The Rainbow Bridge in Broad Ripple Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax Kodak Gold 400 2017
This bridge was built in 1906 to carry Guilford Avenue over the Central Canal in Indianapolis’s Broad Ripple neighborhood.
Underneath the deck, it’s a typical single-span concrete arch. What sets this bridge apart is its railings. The oval “links” are unique.
I have a dim memory from 25 or more years ago of the railings being painted in a more random color pattern. I have a clear memory of this railing being much shorter — in about 2013 a row of block was added underneath the links. See a photo of the shorter railing here. This was probably done to make it harder to fall off the bridge into the canal.
Checking for a suspected shutter fault in my Nikon F3 I put two rolls of film through it late last year: one Kodak High-Definition 400 (see some of those photos here) and the other Kodak Max 400, photos from which I’m sharing here. Both rolls expired in 2007. I’m not a fan of expired film’s unpredictable results. So to me, the stuff is best used for a job like this.
The F3 went along on our day-after-Christmas road trip up the Michigan Road. All of these photographs are from the road, in and near Rochester. As I shared in this post, Rochester has a long row of lovely old houses on the road as you approach downtown from the south.
Even though it was midafternoon, given the time of year the sun rode fairly low in the sky and delivered some delicious light. The film’s colors all shifted a little, which is a hazard of being expired. But the Auto Tone tool in Photoshop fixed that right up in a second.
At full scan size you’ll see considerable grain in all of these photos. But at blog size the grain is managed well enough. I’m pleased that I was able to get a little blurred background at EI 400 with the 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens I was shooting.
On Rochester’s square, apparently Santa comes to visit in this little house. On the day after Christmas it had not yet been removed.
I also aimed the F3 at the abandoned bridge abutment north of Rochester, which I wrote about more extensively here.
This is the Tippecanoe River, placidly flowing past the bridge on which I stood.
That bridge, a simple modern steel stringer, features this plaque commemorating its 1982 completion. I love the typeface they used for the plaque.
Standing by that plaque I focused on the memorials on the old approach, enjoying the ever-fading afternoon light.
The F3 performed flawlessly, by the way. My worries about the shutter were unfounded.
Snow-covered steps Kodak VR35 K40 Kodak Max 400 (expired) 2018
At church, we all come in the back door. Our parking lot is back there.
But it means we often forget about our front door. The door that the neighborhood sees. And so on this snowy Sunday, nobody thought to shovel it clean. Were it not for the footprints on the steps, our neighbors might think we were not even open. Indeed, when we encounter them around the neighborhood that’s sometimes what they tell us.
It’s a common trap churches fall into: we know our ways. But we want to meet people who aren’t in our church, and they find our ways strange, or even to make no sense. And we wonder why we seldom see anybody new on Sunday.
Delicious and refreshing Kodak VR35 K40 Kodak Max 400 (expired) 2018
Hey, look! The first single frame that I shot in 2018! And it’s of this sign, obviously a recently painted reproduction of an old-style sign. It’s on 9th Street in Lafayette. Just check out all the ghost signs still peeking out from around it on that building’s flank.
I knew as I loaded a roll of expired Kodak Max 400 into this camera that I wasn’t going to keep it. I was only shooting it one more time, for old time’s sake.
My mom bought me my first Kodak VR35 K40 as a Christmas gift in about 1986. I used it heavily through college and in the first few years after. Even though it’s a simple fixed-focus point-and-shoot camera, it was the most capable camera I’d ever owned, returning consistently good results. Here’s a photo I made in 1989 of my brand new car parked in front of the Terre Haute, Indiana, house where I rented an apartment. It was a wonderful place; read about it and see photos here.
I used that K40 to record the glistening aftermath of a 1990 ice storm that shut down our city. That was such a great day! It was the first time I ever went on a photo walk, just me and my camera, alone, exploring. I wrote about that day here; it’s one of my favorite posts ever.
I set the K40 aside after I married my first wife, who was a skilled photographer and took most of our family photos. It wasn’t until after we divorced that I started making photographs again. My K40 was nowhere to be found, so I bought a used Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 on eBay and moved on.
Years later I came upon this K40 at Goodwill for a few dollars. I love cheap nostalgia. But it turns out this simple point-and-shoot camera is pretty good, returning bold color on consumer-grade film. Its lens is sharp enough for credible enlargements to 8×10. Here are some wintertime photos I made with it recently.
I’ve been up to Purdue a lot lately to see my son. This is a great little candy store in downtown Lafayette.
This scooter seems always to be parked by my son’s dorm. I love how the K40’s 35mm lens captures so much context. It would be a fine film camera to take on vacation even now.
I suppose this camera qualifies as compact. After shooting a couple rolls through my tiny Olympus XA recently the K40 felt pretty large. There’s no way the K40 fits into any pants pocket, but it fits fine in my winter-coat pocket. It weighs next to nothing, but then it’s made almost entirely of plastic. This pocket park is on the block behind my church on Indianapolis’s Near Westside.
The K40’s automatic winder is pretty loud. That’s typical of point-and-shoot cameras of the day, but it really attracts attention now. Fortunately, when I made this shot in the foyer of my church, worship had not yet begun.
I stepped outside on this frigid day for this quick exterior photo. I cropped to 4×5 to get rid of my finger, which got into the frame. A few of my quick outside photos were so marred. It’s not surprising: because the temperature was in the single digits, I was moving fast and not taking my usual care.
Owning Pentax film gear appeals deeply to my inner tightwad. Bodies and lenses usually go for less, and often for far less, than their Canon and Nikon equivalents. And the lenses are (usually) so good. As a result, I own more Pentax gear than any other kind.
So I reach for my Pentax gear most often when I have a specific shooting need, such as low light or distance or macro. So it was in Cincinnati recently. I took my 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M lens for the available light of the American Sign Museum, and my 80-200mm f/4.5 SMC Pentax-M Zoom lens for the Cincinnati Zoo.
The tl;dr, especially for those of you poised to pooh-pooh this lens for not being a prime, is that it’s a pretty good performer. Would primes along this zoom’s range perform better? I’m sure they would. But in each shot it took me only a second to push or pull the zoom ring to the right focal length. Try that with a bag full of primes.
At 5 3/4 inches from mount to tip, and a half-inch or so longer when focused to infinity, this is a lot of lens to mount to a body as compact as my Pentax ME. It’s not terribly heavy at about 20 ounces, but it made the camera front-heavy just the same. It’s solidly built of all metal (with a rubber zoom grip). The zoom ring has great heft as you push and pull it. It feels like quality. My only beef with the lens’s build quality is that the aperture ring feels thin and tinny inside as you twist it through the crisp detents.
This lens is adequately sharp. The forums say it’s a little soft wide open, but I never saw any of that. What I do know is that all the images on this roll of Fujicolor 200 ran uncharacteristically cold, and I had to warm them up in Photoshop. And a couple of my images show a wisp of purple fringing.
It was a chilly but bright early-spring afternoon and many of the animals were not out. Those that were just wanted to lounge quietly in the sun.
It made for easy, if not terribly interesting, photography: zoom in, frame, and click. Little animal motion to contend with.
You might remember this photo from a few weeks ago, and that I couldn’t remember which camera and lens I used to shoot it. I’ve figured it out: the Pentax ME and this zoom.
Yep, this zoom delivered this lovely swirly bokeh. (On expired Kodak Gold 400, no less.)
So this lens is a keeper. I’ll probably use it once every blue moon, but when I need it I’ll be very glad I still have it.