Burn the Midnight Oil

The upside of this heat wave is that it has forced me into pushing out photos I haven’t been able to get to yet or have been forgotten. This is one of the latter, the forgotten. This is the parish courthouse in a small town (population ~5000) called New Roads. The town is adjacent to False River, a horseshoe lake (often called an oxbow lake) that was cut off from the Mississippi River in the 18th century.

There is a stretch in the town, maybe five blocks long, which remains picturesque and appears frozen in time with all the old time pharmacies, banks, the courthouse, barber shops and grocery stores in a quaint streetscape. My father-in-law lives in the town, and I often pass through the town late at night when driving in for a visit. The streets are always empty and I always tell myself I need to get this area on camera. Of course, as soon as I went down one night with camera, the quiet, empty town decided to wake up and have a car parade as it seemed. I wanted to do long exposures instead of high ISOs, but someone seemed to always drive by and I would have to cut the exposure short. Then a busy-body older couple pulled into the parking lot next to me, a car I had seen pass 2-3 times. They asked me if I needed help. When I said no, they said “Well surely you aren’t working on the gas meter this late at night.” I noticed then I had set up near some orange cones on a sidewalk where there was some ongoing construction. I laughed and then assured them my camera bag was not a tool box, and the tripod with the enormous camera on top was not a jackhammer. Then I got the, “Photographs, at night?” and then the awkward silence that followed.

And really, this sort of thing happens often, and\ aspect of photography I never knew existed until I took up a camera and started wandering around. In short, the world simply reacts differently to you when you have camera in hand and are not in a tourist area. And from my experience her in the south U.S., a very heightened level of paranoia. In fact, I had a friend who was photographing the bomber planes taking off from a wheat field near the Air Force base here and the owner called the base to tell them there was “an Al-Queda terrorist trying to shoot down planes” in the field.

In sum, shooting the streetscape didn’t work out well. Away from this street, I encountered this courthouse and was really drawn to the light of the whole thing, specifically the glowing amber light on the east side. From the other direction, I had a more iridescent blue light that was shining on a statue in the front. I really wanted to preserve the light so I shot this one a bit more underexposed than I would usually do in this scenario. My camera couldn’t pull it off in 30 seconds so I had to switch to bulb and had to increase the time until I had what I wanted. In post I just adjusted the white balance in Lightroom and then had to compensate for some lens distortion.

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6 thoughts on “Burn the Midnight Oil

  1. Wonderful imagery, Bbrasseaux. This is so much like what I pictured the clock tower to look like in Ray Bradbury’s novel “Farewell Summer”. The boys in the story climbed to the clock after hours and stopped it from moving in order that they may stay youthful forever. Love the two lit windows.

  2. Bringing something different back for each of us I suppose – this looks like a scene straight out of Buffy for me. Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that we’re about halfway through watching the whole series on DVD at the moment…

  3. Great composition. You captured a moment in time – literal & metaphorical. Since everyone seems to making a fantasy connection, mine would be Twilight Zone

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