Road Trips

The Logansport City Building

Logansport City Building

Logansport’s City Building doesn’t look like much from the outside. I drove by it many times while exploring the Michigan Road without stopping for a photograph. You only get a clue that something interesting may lurk inside when you see the City Building letterforms over the doors.

Logansport City Building

I made these exterior shots on a Michigan Road day trip my wife and I made recently.

Logansport City Building

But in 2013 I got to go inside, for a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association, and I made a few photographs with my phone. I haven’t shared them before because my phone struggled with the low interior light and I wasn’t terribly happy with how they turned out.

Inside the Logansport City Building

But I’m unlikely to get inside again any time soon, and imperfect photographs are better than no photographs!

Inside the Logansport City Building

Logansport built its City Building in 1925, at a time when the city was flush with cash thanks to the railroads that ran through town.

Inside the Logansport City Building

My research revealed nothing more about the City Building. It’s too bad. It’s a lovely building, lovelier than you’d expect in a city the size of Logansport.

Inside the Logansport City Building

What I like best about the building is the stained-glass skylights on the top floor. You can see one through these doors.

Inside the Logansport City Building

There is more than one skylight, but this is the most prominent of them as it is in the center of the roof, visible as you enter the building and ascend the stairs.

Inside the Logansport City Building

I did my best to hold my phone level while standing directly below this skylight.

Stained glass, Logansport City Hall

Returning now to the present day, my wife and I stayed in Logansport long enough for darkness to fall and the decorations to light up.

Logansport City Building

Canon PowerShot S95, iPhone 5

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Camera Reviews

The iPhone 5 camera

I’ve reluctantly retired my iPhone 5. I say reluctantly because it was a great phone, at least in terms of its size, usefulness, and usability. What caused me to retire it was one too many hardware problems. I’ll spare you the litany of woes. Suffice it to say that I’d had it with its unreliability.


iPhone 5, left, next to the phone I had before it, a Palm Pre

But my goodness, was its camera ever useful. That’s what I am writing about here — the iPhone 5 as a camera. I shot thousands of photos with it, because it was the camera that was always on me, and it was a perfectly competent point and shoot camera that occasionally delivered brilliance.

I got my iPhone 5 on the morning it was released in 2012. The first photo I took with it? A selfie, of course. I still have that shirt.


It was a great selfie tool.




Actually, I shot people with it more often than with any other camera I’ve ever owned.


IMG_3019 proc



The iPhone 5 did surprisingly well in low light. I loved using the it to capture sunrises and sunsets, and I wasn’t afraid to use it indoors without flash.





Marsh nee Sears

The iPhone 5 did reasonable close-up work.



It was also a great road-trip companion. I shoot mostly my Canon PowerShot S95 while I’m on the road, but the iPhone 5 had two great uses: if I wasn’t sure I’d remember exactly where I took a shot, the iPhone 5 would do that for me, because it geotagged each photo. And it was great for letting me update Facebook or text friends with what I was seeing, from the scene.

Brick Route 66



On the Dixie

But mostly I used my iPhone 5 to say, “I’m here, doing this, right now.” It was a whole new use of a camera to me: a way to casually record a moment, and if I wanted, to communicate it wordlessly and immediately to anyone I know. This led me to take all sorts of shots I never would have otherwise — shots that, years on, invoke memories I might otherwise have lost.




IMG_1221 proc







My iPhone 5 captured most scenes with great sharpness and color. Sometimes, when I shot a scene with my wonderful Canon S95 and followed it with an iPhone 5 shot to grab geolocation, I liked the iPhone shot better! And focusing by touching the screen is brilliant and works flawlessly.

But the iPhone 5 isn’t perfect. Highlights blow out with it all the time, as you can see in many of these photos. And it can be hard to hold steady. Firing the shutter is accomplished by either an on-screen button or by pressing one of the physical volume buttons on the phone, and none of these is placed conveniently. And the Apple software that automatically uploads shots to my computer doesn’t always work.

I’ve used this camera less and less lately because the lens had become dinged and scratched, and those marks showed in all my shots. When I had yet another hardware problem with it recently, I threw in the towel and upgraded to an iPhone 6S. It was stupefyingly expensive — my desktop computer cost as much. But I vastly prefer iOS over Android, and I’m taken with the cameras Apple makes. But memo to Apple: my new iPhone had better be a paragon of reliability, or I’ll defect to Android and never look back.


iPhone sunset

Sunset at 75 miles per hour
iPhone 5

I took this near Shelbyville, Indiana, as I rode in a van toward Indianapolis on I-74.


The camera you have with you

More and more, photos I share with you here come from my iPhone 5. It’s always in my pocket.

