I didn’t know a vacation could be this good. During our two weeks in Ireland, we explored exciting places, experienced stunning beauty, and met charming family. And Margaret and I found rest for our spirits and shared an experience that would serve as a touchstone for our new marriage.

Our last day in Ireland came. As evening fell, we decided to stroll Dublin’s streets one more time.

Dublin at golden hour

The light was delicious, golden. I got out my camera.

Dublin at golden hour

We followed streets that had become familiar to us even in our few days in this city.

Dublin at golden hour

But cast in this delicious light, we saw them anew.

Dublin at golden hour

As we walked and talked, we reflected on how fortunate we had been to have been gifted this trip, and to have been able to unplug from our lives for two solid weeks. We talked of our best memories and our favorite adventures. We wished we could have just one more day.

Dublin at golden hour

But wrapping our trip on this note, in this light, was pretty terrific.

Canon PowerShot S95

Photography, Road trips

A golden end to a golden honeymoon

Our Irish honeymoon ended on a golden evening in Dublin.


Indianapolis sunset from the National Road bridge

Sunset over the White River on the National Road bridge, Indianapolis
Apple iPhone 6s

I shot this on my wedding day. My bride and I stayed Downtown on our wedding night, and we took a sunset stroll through White River State Park along the path of the old National Road, which the park took over. The old bridge over the White River hasn’t carried cars in decades. It’s a seven-span closed-spandrel concrete arch bridge built in 1916.


Photo: Sunset over the White River

Road trips

The most dangerous highway in Indiana

Meet US 40, the most dangerous highway in Indiana.

US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana

Waiiiiit…. it looks pretty harmless, actually. Like a pleasant Sunday-afternoon drive.

But there was a time when it had the most traffic fatalities per mile in the state. That time was 1967. Here’s proof from an Indianapolis newspaper, probably The Indianapolis News.


It’s hard to imagine now that US 40 was ever busy enough to be that dangerous. Today, when it’s busy along its original path it’s only because of local traffic in the cities. My church, for example, is steps off old US 40 on Indianapolis’s Near Westside, and at 5 pm on a weekday it’s challenging to turn left onto our street from this road.

But I-70 hadn’t opened yet when this article was written. Years ago I was interviewed for an article in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star about US 40’s importance in that city. The reporter spoke to people who owned businesses along US 40, and one of them recounted that the day I-70 opened, traffic immediately slowed to a trickle as if “someone had closed a faucet.”

All of that traffic has been on I-70 ever since. And the traffic has done nothing but get heavier year over year. At least that’s how it seems to me. I’ve driven the US 40/I-70 corridor a lot over the last 30 years.

It’s probably no surprise that I prefer driving US 40. I take I-70 only when time is of the essence — its 70 mph speed limit gets me there a lot faster than US 40’s 55 mph limit. But US 40 is so much more pleasant to drive. I always arrive far less stressed when I take US 40.

I’ve been in correspondence with Roger Green, who grew up on US 40 in Harmony, a tiny town near Brazil in western Indiana. He’s embarking on his own US 40/National Road exploratory journey and is learning as much as he can about the road. His Google searches led him here. Roger shared the newspaper clipping above with me, as well as clear memories of accidents in front of his house in those days:

Yes, US 40 with all its glory had a sad side with many accidents. We were so glad when I-70 opened to relieve the traffic as it was getting difficult for us to pull out of our driveway. We had so many accidents near our house that our response became routine. We would be watching TV and hear screeching tires and then the crash. Mother would go directly to the phone and call the sheriff and dad would run out the front door to see what he could do to help the injured. Part of the problem was a speed transition which started in front of our house with 65 MPH dropping to 45 MPH if coming from the east. Many people just didn’t slow down. Added to that were all of the cross roads and private driveways adjoining the road and you had the recipe.

I stopped in Harmony on my last tour of this road, which was in 2009. Hard to believe it was that long ago now. I am overdue for another tour. Much is sure to have changed.

Harmony, IN

US 40 boasts many tiny towns across western Indiana, but few of them have as much going on as Harmony. There’s still a “there” there.

Harmony, IN

Harmony’s side streets are narrow and its buildings often have shallow setbacks from the highway. It looks like it might still be challenging sometimes to turn safely onto US 40. Indeed, on the day I visited this corner street sign had met its fate under a car’s wheels.

Harmony, IN

So a little danger still lurks on US 40.


Gazebo roof

Canon PowerShot S95

This was the roof (of sorts) of a gazebo at a hotel we stayed at in Ireland.


Photo: Wrought

Cameras, Photography

Another Yashica-D

Is it possible to love a camera too much? Because I’m totally head over heels with my Yashica-D, a twin-lens reflex camera for 120 film. And now I own a second one.


This one comes from the father of my friend Alice, who last year gave me all the cameras he’s ever owned. It’s pristine. It came in a leather case, which looked pristine but wasn’t. As I removed the camera from it, all of the stitching disintegrated and it fell apart.


