I’m continuing to inventory Michigan Road Historic Byway signs all along the route, looking for missing ones so they can be replaced. A recent day off work saw me inventorying signs between Indianapolis and South Bend. I brought my Nikon Df along, with the cheap and cheerful 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF Nikkor lens attached. I shot the Df on a photowalk in downtown South Bend.
Here’s the Morris Performing Arts Center, originally known as the Palace Theater. The light was odd this late-winter afternoon — thinly overcast and moderately bright. I wasn’t wowed with how the Df handled this light. I punched all of these images up in Photoshop, including adding about a half stop of exposure to each.
The Palace opened in 1922, and so the Morris is celebrating the venue’s 100th anniversary this year. I shoot straight JPEG in the Df. It has a RAW mode, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Here’s a detail shot of the Palace’s terra cotta. We’re fortunate to still have the Palace. Another theater, the Granada, used to stand across the street but met the wrecking ball about 50 years ago. It was equally grand.
The Palace could easily have met the State’s fate, too. It’s down Michigan Street a couple of blocks. It’s vacant and has received minimal maintenance over the years. The state of its wonderful sign breaks my heart. I saw my first movie in the State, a reissue of Disney’s Bambi. I remember well when this sign used to light up at night, and it is a glorious sight.
I stepped way back and made a photo of the whole building from the front. I had to tilt the camera up to fit it all in. Photoshop’s perspective correction tool set it right. The 28-80 lens was a kit lens on countless late-film-era Nikon SLRs, but it’s a solid performer and lets me pull large buildings like this into the frame.
The State may be closed, but one business continues to operate out of one of its storefronts. I slung the Df over my shoulder for this walk. You notice this camera when you carry it — it’s larger than, and almost as heavy as, a Nikon F2.
I walked a little bit down Colfax Avenue to pass by The Griffon, a longtime bookstore for nerds and gamers. (I’m definitely a nerd, so I can say that.) I used to go in here sometimes when I lived in South Bend in the early 1980s. I’m thrilled to see it still operating, and I’m even more thrilled to see its facade in such great condition.
I walked a bit down Main Street, which isn’t actually South Bend’s main street (Michigan Street is). This is Fiddler’s Hearth, a longtime Irish pub.
I needed to use perspective correction in Photoshop to set the St. Joseph County Courthouse square. I think it’s a little overcorrected. At least I could get the whole building in the frame at 28mm.
I stepped down Jefferson Boulevard to recreate a photo I made in 1985. Let’s just say my photo skills weren’t that sharp then.
Here’s my original photo, from 1985, shot on film of course because we didn’t have digital yet.
One last photo. Michigan Road signs only recently went up in South Bend, along with Lincoln Highway signs. The Michigan Road and the Lincoln Highway share the route west from downtown South Bend for about 18 miles.
I am pleased to own my Nikon Df, but I don’t use it nearly as much as I thought I would. One reason is its large size. I hesitate before taking it along for the ride. This was my first ever road trip with the Df! It performed adequately as a road-trip companion. But frankly, my Canon PowerShot S95 is an easier companion because it fits in the palm of my hand.
Naturally, the Df’s full-frame sensor is going to beat the S95’s 1/1.7-inch sensor every day of the week. The Df also benefits from about seven years of digital imaging advances over the S95. The Df is hardly the latest and greatest, however — even though I bought mine new last year, the camera was introduced in 2013. Its 16.2-megapixel sensor attests to it being from that era of DSLR.
Even after a year, I’m still getting to know my Nikon Df. I’m not unhappy with it, but I’m not fully in love like I thought I would be. Because it was so touted, and so bloody expensive, perhaps my expectations of it have been too high. I am in love with my Canon S95, but I believe my expectations of it have always been in line with its reality.
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