11 sets of steps

Courthouse at Paoli
Pentax ME, Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8, Kodak Ektar 100
Up the steps
Minolta XG 1, 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD, Agfa Vista 200 at EI 100
Steps to the parking lot
Olympus OM-2n, 40mm f/2 Zuiko Auto-S, Ilford HP5 Plus, L110 Dilution E
Snow-covered steps
Kodak VR35 K40, Kodak Max 400 (expired)
Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, Ultrafine Extreme 100
Wooden steps
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Plus-X (expired)
Statehouse steps
Canon PowerShot S95
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
Brick wall with iron stairs
Yashica Lynx 14e, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
Tall stairs
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL
Monument steps
Kodak 35, Kodak Plus-X (expired)

Still lifes on Kodak T-Max P3200

I’ve been experimenting with Kodak’s ultra-fast T-Max P3200 black-and-white film. I know it’s great for handheld night shots (here are some), and I’ve had some luck using it for candid family photos indoors. But does it work as a general-purpose film? I mounted my 50mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor macro lens to my Nikon FA, screwed it onto a tripod, and photographed some household objects on a table. I developed these in HC-110, Dilution B.

60 Chev model
Olympus Trip 35

The P3200’s heavy grain creates a certain creaminess to these images, and it’s an interesting look. I’m glad I tried it. But I think I prefer a smoother look. Because I had the Nikon FA on a tripod, I could have used a much slower film and accepted the slower shutter speeds I would have gotten.

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A visit to Terre Haute on Kodak T-Max P3200

After Rana died, my company gave me some time off to grieve. Believe it or not, I wavered on whether I’d take it. I worked straight through after my dad died and it was a wonderful distraction. But Dad’s death was expected, and I was as ready as anyone could be. Rana’s death was a deep shock, and it knocked the stuffing out of me. I wasn’t able to focus on anything. So I took the time off. (I go back to work Tuesday, after the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.)

My old friend Michael reached out just so I could talk. Michael and I go way back, to 1985, and he and I attended the church where I met my first wife and Rana. He knows the whole story of my first marriage, including how both of us contributed to its destruction. He mentioned he was off work the next day, and I asked if I could drive out to see him. Both the drive and the company would do me good. We had lunch at a favorite place near his home, and lingered.

I had a roll of Kodak T-Max P3200 in my Nikon FA, which I’d brought along. I’d always used this film for night photography and inside available-light work. But there I was on a cold, sunny day shooting this fast film at tiny apertures.

I stopped by Headstone Friends first, and was sad to find them closed on a long New Year’s break. Headstone’s is a music shop, a throwback to a long-ago era. I was shocked to see the condition of their sign and mural. It’s long overdue for a repaint. Check out this post to see what it looked like in 2017 and 2008.


I’m sure I’ve seen Headstone’s door closed before, but I can’t remember the last time. They’re open Monday through Saturday noon to 8. Those have been their hours since before my first visit there in 1985! Headstone’s was founded in 1970 — it’s still 1970 when you step inside.


Headstone’s has always tacked notices of new releases to this bulletin board. I was surprised to find that Neil Young, Santana, and the Doobie Brothers all have recent releases! Visiting Headstone’s really is like stepping into a time machine!

New Releases

Since Rana’s death, I’ve slept a lot. I’m not normally a great sleeper, but I’ve easily slept nine or ten hours a night since she died, and sometimes have needed a nap in the afternoon. I felt a little sleepy after Headstone’s, so I went downtown looking for a coffee shop. I found one right at the Crossroads of America, 7th Street (former US 41) and Wabash Avenue (former US 40 and the National Road).

7th & Wabash, Terre Haute

I was a little sad to see Federal here, as it displaced the Crossroads Cafe, a favorite spot of mine from long ago. Sadly, the Crossroads Cafe didn’t survive the pandemic. The good black coffee and gluten-free blueberry muffin went a long way to soothe my disappointment, however.

Muffin and coffee

Across the street from Federal is this historic marker. Old timers in Terre Haute can tell you: this intersection used to be constantly choked with traffic. US 40 connected the west and east coasts, and US 41 connected the top of Michigan with the southern tip of Florida. Before the Interstates opened, these highways were critical.

7th & Wabash, Terre Haute

I had just a few more frames left on the roll, so I walked a little to shoot familiar scenes. I’ve always liked the entrance to the old Terre Haute First National Bank building.

