Photography

The Nikon Df in downtown South Bend

I’m continuing to inventory Michigan Road Historic Byway signs all along the route, looking for missing ones so they can be replaced. A recent day off work saw me inventorying signs between Indianapolis and South Bend. I brought my Nikon Df along, with the cheap and cheerful 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF Nikkor lens attached. I shot the Df on a photowalk in downtown South Bend.

Here’s the Morris Performing Arts Center, originally known as the Palace Theater. The light was odd this late-winter afternoon — thinly overcast and moderately bright. I wasn’t wowed with how the Df handled this light. I punched all of these images up in Photoshop, including adding about a half stop of exposure to each.

The Palace Theater

The Palace opened in 1922, and so the Morris is celebrating the venue’s 100th anniversary this year. I shoot straight JPEG in the Df. It has a RAW mode, but I haven’t tried it yet.

The Palace Theater

Here’s a detail shot of the Palace’s terra cotta. We’re fortunate to still have the Palace. Another theater, the Granada, used to stand across the street but met the wrecking ball about 50 years ago. It was equally grand.

The Palace Theater

The Palace could easily have met the State’s fate, too. It’s down Michigan Street a couple of blocks. It’s vacant and has received minimal maintenance over the years. The state of its wonderful sign breaks my heart. I saw my first movie in the State, a reissue of Disney’s Bambi. I remember well when this sign used to light up at night, and it is a glorious sight.

State Theater

I stepped way back and made a photo of the whole building from the front. I had to tilt the camera up to fit it all in. Photoshop’s perspective correction tool set it right. The 28-80 lens was a kit lens on countless late-film-era Nikon SLRs, but it’s a solid performer and lets me pull large buildings like this into the frame.

State Theater

The State may be closed, but one business continues to operate out of one of its storefronts. I slung the Df over my shoulder for this walk. You notice this camera when you carry it — it’s larger than, and almost as heavy as, a Nikon F2.

Idle Hours Bookshop

I walked a little bit down Colfax Avenue to pass by The Griffon, a longtime bookstore for nerds and gamers. (I’m definitely a nerd, so I can say that.) I used to go in here sometimes when I lived in South Bend in the early 1980s. I’m thrilled to see it still operating, and I’m even more thrilled to see its facade in such great condition.

The Griffon

I walked a bit down Main Street, which isn’t actually South Bend’s main street (Michigan Street is). This is Fiddler’s Hearth, a longtime Irish pub.

Fiddler's Hearth

I needed to use perspective correction in Photoshop to set the St. Joseph County Courthouse square. I think it’s a little overcorrected. At least I could get the whole building in the frame at 28mm.

St. Joseph County Courthouse

I stepped down Jefferson Boulevard to recreate a photo I made in 1985. Let’s just say my photo skills weren’t that sharp then.

Former WSBT building

Here’s my original photo, from 1985, shot on film of course because we didn’t have digital yet.

One last photo. Michigan Road signs only recently went up in South Bend, along with Lincoln Highway signs. The Michigan Road and the Lincoln Highway share the route west from downtown South Bend for about 18 miles.

Michigan Road and Lincoln Highway

I am pleased to own my Nikon Df, but I don’t use it nearly as much as I thought I would. One reason is its large size. I hesitate before taking it along for the ride. This was my first ever road trip with the Df! It performed adequately as a road-trip companion. But frankly, my Canon PowerShot S95 is an easier companion because it fits in the palm of my hand.

Naturally, the Df’s full-frame sensor is going to beat the S95’s 1/1.7-inch sensor every day of the week. The Df also benefits from about seven years of digital imaging advances over the S95. The Df is hardly the latest and greatest, however — even though I bought mine new last year, the camera was introduced in 2013. Its 16.2-megapixel sensor attests to it being from that era of DSLR.

Even after a year, I’m still getting to know my Nikon Df. I’m not unhappy with it, but I’m not fully in love like I thought I would be. Because it was so touted, and so bloody expensive, perhaps my expectations of it have been too high. I am in love with my Canon S95, but I believe my expectations of it have always been in line with its reality.

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Bourbon Bottle Light

Bourbon bottle light
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
2021

This photograph was a runner up for my 10 Favorite Photos post this year. I like the muted colors and the quality of the blurred background.

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Photographs

single frame: Bourbon bottle light

A bourbon bottle as a light. I just like this photograph is all.

