Film Photography, Travel

Chicago on Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800

My main camera, the Canon PowerShot S95, wasn’t in its usual place the morning Margaret and I left for our weekend in Chicago. We needed to get on the road, so I grabbed my Nikon F3 and my Olympus XA — two cameras that have served me well in wintry Chicago before — and the fastest films I had on hand. It was going to be heavily overcast all weekend, and I’d need the speed. That called up my last roll of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800.

Smith & Wollensky - Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800 - Nikon F3 - 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor

I bought a bunch of this film when I was the unofficial photographer at my church. I put it in one of my Pentax bodies with my 50/1.4 lens and made portraits for people. The colors were too muted and the grain too pronounced. But my subjects were always thrilled to get the prints I brought them.

I like this film better for these gloomy-day city subjects. The subject’s busy-ness makes it harder to notice the grain. And because color is sparing, it pops.

Smith & Wollensky - Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800 - Nikon F3 - 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor

I shot this roll in my F3. Too bad there’s not a better way to find out your light seals have failed than seeing red streaks when you get the scans back from the processor. I cropped it out of most shots except where the effect was minimal, as in the photos above and below.

Bus - Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800 - Nikon F3 - 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor

My 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens was on the F3 for this trip. It reaches out and grabs so much delicious Chicago context! I found myself making photos with no central subject. Every time I brought the camera to my eye, the viewfinder was crammed full of Chicago and I wanted to remember it just like that.

Michigan Ave

I shot this whole roll on a walk from our hotel in the Loop out to Navy Pier. We deviated for a stroll along Michigan Avenue as well. We love crossing the Chicago River and seeing all of those beautiful bridges.

Wabash Avenue

I’ve been to NYC a few times and enjoy it but I prefer Chicago. The tall buildings seem almost artfully arranged. There are so many excellent details to look at in the built environment. It is so easy to compose an interesting photograph here.

Over the River

I’m a sucker for public art. These are “The Gentlemen” by Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming. The city didn’t commission these statues — the nearby Langham Hotel did. They remind me of Japanese salarymen waiting for their train.

Under the Umbrella

Here you can see some of that famous X-tra 800 grain. Not my favorite look in color film.

Statues

I grew up as downtown shopping districts were gasping their last breaths. Store after store closed in my hometown’s downtown. Nothing was left by the early 1980s. I liked going downtown as a child, and wish small-city downtowns had never lost their vitality. It’s exciting to walk State Street and Michigan Avenue in Chicago and find so much to see and do. We even stopped into Macy’s, bought my wife a gown for an event we’re going to, and had it shipped to our home. What a great life!

Boss

We stopped in a nearby Shake Shack for a snack. Even though it was just 4:30, light was already fading thanks to Daylight Saving Time. We wanted to photograph the nighttime Chicago skyline from the Ferris wheel. That involved a roll of Kodak T-Max P3200 I bought at Central Camera the day before. I’ll share those images when I get them back from the processor.

Cup

I’m not sad that I’m out of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800, or that Fujifilm discontinued this film a couple years ago. I’ve made a few lovely images with it, and it was reasonably priced. But I won’t miss its giant grain and muted colors.

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Standard
City County Building

City-County Building
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Ilford FP4 Plus
2019

In 1970, Indianapolis merged with Marion County to create a combined city-county government. But the City-County building, which was built to house government offices, was completed in 1962. It’s as if they knew the merger was inevitable.

The City-County Building has that standard 1960s skyscraper look. It was the first building in Indianapolis to be taller than the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the heart of Downtown. Now, any number of buildings are taller than the Monument.

The good people at Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll of Ilford FP4 Plus in exchange for this mention. Get your FP4 Plus from them here.

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Film Photography

single frame: City-County Building

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At the chapel

At the chapel
Yashica-12
Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8-2006)

Down the lane from Crown Hill Cemetery’s south entrance is a fine Gothic chapel. The grounds crew gives its beds great care.

Of all the images I made on this roll of Velvia, I think this one is the Velviest. Just look at all that lush color.

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Film Photography

single frame: At the chapel

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Lacy Building

The Lacy building
Argus Argoflex Forty
Kodak Ektar 100
2019

This is my second-favorite building on Monument Circle, the Lacy Building. Circle Tower with its Art Deco touches is my favorite, but for some reason I’ve photographed the Lacy Building more.

Last time I shared a photo of it, I was surprised and happy when an old college chum left a comment saying that the Lacy family are his relation, and their firm is still headquartered here.

When you’re in college, your buddies are just your buddies and you don’t think much about where they might come from. I didn’t, anyway.

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Film Photography, Preservation

single frame: The Lacy building

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Jail

Boone Co. Jail
Argus Argoflex Forty
Kodak Verichrome Pan (expired 6/1980)
2019

Coming soon: a review of the circa-1950 Argus Argoflex Forty. It’s basically a box camera in twin-lens reflex guise, but it has a good, coated Anastigmat lens that’s sharp from corner to corner.

I had a great time with it and a roll of expired Verichrome Pan. I heard that this 620 camera can take 120 film if you snip the edges off the film spool and use a 620 takeup spool. I did that to a roll of Ektar, which is at the processor’s now. As soon as I get scans back I’ll finish writing my review of this camera and share it with you.

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Film Photography

single frame: Boone Co. Jail

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As the last of the Shakers left their central-Kentucky village — or died — in the early 1900s, their village fell into private hands and became known as Shakertown. Some buildings were given new uses, others were left to rot.

The same kind of determination and hard work the Shakers put into building their village went into restoring it. Some buildings were beyond saving, and some were already gone, but those that remain are a living look back into this religious sect and its way of life. Read a little bit about their history here.

Stone house
House
House
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Houses
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
House
House

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Preservation

The simple architecture of Shaker Village

A photo tour of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in central Kentucky, focusing on the many buildings that still stand there.

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