Terre Haute First

The old Indiana Theater is a block south on 7th Street. When I lived in Terre Haute it showed second-run movies for a dollar. I saw a whole bunch of movies in here!

Indiana Theater

Now that I’ve shot T-Max P3200 on a sunny day, I never need to again. As you can see, it works; I got usable images. But as I suspected, the grain is obtrusive. It’s obtrusive for the night and indoor photography I normally use it for, too, but that’s a reasonable tradeoff for the ability to get those shots at all. I developed this film in HC-110, Dilution B — I’ve seen other developers, namely T-Max and Xtol, get far less grain from this film. But I don’t use those developers and don’t intend to start. There’s no reason to accept this kind of grain when smooth T-Max 100 would have worked just fine on this full-sun day. I have 10 rolls of that stuff in the freezer.

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14 signs

Elbow Room
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200
Minolta Autopak 470, Lomography Tiger
Centerville, Indiana
Canon PowerShot S95
Nikon F2AS, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, Fujicolor 200
B. L. Horwitz
Pentax ME, 55mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M, Kentmere 100
Pentax ME, 50mm f/2 Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X 400
Five Guys
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SMC PENTAX-DA AL
Bardstown, KY
Canon PowerShot S80
Wild Beaver
Olympus XA2, Fujicolor 200
Standard Oil
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A, Fujicolor 200 (at EI 100)
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SMC PENTAX-DA AL
Shoals, Indiana
Canon PowerShot S80
Whiskey Cold Beer To Go
Canon PowerShot S80
Terre Haute
Kodak EasyShare Z730
Personal, Photographs

Long ago photos from a box camera as I grieve the loss of our daughter

My first wife was a professional photographer when we met, working for a unit of the Indiana Air National Guard. She went to work every day in BDUs. Her duties were wide and varied — she made portraits of officers seeking promotion, photographed auto accidents on base for investigative purposes, and hung out of helicopters with her camera documenting terrain. This was long enough ago that the only viable photographic medium was film. If memory serves she shot mostly medium format in her work. I wish I could remember what cameras she used. On base, she had a darkroom where she developed and printed her film.

When we were dating, she thought my childhood collection of cameras was cute. One day she rummaged through them all with me. She plucked an old box camera out of the pile, an Ansco B-2 Cadet, and said, “This one takes film that’s still made. I’ll bring you a roll from the base so you can try it. I’ll develop and print the film for you!”

I’m pretty sure the film she brought me was Kodak Plus-X, a tight little roll of 120. I spooled it into the camera and ended up shooting most of the roll of her and her son after they ran a 5 kilometer race together. She developed the film and made 5×7-inch prints of them for me. I still have the prints, and I am sure I still have the negatives but I couldn’t find them. I scanned the prints the other day and sent them to my now ex-wife to share this good memory. I hoped it would buoy her spirits for a minute amid her grief, which must be crushing. Here are some of the scans.

In case it’s not clear, her son Ross transitioned to become Rana. She did it in her early 30s. I don’t like writing about it because it’s Rana’s story to tell and not mine. But these photographs don’t make much sense unless I mention it.

These circumstances are extraordinary and my grief is raw, and sharing this story and these photos helps me.


Sophie in the window
Kodak EasyShare Z730

I was looking back through old photographs and found this one of Sophie, who was my cat for a short time after I was divorced. Read Sophie’s whole story here. This blog was just six months old when I made this photograph. I was still reeling from my divorce. I deliberately avoided writing about it here — I wanted to use this blog as a way to move on and look forward. So I seldom told stories about my life as it was happening then.

I routinely left windows open for Sophie when I went to work so she could enjoy the breezes and the outside smells. She loved this window in particular because she could stretch out in it. But I guess fleas jumped in and onto her through the screens, and soon I had the worst flea infestation I’d ever seen. They got into the carpets; as I walked through the house I could see and feel them jumping up and bouncing off my legs. I had to spray flea killer through the entire house three times, each time sequestering poor Sophie to a crate in the garage all day. I never opened a window again, and never saw another flea.

Sophie needed more time and attention than I could give her. Long story short, I gave Sophie to my ex-wife and she gave me the dogs we’d had while we were married. Each of us still maintains we got the better end of the deal. The dogs were a Rottweiler named Sugar and a Golden Retriever-Chow mix named Gracie. Read Sugar’s story here, and Gracie’s here. Since Gracie died in 2013, I’ve remained petless.

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Photographs, Stories Told

single frame: Sophie in the window

Reminiscing about Sophie, a cat I used to own