Lafayette row houses

Row houses in Lafayette
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A
Fujicolor 200 (at EI 100)
2018

When my son chose Purdue as his university, it brought me into Lafayette, Indiana, for the first time. Sure, Purdue is across the Wabash River in West Lafayette. But coming from the Indianapolis area as I do, and given my love of the old US highways, I always drive in on US 52. And that takes me right into downtown Lafayette, past the old residential neighborhoods and their lovely older homes.

On my way out of town I frequently end up on South Street, passing these row houses by. For a minute I think I’m in Baltimore or New York City.

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Film Photography

single frame: Row houses in Lafayette

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You know I love old gas stations. It’s always a pleasure when I find one.

I most commonly find them on old alignments of highways, but I suppose that’s because I frequent those kinds of roads. But many of them remain in cities and towns off the main roads, as well, such as this one on South Street in downtown Lafayette, Indiana.

Standard Oil

This is a “Red Crown” Standard Oil station, built in about 1927. Standard Oil built lots of these through the late 1920s and into the 1930s, mostly in the Midwest. Maybe a couple of dozen of them remain; this page shows several.

Standard Oil

While this one still operated as a Standard station, it was known as Jonesy’s. It closed during the 1980s and was threatened with demolition. The city library, which is next door, used it as a storage building for a time until local businessman Don Stein rescued it and got it restored. It is said that more than 40 layers of paint were removed from the inside walls to finally reveal the glazed brick. Also, the roof had fallen and was replaced with “new original stock” red tiles that Standard Oil remarkably still had in storage.

Standard Oil

The building was a petroliana museum for a while, but was later used as a stationary advertisement of sorts for the city of Lafayette. It’s not clear what the building’s use is now. As I researched this station, I found photos from not long ago that show details that are now missing, such as “Jonesey’s” lettering over the door, a “Standard Oil Products” sign over the plate window, and “WASHING” lettering over the left garage bay. At least the letters pictured above remain intact.

If you’d like to see some of the other vintage gas stations I’ve found, check out all of my posts tagged Gas Stations.

Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A, Fujicolor 200 (at EI 100)

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Film Photography, Road Trips

Standard Oil Red Crown station in Lafayette, Indiana

A circa 1927 gas station still stands, unused, in Lafayette, Indiana.

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Damion

Damion at Nine Irish Brothers
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A
Fujicolor 200 (at EI 100)
2018

Damion and I have sort of settled on the Nine Irish Brothers pub in West Lafayette as the place we go for dinner. Now that he’s 21, we can both hoist a Guinness. And it’s on tap here, fresh and good.

We had a very nice afternoon together. Two men, their film cameras, the open road, and sights to see.

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Film Photography

single frame: Damion at Nine Irish Brothers

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Film Photography

Shooting the 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens

Welcome to the 2,000th post at Down the Road! 🎉

35mm is such a useful focal length on a 35mm camera. It’s just right for the kind of work I do so often: walking around photographing the environment. It lets me get big things in the frame without having to back up as far as I need to with a 50mm lens, but is not so wide it can’t do credible close work.

For some time I’ve owned a 35mm lens for my Nikon cameras, and it was the perfect choice when I toured Ireland in 2016. But I shoot my Pentax cameras a little more often than my Nikons, and so I’ve been thinking for a long time about buying a 35mm K-mount lens. I’ve finally done it: the 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A. It’s praised by the reviewers at Pentax Forums and by James Tocchio at Casual Photophile for its sharpness, handling, and build quality.

35-2.8

One recent Sunday afternoon I picked up my son at Purdue and we went for a drive. He brought his Pentax K1000 and I had my Pentax ME with this 35mm lens mounted. I was shooting Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 at EI 200. We stopped in Delphi, the seat of justice in Carroll County. Its downtown boasts the building at the center of this photograph: the recently restored Delphi Opera House.

