Autumn is reaching its peak right about now in central Indiana. Is it just me, or did the leaves start to change later than normal? Isn’t peak normally past by now?
Photographing autumn color helps me appreciate a season I historically have not enjoyed because its arrival means winter is coming. I do not enjoy winter.
This year my time is short. I forced open a small window of time last Saturday to photograph some color, even though peak had not yet arrived.
The refrigerator in the garage died. I kept my film in there. Dealing with it made me realize that I’ve stockpiled a lot of film. Now I’m trying to shoot it all up, including a roll of Fuji Velvia, the original RVP emulsion, expired since 2006 but always kept frozen. I took it and my Yashica-12 out last Saturday, and I put the film in the mail for processing only on Wednesday. It could be a couple weeks before I, and therefore you, see the results.
But man have the colors gotten much nicer since Saturday. It makes me want to post autumn photos now! So I’ve spelunked my archives. These images will have to tide you, I mean me, over.
Autumn at Lilly Lake Canon Canonet QL17 G-III Agfa Vista 200 2018
This photo was featured in Flickr Explore on November 19. It’s always fun to see all the likes and comments when one of my photos makes Explore.
I wonder how many Flickr viewers had any idea that I was shooting film? To know, they’d only have to click through to my image’s page and read the description.
Can an experienced eye guess that this is a film photograph? To me, the sky is the tell. It has a nuance to it that digital cameras seem unable to capture. They tend to render skies almost too perfectly, with wispy clouds against a sea of perfect azure.
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Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto sent me a few rolls of film from his fridge in thanks for a favor. It was mostly slide film, something I haven’t shot very much as my skinflint tendencies reliably turn me to inexpensive stuff like Fujicolor 200. I’ve been shooting it a roll here and a roll there. After enjoying a roll of my usual inexpensive stuff in my Nikon N2000 recently, I went for broke and loaded a gifted roll of slide film: Fujifilm Provia 400X.
My 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens was already on the camera, so I left it there. Say what you will about zoom lenses, and this zoom lens in particular — Ken Rockwell calls it one of Nikon’s worst lenses ever — but I like this lens. It’s sharp enough, the zoom range is super useful for the subjects I shoot on photowalks, and it offers a macro mode. The wicked barrel distortion evident at its wide end is easily corrected in Photoshop.
I am pleased with the rich color this film delivered. It hits a sweet spot between realistic and deep. These are the colors I remember when I was on the scene, but they’re richer, deeper somehow, and they make me want to go back and experience them again in person.
This place, by the way, is Broad Ripple, a hip neighborhood on Indianapolis’s Northside. I visited it because it’s so colorful. I loved being able to shoot this ISO 400 slide film on a cloudy day — most slide films I’ve shot before are much slower, ISO 50 or ISO 100, requiring slower shutter speeds and a steadier hand.
I also shot some of this roll on a bright, sunny day in downtown Fishers. This was the last time I shot any film there before I lost the job that brought me there five days a week. I hated that long, tedious commute and don’t miss it. There’s no good way to get to Fishers from anywhere. After you’re there, though, it’s not too bad.
The Provia 400X kept on delivering. Just look at those blues and greens.
Here’s a quick look down one of Fishers’ few remaining original downtown streets. I showed you some of them not long ago in this post. I’m sure that in the next few years this will all be gone in favor of urban density. I shot this in late October, just as the trees were beginning to turn. We had an unusually warm early autumn, which delayed the onset of color. But when it came, it came fast and intense. The trees were largely bare after just a couple weeks.
The 35-70mm lens’s macro mode let me get right up on some of the leaves.
Provia 400X’s speed let me experiment with a few shots inside. The subject isn’t terribly interesting but the colors are spot on with reality — after I Photoshopped out a green caste that the ambient incandescent lighting imparted.
I tried a bathroom selfie. My black hoodie was a bit of a stretch for the Provia, even with 240 watts of light burning right over my head.
I also made a quick trip to The Ruins at Holliday Park in Indianapolis. I just love that place. I need to go photograph it proper one day and show it to you. This one photo will have to do for now.
My other slide-film experience has been a single roll of Velvia 50 and a whole bunch of Ektachrome E100G. The Velvia is super ultra saturated, which would be fun sometimes but isn’t my style most of the time. The E100G is nice stuff but a little too blue. This Provia really hits a sweet spot for me: realistic but rich color rendition.
Fujifilm doesn’t make Provia 400X anymore, and remaining stocks are all past their use-by dates. This roll was expired, but Stephen obviously stored it properly and it performed as new. This is very nice stuff and it’s a shame it’s discontinued.
It’s a surprisingly twisty highway, State Road 45 between Bloomington and Bean Blossom here in Indiana. But then, this is about where the glaciers stopped flattening this state. North from here, roads run straight for as far as the eye can see; south from here, they must follow at times challenging terrain. State Road 45 leads the pack. I’ve photographed this road before, in 2013 (here) and 2006 (here), but never before in the autumn. This overcast but bright day gave surprisingly delicious light for capturing the colors and textures here.
My old friend Dawn and I made our annual road trip recently. We tried to tour the old alignments of State Road 37 between Indianapolis and Bloomington. But from a bit south of Martinsville we were stymied: SR 37 was actively being reconstructed to become I-69, and the old alignments were no longer reachable.
The last old alignment before the construction zone includes this 1925 pony-truss bridge over Indian Creek. On earlier tours of this road I was able to drive across this bridge, but it is now closed and slated for demolition. Sad, sad face. I’ll share more photos in an upcoming post.
Once in a while I’ll take a day off work just to go out into the world and be alone. I usually do it after a particularly stressful period. Exploring the world distracts me for a while, and being alone recharges me.
This particular day I chose to stay close to home. I took my old Kodak digital camera over to Holliday Park for a hike through the woods to take in the autumn color.