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I am astonished that at my age I’ve remarried and am about to leave my longtime home to share a life with family I never knew I would have.

When I was younger, even through my late 30s, those who had lived a half century seemed so settled to me. Their lives, I was sure, had fallen into predictable grooves. I like predictability, and those I knew who had it wore it well. I looked forward to it in my own life.

On this day half my life ago

But who knew all of the adventures of the half-century mark? Of helping children step into their adult futures. Of having fully adult relationships with our parents. Of hitting our stride in our careers. And, given that so many divorce now, remarriage and new family.

Except that these things feel like adventures only when they’re going well. Some children stumble and fall, or even fail to launch. Our parents are aging — when is it time to stop driving? To find a retirement home? And on the job sometimes you watch someone younger than some of your children, with all the life experience that implies, move up fast and pass you by, and make mistakes you learned long ago not to make.

This stuff is incredibly hard! The blessing of this age is the resilience to handle these difficulties. If I had encountered them at half this age I would have needed a rubber room.

I turn 50 today. Joys and disappointments abound. Honestly, this year there have been more disappointments than joys. My wife and I have experienced some real difficulty with children, parents, and jobs. Point is, this age teaches that this is what life is. That youthful dreams of winning at life, of being a Master of the Universe, were never within reach. That all there is every day is enjoying the good while working through the bad. That God put people into our lives to love, and our best satisfaction in life comes from loving them with all our might.

I’m gathering my whole family at my home this afternoon. We’ll grill various bits of animal flesh, nosh on fresh veggies and sweets, drink gin and tonic, and just enjoy each other. My goodness, but do we like each other. I predict I’ll reach the end of this day satisfied.

I made this photograph when I was 42, and thought even as I made it that I ought to use it on this blog when I turned 50! It seemed so far off in the future that I wondered if I’d still be blogging then. Answer to my then-self: lol yup.

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Life

Half century

Who knew life at 50 could have so much going on? And some of it isn’t exactly pleasant. But one advantage of this age is the resilience to handle it.

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Blogosphere

Recommended reading

On the Saturday that is the anniversary of my birth, a digest of blog posts from the week now ending.

Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto has started a new site, World on Film, to highlight world travel photographed on film. I contributed to its debut this week. Read Route 66 on a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye

A French town, a once-bombed church, and a visit to New Orleans, all leading to a connection to the destruction of Hiroshima in 1945. If you think all things are not connected, you will question that belief after reading Heide‘s post. Read One man’s journey to Hiroshima

I was born after all the TV networks started broadcasting everything in color, but not before there were enough color shows that the syndicated reruns didn’t still need to be in black and white Ken Levine remembers the “wow!” factor of a show converting to color in the 1960s. Read Oh wow, it’s in COLOR!

Here are this week’s camera reviews and experience reports.

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Photography

Favorite subjects: Washington Park North

It’s funny how easily you don’t notice the things you see every day. For most of the last 22 years I’ve lived near Washington Park North, a cemetery on Indianapolis’s Northwestside. At some point its entrance moved about three quarters of a mile down the road. I have no memory of this. How did I miss it? I drive by this cemetery pretty much every day!

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Washington Park North in 1941. Courtesy MapIndy, http://maps.indy.gov/MapIndy/

Washington Park North has been here since about 1930, when this part of the county was farms as far as the eye could see. It was called Glen Haven then, but it got its current name in 1955 when the Washington Park Cemetery Association bought it. They’ve expanded it over the years to cover about 150 acres and even built a funeral center on the grounds. Along the way, absent my notice, they moved the entrance. According to MapIndy’s historic imagery, it happened in 2000.

WPN_2017

Washington Park North, 2017. Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

The main reason this cemetery is a favorite subject is because it’s so close to my home. See the Eastern Star Church in the upper left corner of the map image above? My subdivision is directly across the street from it, to the west, outside the image. It’s a quick walk for some easy shooting, especially since the church was constructed and I can just cut through its parking lot to get there. Before I had to walk Cooper and Kessler to get there, about three quarters of a mile to the entrance. The new entrance, that is; the old one was another three quarters of a mile down the road!

Let’s start in the parking lot, where one autumn I got supernatural color on Fujifilm Velvia 50.

Red tree parking lot *EXPLORED*

Nikon F2, Fujifilm Velvia 50, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, 2014

An iron fence used to surround the property, but at some point it was taken down west of the funeral center. Yet the stone posts and this structure, on the corner of Kessler and Cooper, remain. I’ve always wondered what this structure is for.

Along Kessler Blvd.

Pentax ME, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

But I’ve spent most of my time photographing inside the cemetery. For a while I was fixated on a replica of the Liberty Bell on the grounds. Why does a cemetery have a Liberty Bell replica? I don’t get it. Yet camera after camera, angle after angle, I shot it a dozen times.

