Contemplating boy Yashica-12 Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8-2006)
Inside Crown Hill Cemetery, as you go up what turns out to be the highest hill in Indianapolis, you find the graves of some of our city’s most prominent and wealthy citizens. The markers can be elaborate, sometimes even gaudy.
This statue of a kneeling boy sits on a concrete bench marked “Home Sweet Home.” No name is given. It’s unusual for this part of the cemetery. I’ve always wondered this statue’s story.
I took the Yashica-12 and a roll of the original Fujifilm Velvia to Crown Hill Cemetery to photograph some autumn color.
A friend sent me this roll of Velvia a few years ago. It’s the original Velvia, code RVP, expired since August of 2006 but always stored frozen. I’d forgotten about it until the fridge in the garage died. It was where I stored my film.
The Velvia had been on my mind ever since. I hoped to bring it out at autumn’s peak, but wow has life been busy. I had a three-hour window one Saturday what turned out to be two weeks before peak. I loaded the Velvia into the Yashica-12 and headed for Crown Hill Cemetery.
Where do you go for everyday shooting? Do you have some favorite places, places that seldom let you down?
The sprawling grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art used to be that place for me. It’s a few minutes’ drive from my home and offers a wonderful variety of subjects: nature, architecture, sculpture, landscape.
I haven’t been there in more than a year, though, since they started charging $18 per visit, even just to walk the grounds. I wrote this screed when they announced the charge, and I’m still ticked about it.
I think it’s the shock over having to pay so much for something that formerly was free. The IMA puts a ton of effort into its grounds. I understand that they have to cover their operating costs, and they are choosing this charge as one way of doing that.
They also offer an annual pass for $55. I used to visit the IMA’s grounds a dozen or so times a year for photography, and on an annual pass that works out to $4.50 per visit. In my screed I said I thought I’d buy a pass, but I haven’t done it.
It’s because there are so many other places I can go with my camera that cost nothing. One of my favorites is Crown Hill Cemetery, on the opposite corner from the IMA. It’s enormous and lovely. I’ve featured photos from there on this blog for years.
I also take a fair number of photos at Washington Park North Cemetery, as it’s within walking distance of my home. It’s not nearly as picturesque as Crown Hill, but it’s easy to reach.
I also like to walk the streets in Broad Ripple, a popular neighborhood with a lively “strip” of bars and clubs, quaint shops on the side streets, and lovely older homes for blocks around. I can get there by car in 10 minutes.
But still, I miss the IMA. I made so many wonderful photographs there. It was a great place to test a new-to-me old camera because of the variety of things available to photograph. None of my other haunts are as good.
I wish the IMA well and hope they thrive. But I also hope that someday they drop the charge to walk the grounds.
But please, do tell me in the comments about the places you visit again and again for photography.
I’d been casually looking at prime Nikkor lenses for my Nikon SLRs, hoping to find a bargain on a 50mm f/1.4. Along the way I found a 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E lens. It probably doesn’t let in enough extra light over my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor to matter, but it was only $30 — and it came attached to this Nikon N2000 body. So I bought the kit.
I favor all-metal, all-mechanical SLRs from the 1960s and 1970s, but this SLR from 19850 appealed to me anyway. The 80s were years of transition among SLRs — to plastic parts, to auto-everything, to electronic control. The N2000 shows that transition, with its plastic body, automatic winder, and program modes — but old-school dials (rather than menus), manual focus, and no built-in flash.
This camera ushered in a number of Nikon firsts: first plastic body, first automatic winder, first DX film decoding. It features a metal focal-plane shutter that operates from 1/2000 to 1 sec., single-shot or continuous (at about 3 frames per second) shooting modes, aperture-priority autoexposure and two program modes (regular and “high” to freeze moving subjects), and a hot shoe. Its DX decoder recognizes films from ISO 25 to 4000, or you can manually dial in ISO from 12 to 3200. (I wonder why the ranges are different.) The N2000 runs on four AAA batteries, and is useless without them.
When new, the N2000 came with the 50mm f/1.8 Series E lens. These lenses were apparently looked down upon for being made with plastic components. Indeed, this lens doesn’t feel as high quality under use as my all-metal f/2 AI Nikkor. But it’s thin and light, making it a great companion for this light body. And optically, it’s outstanding.
By the way, if you’re into Nikon SLRs please check out my reviews of the N90s (here), the N65 (here), and the N8008 (here). I’ve also reviewed the F2 (here) and F3 (here), as well as the FA (here). You can check out all the cameras I’ve ever reviewed here.
