Indiana Wants Me

I’ve had the good fortune to visit the US on 3 separate occasions in recent years – and most of that time has been spent in Indiana.
These were working visits – it’s one of the more unlikely holiday destinations if you’re heading across the Atlantic but it has a quiet charm and warm feeling that makes me want to return.

Indy

The city of Indianapolis is a smart place with an accessible downtown area, the speedway and is home to my weekly dose of NFL.

P6273270View from Monument Circle
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Capitol Building
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Monument Circle

Upstate (Downstate..?)

I spent quite a while at two of the state’s Universities – Ball State and Taylor – and travelled around some unheralded places.

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Headin down south. Upland, IN
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A poor man’s Stephen Shore. Muncie, IN
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The Middle. Surrounded by corn
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another photogenic gas station (petrol as we call it..)
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The big sky around Matthews Restaurant, Matthews, IN
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Welcome to Matthews
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Old trucks and primary colours. OK, ‘colors…’
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Grain Truck, Matthews

Gas City – the smallest ‘city’ I’ve ever been to, but home to Friday speedway. Noise, fumes and fried food.

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The home of motor racing
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Gas city Speedway
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Gas City bunting

One of the most striking visual features I noticed was the signage. Sometimes grander than the actual place, sometimes unintentionaly funny but something we’ve lost over here.

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The King of Pizza
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It was closed, but I would’ve had a good time here
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Free panties on Friday night, Fort Wayne, IN

Baseball. If ever a sport is more enjoyable watching live rather than on TV, it’s baseball. This was my first experience at Fort Wayne.

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Parkview Field, Home of the Tin Caps
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Uncontroversial kneeling

I hope to go back to Indiana next time I visit the US. It’s an unassuming place with warm, friendly people, incredibly photogenic and seems to exude a laid back form of conservatism. Sometimes, though you have to be immodest, especially if you are the best damn sports bar.

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Simply the best. Blu 49

 

It Happened at the County Fair

Summer in Indiana and I got to experience that colourful cultural experience – the County Fair. We have, of course, fairs in Ireland – it’s usually cold and wet, they’re often like outdoor shopping malls, and they’re a bit… two dimensional. Now whether it’s the novelty of travelling or enjoying a trip to somewhere like parts of Indiana that are well off the tourist trail, there are things you just don’t get at home.

Forget Healthy Eating
There was a serious diet and a gym membership organised after this trip. It wasn’t just the grilled/fried everything – it was the sheer size and volume of portions.  All delicious, of course.

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Corn Dogs.  Wrong on every level.. I ate loads
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Make sure you have an up to date dental plan
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Porky’s.  Ate here as well….
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Satisfied customers from the Big Dog Diner
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Something for the little ones..
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Are we in Scotland???

We The People
With the fine weather and good food, everyone seemed chilled.

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The Fire Department – ready for action
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I think it’s a Nikon
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Competition time
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Love it when a Bass Player Smiles.  And nice Gretsch.
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Hangin’

Bit of Politics
I have to say that these guys had considerably less attention than the food, agricultural shows, sports and entertainment. The Tea Party strangely had no tea.

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Democrat casual.
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Down with this sort of thing. Careful now.
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A military presence

Sports
Tractors we have at home. Horses at agricultural shows, ditto.
Demolition derbies and pig wrestling, not so much.

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John Cougar….   …. John 3:16
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They actually did play ZZ Top for this
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Driving without lights.  and windows
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One careful owner
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a fine display of horses and hats
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ZZ Top tribute band and pig wrestlers
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Ladies and Gentlemen., we have a winner

And finally..
Sorry about this Dave, but we were on the lookout for you the whole time.

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Lock up your daughters.. Dave’s skipped bail

Hancock, Grant and Delaware County Fairs, I salute you. Every conceivable type of food and entertainment, everyone enjoying themselves and so, so much to photograph.

Tech note:
ColorEfex Pro was used to punch the Raw files taken off the Olympus E450.  It’s a great free tool.

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the Fuji 160 film emulation

 

 

Fairmount, IN.

