On the bridge

Interurban overpass
Minolta XG-1, MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2
Fujicolor 200
2013

Electric trains called interurbans could take you to many Indiana cities in the early 20th century. At their peak, 111 traction companies operated more then 3,000 cars along 2,100 track miles. 68 of Indiana’s 92 counties were served by at least one line.

Most Indiana interurbans had shut down by 1950 as the automobile took over. Remarkably, one interurban still serves, carrying passengers between South Bend and Chicago.

Some interurban infrastructure remains, like this bridge. You’ll find it today on the campus of Newfields, formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Below once ran the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company’s line from Indianapolis to Lafayette, which was abandoned in the 1930s. You can see more views of this bridge on bridgehunter.com here.

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Film Photography

single frame: Interurban overpass

A bridge over an abandoned interurban line in Indianapolis.

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Garrett at the bridge

My son at the old railroad bridge
Minolta XG 1, 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD
Agfa Vista 200 at EI 100
2018

A lot of abandoned railroad infrastructure remains across our nation. As railroads consolidated and shed lines through the 20th century, they left a lot behind.

Some of those lines have been converted to rail-trails. The best-known one in central Indiana is the Monon, named for its former rail line. But there are others.

A short rail-trail in Zionsville ends/begins at this bridge over Eagle Creek. A ramp leads down into Starkey Nature Park below, where there are great hiking trails. I like to go over there with my sons when they visit. Hence this photo.

This line was originally part of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, also known as the Big Four Railroad. The New York Central took it over in 1906; they built this bridge. In 1968 New York Central merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form Penn Central, which went bankrupt in 1970. When Conrail was formed in 1976 it took over this line. I don’t know when it was abandoned.

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Film Photography

single frame: My son at the old railroad bridge

My son near an old railroad bridge in Zionsville, Indiana.

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Headstone's in Terre Haute

Headstone Friends
Minolta XG 1, 45mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
2017

I spent so much money in this place in my late teens and 20s.

It’s an old-style head shop, still operating in Terre Haute, Indiana, of all places. Since 1970, Headstone Friends has sold records, tapes, and (since the mid 1980s) CDs. They also sell rolling papers and scales, black-light posters, and tie-dye T-shirts. Spend even fifteen minutes in here, and you’ll walk out smelling of incense.

The guys who founded the store all still worked in it when I first entered in 1985. They looked the part of aging hippies, their graying hair spilling most of the way down their backs. I’m older now than they were then, of course. One of those fellows still owns the shop, and his wife now runs it.

I love that they’ve persisted. I don’t get back to Terre Haute much anymore but when I do I try to stop in and buy a CD, for old time’s sake.

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Film Photography

single frame: Headstone Friends

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Camera Reviews

I’m continuing to work through my camera reviews to freshen them up and fix little things that need fixing. I have a pair of SLRs to share with you today.

The first is the Minolta XG 1, which leans heavily into electronics but is a delightful performer. See it here.

Minolta XG-1

The other is the mechanical, metal, manual Canon TLb. I think it’s the great bargain among Canon FD-mount cameras, and is the one I recommend. See my review here.

Canon TLb

Updated reviews: Canon TLb and Minolta XG 1

Aside
Film Photography

The 50mm f/1.4 MD Rokkor-X is a lovely lens

After shooting my Minolta XG 1 in Operation Thin the Herd, I decided it was time to part with all of my Minolta gear. Bit by bit I’ve been selling it off. But before I let my 50mm f/1.4 MD Rokkor-X lens go, I shot one last roll of film with it.

1996

It’s a crying shame I’ve had such bad luck with Minolta bodies, because the lenses are sublime. This 50/1.4 leads the pack. It’s easily the finest 50/1.4 I’ve used for any system.

Queen Anne

Ultrafine Xtreme 100 has been a good utility b/w film every time I’ve used it, but this lens made the stuff absolutely sing.

Chicory

Just look at that sharpness and detail! If only I had better luck with Minolta bodies, this lens and I could have made beautiful music together for years to come.

West Park Church

But I sold the camera to one person and the lens to another. I hope that they both get excellent use in new hands.

View out the window

Now every time I look at these photos, I will think wistfully about this lovely 50mm f/1.4 MD Rokkor lens.

Carpentry Hall

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Yellow flowers

Yellow flowers
Minolta XG 1, 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD
Agfa Vista 200 (at EI 100)
2018

When I was 22 I broke up with a young woman who I still call my first great love. We were such comfortable companions. Our favorite thing was to watch bad movies together on cable well into the wee hours. She was brilliant at heckling them. Her dry, nerdy humor kept me laughing. I don’t laugh easily. She was a real gift in my life.

Yet we couldn’t make other things about our relationship work, important things. I don’t think she ever felt like I really loved her. I showed her in the ways I knew how, but she needed to feel loved in ways I didn’t understand and couldn’t give.  And when I was tired or overwhelmed or irritated I was prickly and difficult. Still am. She never knew how to deal with that and she took it hard.

Sometimes a relationship can’t last because you’re not right together in some ways that really matter. Yet you’re reluctant to end it because it’s otherwise so comfortable. But after awhile comfort isn’t enough, and after a longer while the places where you don’t fit start to grate. More of your needs must be met. We ended our relationship, and it hurt, and we missed each other. But it was necessary.

My many Minolta SLRs have all been lovely and felt great in my hands. Their lenses are sublime. My heart leaps over the images these cameras give me. I want to shoot with them forever.

But they have been so unreliable. I just can’t keep one working for the long haul. There may be photographers out there who enjoy taking their gear apart and keeping them working smoothly. I’m not one of them. I just want my gear to work, period. And that’s why I’ve just sold my last Minolta body and am running right into the arms of reliable Pentax and Nikon.

Film Photography, Stories Told

single frame: Yellow flowers

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