In memoriam

Roadside memorial
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

I remember well the first time I saw crosses arrayed in a memorial to people who died at a site. It was 1984 and I was visiting the Berlin Wall. It’s hard even now to think about why and how they died.

I’m not sure exactly when we started erecting crosses in the United States along roadsides where accidents claimed loved ones. I don’t recall seeing any as early as 1984. But given the date on this one, we are likely to have been doing it since at least 1996.

The 50mm f/1.7 lens I acquired recently is a real winner. Just check out that lovely bokeh.

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Film Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Roadside memorial

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K1000

Pentax K1000 fresh from CLA
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

Last winter I loaned my K1000 to my son with the promise that if he enjoyed using it, I’d let him keep it — but first, I’d send it to Eric Hendrickson for a complete overhaul. When he came home from college in the spring, he gave me the word: he’d had a great time with it and would enjoy keeping it.

Along the way I picked up an ME body at a good price. I love shooting my ME — its aperture-priority shooting suits me, and its smaller size makes it more pleasant to carry. I figured my son might like one, too. So I sent both cameras to Eric, who returned them to me recently, smelling factory fresh, ready to serve for at least another 20 years.

Both cameras are in my son’s hands now. A longtime reader of this blog offered me a spare 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-A lens that he no longer wanted, for my son’s ME. It was a generous gift, and my son gratefully accepted it.

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Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

single frame: Pentax K1000 fresh from CLA

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GMC 3800

1952 GMC truck
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

I had Eric Hendrickson overhaul the Pentax ME body I picked up recently. When it came back, I loaded some film and took it for a test run. It handled beautifully, as expected.

I had never shot Kodak Gold 200 at EI 100 before. I’d heard that doing so tended to tame the film’s tendency toward “hot” colors. The rumors are true! Every silver lining tends to come with a dark cloud, though: well-lit areas tended to look hazy. I cleared up most of the haze (without resurrecting the “hot” colors) by reducing exposure by up to a half stop in Photoshop.

While waiting for an event to begin I took a walk along South Meridian Street in Indianapolis, where I came upon this old truck. She sure looked good in her patina, parked curbside.

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Film Photography

single frame: 1952 GMC truck

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Film Photography

Summer flowers on Kodak Gold 200

My son gave me some Kodak Gold 200 film for Father’s Day so I shot it all straightaway. With a roll in a fresh-from CLA Pentax ME (which I subsequently gave him), with my 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens attached, I photographed some roadside flowers.

Roadside flowers

I haven’t photographed many flowers this year. I had a pretty prolific garden at my last house which provided many lovely subjects through the blooming months. My new house doesn’t offer nearly the floral photographic opportunities.

Roadside flowers

But while carrying this ME around I had occasion to stop along a rural highway and to walk along South Meridian Street in Indianapolis. Both offered me posies to photograph.

Roadside flowers

I am swooning over the quality of the blurred backgrounds I got with this lens. I need to shoot it more to be sure, but it looks like it very well could be the best of the Pentax 50s (50/1.4, 50/1.7, and 50/2).

Roadside flowers

Lately I’ve come to appreciate the 35mm focal length for the walking-around photography I do, given how often I want to get a whole building in my frame. Sometimes I just can’t back up enough when a 50 is mounted. But I don’t think my 35 can do close work like this.

Chicory

It’s a conundrum, which lens to bring along on a walk. But I suppose it’s a first-world problem.

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Shoe repair

Shoe repair
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Max 400 (exp. 10/2007)
2018

This is my favorite shot from that Pentax ME and 50/1.7 lens I recently picked up on eBay. The muted colors and enhanced grain of the expired film really work here, complementing this gritty scene.

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Film Photography

single frame: Shoe repair

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Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Expired film in a new-to-me old camera — what could go wrong?

It all started because I gave my 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens to my son to use on the Pentax K1000 I also gave him. I didn’t think I needed that lens anymore, as I own a 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M lens. How many 50mm primes does one need, anyway? But that 50/2 imparts a wonderful warmth on color film that the 50/1.4 simply does not. I came to miss that 50/2 look.

So I turned to eBay. I had my selection of good ones for very little money. Mine cost $20.

But while searching I also found a 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens. I’ve heard good things about this lens, but have never tried one. It is an optically better lens than the 50/2. So is the 50/1.4, however, yet in everyday shooting I prefer the look I get from the 50/2.

Would the 50/1.7 be more like the 50/1.4 or the 50/2? I decided to find out, since finding out would cost me just $40. It didn’t hurt at all that at that price the lens was attached to a Pentax ME body.

When the kit arrived I put some Kodak Max 400 through it. This film was left over from the end of my wife’s film-shooting days; the expiration date was October of 2007. I found it in the fridge, but I couldn’t say for sure it had always been there.

So: I put film of iffy provenance through a new-to-me old camera which could have any number of faults. At least the lens was obviously clear and clean, and its aperture and focus rings functioned properly. It was the only variable in the equation that I felt sure about!

The results show the muted colors and pronounced grain of poorly stored old film. So this wasn’t the best test roll to show the 50/1.7’s capabilities. At least the ME body appears to be functionally sound where it counts: the meter and the shutter both seem accurate.

I’ve been taking long walks a lot more lately, trying to regain some lost physical stamina and drop a few pounds. My wife shared her two-mile neighborhood loop with me. This fire plug is on it.

Plug

That loop takes me down an old alignment of State Road 334, past a fallen State Right-of-Way marker. I photographed it twice, once wide open and once stopped down to the minimum aperture the poor light would allow. It’s hard to tell for sure because of the expired film’s condition, but it looks like this lens may be capable of some lovely bokeh.

ROW

ROW

I forget where I made this leafy photograph, but it, too, suggests that this 50/1.7 is a lovely performer. Next time, fresh film for sure.

Leaves

I also took a walk through Indianapolis’s Broad Ripple neighborhood one morning before meeting a colleague for coffee. I loved how the sun played across this terraced garden.

Sunlight

I also strolled through Daubenspeck Nature Park on Indianapolis’s far Northside one day before stopping by my mom’s nearby home for a cup of coffee. I’d never been in there before and didn’t know it had lovely views.

Daubenspeck

Just for giggles I shot this on my desk at work. Every time our young company reaches a milestone, or when an individual participates in a key project, a Lego is issued to commemorate it.

Legos

Last and least, this Zionsville cop car with lights flashing. I had stopped at my nearby Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee on my commute, and a community event there had the chief of police shaking hands with folks. The car was probably supposed to announce his presence, but rather it made me wonder if a crime had gone down at the Dunk.

Popo

I don’t need this lens. But since I’m doubling down on my Pentax SLRs, both screw- and K-mount, I might as well own the trifecta of 50mm SMC Pentax-M lenses. And the Pentax ME body this lens came with worked fine, except for a shutter button that sticks the first time you press it after you turn the camera on. Since I already own (and love) a like-new Pentax ME, I’ll probably send this one out for CLA and to get that shutter button repaired and then give it to my son. If he’s anything like his old dad, he’ll like the ME better than the K1000 too.

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