Film Photography

Fortunately, my first book remains available

I had so hoped to have self-published my second book by now. I have a couple ideas percolating in the back of my head. I’ve even written content for one of them, which I’ve shared here in several posts.

But life has been unexpectedly challenging and I haven’t been able to make these projects a priority. Maybe in 2018.

Fortunately, my first book remains available.

For those of you new to this blog, in April I self-published a book of photographs I’ve taken with my Pentax ME SLR. I bought it on eBay for a mere $16, showing that even the humblest SLR can produce great images.

Click here to see a preview. Click my book’s cover below to buy one on — a paper copy you can hold in your hands for $14.99, or a PDF for $7.99. If you like the photographs I share here every day, I think you’ll enjoy my book.

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My Pentax ME is back from being overhauled!

My Pentax ME had developed a light leak, so I sent it off to Eric Hendrickson for repair and CLA (clean, lube, adjustment). It came back looking and smelling like new. There really is a new-camera smell!

Naturally, I dropped film right into it. My son had given me some Kodak Gold 200 for Father’s Day, so that’s what I used. Here is said son photographed with said film.


My sons had come over for the weekend so I invited the rest of the family for a cookout. It was early July, and I was very close to having the house ready to list for sale. So we threw a little bash to say goodbye. Naturally, my dad had to tell his stories. Here he is in mid-story, with Margaret watching me take the photo.

Dad & Margaret

My garden’s flowers were at peak, so I photographed them. I think half the exposures I’ve made all spring and summer have been of my flowers.


I didn’t know a Pentax ME could operate as smoothly as mine does now! I’ve owned three, you see. While all have worked well enough, it wasn’t until shooting this roll I understood how roughly they all operated. The controls are all supposed to feel silky smooth. Truly, this overhaul made my ME, a camera I’ve always enjoyed, twice as joyful to shoot.

I do need to double-check the meter, however. Eric’s service includes calibrating the meter, but to my surprise my daylight photos all looked a little overexposed. Thankfully, a half-stop down on Photoshop’s Exposure control is all they needed to look right. However, blazingly bright days have characterized this summer. Images I’ve taken with several other cameras have benefited from some fiddling with the Exposure control. My ME is probably fine. But if something isn’t quite right, the sooner I get it back to Eric the better.

Tiger lily

Oh, here’s one more flower shot. I’m just so pleased with my gardens this year. They’re the best they’ve ever been. I hope the person who is buying my home loves these flowers at least as much as I have, and cares well for them.


Margaret and I walked Indianapolis’s Warfleigh neighborhood to see how we liked it, as we continue to consider where we might like to settle one day. The Meridian Street bridge over the White River borders this neighborhood. I love to shoot this bridge, even if this isn’t much of a photograph.

Under the Meridian St. Bridge

While making this walk, the metal cap that covers the winder unscrewed itself and disappeared. I noticed it while we walked, so we retraced our steps in hopes of finding it. No luck. So I emailed Eric to explain. A few days later a spare cap arrived in my mailbox. Very nice.

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Time to send my Pentax ME out for CLA

My much-loved Pentax ME has developed a light leak. Much sadness.

Cincinnati Zoo

Bodies go for so cheap on eBay that I considered for a minute just buying another one. But I’m on my third body already — all three wound up with some minor problem. (Should that be telling me something?) Rather than try the camera lottery again, I’m just going to send this one to Eric Hendrickson for CLA (clean, lube, and adjustment) and new seals.

Cincinnati Zoo

I first saw the leak earlier this year when I had some black-and-white film in it. I immediately went into denial. The roll I shot at the zoo came back from the processor’s with so many affected images that I couldn’t avoid reality any longer.


This also solves a mystery. You might remember a couple shots I shared several weeks ago where I couldn’t remember which camera I used to shoot them. Well, the light leak in the corner of this shot from that roll tells the story. And I had to be shooting my 80-200mm f/4.5 SMC Pentax-M Zoom lens on it to get shots like this one.

Eastern Star

While my ME is out of commission, I’ll just have to fall back on my delightful and pristine Pentax KM when I want to shoot from my collection of Pentax lenses. Life is good.


Shooting the 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens

In case you can’t tell, I’ve been on a jag of shooting my prime manual-focus Pentax lenses. It’s also given me a chance to shoot up some film that’s been sitting in my fridge for far too long. So: my 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens went on, and a roll of Kentmere 100 went in, my Pentax ME. And I took it along when I went to visit my son at Purdue. We drove across the river into Lafayette and strolled through downtown.


I’ve always enjoyed this f/2 prime, but after I bought my 50/1.4 it never got much play. I admit it: I liked the cachet of having that f/1.4 lens on my camera. Look at me, the photographer with the f/1.4 lens! But for everyday shooting I didn’t really need that extra stop.

I have generally not, however, enjoyed Kentmere 100. It’s soot and chalk, prone to blown highlights. But it did all right under this lens. And what a grand theater marquee that is!

Lafayette Theater

A mural down one alley featured all these faceless people. I can’t decide whether it’s cool or creepy, but either way it’s compelling.

Your face here 1

Lafayette’s downtown is lovely, chock full of old buildings that appear to have been maintained or restored. So many Indiana downtowns have not been so fortunate. My hometown of South Bend lost half its downtown buildings to urban renewal. My college town of Terre Haute saw many of its old downtown buildings torn down from neglect.

Looking up

My son and I also walked through a park on Lafayette’s east side. This shot of a tree in the park shows a little of Kentmere’s highlight-blowing tendencies.


On a different day I shot this flag. I’m a little bummed out to see that light leak in the bottom corner. A couple other shots were so afflicted. Could my ME need new seals? Is it finally time to send it out for a good CLA? The answer appears to be yes on both counts.


