While we were in Madison in October, we came upon this 1966 Pontiac Bonneville convertible parked on Main Street. I was shooting my Pentax KM with a 35-70mm f/4 SMC Pentax-A lens attached and Fujicolor 200 inside.
Fomapan 400 is a film that’s new to me. My first time out with it I shot it at box speed, but shadows sometimes lacked detail. I thought it might help that to shoot the next roll at EI 200, so that’s what I did. I developed in LegacyPro L110, Dilution B, at the IS0 400 time. I scanned the negatives on my Minolta ScanDual II.
I used fresh L110 for this roll. I’d gotten dense negatives the last couple of rolls I developed with the L110 I had been using. It’s not impossible that the cameras were to blame; they were both essentially new to me and could have been overexposing. And I know L110, like any HC-110 clone, is said to perform like new for years. Still, I decided to remove this variable from the equation.
I shot around my neighborhood to fill in some gaps for the book project I’m working on. Even though the utilities are buried in my neighborhood, these ugly utility boxes appear between every pair of houses. They remind me of crooked, broken teeth. Someone who saw these photos in my Flickr stream said they reminded him of gravestones. I made these images with my Pentax KM and my 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens.
I switched to my 80-200mm f/4.5 SMC Pentax-M lens for the rest of the roll. There were a few images I wanted to make where the long focal length would compress depth. On this first image in particular, I got shallower depth of field than I wanted. I’m trying to show the a long row of these petroleum pipeline markers.
These all turned out reasonably well. At box speed, I liked the contrast I got. These are flatter, even after boosting contrast in Photoshop. But the shadows aren’t blocked up, and the middle grays are pleasing.
Someday Margaret and I will move back to Indianapolis from Zionsville. Not only do I miss the city, but I also don’t enjoy the suburban lifestyle. But when we go, we will absolutely miss being just a few minutes away from Zionsville’s charming downtown, with its shops and restaurants.
We will also miss events like the Brick Street Market. It’s an annual thing, except that (I think) it was skipped last year thanks to the pandemic. But this year, with vaccinations on the rise, they held it. We’re fully vaccinated, so we went. I had Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 in, and my 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens on, my Pentax KM, so I brought it along.
Several blocks of downtown are closed for the market, and vendors set up booths. Some of the vendors are local, most of the rest come from around the state, and a few come from surrounding states to hawk their (mostly) handmade wares.
It’s called the Brick Street Market because Zionsville’s Main Street is paved in brick. It’s hard to see in these photos, but the the center section of the street is a different color brick from the outer sections, because that’s where the streetcar tracks used to run and when they were removed I guess they couldn’t find matching brick.
I moved in close to capture some of the more interesting products for sale.
When I shot my Pentax KM during Operation Thin the Herd, I dropped it onto a stone floor. I’m such a klutz. At first I thought I’d only dented the bottom plate, but later I discovered that any lens’s aperture ring turned stiffly when it didn’t before. I worried that the fall had bent something in the mount.
It took me 2½ years, but I finally sent it off to Eric Hendrickson for repair and CLA. Eric fitted a replacement bottom plate and adjusted whatever was needed so lenses operated properly. He also replaced the entire metering system as the original wouldn’t stay calibrated.
Man, did it feel good to have this camera back! It’s not just because I enjoy using it, but because this camera previously belonged to my longtime friend Michael, and before that his father, who bought it new. I still have the original receipt.
Upon its return, I immediately shot two rolls of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 with it, using my 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens. The KM performed beautifully. A few photos I made of Margaret with our granddaughter in the front yard were stunning.
I took the KM on a gray-day walk through Starkey Nature Park. Eagle Creek cuts through here, and an old railroad bridge remains.
I also made a few photos around my yard, as I do.
I also shot the KM at an annual event in downtown Zionsville. I’ll share those photos in an upcoming post.
One of my oldest friends sold me this Pentax KM. His father bought it new in 1976, the year Pentax introduced it and the famous K lens mount. In the 1980s the camera passed down to my friend; somewhere around here I have at least one college-days photo of him using it. I’m very happy to be this camera’s steward today.
I never fail with this camera. Really. It’s almost magic. According to my notes I shot this tulip with the 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M lens on Fujicolor 200. I don’t like that lens at all but just look at how lovely it rendered here.
Most of the time I shoot the lens that came with this camera, the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax. It is almost certainly a K-mount version of the sublime 55/1.8 Takumar from Pentax’s earlier screw-mount cameras. This lens never misses. It’s just wonderful.
I took this kit and a roll of T-Max 400 to Purdue for an afternoon with my son. He brought his K1000 along; we spent the afternoon taking pictures. Goodness, was that ever wonderful to me. A fast-ish lens with fast-ish film and my generally steady hand let me do reasonable work indoors. Above, the Stewart Center; below, the Purdue Memorial Union.
This is a shot from a library inside Stewart Center. I was surprised that they still follow the Dewey Decimal System, which I thought was passé among libraries today.
This is Spitzer Court, with Cary Quad in the background. Damion lives in Cary. It’s very stately. We walked around inside a little bit and its common areas have this very 1890s feel. When you look past the modern pressboard furniture in those rooms, you can almost imagine young bejacketed pipe-smoking men sitting about in high-backed chairs at mahogany tables.
You’ll also find plenty of modern architecture at Purdue, like Hampton Hall.
Damion’s buddy runs the ham radio club, so we got a tour. I just love old electronic gear. Just dig that great typography on that meter.
They could have just printed “µA” on the meter on the right, but they went all the way and spelled it out in a sober typeface. The space between the letters lends such gravity, such certainty. You may rest assured in this meter’s reading.
Okay, this has been more about my day at Purdue than about the Pentax KM. Let me reel this back in: this camera performed flawlessly. And perhaps I’m blinded by my love for Pentax gear but I found this camera to be perfectly unobtrusive as I used it. I framed, matched the needle for exposure, focused, and shot my way through this roll in no time flat. I wished I’d brought another roll of T-Max.
After our long photo walk we walked over to a favorite pub for dinner. I sat the KM on the table, strap dangling. As we got up to leave and I picked up the KM, the strap caught on the table corner and the camera tore from my hand. It landed on the stone tile floor with a sickening splat. The corner of the bottom plate was dented and the UV filter on the lens shattered. Something must have bent slightly on the lens mount, as the aperture ring on any mounted lens now turns clockwise with difficulty. Some steward I am.
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.”
Son, 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.
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:
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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