My bike at Windswept Farm Pentax IQZoom 170SL Fujicolor 200 2020
I put away my bike for the season the other day. It’s grown too cold for me to want to ride anymore.
I rode longer this season than I normally do thanks to Three Speed October. It’s an event put on by the Society of Three Speeds to encourage those of us who love three-speed cycling to cycle more in this autumn month. It’s not an onerous commitment: three rides of three miles or more, during any three weeks in October. The Society even defines October loosely, to include most of the last week of September and the first day of November.
I’m sure I would have given up riding sooner this season without Three Speed October. A few of my rides were a little chillier than I normally put up with! But I was determined to finish the challenge.
One of my usual routes takes me by this yellow barn. I had film in the Pentax IQZoom 170SL so I brought it along just so I could make this image.
It wasn’t that long ago that Hamilton County, Indiana, was mostly farmland. When I moved to central Indiana in the mid 1990s, if you drove north from Indianapolis into Hamilton County, city rapidly gave way to corn and soybean fields.
Today, it’s all developed. The Hamilton County towns of Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville have annexed a great deal of the county and, one by one, farmers have sold their land to developers. Office buildings line the major roads now. Everywhere else you’ll find homes, ranging from inexpensive vinyl-village subdivisions, to gated communities of stone and brick homes, to sprawling estates. You’ll also find the suburban shopping centers that follow residential development.
Jesse and Beulah Cox foresaw this all happening. They bought the farm of original Hamilton County settler John Williams in 1958, and by 1974 they had built their dream home on the property. In 1999, they donated their property to the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department to preserve their land, to “create an oasis in a sea of homes,” Jesse said. Their farm, now known as Coxhall Gardens, is a sprawling park. It’s also one of my frequent photographic destinations.
Williams began farming this land in 1855, and built this house on it in 1865.
As you drive by, this house is largely hidden by a row of trees. When the Coxes bought the property, they lived in the Williams house at first.
The Williams’ barn still stands near the house.
Looming behind the barn is the mansion the Coxes built in 1974. (But first, they built and lived in a single-story ranch in what looks like limestone. It still stands, but I’ve never photographed it.)
I was surprised to learn that this large, solid home was built so recently. It looks like something from a hundred years before.
I especially enjoy the mansion during the warm months, because it is lushly landscaped.
I don’t know the significance of this statue, but I like it and have photographed it a number of times.
I’m partial to this photo of my wife on the mansion’s steps.
Not far from the mansion is the ampitheater. The rotunda-like stage is large enough only for a small performance, such as a musical quartet.
Many times I’ve found people here making wedding photographs. This would be a lovely setting for an outdoor wedding.
This monument to the Coxes, featuring their quote about the “sea of homes,” stands at the back of the ampitheater.
When you walk behind the ampitheater, you find yourself on a bridge over a large pond. From there, you can easily see the park’s two large clocks.
Here’s one of the clocks from a little closer. I don’t know what their significance is, but they are a defining feature in the park. Notice the bells below the clock. I’ve never heard them ring.
This is the bridge behind the ampitheater.
Finally, there’s a little “wild west” village in a back corner of Coxhall Gardens, which I imagine might be fun for children.
You’ll find the entrance to Coxhall Gardens on Towne Road, just north of 116th Street, in Carmel, Indiana.
When I last used my Nikon F2AS, I worried that the meter wasn’t right. To keep testing it, I put some Fujicolor 200 into it, and found that it has indeed gone wonky. Sadly, I’m going to have to send at least the head out so the meter can be recalibrated.
I’d shot only a few frames of the Fujicolor 200. Not wanting to waste the film, I removed it from the F2AS and spooled it into my delightful little Pentax IQZoom 170SL point-and-shoot.
