Film Photography

Fomapan 100 in cinematic scale

My Nikkormat EL’s shutter is capping, leaving a black stripe across the top of every photo. It was bummed to find it out after putting film through it. But I hated to waste the images, so I cropped them creatively to make the most I could out of them. My careful compositions could not be salvaged, but several of the photos remained interesting on some level anyway. 16×9 was the aspect ratio I used most. Here are a bunch of those cinematically scaled photographs, on Fomapan 100 through the 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor.

Downtown Indianapolis, the former L. S. Ayres building dappled with reflected evening sun.

Washington at Meridian

From the roof of the building in which I work in Downtown Indianapolis, looking northwest.

Downtown Indy

Through a conference-room window at work, looking at balconies in a neighboring building. It’s always amusing during a meeting when residents come out in their houseclothes, or sometimes even less, to sip coffee or sun themselves.

Balconies

Waterman Hardware, one of the oldest continually operating businesses in Indianapolis, on the Michigan Road southeast of Downtown.

Waterman's

The New Bethel Ordinary. I hear their pizza is to die for. Garlic and onions chew my insides alive so I’ll never find out. In Wanamaker, a community in far southeastern Indianapolis on the Michigan Road.

NBO

The New Bethel Ordinary’s patio. Spot the Michigan Road sign!

NBO

The northwest corner of Shelbyville’s Public Square. Another Michigan Road town.

Shelbyville on the Public Square

Some of these photos have a bottom-heavy feel to them given what I had to crop out. But as documentary photos they’re still okay.

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Photography

When the camera is just a tool

I got out my Pentax K10D because I was running behind on the blog and wanted some fresh photos to share. I had two film SLRs loaded, but I wouldn’t get the film processed and scanned fast enough. Shooting digital, I can use the photos almost immediately.

Indiana War Memorial

The K10D remains a competent enough camera despite being ancient of days: it was introduced in 2006. Thanks to poor performance at ISOs 800 and above, it’s best used outdoors in good light. Many of my old film cameras require the same conditions, so at least I’m used to it.

Iron

Margaret suggested a date night, and not a moment too soon. We took our cameras Downtown (we spell it with a capital D in Indianapolis for some reason) and went for a stroll.

Balconies

I showed her where I work now, a couple blocks from the heart of Downtown. These balconies are the view from one of our conference rooms.

On the circle

The heart of Downtown is Monument Circle. The Columbia Club is on it. The K10D is heavy, at least compared to Margaret’s featherweight Nikon D3200. Seriously, what did they make the K10D out of that it’s so heavy — and the D3200 that it’s so light? But the K10D wasn’t fatiguing on this walk.

On the circle

The monument itself is hard to photograph, as tall as it is. So I tend to go for its details. The 18-55mm lens (that came in a kit with the camera) does a credible enough job. Distortion is fairly well managed, but is of course most noticeable at the wide end.

Wheeler Mission

There’s plenty to photograph around Downtown and the K10D was up to the task, handling the shift from mostly cloudy to mostly sunny with no trouble. I shot JPEG+RAW and with only a couple exceptions where the JPEG was great as is, edited the RAW a little bit to get the look I want. It was easy enough to do. That’s big: if I have to spend more than a few minutes editing a digital photo to get the look I want, I start to think the camera isn’t for me.

Firestone

The Wheeler Mission sign and this Firestone sign are the two neon signs I know about Downtown. Maybe I’ll find others now that I work Downtown and have more time to explore.

Rain

I don’t love using the K10D. I don’t know why exactly. There’s a je ne sais quoi about any camera that puts into the love or don’t-love category for me, and the K10D lacks it. However, it works well enough and returns fine results, thus keeping its place among my cameras. If it didn’t, it’d be gone.

On the circle

At some point during our stroll we realized we were hungry, so we stopped at the Rathskeller, a German restaurant, for some wurst. It was a lovely evening and a tonic for our spirits. It’s nice to have these photos to remember it by.

