Construction

Construction at North and Maple
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Agfa CT Precisa 100 (x-1/2006, cross processed)
2018

An apartment building is being built where the parking lot for my company’s office used to be. I never thought I’d say this about a parking lot, but I sure miss it. They built a parking garage for us, but I’m not a fan. I park on the street instead.

When I first worked for this company, this part of Fishers was all little houses, mostly used as small-business offices. Our office building, at two stories, was by far the tallest building for a mile. Now the houses are all gone, replaced with office, apartment, and retail buildings in various states of completion.

It’s been fascinating to watch this building go up day by day. I was looking through my photographs and I see that I have a pretty good record of this building’s progress, from parking lot to now. I’m going to need to see this accidental project through, and keep photographing it until it’s done.

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Film Photography

single frame: Construction at North and Maple

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Film Photography

Shooting Agfa CT Presica 100, original emulsion, cross-processed

While I had my Nikon N90s out I decided to shoot one of the rolls of expired slide film that Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto gifted me some time ago. This time I chose Agfa CT Precisa 100, expired since January of 2006. This is another of the Agfa films that survives, zombie-like, after Agfa stopped making its own films. The film sold as CT Precisa today is made in Japan, and by all accounts it’s not the same.

Word on the street is that this stuff loves to be cross-processed — that is, developed in the C-41 chemistry used for color print film. So that’s what I did. Roberts, the photo store Downtown, still has a minilab and they cheerfully processed and scanned my roll.

Stout's

I shot part of the roll Downtown after I got a good barber-shop haircut. I’ve bought shoes at Stout’s — it’s like stepping into 1942 in there, with the same technology and the same service.

Downtown Indy

I aimed my camera (with the 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor lens) at anything colorful as I walked along Delaware Street and on the first block of Massachusetts Avenue. The entrance below was to a Burger King when I worked in a building across the street more than 20 years ago. Today it’s a tapas joint.

Barcelona Tapas

I made the photo below to finish the roll before dropping it off for processing at Roberts. I’m a little disappointed that the sun washed out the hood and snout of the Camaro so strongly but I’m showing the photo anyway because of all the colors I got otherwise.

Corvette snout

I also brought the camera to Zionsville Village and made some of my usual shots.

In Zionsville

I really liked how cross-processed CT Precisa rendered the greens of grass — so supernaturally vibrant.

Black Dog Books

Look around online for people who’ve cross-processed this film and they’ll all tell you it really brings out the blues. Sure enough, that’s what happened here.

In Zionsville

After my last roll of expired slide film was so washed out, I researched online whether exposure compensation could help. The wisdom I came upon over and over was that if you weren’t sure how the film was stored, overexpose — but only by about 1/3 stop given slide film’s narrow latitude. So I did. And I didn’t need to; everything was slightly overexposed. Photoshop rescued every shot. This stuff must have been stored frozen until I got it.

Checkers

Shooting this roll of CT Precisa was great fun. Maybe I’ll come upon another someday.

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Ike & Jonesey's

Ike & Jonesey’s
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 (at EI 200)

It’s funny how when I go Downtown to have fun, I tend to stay north of Washington Street, which is the north-south dividing line in Indianapolis. I don’t do it on purpose — that’s just how it works out. But now that Margaret has a job Downtown but south of Washington, I’ve walked those Downtown streets and have found that there’s fun to be had there too.

Ike & Jonesey’s has kept their party going for 25 years now. When I moved to Indy in 1994 I remember hearing ads for them on the radio. I guess they have (had?) a very popular dance floor. Finally I know where they are located. Not that I dance. Heavens no.

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Film Photography

single frame: Ike & Jonesey’s

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Exploring the Boone County Courthouse

Exploring the Boone County Courthouse
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 (at EI 200)

Early Ford Explorers are mighty rare now thanks to Cash for Clunkers almost a decade ago. And this is a very early one, wearing its first “face” (headlights and grille). It’s from the early 1990s. It’s hard to believe that’s 25 or more years ago now.

Margaret and I had just taken a photo walk in Lebanon, the seat of justice in Boone County, Indiana, and had stopped on the square for a pint of stout at the local brewery. We sat in the window and had a good view of the courthouse.

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Film Photography, Preservation

single frame: Exploring the Boone County Courthouse

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Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Operation Thin the Herd: Nikon N90s

Church door

Sometimes a person needs to just get out and shoot for the joy and fun of it. At such times, a great choice is an auto-everything SLR and a zoom lens. You’ll be ready for pretty much anything you encounter. Especially when the body you choose is as robust and capable as the Nikon N90s.

Nikon N90s

I’ve had great luck with this camera every time I’ve shot it, no matter the film or lens I chose. Here I used the well-regarded 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor on Arista Premium 400.

Anthem

And here I used the 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor that came in the kit with the Nikon N65 I used to own, on very expired and poorly stored Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.

