Exploring the Boone County Courthouse

Exploring the Boone County Courthouse
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 (at EI 200)

Early Ford Explorers are mighty rare now thanks to Cash for Clunkers almost a decade ago. And this is a very early one, wearing its first “face” (headlights and grille). It’s from the early 1990s. It’s hard to believe that’s 25 or more years ago now.

Margaret and I had just taken a photo walk in Lebanon, the seat of justice in Boone County, Indiana, and had stopped on the square for a pint of stout at the local brewery. We sat in the window and had a good view of the courthouse.

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Film Photography, Preservation

single frame: Exploring the Boone County Courthouse

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Wet Matrix

Wet Matrix
Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK
Kentmere 100
2015

Tomorrow I’ll publish an Operation Thin the Herd report on my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK. Here’s a frame from the previous time I used that camera. I’m not a giant fan of Kentmere 100 — I’ve had terrible luck with its highlights blowing out. Yet my Contessa managed that well in any light. It seems to “get” this budget film.

And just look at the great detail that Tessar lens captured on my former Toyota’s flank. Count those water drops! If you guess focus right, the Contessa does credible close work. But don’t ask it to shoot macro: it focuses down to only one meter.

I might have a couple more rolls of the Kentmere in the freezer. I know which camera I’m putting them through.

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Film Photography

single frame: Wet Matrix

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Life

Ich habe einen Volkswagen gekauft

Ich habe einen Volkswagen gekauft

At last, a new car. A new-to-me car at any rate: a 2013 VW Passat 2.5 S.

With that, my beloved Toyota Matrix is finally gone. I wrote its eulogy last September (read it here) after it developed several problems that would cost far more to fix than the car was worth. One of those problems made the car a safety risk on the road.

But then I dragged my feet on selling it. In part, I struggled to let go of my baby. In part, other priorities kept winning over selling a beater car. In part, I wanted more from it than the $200 my mechanic offered me so he could part it out.

But then late in January it became essential that my family have three safe and reliable automobiles. My wife and I both own Ford Focuses that, despite age and high mileage, are entirely roadworthy. I had to act, and fast, to replace the Matrix.

My wife and I set a budget and I went shopping. That budget was low enough and time was enough of the essence that my purchase criteria were very broad: under 50,000 miles, good reliability reputation, four doors, usable back seat. I looked at a handful of cars and SUVs before coming upon this Passat.

The back seat is cavernous. Our 6′2″ youngest son can sit back there with easily four inches between his knees and the back of my seat. Finally, a comfortable trip car for the family!

The automotive press panned the 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder engine for lacking power compared to the competition. I’ve not driven other midsize sedans, but this Passat has plenty of scoot for me, especially when I drop the transmission into Sport mode. Whee! Fusions and Accords and Camrys must be blazing quick.

The press also criticized the Passat’s generic styling. Can’t say they’re wrong.

After so many years driving inexpensive economy cars, I feel like a real grown up driving this large, comfortable car. But it feels like a wasteful amount of car for me to drive alone to and from work, which is what I use it for most. I take solace in the fact that it gets gas mileage at least as good as my lamented Matrix and my Focus!

Oh, and the trade-in value on a beater 2003 Toyota Matrix: $750. Score!

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Carmel Artomobilia 2017

DeSoto
Pentax ME, 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M
Fujicolor 100
2017

DeSoto seems like such an odd name for an automobile. But until it went defunct in the early 1960s, I’m sure it seemed as normal as Chevrolet.

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Film Photography, Old cars, Photography

single frame: DeSoto

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Old cars

Carspotting 2017

I photograph old cars wherever I find them parked. 2017 turned out to be a great year for finding them — this is probably the biggest harvest since I started doing this, back in 2012. What a bumper crop!

My two rules: the car has to be parked, and it has to be at least 20 years old. And so, here now the cars.

1961 Ford Falcon

1961 Ford Falcon. Margaret and I had finished a big dinner at our favorite Broad Ripple restaurant and were walking the surrounding neighborhood when we came upon this like-new Falcon. It has to have been restored at some point, pretty faithfully (I do question those dog-dish hubcaps).

1968 Buick Skylark

1968 Buick Skylark. I had to move fast, as this car was preparing for takeoff. I spotted it in the parking lot at the Walmart Neighborhood Market near where I used to live.

1968 Chevrolet Camaro

1968 Chevrolet Camaro. The parking lot behind the Nickel Plate Bar and Grill in Fishers turned out to be fertile ground for old cars this year. It’s always nice to come upon a Camaro that hasn’t been resto-modded into a firebreathing muscle car.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro

1969 Chevrolet Camaro. Like this one has. At least it is tastefully done. By the way, I lived in my old neighborhood ten years and saw exactly one old car parked there…until this year. This was the first of several I saw, but I managed to photograph only this one and one other.

1970 Pontiac Firebird Esprit

1970 Pontiac Firebird Esprit. Where the Camaro above was obviously a restoration, this Firebird is an unrestored original. That’s how I prefer them! Just check out the nicks in the paint. This was another find in the nearby Walmart parking lot.

1973 Chrysler Newport Custom

1973 Chrysler Newport Custom. This is far and away my favorite find of the year. My cigar-chomping great uncle William drove a car much like this one. I remember riding in my dad’s car once as we followed William somewhere. His windshield washer nozzles were misaimed, and he took great delight in spraying washer fluid all the way over his car and onto the hood of Dad’s 1971 Chevy Impala while we waited at a light. This was another find in the Nickel Plate parking lot.

