When the tall ships come in

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neighborhood church at sunrise, Kodak Gold 200

I’m not on the beach. I piss and moan about this a bit, and when I’m not on the beach and I’m in the city, I think about all the things I’m missing on the beach. The fact that cherry season is well over, for instance. And that the corn grew tall in my absence. Have the peaches come in yet? And, how many sunsets on the lake have I missed? Have I missed the best one of the season?

Sigh. Shame on me.

Yesterday evening I walked my city for miles. I walked on blocks and streets I either haven’t been on in a few years or simply haven’t appreciated. I like this city, with its modest older houses and orderly city blocks, lovingly tended gardens and lawns. There are sidewalks here. I said hello to people sitting on porches (and they said hello back). I watched a squall come in and the sky turn into a fireball in the west where the sun prepared to set. Granted, there were houses and trees and power lines in the way of an open-sky view, but it was still shockingly beautiful. And, when the sky dropped tremendous raindrops and I took cover under a corner tree for a few minutes, but still got soaked anyway, I had an attitude adjustment. I’m so lucky I can spend time on Michigan’s west side gazing at the lake. I’m so, so lucky. And I’m lucky to have a roof over my head here on the east side of the state, in a living, breathing, working neighborhood just outside of Detroit.

But anyway, the ships.

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There is an organization, the Columbus Foundation, that sails two ships, replicas of Columbus’s Niña and Pinta, floating museums as homage not so much to Columbus’s voyage but to the type of ship he sailed. They sail most of the year and make stops around the U.S. and through the Great Lakes system, and one such stop happens to be right down the street from me in a neighborhood park on the Detroit River. While freighters regularly go by here, and they are beautiful to watch, there is something different about seeing these two beauties docked here for several days.

I got up early one morning to catch the ships in the sunrise with some friends and brought my trusty Minolta SRT 102, which had some shots left on a roll of Kodak Gold, a cheap 200 speed film that I’ve decided I like quite a bit.

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I shot a roll of black and white 120 film that morning on a camera I’m testing and may buy (ahem, don’t judge), but I’d like to hand develop that and I haven’t gotten to it yet. And, the first roll of expired color film I ran through it has me scratching my head a bit as the results are, well, weird. But that’s for another post.

Chasing color (and don’t mind that Holga in my camera bag)

It’s been the grayest month. Gray everywhere. After some teaser days in February we got just the grayest, dreariest March ever. Well, until last Friday, which was a big, blue, bright, bold, sunny and lovely day with a wind that blew the winter’s dust around and sent the cobwebs packing.

Of course the rain came over the weekend but whatever. It’s spring now and rain happens. But let’s get back to Friday. The temps even hit the low 70s. It was glorious. You shoulda been there.

But you weren’t, so I’m going to share some photos because I sneaked out of work a tiny bit early and went in search of color with my friend Jane.

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car as art, Holga, Kodak Ektar 100
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car and sky, Holga, Kodak Ektar 100
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Let’s Do This, Holga, Kodak Ektar 100

Detroit’s Eastern Market is the perfect antidote to a too-gray month that has gone suddenly, brilliantly bright. On Saturdays the market is alive and crowded, but other days it’s fairly quiet. Go on Saturdays for people-watching (and food buying) and on other days for wandering and mural-gazing.

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Eastern Market murals, double exposure, Holga, Kodak Ektar 100
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Dequindre Cut mural, Holga, Fuji Pro 400
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Ghosts of what I might have been, Eastern Market, Holga, Fuji Pro 400
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2126 Pierce, Holga, Fuji Pro 400

I’ve got it bad. I sort of made a deal with myself to not acquire any more cameras for a while and focus on the ones I have (and the one I’m borrowing). But I broke my own deal in January when I used gift money to buy a Lomography Sprocket Rocket. And then some fascination with the Holga made me buy one of those, too, earlier this month. I kind of don’t count these two cameras in my deal with myself because they’re plastic. Not that they’re not real cameras–I’d argue with anyone on that. But, they’re really inexpensive. Faulty logic, but there you go.

I fall in love too easily. 120 film is my current crush. These Holga images from Friday’s adventure make me happy I don’t listen to myself sometimes.