I started with a roll of Fujicolor 200 and took some of my typical test shots. I liked how the N2000 handled — light and easy, yet entirely familiar to the general Nikon SLR idiom. Controls all fell right to hand. I tried program mode for a couple shots, but didn’t usually like its exposure choices. I switched to aperture-priority mode and never went back.
Just look at that Series E lens’s ability to resolve detail.
The N2000’s autoexposure system handled challenging situations well enough, such as resolving the light vs. the shadows on this scene of the 14th fairway behind my house.
Even when the light wasn’t very dynamic, that Series E lens returned good contrast. I daresay I like it better than my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor. The N2000 can take that lens or any other AI or AI-S Nikkor.
I took the N2000 along when Margaret and I walked through Garfield Park a few days before Halloween. Autumn colors were near their peak.
Garfield Park features a 10,000-square-foot conservatory and a sunken garden, which we toured. I love the sharpness and color this lens delivers.
Our day continued in Crown Hill Cemetery. By this time, I’d finished the roll of Fujicolor and had loaded some Ektar 100. You know I’m really enjoying a new-to-me camera when I load more film immediately after finishing the test roll.
The sun finally came out that afternoon, warming the colors up considerably. Even on a cloudy day, though, the Ektar outclasses the Fujicolor.
There I was, happily making photographs with the Nikon F2 that was generously donated to the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras, when the same donor e-mailed me asking: Would I like a Nikon F3 that he didn’t use anymore?
Does a wino want a case of Thunderbird?
I can’t add anything to the F3 story that the Internet hasn’t already catalogued. Camera-wiki tells the tale well enough. The sketch: introduced in 1980 to succeed the venerable F2, the F3 required batteries to operate (two LR44 or SR44 button cells), which initially alienated most photographers, who trusted all-manual cameras. Then Nikon went on to manufacture the F3 for a whopping 21 years. Clearly, photographers got over it.
The HP in this F3’s name stands for High Eyepoint, which is that big round viewfinder. Glasses-wearing photographers are supposed to have an easier time seeing into a High Eyepoint viewfinder. I wouldn’t know; I wear contacts. If you look on eBay, you’ll find more F3HPs than regular F3s.
The F3 finally brought aperture-priority autoexposure to Nikon’s flagship camera. (See the A on the shutter-speed dial?) I love aperture-priority shooting, but after shooting the F2 all year I’ve adapted surprisingly well to setting both aperture and shutter speed. I could happily keep shooting the F2 as my only camera forever. But I admit, I enjoyed setting aperture and letting the F3 figure out the shutter speed. It displays both in the viewfinder: the aperture directly off the lens barrel, and shutter speed in a little LED panel. Some people complain that the LED panel is too small and dim, but it was fine for my purposes. The shutter operates steplessly from 8 sec to 1/2000 sec, although the display shows the nearest standard speed.\
By the way, if you groove on the F3 then also check out my reviews of the F2A (here) and F2AS (here). I’ve also reviewed the FA (here), N2000 (here), N90s (here), N60 (here), and N65 (here). Or just check out all of my camera reviews here.
Otherwise, using the F3 feels mighty familiar after shooting the F2 all year. I clipped on my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens, dropped in two button cells, loaded some Arista Premium 400, and got shooting.
The F3 accompanied me on a trip to Columbus, Ohio. I stopped for coffee in the Short North neighborhood. I crouched low to photograph the counter.
If you like galleries and shops, you’ll like the Short North. One out-of-the-way gallery featured an artist who paints with egg tempera. You can lose yourself in the detail and color in her work. We got to meet the artist, but only after these well-behaved little dogs cleared the way.
When we stepped into the Big Fun store, we entered a world of 1970s and 1980s pop culture and kitsch. Old lunchboxes lined one wall of the store, but I couldn’t find a replacement for the Big Jim lunch box I had in first grade. Darnit.
On another outing I loaded some Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 and shot this trestle in St. Charles, Illinois, still with the 50/2 AI Nikkor.
Yet I seem to lean on black-and-white film in the F3 most of the time. I came upon some expired but always cold stored Kodak Plus-X and made this image under the bridge at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
The F3 handles easily, far more easily than you’d expect given its bulk. The controls all feel velvety smooth yet built to last.
Fomapan 200 and that 50/2 lens are a winning combination. By this roll I’d learned the F3’s ways and it disappeared in my hands when I went on this photowalk.
I made the photo above from the Indiana War Memorial; below is a detail from the Memorial itself.
This whatever-it-is was new in the cemetery near my home. I love the tones I got in this photo, and the detail in the sky.
Finally, someone gifted me some Fujifilm Superia 100, so I clipped on my 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor and moved in close for this photo.