I had two SLRs slung over my shoulders at the 2017 Carmel Artomobilia last month: my Pentax ME with wonderful Fujifilm Superia 100 inside, and my Pentax Spotmatic F with my last roll of Kodak Plus-X.


On this day, with this lens (55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar), the Plus-X returned blacks you could just fall into.


And the grays and whites came out creamy.

Hurst Olds

I wished briefly that I had screwed in my 35mm f/3.5 SMC Takumar. The thick crowds made it difficult, at best, to back up far enough to get entire cars in the frame. The 35/3.5 would have made me back up a lot less.


But I’ve been exploring the 55/1.8’s considerable charms lately, and in retrospect am not disappointed I left it on the camera. It performed well, and it’s seldom a real problem to focus on an old car’s details.


Growing up in the 1970s as I did, when half or more of the cars on the road were from GM, it was easy to take their dominance for granted. Looking back, it’s clear just how good their designs were. How daring it was in 1970 that the second-generation Camaro and Firebird had no distinct rear passenger windows! The shape of this window opening is just smashing.

Flying lady

Packard’s Flying Lady hood ornaments are a favorite subject. I shoot them whenever I come across them at a car show.

Ol' propeller nose

This is the famous front end of the Studebaker I photographed from the rear here. The girl walking away was a happy coincidence as I framed this shot, so I made sure to include her.


The Citroën DS is funky from every angle and in every detail. Just check out how these headlights don’t both point forward. This is a later DS; earlier ones had uncovered headlights.


Plenty of American muscle was on display at the Artomobilia. I’m partial to the Mopars of the era for their no-nonsense styling.


Avantis were made in my hometown, South Bend. They were Studebakers at first, but after Studebaker shuttered a new company formed to keep Avanti production going. They used leftover Studebaker engines at first but eventually had to turn to Chevy to provide powerplants. Post-Studebaker Avantis were given the “Avanti II” name, probably for rights reasons.

Avanti II

As the show began to wrap up and the crowds thinned, I was able to get a few wider shots of the event and its cars.

Vette 2

It wasn’t all classics at the Artomobilia. Several owners of newer hi-po Ford Mustangs lined up their cars for inspection.

Hoods up

Here’s hoping I can find time for more car shows. I do love to photograph cars and I think I’ve become pretty good at it. They’re certainly the subject with which I am most confident.

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24 responses to “Kodak Plus-X and the Carmel Artomobilia”


    Epic, intelligent photography, thank you.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Wow! What a nice thing to say!

  2. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    I tried so hard to sell my father on an Avanti II around 1974. As with so many of my great adolescent ideas for cars my parents should buy it was a complete flameout.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If my family were of sufficient means, I’m pretty sure I could have talked my dad into one.

  3. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    If you could’ve coaxed a bit more pure white (Zone X) out of these, they would be a great example of good use of The Zone System of exposure!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Pure coincidence! I let the SPF’s meter have its way.

  4. DougD Avatar

    A bear in his natural habitat. A Studebaker.

    Loving all the Studes this week, both here and elsewhere. Like that Olds shot as well.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, I’ll photograph a Stude anytime, anywhere!

    1. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

      Also, I know I already said this but getting in close makes for more interesting photographs! I really love these!

  5. SilverFox Avatar

    Nice shots Jim.. I used to own a classic back in the UK and so have shot many many car shows not to mention classic racing events and vintage. They are a great subject and there are a lot of options to play with.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve always wanted to own a classic, but my inner cheapskate keeps saying no! Here’s hoping I can find more shows to shoot.

  6. Jon Avatar

    Very nice work Jim. I am not familiar with that lens, but I have noticed that a lot of pictures I see that I like were taken with it. You made it shine here.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! This lens is a winner.

  7. Moni Avatar

    Lovely shots!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Moni!

  8. kevinallan Avatar

    Fine compositions

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you Kevin!

  9. dan james Avatar

    I really should try to visit more car shows over here. Even though the cars are very different, they still, as a rule, tend to be far more interesting and curvaceous than modern cars.

    This post is another example of why the amazing Takumar 55/1.8 (or the near identical 55/2) is the only 50/55mm lens any of us need… Fantastic work Jim!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It really is a lovely lens. I hear people praise the 50/1.4 Takumar and I’m sure it’s wonderful. But given how good the 55/1.8 is I see myself investing in other M42 glass before I turn my attention to that 50/1.4.

      1. dan james Avatar

        Yeh I’m in a similar boat. I had the 50/1.4, but sold it because it was an SMC version with the extra lugs at the rear, and it wouldn’t mount with my adapters at the time.

        The 55/1.8 is a gem, and it’s hard to justify the 50/1.4. I also have the A series 50/1.4, which is also great, and is very fluid to use with my K10D.

        Still, one day I would like another Tak 50/1.4!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’d like to try a Tak 50/1.4, esp. the 8-blade version. But I’m not sure I need to own one!

  10. SoSo Avatar

    Holla! Amazing really beautiful, come by my blog and let’s be Friends

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      :-) Thanks for stopping by!

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