Pass and Stow

Miranda Sensorex II 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Bell

Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Liberty Bell replica

Olympus XA, Kodak T-Max 400, 2016

The little structure that houses the bell has found itself in my lens many times, too.

Bell Gazebo

Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Bell housing

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Bell Monument

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

You’ll find nary a hill, nary a dale inside Washington Park North. Landscape photos offer lots of depth.

Swans and Fountain

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

Stone bridge

Yashica-D, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016

Pond

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Schwinn Collegiate

Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

Several mausoleums and a couple chapels dot the grounds.

Chapel

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

In the chapel

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

I’ve photographed few grave markers here because, frankly, most of them are uninteresting. I prefer the grave markers in much older cemeteries.

Crying angel

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Markers

Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Finally, here are just a few more photos I count as favorites from Washington Park North.

Flowers

Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Foggy angel

Argus A2B, Fomapan 100, 2016

Thingy

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

I really enjoy some of my favorite subjects, while others I call favorite mostly because they’re convenient and I shoot them a lot. Washington Park North falls into the latter category. When I’m shooting a new-to-me old camera, this is commonly where I go to finish the test roll! “Aw, just five more shots on this roll. I’ll just walk over to the cemetery and finish it so I can send it off for processing.”

But after I move to Zionsville, I’m sure I’m going to wish I could just walk over to the cemetery for some easy shooting.

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Schwinn Collegiate

Schwinn Collegiate
Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
2015

This is my 1986 Schwinn Collegiate 3-speed bicycle. It’s a Taiwan Schwinn, meaning purists look down their nose a little. But it’s sturdy and of good quality. I bet if I compared it part by part with my 1973 Chicago-made Schwinn Collegiate 5 speed, I wouldn’t detect significant quality differences.

I photographed the bike at Washington Park North Cemetery. I use cemeteries as backdrops a lot. I’ve made many portraits of my sons in them, and I shot a series of my bicycles in Washington Park North. I usually don’t show the cemetery bits in shots like those. But tomorrow I’ll share lots of photos from this cemetery. It’s a favorite subject because it’s within walking distance of my home.

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Photography

single frame: Schwinn Collegiate

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Photography

Where can you still get film developed? (Freshly updated for 2017)

Just a few years ago you could get film processed almost anywhere: Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, Costco, Meijer. No more.

Digital photography did them all in. It also led Kodak and Fujifilm to kill several film stocks. But film has survived its long dark night. People born into the digital age are discovering what we longtime film shooters have always known: film is special.

And so I see more people starting film-photography blogs, sharing their film shots on Instagram, and scouring thrift stores and eBay for that next camera to try. And astonishingly, several new films are being introduced this year, including Kosmo Foto Mono, JCH Street Pan 400, Ferrania P30, and even a reborn Kodak Ektachrome. It’s a great time to shoot film!

But where to get it processed? If your town has a camera store, it might process film. I live in Indianapolis, where Roberts Camera still processes 35mm color negative film. I never order prints, just scans, which Roberts burns to CD. The scans are generous, 3130×2075 pixels at 72 dpi. I like generous scans! And the price is right, at about $8. And they turn orders around within two business days.

But what if you aren’t close to a camera store? Or if you shoot film they can’t handle, like black-and-white film or medium-format (120) film, or an uncommon format like 110 or 127? That’s when I turn to one of several by-mail labs around the United States. I’m going to recommend the ones I use. I’d love it if you’d share the ones you use in the comments, especially if you live outside the United States.

Old School Photo Lab

I’ve used Old School Photo Lab of Dover, NH, the most. Their Web site is oldschoolphotolab.com. They proces, print, and scan 35mm, 120/620, 110, 126, 127, 828, APS, and 4×5 sheet films. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

You order through their Web site. Processing a roll of 35mm or 120 color negative film and getting their standard scans costs $16 shipped both ways. (You can print a prepaid shipping label on their site.) Prices for other formats vary. They give discounts if you send several rolls at once.

I love OSPL because their standard JPEG scans are a generous 3072×2048 pixels at 72 dpi. You can order even larger scans, at 6774×4492 pixels at 72 dpi, for an extra $7 for JPEG or $17 for TIFF.

When your scans are ready, they email you a link to where you can download them. If you want a CD of the scans, it’s 3 bucks extra and you have to wait longer to get them. OSPL prints digitally. I occasionally order 4×6 prints and they’re fine.

I love OSPL’s service. I’ve gotten scans in as fast as four days after mailing them film! But it normally takes about a week. Quality is consistent and good. The owner personally responds when you contact them. The lab is active on Twitter and the feed is often a hoot.

Dwayne’s Photo

Dwayne’s in Parsons, KS, is perhaps the granddaddy of all by-mail labs. Their Web site is dwaynesphoto.com. Dwayne’s processes, prints, and scans 35mm, 120/620, 220, 127, 110, 126, Disc, and APS films. They process color and b/w negative and color slide films.

