Category Archives: Photo Safari

Photo Safari Sunday

CAME ON WEDNESDAY this week. Because Toni and I spent Sunday working around the house — mostly to do with taxes — butt in chair, pen in hand, working the numbers. Running them upon occasion, but really, just adding up long columns of figures and writing the total on a sheet of paper.

Wednesday, we went to the accountant (whom we’ve used since the early ’80s) and presented him with the fruits of our labor, for him to organize into a coherent statement of our incomes and deductions and figure out how little we can get away with paying the gooberment this year.

No point in talking specifics here, as everybody goes through some version of the same dance. Last December, I had a passenger who was also a Lyft driver who talked to me, asking how I handled taxes and stuff. I told him how I track income and expenses.

Of course, this is my first year doing this, so I’m going to have to tweak my system so that, at the end of the calendar year, it disgorges the correct set of numbers with no combing through the whole mess to winkle out the what of the that.

At the end of the session, while we were getting our coats on, the accountant asked where were planning to go to breakfast. I averred that it was our intention to head to the Perkins in North College Hill (about two miles away from his office). He recommended a place north of his office about three miles called The Sweetheart Cafe — a little hole-in-the-wall, patronized mostly by locals, tucked up in the corner of a strip mall behind a Hobby Lobby just past Northgate Mall going out Colerain Avenue.

He started listing all the goodies he enjoyed there, and Toni latched onto the idea right away. I had been looking forward to eggs Benedict at Perkins, so was a little reluctant, but was persuaded. I looked the address up in Waze and figured out that I knew just about where the place was, so we went there. And were glad. If you happen to be looking for breakfast in the rough area of College Hill-Mt Airy-Groesbeck-White Oak-Northgate-Springdale-Bevis neighborhoods in Cincinnati, you could do a lot worse. Though it’s probably 25 miles from home, we plan to return when we can.

Anyway, after we ate, we turned the nose of the car toward Toni’s goal of the day: Elmwood Place-Ivorydale-St Bernard.

She’d spotted an area of interest from the expressway and had described it to me as best she could and said she couldn’t figure out how to get there. I knew what she meant and had been wanting to go there myself; I was able to cobble together a way to get close and headed off that way. We snufffled around a bit in Hartwell and Carthage — around the Hamilton County Fairgrounds and some No Trespassing areas near National Distillery, then dove down into Elmwood. Toni would call out sights she found interesting, and I navigated the blocks to find them and shoot them — old churches, neat houses, ghost signs, industrial sites that promised our favorite textures of rust, stairstepped bricks, peeling paint, and spalled concrete. And doors. I go for architectural detail; Toni goes for doors and windows and ghost signs.

Some arc-det (ARChitectural-DETail) from a storefront on Vine Street in Elmwood:

We tooled around Elmwood Place a bit, circling blocks, stopping in front of interesting buildings — puzzling the natives — Toni leaning out her side of the car with her cell phone (she’s gotten damned good with that thing, for all she’s only reluctantly accomodating to the Samsung camera), I sticking a long lens out the driver’s side window. We even got out once to shoot a ghost sign on the side of an old drug store (I think). The frustating and fascinating thing about ghost signs is figuring out what they originally said. This one, in particular is possibly a palimpsest and badly faded. As is evident by this snap. (Click to embiggen.)

The door pic at top was taken late in our ramble, in Walnut Hills, on the edge of Avondale, near the old Reading Road Sears store and the old Ford Factory (now an out-clinic for Children’s Hospital). We were looking for a way to get to the old bakery on the former Melish Avenue (which was subsumed into Martin Luther King, Jr. drive (a.k.a. Em-El-Kay)). We got there, eventually, but hadn’t yet, when I turned a corner off Stanton and we found ourselves in a lower parking lot to the Children’s location, hard by I-71 and the MLK Drive exit northbound. It became clear that the parking lot was private property, so I turned around and headed out, when Toni shouted, “Stop!” and leaned out her window. I pulled up to the curb by a loading dock and there was this beautiful old sliding firedoor, with intact traveler hardware in a painted brick wall. She shot it and I leaned across the car and shot it, too.

The neat thing I noticed right away, in the flash preview, was that the shadow from the overhang formed a gradient, dark to light down the door and wall to the bright steel edge of the dock. So, even in gray, flat light on a snowy day, it’s possible to get interesting, beautiful light — no matter how subtle.