Kodak EasyShare Z730
I turn 48 today.
I’ve known many people who wring their hands over the birthdays that end in zero. They’re milestones of getting old, after all. But none of them have bothered me so far — certainly not 20, but also not 30, not 40.
Some odd birthdays have troubled me unexpectedly. 33 was tough. I felt I couldn’t avoid anymore that I was firmly in my adult years. I wasn’t sure I always liked it.
Last year’s birthday, 47, hit me hard too. To my surprise, because my middle years have been the best of my life. But where 46 was “middle aged,” 47 felt like “pushing 50,” and something about 50 feels more old than middle aged. I’m sure that if you’re significantly older than 50, you’re chuckling over that statement. But it got me down for a bit.
I’m good with it now. And if 47 is “pushing 50,” 48 is on the downhill slide, hurtling headlong, picking up speed. Look out, I’m throwing in the clutch.
Kodak doesn’t call it Portra for nothing — it’s meant for portraits. And that’s what I used it for, mostly. I’m trying to build my portraiture skills, so I loaded a roll into my Nikon F2AS and shot more than half of it on my sons. I hoped for some good shots of them to print for the family. I finished the roll on the kinds of subjects I usually shoot.
This film ran cold — every photo had a blue caste to it. Portra 160 NC is said to tend naturally toward low color saturation. Maybe that’s Kodak’s interpretation of “natural color,” which is what the NC in the film’s name stands for. Kodak also offered a VC (“vivid color”) version of this film that boosted color saturation. I say “offered” rather than “offers” because both of these films were replaced a few years ago with a new formulation simply called Portra 160.
Also, this roll was expired, and I don’t know how it was stored before I got it. Careless storage can lead to shifted colors, which might also explain the blue caste.
Photoshop’s Adjust Color for Skin Tone tool warmed the portraits up right away, especially bringing out the chestnut highlights in my youngest son’s hair. Unfortunately, I won’t be showing you that, as I don’t share photos of my sons online. They have asked me to let them decide when and where to share their faces online. Fair enough.
I shot some of the portraits in cemeteries near my home. This isn’t out of the ordinary for us, as we walk through cemeteries all the time. We once even rented a house on a cemetery property. And cemeteries frequently have quaint benches, ornate chapels, or other not obviously death-related structures that make great portrait backdrops.
One visit was to Crown Hill Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in the nation. This shot looked as lifeless as its dead-tree subject when it came back from the processor, so I adjusted color temperature to bring it back to life — the photo, I mean, as the tree is beyond my help.
I gave this scene the same treatment. This monument is on the ascent to the highest elevation in Indianapolis.
I thought this looked okay as shot, so I left it alone. It’s not a great shot, but I liked this very old and twisted tree and all the great detail in its bark.
I shot my 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E lens in Crown Hill, but switched to my 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor lens for a walk through Washington Park North, a cemetery within walking distance of my home. It’s nowhere near as interesting as Crown Hill, but it’s certainly more convenient to me.
I’ve shot Washington Park North’s replica of the Liberty Bell a number of times this year. Here’s one; here’s another, from two different cameras but both on Ektar 100. I adjusted color temperature a little to warm up this shot, but it still doesn’t approach the warmth of Ektar out of the box. Do compare the Ektar shots to get a good idea of how these two films’ color signatures differ.
I wasn’t wowed by Portra 160 NC as processed and scanned. The blue nature of the shots generally didn’t appeal to me. Someday I’ll buy a roll of the reformulated Portra 160 and see how it compares.
Another Saturday, another roundup of the blog posts I liked best this week.
Writing for 52 Rolls, Peter DeGraaf writes of losing his friend Zim, a 28-year-old Arabian horse. Read Farewell Zim
I miss Alex Lickerman‘s blog. He’s a Buddhist physician with piercing perspectives. He used to write weekly, but now only infrequently. This week, he updated a good post from long ago, about end-of-life choices. Read Decision Making at the End of Life, Redux
A fellow I know only as David35mm writes a paean to the crappy photograph: the misframed, misexposed, misfocused kind that we used to take with our film cameras, but which have disappeared in the take-it-again digital age. Read Summer and the Art of the Crappy Photo
Tina Gasperson writes about how if God made you and loves you, then you are worthy of love on Earth — even and especially from yourself. Understanding and embracing this can really propel your faith. Read Love Yourself First — It’s Not a Sin
Do you see that spot where the road disappears into the trees? I want to go there. I want to find what’s around that curve.
I’ll take some pictures when I get there. I’ll use an old camera, probably one I haven’t used before. I’ll want to experience that vintage gear: how it feels in the hands, how easily the controls work.
As soon as I get home, I’ll send the film off for processing so I can see how the camera rendered the light onto the film. Meanwhile, I’ll research what I saw, because there’s usually something to learn. And I’ll write about it, all of it: the road, the camera, the film, the photos, the sights. Through writing I’ll discover what I think and feel.
What are we waiting for? Let’s go! This is joy!
US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana • Kodak Z730 Zoom • August, 2009