We pick the hottest days for our Cincinnati photowalks. It’s a fact. It’s not something we try to do. It’s not like one of us will message the others saying “Hey man! I see it’s supposed to be 114 degrees on Saturday. What do you say we grab our film cameras and walk the hills of downtown Cincinnati for a few hours during the hottest part of the day and shoot some photos? We’ll sweat, walk around and take photos, sweat some more, walk to a spot a few miles away, take more photos, sweat some more, grab lunch, sweat some more…it will be fun!”. No, that’s not what the plan was at all. But, it had been almost a year since we had last gotten together and I really enjoy hanging out with other film photographers. I enjoy hearing about the projects they’re involved in, talking cameras and film, and seeing what cameras they brought to shoot. These are my people. This is my tribe. And Cincinnati is just a gosh darn beautiful place to shoot. So when I got the message from a friend of mine saying “I think it’s about time you organized another Cincinnati photowalk”, I agreed. It was short notice, but I started sending up the smoke signals to alert my tribe anyway. Maybe others were listening. Sure enough, they were. A couple of people responded immediately. It wouldn’t be a big group, but it would be the core group; most of them folks I’ve met and shot with before.
We decided to meet at out usual jumping off point: Lola’s (www.lolascincy.com). Lola’s is a coffee bar located at 24 W. 3rd St. in Cincinnati and bills itself as “Cincy’s Favorite Coffee Bar”. It has a great atmosphere, especially when the weather allows the storefront to be open, and offers a good selection of coffee, wine, and local beers. It’s convenient to parking and being just a few blocks from Smale Riverfront Park, it makes the perfect starting point for any photowalk.
The staff at Lola’s are always friendly and attentive, ready to serve you up your favorite beverage of choice. I always go with their vanilla latte. Hot or iced, it never disappoints.
A group photo is was in order before leaving Lola’s! Meet Austin and Shawn. David (not pictured) was also able to join but arrived after the photo was taken.
We didn’t have a game plan starting out. To be honest, we seldom do. We just pick a starting point to go to where the inspiration takes us. This time, Austin recommended we find our way up to the historic Findlay Market then work our way back down through the Over The Rhine area. Sine it was 114 degrees that day, and heating up fast, Austin splurged for an Uber. A few minutes later, we arrived at our destination.
Findlay Market (www.findlaymarket.org) offers some great shopping opportunities as well as some great food.
If you know me, you know I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan. This year, the Cincinnati Reds are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Baseball's First Professional Team. This celebration includes a series of sculpture benches that have been placed at various places throughout the city. The benches feature Mr. Redlegs in various throwback uniforms to be worn by the Reds during the 2019 season, in addition to the team's current uniform designs. Go Reds!!
After exploring the Findlay Market area, we decided to start walking back towards the river. Our route would take us through the historic Over The Rhine area.
The below shot of three photographers in an alley reminds me of something you might see in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Cincinnati if filled with graffiti by many talented artists. This piece of art really spoke to me.
Some parts of Over The Rhine have seen a Renaissance of sorts, but there are still signs of the struggles that still grip this area. Here, and bullet hole is found in a barred store window just a few blocks from Findlay Market. Sadly, this wasn’t the only bullet hole spotted this day.
This city loves its Cincinnati Reds.
After a couple of hours of walking the streets and braving the heat, we were all ready for some air conditioning and some food. Luckily, Taft’s Ale House (www.taftsalehouse.com) was just opening for lunch. Taft’s Ale House is the home of Taft’s Brewing Company, and in addition to great food and drink, it offers a real taste of history. The Ale House is located in the former St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, constructed in 1850. Taft’s Brewing Company is named in honor of William (Billy) Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States of America and a Cincinnati native.
Time for another group photo, this time with David included. The staff at Taft’s was kind enough to help us out.
I highly recommend the BANH MI*; thinly sliced Tri-Tip Steak, lemongrass ginger mayo, jalapeño cilantro slaw…with loaded tots and beer cheese as a side. it paired really nicely with the “Who Run The World (Cup)” Hefe, a special brew in honor of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team who at the time were looking to defend their title. They would later win the World Cup. Also pictured is one of the cameras I chose for this walk, a Minolta X-370 mounted with a Tamron-f 28mm f/2.8 lens, loaded up with hand-rolled Kentmere 400 black and white film.
My other weapon of choice for the day, a Voigtlander Vito ii 35mm camera, loaded with Kodak TMax100.
This shot of the seating area on the ground floor of the Taft’s Ale House was taking with the Vito. Luckily, there was a ledge I could use as a makeshift tripod since I was in a low light situation shooting 100 speed film and I didn’t carry a tripod with me this day.
Taft’s Brewing Company’s downstairs taproom is a must visit.
Art gallery next to Washing Park.
While I usually try to avoid lens flare, I specifically tried to capture it in this shot. What I didn’t expect was the unique shape of the flare. Pretty cool and definitely works for this shot!
Cincinnati has some great murals. The black and white film didn’t do this one justice. I’ll have to come back with some color film and shoot this one again.
There is a beautiful park in the Procter and Gamble Plaza whose border is made up a Wisteria climbing on trellises. It’s a great place to get some nature shots downtown. I love the 1950’s feel of the photo shown below.
This section of I-50 passing through downtown Cincinnati is known as Central Parkway. This was once the site of the Miami-Erie canal. You can see photos about this at www.cincinnatirefined.com.
There are sculptures of past Cincinnati Reds players outside of Great American Ballpark. Here we see Charlie Hustle heading in head first. Also in the photo, to the right of Pete, you can see another of the Mr. Redlegs sculpture benches.
Speaking of hustle…
Great American Ballpark seen from the back. The field can be seen through the open door.
A photowalk in Cincinnati wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which connects Cincinnati to Newport and Covington Kentucky. The bridge opened December 1, 1866 and is one of my favorite muses. Mr. Roebling is also created a very similar bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge. There are often disagreements concerning which bridge came first, but it’s my understanding that construction started on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1869, after the Roebling Bridge had already been open to the public. Both bridges were declared National Historic Landmarks; the Brooklyn Bridge in 1964 and the Roebling Bridge in 1975).
I hope you’ve enjoyed my summary of our photowalk. We hope to get together again to explore more of downtown Cincinnati and shoot some more great film photos. I usually post upcoming photowalks on Instagram, where you can follow me under @unrecoveringphotographyaddict.
Remember…”snap, click…but don’t be a d…”. Eh, you get the idea.