Film Photography, Travel

The Chicago River at night, on Kodak T-Max P3200

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

It is such fun to make photographs well after nightfall, holding my film SLR in my hands, with only building and street lights shining on the scene. As I walked along the river in Chicago, Kodak T-Max P3200 let me make photographs as if it were 9 a.m., not 9 p.m.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

It was cold that night, being the first weekend in January. My Nikon F3 can handle that kind of treatment, which is why I chose it. I mounted my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens so I could fit more of the city in each frame.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

My wife and I had just come from Navy Pier, where we photographed the Chicago skyline from the Ferris wheel. We had plenty of time for a leisurely walk along the Chicago River before our dinner reservations within the Loop. We walked on both sides of the river, crossing the bridges wherever we felt like it.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

Chicago at night is a perfect subject for Kodak T-Max P3200. The built environment generates plenty of light to render subjects beautifully.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

I forget exactly what apertures and shutter speeds I used to make these photos, but they let me shoot easily and comfortably. My lens wasn’t wide open, and I didn’t have to worry about camera shake.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

As you can see, the P3200 does return noticeable grain. A couple of these photos do show slight underexposure. My F3’s meter did the best it could to read this light but didn’t always nail it. A few of these images looked a little foggy, but a little tweaking in Photoshop cleared that right up.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

I remain amazed by how well this film works. I know some people push other films, such as Tri-X, to 3200 and get good results. But you have to push your processing accordingly. That’s not a huge deal when you process your own. But I send my 35mm black-and-white film to a pro lab. It’s nice not to have to pay extra for the push processing on P3200.

Around the Chicago River - Kodak T-Max P3200

My wife and I had a lovely walk along the Chicago River as I shot this roll of Kodak T-Max P3200. I look forward to doing it again someday — and to finding other subjects that this film can make sing.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Film Photography

Expired Kodak Max 400 in the Nikon F3

Iron fence

Checking for a suspected shutter fault in my Nikon F3 I put two rolls of film through it late last year: one Kodak High-Definition 400 (see some of those photos here) and the other Kodak Max 400, photos from which I’m sharing here. Both rolls expired in 2007. I’m not a fan of expired film’s unpredictable results. So to me, the stuff is best used for a job like this.

Old house

The F3 went along on our day-after-Christmas road trip up the Michigan Road. All of these photographs are from the road, in and near Rochester. As I shared in this post, Rochester has a long row of lovely old houses on the road as you approach downtown from the south.


Even though it was midafternoon, given the time of year the sun rode fairly low in the sky and delivered some delicious light. The film’s colors all shifted a little, which is a hazard of being expired. But the Auto Tone tool in Photoshop fixed that right up in a second.

Catholic Church in Rochester

At full scan size you’ll see considerable grain in all of these photos. But at blog size the grain is managed well enough. I’m pleased that I was able to get a little blurred background at EI 400 with the 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens I was shooting.


On Rochester’s square, apparently Santa comes to visit in this little house. On the day after Christmas it had not yet been removed.

Santa's house

I also aimed the F3 at the abandoned bridge abutment north of Rochester, which I wrote about more extensively here.

Old bridge abutment

This is the Tippecanoe River, placidly flowing past the bridge on which I stood.

Tippecanoe River

That bridge, a simple modern steel stringer, features this plaque commemorating its 1982 completion. I love the typeface they used for the plaque.

New bridge marker

Standing by that plaque I focused on the memorials on the old approach, enjoying the ever-fading afternoon light.

On the old bridge abutment

The F3 performed flawlessly, by the way. My worries about the shutter were unfounded.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.


DTSB on the river

Downtown South Bend on the river
Minolta SR-T 101, 50mm f/1.7 MC Rokkor-PF
Ferrania P30 Alpha

On my visit to downtown South Bend I had a deep sense that this town has a lot going for it that they are not leveraging fully.

I don’t know how hard it is to run a medium-sized Midwestern city today. I know that in most of the Midwest, if you are not a major population center you are slowly losing residents to those larger cities. I’m sure South Bend is no different. I’m sure that makes is challenging as heck for city leaders to build on what’s good.

But my old hometown really does have lovely attractions. This view from the east bank of the St. Joseph River overlooks Seitz Park, which is at the southern tip of an island in the river. Beyond is the city’s low skyline, with some still-proud older buildings cutting a strong profile.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.


Film Photography

single frame: Downtown South Bend on the river



Fog on the Ohio River

Fog on the Ohio River
Canon PowerShot S80

Ohio River, from IN SR 62, Leavenworth, IN

Ohio River along State Road 62 west of Leavenworth, Indiana
Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 (review)
Fujicolor 200

Film Photography
Road Trips

South Bend bridges

I was in South Bend over the long weekend. I went for a drive one afternoon and wound up following Northside Blvd. its entire length along the St. Joseph River. I hadn’t driven that way in more than 20 years, back when I didn’t have enough experience to appreciate what the city had to offer. If I noticed these beautiful bridges at all in my youth, I took them for granted. Driving along with a more discerning and appreciative eye this weekend, I was blown away by how beautiful the Ironwood Dr. and Twyckenham Dr. bridges are. So the next morning I took my youngest son along for a return trip.

We searched for a way to get close to the 1940 Ironwood Dr. bridge, but had no luck. We settled for this long shot.

Ironwood Drive bridge

The Twyckenham Dr. bridge was ready for us, though, with a neighboring parking lot and easy shore access.

Twyckenham Drive bridge

This bridge was built in 1929 and renovated in about 1982. I have memories of a crumbling concrete railing that did not survive the renovation, but at least the obelisk-like pedestals atop each pier did. The bridge extends over Northside Blvd.; this photo from there gives a good look at the metal railing that emerged from the renovation.

Twyckenham Drive bridge

The water reflected beautifully off the concrete arches that morning. I climbed up inside the bridge a little bit to to get an inside look at the bridge’s structure and see the reflected water too.

Twyckenham Drive bridge

While I was busy looking at arches and railings, my son’s Wii-trained eye quickly found this old-school Mario painted onto the abutment.

Mario on the Twyckenham Dr. bridge

Where the Grand Trunk Western line crosses the river, the railroad built a bridge in 1938 that lifted the tracks over the Lincoln Highway, the river, and Northside Blvd. So many railroad bridges are just rusted steel, but Grand Trunk poured a concrete skin over the portions that spanned the roads and painted their name on each side. The white-on-black lettering on those spans form a classic South Bend scene that’s as much a part of the city’s identity as the East Race or the empty Studebaker plant. In the distance is the plain, modern steel bridge that sweeps Sample St. over the river to Eddy St. It is so not worthy.

Grand Trunk Western

My bridge thirst not quite slaked, we drove downtown to my favorite bridge in South Bend, which carries Michigan St. over the river. I’ve always called it the Leeper Park bridge, but I guess officially it’s the Michigan St. bridge.

Leeper Park bridge

Designed in the style of the City Beautiful movement, this ornate bridge was built in 1914. It is five lanes wide, which is remarkable when you consider that even the best highways were two lanes of gravel then. This shot is from the river’s south shore facing west.

Leeper Park bridge

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!