Old cars, Film Photography

Kodak Plus-X and the Carmel Artomobilia

I had two SLRs slung over my shoulders at the 2017 Carmel Artomobilia last month: my Pentax ME with wonderful Fujifilm Superia 100 inside, and my Pentax Spotmatic F with my last roll of Kodak Plus-X.

Cobra

On this day, with this lens (55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar), the Plus-X returned blacks you could just fall into.

Camaro

And the grays and whites came out creamy.

Hurst Olds

I wished briefly that I had screwed in my 35mm f/3.5 SMC Takumar. The thick crowds made it difficult, at best, to back up far enough to get entire cars in the frame. The 35/3.5 would have made me back up a lot less.

Toronado

But I’ve been exploring the 55/1.8’s considerable charms lately, and in retrospect am not disappointed I left it on the camera. It performed well, and it’s seldom a real problem to focus on an old car’s details.

Firebird

Growing up in the 1970s as I did, when half or more of the cars on the road were from GM, it was easy to take their dominance for granted. Looking back, it’s clear just how good their designs were. How daring it was in 1970 that the second-generation Camaro and Firebird had no distinct rear passenger windows! The shape of this window opening is just smashing.

Flying lady

Packard’s Flying Lady hood ornaments are a favorite subject. I shoot them whenever I come across them at a car show.

Ol' propeller nose

This is the famous front end of the Studebaker I photographed from the rear here. The girl walking away was a happy coincidence as I framed this shot, so I made sure to include her.

Citroen

The Citroën DS is funky from every angle and in every detail. Just check out how these headlights don’t both point forward. This is a later DS; earlier ones had uncovered headlights.

R/T

Plenty of American muscle was on display at the Artomobilia. I’m partial to the Mopars of the era for their no-nonsense styling.

Avanti

Avantis were made in my hometown, South Bend. They were Studebakers at first, but after Studebaker shuttered a new company formed to keep Avanti production going. They used leftover Studebaker engines at first but eventually had to turn to Chevy to provide powerplants. Post-Studebaker Avantis were given the “Avanti II” name, probably for rights reasons.

Avanti II

As the show began to wrap up and the crowds thinned, I was able to get a few wider shots of the event and its cars.

Vette 2

It wasn’t all classics at the Artomobilia. Several owners of newer hi-po Ford Mustangs lined up their cars for inspection.

Hoods up

Here’s hoping I can find time for more car shows. I do love to photograph cars and I think I’ve become pretty good at it. They’re certainly the subject with which I am most confident.

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Piloting the Buick

At the wheel of the old Buick
Pentax Spotmatic F, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar
Kodak Plus-X
2017

I’ve never been very good at moving fast. I’m more the slow, thoughtful type. But there are moments in my photography when a wonderful scene emerges before my eyes and I have to move fast before it disappears. Such was this moment.

I forget what my camera’s settings were. I probably didn’t even know as I framed and focused. I probably just twisted the aperture ring until the viewfinder’s exposure needle registered good exposure, pressed the shutter button, and trusted that on such a bright day I’d have settings that would give me enough depth of field.

I was right. And I moved fast enough to catch the girl’s delighted smile.

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Film Photography, Old cars

single frame: At the wheel of the old Buick

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Film Photography

Kodak Plus-X in the Pentax Spotmatic F

I love Kodak Plus-X. It’s a shame Kodak discontinued it.

All of the Plus-X photos I’ve shared on this blog have come from some expired stock I bought a few years ago. It was promised to have always been stored cold, and it performed like new.

My last roll had been moldering about the refrigerator for going on two years because I wanted to honor it with the perfect subject. Finally I decided that no subject would ever be perfect enough. I might as well just shoot it up.

I loaded it into my Pentax Spotmatic F, mounted my 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar lens, and carried the camera with me wherever I went. Naturally, I started in the yard. I often do. I hadn’t moved out of my old house yet.

Sale Pending

I had the Spotmatic along while Margaret and I took an evening stroll down Main Street in Zionsville. It’s become tradition that I shoot the Black Dog Books sign.

Black Dog Books

This shop on Main Street had closed for the night, but there was enough light for me to press the lens to the window and make this photograph.

