At Rick's Cafe Boatyard on Eagle Creek

Waiting for lunch
Minolta Hi-Matic 7
Kodak Tri-X 400
2018

Margaret and I ate al fresco one Saturday afternoon, at a restaurant overlooking Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis. While we waited, we sipped these gingery gin gimlet things that were not as tasty as we anticipated. The light was delicious, though, and I especially like how it illuminates all the glasses in this photograph.

You can see my wife’s new Sony RX-100 there. It’s the Mark I, which you can still buy new out of old stock. It is a simply brilliant camera of the small point-and-shoot type. If my Canon S95 ever dies, I’m buying an RX-100 straightaway. The only bummer about it is that it doesn’t zoom quite as deep as the S95. But otherwise it gets shots the S95 can only dream of.

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Film Photography

single frame: Waiting for lunch

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Reflected vinyl

Reflected vinyl
Minolta Hi-Matic 7
Kodak Tri-X 400
2018

I have been walking a lot more. It’s my favorite form of exercise. I dislike exercise for its own sake. But I like to work in the yard, and to walk, and to ride my bike; those things have their own rewards and exercise just happens when I do them.

My wife measured a two-mile path around our neighborhood, and it passes by a retention pond. It’s still most of the time, and it’s remarkable how well the houses along it reflect into it.

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Film Photography

single frame: Reflected vinyl

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Camera Reviews, Film Photography

Operation Thin the Herd: Minolta Hi-Matic 7

Fishers Construction

This Minolta Hi-Matic 7 was one of the first cameras I bought when I restarted my collection in 2006. I had decided to collect 35mm rangefinder cameras, and this was the first one I found at a price I was willing to pay. I happily kept buying rangefinders right up to the day someone gifted me a 35mm SLR. Right away, through-the-lens composing charmed me and my rangefinder predilection went right out the window. But I’ve kept this camera nevertheless.

Minolta Hi-Matic 7

I’ve shot it but twice before: once Sunny 16 without a battery, and once with a PX-625 battery inserted to take advantage of its onboard metering. That metering couldn’t be easier: twist the aperture and shutter-speed rings to A and the camera chooses both aperture and shutter speed for you. It does so on a linear scale from 1/30 sec. at f/1.8 to 1/250 sec. at f/22 — this camera biases toward the greatest depth of field possible. This was a mighty advanced system in 1963 when this camera was new. Here’s a photo from that latter session, on Fujicolor 200.

Bug light

I’d never shot black-and-white film in my Hi-Matic 7 so I loaded some Kodak Tri-X and headed out on a full-sun June day. Right away there was trouble in paradise. Inside the viewfinder a needle points at the exposure value (EV) the meter calculates, from 5.6 to 17. On that bright day I expected to see that needle point at EV 15 or maybe 16. Instead, the needle was in the red zone above EV 17, meaning it was underexposing by a stop or two. Drat! At least the meter functioned — they often don’t in cameras this old.

Reflected vinyl

What I didn’t do, but should have: set the camera to EI 200 or 100 to compensate for the underexposure. I don’t know why I always think of such things only when I sit down to write about my experience with a camera. Sigh. Fortunately, Tri-X’s incredible exposure latitude — up to 4 stops in either direction — mostly covered for me. Where it didn’t, a nip and a tuck in Photoshop usually did the trick.

Cars

Despite being large and heavy, the Hi-Matic 7 is pleasant to use. A lever on the focusing ring is well placed; my finger always found and moved it without me needing to move my eye from the viewfinder. The rangefinder patch is bright enough even for my middle-aged eyes (and was probably even brighter when it was new). I was able to move fast enough with it to capture my son playing a game at the dining table with the family.

Damion

The Hi-Matic 7 is a lot of camera to carry. Mine has its original leather “everready” case so I slung it over my shoulder, camera inside, as I carried it around. Or at least I did that until the leather shoulder strap broke.

At Rick's Cafe Boatyard on Eagle Creek

I finished the roll at Rick’s Cafe Boatyard, a seafood restaurant on Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis. It was the site of one of Margaret’s and my early dates, so we like to go back sometimes and reminisce.

At Rick's Cafe Boatyard on Eagle Creek

We always sit on the outdoor deck. Therefore, we only dine at Rick’s in the fair-weather months.

At Rick's Cafe Boatyard on Eagle Creek

One finds few opportunities to make dockside photos in landlocked central Indiana. The Hi-Matic 7 was up to the task. These photos needed little Photoshoppery to look good.

At Rick's Cafe Boatyard on Eagle Creek

See more photos from this camera in my Minolta Hi-Matic 7 gallery.

I had a hard time deciding whether this camera would stay or go. I’m emotionally attached to it as one of the first cameras in my collection, I enjoy using it, and I love the images it returns. But I can’t escape the fact that I’ve put only three rolls of film through it in 12 years. I’m unlikely to use it more than that in the next 12. As I shrink my collection to just the cameras I’ll actually use, I have to let pragmatism win over sentimentality.

