Photography

Shooting the 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens

In case you can’t tell, I’ve been on a jag of shooting my prime manual-focus Pentax lenses. It’s also given me a chance to shoot up some film that’s been sitting in my fridge for far too long. So: my 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens went on, and a roll of Kentmere 100 went in, my Pentax ME. And I took it along when I went to visit my son at Purdue. We drove across the river into Lafayette and strolled through downtown.

Signboard

I’ve always enjoyed this f/2 prime, but after I bought my 50/1.4 it never got much play. I admit it: I liked the cachet of having that f/1.4 lens on my camera. Look at me, the photographer with the f/1.4 lens! But for everyday shooting I didn’t really need that extra stop.

I have generally not, however, enjoyed Kentmere 100. It’s soot and chalk, prone to blown highlights. But it did all right under this lens. And what a grand theater marquee that is!

Lafayette Theater

A mural down one alley featured all these faceless people. I can’t decide whether it’s cool or creepy, but either way it’s compelling.

Your face here 1

Lafayette’s downtown is lovely, chock full of old buildings that appear to have been maintained or restored. So many Indiana downtowns have not been so fortunate. My hometown of South Bend lost half its downtown buildings to urban renewal. My college town of Terre Haute saw many of its old downtown buildings torn down from neglect.

Looking up

My son and I also walked through a park on Lafayette’s east side. This shot of a tree in the park shows a little of Kentmere’s highlight-blowing tendencies.

Tree

On a different day I shot this flag. I’m a little bummed out to see that light leak in the bottom corner. A couple other shots were so afflicted. Could my ME need new seals? Is it finally time to send it out for a good CLA? The answer appears to be yes on both counts.

Flag

Finally, here’s a new McDonald’s. Actually, this is an old McDonald’s. Believe it or not, this was until recently an iconic red Mansard-roofed McDs. They tore the old skin off and put on a new one. I don’t know what is making the company remake its buildings in such generic style. Take off the golden arches and this could be any office building anywhere.

McDonald's

This lens handled flawlessly and returned sharp results, as it always does. The Kentmere mostly kept its highlight-blowing tendencies at bay. The only clinker was the light leak this roll revealed.

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Blogosphere

Recommended reading

Would the universe implode if I stopped sharing my Saturday morning blog-post roundup? Certainly not, but a man can dream of doing something so vital.

Katherine Griffiths shares a photo-booth strip from her collection of two young women. In the booth’s privacy, they shed the facades we all carry in the world, and were fully themselves as they enjoyed their friendship. You can see it on their faces. Read Gorgeous Giggling Girls

Reality is messy and non-linear. Yet we need a way to tell about our lives in ways that make sense. So we all reframe our pasts into stories. It’s how we make sense of our world. Writing for The Book of Life, Jess Cotton encourages us to find a tender and noble story to tell about ourselves, and assures us such a story is there for even you. Read How to Narrate Your Life Story

I’m generally for free markets, but Seth Godin makes a great point about unbridled capitalism: it can quickly become a race to the bottom focused on short-term gains. He uses the first advertisement for Coca-Cola to illustrate. Read The reason we need the FDA (hint: it’s marketers)

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Photography, Preservation

Great doors I have photographed

A UK blogger I know only as “conspicari” posts wonderful photos of beautiful doors every Thursday. Yes, doors. Go check out his blog to see. I look forward to Thursday doors!

While I don’t make a giant point of photographing doors, they have found themselves within my viewfinder many times. Here, then, is a dump of door photos, in homage.

Red Brick Tavern, Lafayette, Ohio. Canon PowerShot S95.

Red Brick Tavern

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Indianapolis. Canon T70, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD, Fujicolor 200.

Arched door

Indiana War Memorial, Indianapolis. Kodak 35, Kodak Plus-X.

Words

Salem Lutheran Church, New Augusta, Indianapolis. Olympus Trip 500, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.

Salem Lutheran Church

Salem Lutheran Church, New Augusta, Indianapolis. Pentax ME, 28mm f/2.8 Pentax-M, Fujicolor 200.

Ramp entrance

Men’s room on the Monon Trail, Carmel, Indiana. Kodak Retina IIa, Fujicolor 200.

Red door

Drumcliffe Parish Church, Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo, Ireland. Canon PowerShot S95.

IMG_3742 rawproc.jpg

Shop, Waynetown, Indiana. Canon PowerShot S95.

Waynetown

Old house, Delphi, Indiana. Yashica Lynx 14e, Kodak T-Max 400.

Entryway

Crooked Creek Baptist Church, Indianapolis. Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom.

Crooked Creek Baptist Church

Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis. Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax, Kodak Gold 400.

At Second Presbyterian Church

Residence, Lockerbie, Indianapolis. Pentax ES II, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100.

Door in Lockerbie

Angie’s List, former fire station, Indianapolis. Canon PowerShot S95.

Entrance

Traders Point Christian Church, former First Church of Christ, Scientist, Indianapolis. Canon PowerShot S95.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Church of the Holy Family, Ardara, Ireland. Canon PowerShot S95.

Church of the Holy Family, Ardara, Ireland

Gash & Co., Eminence, Indiana. Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom.

