This summer as I’ve ridden my bicycle around, I’ve slipped whatever camera had film in it into the pannier. It hasn’t worked out as well as I’d hoped; camera after camera, roll after roll, many of the images are quite hazy from (I presume) a lens fogged by the humidity inside the bag. When my Olympus Trip 35 found its way into the pannier, it suffered from this, too. Here are some images I was able to rescue well enough in Photoshop.
This bar and restaurant is a couple miles north of the house in old Whitestown.
I was surprised to find this sign on a country road. I probably shouldn’t have been; there are plenty of horses out here, and plenty of wealthy people who would use the word equestrian instead of horse.
I love the look of this property and have photographed it several times. The trees near the end of the lane are probably peach trees — last time I drove by, there were big buckets full of fruit, labeled “Free Peaches,” at the end of their driveway.
One of my usual rides takes me over I-865. Here it is northbound, its end visible in the photo.
It was a gray day when I dropped one of our cars off at my mechanic’s in Carmel and rode home. I seldom get to ride out here and made sure my route home passed by the stunning Mormon Temple.
That route home took me past Coxhall Gardens, a park I’ve photographed many times. You can see a little haze still in this photograph.
By the time I got back to Zionsville, my lens had gone all foggy. I wish I’d checked it and wiped it before making several shots. Perhaps I need to find a different way to carry a camera while on the bike. This pedestrian bridge is near Lions Park on the east edge of town.
On September 15, 2007, one of my oldest friends and I went in search of the original alignments of US 31 in Indiana from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site back then, but am now bringing those articles over to this blog.
US 31 followed its original path for the next 26 miles to Westfield, which it then bypassed. When you look at Westfield on a map it looks small, its downtown just a short strip along State Road 32, with some cul-de-sac neighborhoods extending north and south from there. But Westfield is a sparse, sprawling suburb of about eight square miles, a place to have a home while you work elsewhere. Still, it adopted a city-style government the first of 2008 and is now officially considered a city in Indiana. But without nearby Indianapolis, it would only be a little town in the country.
Because of its growth, US 31 bypasses downtown Westfield, but the city swallowed the bypass some time ago. This map shows the northern two-thirds of the route.
Here’s where we turned onto old US 31. There is a long stub of old US 31 between the top of this curve and current US 31, too.
This photo shows old US 31 southbound as it heads toward Westfield.
The old town of Westfield is a nicely-kept typical Indiana town. This northbound photo is of old US 31 a block or so before Main St.
This bank building is on the northeast corner of downtown Westfield. It’s an antique shop, and as far as I could tell the most prominent business on this corner.
Here’s the southbound road leaving downtown.
This map shows how US 31 curves back to the road’s original path.
Here’s where old US 31 curves to end at current US 31, for completism’s sake.
Not that long ago, Westfield and Carmel were separated by a couple miles of Hamilton County farmland. Today, Westfield ends, and Carmel begins, at 146th St., where US 31 swings west, State Road 431 begins and swings east, and Rangeline Road goes straight south, perfectly in the direction of US 31 before this intersection. I vaguely remember being able to turn on and off 146th St here years ago, but the last time they rebuilt this intersection they made 146th St. an overpass. You can get to it from US 31 using Greyhound Pass. This map shows how it works. Before current US 31 and Keystone Parkway (labeled 431 on the map) were built, US 31 went straight south on Rangeline Road. (This ramp system was heavily revised in the early 2010s.)
Unfortunately, Brian and I didn’t know that when we made this trip. Rangeline Road goes through downtown Carmel and enters Indianapolis as Westfield Road. It goes through the Broad Ripple neighborhood as Westfield Boulevard, and connects with Indianapolis’s Meridian Street just south of the Central Canal. US 31 then followed Meridian Street to downtown Indianapolis. Here’s Rangeline Road northbound toward US 31.
Here’s a closer look showing that Rangeline Road is not through. To get to US 31, you curve left and turn right. (You did in 2007, anyway. Today, you can’t get onto US 31 here. There’s a roundabout here, and an overpass that carries US 31 over a connector road about where the Jeep is, to a shopping center on the other side.)
Instead, Brian and I followed the first alignment of US 31 after the Rangeline/Westfield alignment in Carmel, which is Old Meridian Street. It’s the road that runs diagonally south and east of US 31 on this map.
This northbound photo is of the narrow stub in the upper right corner of the map. This narrow road hasn’t been highway for a very long time.
Brian and I had tried for months to make this trip happen. If we had done it earlier in the year, we would have missed all of the construction on Old Meridian Street, and would have had a record of this road as two lanes. By the time we could take this trip, the road was being widened to four lanes and roundabouts were being installed at three of its intersections. This photo shows the roundabout under construction near St. Vincent Hospital.
Upscale shops and restaurants are being built with high-end condos above. The lighter gray pavement is the original Old Meridian St., still striped for two-way traffic.
Another roundabout was being built at Pennsylvania Ave. All this construction is finished as I write this.