Window shopping

And then a perfect subject came along: the Carmel Artomobilia. I’ve already shown you color photographs from this show here, and I’ll show you more black-and-white photos from this roll in an upcoming post.

Carmel Artomobilia

But as a preview, here are a couple wide shots.

Oldsmobile butts

I’m sure I could buy more Plus-X. It shows up from time to time on eBay, and the Film Photography Project has been known to sell it sometimes. It is said to usually perform well even when it hasn’t been stored cold.

But I think it’s time I shoot up my backlogged stock and then stick largely to films that are still being manufactured. Expired, discontinued films certainly have their charms. I might still be wooed here and there. But I wish to find my go-to films, the ones I reach for again and again because I know them well and can shoot for their strengths. If Plus-X were still being manufactured, it would absolutely be my slow-speed black-and-white film. Alas.

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Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis

Ghostly church
Kodak Six-20
Kodak Plus-X
2010

The first time I photographed Second Presbyterian I was shooting my folding Kodak Six-20 and some Plus-X that I bought pre-respooled as 620 from B&H. The entire roll came back looking like this, to my disappointment.

I came across the negatives recently and they look normal. My wife bought me a new flatbed film scanner for my birthday, and it takes medium-format film, so I may try scanning the negs myself when I get moved and settled.

I’ve reviewed the Kodak Six-20 twice: here and here.

Photography

single frame: Ghostly church

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Tunnel *EXPLORED*

I usually frame, focus, meter, and hope for the best. Practice has improved my odds considerably, making hope less a part of my photography strategy. But given that I shoot with whichever of my classic cameras feels right on a given day, it’s hard for me to know most of them deeply and be sure of what I’ll get from them.

But a well-designed, highly functional tool sometimes makes up for what I lack. I had one of my last rolls of discontinued Kodak Plus-X spooled into my Nikon F3HP and was driving through Crown Hill Cemetery looking for interesting subjects. The cemetery is bisected by 38th Street, but a grade separation featuring a concrete-arch bridge creates easy connection between the north and south portions of the enormous grounds. There was more light under that bridge than this film and my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens captured — but didn’t the F3 do a great job of setting exposure to keep detail in both the light and dark areas? This might just be my favorite shot of the year.

Photography

Captured: Tunnel

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Photography

Strolling with a Nikon F3 and Kodak Plus-X

The more Kodak Plus-X I shoot, the more I love it for its rich blacks and low grain. I wish I could shoot it forever. Alas, Kodak discontinued it four years ago. It was only through the Film Photography Project’s cache of cold-stored expired stock that I had any at all. But now it’s out of stock at the FPP. I’m going to move on, probably to Kodak T-Max 100. But not before shooting the last two rolls chlling in my fridge.

I shot one of them in my Canon EOS Rebel, but you might recall that its shutter was busted. Thank goodness I figured that out before I sent the Plus-X in for pointless processing. I fished the leader out of the film can and dropped the cartridge into my reliable Nikon F3HP, as it needed some exercise. I also attached my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens, and took the camera along from time to time over the next few weeks.

I first took the F3 along on my autumn walk through nearby Crown Hill Cemetery. It’s become common for me to carry more than one camera on a photo trip!

Shaded cemetery path

That was such a colorful day! And the color shots I got on the same day were lovely. But there’s something about a cemetery that just begs to be shot in black and white.

James Henry Trimble

I also took the F3 along on the elders’ retreat. The shots overlooking the lake turned out best.

Across the lake

Such sure tones everywhere in these lakeside shots. And the Nikkor delivered the sharpness.

Dock

I liked this one best because of the wonderful reflection.

The view from here

I took a couple shots around the church. I liked this one best, of one of the concrete blocks that separate our parking lot from the alley.

My heart is blocked

I finished the roll around the house. I love shooting this trio of trees on the golf course behind my house. That tree in front is an ash tree and it’s dead, thanks to the emerald ash borer. The golf course will eventually have to remove it, and then this favorite subject will be forever altered. I doubt I’ll like it as much.

Golf course trees

I had a yellow filter on that afternoon, and shot my leafless front-yard trees against this sky filled with wispy clouds.

Up in the sky

Come back on Friday, and I’ll show you my favorite shot from this roll. It’s just a perfect exposure.

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