Central High School Then and Now

Central High School for the 1965 Girardot yearbook

I shot this night-time photo of Cape Girardeau Central High School for the 1965 Girardot yearbook. About all I know about it is that it was taken on 4×5 film with the school’s Crown Graphic press camera mounted on a tripod.

Cape Central High School (now Junior High School) Oct. 13, 2009

I published these two photos on my bike blog back in October to show how easy digital photography is to do, but I should have put them up here, too.

When I shot the original Girardot photo, I had no idea until I got the film processed in the darkroom if I even HAD a photo. If the exposure had been off or if I had bumped the tripod, it would have meant setting up on another night to try again.

I shot the second photo with a Nikon D-40 DSLR

The second photo was taken Oct. 13, 2009, at 21:39:50 with a Nikon D40 SLR. The zoom lens was at 18mm (27mm in 35mm-speak). I underexposed the picture 1-1/3 f/stops, with an exposure of five seconds at f/5. The  “film” speed was ISO 200.

How do I know all of that? It’s easy. The camera records that info when you push the button. I shot exactly eight frames to get this picture. The exposure was OK on the first photo, just letting the camera do its thing, but I took a few more “insurance” shots at different settings to be on the safe side. The last photo is the one that had the best exposure and was sharpest. The best part is that I could look at the photo as soon as I took it to see if it looked good.

I underexposed the scene to keep from burning out the highlights. (It always easier to lighten shadows that are a little dark than it is to get detail back into the light areas if they are overexposed.) I picked a relatively slow film speed, which necessitated a five-second exposure, to have less “grain” or “noise.” Both photos required a little burning and dodging to take down highlights or bring out shadow detail.

Central High School looks pretty much the same today

Our 1965 Central High School has been converted to a junior high, there are a bunch of new trees in front of the building, and it looks like it’s air conditioned now.

I suspect the changes to the building are a lot fewer than the changes undergone by the photo staff that worked on the 1965 Girardot. I know I have a lot less hair to comb.

The photographers are, from left to right: Jim Stone, Ronald Dost, head photographer Ken Steinhoff, Skip Stiver, Joe Snell and Gary Fischer. It was taken in the Central High School darkroom sometime in 1964.

Our old darkroom is now a copy room

I was disappointed, although not surprised, to see that the room where students learned the magic of photography has been turned into a copy room. All of the plumbing and darkrooms at my old newspaper were ripped out five or more years ago now that digital photography has replaced silver film and paper prints.

The shelves that were behind us in the Girardot photo staff photo are still there, but our processing sink is gone and only the stubs of plumbing remain. I printed the spot news photo that launched a lifetime career in that room. Copy machine or not, there will always be a piece of me in there.

What are those strange symbols?

Any idea if the decorative brickwork above the door leading to the auditorium on the left means anything or if it’s just an accent to break up the otherwise dull brick wall?

6 Replies to “Central High School Then and Now”

  1. I am a 1988 graduate of CHS and my daughter now attends CJHS, now housed in the old CHS. Her math teacher is willing to reward extra credit points to anyone who can find the meaning of the brickwork in your picture. I would love to know myself. If you ever find out what it means, please let me know.

  2. hey wassup i went to school there and loved it central is ahhhhmazing who dey say thats ganna beat thoes tigers who da who da

  3. I am constantly looking online for articles which could assist me. Looking forward to yet another good blog. Great luck to the author! all of the very best!

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