Jackson High School Aerials

I was doing some grave searching in the Jackson Cemetery the other day when I noticed how much had been added on to the Jackson High School across the street. I’ll have current photos soon, but here are some aerials of the area I shot in the mid to late-1960s. You can click on any image to make it larger.

This frame is looking to the north.Hubble Creek is on the left, the County Courthouse and downtown is at top right. Jackson Cemetery on on the lower right. I see people lined up on the football sidelines, so something must be going on. There are also people on the playing field at the bottom right.

Looking east

This photo is taken from the west, looking east. Highway 61 is on the right. The County Courthouse is center left, and the Hwy 25 – 61 intersection is at top right. There’s a junk yard at the bottom right. (I guess it would be called a salvage yard these days.)

Looking southwest

West Jefferson Street is to the right of the stadium. Hubble Creek runs diagonally across the top of the frame, passing by the junk yard and under Hwy 61. Almost all of the area to the left of the stadium has been turned into parking these days. The houses in front of the high school have also been converted to parking. [Personal rant: the next time you complain about the cost of bicycle facilities, ask yourself what it costs to pave over acres of ground for parking lots.]

View to the south

The final view is looking to the south. Hubble Creek is on the right and Hwy 62 runs across the frame at the top. The footbridge across Hubble Creek has been replaced by an extension of West Jefferson if I’m reading Google Maps correctly.

The last time I flew over Jackson, I took lots of photos of downtown and the courthouse, but didn’t think to make a pass over the high school. I’ll be running photos of it from the ground in the next day or so. It’s amazing how it’s grown.



Franklin School Construction

I wrote a little about the history of Franklin, the school with no name, back in March of last year. At that time, Cape voters hadn’t been to the polls yet to decide whether or not to tear down Franklin and build a new school. The issue passed and the old building’s days are numbered.

The plan is to construct the new school building, then tear down the old one. The area was fenced and the gates locked, so I had to shoot everything through and over a chainlink fence.

Franklin flag pole

It’s striking how similar the flag pole is to the one that used to be on Washington School.

Washington School flag pole base

Here’s a link to photos of Washington School before and after it was razed.

Franklin School Photo gallery

Here are photos of the old school and the construction going on behind it. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.



Photo Tip: The Illusion of Speed

Many photographers think that faster shutter speeds are better. It’s true that a fast shutter speed will minimize camera shake on your end and subject movement on the far end. That’s usually a good thing. It can also be a formula for a dull photo. I was walking around Franklin School shooting an update now that construction of the new building is under way. (I’ll publish those photos in a day or so. I figure everybody is busy blowing things up this weekend, so I may hold off posting until there is someone around to see it.)

This cute little bunny rabbit was chowing down on the clover along the terrace in front of the school. I shot a quick frame and kept walking to go up the stairs to photograph the main entrance and flag pole. The bunny is reasonably sharp and relatively well exposed. It’s also not very interesting, unless, of course, you care more about bunnies than I do. (You might have a better idea what I’m talking about if you click on the image to make it larger.)

How to capture a feeling of speed

First off, I’m going to confess that this photo of the rabbit blasting out is an example of instinct and luck. I didn’t plan it. HAD I planned it, here are some things I would have done:

  • I would have picked a relatively show shutter speed.
  • I would have put the moving subject in the middle of the frame.
  • I would have opened the shutter when the subject was slightly less than 90 degrees from me.
  • I would have panned (followed) the subject at the same speed it was moving.
  • I would have continued the pan until I heard the shutter close.

What does panning do?

What does that accomplish? It keeps the subject recognizably sharp, but makes the background a blur. We’re used to looking out the car window and watching the scenery go by so quickly that it’s a blur. That’s how we know that we’re moving and how fast. This isn’t a great shot, but it has some interesting things helping it out.

  • The back ground light coming from behind the rabbit is mottled. That pattern of light and dark accentuates the feeling of blur and speed.
  • The backlight coming through the rabbit’s ears makes them stand out and look pink.
  • He’s caught in mid-hop, so the bulk of his body is stationary. You can clearly read “rabbit” from the ears and cottontail.