I met my son in Indianapolis’s Fountain Square neighborhood for a cheeseburger in September. It wasn’t so chilly yet that we couldn’t sit outside. After our meal, we strolled around the neighborhood a bit. We came upon this hardware store which was ripe for a photograph.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for air-cooled VWs. As a small boy I used to sit on the front stoop and watch the cars go by on the busy road at the end of our street, and count the VWs.
It was the early 1970s, and the hippie era wasn’t over yet in Indiana. I remember a family up the street that had three teenage daughters who shared a white-over-orange VW Bus of this vintage. They dressed like flower children, but their parents wouldn’t let them paint the bus like flower children did in those days with big flowers all over it.
The mother of a middle-school friend drove one of these in white over blue. I rode in it a handful of times, the only times I’ve ever been in one of these. I loved its commanding front visibility and the relatively high seating position. In those days, regular cars rode so low!
When Chrysler introduced its minivan and it became wildly popular, I remember wondering why, as VW pioneered the form factor with its Bus. But Chrysler’s water-cooled, front-engined, front-wheel-drive minivan was a mainstream vehicle and VW’s Bus would only ever serve a niche.
My subdivision used to be farmland. When I moved to central Indiana a quarter century ago, I occasionally drove out this way and it was as rural as rural can be. Now it’s all vinyl villages and shopping centers.
An old farmhouse lies around the corner from my house. It’s on a parcel that I’d guess covers just a few acres. A family still lives there — is it the original family that sold the rest of the land for this subdivision?
These steps lead to the farmhouse’s front door, but it’s clear that nobody’s used that door in a long time.
The road I stood on to make this photograph used to be a state highway, but not since the 1960s when it was moved to intersect with the nearby Interstate highway. Now this old road is just the back way into my section of the neighborhood, and it dead ends when it reaches it.
I was deeply impressed with the Pentax IQZoom 170SL when I shot some test rolls in it recently. I got excellent color on consumer-grade Fuji films, and its lens was plenty sharp. If it worked the same magic on black-and-white film, I would keep it in my collection. I bought a fresh CR2 battery, loaded some Kodak T-Max 400, and took it on lunchtime walks around my neighborhood.
I shot a lot of film in the spring! It gave me so much to share here that I’m clearing away a big backlog of photos. I made these about four weeks ago. We had an unusually gray and chilly spring. ISO 400 film is just right for days like that, especially in a point-and-shoot camera.
I developed this roll in Rodinal 1+50 and scanned the negatives with VueScan on my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mk II. The VueScan produces smoother tones than the software I was using before. These aren’t quite as good as the scans I get from my favorite lab, but they’re plenty good for every purpose I have for them.
Our subdivision offers the most affordable homes in what is otherwise a wealthy and expensive suburb of Indianapolis. It’s the only way we can afford to live here. We got excellent schools in the bargain. This year’s high-school seniors will have a very different graduation experience from any class before. These signs are for all of the seniors in our subdivision. It’s one of many visible ways the community is celebrating them.
But back to the IQZoom 170SL. It handled well. Even though it’s a little chunky, it slid right into my jeans back pocket. And it delivered the goods yet again. I can’t believe you can buy one on eBay for under $50, and often under $20. Other equally capable point-and-shoots go for five or ten times that much. Get one now before everybody else gloms onto them and the prices soar.
Signs proclaim NO all over our subdivision. No soliciting. No fishing, swimming, ice skating, or boating. No digging, because natural gas and petroleum pipelines flow below our ground. We’re the Village of No.
I have but two criticisms of the 170SL. First, images go soft at maximum zoom (as above). But that’s typical of long-zoom point-and-shoots.
Second, the camera flashes automatically when it thinks the light calls for it. You can override it, but I found myself caught by surprise every time it happened. Fortunately, in this photo of little aluminum ladder on our deck in mid-renovation, the image retained detail in the aluminum highlights.
I meant to use the flash in this shot, from the day my wife and I turned our living room into our home office. It lit the scene evenly, which is not always true of the little flashes on point-and-shoot cameras.
This little camera is a winner. If you like point-and-shoots, get one.