Photography

Views of Monument Circle from the Columbia Club

My wife and I were invited to her employer’s annual party, held at the Columbia Club on Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis. The Columbia Club is an old-fashioned members club, the kind we can’t afford. But the owners of my wife’s employer can, and they reserved a block of rooms for anyone who wanted to stay the night. We couldn’t turn down the chance.

Our room overlooked Monument Circle. I got out my Canon PowerShot S95 and made a bunch of photos.

Monument Circle at night
The Monument at night
The Monument at night
Circle Theatre and the IPL Building

We took a brief walk after the party ended. Salesforce Tower is right behind the Columbia Club and was lit like this.

Looking up, on the circle in Indianapolis

In the morning, I made more photos from our window. It was a gloomy day.

Monument Circle in the morning
The Lacy Building
Down Market St.
Down Meridian St.
The Monument

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Film Photography

Downtown Indianapolis on Ilford HP5 Plus

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I work in Downtown Indianapolis. Yes, it’s capital-D Downtown here. My favorite way to take a work break is to grab whatever film camera I have with me and take a walk around capital D. For a few weeks recently, that was my little Olympus Stylus, into which I’d loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus.

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The generous people at Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll of Ilford HP5 Plus so I’d write about the experience and drop their name. You can buy HP5 Plus from them here. But do explore their site — they offer over 200 other films! Click the logo to see.

Contrasting Doors

Last time I shot HP5 I used my big semi-pro Nikon N90s SLR. I wanted to see what kind of results I got from a different class of 35mm camera, hence the Stylus. Answer: every bit as impressive. I got excellent detail and balanced contrast shot after shot. As a traditionally grained film, you will absolutely see grain on HP5. But it looks natural and doesn’t detract from sharpness or detail.

Central Christian

I shot this roll little by little in December and January, two of Indiana’s gloomiest months every year. At ISO 400, HP5 Plus had the speed to cope with the poor light and give me big depth of field.

Leon's

Even on a day with some sun, the HP5 Plus delivered good balance between the bright and shadowy areas.

View from the 12th Floor Window

I walked around on idle lunch hours with the Stylus, photographing anything I thought might look good in black and white.

Cups Coffee

There are plenty of lovely older buildings Downtown with interesting details to study. HP5 Plus did a great job navigating the natural contrasts.

Inland Bldg.

Even though Indianapolis is Indiana’s largest city by far, it’s not large like Chicago or Dallas. The core of Downtown is about one mile square, beyond which the tall buildings give way fast to shorter office and apartment buildings and then neighborhoods full of older homes. Roberts Camera is just beyond that mile square. They process 35mm color film at a reasonable price. They also happen to be the US distributor of Ilford products.

Roberts

While I’ve never used them, there are a few auto mechanics just outside Downtown’s mile square. Convenient!

Firestone

HP5 Plus is a great film for everyday photography. If you’d like to try Ilford HP5 Plus for yourself, you can order it from Analogue Wonderland here. They provided me this roll of film in exchange for this mention.

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Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Nikon FA and 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom Nikkor

I love a bargain. I especially love a bargain on a fully working Nikon SLR kit. $30 netted me this Nikon FA and attached 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens, with an MD15 Motor Drive (not pictured).

Nikon FA with 35-70 Zoom Nikkor

This is the second Nikon FA to have fallen into my hands; read my review of the first one here. I had no sooner parted with that one in Operation Thin the Herd when I came upon this one. This one looks well used, but on quick inspection it seemed to function fine.

I’ve got a backlog of cameras I haven’t tried yet and so it took me several months to finally shoot this one. I loaded some Agfa Vista 200 and took it around Downtown.

Pacers Bikeshare

My previous FA was in superior cosmetic and operating condition with one exception: its winder didn’t lock after winding one frame. You could wind all the way through the roll without ever shooting a frame. This FA has dings and brassy spots, and the viewfinder/mirror are speckled with black marks. But its winder works properly.

Looking up at the Salesforce building

On a chilly day where temps were only a little above freezing, the shutter suddenly failed to fire and the winder became stuck. I was 20 frames into a 24-exposure roll — close enough to done for me — so I rewound the film and had it processed. I put the FA on the shelf for a while until I had time to investigate.

Toward the Statehouse

Even though old cameras often don’t like cold weather, I suspected battery failure. I tend to trade batteries from camera to camera, and who knows when the ones I put into this FA were fresh. So I put fresh batteries in. Still locked. I then tried putting the camera in manual mode and setting the shutter to its one mechanical speed, M250. That did it — the shutter fired and the camera wound, and when I put it back in program mode everything worked properly. I probably should have tried M250 on the street when the camera seized. If I shoot it again, I’ll know better.

