A Bad Day With A Camera

Standard Issue

It has been a while since I got to explore a target rich environment, which is what Standard, Alberta, is. Quirky old buildings. Decaying vehicles. It’s heaven. My first thought was that Ray would have loved it. We would always geek out when we found a small town like this.

Broken Windbreak, Hwy 1 15 km east of
Strathmore, AB, 2024-04-06
The road to nowhere, Hwy 561 outside of
Standard, AB, 2024-04-96

Standard is east and north of Strathmore, about a twenty-five minute drive. That’s not too bad as far as chasing photos goes. The temperature only made it as high as 5C today, but a wicked breeze made it feel like it was below freezing while The Missus and I walked around town.

But before we reached Standard, my wife introduced me to the oddity that is Wheatland Crossing School. There’s no polite way to say this: The school is something of a fustercluck. It is a new school built in the countryside in the middle of three small villages to replace their aging schools that were razed. It’s a nice-looking school, too:

Front of Wheatland Crossing School, Hwy 561
near Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Side of Wheatland Crossing School, Hwy 561
near Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

The problem with the school is that whoever did the planning purchased too small of a chunk of land to put it on. There is no room for a sporting field or running track. Apparently, the kids do laps in the staff parking lot when they need to run. There are also bike racks by each door at a school located where no child can ride a bike to it safely because it is not located in a town or village. Whoops.

Holga lens front view, Canon EOS
R5, Strathmore, AB, 2024-04-06
Holga lens closeup, Canon EOS R5,
Strathmore, AB, 2024-04-06
Holga lens top view, Canon EOS R5,
Strathmore, AB, 2024-04-06

Today’s camera of choice was the Holga EOS R5. I kid. It was my Canon EOS R5 mirrorless body with a Holga 60mm, f8 toy camera lens for the Canon EF mount system attached via an EF to RF mount adapter. The Holga lens is the same one used on their infamously cheap plastic 120 film cameras and has the same vignetting and optical defects from poor quality materials.

It’s wonderful.

It’s sort of the thrill of using a Holga toy camera without the hassle and expense of film. And boy is film expensive these days. I own bodies with both APS-C and full-frame sensors, but I only use this lens on the full-frame sensor bodies. It has a 60mm focal length. Put it onto an APS-C body and you’re left with a 96mm focal length equivalent because of the cropping factor. It becomes mostly useless for most landscape work at this point.

Well, that’s crappy, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

Here’s the thing. When you roll into a new town on a photo outing and accidentally park next to a massive pile of old toilets and rubbish, you know you’ve hit jackpot. You only find this kind of thing in towns that “have character”, meaning people leave all manner of weird stuff on display. I headed down main street with my camera in hand and some pep in my step.

Private home on main, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Sign of the times, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Setting the standard, Standard,
AB, 2024-04-06
Seniors drop in center, Standard,
AB, 2024-04-06
Christensen’s Market, Standard,
AB, 2024-04-06
Post office, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Town library, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

I have to say that the main street and main business block of Standard looks surprisingly healthy for such a small and remote village. There were only a couple of closed businesses, and one of them was in the process of being renovated (it’s why the toilets were piled out back). That’s pretty good. Drive down the main street of Hanna, Alberta, where I lived a couple years back and 75% of the businesses are gone for good.

One thing I find amusing is that no matter how small or beat up the village, every one of them has a seniors drop in center. It is always in good shape and appears well-funded. God bless government grants.

Reliable Motors, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Reliable Motors Closeup, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Scorpion Snowmobiles, Standard,
AB, 2024-04-06
Keep on truckin’, Standard, AB,
AAA sign, Standard, AB,

The old, defunct Reliable Motors building was my favourite spot in town. Not only was it run down and sporting faded, vintage signs, it was surrounded by a large number of classic vehicles in a state of advanced decay. That is absolute heaven for me.

