted it, because it's like oil vs. acrylic vs. tempura vs. watercolor vs. pen and ink and etc. It's a particular medium, nothing else. Well, and I was working with a pinhole adaptor on my Nikon FE2. Anyone ever used a pinhole camera? They're easy to make (in a primitive form), and are often a project in photography classes. The pinhole serves as your aperature; because it is very tiny, the depth of field involved means everything is in focus without using a lens. It is also very wide-angle as a consequence.

So I picked up five rolls of film from Liberty Camera at 337 Carondelet St.. The hotel I'm at, the Intercontinental New Orleans is on St. Charles, just off Poydras, so I walked over to Poydras from the camera store with the first roll loaded. Hmm, lets see, two rolls Ilford HP5, two rolls AgfaPan 400, and one roll Fujichrome 1600. A great and grand total of $28.56, as it's all B&W film.

Mostly used the 28 - 85 zoom for the first roll, though I did start using the pinhole adapter. This little toy is basically a Nikon body cap (used to protect the reflex mirror and shutter when no lens is installed on the camera body), with the center drilled and a metal plate fixed, with the pinhole (it's an f 180 aperature, for those that it means something) set into that. Quite simple to use. Put camera in manual mode; set shutter speed to one-half second in bright sunlight, mount camera on tripod because of that one-half second (or longer) exposure, point, and click.

There's no focusing; remember, I said the depth of field is nearly infinite so everything's in focus. In fact, it doesn't even help much to look through the viewfinder on an SLR. Not much light there to see what your composition is. So literally, one's fancy 35mm SLR becomes a point and shoot camera.

Of course, I'll need to wait several days to see the results. First I needs must fly home (Oh Mr TSA Man, please hand inspect my very high speed film), then get the film processed. Next I get to carefully compare the individual frames to notes I made about the exposures, because pinhole photography is like that; gotta figure out what the exposure times need to be for a given light.


Walked down Poydras to a nice hole-in-the-wall looking restaurant called Mothers at the corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas. Now, it is a little hole-in-the-wall place, but it's a famous little hole-in-the-wall and there was already a line with about a half-hour wait. Didn't feel like waiting that long, even for Mothers, so I went around the corner on Tchoupitoulas and set out toward the French Quarter. Streets have a habit of changing their name when they cross Canal, so I stopped at the Louisianna Heritage Cafe on North Peters. This place is an outlet for the Louisianna Heritage Cooking School. Lunch ran me about $15 for a muffaleta and a bottle of beer. Yum.


Set out from Lousianna Heritage Cafe and turned west onto Conti, after pausing to make some photos (including pinhole photos) at the corner of Conti and N. Peters. It's amusing to watch people glancing at me, making the connection Oh, photographer, then doing a double-take, Hey, where's the lens on that camera?

Did I mention this weekend is a jazz festival? I expect the Quarter would be crowded anytime anyway, but add in something like 20 places around the Quarter where live bands are in concert in public, and traffic gets downright interesting. I'm not concerned at all about the pedestrians, they walk around the crazy photographer guy bracing a tripod sideways off a building wall. And the cars and cabbies aren't even that bad, though there's way too many of them for the narrow streets. It's the mule-drawn carraige rides. Those mules recognize cameras when they see them, and they aren't camera shy.


Anyway, burned through the second roll, which was the Fujichrome 1600, with exposure times running between one-half second and higher. Wandered down Chartres past the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (web site found here). This is an utterly fascinating place as well as an excellent example of old New Orleans French Quarter architecture. The last time we were here, we brought only an Olympus 35 mm point and shoot which was not up to the challange of photographing inside the museum. Between the 1600 speed film (I put the 28 - 85 lens on for this) and my little digital, many good photos of this visit. And it was really nice to see a "New Orleans welcomes AORN" sign in their window.


By this point I'd pretty nearly run the roll of 1600, so a few more frames at the corner of Iberville and Royal accomplished that. Put in a roll of AgfaPan 400 and burned that on the five block walk along Royal to Canal where it changes to St. Charles heading to the Intercontinental. Finished up just on time right outside the hotel, so I returned to my room for a bit of a rest before dinner tonight. I'd passed at 241 Chartre A Gallery for Fine Photography. I wandered through there. It's encouraging to see prints for sale at such prices (Helmut Newton, Jacque Sturges, Maplethorpe, Ulesmann, Adams, Liebowitz, many, many more), but I'm not sure they'd be interested in my work. Yet.

And that's how I spent my second Saturday afternoon in N'Orleans.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
jeliza
Apr. 9th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful day!
The best pinhole work I've ever done was with an adapter on my Pentax K-1000 equivalent, and ilford delta rated @ 3200. (Indoor cafe scenes, short exposures, with people. Completely inverse of normal pinhole procedure, but oddly compelling.) I'd love to see what results you get shooting chrome with pinhole.
madshutterbug
Apr. 9th, 2005 08:51 pm (UTC)
All B&W film today. Mine sounds similar to your pinhole; I picked it up last year in LA when I was visiting Ruthann's uncle. He's a fine art photographer too, took me to Freestyle. Great store.

I'm pretty excited about it. Haven't used it since I picked it up, figured it was about time, and figured NOLA would be a good subject. With the shutter times I had, I'm betting the pedestrians will be blurs at worst, possibly not much visible at all.
starcat_jewel
Apr. 9th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
You forgot to include the link for the Pharmacy Museum. That's on my list of Places To Go Back To the next time I'm in New Orleans -- the Le Monde Creole tour stops there, but not long enough to let me do all the poking around I would have liked.
madshutterbug
Apr. 10th, 2005 01:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks for catching that; I probably lost it when I put things behind the cuts. Added back in now and it's www.pharmacymuseum.org in case that doesn't work.

Really is a fascinating place; it's on our list of places to go back to as well. The first time we saw it was in 2000 (also on an AORN Congress trip, incidentally). They hadn't opened the second floor exhibit back then. This time around, they've got permits posted to do some renovation work to the exterior, while still maintaining the historical nature of the building. I think it's registered as an historic building.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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