Film Photography

Autumn scenes on expired Kodak Gold 400

Gourds

After testing the new light seals in my Nikon F3 recently I wanted to keep going with this satisfying camera. I loaded my last roll of Kodak Gold 400, expired since January of 2008. My previous roll of this film looked very good shot at box speed, so I shot it that way this time too. The results showed greater color shifts and noise than last time, but a little quick Photoshoppery made these images look much better.

Corn

I mounted my 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens to the F3 for this outing. Despite its noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end, I really like this lens. It’s small and light, and its zoom range gives me good flexibility.

Family

We met our granddaughter and her mom in downtown Zionsville, where there were gourds and pumpkins for sale. Here are three of Margaret’s kids, our “granddog” Obie, our granddaughter, and her mom.

With Grandma

We see our granddaughter most Sundays now, and it’s been lovely. When the weather’s nice enough we meet in town or in a park.

Book blind date

The used bookstore was open this day, running a clever promotion where they wrapped books in kraft paper, wrote what the book was about on the front, and sold them as book blind dates.

Zizzy

I finished the roll around the house. As the weather has grown chillier I’ve gone out less, but I’ve still wanted to make photographs. That means looking for new subjects, or new angles on old subjects, at home.

Purple crock

The 35-70 focuses from about 13 inches. I enjoy zooming this lens to 70mm and moving in close.

Heating the coals

Our last gas grill gave up the ghost last season after just three years of service. That’s the way of $250 gas grills. I didn’t want to blow another $250 that way so I bought a little Weber charcoal grill instead. It’s more hassle to grill on charcoal but the flavor is better. Anyway, I’m pleased that I was able to capture this fire so well.

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Film Photography

New light seals in the Nikon F3, tested on Adox HR-50

When I shot my Nikon F3 in January, I discovered that the light seals had failed. Actually, I discovered it when the scans came back from the processor and I saw the red streaks across my images. Isn’t that how it usually goes?

Nikon F3HP *EXPLORED*

I immediately bought an F3 light-seal kit online, but it took me until August to get around to installing it. I put off things I don’t like to do. Fortunately, the kit I bought came with excellent instructions and everything I needed. It took me about a half hour to do the job, and then I had to wait a couple days for the adhesive to set.

Then I mounted my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens and loaded my last roll of Adox HR-50 film. I took the F3 around with me on a couple walks and bike rides, and on our trip to Louisville. Here are the shots I like best.

Mc D

I shot the F3 in aperture-priority mode. About a third of the photos were a half or a full stop overexposed. I was able to fix it well enough in Photoshop most of the time. I hope the meter in my F3 isn’t going wonky.

Mazda in the parking lot

I whiffed focus on the photo above. When you look at it at full scan size it’s entirely out of focus. At blog size, it has a dreamy, tilt-shifty look that I like.

Live Music

I got stronger contrast this time than I did the last time I shot this film. I was impressed with its good middle grays last time. Perhaps this film doesn’t like overexposure.

Closed umbrella

The HR-50 just doesn’t look as good this time as it did last time I shot it. While we were in Louisville, I had no choice a couple times but to leave the F3 and the HR-50 in the trunk of my hot car. That may have affected the film as well.

Ghost sign

Downtown Louisville was still reeling from protests after the killing of Breonna Taylor when we visited. Between that and COVID-19, the streets were pretty empty.

Louisville building

I also took the F3 to New Augusta, which I hadn’t visited in a long time. Somewhere I have a photo of this house looking abandoned. Someone’s moved in and given it the attention it deserves.

Old house in New Augusta

It’s not a trip to New Augusta unless I photograph the old train station. It and an adjoining house were for sale a couple years ago. Margaret and I talked for a couple weeks about buying the property! What a great little guest house the train station would have made.

Augusta Station (in New Augusta)

I developed this film in Adox HR-DEV diluted to 1+49 and scanned it on my CanoScan 9000F Mark II. I’m growing more and more convinced that my scanner is the weak link in my 35mm workflow. These just need far too much unsharp masking.