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Understated James-Dean-free welcome

It was while watching a recent documentary about Magnum Photos,  a segment on Dennis Stock’s photos of James Dean reminded me I’d been to his home town of Fairmount on a trip to Indiana.  Due to lack of time, I ended up in Fairmount early on a Sunday morning, had a walk, took some shots of the town and some James Dean related sights with the Olympus E450, and in the absence of any other souls or open cafes, headed on to my next stop.

I then forgot about Fairmount and the photos sat on a hard drive for a few years.  Looking at them now and running them through a quick Color Efex filter, Fairmount looks to these European eyes exactly like how a mid west US town should look.  with added James Dean.

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An ornate 19th Century bank and stop sign.  Main Street, Fairmount

 

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Fairmount Post Office.  Closed on Sundays
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Wall based nostalgia
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no MP3s
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I’m sure a Beth Grant lookalike librarian works here

It doesn’t take long to find visual sightings related to Fairmount’s most famous son, and it’s all reasonably tasteful.

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The Giant Bar and Grill.  
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Fairmount Record Store
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Rebel wall art

I never got to the James Dean gallery, museum or his grave site – it was a fleeting visit at an early unsociable hour  – but I’d love to go back.  I’d orginally had a look at these shots in black and white but a town like Fairmount deserves colour – and Kodachrome would have been wonderful.  Sadly like Fairmount’s most famous resident it’s another much missed Amercian cultural icon.

Olympus Tripped.

When the meter finally goes….

Trippy.  Meter no more
Meter no more

The inherent risk of bringing your 40 year old film camera on holiday is of course that it decides to call it a day.  Before loading the Trip, I always give it a quick check to ensure that it responds reasonably appropriately to light – particularly that the wee red underexposed marker appears in the viewfinder.  Day 2 of a trip to Tokyo and before the Fomapan was loaded, it was clear that the Trip meter had finally given up the ghost.  However, before putting it back in the suitcase and relying on the Nikon F60, I remembered the manual aperture settings – a quick check showed these to be responding.

So, a pretty useless 1/40th constant shutter speed in a bright summer Tokyo day and it was Sunny 22 to see how the Trip would go on manual only.  F22 for the bright outdoors and guess for the shade and indoors.

And…  it went ok.  Fomapan 100 is pretty forgiving anyway and with the bright harsh sunlight and deep shadows, I couldn’t really complain with the results from a 40 year old malfunctioning compact and a £3.50 roll of budget Czech film.

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Kimonos, Asakusa – a great range of detail captured by the Trippy

It would have been a challenge getting any sort of shadow detail here given the contrast between the umbrella and background.

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Posing

Of course, with an aperture setting now to consider on the Trip,  there was the added risk to forget about adjusting the zone focussing from “mountains” to “2 blokes“.

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Bookstore.  Blur unintentional..
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Orange Street. In black and white
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Incense

 

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Simultaneously shot on her own phone and my dodgy Trippy

The Trip of course, is a great street camera, all you have to remember is to set the zone focus.  My immediate reaction when the meter went was to retire the Trip and have a look on The Bay for a replacement.  But doing a quick Sunny 16 setting of the Aperture is no problem, and you can learn to live with the constant 1/40th shutter.  The lens is as sharp as ever (after remembering to check the focus) and frankly there is no better looking 35mm compact out there.  My meter-less Trip hasn’t had its last holiday just yet.

More Trip/Foma100 photos on the Flickr.

Me and Tennessee

Then that ol’ song comes on…  Together we’re singin’..

Any trip to the USA should include a visit to the music heartlands of Tennessee – Memphis and Nashville.

For taking photographs in the middle of summer however, it gets hot  – 100F hot – and has the harshest of harsh sunlight, so glare and shadow are going to be a problem.  I’d the trusty bog standard Olympus E450 with it’s 2 kit zooms which were fine as with the extreme brightness, wide open apertures weren’t going to be much use. And with a lot of colour being washed out with the bright light, black and white was the way to go.
So – a tale of two cities.

Music City

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Ernest Tubb’s record shop, South Broadway, Nashville

Nashville’s South Broadway is exactly as you would imagine it  – all guitars, boots and beer, and it doesn’t disappoint.  Everywhere you look there’s neon signs offering all you can eat and drink to the soundtrack of country music.  It’s a friendly city, accessible and has a laid back charm.  There’s a lot more downtown than SoBo – there’s loads of walks by the river, countless music venues, Tennesse State Museum and many country music museums.  However you’ll invariably end up back on Broadway with a beer in your hand and wearing a new hat.