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Photographs

The Circle of Lights

On this Christmas Day, I’m taking a break from my weekly Recommended Reading feature and am instead sharing some Christmastime photos I made recently.

Every year since 1962, the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers strings lights from the top of the Indianapolis Soldiers and Sailors Monument to the ground. The Circle of Lights is visible for a good long way from Monument Circle, which stands at the heart of Downtown Indianapolis.

Here’s the lit monument from a block south, on the old National Road.

The Circle of Lights

Margaret and I walked over to the monument so we could photograph the lights, and the monument, up close.

The Circle of Lights
The Circle of Lights
The Circle of Lights
The Circle of Lights

I shot my Nikon Df with a 28-80 f/3.5-5.6D AF Nikkor lens attached. I set the camera to choose ISO automatically so I could get fast enough shutter speeds, but it wasn’t perfect and about two thirds of my images were blurry. But these that turned out look pretty good.

As we walked around the outside of the monument, we noticed the patterns and pictures being projected on the Circle’s buildings. My favorite was Circle Tower, which reminded me of sticks of Fruit Stripe gum.

Circle Tower
Circle Tower

Happy Christmas to you and yours!

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Christmas dishes

Christmas dishes for sale
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3/5-5.6D AF Nikkor
2021

Margaret and I couldn’t make it to Chicago this year to visit their excellent Christkindlmarkt, so we visited the one in nearby Carmel instead. It’s a lot smaller, but it was still fun. We had Belgian hot chocolate with European-style (not sweetened) heavy whipped cream as we wandered and shopped. I brought the Nikon Df along for its first cold-weather duty. It handled it fine.

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Photographs

single frame: Christmas dishes for sale

German-made Christmas dishes.

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Preservation

A quick visit to Twelve Points

In 2013 I wrote an essay about Twelve Points, a neighborhood in Terre Haute in which I lived in the early 1990s. It was in sad shape on that 2013 visit, having been in decline since before I lived there. But as late as the 1970s, the heart of Twelve Points had been a vital center of commerce and entertainment.

Imagery and map data ©2013 Google

Twelve Points is named for the twelve corners created where Lafayette Avenue, 13th Street, and Maple Avenue all intersect. The three streets create a small triangle.

Revitalizations had been tried before, with small businesses going into some of the vacant storefronts. Critical mass was never reached, however, and soon the storefronts stood vacant again.

I arranged to meet Gerri Knezevich, who leads a new initiative to revitalize Twelve Points. He formed Twelve Points Revitalization, a 501(c)(3) organization, to drive economic development here. Where previous efforts had been led by businesses, Knezevich told me, this time events and the arts are leading the way. The idea is that these events will bring crowds, who will find an increasing number of hip, arty businesses here — and then people come back to keep enjoying these businesses. Knezevich’s group has brought several events to Twelve Points, including concerts, comedy, and even a car show. Visitors will currently find a pie shop, a record shop, a kombucha shop, and a nice Italian restaurant are leading the way. Unfortunately, I managed to visit on a Monday, when all of these businesses were closed.

Another aspect of this revitalization campaign is keeping Twelve Points clean, with volunteers regularly picking up litter. Volunteers are also brightening up Twelve Points by painting murals on the sides of some buildings.

12 Points mural
12 Points mural

Sadly, I didn’t photograph more of Twelve Points this day as it was quite cold. It’s just as well, as the area is still rather rough. But Knezevich assured me he’d keep inviting me back as events are scheduled. Perhaps I’ll be able to chronicle this neighborhood’s resurgence over the next few years.

Here’s hoping Knezevich and his volunteers find excellent success. To learn more, see the Twelve Points Revitalization Web site.

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We still get lovely sunsets here on the western edge of Zionsville overlooking the highway and the Toyota dealership. Lately, they’ve been more subtle than striking. Here are all of the ones I photographed since last time I shared these. See my sunsets tag for more.

Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Nikon Df, 50mm f/1.8 AF-S Nikkor Special Edition
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Apple iPhone 12 mini
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Apple iPhone 12 mini
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor
Sunset over the Toyota dealer
Nikon Df, 50mm f/1.8 AF-S Nikkor Special Edition

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Photographs

Sunset over the Toyota dealer: 6

Some sublime sunsets that I photographed from my back yard.

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