If you follow my blog, you have probably heard me talk about the revival of downtown Columbia, Tennessee. Years ago when I first started to frequent the downtown area, things appeared dead after business hours. Even weekends were lacking the typical festive atmosphere of a downtown square. My wife, the historian, has told me stories about how Columbia was the place to be back in the day. People from all around came to Columbia to let loose. Well, Columbia is trying to bring that magic back to the downtown area.
Over the years, I’ve noticed significant changes on the square. Buildings are being renovated. Old businesses are getting face lifts and new businesses are setting up shop, even the landscaping of the courthouse has changed. The Mule Town Brand is taking over the city in the form of signs and murals. It’s as if a new vision is being realized as the pride in a once booming town is making a comeback.
This post is about one aspect of that vision. In the continuing effort to bring people to downtown Columbia, the city has started a monthly event called Columbia First Fridays. On the first Friday of each month, the businesses on and around the square stay open late to extend the dining and shopping experience. Area talent can be found at every corner singing and playing instruments. If you like shopping, good food and music, you are in for a treat.
I hope these photos are a treat as well. I’ve been holding on to a roll of Kodak Portra 800 for this event. I chose Portra 800 because of the late evening light. My weapon of choice for the streets as always was my trusty Olympus OM1 SLR coupled with my 50mm f1.8. I also brought along my DSLR for the night scene. I had originally planned to shoot the September festivities, but the timing wasn’t right. However, with the family out of state and no other obligations, I was able to take advantage of a free evening on the first Friday in October. Let’s start with the film images.
My goal was to shoot the entire roll. I was doing pretty good until I ran into a gentleman who noticed my camera and asked if it was a film camera. It turns out that he was about to venture into film photography. He just inherited a cache of old camera gear which he was learning how to use. For the next forty minutes or so, we talked about film photography as well as other things regarding our professions. I gave him some pointers on film photography and I gave him my business card before we parted. This conversation took up some valuable photo time as the evening light was fading rapidly, but I was able to take a few more frames before pulling out the DSLR. By the way, I’m not knocking the conversation. I enjoyed it! I love meeting new contacts and listening to different perspectives. If I could redo that evening, I would not change a thing.
I just recently started taking a more serious attempt at shooting the streets at night. If you read my previous post, Nashville Walkabout, you’ll see why. You can read that post for the details, but I took what I learned from my Nashville adventure and applied it to the night scene around the Columbia Square. Using my Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens and dialing in a white balance of 3000 Kelvin, I searched for light sources that would give me a decent shutter speed while shooting at ISO 800 and sometimes 1600. As I mentioned in my previous post, a technically perfect image doesn’t mean it’s a good photograph. These images are far from perfect, but I believe they still do the job of telling the story of the moment, especially as a body of work.
Images Best Viewed in Lightbox Below!