Recommended reading

This week’s Best Blog Posts, a bumper crop, assembled here for you:

I’m not what you’d call a “man’s man” — I march to the beat of my own masculinity. But I can get behind James Tocchio: every man should own a film camera. (After he wrote it, he revised it to every person. For gender inclusivity, I assume.) Read Why Everyone Should Own A Film Camera

Ohio River at Leavenworth, IN

Ohio River at Leavenworth, IN
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom, 2007

When you feel stuck or unmotivated, it’s probably because you don’t know exactly what you want. So take Derek Sivers‘ advice and pin it down. Read Get Specific!

Enjoying a $10-per-month Spotify subscription? Nick Gerlich explains why that price won’t last. Brace for $20 or even $30 per month. Read Listen to the Music

Starting tomorrow, for the first time since Prohibition, you’ll be able to buy beer, wine, and spirits on Sunday in Indiana. Why did it take us so long? A powerful liquor-store lobby stood in the way. What broke the ice? A renegade convenience-store owner named Jay Ricker. Abdul Hakim-Shabazz tells the story. Read Thank Ricker’s for Sunday Sales

It’s been a snowy winter in Minnesota. Heide made some stunning photographs of her environment as the snow begins to melt. Her photos of the bare trees with snow in the branches, against deep blue skies, are stunning. Read Snapshots from the Big Thaw

The Filmosaur says that, thanks to the mobile phone camera, it’s become a wide-angle world. And he thinks that’s a poverty, as a normal lens creates a much more realistic view. Read Wide Angle World

Camera reviews and experience reports:


Ich habe einen Volkswagen gekauft

Ich habe einen Volkswagen gekauft

At last, a new car. A new-to-me car at any rate: a 2013 VW Passat 2.5 S.

With that, my beloved Toyota Matrix is finally gone. I wrote its eulogy last September (read it here) after it developed several problems that would cost far more to fix than the car was worth. One of those problems made the car a safety risk on the road.

But then I dragged my feet on selling it. In part, I struggled to let go of my baby. In part, other priorities kept winning over selling a beater car. In part, I wanted more from it than the $200 my mechanic offered me so he could part it out.

But then late in January it became essential that my family have three safe and reliable automobiles. My wife and I both own Ford Focuses that, despite age and high mileage, are entirely roadworthy. I had to act, and fast, to replace the Matrix.

My wife and I set a budget and I went shopping. That budget was low enough and time was enough of the essence that my purchase criteria were very broad: under 50,000 miles, good reliability reputation, four doors, usable back seat. I looked at a handful of cars and SUVs before coming upon this Passat.

The back seat is cavernous. Our 6′2″ youngest son can sit back there with easily four inches between his knees and the back of my seat. Finally, a comfortable trip car for the family!

The automotive press panned the 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder engine for lacking power compared to the competition. I’ve not driven other midsize sedans, but this Passat has plenty of scoot for me, especially when I drop the transmission into Sport mode. Whee! Fusions and Accords and Camrys must be blazing quick.

The press also criticized the Passat’s generic styling. Can’t say they’re wrong.

After so many years driving inexpensive economy cars, I feel like a real grown up driving this large, comfortable car. But it feels like a wasteful amount of car for me to drive alone to and from work, which is what I use it for most. I take solace in the fact that it gets gas mileage at least as good as my lamented Matrix and my Focus!

Oh, and the trade-in value on a beater 2003 Toyota Matrix: $750. Score!

Collecting Cameras

Check out my For Sale page (here): I just added a bunch of cameras to it, at attractive prices.

I’m shrinking my collection to just the cameras I’ll use and truly love. I’m calling the process Operation Thin the Herd, and many fine cameras aren’t making the cut.

You’ll find everything I’m selling listed here.

Film cameras for sale



Cemetery trees
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
Eastman Double-X 5222

I love how, in the winter, cemetery trees provide a counterpoint to the graves. Their littlest branches reach up into the sky as if just asking for a new day.

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Film Photography

single frame: Cemetery trees



Shooting the Canon PowerShot S95 in Positive color mode

Reader Retrocrank commented on this post that he’s had smashing results setting his Canon cameras to P mode, choosing Positive color, and shooting at -1/3 stop. He suggested that using these settings he’s been happy with the JPEGs the camera generates.

I’ve been shooting my Canon PowerShot S95 in RAW+JPEG mode for a few years now, but have grown weary of the post processing RAW demands. I started using it because I wasn’t thrilled with the color I got from the default settings. I really want good JPEGs straight from the camera. So I decided to try Retrocrank’s idea.

To enable color modes, I had to turn off RAW+JPEG. But then there they were, all 11 color modes. They just do some predetermined processing in the camera, things like vivid color, black and white, and enhanced blues or greens. Positive mode is meant to simulate color slide film. To set a color mode, turn the mode dial atop the camera to P (or Tv or Av or anything that’s not Auto), press the Func Set button on the back of the camera, and click the bottom of the wheel to scroll down to the menu item that looks sort of like a whisk broom. Then click the left or right edges of the wheel to scroll among the color choices.


I took the S95 with me one mostly cloudy day and shot a range of color. The only post-processing I did was to add Photoshop’s lens profile for this camera, which corrects noticeable barrel distortion.

North End

The results are pretty reasonable, as you can see. Here’s this shot before I added the lens profile, so you can see how much distortion the camera doesn’t correct. It’s mighty disappointing. I shot this at 50mm-equivalent focal length. The wider you go, the worse the distortion.

North End, distorted

I walked a little around downtown Fishers on a break from work. Positive color really seems to deliver true-to-life color, at least on a cloudy day.

Treble clef

I wasn’t choosy about subject matter — I just wanted color. So you get a pink porta-john.

Pink pots

That’s a super nice red. And I’m impressed with the muted green on those overhead doors. This is how I remember the scene in my mind.

Fire station

Here’s a brighter green to show that Positive mode doesn’t simply mute greens.


I did enhance exposure of this shot of my sunglasses on my desk, because it was too dim out of the camera.

My sunglasses

I made this dusk shot of a strip mall at maximum zoom (105mm equivalent). Zoomed this far out, the lens displays no perceptible barrel distortion.

Dusky strip mall with trucks

I’d like to find out how well these settings perform on a sunny day. If they’re reasonable, then I think I’ve found settings I can live with. The only bummer is that I still have to correct for lens distortion. That’s just a limitation of the camera’s firmware, and one I can’t fix in the camera’s settings.

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Looking out

Looking out
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
Eastman Double-X 5222

Recently I mounted this autofocus Pentax lens on my Pentax ME to see what it was capable of. I’d been using it on my Pentax K10D DSLR — with great frustration, as the lens too frequently couldn’t lock focus. So I shot it in manual-focus mode most of the time. If I was going to do that, I reasoned, I might as well just shoot it on one of my manual-focus film bodies.

I spent some time in Crown Hill Cemetery with this combo. I’ve made a dozen or more photographs from this vantage point, the highest elevation in Indianapolis and the gravesite of Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. I warmed this one up in Photoshop a little; it’s better for it.

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Film Photography

single frame: Looking out