At the Chicago lakeshore

Ice cream on the lakeshore
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
2021

Margaret and I spent a long weekend in Chicago not long ago. It was our first stay in a hotel since the pandemic began. But we hardly spent time in the hotel; we walked all over the Loop and up to Navy Pier, and out to Lake Michigan. We spent a lot of time at the lake on this trip.

I brought my Nikon Df along. I’m still getting to know this camera. It’s funny, I can pick up pretty much any old film SLR and make good images with it on the first try. But I have had to spend time learning the nuances of every DSLR I’ve used. The Df seems to bias toward shallow depth of field, which I frequently don’t want. There must be some menu setting someplace to adjust that. Meanwhile, I’ve tended to shoot in aperture-priority mode rather than program mode to control DOF.

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Photography

single frame: Ice cream on the lakeshore

An ice cream shop on Lake Michigan in Chicago.

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Johnson Co Courthouse

Johnson County Courthouse
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2008

This is another long-ago image I liked enough to add to my Flickr album of my favorite photos. As of today, 620 images are in that album. I’m slowly printing them all on 8×10 paper to keep in an archival storage box.

The main reason I’m doing this is for my children after I’m gone. I’ve taken tens of thousands of photographs and I can’t imagine them wanting to sort through them all on my computer’s hard drive, or in the boxes where I keep my negatives.

But they all know how central my photography has been in my life, and I feel sure they will like having a small, hand-selected, printed subset of my work. They might take a few of their favorites to remember me by and discard the rest. That’d be fine by me.

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Photography

single frame: Johnson County Courthouse

The top of the courthouse in Franklin, Indiana.

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The Morris Performing Arts Center

The Morris Performing Arts Center
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2007

I don’t know which of my photographs are good, but I do know which ones please me. This one pleases me for its bold colors, especially the blue sky and the red awnings on the building. I also like its composition, with the corner of the building roughly on the left vertical 1/3 line. I wish that stoplight wasn’t intruding from the right. I remember well, even though I made this photo 14 years ago, that I couldn’t find a pleasing angle on the building that also eliminated that stoplight.

For years, I’ve placed into this Flickr album the photos that please me most. Now I’m beginning to print them and put them in an archival box. I’ve wanted to do this for years, but as is typical with me I put it off thinking I lacked the time. Margaret bought me a nice box at Father’s Day, which nudged me to start.

I’m printing these photos on 8×10 paper without cropping them from their original aspect ratios. I’m uploading the digital files to Costco, which doesn’t have a native way to do what I want. So I’m editing each file in Photoshop first, adding white space around each image to expand it to the 4×5 aspect ratio. Costco prints them that way just fine, on Fuji Crystal Archive paper with what they call a “lustre” finish, which seems to be another way of saying “matte.”

I bought some acid-free interleaving paper from B&H to place between each photograph in the box. I also bought some Stabilo All pencils from Amazon so I could write key details on the back, the same details I write under each photo in this “single frame” series. A regular #2 pencil doesn’t leave a good mark on the photo paper, but the Stabilo All pencil does.

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Photography

single frame: The Morris Performing Arts Center

The building formerly known as the Palace Theatre in South Bend, Indiana.

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Ilford FP4 Plus old and new

Ilford FP4 Plus then and now
Nikon Df
50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor Special Edition
2021

I came into some Ilford FP4 Plus that expired in 1994. It was stored frozen, so I’ve been shooting it at box speed and so far it’s looked good.

The roll of FP4 Plus on the left is the 1994 stock. On the right is a roll of fresh stock. It’s interesting to me how Ilford has changed the markings on the roll in that time.

You might notice the metal spools. I shot the fresh roll in the Ansco Standard Speedex and the expired roll in the Sears Tower 120 Flash. Metal spools were still inside both cameras, so I used them to take up the first roll I shot in each camera. When you get an old camera with a metal spool inside, you know it hasn’t been used in a very long time.

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Photography

single frame: Ilford FP4 Plus then and now

Comparing a new and old spool of Ilford FP4 Plus.

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New old-style barn

New old barn
Canon PowerShot S95
2021

I took a 25-mile bike ride recently. I’m toying with doing a multi-day bike tour late this summer, and I need to both train for it, and also see what it’s like to take long rides on a 35-year-old bike as a 53-year-old man. I discovered that the wide, springy seat on my Schwinn is comfortable on a long ride. I also discovered that my lower back starts to ache at about mile 20. I’m going to see if raising my handlebars helps with that.

My route took me up the Michigan Road for about 4½ miles. Here the road is US 421 and therefore a fairly busy highway. The tour I am considering will be all along a highway, so I want to build familiarity with riding on them.

I slipped my Canon PowerShot S95 into the little bag that hangs off my seat. I have passed this barn a number of times while driving by, but never really studied it before. Doesn’t it look like a new barn built in an old style? I didn’t photograph this barn as part of my 2008 survey of the Michigan Road, but Google did for Street View. Have a look here. It looks like this is an old barn with a new skin. I don’t know anything about barn preservation but this seems like a cool way to go about it to me.

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Photography

single frame: New old barn

A new barn on an old road.

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Gracie in the rear view

Happy face in the rear view
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2008

This photo is a very happy memory. At the height of my road-trip days I usually brought my dog, Gracie, along. She loved to go! I saw this happy look on her face in my rear-view mirror all the time when we’d take to the road.

When we made this trip, in October of 2008, we’d lost Gracie’s constant companion, Sugar, just a couple months before. Gracie was deeply bonded to Sugar and really came apart after Sugar died.

Taking to the road always raised both Gracie’s and my spirits. We went on a lot of road trips in those days. This was the year I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end over several spring and summer Saturdays. I had wrapped up that trip at the end of August, shortly after Sugar died.

Gracie and I were well overdue for a road trip when we made our next, and last, trip of the year on that October Saturday. We explored Indiana State Road 42, which begins just southwest of Indianapolis in Mooresville, and leads to Terre Haute. It parallels I-70 and US 40, but as a narrow two-lane highway with lots of 90-degree turns, it’s a far less convenient route. But Gracie and I had a wonderful day together, out exploring. We were both in our happy place.

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Photography

single frame: Happy face in the rear view

A happy dog, road tripping with me.

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