Finally, here’s a new McDonald’s. Actually, this is an old McDonald’s. Believe it or not, this was until recently an iconic red Mansard-roofed McDs. They tore the old skin off and put on a new one. I don’t know what is making the company remake its buildings in such generic style. Take off the golden arches and this could be any office building anywhere.


This lens handled flawlessly and returned sharp results, as it always does. The Kentmere mostly kept its highlight-blowing tendencies at bay. The only clinker was the light leak this roll revealed.


Hankering to shoot in black and white

Several cameras I bought last fall and winter have piled up here. I’ve been busy shooting with them, including a Kodak Monitor, a Kodak Retina IIa, and a Minolta SR-T-101. Writeups are on the way! An Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 8o, a Polaroid One Step 600, and a Polaroid Pronto are waiting their turns.

Pentax MEBut one recent afternoon when I unexpectedly had some free time, I found myself hankering to try the 55 mm f/1.8 lens that came with my Pentax KM on my easier-to-handle Pentax ME. I’ve also been itching to shoot black and white lately. I credit the influence of Mike Connealy, a fellow collector whose black-and-white work I really enjoy. You can see his cameras and his photos here. So I bought some Kodak T-Max 400, dropped it into my ME, attached the aforementioned lens, and had some fun. My other cameras can wait.

The Pentax ME was just as much a pleasure in my hands this time as last. But my shots tended to come out a little overexposed. I was able to rescue many of the shots, including this one, in Photoshop Elements.


I planted some daylilies last year and their ongoing blooms really make me happy.


My dog Gracie was still fluffy after a bath the day before. I love how her fur has silvery tones, especially across her face. In color, she’s orange.

Shiny dog

I visited Broad Ripple, a frequent destination when I have film in a camera. This faux graffiti advertises a restaurant in the building onto which it is painted.


This old railroad bridge is becoming a frequent subject.

Monon bridge 1

Finally, my youngest son made this pencil cup for me when he was in preschool, which was nine years ago now. His older brother made the flower pen when he was in Kindergarten. I took this on my desk at work using the good light streaming through the window.

Pencil cup

This was fun. I think I’ll shoot black and white more often.

I added these and several other shots from this roll to my Pentax ME gallery.

The last time I shot black and white film, I got this photo.
It remains one of my favorites.

Camera Reviews, Photography

Pentax ME

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When I began collecting cameras a few years ago I chose to focus on rangefinders and folders, but deliberately stayed away from SLRs. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, but that I feared that once I started buying them I’d become sucked into buying the lenses and accessories, too, and it would be a pit from which I’d never emerge. But I have to admit, I’m attracted to 1970s SLRs. I like them because they’re made of metal and don’t offer fully automatic operation. It’s not that I disdain autofocus and autoexposure – I enjoy them very much on my everyday camera, a Canon PowerShot S95. I just feel a certain romance for these tough cameras that require some effort on the photographer’s part. Their charm has overwhelmed me, and my collection contains a growing number of SLRs.

I’ve had a hankering for a K-mount Pentax SLR for a long time now. Specifically, I’ve wanted a K1000, the seminal student camera. I’ll own one one day, you can count on it. But that didn’t stop me from scooping up this K-mount Pentax ME when I found it for a good price.

The Pentax ME was a remarkable camera when it was introduced in 1976. It is small, light, and easy to use. It’s even smaller than the Olympus OM-1, the world’s first compact SLR. The ME is an aperture-priority camera, meaning you choose an aperture and the camera measures exposure through the lens and sets shutter speed for you. (It even displays the shutter speed inside the viewfinder.) This ease of use comes at the expense of full control, however; the ME offers no manual mode.

Pentax ME

You’re not entirely at autoexposure’s mercy – a dial around the rewind crank lets you adjust exposure up to two stops in either direction. And the ME is plenty flexible, working with films up to 1600 ASA and allowing exposures from 8 seconds to 1/1000 second through its electronic focal-plane shutter. Its hot shoe syncs at 1/100 sec. All of this convenience relies on two LR44 button batteries. Without them, the shutter operates only at 1/100 sec and at bulb (which holds the shutter open as long as the button is pressed).

Pentax ME

The fact that the ME takes commonly available batteries may make it my go-to film SLR. I bought a pack of LR44s around the corner at Walgreens, dropped in a roll of Fujicolor 200, and went looking for some color to shoot. This tiny house sits beneath a vast maple whose leaves turn bright red at autumn’s peak.

Autumn over the little house

My ME came with a 50 mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens. Pentax sold the ME with the 50 mm f/1.7 or f/1.4 lenses in the same series, so somewhere along the way my ME lost its original lens and acquired this one. No matter; the f/2 lens is a fine piece of glass. The autoexposure system isn’t so good, however, that it can overcome this photographer’s poor choices, such as photographing the back of my brightly sunlit car against a deeply shaded background. At least this photo shows that the lens is capable of producing a nice soft blurry effect.

Test shot

I carried the ME everywhere with me for a few days, shooting whatever took my fancy. I found this truck’s hand-painted sign, misspelling and all, compelling and shot it through the windshield while we waited at a light.

No job to big

I’ve photographed this storefront in Broad Ripple several times now.

Colorful street scene

Apparently folks in the northern Indiana city of LaPorte can enjoy sudden service.

Sudden service

Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis is becoming a frequent subject. It’s a commanding presence on the city’s north side.

Second Pres

I’m glad I bought my Pentax ME. But I’m still searching for that bargain on a K1000.

Do you like old cameras? Then check out my entire collection.