On the tracks

It’s been fun to try Adox HR-50. I seldom reach for films this slow because they demand such good light. But under the right circumstaces, HR-50 looks very good. It’s worth finding the light that suits it.

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Film Photography, Travel

The Chicago River at night, on Kodak T-Max P3200

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

It is such fun to make photographs well after nightfall, holding my film SLR in my hands, with only building and street lights shining on the scene. As I walked along the river in Chicago, Kodak T-Max P3200 let me make photographs as if it were 9 a.m., not 9 p.m.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

It was cold that night, being the first weekend in January. My Nikon F3 can handle that kind of treatment, which is why I chose it. I mounted my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens so I could fit more of the city in each frame.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

My wife and I had just come from Navy Pier, where we photographed the Chicago skyline from the Ferris wheel. We had plenty of time for a leisurely walk along the Chicago River before our dinner reservations within the Loop. We walked on both sides of the river, crossing the bridges wherever we felt like it.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

Chicago at night is a perfect subject for Kodak T-Max P3200. The built environment generates plenty of light to render subjects beautifully.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

I forget exactly what apertures and shutter speeds I used to make these photos, but they let me shoot easily and comfortably. My lens wasn’t wide open, and I didn’t have to worry about camera shake.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

As you can see, the P3200 does return noticeable grain. A couple of these photos do show slight underexposure. My F3’s meter did the best it could to read this light but didn’t always nail it. A few of these images looked a little foggy, but a little tweaking in Photoshop cleared that right up.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

I remain amazed by how well this film works. I know some people push other films, such as Tri-X, to 3200 and get good results. But you have to push your processing accordingly. That’s not a huge deal when you process your own. But I send my 35mm black-and-white film to a pro lab. It’s nice not to have to pay extra for the push processing on P3200.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

My wife and I had a lovely walk along the Chicago River as I shot this roll of Kodak T-Max P3200. I look forward to doing it again someday — and to finding other subjects that this film can make sing.

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Film Photography, Travel

The Wrigley Building in Chicago on Kodak T-Max P3200

Chicago’s Wrigley Building was built from 1920 to 1924 as the first skyscraper north of the Chicago River. It’s a stunner at any time of the day, but I especially like it at night. Its white facade, beautifully lit, stands in contrast to the dark buildings all around it.

Wrigley Building

The building’s south tower is the taller of the two, 30 stories vs. 21.

Skyscrapers

The building is covered head to toe in terra cotta, providing no end of interesting detail to study.

Wrigley Building

I focused my lens on the south tower far more than the north, but here’s one good shot of the north tower, its entrance.

Wrigley Building

The north tower is 410 N. Michigan Ave., the south is 400.

Wrigley Building

The two towers are separated by a little alley, with a third-floor bridge connecting the two buildings and framing the scene.

Wrigley Building

There are no shortage of wonderful angles from which to compose interesting photographs.

Wrigley Building

Nikon F3, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor, Kodak T-Max P3200.

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Film Photography, Travel

The Chicago skyline on Kodak T-Max P3200

“I want to get a good view of the Chicago skyline at dusk,” my wife said. “I’d like to photograph it.”

Instantly I thought of Navy Pier and its Ferris wheel. I’d ridden it before, years ago, and remembered its commanding view of the city. So we made our way over. The view was as commanding as I remembered.

Chicago as night falls

It was only about 5:30 pm, but it was already dark on this early January day. Interestingly, the Kodak T-Max P3200 saw through the night right to the overcast sky, and that’s what it rendered.

Chicago as night falls

The Ferris wheel cars are enclosed and heated, making it comfortable to make these photographs on a 25-degree evening. However, the glass is tinted, which robbed me of a stop or two of exposure. I shot these with my Nikon F3 and 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens wide open, which gave me shutter speeds of 1/15 and 1/30 sec. I’m glad I have a steady hand.