Downtown Delphi

The photos above and below tell why I love the 35mm focal length for road-trip documentary photography. I got so much into the frame in the wide shot above, and to make the closer shot below I didn’t have to back up all the way into the street.

Opera House

The Wabash and Erie Canal passes through Delphi, and the town has made a lot out of it. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time you might remember the Houck Iron Bridge, which once stood on a country road in Putnam County. It was dismantled, moved, and restored on this site over the canal in Delphi.

Gray Bridge

I can’t say I know the significance of this big old house, but here it stands on the canal. The 35mm lens captured it all with no drama.

House on the Canal

In focusing, this lens has a long travel from 1 foot to 15 feet, and then almost no travel from there to infinity. It makes the lens feel biased toward long shots. Indeed, given that my subjects this day were almost always beyond 15 feet, I barely touched the focusing ring. It made the camera almost point-and-shoot simple.

Scene

Our trip also took us through Battle Ground, where a memorial stands to the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe. We’d been here before, but eleven years prior when my sons were much smaller. It was nice to return and connect to a long ago family memory. I wished my younger son had been with us, as he was fascinated by this memorial and studied every plaque on it.

At the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe

This day I was taken by this gate and arch. The 35mm lens brought it into the frame with no drama.

At the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe

As I’m learning, context is important in documentary photography. It helps the viewer feel like they might recognize a photographed place should they ever come upon it. With the 35mm lens it was easy to bring gobs of context into this photograph, and even to use the surrounding trees to frame this little church.

At the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe

Then I was able to move in close to the church and compose this scene. I see scenes like this all the time when I have a camera in my hand, but at 50mm I usually struggle to capture what I see. At 35mm the scene fell right into the viewfinder.

At the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe

This 35mm f/2.8 lens could well be the one I just leave on my Pentax ME. It’s that versatile and useful for the kind of work I usually do.

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Blogosphere

Recommended reading

Is it spring yet, Roadies? Here are this week’s best blog posts:

Ashley Pomeroy shares a thoughtful analysis of why — and why it’s a great used console choice. Read PlayStation 3: The Negative Influence of Externalities

Contemplating

Canon PowerShot S95, 2012

They’re sisters, the two women in the photograph. Katherine Griffiths analyzes all the clues that make her sure of it. Read Two Sisters, Two Friends

Ming Thien considers creativity, and how it can meaningfully exist without plenty of support of several kinds. Read Creativity by the yard

In this age of large Web sites with lots of users, it’s easy to forget (and Anil Dash reminds us) that the Web was meant to be lots of little sites owned by people like you and me. Read The Missing Building Blocks of the Web

Part-time pilot Philip Greenspun tells how the pilots on the Southwest flight with the exploded engine trained for this very scenario so much they should have been able to handle it with their eyes closed. It was the flight attendants who would have been unprepared for what happened. Read Southwest 1380: Think about the flight attendants

Camera reviews and experience reports:

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Film Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

The North Meridian Street Historic District in Inianapolis: “One of America’s Great Streets”

One of America's Great Streets

I’ll never forget the first time I came to Indianapolis. It was 1976. My dad’s best friend knew the director of the about-to-open Children’s Museum and had arranged us a preview tour. We had the museum and its exhibits all to ourselves. That’s memorable enough — but my other great memory of that day is entering town on US 31, Meridian Street, and having my breath taken away by the stunning homes that line it.

More than forty years hence I still love to drive along Meridian Street to see its wonderful homes. Many of the most expansive and expensive homes are within the North Meridian Street Historic District, which runs from 40th St. north about a mile and  a half to Westfield Blvd.

The District’s homes were built between the two World Wars in classical styles. All are large, detailed, and well kept. Here now, a brief tour from a walk I took from 40th St. up to about 46th St.

On Meridian Street

On Meridian Street

On Meridian Street

On Meridian Street

On Meridian Street

On Meridian Street

On Meridian Street

The Booth Tarkington House

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, Ultrafine Extreme 100

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