Why did I say it was instinct and luck? I had set the basic exposure, but left the camera on automatic. Because it was getting late in the day and I was in the shadows, the camera opted for a slow shutter speed serendipitously. When I saw the rabbit start to move, I followed the movement out of habit and practice.

I’m not a hunter, but I was a decent shot and was pretty good for an amateur the couple of times I tried shooting skeet. There’s not a whole lot of difference between shooting with a camera and with a gun. (Except that the rabbit gets to run  away to eat clover another day.)

What a difference a millisecond makes

The time stamp on the photo is exactly the same as the shot above. That means they were both shot less than a second apart. It’s less successful (in my opinion). You can see the rabbit is in a different point in his hop. His hind legs are rotating down, which causes a blur within the blur of his body. His front legs must be moving back, because his fur is also a blur in a different direction. He’s moved out of the nice backlighting, so his ears aren’t as nicely defined. His head has moved to an angle where he could almost pass for a cat were it not for the cottontail. He’s also quite a way off 90 degrees from the camera, so the blur doesn’t work quite as well.

This is a technique that you don’t use often, but it’s very effective when it works and it’s not hard to do with a little practice. In the old silver film days, it cost money to practice if you actually pushed the button and exposed the film, so we’d sit on the side of the road and practice following cars as the drove by. It’s critical that you do your pan in a smooth, level movement. With digital cameras, it doesn’t cost you anything to actually press the release. Do it.

I’ve never used it, but my strobe and camera have the ability to add another dimension to this technique. You select a slow shutter speed and start your pan. When the shutter is open and you’re following the subject, you get the nice movement blur behind subject. Just before the shutter closes, the strobe will go off, freezing the subject cold. You get the best of both worlds: the illusion of speed, PLUS a tack-sharp subject at the end.




Creepy Lorimier School Murals

When I published the collection of pictures titled, “Do These Photos Say Cape?” I mentioned that I was pulling them together for a friend. The friend – I guess I should say Virtual Friend – was Nicolette Brennan, Cape Girardeau’s public information coordinator, who wanted them for the city’s website. I dropped them off at City Hall, the former Lorimier School, Tuesday afternoon.

Where are the murals?

When I wrote about Lorimier’s transition from a school to a city hall, someone asked me if the murals were still in the hallways. Since I hadn’t attended school there, I didn’t know what they were talking about. On the way out of the building, I asked a nice woman (who is a reader, by the way) if she knew where they were. I don’t remember if she used the exact word “scary, spooky, weird” or what, but I knew what she was talking about as soon as I saw them. Huck Finn, above, is the most benign of the batch. Ironically, because the plumbing in the water fountain or sink in front of it is broken, there was a filing cabinet in front of it that almost hid it from view.

Three Men in a Tub could cause nightmares

The Three Men in a Tub would give any kid nightmares. It’s not exactly what I would picture over a water fountain in an elementary school, particularly since the character on the left looks like he’s losing his lunch into it.

Don’t believe me?

If you don’t believe me that the characters are grotesque, here’s a closeup. Like always, you can click on any image to make it larger, then click on the sides to move to other photos. I’m not sure I would encourage you to do that in this case.

Long John Silver has Mick Jagger lips

I’m assuming the guy with the eye patch is Long John Silver or another pirate. His lips, though, look like they could go on Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger.

Video games are violent?

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about nursery rhymes. Sing a Song of Sixpence starts off with a king being served a piece of pie that opens up to contain singing birds. I find that neither sanitary, entertaining nor filling.

Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocket full of rye.

Four and twenty blackbirds,

Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,

The birds began to sing;

Wasn’t that a dainty dish,

To set before the king?

The birds get their revenge in the third verse, though. Animals didn’t need PETA in those days, they took care of their own problems.

The maid was in the garden,

Hanging out the clothes;

When down came a blackbird

And pecked off her nose

These graphics explain a lot about my classmates who came through Lorimier.