Both feel a bit neglected. After all, one can only use so many cameras in rotation. 35MMC readers will remember that Spottie took an outing recently. Vinnie was jealous. Although well over 60, Vinnie is still a sturdy, well-built little fellow. He is strong and rigid, and has a fine 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 it benefitted from being coated. The refined lens and the precision of the entire system contributes to Vinnie’s excellent optical output.
As Vinnie was calling, last October (2021) , I loaded a roll of Kodak BW400CN film and took Vinnie to Jackson, Mississippi. BW400CN is a C-41 monochrome film. It was intended to be used by photographers who wanted convenient B&W prints from any store or photo shop with a C-41 processing machine. I have mixed feelings about the BW. Sometimes the tonality is very pleasing and the results look good; other times, the dark areas are muddy and nasty. It is surprisingly grainy and often looks gritty. But that sometimes works for me because I frequent gritty places. Regardless, I was using up my stock. I exposed it at EI=320.
Jackson is the capitol of the State of Mississippi. It is located about 3 hours drive north of New Orleans and about 4 hours south of Memphis. Jackson has a lot of decaying and crumbling neighborhoods with plenty of photographic opportunities. Security can be an issue, but in bright daylight, there is not much danger, especially on main roads. Honestly, most people look at me curiously and move on, consumed with their own lives and issues. One friend hires a security service to accompany him when he photographs in Jackson. I only once had a potential issue while photographing a traditional residential court lined with shotgun houses. A handyman saw that I did not belong in that neighborhood and chased off a drug dealer with his hammer. That is life in Jackson.
This is the abandoned Junior Achievement building at the very east end of High Street. 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.
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 it is wise not to go wandering down in the grass.
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. The man 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.
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 3 decades. The former fast food restaurant once hosted Dot Com Motors. I supposed it wanted to be modern.
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.
This is one last photograph from Hwy. 80 west: my favorite 1960s sign at Bel Air Shopping Center. The former tenant, Land of Sleep, is long gone, but other shops are still operating. This is a Kodak Super-XX frame from Vinny’s other occasional friend, Taki, the Tachihara 4×5″ wood field camera, taken on a cloudy day in 2021. Taki does not get out often enough, either. You can see more of my Hwy. 80 photographs in my 2020 article.
Vinny enjoyed his outing to the big city of Jackson. His Prontor shutter is reasonably accurate and his little 4-element Color-Skopar lens is definitely capable on modern standards. He exudes a sense of quality precision manufacturing and has aged well (better than I have!). Vinnie does not have a built-in rangefinder, but I have no trouble with guessing distances. Various models of Vito cameras are still reasonable price, so go ahead and try one.
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 35MMC readers not bother trying to find any. I will use Kodak Tri-X or Fuji Acros in the future. Jackson still has areas to explore, but the security situation is deteriorating (especially with gun violence)
Dear 35MMC friends, thank you for coming along for the ride. For more photographs of Jackson and other topics, please visit my blog, Urban Decay .
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