Dwayne’s is great, except that ordering is complicated. You have to print a paper order form from their site, the right one for the kind of film you’re sending, and fill it out. When you send them more than one kind of film, you have to fill out multiple order forms.

Processing and scanning a roll of 35mm color film costs $14 including return shipping. Other services’ prices vary. They don’t offer a prepaid label to mail your film to them. But if you send more than one roll of film, they steeply discount shipping.

Their scans are 2740×1830 pixels at 72 dpi. You can choose to download your scans or have them mailed to you on CD; the price is the same for either service. I’ve not ordered prints from Dwayne’s.

Dwayne’s pretty consistently emails me a link to my scans within a week. Quality is consistent and good. And I’ve had good, if impersonal, experience with Dwayne’s customer service.

Willow Photo Lab

Willow Photo Lab of Willow Springs, MO, is far and away the price leader. Their Web site is willowphotolab.com. They offer processing, printing, and scanning of 35mm, 120/620, and APS negative films, in color and black-and white, through their Web site. They process b/w film by hand!

With your first order they’ll include a list of all of their services, which includes 220 and 4×5 sheet films, the ability to specify D-76 or T-Max developer for b/w film, and discounts for large orders. When I order from this list, I pay directly through PayPal, print the receipt, write on it what I want, and mail it to them with my film. They always figure it out.

Processing and scanning one roll of 35mm costs just $7. Other services are similarly inexpensive but prices vary widely. Shipping costs depend on how far away from Missouri you are; most of my orders have been $3. They don’t offer prepaid mailing labels.

Scans are skinty at 1536×1024 at 72 dpi, sent to you on a CD. The last time I ordered their higher resolution scans, 3089×2048 pixels at 72 dpi, it cost me an extra buck. But that’s available only on their full service list. Willow still does wet-process printing on light-sensitive photo paper.

Willow is a small lab of just a few technicians. Send them film when time is not of the essence — they try hard to turn orders around within a week, but it can take longer. I hate to say it, because I really like Willow, but quality is uneven. I’m giving them extra chances because early this year a lightning storm took out a lot of their equipment, and it’s taken them time to get everything back the way they want it.

When you email them with questions, the owner responds cheerfully, personally, and promptly. A couple times we’ve struck up long email conversations about lab life and film photography, which is fun.

The Darkroom

The Darkroom, of San Clemente, CA, is the SEO king of by-mail labs. Google “film processing” and see where they show up! Their Web site is thedarkroom.com. They process, scan, and print 35mm, 120, 126, 110, APS, single-use cameras, and 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 sheet film. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

The Darkroom offers online ordering and payment. You can download a prepaid shipping label from their Web site, or they will send you a prepaid mailer if you ask.

Processing, standard scans, the scan CD, and shipping both ways for a roll of 35mm color film costs about $17. Prices for other formats are similar. Scans come with every order, both via download link and CD.

The Darkroom’s standard scans are puny, 1536×1024 pixels at 72 dpi. You can order larger scans, 3072×2048 and a whopping 6774×4492 pixels, for an extra $4 or $9 per roll, respectively. I’ve never ordered prints from The Darkroom.

Scans are usually ready about 7 days after I drop the film into the mail. It takes up to a week longer for my negatives and the CD to arrive, but I expect that they’d arrive faster if I lived closer to California. I’ve never needed to contact The Darkroom for customer service.

Film Rescue International

Any lab can process expired b/w or C-41 color film. But sometimes you’ll find some very old, very expired film in a camera. That film can be fragile. Or perhaps the expired film is newer, but it’s crucial you get the best possible quality images from it. Send it straight to Film Rescue International. They process any film, no matter how old, and use creative darkroom and Photoshop techniques to coax the best possible images from it. Their Web site is filmrescue.com. They’re expensive, and they’re not fast, but they do outstanding work.

I’ve used Film Rescue just once, for a roll of Verichrome Pan I found in a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. That film had been in the camera for more than 40 years in unknown conditions, so I was afraid it might have deteriorated badly. They got good, high-contrast images from that film. They lacked “that Verichrome Pan look” but were crisp and clean.

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The Thinker (crop)

Thinking primate
Olympus OM-1, zoom lens (I forget which)
Fujicolor 200
2011

It was when I took my first Olympus OM-1 to the zoo that I came to see why the 35mm SLR had become so popular. I was still pretty new to the whole SLR game and up to that point I wasn’t in love, as I found their operation to be far more complicated than the all-manual viewfinder and rangefinder cameras I normally shot. But the light bulb went on at the zoo when I was able to compose and check depth of field, and be sure of the photo I was going to get.

I still have this OM-1 but I haven’t shot it in a few years. It’s a lovely camera except for the shutter-speed selector being on the lens barrel. I’m sure that if I used it all the time I’d get used to it. I need to try, because it’s just that great of a camera otherwise.

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Photography

single frame: Thinking primate

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