Photography, Road Trips

Touring Arlington National Cemetery

If you know the region, you’re not at all surprised to see a photograph from Arlington National Cemetery that includes the Washington Monument. But for people like me who grew up more than 600 miles away, for whom this cemetery was only ever seen through television on a significant anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, it was a surprise.

Arlington National Cemetery

Indeed, Arlington National Cemetery is on one side of the Potomac River, and the National Mall is on the other. The cemetery is just a mile from the Lincoln Memorial. The Arlington Memorial Bridge connects the two sites.

Arlington National Cemetery

It’s a truly lovely cemetery of gently rolling hills. I could tell it had been there for a long time as the terrain looked natural. Today, building such a place would certainly begin with big earth-moving equipment to create a desired landscape. Anyway, I was right: veterans have been buried here since the Civil War.

Arlington National Cemetery

Not just any veteran can be buried here. Anyone killed in active duty can, but beyond that the rules are fairly restrictive to honor the limited space.

Arlington National Cemetery

It’s staggering how many of these little grave markers there are, row after row in every direction as far as you can see.

Arlington National Cemetery

We visited just before sunset. The low sun created golden light and long shadows. It was an ideal time of day to visit; it created a reverent atmosphere.

Arlington National Cemetery

Behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the stunning Arlington Memorial Ampitheater, completed in 1920.

Arlington National Cemetery

Its classical style was also enhanced by the setting sun.

Arlington National Cemetery

The cemetery was closing as we reached the last place we wanted to see: the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy’s burial site. This was just after we saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, by which I was so moved that I could not find it in me to photograph Kennedy’s grave. Instead, I turned around and photographed the cemetery as it led away from there.

Arlington National Cemetery

The trees, freshly flowered, were a lovely counterpoint to how I felt: struck by all the loss families had suffered across the generations as their children fought for their country.

Arlington National Cemetery

Canon PowerShot S95

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Cemetery

Cemetery trees
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
Eastman Double-X 5222
2018

I love how, in the winter, cemetery trees provide a counterpoint to the graves. Their littlest branches reach up into the sky as if just asking for a new day.

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Film Photography

single frame: Cemetery trees

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Looking out

Looking out
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
Eastman Double-X 5222
2018

Recently I mounted this autofocus Pentax lens on my Pentax ME to see what it was capable of. I’d been using it on my Pentax K10D DSLR — with great frustration, as the lens too frequently couldn’t lock focus. So I shot it in manual-focus mode most of the time. If I was going to do that, I reasoned, I might as well just shoot it on one of my manual-focus film bodies.

I spent some time in Crown Hill Cemetery with this combo. I’ve made a dozen or more photographs from this vantage point, the highest elevation in Indianapolis and the gravesite of Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. I warmed this one up in Photoshop a little; it’s better for it.

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Film Photography

single frame: Looking out

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Film Photography

Shooting the 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL on the Pentax ME

I bought this autofocus 35mm f/2 lens hoping it would make my digital Pentax K10D SLR into a useful kit. But that combo and I just didn’t bond. I thought maybe, since this lens has a usable manual-focus ring, it might be good on my Pentax film SLR bodies. So mounted it to my Pentax ME to see what it was really capable of.

Looking out

In retrospect I should have shot a film I know very well, like Fujicolor 200, for a more confident evaluation. Instead I shot Eastman Double-X 5222. I had just shot a roll of it in my Canon EOS 630 (as part of Operation Thin the Herd) and wanted to stay in that groove. It’s still enough for me to declare a verdict: this lens is pretty good, delivering great sharpness and smooth bokeh.

Buds

Just look at all the detail in the back of this little reader’s head. If you’ve read this blog for a while you might recognize it as the little reader at the James Whitcomb Riley gravesite in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Reader

I also brought the camera to church one Sunday and made few inside photos after service ended. I have shot this scene a couple times recently — I feel like there’s a good photograph in it, but I haven’t found it yet.

West Park CC

When I evaluate these photos on their merits, I see fine sharpness and detail. So then why do I feel so lukewarm about this lens?

Pews

It’s probably because it was the single most expensive photographic purchase I’ve ever made. I forget exactly what I paid but it was about $250. (Ok, so I’m the last of the big spenders.) For that kind of money I want this lens to absolutely sing.

Sanctuary

And it just didn’t. I could get a manual-focus 35mm Pentax lens for my film bodies for a lot less money and be just as happy with it, I’m sure. I think that’s what I’m going to do, because I find 35mm to be such a useful focal length on a 35mm SLR body.

And with that, my Pentax K10D DSLR experiment comes to an end. I just can’t find a solid purpose for it in my gear stable. I’ll be selling it, this 35mm lens, and a 28-80mm zoom lens I bought for it, on eBay soon.

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Statue

Statue at Crown Hill
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
Eastman Double-X 5222
2018

I was in a Double-X groove after finishing shooting my Canon EOS 630, so I got out another roll for my next project: shooting the autofocus 35/2 SMC Pentax FA-AL on my Pentax ME.

I’ll soon write a whole post about the experience. But I wasn’t bonding with that lens on my digital Pentax K10D and wanted to try it on my favorite K-mount body. I figured that if I didn’t bond with the lens there, I wasn’t going to bond with it anywhere.

I spent a good hour in Crown Hill Cemetery with this combo. This is one of the best photos from the roll.

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Film Photography

single frame: Statue at Crown Hill

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Film Photography

Shooting Konica Chrome Centuria 200

When Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto launched his new site World on Film last summer, he asked me to contribute an article for its debut. That sounded like fun, so I wrote about my Route 66 trip, which I shot on a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye; read it here. To say thanks, he sent me a few rolls of expired slide film. The first one into my Pentax Spotmatic F was 2003-vintage Konica Chrome Centuria 200.

You never know what you’re going to get with expired film. That goes triple for slide film, given its narrow exposure latitude. Conventional wisdom says expose one stop less for every decade a film has been expired. But I’m not conventionally wise: I shot at box speed.

Each frame was badly washed out. Fortunately, Photoshop was able to make usable images out of the entire roll.

At Crown Hill

I started shooting this roll before I moved from Indianapolis to Zionsville. I wanted one more walk through Crown Hill Cemetery, which was so convenient to my former home.

Please sit

I’ve shot this view from Strawberry Hill, the highest elevation in Indianapolis, many times. But never before has it looked like it came straight from a dystopian apocalypse movie.

At the top of Indianapolis

Reading up on this film, I learned that it had a reputation for grain. I got plenty of grain, all right! But these heavily Photoshopped images aren’t a fair representation of what this film could do when it was new.

Down the hill

The 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar lens I used was just right for the cemetery’s wide-open spaces and interesting details.

They served

As a whiskey fan, the very thought that a pump might freely deliver delicious Woodford Reserve bourbon charms me no end. (Check the stamping on the pump body.) My sour mash dreams were dashed when I learned that this pump is from the Woodford Manufacturing Company of Colorado Springs. This looks like their Model Y34, which has been manufactured continually since 1929.

Pump

I finished the roll on an evening walk through Zionsville Village. It’s become tradition that I photograph the Black Dog Books sign. Then Margaret and I stepped inside for the first time, where I found and purchased a book of Edward Weston photographs.

Black dog

This expired stock let every color fade away — except red.

Oak St.

This film was still in my Spotmatic when Margaret and I traveled to Versailles, Indiana, for a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association. We met in a stunning Art Deco church. Look for photos of that church on this expired film in an upcoming post!

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