Verdict: Goodbye

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Film Photography

Father-son photographic bonding

My son Damion texted me before Christmas: “Dad, while I’m home on break, I’d love it if you could teach me how to use one of your film cameras.”

0mK56inSon, you could not have asked your old dad for anything better.

I had visions of us taking a photo walk together, maybe through Crown Hill Cemetery or Broad Ripple. Father and son, walking, chatting, shooting, bonding. Alas, temperatures hovered around zero all Christmas week. It was weather fit neither for man nor for aging mechanical photographic equipment.

So instead I loaded some Tri-X into my Pentax KM, mounted my sublime 55/1.8 SMC Pentax lens, and let him shoot around the house. The all-mechanical KM seemed like a great way to introduce him to the mechanics of photography, given its match-needle metering.

I explained about aperture and shutter speed and depth of field. I explained about film’s light sensitivity, the ISO scale, and exposure latitude. I showed him how to focus, match the needle, and activate the shutter. I gave him a couple composition tips. And then I let him go.

Damion and Pentax KM

I tried not to hover so he could just wander about and expose whatever subject seemed interesting. Like father like son: we both love to just follow our noses. Here are a few of his photographs:

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I love how he experimented so freely, yet he never left our family room. He shot all 36 frames within 200 square feet! I enjoyed finding that he captured his old dad responding to comments on his blog. Not everything he shot turned out as he envisioned, he told me. But he was satisfied that some of it did.

When he was done shooting I asked if he’d like to take a camera and some film back to Purdue with him. “Well, sure! If you don’t mind,” he said. I did mind about my KM and that 55/1.8 — I use that combo often enough that I’d miss it. So I handed him my Pentax K1000 and my 50/2 SMC Pentax-M lens. This combo had extra significance because his mom, who was a professional photographer when we met, used her own K1000 and 50/2 to photograph our family while we were married.

I also gave him a couple rolls of fridge-fresh Agfa Vista 200 and encouraged him to get out when the weather was nice, walk in the park or the woods, and photograph whatever he found to be interesting. I told him that if he enjoyed it and wanted to keep going, I’d let him keep the camera and lens — after I send them to Eric Hendrickson for a mechanical overhaul. I said that the gear would come back in like-new condition, ready for 20 or 30 years of pleasure. He was suitably impressed.

I’m dying to hear whether film photography “takes” in him!

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30th St. Bridge

The 30th Street bridge
Canon EOS A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF
Kodak Tri-X 400
2016

The condition of this bridge breaks my heart a little. Built in 1907 and last rehabilitated in 1979, this concrete-arch bridge carries 30th Street over the White River in Indianapolis. But its railings are crumbling, and tall weeds grow through every crack in the pedestrian walkway.

I suppose a city the size of Indianapolis can’t perfectly maintain all of its infrastructure. But we are fortunate to have a number of ornate concrete-arch bridges in our city, and I wish they were first in line for maintenance.

Photography

single frame: The 30th Street bridge

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Closed

Closed
Nikon F3, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor
Kodak Tri-X (very expired)
2017

I’m giving myself a short break from blogging this week by running nothing but single-photo posts. They’re fun and fast to write and will let me keep to my self-imposed six-days-a-week posting schedule. I know the world would not end if I took a legitimate break and let the blog lie fallow for a week. But I want to keep my solid unbroken posting streak!

I’ve spent most of my spare time lately doing the last home repairs and painting the last couple rooms so that I can put my house on the market. And this past Sunday I preached my first sermon in church! That took considerable time in study and preparation. And my new job (at which I’ve worked three months now) is fabulous but consumes considerable energy. And the commute still stinks.

And then in the middle of all this the hard drive on my main computer failed, as I said on Friday. For years I’ve used a tool called Second Copy to shadow my files to an external drive, so I lost no files. But doing a clean install of Windows 10 on a new hard drive turned out to be frustrating and time consuming. Using my laptop I loaded a bootable Windows 10 installer onto a thumb drive I had lying around. I booted my main machine to that thumb drive and the installer fired right up. It could see the new hard drive, but insisted that there was no valid partition on it.

With lots of help from the Internet, I spent hours troubleshooting. I have good hardware and command-line skills, but nothing I tried worked. I was about to give up and go buy a new computer when I read a side comment at the end of a long forum thread, where a woman said she got around this problem by running the installer from a different thumb drive. I didn’t understand why that would work, but I’d exhausted all other options. And $8 for a new thumb drive is way cheaper than buying a whole new computer. So I bought a new thumb drive and put the Windows installer on it.

It worked, lickety split. Voodoo, I tell you, voodoo.

I hadn’t yet finished installing all of my software when I dismantled my office last weekend to paint it. That took the computer out of commission yet again, as I use it in that office. And so all posts last week and this week have been written on my laptop, where I lack my photo library, my scanner, and all my photo software. I have negatives to scan, photos to share, cameras to review — but it will all have to wait until my backlog of other priorities clears and I can get my main computer fully set up again.

So enjoy the photos this week!

Photography

single frame: Closed

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