Gash & Co. entrance

Notice my cameo appearance in this final shot. This building also featured in this post from my State Road 42 road trip. According to a recent comment on a photo of this building I posted to Flickr, this building is no more.

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On Illinois Street

56th and Illinois
Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax
Kodak Gold 400
2017

Margaret and I keep walking Indianapolis neighborhoods, considering where we might like to settle after we’re empty nested in a few years. The neighborhood around 56th and Illinois appeals deeply to me.

Photography

Photo: Street scene, 56th and Illinois, Indianapolis

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Ten Years of Down the Road

Choosing a place to share your content online and why I stick with WordPress.com

If you want to write (or share photos) on the Internet, do it on WordPress.com. If you want to grow your existing audience, do it on WordPress.com.

Forget Medium. Forget Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn (all of which allow blog-style posts). And forget Blogger.

WordPress.com is a fine platform on which to publish. It offers a good editor in which you write your posts. It manages images well. It provides a rich community through which you can promote your work and find readers. The good people at WordPress do all the system administration for you – you need configure no servers, schedule no backups, run no maintenance.

And you can use it for free forever. Now, I’ve purchased a couple upgrades that give me my custom blog.jimgrey.net address and let me customize my site’s design. You can buy these upgrades for your site for about $100 a year. But they’re not truly necessary for a successful blog.

I’ve been on WordPress.com since this blog’s birth, ten years and counting, and have no plans to leave. WordPress.com has grown and changed with this blog, adding useful features all along the way. (Blogger, on the other hand, feels like it is stuck in 2007.) For example, as people increasingly viewed the Internet on their phones, WordPress introduced blog themes (templates) that looked good even on those small form factors. I switched to one. It took more time to choose one I liked than it did to make the change and tweak the settings.

And then the WordPress.com community brought me a lot of readers. I’ve been featured four times on WordPress.com’s former Freshly Pressed feature, and once in their Discover feature. And others have found my blog by searching the WordPress.com Reader.

Because nothing’s perfect, there are some challenges. For example, when you need support, your only option is to leave a post in a support forum. The community is reasonably helpful, and if you tag your post “modlook” a WordPress support engineer will respond. I have an open case with them right now. They’ve addressed several problems I’ve reported, but have declined to fix a few others. I get it: in my work in software development I’ve declined to fix some user-reported bugs myself, for solid reasons. But it’s not terribly satisfying to receive that answer.

There are reasons to use other platforms. Medium has an elegant editor and the cachet of being where all the cool kids are. But my experience there is that the platform rewards the already well-known leaving regular Joes like me to languish. And I’m not convinced Medium’s business model is viable long term.

And when you publish directly on Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social network, those networks are more likely to favor your posts in others’ feeds than when those posts come from other sources. Posts from outside sources are at a distinct disadvantage. But when you write directly on these social networks, it’s not entirely clear how much you control your content. And WordPress.com can automatically share your posts to these networks so you can still reach plenty of readers.

You can choose to host WordPress on your own Web server. Doing so lets you customize endlessly and lets you sign up for ad networks so you can get the most possible advertising revenue. I get enough traffic that I was accepted into the Automattic Ads program. It’s not been very lucrative so far — I could make more through self-hosting and signing up for Google’s AdSense program. But that would come at the cost of doing my own back-end maintenance, and I’m not interested. My buddy Pat, who has caught a tiger by the tail with his The Small Trailer Enthusiast site, self-hosts WordPress. He sells ads directly and participates in AdSense, neither of which you can do on WordPress.com. But his site is lucrative enough to make the maintenance hassles worth it.

Given all of this, when I wanted to start a new blog about software development, I went straight to WordPress.com.

2017-02-14_0725

And when the nonprofit I help run, the Historic Michigan Road Association, needed a new Web site, I turned again to WordPress.com. Yes, Web site. WordPress.com has provided tools for a modern, responsive, professional-looking online calling card for our organization.

historicmichiganroad

Here’s the final reason I stick with WordPress.com. Should I ever want to switch platforms for any reason, I can export this entire site to a set of files, and reimport them into pretty much any other content-management platform. My content is truly mine.

I donate testing to WordPress.com and the WordPress.org open-source project, and through that work have had reason to test site export. I’m thrilled to report that it successfully exports even a blog with this much history — more than 1,600 posts over ten years. But I don’t expect to need to use that feature for real anytime soon, as long as WordPress.com keeps on keeping pace with the Internet at large as it has.

Anytime you choose to publish your work online you make tradeoffs. I think that for most people, and certainly for me, WordPress.com offers the most benefits and the fewest challenges.

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On Illinois Street

Planter box on Illinois Street
Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax
Kodak Gold 400
2017

I think every film has its use. I just hadn’t found the right one for Kodak Gold 400 yet. I just haven’t liked the color I get when I use it. But it yielded surprisingly good color in my K1000 with this 55/1.8 lens. It’s still truer-than-life Kodak color, saturated, candylike. But it captured the dusky hues here pretty well, and that’s not something I expect from consumer-grade Kodak film.

Photography

Photo: Planter box on Illinois Street.

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