1975 Ford Thunderbird

1975 Ford Thunderbird. A neighbor in my old neighborhood kept this car parked behind his house for several months before it suddenly appeared curbside. Turns out he’d listed it on Craigslist. It lingered here for several weeks, but finally disappeared.

1973-74 VW Thing

1973-74 VW Thing. My Toyota needed some attention from my mechanic. As I parked it on his lot I spied this funky little Thing looking pretty used up.

1977 Chevrolet Corvette

1977 Chevrolet Corvette. While taking my sons out for dinner in Fishers, we came upon this electric blue Corvette. On the one hand I respect it for surviving, but on the other I’m not much of a fan of these boulevard cruisers.

1977 Ford F-150

1977 Ford F-150. A building is going up next door to where I work in Fishers, and all manner of the workers’ trucks park nearby. This is by far the oldest truck I’ve seen.

1977-81 Pontiac Firebird

1977-81 Pontiac Firebird. On the day I helped my youngest son start his college career at the University of Indianapolis, we came upon this yellow Firebird on campus. Another unrestored survivor!

1983 Buick Skylark

1983 Buick Skylark. I see this car on the road near my office almost every day. It passes by at about 11 am, like clockwork, beneath the window of a conference room where I have a daily meeting. One day I spotted it parked at the McDonald’s down the street. I never thought of these “J cars” as particularly well built, so it’s always a surprise to find one still rolling.

1983 Jeep Wagoneer

1983 Jeep Wagoneer Brougham. Indiana lets drivers of antique cars use old license plates from the car’s model year. The plate on this one was from 1983, but this grille is from 1974. Maybe the owner liked that grille better and bolted it onto his Wagoneer. Wagoneer Broughams (as this car is badged) were made only from 1981-83. It was the mid-level trim those three years, slotting below the base model and the upper-trim Limited.

1987-89 Chevy Celebrity

1987-89 Chevrolet Celebrity. I was very surprised to find this well-used old car in a very tony Zionsville neighborhood.

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. Olds made Cutlass Cieras with composite headlamps and the original six-window greenhouse for just one year: 1988. Spotted in downtown Fishers.

1989-95 Plymouth Acclaim

1989-95 Plymouth Acclaim. These changed so little across their run that it’s very hard to know which model year this one is. I always think of these as the perfect car for people who don’t like cars. My friend Elsa owned one twenty years ago when I first met her. She doesn’t care at all about cars. She’s owned two Accords since, and still says her Acclaim was her favorite car. Spotted in downtown Fishers.

1990-2000 BMW 3 seires

199x BMW 3-series. It’s hard to believe that BMW made these for so many years. To me, this is the ultimate 3-series body. I found this on the same day and in the same place as the 1977 Corvette. You can see the Vette’s hood through the BMW’s greenhouse.

1992-95 Pontiac Bonneville

1992-95 Pontiac Bonneville SE. Hard to believe these now qualify as old. Spotted at the Fishers Super Target.

1993-94 Ford Explorer Limited

1993-94 Ford Explorer Limited. Hard to believe given how many of these Ford made, but these early Explorers are quite rare today. Perhaps the Obama-era Cash for Clunkers program did a lot of them in. I found this one at the 38th St. Meijer (big-box store similar to Walmart) in Indianapolis.

1993-95 Chrysler LeBaron GTC

1993-95 Chrysler LeBaron GTC. The LeBaron was once a high-end Chrysler. This compact convertible had nothing to do with the model’s history and should have been named something else. Another find in the Nickel Plate parking lot.

1994-99 Dodge or Plymouth Neon

1994-99 Dodge/Plymouth Neon. I suppose this Neon could be newer than 20 years old, but it’s hard to tell just by looking at it, as Chrysler didn’t change these much over their manufacturing run. Someone sure slathered on the aftermarket trim bits, though. Spotted in the parking lot of my previous employer.

1995-96 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

1995-96 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. Spotted at an Indianapolis Dairy Queen, this Camaro was in mighty fine shape considering how badly these were flogged by their teenaged second, third, and fourth owners.

1995-97 Ford Contour

1995-97 Ford Contour. Another once-common car that’s mighty thin on the ground today, this early Contour was waiting for its owner at the 38th Street Indianapolis Meijer.

There! A whopping 23 cars this year. That’s almost one every two weeks! A remarkable harvest for here in Rustopia.

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Speeding

Speeding
iPhone 6s
2017

One of the cool features of my Toyota Matrix is how its gauges are invisible until you turn the car on. I think the display looks especially cool at night.

Astute readers may be curious as to why my car’s redline is so high, 7,800 RPM. It’s a feature of Toyota’s 2ZZ-GE four-cylinder engine, which was designed by Yamaha and built in Japan. It’s the go-fast engine in Toyota’s ZZ engine family. You’ll find versions of this engine in several Toyotas and, surprisingly, one Pontiac and two Lotuses.

Revving the engine past 6,200 RPM activates a second camshaft profile that boosts speed suddenly and considerably. It feels like turbo and is great fun. Unfortunately, my Matrix is hobbled with an automatic transmission, making it hard to reach the revs necessary to have this fun. If you ever buy a 2ZZ-GE-equipped Matrix (it will have the XRS badge on the hatch), go for the six-speed manual transmission.

I’m still talking about this car in the present tense because I haven’t disposed of it yet. It still has the front-end problems that aren’t worth fixing given the car’s market value. It’s days remain numbered. But with everything else going on I haven’t found time to deal with getting rid of it yet.

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Photography

single frame: Speeding

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