Shades of Darth Vader, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Hassled Hudson, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Hudson hanging around, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Hudson Hornet, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Grilled sleeze, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Number fifteen, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

It is pretty rare to find a single classic Hudson in the wild and finding two is incredible luck, especially with one for sure being a Hudson Hornet. I didn’t have any luck identifying the make and model of No. 15.

The grill is open, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
So happy to see you, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
GMC badging, Standard, AB,
Thrashed pickup truck, Standard,
AB, 2024-04-06
Classic GMC, Standard, AB,

I had fun getting detail shots from some classic cars and trucks parked around Reliable Motors. I couldn’t get as close to some of the vehicles as I liked because the area was super muddy and I was stepping carefully to avoid sinking into the ground. I will definitely come back and work these vehicles again once it warms up and dries up.

Glory days are long gone, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
I can see right through you, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Spark’s Travel, Standard, AB,
He’s a driver not a thinker,
Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Hoodlum, Standard, AB,

My other favourite next to the Hudsons was an older race car that was beat to crap. You don’t find these often, either, and they always have lots of quirks (note the text on the right front dash).

Front of the Standard Hotel, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Back of the Standard Hotel, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

The Standard Hotel, a perfunctory ancient small-town hotel, doesn’t look to be in horrible shape from the front. Well, other than a bunch of obviously non-running vehicles are parked in front where you’d think customers would normally like to park. The hotel doesn’t look so great from the back. It is obviously depressed, but it’s not gone yet. That’s something.

Reliable Motors Back Entrance, Standard,
AB, 2024-04-06
Debris field, Standard, AB,

One thing I didn’t do today is explore back alleys properly. The reason for that (again) was mud. Lots of it. This week’s big dump of snow is still melting and making a mess everywhere. These little villages and hamlets always have funny back alleys that are fun to photograph. The small bit I was able to explore was very promising.

Updated church, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

Standard seems like a well-maintained village. There are lots of stretches of new sidewalk downtown and the community rink and other facilities seem well-maintained. The largest church in town obviously had a large addition grafted onto it some decades back, going by the ugly yellow brick. The church is loved and cared for by its members. You don’t get the whiff of desperation here that you do in towns or villages like Oyen, Hanna, and Consort, Alberta.

CP Rail, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Cart and caboose, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Directional slat mural, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Brief history, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Standard railway sign, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06
Caboose on the loose, Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

Memory Lane Park is another area of town that the people obviously take pride in. This is a project driven by locals to commemorate the town’s rail history. Many grain elevators stood in or near the park at one time. The park’s key feature is a beautifully restored classic red CP Rail caboose. It is immaculate and I have not seen one in top condition like this since I was a small child.

Derelict service station, Hwy 561
and Hwy 1, AB, 2024-04-06
Sign of past times, Hwy 561
and Hwy 1, AB, 2024-04-06
Unwanted, Hwy 561 and Hwy 1,
AB, 2024-04-06

The wind was getting to us, so I packed my camera back into the van and we rolled home, with one stop on the way. There is an old service station at the intersection of Hwy 561 and the Trans-Canada that appears to have been defunct for some years now. The property is fenced with the gate locked shut. Stored inside the yard are numerous worn out and wrecked tractors and trailers. The whole place looks junky.

The bigger the truck the more asshole it carries, Hwy 561 near Standard, AB, 2024-04-06

While I’m taking pictures of the station, this truck pulls over on the opposite approach. Dude in the picture gets out and starts taking a whizz right in front of my wife and I, not to mention all the passing traffic. Everyone looked pretty disgusted, especially the parents of the small girl I saw pointing at the moron with his pecker out. This is, sadly, typical of rural Alberta.

This ruined what was otherwise a good photo outing. I’m sorry Ray couldn’t be here to take photos with me today, but I’m glad he wasn’t there to see the idiot urinating in public. I know what his reaction would have been and my first aid skills are rusty.

All of today’s images were created with a Canon EOS R5 with a Holga 60mm f8 plastic toy lens mounted to it. They are all square because the vignetting is such that this is the only format that works with the lens.

Next Post

Previous Post

© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

Follow by Email
Copy link