Chicago as night falls

This is the same Nikon F3 that has developed a light leak thanks to a failed light seal. But at night, there’s too little light to sneak past that seal and leave streaks on the film. So this whole roll turned out fine.

Chicago as night falls

The ride moved slowly and went around several times, giving us plenty of time to make these photographs. I arranged them here as if I made them in one pass, but in reality I shot one or two photos on each pass.

Chicago as night falls

I forgot one key thing: my wife’s tendency to motion sickness. She found the gently swaying car to be a little challenging. But she got some fun shots with her DSLR, in color.

Navy Pier Ferris wheel

I bought this roll of P3200 that morning, at Chicago’s famous Central Camera. I stepped in the front door and there behind the counter was Johnny Sisson, of the Classic Lenses Podcast. He looks just like the photo he uses in social media, so he was easy to spot. I introduced myself and we chatted for a couple minutes. Affable fellow.

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Film Photography, Travel

Chicago on Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800

My main camera, the Canon PowerShot S95, wasn’t in its usual place the morning Margaret and I left for our weekend in Chicago. We needed to get on the road, so I grabbed my Nikon F3 and my Olympus XA — two cameras that have served me well in wintry Chicago before — and the fastest films I had on hand. It was going to be heavily overcast all weekend, and I’d need the speed. That called up my last roll of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800.

Smith & Wollensky - Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800 - Nikon F3 - 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor

I bought a bunch of this film when I was the unofficial photographer at my church. I put it in one of my Pentax bodies with my 50/1.4 lens and made portraits for people. The colors were too muted and the grain too pronounced. But my subjects were always thrilled to get the prints I brought them.

I like this film better for these gloomy-day city subjects. The subject’s busy-ness makes it harder to notice the grain. And because color is sparing, it pops.

Smith & Wollensky - Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800 - Nikon F3 - 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor

I shot this roll in my F3. Too bad there’s not a better way to find out your light seals have failed than seeing red streaks when you get the scans back from the processor. I cropped it out of most shots except where the effect was minimal, as in the photos above and below.

Bus - Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800 - Nikon F3 - 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor

My 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens was on the F3 for this trip. It reaches out and grabs so much delicious Chicago context! I found myself making photos with no central subject. Every time I brought the camera to my eye, the viewfinder was crammed full of Chicago and I wanted to remember it just like that.

Michigan Ave

I shot this whole roll on a walk from our hotel in the Loop out to Navy Pier. We deviated for a stroll along Michigan Avenue as well. We love crossing the Chicago River and seeing all of those beautiful bridges.

Wabash Avenue

I’ve been to NYC a few times and enjoy it but I prefer Chicago. The tall buildings seem almost artfully arranged. There are so many excellent details to look at in the built environment. It is so easy to compose an interesting photograph here.

Over the River

I’m a sucker for public art. These are “The Gentlemen” by Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming. The city didn’t commission these statues — the nearby Langham Hotel did. They remind me of Japanese salarymen waiting for their train.

Under the Umbrella

Here you can see some of that famous X-tra 800 grain. Not my favorite look in color film.

Statues

I grew up as downtown shopping districts were gasping their last breaths. Store after store closed in my hometown’s downtown. Nothing was left by the early 1980s. I liked going downtown as a child, and wish small-city downtowns had never lost their vitality. It’s exciting to walk State Street and Michigan Avenue in Chicago and find so much to see and do. We even stopped into Macy’s, bought my wife a gown for an event we’re going to, and had it shipped to our home. What a great life!

Boss

We stopped in a nearby Shake Shack for a snack. Even though it was just 4:30, light was already fading thanks to Daylight Saving Time. We wanted to photograph the nighttime Chicago skyline from the Ferris wheel. That involved a roll of Kodak T-Max P3200 I bought at Central Camera the day before. I’ll share those images when I get them back from the processor.

Cup

I’m not sad that I’m out of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800, or that Fujifilm discontinued this film a couple years ago. I’ve made a few lovely images with it, and it was reasonably priced. But I won’t miss its giant grain and muted colors.

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