Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

Heslar Naval Armory
Canon A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF
Kodak Tri-X

This is actually a teaser for a forthcoming post: I got to tour this place, a remarkable building in Indianapolis.

Photography, Preservation
Old cars

Carspotting 2016

I take photographs of old parked cars when I come upon them. Normally, I write about them over at Curbside Classic, the old-parked-car blog. But this year I’ve not made time to write over there as much as usual. So for those of you who read both there and here: you’ll see some cars today that I’ll write about over there eventually!

However, the harvest was not ripe this year. Here are the handful of cars at least 20 years old that I found.


1973 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible. Margaret and I capped our wedding weekend with dinner on Main Street in Zionsville. Walking back to our car, we came upon this long, low convertible. It appears to be a survivor — that is, original and unrestored. Just how I like ’em! More on Curbside Classic here.


1975 Continental Mark IV. This was parked at church one Sunday morning. It belongs to one of our neighbors, who we let park in our lot since on-street parking is hard to come by in this neighborhood.


1979 Chevrolet Corvette. Margaret and I found this on 56th St. just off Broadway in New York City. This is the reddest Corvette I’ve ever seen! More on Curbside Classic here.


1984-88 Nissan Maxima. I don’t know a whole lot about these, except that a college buddy’s dad had one. At the time, I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t have spent the same bigger bucks on a Buick. Oh, how naive I was.


1986-90 Dodge Ramcharger. I’ve always thought these looked great. When I wrote about it for Curbside Classic, some commenters decried the skinty tires. As if all trucks need to be jacked up and on giant knobby tires. I think this thing looks just right.


1990 Honda Civic CRX Si. Somebody I work with owns this. I don’t know who, mind you, but it showed up in the lot at work a couple months ago and is there every day. It’s a survivor, and it’s refreshing to see one of these in original condition. I hope this guy keeps it this way forever.


1993-96 Lincoln Mark VIII. I always thought these were good looking. But this one had peeling paint everywhere. A shame. More on Curbside Classic here.


1996 Ford Escort LX Sport. I’m pretty sure Ford offered the trunkback version of this car only this year. My dad had the hatchback version, in this color I’m pretty sure, and it’s the car he owned the longest. That thing was hard to kill.


1997 BMW M3. This car belongs to one of the partners at the company where I work. We went to lunch one day and he let me drive it. I’ve always wanted to drive one of these! We didn’t go far, and I was not about to sink my foot into the floorboards in my big boss’s car, so I didn’t find out what this M3 was made of. But just rowing it through its gears put a smile on my face. And ok, it’s only 19 years old. But it’s my blog and I want to include it!


St. Stephen's Green

House in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
Nikon N2000, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor
Kodak T-Max 400

It sure is taking me a while to share all of my photos and stories from Ireland! I’m a little more than halfway through our two-week trip now. Here’s a photo from near the end of the trip, in a lovely park well within Dublin.

Photography, Road trips

The chapel at Kylemore Abbey

Margaret Henry’s unexpected death in 1875 threw her husband, Mitchell, into despair. He found it difficult to spend time at their sprawling Irish estate at Kylemore. Indeed, he seldom returned, spending most of his time in England. Nevertheless, he built this chapel on the grounds as her final resting place.

Chapel at Kylemore Abbey

Built in the style of a 14th-century gothic English cathedral, this chapel looks more imposing than it really is. It’s a cathedral in 1:4 scale

Chapel at Kylemore Abbey

Its scale is most apparent inside, where one short column of pews faces the altar.

Chapel at Kylemore Abbey

The Henrys were Anglicans, but when the Benedictine nuns bought the estate they rededicated it, including this chapel, to Catholic worship and missions.

Chapel at Kylemore Abbey

By all accounts, Mitchell Henry never really recovered from losing his wife. His fortunes took a turn for the worse in the years that followed. He died nearly penniless. Yet upon his death, he was returned to Kylemore and took his eternal rest alongside his Margaret.

Canon PowerShot S95


Recommended reading

Saturday morning, and only eight shopping days before Christmas. But don’t rush out to buy gifts just yet, Roadies. Enjoy these posts from around the blogosphere this week.

Did you know that a hundred years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to find a photographic darkroom in a hotel? Daniel Schneider tells the story. Read A brief history of hotels’ photographic darkrooms

Jason Fried, writing for Signal v. Noise, writes in praise of the good solid hour of work, yet calls it a rare species — and a leading way productivity is sapped. Read What’s an hour?



Canon EOS A2e

Buying two failed Canon EOS Rebels wasn’t enough to kill my EOS desires. I really enjoy the 50mm f/1.8 lens I have for this mount and wanted a light body for those days I wanted to shoot it. I still have my EOS 630 and EOS 650, but as early bodies in the series they feel crude and sluggish. And they’re larger and heavier than the Rebels I’ve unsuccessfully tried lately.

And then a commenter on my Rebel S review mentioned how much he enjoyed the EOS A2e he had when they were new. It’s a semi-pro body, crammed full of features at a sky-high price: $1,200 upon its 1992 debut, which is equivalent to a little more than $2,000 today. So I went snooping around Used Photo Pro to see what they go for these days and found one for $27. That’s pennies on the dollar! I love a bargain, so I bought it.

