Around the Mission Inn

The photos shown here are from The Mission Inn and the area around it, in Riverside, California. The area is the center of Riverside’s downtown. I lived at The Mission Inn during the winter of 1971-1972 and have fond memories of the place. Due largely to ongoing civic rejuvenation of the area, it has become a favored place to walk around with a camera. These photos were made on July 22, 2012 with my Yashica Mat 124 on Ilford Delta 100 and Fuji Neopan 100 Acros.

I like the look of the area and often find elements that I have overlooked during previous visits. Because I like a large range of tonal contrast, I usually try to arrive in the early morning when the buildings, fountains, statues, and trees are bathed in relatively horizontal light. 

Despite the name, the Mission Inn, now called the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, is not one of the California Missions erected by the Spanish for the purposes of indoctrinating the natives in the Spanish State religion and securing political power and physical control of the Pacific Coast of the American Continent. Though started by his father, Frank (Agustus) Miller is the principal builder of the structure that occupies more than a city block.

Though I’ve only had the Yashica Mat 124 in my hands for a month and a half, I am extremely impressed by the twin lens reflex medium format camera. I am quite happy with the results I’m getting with the Yashinon 80mm f/3.5 taking lens and the 80mm f/2.8 viewing lens gives me a very bright viewfinder image to frame and focus with.

The mirror-image view through the waist-level finder was tricky to deal with at first, since everything appears backwards, though not upside-down, but I’ve become progressively more adept at framing and leveling images with it. To my mind, the biggest pluses about this camera are the operational simplicity and the beautiful 56mm X 56mm negatives that it produces.

Among the side-effect benefits is the necessity of using 120 film. There are a few types of 220 available, but they are all color films, and I don’t have a convenient (or reasonably inexpensive) lab that processes 120 and 220 color film nearby, so I’m effectively limited to developing black and white myself.

Because there are only 12 frames on 120 film, I am very deliberate about the shooting process. Even more deliberate than when shooting 35mm. That has turned out to be a bonus, since I don’t waste film. It tends to make me more selective about what I shoot. Though it is slightly counter-intuitive, I’m enjoying the process more than when I was shooting digital most of the time.

I have noticed that the restrictions imposed by shooting medium format film are starting to effect the way I approach digital photography, also. The methodology is spilling over. I’m shooting fewer frames with digital, now. I seem to have lost any vestigial urge to use a digital camera as if it was a machine gun. I can only think of that as a good thing…

I know that many digital enthusiasts will view this as an extremely long step backward, but with this camera I am the light meter. That also seems like a benefit to me. I’m using the “Sunny 16” system for determining exposure, because the meter of the Yashica, like many other cameras that were manufactured in the mid-twentieth century, originally included a selenium light sensor for the metering system. Most of those selenium sensors have long been inoperative. My camera is one of many that no longer have a working light meter.

But I like being the light meter. I’m getting used to it, and though I occasionally blow an exposure, it is happening at a progressively diminishing rate. I don’t believe that it will be too long before I am essentially carrying an organic light meter around, so there is little point in carrying a metering device around. It will soon be redundant…

Above: A view of the east side of the Mission Inn on Orange Street.

Above: The Chinese Pavilion. This pagoda-like structure is located on the Central Library’s grounds across Orange Street from The Mission Inn.

Above: Second and third story balconies on the north, service entrance side of the Inn.

Above: A view from the east of the service entrance side of the Inn. The second story pedestrian bridge on the right was originally built to provide access to the Mission Inn Annex, though it has been many years since it has been used. The Annex, a labyrinthine jumble of brick building is on the north side of 6th Street.

Above: Arches on the east side of the Inn.

Above: The park-like walking plaza bordering the west side of the Inn.

Above: The downtown plaza again.