Shortly Old Meridian Street ended at US 31 and we turned left onto the current highway. (You can’t do this anymore; Old Meridian Street dead ends here southbound. A ramp from US 31 allows northbound drivers to reach Old Meridian Street, however.) Our map labeled a short road at 116th St. as Old Meridian St. We went to look, but it was part of a parking lot. We wondered if an older iteration of this road had not been such a straight shot, and this was where the old road had gone before the parking lot was paved. Brian, who had caught the old-alignment bug in a bad way, searched around the woods south of the parking lot for signs of the old road, but found nothing.
It wasn’t that long ago that Hamilton County, Indiana, was mostly farmland. When I moved to central Indiana in the mid 1990s, if you drove north from Indianapolis into Hamilton County, city rapidly gave way to corn and soybean fields.
Today, it’s all developed. The Hamilton County towns of Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville have annexed a great deal of the county and, one by one, farmers have sold their land to developers. Office buildings line the major roads now. Everywhere else you’ll find homes, ranging from inexpensive vinyl-village subdivisions, to gated communities of stone and brick homes, to sprawling estates. You’ll also find the suburban shopping centers that follow residential development.
Jesse and Beulah Cox foresaw this all happening. They bought the farm of original Hamilton County settler John Williams in 1958, and by 1974 they had built their dream home on the property. In 1999, they donated their property to the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department to preserve their land, to “create an oasis in a sea of homes,” Jesse said. Their farm, now known as Coxhall Gardens, is a sprawling park. It’s also one of my frequent photographic destinations.
Williams began farming this land in 1855, and built this house on it in 1865.
As you drive by, this house is largely hidden by a row of trees. When the Coxes bought the property, they lived in the Williams house at first.
The Williams’ barn still stands near the house.
Looming behind the barn is the mansion the Coxes built in 1974. (But first, they built and lived in a single-story ranch in what looks like limestone. It still stands, but I’ve never photographed it.)
I was surprised to learn that this large, solid home was built so recently. It looks like something from a hundred years before.
I especially enjoy the mansion during the warm months, because it is lushly landscaped.
I don’t know the significance of this statue, but I like it and have photographed it a number of times.
I’m partial to this photo of my wife on the mansion’s steps.
Not far from the mansion is the ampitheater. The rotunda-like stage is large enough only for a small performance, such as a musical quartet.
Many times I’ve found people here making wedding photographs. This would be a lovely setting for an outdoor wedding.
This monument to the Coxes, featuring their quote about the “sea of homes,” stands at the back of the ampitheater.
When you walk behind the ampitheater, you find yourself on a bridge over a large pond. From there, you can easily see the park’s two large clocks.
Here’s one of the clocks from a little closer. I don’t know what their significance is, but they are a defining feature in the park. Notice the bells below the clock. I’ve never heard them ring.
This is the bridge behind the ampitheater.
Finally, there’s a little “wild west” village in a back corner of Coxhall Gardens, which I imagine might be fun for children.
You’ll find the entrance to Coxhall Gardens on Towne Road, just north of 116th Street, in Carmel, Indiana.
Your table awaits Pentax Spotmatic F 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar Ferrania P30 Alpha Rodinal 1+50 2020
The last two years for my birthday I had everyone in the family who could make it meet at Muldoon’s, an Irish pub in Carmel. The first year it was nice enough outside to sit here, on the patio. They make outstanding nachos. I know, nachos at an Irish pub. They call it Irish pizza. It’s loaded with crumbled sausage — unique and delicious. The cheese is top quality. It’s a giant calorie bomb but it’s soooo goooood.
Who knows where we’ll be in the coronapocalypse on my birthday this year, but I’m not feeling great about returning to Muldoon’s for a third year. I haven’t figured out yet what my birthday celebration will look like, or whether I’ll be able to see any of our children that don’t live with us.
Later, some remorse crept in. Then a reader offered to send me a Retina IIa he’d come upon but did not need. Oooh yeah baby. Here it is.
My first Retina IIa was an early one, because it had a Compur Rapid shutter. Those were made only in the first three months of this camera’s run, starting in 1951. This one has the more common Synchro Compur shutter of later IIas. Kodak stopped making the Retina IIa in 1954. The serial number on this one identifies it as from late in the run, April, 1954. Even though its focusing scale is in feet, the serial number doesn’t identify it as a US export camera. It was probably sold in a military PX overseas.
This one got some heavy use. Some of the exposed metal on the body is a little chewed up. The winder feels like grinding sand, and at the end of the throw you have to push it a little extra to fully wind and cock the shutter. The focusing ring is stiff, and there’s a spot where it catches and you have to push a little harder to get it through. The rangefinder patch is dim. A good CLA should restore it to full functioning, but some of the cosmetic damage is probably permanent.
This IIa comes with the 50mm f/2 Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenon lens. I hear you could get a IIa with a 50mm f/2 Rodenstock Retina-Heligon lens, but I’ve never seen one. The lens stops down to f/16. The Synchro-Compur shutter operates from 1 to 1/500 second. I do like shutters with 1/500 because then I can shoot ISO 400 films in them more easily.
The raised button on the bottom plate opens the camera. To close it, first focus the lens to infinity — the camera won’t close unless you do this. Then press in the chrome and black buttons on the top and bottom of the lens board, and push the cover closed.