Yashica made these cameras for a whopping 16 years starting in 1957. They all used a Copal MXV leaf shutter, which operates from 1 to 1/500 second. Until sometime in 1970, the taking and viewing lenses were both 80mm f/3.5 Yashikors of triplet design. The Yashinon lenses that Yashica used in the D starting in 1970 were four-element, three-group Tessar designs to be sure. Fortunately, the Yashikors are no slouches.

According to this site which lists the history of Yashica TLRs, this D was made sometime between 1963 and 1965. It came with a plastic lens cap; earlier models had a metal cap. And it has the “cowboy” Y logo on the hood; later models had a plainer, wider Y logo. My other D has that wide-Y logo, so it’s from after 1965.


When you open the hood the viewing box erects on its own, a nice touch. When you press the Y logo in the lid, a magnifying glass pops out. Is it just my middle-aged eyes, or is this glass necessary for accurate focus? It is for me, anyway. I’m glad it’s there.

Loading film into any TLR is awkward at best as the form factor doesn’t lend itself to easy handling when the back is open. But in the D’s case, after you hook the film backing end into the takeup spool you wind until the big arrow on the film backing paper lines up with a red triangle on the body. Then you close the back and wind until the film stops. From there, as you take photos and wind the camera stops at the next frame for you. It’s so much nicer than using the infernal red windows you’ll find on so many other medium-format cameras. A frame counter is on the side of the camera next to the winding knob.

TLRs with a winding crank seem to be more sought after than these knob winders — indeed, I sought after one myself, and learned the charms of crank winding. But the winding knob is large enough to grip easily and it works smoothly. Tip: you have to press the button in the center of the knob first, or the film won’t wind.

The Yashica-D is all manual. You set exposure by reading the light yourself, or with the help of an external light meter. The two dials on the camera face set aperture and shutter speed. A window on top of the viewing lens shows what is dialed in. And before you can take a photograph, you have to cock the shutter. The lever is by the taking lens.

I spooled some Kodak Ektar into this D and went out to shoot. I spent a little time in Crown Hill Cemetery, home of one of the nation’s largest military cemeteries.

Charles H. Ackerman

I also took the D on a walk around my neighborhood. I love shooting things up close with these Yashica TLRs.


But it does fine landscapes, as well. The big focusing knob has delightful heft — not so much that it’s a chore to turn, but just enough that you can easily focus precisely with no fiddling.

Eastern Star Church

This goose is a decoration in one of my neighbors’ yards.


I shot this test roll last autumn. It took me three months to write about this camera because the lab botched the scans initially. I sent the negatives back for a rescan, at which time the lab discovered that their scanner was malfunctioning. After they got it repaired they sent me fresh scans back. This is a long view down one of the streets in my neighborhood.

Autumn Street

Alice’s dad often bought accessory lenses for his cameras. He sent me a Spiratone closeup lens set for this Yashica-D. I love doing very close work and was eager to try it.


I made a few photos with it, but all of them suffered from wicked parallax error. (Edit: Yeah, I know now, I mounted the lenses wrong. Taking on viewing and viewing on taking. D’oh! I’ll try again with another roll of film soon.) This photo suffered least. The lens is perhaps a little soft. I’m sure that with practice I could consistently adjust properly for parallax and be quite happy with this closeup lens.


To see more photos from both of my Yashica-Ds, check out my Yashica-D gallery.

The Yashica-D just feels great in the hands. You wouldn’t think so; this is, after all, a large brick of metal. Yet its weight and size feel just fabulous as you carry it around. And then everything about it feels and sounds precise and luxurious, from winding to cocking the shutter to pressing the button. The Yashica-D is a sensual joy, roll after roll.

It’s why I’ve kept my first one within arm’s reach since I got it. There are just times when I feel like a little medium-format fun and the D is always a marvelous choice. I’ve been known to shoot a roll of 120 in twenty minutes in my D! Moreover, Ds go for far less on the used market than the better-known Yashica-Mat 124-G with its crank winder and integrated meter. While I very much enjoy the crank-wound, metered Yashica-12 I own, I think that if I were forced to sell all but one of my TLRs, I’d keep this Yashica-D.


Recommended reading

Happy Saturday, Roadies! You know the drill.

You know I love a road trip. So does Susie Trexler, apparently, and one she took recently was a doozy: she drove the Dalton Highway through Alaska’s wildnerness. She shares photos of the plain, unfailingly practical architecture she found along the way. Read Architecture on Alaska’s Dalton Highway

A writer I know only as puneybones writes the shortest of fiction, scenes, really, where she develops a character or two within a situation. She wrote one this week that I especially liked, about a small girl saved from a wolf of sorts. Read Safe

Upon Mary Tyler Moore’s passing this week, Mark Evanier wrote a short memory of the one time he met her. He stepped on her foot. For real. Read Mary Tyler Moore, R.I.P.

J.P. Cavanaugh remembers his dad’s favorite cocktail, the Manhattan. I like a nice Manhattan, myself. Read My Father’s Cocktail