My iPhone’s lens can’t match the sharpness and detail of my better film cameras or even of my go-to digital camera, the highly competent Canon PowerShot S95. The iPhone offers no optical zoom; anything you shoot at or near maximum digital zoom clearly shows the lens’s sharpness limits. Also, the iPhone isn’t good in very low light, where I can shoot my S95 all night. But within these limits, the iPhone 5 is a perfectly adequate camera.

The iPhone often returns startlingly pleasing results. I came upon this classic ’70s BMW in Fountain Square one evening and the iPhone captured the delicious early-evening sunlight as it reflected sublimely off the car’s finish.

1971-75 BMW E6 3.0 CS c

I took hundreds of photos with my Canon PowerShot S95 on my Route 66 trip earlier this year. But sometimes I also took an iPhone shot so I could share it quickly on Facebook and also to record my location as the iPhone geotags all photos. To my surprise I often liked the iPhone photo better. Here’s an iPhone shot of a brick section of Route 66 in Illinois. At this resolution, the detail is excellent – you can almost count those bricks, and the light dances off them.

Brick Route 66

In contrast, here’s a shot I took with my S95 from about the same spot. It lacks the iPhone shot’s clarity and punch.

Brick Route 66

Even though I used my Nikon N60 on my recent road trip, I took several iPhone shots so I could share images from the road on Facebook in real time. All the photos in my recent post about the Medora Covered Bridge came from the iPhone. Here’s one of those shots.

Medora Covered Bridge

I took a shot from the same spot with my N60. The iPhone rendered the skies bluer, but the N60 (with the 28-80mm AF Nikkor lens, the Fujicolor 200 film, and the processing and scanning by Dwayne’s Photo) rendered truer greens.

Medora Covered Bridge

But the iPhone couldn’t touch the N60’s lens for sharpness. Below, I’ve snipped out the same portion of these shots from the N60 (left) and the iPhone (right).


The story is the same when comparing shots between my iPhone and my Canon PowerShot S95: at maximum resolution, the iPhone’s lens just isn’t as sharp.

Still, I am thinking seriously about trying out my iPhone as my only camera on my next road trip. Because it is connected to my car’s stereo via USB so I can listen to my music, it is always fully charged. It’s thin and easy to carry. Its resolution is good enough for the documentary shots I normally take while on the road. At the resolutions which I normally display my road photos, the reduced sharpness isn’t a problem.


Film photography has never
been less expensive. Read why.


I like my iPhone 5 okay I guess, but I miss my Palm Pre

I got an iPhone 5 on the day it came out.

Now, I don’t normally jump on bandwagons. I’m quite anti-bandwagon, actually. So why, then, did I get the iPhone?

Because I’d had it with my once-beloved Palm Pre. Shortly after I got my Pre, Hewlett Packard bought Palm – and then promptly shut down their mobile phone business. For a long time being on an orphaned platform didn’t matter much. My Pre was plenty fast, and I loved having the Internet in my pocket. But pretty quickly the OS updates stopped coming, and after many months my phone started behaving badly. I’d have to reboot it every two or three days when it would bog down or fail to connect to the data network and to wi-fi. I spent as much time cursing the phone as enjoying it. I knew the day was coming when I’d have to choose a new phone.

As I read the news online sone morning over breakfast, a headline read: New iPhone Available for Pre-Order Today. So I went to my carrier’s Web site to see when my contract ended.

It ended that day.

I took it as a sign and placed my order. My phone arrived before noon on the day of release.

iPhone 5 and Palm Pre

I expected to fall madly in love with my iPhone – but I just haven’t. The iPhone is a very good device. It offers features my Pre could only dream of. Its app selection is truly astonishing. It is blisteringly fast. It is wafer thin and feather light.

But the Pre’s WebOS operating system beats iOS hands down in usability. Its “card” metaphor with its extensive use of finger swiping for navigation provided a much more natural usage experience for me that imprinted hard in my brain. Even now, weeks after receiving my iPhone, I still sometimes try to swipe my finger across the area below the screen, which acted like a “back” function on the Pre. My iPhone, of course, does nothing in response.

My Pre also had a slide-out physical keyboard that worked much better than the on-screen typofest the iPhone provides.

It’s too bad HP killed Palm. I would have loved to see the WebOS platform get the love and attention necessary to stay competitive with iOS and Android. I would almost certainly have upgraded my phone within the WebOS family.

I try to take consolation in the fact that I can play Bejeweled on my iPhone. I love Bejeweled. It was never available for my Palm.

I upgraded to the Pre from a flip phone.
I wrote a sad goodbye to it – go read it!