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Dartmouth Apartments

Dartmouth Apartments
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax DA AL
2019

We came upon this interesting apartment building as we walked along Michigan Street, which is not to be confused with Michigan Road, in Downtown Indianapolis.

I noticed the texture of the brick and how the sky was reflecting in the windows. I knew there was an interesting composition in here somewhere. But we had a destination in mind, and I didn’t have time to frame this building from a bunch of vantage points to find the best composition.

So I quickly tossed off a shot. Sometimes that’s just the ticket. I’m sure there was a better composition in this scene somewhere, but I might have had to take fifty photographs to find it.

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Film Photography

single frame: Dartmouth Apartments

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Road Trips

Working on both the Michigan and National Roads

My new office is on Washington Street in Downtown Indianapolis — the only place where the Michigan Road and the National Road share an alignment.

My desk is on the 12th floor. Here’s the view from the nearest window, after a violent storm passed through. That’s the City-County Building at left, and the city’s new bus terminal at right. Between them, the National Road is headed east and the Michigan Road is headed south.

A portion of the roof is set up like a patio with outdoor furniture. Here’s the view towards Monument Circle at the heart of Indianapolis. The Monument itself rises above the Circle Tower building near lower left.

I’ve already taken a couple Downtown photo walks on my lunch hour. After I’ve fully settled into the new job I expect I’ll take many more.

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Film Photography

More 35mm color negative work from the CanoScan 9000F MkII and ScanGear

The advice some of you gave me in this post helped me get decent black-and-white scans from my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II and its bundled ScanGear software. I used the same advice to scan a little more color film.

I made these photos last fall with my Olympus XA2 on Agfa Vista 200. Roberts Camera in Indianapolis processed and scanned them. Their scans are 3130 pixels on the long side. I used ScanGear to scan them at 4800 dpi with all built-in image enhancement turned off, resulting in scans of between 6750 and 6800 pixels on the long side. I resized my scans to 1200 pixels long to upload them here.

I edited scans from both sources as best I could in Photoshop, including adding unsharp masking to the ScanGear scans.

My first test was of this shot of old US 52 and a great abandoned neon sign near my home. It shows considerable vignetting, which I believe is endemic to the camera. While I like the depth of blue in the sky, I don’t like how mottled it is. I tried various Photoshop settings and tools to smooth it out but wasn’t happy with any of the results. I wonder if the film profiles and multi-exposure scanning in Silverfast would resolve these challenges.

The Roberts scan captured more turquoise in a perfectly smooth sky. The Wrecks sign shows far better definition and detail. I suppose the Roberts scan might have a touch of green caste to it. Roberts also reduced the vignetting. I prefer the Roberts scan.

Wrecks

The CanoScan/ScanGear scan of this abandoned farm co-op building shows the same mottled deep blue sky, but plenty of great detail in the corrugated walls. This building is all that’s left of the onetime town of Traders Point, Indiana, by the way. See 1950s film footage of this town, including a brief look at this co-op building, here.

Here’s a crop of the image at 100%. It could be sharper, but it’s fully usable.

In the Roberts scan the colors aren’t as vibrant, and the sky is again more turquoise. In retrospect, I could have helped this photo by reducing exposure a little in Photoshop.

Co-op

From here on out, the winner isn’t as clear between the Roberts and ScanGear scans. This ScanGear scan from downtown Indianapolis shows a scene that’s changed, as the Hard Rock Cafe has since closed and its signs are gone.

The Roberts scan looks like it got more exposure than my scan. My scan highlights the vignetting the XA2’s lens tends to deliver.

Down Maryland St.

These arches are around the corner from the previous scene. Here’s my scan.

Here’s the Roberts scan. Each has its charms; I can’t call one better than the other.

Arches

Still downtown in Indianapolis, I shot this outdoor cafe scene. The day was drizzly and chilly and so not ideal for outdoor dining.

Here’s the Roberts scan. I like my scan’s blue umbrella and the overall color temperature better.