When you load film, twist the knurled ring atop the winding lever to set the film counter to the number of exposures on your roll. If you forget, and the counter reaches zero before you’ve finished the roll, the shutter won’t fire. If that happens to you, just twist the ring to a nonzero number and keep going.
If you like Kodak Retinas, by the way, I’ve reviewed a bunch of ’em: the Retina Ia (here), the Retinette IA (here), the Retina IIc (here), the Retinette II (here), the Retina Automatic III (here), and the Retina Reflex IV (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
I was delighted to get this camera. But when I pushed a roll of Fujicolor 200 through it, I didn’t fall in love. I know what a joy a well-functioning Retina is to use, and this IIa’s balky winder and sticky focusing ring held the joy at bay.
I took this Retina IIa to Carmel, a northern suburb of Indianapolis, on a day off from work two weeks before the coronavirus confined us all to our homes. Statues like these are all over Carmel’s downtown — and they’re just weird. This is the least weird one. It made my favorite photo on the roll.
Later, the images came back from the processor — and each one was thick with fog and haze. I hung my head. I know that when I get an old fixed-lens camera of unknown provenance, I need to inspect the lens before putting film into it. Half the time the lens is dirty. A quick swab with isopropyl alcohol clears everything up and I avoid hazy photos. I know this. I KNOW THIS. Yet I fail to do it nearly every time, and half the time I get haze.
Thankfully, Photoshop made most of the images useful. It cleaned up this photo of Bub’s perfectly. If you’re ever in Carmel, do get a cheeseburger at Bub’s. They’re mighty good. There’s a Bub’s in Zionsville, where I live, too.
Many of the photos still show some residual haze. Oh well. I’ve done the best I can with them.
I remember shooting my first Retina, a Ia, in 2008. I really stumbled and bumbled my way through those first couple of rolls. I’ve gained a lot of experience with old gear since then. It’s nice to be able to pick up a camera like this now and be able to just get to work with it. I metered with an app on my iPhone. I shot the whole roll at 1/250 or 1/500 sec. because you never know about an old shutter’s slower speeds.
I made a day out of shooting this Retina IIa (and a Pentax Spotmatic F I also had along). I had lunch at an Irish pub on Main Street and then drove over to Broad Ripple in Indianapolis for more shooting.
By this time I was used to this particular Retina’s quirks and shot it fluidly. Even a battle-weary Retina can be a pleasant enough companion.
I revisited subjects I’ve shot many times, including the Monon bridge and this periwinkle storefront. There’s something comforting about returning to familiar subjects.
I finished the roll in my neighborhood.
This was the only (partly) sunny moment any of the times I had the Retina on my hands. I love how the fence fades off into the distance.
It’s been a long time since I used a Retina IIa, and I forgot the one thing about the camera I dislike: rewinding. The knob is short and hard to grasp, and the accessory shoe gets in the way as you twist it. Rewinding is a long session of short twists. You also have to press and hold the recessed button on the bottom plate the whole time. Yecch.
I’m likely to pass this Retina IIa along to a collector who will give it the tender loving care it deserves. I don’t know that I’m the man for the job.
I’m starting to develop 35mm black-and-white film now. It was my goal all along — I started with 120 because it let me shoot a roll fast so I could get to the developing. I shoot way more 35mm than 120 normally.
Last week I shared a roll of Arista EDU 200 I shot, developed, and scanned. I thought surely it and my whole box of to-shoot film was damaged by a space heater I kept too close by. But a commenter said “hey, maybe your Rodinal has gone weak.” I did open a new bottle of Rodinal to process some Eastman Double-X 5222 and, spoiler alert, it turned out perfect. So it was the Rodinal. Maybe I didn’t get the cap on right last time, and for the little bit left in the bottle the air scotched it.
I didn’t get that comment before I used that potentially compromised bottle of Rodinal to process this P30. Several photos turned out reasonably well. They might have looked better in fresh Rodinal. But they show P30’s signature characteristics: nearly undetectable grain, rich blacks, strong contrast, and a reasonable tonal range.
I shot this roll in my Pentax Spotmatic F with the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar lens attached. I developed it in Rodinal 1+50 at 21° C for 12 minutes, 40 seconds. Ferrania advises 20° C for 14 minutes, but the ambient temperature led to 21° developer and I had to adjust development time. I used the Massive Dev Chart’s converter. The first two shots are from downtown Carmel, and the next four are from Broad Ripple.
Some photos didn’t fare as well. Anything with significant amounts of sky in it suffered. I shot all of these around Broad Ripple.
Interestingly, the film closest to the outside of the roll fared the worst. This is one of the first photos I made on this roll. It still shows P30’s signature rich blacks, despite being so mottled overall.
One last photo, just because I like it. That’s my wedding ring on the ring holder thing we keep near the kitchen sink. It’s Belleek pottery; we bought it at the Belleek factory in Northern Ireland when we visited a few years ago.
I have one last roll of P30 Alpha, which I just retrieved from my freezer. I’ll shoot it soon and I expect far better results from it, developed with fresh Rodinal 1+50.