Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Car parts on Kodak T-Max 400


I love both of Kodak’s ISO 400 black-and-white films, Tri-X and T-Max, but for different reasons: Tri-X when I want that grainy look, and T-Max when I don’t. I didn’t when I photographed the cars at May’s Mecum auction.


As happy as I was to shoot Plus-X at the auction (see photos here), I was a little happier when I finished that roll and could load the roll of T-Max I had in my pocket. I knew that the relatively low-speed Plus-X (ISO 125) and my 50mm f/2 lens, which because of piddling available light I was shooting at or near f/2, were giving me very little margin for focusing error. Even then, bumping the ISO up to 400 improved the situation only slightly.


I tried to use that narrow focus range to my best advantage. Thank heavens my Nikon F2AS has depth-of-field preview so I had some idea of whether I hit the sweet spot or not.

Lady Ornament

Perhaps I need to buy a 50mm f/1.4 lens to give me an extra stop of exposure. But I might trade that stop for shooting the lens one stop shy of wide open, to see if I could get a little better sharpness.

Falcon Corner

But then, perhaps that wouldn’t be needed, as Nikon’s prime lenses are heralded for good sharpness corner to corner even when wide open. Given that used Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lenses usually go for north of $100, however, I’m not likely to find out any time soon. My money has other things to do right now.

Inside the Bus

And the f/2 lens is plenty sweet, anyway. 50mm f/2 lenses are almost always the unsung heroes of any system’s prime lenses. They can usually be picked up for a song, because most people would rather have a sub-f/2 lens.

Country Squire

The shot above shows just how narrow of an in-focus patch I was working with.

Drunken road striping


West of Effingham, Illinois, US 40 makes a wide curve and passes over a railroad track. An earlier alignment of the road was left behind when the overpass was built.

Drunken road striping

Here’s what all of this looks like from the air.

Imagery and map data © 2014 Google.

Imagery and map data © 2014 Google.

Humorously, on the ground this alignment looks like this. I can hear the chatter at the highway maintenance garage now: “I know! Let’s get drunk and go stripe some road!”

Drunken road striping

There are a couple houses on this little stretch of road. I wonder what the owners think of the hilarity at the end of their front yards.

Drunken road striping

It’s a time-honored tradition in road realigning to just bury an old alignment under a mound of dirt to build the new alignment.

Drunken road striping

All of these photos are from two visits I made here in 2007.



I’m still sharing some of my film photographs on Instagram. I follow a whole bunch of other film-shooting Instagrammers and we all seem to be in loose community there.

Some of those Instagrammers routinely get 100 or more “likes” on their photos. I’m doing good when I get more than 10. When one of my photos really catches on, it gets maybe 25 likes.

For a while I thought I was missing the secret to Instagram success. Was I not using the best tags? Was I not liberal enough with my likes of other photographers’ work? Was I not following enough people?

It appears to be all about having lots of followers. When I look at the well-liked Instagrammers I follow, I find that they follow hundreds of people and have hundreds of followers in return. It also seems like Instagram is a reciprocal community – people like being liked, and like back in return. For popular Instagrammers, that must translate either to spending a huge amount of time looking at and liking photos, or simply blindly clicking Like on every photo they see. I don’t have that kind of time to give to Instagram, and I’m going to click Like only on photos I actually like. And so I will continue to toil in Instagram obscurity.

I have to admit, I scratch my head over why one of my photos gets attention and another does not. For example, I feel pretty “meh” about the two photos below. But other Instagrammers seemed to like them, at least relative to my other work.

I can usually count on photos that I tag #architecture to get some good attention. There seems to be a good-sized community of architecture photographers on Instagram.

And people seem to enjoy shadow work, such as these two photos of the same set of arches.

Detail seems to appeal to people, too. These two photos are good examples.

Amusingly, my most-liked photos are some that I took of the cameras in my collection. Maybe I should go all old cameras, all the time.

Eh, nah. I guess I’ll just stay in Instagram’s dusty corners, eking out my daily handful of likes.


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