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Tequila Cowboy, South Broadway
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Layla’s
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Honky Tonk Central, South Broadway
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Boots – one of many offers
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more than boots
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Joe
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Wasted away again in….

For the big music venues, there’s the Bridgestone Arena on South Broadway but for the ultimate in country experience, there’s the Opry – a few miles out of town, and for $35 you can get an unforgettable country music experience.

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The wonderful Grand Ole Opry
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Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

For sports, there’s the NFL (Tennessee Titans) , AAA Baseball (Nashville Sounds) or the Nashville Speedway – it’s about $10 for an evening’s racing.

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When you’ve had enough music, there’s cars

Memphis

About three hours away, Memphis is a very different experience.  Where Nashville has a folksy touristy charm, Memphis has a wee bit of an atmosphere – a bit more tense, a much harder rock, blues and soul soundtrack and its central attraction Beale Street has an edge that’s great to experience but with a completely different feel.  Still it’s well worth a visit – there’s Gibson Guitars, Rock n Soul and Stax Museums, loads of music venues and in like Nashville you’ll not go hungry or thirsty.

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Gibson Guitars – a great visit and you get to play some
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street bar, Beale Street
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Beale Street, Hard Rock Cafe
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Reassuring – no guns in this bar..
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Blues singer, Beale Street
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Sullivan’s Bar, Beale Street

Out of the cities, there’s a lot of Irish Heritage sites – this was the Rogan family homestead, 19th Century immigrants from Co Down.

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Finally, no matter where you go you’ll be in the presence of Elvis Presley.  Just don’t stand on the King.

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More Tennesse pics on the Flickr  https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1FiUpC

Chiang Rai Utd v Big Bang Chula FC

When you’re travelling around the world, you often experience things that are so different from your normal day to day life  – food, language, culture and customs – while other things are pretty much universal.  Football, with its globally consistent rules and multinational structures, transcends location and culture.
Turn up at a match and you could be anywhere.

front

Chiang Rai is the northernmost city in Thailand – a delightful, quirky place about 16 hours by train/bus from Bangkok – and hosts a top division league side – Chiang Rai United.  The Thai T1 league has 18 sides from around the country and all have badges, logos and designations in English as opposed to Thai, with many “Uniteds” and “FC’s”.  The opposition on this hot July evening was the splendidly named Big Bang Chula FC.

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The Singha Stadium is beside the airport about 15 minutes drive from the city centre (taxi is the best way to get there – and make sure you book one for after the match..) and it’s a fine modern stadium.  Outside there are the usual hordes of fans in replica kits and a number of stalls selling them – naturally I bought one.

Food is one big difference from the Irish or English leagues. In the absence of cheesey chips, there’s an array of spicy kebabs from 10 baht (0.20 GBP) each.

food
no manky pies or Bovril
drinks
cold drinks are essential in the 30 plus temperatures
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fans

Inside it’s open, largely uncovered and all-seater with the stands tight to the pitch.

stand

Before kick-off there was the formality of the Thai National Anthem.  This seems to have largely disappeared from European sporting events (excepting internationals) but like the States, where the anthem is sung everywhere from MLB and NFL down to local Friday night speedways, in Thailand they like to do the anthem at most public gatherings.  And as is common, it’s accompanied by a royal video clip.

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be upstanding and screen-facing, for the National Anthem

 

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5000 miles from the UK and there’s always a Man United fan..
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the Chiang Rai United rhythm section

On the pitch, there was a mix of players from Thailand and around the world including a few Brazilians.  A home team ex-pat favourite is Mark Bridge, an Australian and leading goalscorer.  The match itself was exciting affair resulting in a 2-2 draw, the crowd was noisy, the food was good and our taxi turned up on time after the match.  A perfect evening.

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He makes it 1-0
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Mark Bridge, Chiang Rai United
final score
Final score 2 – 2.

Kit:
Canon 5D, 70-300 and 50mm lenses;
iPod (6th gen)

more Thai footie photos on the Flickr https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1qvnR9