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THE BLOG OF FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER KEITH DOTSON

Cities on Film: Atlanta shot with a vintage Canon AE-1 on Fujifilm Neopan 100

Cities on Film: Atlanta shot with a vintage Canon AE-1 on Fujifilm Neopan 100

Welcome to the first edition of my new series, ‘Cities on Film’

In this series, I’ll be traveling to various cities, spending a single day shooting one roll of black and white film with a different vintage film camera.

Cities on Film series of photographs of American cities shot on film

For the first city of the series, I traveled 3-1/2 hours southeast of Nashville to visit the cornerstone of the south — the great city of Atlanta. I made a working list of potential locations, and managed to visit them all in a single day. But first, the details:


Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Camera: Canon AE-1 circa early 1980s
Lens: Canon FD 50mm
Film: Fujifilm Acros Neopan 100 iso, 36 exposures, 35mm


Yours truly in Atlanta with the Canon AE-1 in hand.

Yours truly in Atlanta with the Canon AE-1 in hand.

Canon AE-1 with Fiji Neopan 100
Canon AE-1 with Fiji Neopan 100

Location 1: Piedmont Park

Lake Clara Meer at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, photographed on black and white film. Like all the images in this post, you are seeing the retouched version. Look below for a sample of an unretouched scan. Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f8

First location of the day was at the stunning Piedmont Park in Atlanta’s Midtown. I shot this landscape reflection at 9:30 am in soft light. Camera settings: 1/125 shutter speed at f8.

Below is a raw scan from the negative, which is the same frame as shown above, with no retouching. The flatness of the negative allows room for contrast adjustment either in Photoshop or in the enlarger. It also reflects the softness of the light at 9:30 am on that morning in Atlanta.

Unretouched scan directly from the 35mm Neopan 100 negative.
Unretouched scan directly from the 35mm Neopan 100 negative.

Location 2: Jackson Street Bridge

The Jackson Street Bridge is a midtown attraction with a spectacular view of downtown, made more recognizable because a photograph from the bridge appeared on the poster for season one of The Walking Dead.

View of the downtown Atlanta from the Jackson Street Bridge
View of the downtown Atlanta from the Jackson Street Bridge. iPhone photo.
Sticker overload on the Jackson Street Bridge
Sticker overload on the Jackson Street Bridge. iPhone photo.
View of Atlanta from the Jackson Street Bridge. You may recognize this view if you're a fan of the Walking Dead, as it was featured on the series poster one season.
View of Atlanta from the Jackson Street Bridge. You may recognize this view if you’re a fan of the Walking Dead, as it was featured on the series poster one season. Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f11
Another from the Jackson Street Bridge
Another from the Jackson Street Bridge.  Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f11

Location 3: Lunch at The Varsity

The Varsity is the world’s largest drive-in fast food restaurant and has been in business since 1928. I’d never been, so I decided to fuel my day of photography with a cheeseburger and onion rings. Pro tip: Atlanta is full of fantastic restaurants from southern soul food kitchens to international cuisine — dine elsewhere. I didn’t find The Varsity to be particularly tasty or even a very pleasant experience.

Burger and onion rings at The Varsity
Burger and onion rings at The Varsity. It’s a long-time Atlanta tradition, but I’ve had better. And the ordering process is a pure cattle call, at a vast counter with dozens of lines of people.
Shooting into the glare of the sun to get an image of The Varsity's vintage burger stand sign.
Shooting into the glare of the sun to get an image of The Varsity’s vintage burger stand sign. Camera settings: 1/250 second shutter speed, f11

Location 4: Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthplace and surrounding neighborhood

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, and lived in this house for twelve years. He was a pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, just a block away. The neighborhood bustles with tourists and fans of Dr. King, but retains a somewhat gritty urban edge, with broken windows and rundown old buildings throughout the neighborhood.

Martin Luther King's birth home.
Martin Luther King’s birth home. iPhone photo.
Detail photograph at the MLK birth home. Shot midday in full sun, 50mm lens.
Detail photograph at the MLK birth home. Shot midday in full sun, 50mm lens. Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f11
Shotgun homes in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood where MLK was born and where his Ebenezer Baptist Church is located.
Shotgun homes in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood where MLK was born and where his Ebenezer Baptist Church is located. Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f11
MLK's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King was a pastor and gave sermons.
MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King was a pastor and gave sermons. Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f5.6
Architectural detail inside Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
Architectural detail inside Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Camera settings: 1/60 second shutter speed, f2.8
Architectural detail inside Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
Architectural detail inside Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Camera settings: 1/60 second shutter speed, f2.8
This is a less-than-successful attempt to photograph a bench on the vintage checkered tile floor of the Fellowship Hall in the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church
This is a less-than-successful attempt to photograph a bench on the vintage checkered tile floor of the Fellowship Hall in the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Camera settings: 1/30 second shutter speed, f1.8
Mural on an old building one block from MLK's Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Mural on an old building one block from MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. iPhone photo.
Murals on an old building one block from the Ebenezer Baptist Church building.
Murals on an old building one block from the Ebenezer Baptist Church building. Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f8
The Sweet Auburn neighborhood surrounding the MLK birthplace and Ebenezer Baptist Church is somewhat rough around the edges.
The Sweet Auburn neighborhood surrounding the MLK birthplace and Ebenezer Baptist Church is somewhat rough around the edges.
I wonder if Dr. King, or perhaps Coretta, may have shopped in this old red-brick building when it was still a department store.
I wonder if Dr. King, or perhaps Coretta, may have shopped in this old red-brick building when it was still a department store.
A beautifully rusty and crusty neon sign in the Sweet Auburn area of town.
A beautifully rusty and crusty neon sign in the Sweet Auburn area of town.
Rusty neon bar sign in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.
Rusty neon bar sign in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Camera settings: 1/250 second shutter speed, f11

Location 5: Krog Street Tunnel

The Krog Street Tunnel is a long connection between the Inman Park and Cabbagetown neighborhoods of Atlanta. The street overhead was completed in 1912, and now the dark tunnel is literally covered top-to-bottom and end-to-end with street art, and graffiti. I’m not sure if the art is sanctioned by the city or not — does anyone know? I read a story that the city once planned to close the tunnel for a posh event, with the art as background, but the artists objected and actually painted over most of the art with gray paint.

The Krog Street Tunnel in Cabbagetown
The Krog Street Tunnel connects Inman Park to the Cabbagetown neighborhood
The Inman Park neighborhood entrance to the busy Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta
The Inman Park neighborhood entrance to the busy Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta. Camera settings: 1/125 second shutter speed, f5.6
The Krog Street Tunnel has become famous as a location for wall-to-wall street art, tagging, and graffiti.
The Krog Street Tunnel has become famous as a location for wall-to-wall street art, tagging, and graffiti. Camera settings: 1/60 second shutter speed, f4

I hope you enjoyed our black and white film tour of Atlanta. Be sure to check back soon for the next Cities on Film update.

Let me know your thoughts about the Cities on Film concept. What cities would you like to see featured?

 

 

 

 

 

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