Canon EOS A2e

This camera (called the EOS 5 outside the United States) is every bit as big and heavy as those early EOSes. But it works quickly and smoothly in straight-up shooting, so I met at least half of my goals.

Canon EOS A2e

The A2e features an electronic focal-plane shutter that operates from 30 sec. to 1/8000 sec. and shoots at 5 frames per second. The camera has all the modes you’d expect: programmed, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority autoexposure; full manual exposure; and special modes for macro, portrait, landscape, and sports.

Two dials control aperture and shutter speed: the usual one (among EOS cameras) behind the shutter button, and a big one on the camera back. In program mode, the first dial cycles through the aperture/shutter-speed combinations that yield good exposure. In aperture- and shutter-priority modes, it selects the aperture or shutter speed, respectively. In manual mode, it selects shutter speed while the big dial on the camera back selects aperture. That big dial apparently controls other things, too — such as letting you choose among evaluative, center-weight average, and spot metering — but I didn’t plumb its depths. Actually, I avoided using it. It’s awkward to use while the camera is at your eye, and the forums and reviews all over the Internet say it’s prone to failure anyway. I imagine this was a point of real frustration for people who relied on the camera back in the day. But for me, shooting casually, it was easy enough to stick to exposure modes that avoided needing to use the back dial.

Canon EOS A2e

You get two additional modes with the A2e. The clever DEP mode makes you focus twice, on something close and something far away; the A2e then ensures that everything in between is in focus and properly exposed. The Green Zone mode (the green rectangle on the mode dial) is similar to Program mode except that it blocks all adjustments, turning the A2e into a point-and-shoot SLR.

The A2e reads the DX coding on the film cartridge to set ISO from 25 to 5,000, or you can set it manually from 6 to 6,400.

The A2e also features eye-controlled focus — that’s the e in A2e. Canon’s EOS A2 is the same camera without this feature. The viewfinder contains five focus points. With this feature turned on, when you look at what you want to focus on the camera tracks your eye, grabs the focus point closest to where you’re looking, and focuses on what’s there. Even after I set it up as the manual directs, I couldn’t make this feature work. I don’t care. It’s a gimmick feature that I wouldn’t use anyway.

I dropped in a 2CR5 battery and some Fujicolor 200, mounted the 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF lens, and headed out to shoot. My first stop: the Episcopal church over on Meridian Street. It’s one of the places I regularly go to test old cameras as it has lots of interesting subjects at various distances. The A2e performed well. Just look at the clarity and color it returned!

Red berries

It was early evening and light was fading. I was shooting in Program mode, and the A2e was giving me as much depth of field as it could in the available light — so much, I feared I’d get no bokeh. So I dialed in bigger apertures. I wound up with a very narrow in-focus patch on several shots. I should have backed off a stop or two.

Angel investor

But at medium and long distances, everything worked out fine. The A2e metered light brilliantly, returning fabulous, sensitive shadow detail in contrasty situations.

Church door

I can’t get over the great color I got. This is one of the first rolls of film I scanned on my flatbed scanner. I’m used to a certain greenish caste from Fujicolor 200, and I didn’t get it at all here. I did get more grain than I’m used to, though. I wonder if what I’m used to is Fujicolor 200 as scanned by the Noritsu scanners most labs seem to use. This is Fujicolor 200 as scanned by an Epson V300.

Autumn Iris

I put the A2e on a tripod and photographed this Belleek pitcher on my coffee table. Margaret and I visited the Belleek factory while we were in Ireland and bought a few pieces there for our home. I really enjoy shooting objects close up in low light, but many of my old cameras just don’t do it well. The A2e handled it like a pro.


Do you remember how when David Letterman enjoyed one of his guests, he’d invite him or her to stay past the commercial break? Do you remember how seldom it happened? It was a high compliment to the guest. Sort of like Letterman, I seldom test a camera beyond one roll of film. On that rare occasion I seriously enjoy one, I’ll go for a second roll. Upon finishing the Fujicolor, I immediately loaded some Kodak Tri-X and kept going. I shot most of the roll on a day out with Margaret, which included visiting a little curiosity shop in Broad Ripple.


I love vintage mechanical and electronic items. If I had money and space, I’d collect typewriters. And radios and televisions. Oh gosh, televisions! Margaret is grateful that I lack money and space. The cameras I have stuffed into every nook and cranny are more than enough.


This is my favorite coffee shop in Indianapolis. I used to go over there on Saturday mornings with a pen and a notebook and freewrite while I sipped whatever varietal they had on the brew. No frilly coffee drinks for me: I take mine black. Somehow I haven’t been in there for three years. I must rectify this situation.

Monon Coffee Co.

I finished up the roll with a few la-de-da shots around the house. I must have the most-photographed home in Indianapolis.

Bag and mail

To see more of my photos from these rolls, check out my Canon EOS A2e gallery.

The Canon EOS A2e is not just a well-featured instrument, it’s great fun. For most everyday shooting, you don’t have to use the cumbersome controls. Just dial in P, or Av and have your finger ready on the wheel, and enjoy pleasant shooting. If it weren’t for that awkward and failure-prone back dial, this camera would be truly great. My Nikon N90s, a similarly featured camera from the same era, lacks this fundamental flaw and feels more solidly built. When I hanker to shoot a well-featured auto-everything camera, it’s the one I’m going to reach for most often. But for those times I really want to shoot this wonderful Canon lens, I’ve found my forever body.