Blue umbrella

Finally, here’s a forlorn building. My scan gives its gray painted brick a bit of a blue caste.

The Roberts scan is more of a straight gray. Like all of the Roberts scans, it got a touch more exposure. Either scan is good enough for my purposes, but I believe I slightly prefer my CanoScan/ScanGear scan.

Gray building

I believe I’ve figured out a good base 35mm scanning technique and can refine it from here. Perhaps I can get a little more sharpness, a little better color. I do have to solve that terrible mottling problem, though; the two scans with blue sky in them aren’t that great.

Next, I’ll try scanning some medium-format negatives with the CanoScan and ScanGear. This is perhaps the most important test, as my goal is to shoot my lovely TLRs and my simple box cameras more often, and process and scan the film myself.

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Camera Reviews

Operation Thin the Herd: Konica Auto S2

Church entrance

Some old film cameras have become very popular on the used market. Just try buying an Olympus Stylus Epic or a Canon Canonet QL17 G-III for bargain prices anymore. Yet plenty of highly capable cameras never catch on among modern film photographers and languish in relative obscurity. Like the Konica Auto S2.

Konica Auto S2

This 1965 camera has everything you need to make lovely photographs today: a 45mm f/1.8 lens set in a Copal leaf shutter with top speed of 1/500 sec, a coupled CdS light meter driving shutter-priority autoexposure, and a rangefinder. You might consider it a limitation that it accepts films up to only ISO 400, but I don’t; that’s as fast as I normally go. It returns lovely results, as here on Kodak Gold 200.

The Pyramids

For this camera’s turn in Operation Thin the Herd I chose Kodak T-Max 400. I found a fresh PX625 battery in my stash, loaded the film, and got busy.

Bird is the word

I started Downtown in Indianapolis one chilly, slightly snowy day. I have been getting my hair cut at a barber shop on Delaware St. and then walking about with my cameras after. These electric scooters litter the street corners.

Indianapolis Public Schools

The Auto S2 nailed this gray-day exposure every time. The only thing I had to do with these photos in Photoshop is straighten them, as I proved unable this day to hold the camera level.

Firestone

The more I shoot Downtown Indianapolis, the more I want to capture routine street corners and get as many buildings in as I can. The architecture here is varied and, while common, still interesting.

Indianapolis Musicians

I took the Auto S2 on a sunny-day photowalk in downtown Zionsville. Bright reflections off light-colored surfaces and deep shadows did trip up the Auto S2 a little bit, but generally not so much that a little tweaking in Photoshop couldn’t help considerably.

Black Dog Books

The Auto S2’s controls generate no feelings of pleasure. You know that camera you want to use because everything feels so good under your fingers? That’s not the Konica Auto S2.

Zionsville home

But the Auto S2 isn’t unpleasant to use. It’s neither clumsy nor cumbersome. Everything falls to hand and works well enough. The winder is a little grindy but winds surely. The shutter button doesn’t have too much travel (a common affliction, I find, among fixed-lens rangefinders). The focusing lever is about where your finger needs it to be. Still, the overall tactile experience manages rises only to “meh.”

Zionsville home

What makes the Auto S2 remarkable is its lens, which really drinks in detail. The lens is why I put T-Max into it this time — its minimal grain promised to show me what this lens could do. It didn’t disappoint.

Building

I didn’t shoot anything remarkable on either of these photo walks. I made no art. But every photo on this roll came back properly exposed and bursting with detail. The Auto S2 would make a wonderful companion on one of my road trips.

Main St. Zionsville

To see more photos from this camera, check out my Konica Auto S2 gallery.

I’m surprised that I like the Konica Auto S2 best of the fixed-lens rangefinder cameras I have shot so far in Operation Thin the Herd. What it lacks in refinement it makes up for in consistent, solid results. The question is, do I need a camera like this? Would I shoot it often enough to justify keeping it? Because it never lets me down, I’m going to let time tell.

Verdict: Keep

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