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Clouds and corner building double in Eastern Market, Holga, Fuji Pro 400
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Sacred Heart, Holga, Fuji Pro 400
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Razor wire and sun flare, Holga, Fuji Pro 400
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Eastern Market, Holga, Fuji Pro 400
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No idle zone, Holga, Kodak Ektar 100

Love letters to the city, part two

More of Detroit’s downtown buildings, these things that make me swoon and forget to look where I’m going.

This time in black and white, also 35mm film. A study in shapes, lines, angles. I took these on both the last day of 2016 and on the first day of 2017, closing out and opening up the new year looking up.

These were shot on two different different Minolta SLR cameras and both with Kodak Tri-X film–an SRT-102 using the suggested film speed (400) and an X-700 pushing the film two stops to 1600. I’m not certain I can tell the difference, but this is my first stab at pushing and I think it might not be my last.

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One Woodward Ave.
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Light beam
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Lines, shadows and reflections
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Westin Book-Cadillac (left, with windows), and the Guardian Bldg. (tall, at right)
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“Transcending”
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Rosa Parks Transit Center
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Rosa Parks Transit Center

Love letters to the city

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One Woodward Ave., Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100

Oh, Detroit.

You’re not what you were. You won’t be the same tomorrow, either. You had a heyday, you declined, then a recession. Today, a resurgence. You are loved and loathed, fought over, talked about, dismissed, underestimated, maligned, deified, abandoned, thriving. Through it all, you stand tall. You’ve got chops. You are what we make of you, but you have your own heart and our stories don’t define you.

I didn’t appreciate you when I grew up in your suburbs. I left; you called me back. Today I honor you–your shape-shifting, your grit, your perseverance.

So nice, I like you twice.

I took these double exposures on a sunny and not-so-cold New Year’s Day. Seemed a perfect way to honor the old and ring in the new.

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Penobscot Bulding, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100
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Federal Building, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100
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Westin Book Cadillac, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100
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Book Tower, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100

Urban wilds

I used to be more of a city girl.

I’m finding now that even though I do love a city adventure, I really want to be outside. Not just outside, but preferably in nature, surrounded by growth and wind and water and wild (and yeah, bugs even).

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“I knew it wasn’t important” –unknown

So even when I am base-camped in urbanity I’m drawn to the wild areas. In the Detroit metro area, thankfully, there really are many.

When I’m not on the west side of Michigan I gravitate to this marsh, Pointe Mouillee State Game Area. It’s a game and nature preserve south of Detroit and encompassing some 5,000 acres, butted up against Lake Erie, and I love every bit of it.

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empty bottle on drainage pipe

My friend Jane and I ventured there last evening. There’s always something new to see (like one of the smaller parking lots, this time filled with discarded furniture in varying states of decay, a bed, used condoms–hey, urban nature isn’t always beautiful). And even when there’s nothing new, there are different things blooming or drying (depending on the season), different colors, different angles.

Even with the marshy smells here, and last night’s prolific mosquitos that only seemed to be biting me and not Jane, it was a nice break from the inside world of work and the concrete of my suburban neighborhood.

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Old and new

 

A new blog, a new format, so much newness to get used to. Here’s some old to counterbalance the new.

I toured an unused but not abandoned church, with permission, a few weeks ago. If you know me personally, you know I do a bit of abandonment photography. You might not know that I am conflicted about that–it involves trespassing and putting myself in some occasionally dangerous situations (scary, but exhilarating). For me it’s not about capturing the demise of the city but more about documentation, a journalistic view. I don’t attach myself to the right or wrong of a church or a factory that once was great but that can no longer be supported anymore, or a neighborhood in demise. These things beg for change but they are what they are in the moment that I come across them. I try to see the beauty in them where they stand.

 

But this church, and the building that housed the church offices and activities, has some new owners with all sorts of exciting, artistic, community-focused ideas. I love that new life will be breathed into these two structures and, hopefully, in the neighborhood around them.

Say what you will about Detroit. I know what’s happening here. I know the people who are fighting for change, and I know that regrowth is happening. There is art and food and culture and commerce here. I may live in the suburbs, but I patronize the city that centers our metro area. If you don’t step foot within city limits, your opinion means nothing.