Bank of Indianapolis

I passed my previous FA on to another collector because every time I used it, the wind lever poked me in the forehead. I didn’t like that. Typical of Nikon SLRs, you activate the meter by pulling the wind lever out. But on this FA, it never poked me in the head. I do not understand; these are identical cameras. Now I doubt my previous impressions.

Driveway Entrance

Do you see the dark streak in the photo below, down the middle near the monument? I’m not sure what caused that but fortunately only this image turned out this way. Another image had a foggy streak in it that I can’t account for. I think I need to put another roll through this FA to be sure of it.

The top of the monument

If it turns out this body is faulty, at least I got this nice 35-105mm lens for my money. It’s built well and operates smoothly. These colors seem muted to me, however, more muted than I get from a 35-70 Zoom Nikkor I own. However, this film expired two years ago, I haven’t always stored it cold, and it may be starting to degrade.

Coffee cup handle

The lens has a macro mode, so I made a couple shots with it. Above is my coffee cup on my desk at work. I’ve had that cup since 1987; a potter in my hometown made it by hand. Below are some flowers growing in the bed in front of Christ Church Cathedral on the Circle.

Red flowers

Just because, here’s Christ Church Cathedral.

Christ Church

I slightly prefer twist-to-zoom lenses over push/pull-to-zoom lenses like this one, but I this one worked well in my hands. I also detected very little barrel distortion at the wide end, which is the usual zoom-lens bugaboo. My 35-70 Zoom Nikkor has wicked barrel distortion at 35mm.

Federal Courthouse

I had a nice time shooting this Nikon FA. I’ll put another roll into it as soon as I can manage — I want to shoot the cameras in my to-shoot queue first. If the body truly does have issues I probably won’t repair it. I’ll pass the body on to someone who will give it the proper love, and I’ll turn to one of my other wonderful Nikon SLR bodies to get my Nikon fix.

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City County Building

City-County Building
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Ilford FP4 Plus
2019

In 1970, Indianapolis merged with Marion County to create a combined city-county government. But the City-County building, which was built to house government offices, was completed in 1962. It’s as if they knew the merger was inevitable.

The City-County Building has that standard 1960s skyscraper look. It was the first building in Indianapolis to be taller than the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the heart of Downtown. Now, any number of buildings are taller than the Monument.

The good people at Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll of Ilford FP4 Plus in exchange for this mention. Get your FP4 Plus from them here.

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Film Photography

single frame: City-County Building

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North toward the Monument

North toward the circle
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Ilford FP4 Plus
2019

On Tuesday I showed you a photo I made from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, at the heart of Downtown Indianapolis. Today I’m showing you a view of that monument that I made from a block to the south, along Washington Street, which is also the historic National and Michigan Roads.

Tuesday’s photo showed you the Emmis building, completed in 1998; it’s out of the photograph right around the corner from the building on the left, the Guaranty Building, where you’ll find a swank martini-and-cigar bar in the basement.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, at 284 feet 6 inches tall, was completed in 1901. It is built of oolitic limestone quarried in Owen County, Indiana. It is a tribute to fallen soldiers in the American Civil War, the American Revolutionary War, and conflicts related to the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Spanish-American War.

Believe it or not, before it was built the governor’s residence stood here! Also, believe it or not for many years U.S. Highway 31 went around this circle. I’ve seen photographs on the circle that show US 31 shields. My mother has a memory as a girl in the 1950s driving around the circle as US 31 on he family’s way to dropping off her older brother to study at Indiana University, an hour to the south in Bloomington.

The good people at Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll of Ilford FP4 Plus in exchange for this mention. Get your FP4 Plus from them here.

Film Photography

single frame: North toward the circle

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On the circle

On the circle
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Ilford FP4 Plus
2019

When I last worked Downtown in Indianapolis — and yes, we write it with a capital D here — the building in the middle of this photograph didn’t exist. It was a vacant lot. Whatever had stood there before had been razed. For all I know the building(s) there were razed for what was to come: the headquarters of Emmis Communications, which owns radio and TV stations in many major markets including New York and Los Angeles, as well as here in Indianapolis. That was in 1996; the building was complete in 1998.

But I’d moved on from that job by then and was working in a suburban office park on the Northwestside. Again, yes, that’s how we write “northwest side” here. Anyway, I worked various jobs in the north suburbs for more than 20 years before landing Downtown again this year. In the 90s, Downtown was just beginning to resurge after a long period of decline and neglect. Today it’s hard for me to believe how vibrant and vital and interesting it is. I love working Downtown and I hope I never have another job in the suburbs.

But Monument Circle is much the same as it always was, with the exception of the completed Emmis building.

The good people at Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll of Ilford FP4 Plus in exchange for this mention. Get your FP4 Plus from them here.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Film Photography

single frame: On the circle

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