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.
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.
Location 1: Piedmont Park
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?