When I take a road trip I always bring my digital camera. I also bring my extra battery, because I take hundreds of photos when on the road and hate to run out of juice. My recent trip along the Dixie Highway in southern Indiana was unusual in that it yielded only 191 photos!

Pentax ME

I like to take a film camera along too when I hit the road, usually whatever new-to-me old camera has film in it. But when I explored the Dixie, I wanted to try a particular film I’d not used before. I’d heard that Kodak Ektar 100 returns colors almost as vivid and true as slide film, and I figured that a road trip would be the right venue to prove it to myself. But for that I would want a tried-and-true camera. Increasingly I reach for my Pentax ME in such situations – for an SLR, it’s compact and comfy in my hands. And I find myself charmed by its aperture-priority simplicity. Knowing I would be shooting landscapes, I mounted my wide-angle 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M lens.

My friend Dawn lives out in the sticks, and her house is in the middle of a maze of country roads. Whenever I pick her up for a road trip her neighbor’s horses always come over wanting their faces scratched. They always walk up to me so boldly, looking me right in the eye, that I’m always a little surprised when they don’t speak to me. Then I’m surprised at myself for being surprised!


I’d so hoped for a sunny day for our trip, thinking it would bring out the best color to test Ektar with. But a thin cloud cover ruled the day, diffusing the light. I was a little disappointed all day, because I was sure it was robbing me of the best conditions for the Ektar to do its stuff. The 28 mm lens didn’t disappoint, though, creating plenty of dramatic perspective. Check out this photo on Flickr of this bridge, taken with my digital camera set to 50 mm equivalent. No drama there! You’d think it was a different bridge.

Dixie Highway bridge

The Ektar really showed its stuff when we stopped at a little roadside pond. My dirty little secret is that I punched up the saturation in all of the fall foliage photos I got from my digital camera. I didn’t need to do that at all with the shots I got on the Ektar.

Dixie Highway north of Bloomington

The 28 mm lens proved itself over and over when shooting roadscapes, adding drama and action to the road itself. I am not crazy, however, about the slight vignetting I got from this lens.

Dixie Highway north of Bloomington

Just a little foliage up close.

Dixie Highway at Needmore

I put the 28 mm lens’s great perspective to good use when shooting the courthouse in Paoli. Even with my digital camera set to its 28 mm setting it didn’t dignify this 1850 structure anywhere near as well as this.

Courthouse at Paoli

Just for fun, I moved in close to the business end of this cannon in front of the courthouse.


The cloudy day probably had a big impact on the color I got from these photos – I need to try the Ektar again on a sunny day. I was glad to learn a lot about my 28 mm lens, though.

I have other K-mount Pentaxes, including the K1000 and the KM.

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10 responses to “Film photos from the Dixie Highway”

  1. Tori Nelson Avatar

    “I’m always a little surprised when they don’t speak to me. Then I’m surprised at myself for being surprised!”… They really do stare like they’re about to share some really deep life wisdom :) Gorgeous pics!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m not that wise about the world of horses, so I’m strangely comforted to know they’re all like that!

  2. davidvanilla Avatar

    Lovely pictures. I have a Pentax ME Super and all the lenses on a shelf. Shutter hasn’t clicked in fifteen years. If I had 5% of your photographic knowledge, I might get it down and give it a try.

    1. Jim Avatar

      The reason why I have some photographic knowledge is because I repeatedly got my camera down and gave it a try!

  3. hmunro Avatar

    Can’t decide which of your beautiful photos I love best, so I’ll just leave it at this: “Wonderful post, Jim!” Thank you.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks! So glad you enjoyed the photos.

  4. Mike Avatar

    Very nice Fall color in those shots. The Pentax lenses never disappoint. I have a 24mm Takumar that is very capable for wide angle work. The problem that sometimes crops up is that it is hard to keep the sun off the lens and I end up with images of the aperture diaphragm in my pictures.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Wow, that’s a bummer. I haven’t shot enough with this lens to know if I’d encounter a similar problem or not.

  5. pesoto74 Avatar

    I have found that cloudy days are good for bringing out the color in things. I usually try to take pictures of things like flowers on a cloudy day. It seems like slightly rainy days are good for bringing out the color of fall leaves. At least I have found that to be so. Looks like that 28mm will be a good companion for your road trips.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I was kind of hoping for brilliant blue skies in my photos, actually! But you have a point about cloudy days bringing out color in things, as then the sun isn’t washing those colors out.

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