Do people actually like apartments like these? I know I’m biased against new construction. I feel like it’s all made with Balsa wood and Elmer’s glue. Give me a sturdy older home any day. Except that within every older home lurks half-assed homeowner repairs and renovations that at some point you’re going to have to tear out and do right.
Under Construction Pentax KM, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax Ferrania P30 Alpha 2017
Downtown Fishers, Indiana, is under construction.
This was once a sleepy little downtown of a few older buildings alongside a railroad track. Fishers started out as just a place to stop along the Nickel Plate Railroad. Now its burgeoning downtown is called the Nickel Plate District. It’s modern urban density, except that it’s in one of Indianapolis’s most popular suburbs.
I rather miss the little houses that used to dot Fishers’s narrow streets.
What a remarkable time for film photographers, with brand new film emulsions coming to market! And I was fortunate to be among the first to receive five rolls of the first production batch of one of those films: Ferrania P30 Alpha.
Ferrania was an Italian company that produced film from 1923 to 2009. For a few decades it was a 3M subsidiary. I shot some store-branded film as a kid where the fine print on the box said it was a 3M product. I never knew it was actually made by Ferrania.
In 2013 a new company took the Ferrania name, bought the old Ferrania plant, and started a Kickstarter to help fund the return to film. Their original goal was to resume production of an old color slide film, Scotch Chrome 100.
I was an early backer of the Kickstarter. And then Ferrania experienced a litany of woes that set their plans back for months that turned into years. The pushed through, and long story short, early this year they announced that their first product would be a black-and-white negative film to be called P30. Even better, backers would be given first dibs to buy some. I plunked my money down straightaway. How often do you get to try a brand new film?
This new film is, however, based on a movie film the old Ferrania used to produce, also called P30. And it’s lovely, with no discernible grain and blacks so deep you could just fall into them.
I shot the first of my rolls in my Pentax KM with the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax lens on it. That 55/1.8 is an astonishingly good lens and was a great choice for putting a new film through its paces. Ferrania’s advice was firm: shoot at box speed. So I did.
I shot most of the roll on strolls through downtown Fishers, Indiana, where I work. The blazing sun was directly overhead — suboptimal conditions for any film. But P30 handled it all right. I did have to pull out some of the shadow detail in Photoshop. As scanned, the lenses in the blinkers above were completely black And the bed and nightstand in the photo below were largely hidden.
Actually, P30 biases toward highlights in a high-contrast situation. I couldn’t bring out any meaningful shadow detail in this photo of a wall light in my family room. Perhaps next time I shoot P30 I will use a camera with more sophisticated metering than the KM’s center-biased averaging system, and see if that helps.
But this characteristic leads P30 to create smashing shadows in daylight. Its low grain creates crisp lines.
Those shadows are so good! Here are some more for you to admire.
I’m also impressed with the detail P30 captures. In real life those bricks are a deep red. This rendering of red as deep black appears to be characteristic. An orange filter would probably soften the effect. But here I rather like it.
And when you get a little bokeh with the P30, it is ultra creamy.
And I adore the grays I get on mid-toned subjects. I did, however, have to tone the highlights way down to bring out the pavement markings.
When it comes to black-and-white film, I’m a Kodak guy through and through. I love T-Max and Tri-X. I’ll probably never get over Kodak discontinuing Plus-X. I’ve tried other black-and-white films, and with a couple rare exceptions I haven’t liked any of them.
I’m deeply impressed with Ferrania’s P30 Alpha. I am eager to shoot more of it, hopefully on an overcast-bright day to see how it handles lower-contrast situations.
This film is still experimental, however. Ferrania cautions shooters not to use motorized-winding point-and-shoot cameras, for example, as they’ve been known to break the film. And given the film’s cinema heritage, it requires specific handling. Finally, Ferrania recommends home processing of the film and favors D76 or D96; full details are on this pdf. But Ferrania has worked with a handful of labs worldwide in determining best practices, and for shooters like me who don’t process their own Ferrania recommends sticking to these labs. Fortunately, one of them is Old School Photo Lab, one of my favorites. That’s who processed and scanned this roll.
Meanwhile, Ferrania is still in line to create its color slide film, and I’m still in line to receive some as part of my Kickstarter reward. All kinds of goodness is yet to come!
In Indianapolis, Meridian Street is aptly named as it divides the Westside from the Eastside. For many years, it served as US 31 on the Northside. And what a lovely drive it is, lined all the way with luxurious and often historic homes.
Meridian Street and US 31 have an interesting history on Indianapolis’s Northside, as this street didn’t extend north of the Central Canal and Westfield Boulevard, about a mile to the south, when the US highway system was instituted in 1926. That year, a bridge was built over the canal and Meridian Street was presumably extended. But the bridge over the White River wouldn’t come until 1933, and so US 31 followed Westfield Boulevard until then.
In the map excerpt, Meridian Street curves sharply north of Kessler Boulevard on its way to the White River. But notice the street that extends straight where Meridian starts to curve. That’s Meridian Street West Drive, which sure looks to me like Meridian Street’s original alignment until the bridge was built.
I shot the above photo in 2007; this is the bridge’s southeast end. This bridge was in sorry shape then. In 2012, it underwent a much needed renovation. Here’s a photo I made of the bridge that year while hiking through nearby Holliday Park. The work was well underway; notice the condition of the arches and the new railing.
Recently I explored around and under this bridge on its north end, my Pentax KM and a 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M lens along for the ride. I was shooting Kodak Tri-X that day.
This seven-span concrete-arch bridge is about 784 feet long. The White River is under only its threecentral spans. Its southmost span covers Riverview Drive, and the span immediately north of it goes over a levee. The northmost span covers a trail that links to Holliday Park. The arch to the south of it simply spans earth.
I explored the bridge from its north end this day. It still looks good after its 2012 renovation.
I just love being under a concrete bridge’s arch to see the slats from the original formwork in the concrete.
And of course it takes no time at all for graffiti to find its way onto a bridge’s nether regions. I wish I’d thought to photograph it just after it reopened, when it was still perfectly clean. But I also rather like finding graffiti under a bridge. It feels to me like a kind of communication among souls who find something compelling about such a place. I can’t imagine ever personally marking a bridge, but because I’m at home under a bridge I feel a certain kinship with people who would wield a rattle can here.
I know of only one other church in town with curved pews: the former Central Methodist Church, now Indiana Landmarks Center. Their pews, like their whole facility, are lovingly restored. Our pews, like our whole building, could use a lot of love. An exuberant teenager sat too hard on one of our pews a couple years ago and broke it. My father, a cabinetmaker, and I glued it back together as best we could. It was clear it had been repaired many times.
In Remembrance of Me Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M Kodak Tri-X 2017
This is the communion table at my church, West Park Christian Church, on Indianapolis’s Near Westside. The pulpit is behind it — a short pulpit for our vertically challenged pastor. The ladder is a prop he used in a sermon series about The Beatitudes.