High West

Ken Rockwell calls this plastic-bodied zoom lens one of Nikon’s 10 best lenses ever. I marvel at that a little bit, as Nikon had to have made ten superior F-mount primes. But this lens turns out to be a good performer, sharp edge to edge anywhere in the zoom range.

Lebanon front door

It does have some barrel distortion at 28mm. The shot below shows it a little. That’s its major flaw. But I’m not much of a 28mm guy anyway. 35mm is as wide as I normally go, and the distortion is largely tamed when you zoom in that far.

Union Station

The lens also had some difficulty focusing close. I tried to capture some magnolia blossoms but the lens would only hunt. It also tended to wash out the image a little if the sun wasn’t directly behind me, as this shot of the Slippery Noodle bar shows. I’ve meant to go to the Slippery Noodle ever since I moved to central Indiana in 1994. They say they’re Indiana’s oldest bar, operating since 1850.

The Slippery Noodle

But this should be a referendum on the N90s and not on that lens. So let’s get to it: this camera is large and fairly heavy. Also, its controls don’t follow the modern “mode dial” SLR idiom. But I didn’t experience its weight as a problem. And those controls, specifically a bunch of buttons and one unlabeled dial, are not hard to discover and learn.

Lucas Oil behind the old houses

For example, I was pretty quickly able to figure out how to manually set ISO. The camera accurately read the DX coding on the Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 I had loaded, but I wanted to shoot it at EI 200. A few button presses and I was set. But on this cloudy-day photowalk Downtown along South Meridian Street I might have been better served leaving the film at 400. Meridian Street is the city’s main north-south drag, but some street reconfiguration in this area isolated a couple blocks and the lovely old homes on them.

South Meridian St.

The N90s gives you a lot of controls to keep track of. Apparently I set the camera to center-weighted metering the last time I used it, and forgot to reset it to matrix metering for this roll of film. I think that might have contributed to the problems in this shot of St. Elmo’s, a steakhouse operating since 1902. Pro tip: before shooting an N90s, press in the two green-dot buttons atop the camera for a few seconds to reset the camera’s settings.

St. Elmo's

But for this full-sun shot, everything worked perfectly. The Union 525 was originally a high school but is now a space where startup tech companies can begin to build their businesses. There’s quite a tech startup scene here in Indianapolis.

Union 525

The callery pear were in bloom this day. They smell like rotting shrimp.

Rolls-Royce

I’ve shot this camera often. See everything I’ve photographed with this camera in my Nikon N90s gallery.

A couple years ago I chose this N90s as my Nikon auto-everything body over the entry-level N60 and N65 I used to own. Those more basic bodies certainly demand far less of me than the N90s and could certainly have taken every photo you see in this post. But among these cameras the N90s was the only one built to last.

As I’ve been thinning this herd I’ve already decided that my main SLRs will be metal, (mostly) mechanical, and manual focus. I’ll never leave my first love, Pentax. And I have some truly great Nikon gear that will always have a home here. I might keep a Minolta and a Canon body in case I come upon an interesting lens for those mounts.

But I like the N90s. It’s a smashing companion to my 50/1.8 AF Nikkor and my wife’s 35/2 AF Nikkor lenses. With this zoom lens attached it’s a fine, but heavy, photo-walk kit. If in a few years I find I just don’t use it much, I reserve the right to change my mind — but for now…

Verdict: Keep

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Film Photography

A prizewinning photojournalist’s battered Nikon F3

Washington Post photographer Carol Guzy won several Pulitzer Prizes for her work. This is the camera she used for at least one of her prize-winning photos.

Cameras that took Pulitzer prize-winning photos

Yep, the Nikon F3, with a motorized winder attached. And it’s beat all to hell.

Cameras that took Pulitzer prize-winning photos

But this is why photojournalists chose Nikon pro bodies: they could withstand serious abuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Guzy’s F3 still worked. Here, by the way, is one of the prizewinning photos she took with this camera.

guzy13

Here’s what an F3 looks like when it’s had a pampered life:

Nikon F3HP *EXPLORED*

Guzy placed her F3 on display at the Newseum, a Washington, DC, museum devoted to newsgathering and reporting. You’ll find it in a larger exhibit of Pulizer-Prize-winning news photographs.

If you ask me, this photography exhibit is the best thing in the museum and by itself is not worth the $25 ticket. Overall I didn’t enjoy the Newseum. First of all, it is incomprehensibly laid out. Just one example of how: we went down one staircase from the sixth floor which inexplicably led to the fourth. From where we stood we could see the fifth floor, which is where we wanted to go, but we couldn’t figure out how to get there.

But more than that, the Newseum is actually a museum of recent history, and only the bad parts as that is what reporters tend to report. My wife and I were not prepared to be immersed in the Berlin Wall (especially since I stood before it before it came down) and all of the domestic terrorism that has happened in our lifetimes. It was overwhelming. We wanted to run away.

But what do we know. Our son says the Newseum was the highlight of his time in DC.

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