Letters suspended in air Kodak Monitor Six-20 Ilford FP4 Plus LegacyPro L110, Dilution B 2020
I put some film through my Kodak Monitor in November. It’s the last camera I’m evaluating in Operation Thin the Herd, my project to shrink my camera collection to a manageable number.
You’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out whether the Monitor stays or goes. I write this blog in advance and that many posts are simply in the queue ahead of it. I try to always have at least two weeks of posts scheduled. But it has the unfortunate side effect of time-shifting my work. That post will show trees with leaves still on them — leaves that fell off within a week of snapping the shutter.
Sometimes I move scheduled posts to later dates so I can show you photos I’ve recently made. But at the end of the year I always write (or rerun, as this year) a couple Christmas-themed posts, do my annual list posts of old parked cars and favorite photos, and post my annual recap post. It obviously doesn’t make sense to move those to January!
The advice some of you gave me in this post helped me get decent black-and-white scans from my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II and its bundled ScanGear software. I used the same advice to scan a little more color film.
I made these photos last fall with my Olympus XA2 on Agfa Vista 200. Roberts Camera in Indianapolis processed and scanned them. Their scans are 3130 pixels on the long side. I used ScanGear to scan them at 4800 dpi with all built-in image enhancement turned off, resulting in scans of between 6750 and 6800 pixels on the long side. I resized my scans to 1200 pixels long to upload them here.
I edited scans from both sources as best I could in Photoshop, including adding unsharp masking to the ScanGear scans.
My first test was of this shot of old US 52 and a great abandoned neon sign near my home. It shows considerable vignetting, which I believe is endemic to the camera. While I like the depth of blue in the sky, I don’t like how mottled it is. I tried various Photoshop settings and tools to smooth it out but wasn’t happy with any of the results. I wonder if the film profiles and multi-exposure scanning in Silverfast would resolve these challenges.
The Roberts scan captured more turquoise in a perfectly smooth sky. The Wrecks sign shows far better definition and detail. I suppose the Roberts scan might have a touch of green caste to it. Roberts also reduced the vignetting. I prefer the Roberts scan.
The CanoScan/ScanGear scan of this abandoned farm co-op building shows the same mottled deep blue sky, but plenty of great detail in the corrugated walls. This building is all that’s left of the onetime town of Traders Point, Indiana, by the way. See 1950s film footage of this town, including a brief look at this co-op building, here.
Here’s a crop of the image at 100%. It could be sharper, but it’s fully usable.
In the Roberts scan the colors aren’t as vibrant, and the sky is again more turquoise. In retrospect, I could have helped this photo by reducing exposure a little in Photoshop.
From here on out, the winner isn’t as clear between the Roberts and ScanGear scans. This ScanGear scan from downtown Indianapolis shows a scene that’s changed, as the Hard Rock Cafe has since closed and its signs are gone.
The Roberts scan looks like it got more exposure than my scan. My scan highlights the vignetting the XA2’s lens tends to deliver.
These arches are around the corner from the previous scene. Here’s my scan.
Here’s the Roberts scan. Each has its charms; I can’t call one better than the other.
Still downtown in Indianapolis, I shot this outdoor cafe scene. The day was drizzly and chilly and so not ideal for outdoor dining.
Here’s the Roberts scan. I like my scan’s blue umbrella and the overall color temperature better.
Finally, here’s a forlorn building. My scan gives its gray painted brick a bit of a blue caste.
The Roberts scan is more of a straight gray. Like all of the Roberts scans, it got a touch more exposure. Either scan is good enough for my purposes, but I believe I slightly prefer my CanoScan/ScanGear scan.
I believe I’ve figured out a good base 35mm scanning technique and can refine it from here. Perhaps I can get a little more sharpness, a little better color. I do have to solve that terrible mottling problem, though; the two scans with blue sky in them aren’t that great.
Next, I’ll try scanning some medium-format negatives with the CanoScan and ScanGear. This is perhaps the most important test, as my goal is to shoot my lovely TLRs and my simple box cameras more often, and process and scan the film myself.
The central Indiana town of Whitestown calls itself the fastest-growing town in the state. As it continues to expand, it wants to build a sprawling community campus on an unused 170-acre plot that was once the Wrecks, Inc., automobile junkyard. That wrecking yard’s unusual and humorous neon sign remains.
The Wrecks, Inc., property is in Boone County, on Indianapolis Road west and then south of the I-65 Whitestown/Zionsville exit. This road is the historic Lafayette Road, which was built in the 1830s to connect Indianapolis to Lafayette. It carried US 52 for much of the 20th century.
Plans for the community campus show grass and shrubbery where this sign currently stands, making it appear that the sign will not survive the construction.
Plans are preliminary. It’s not clear whether contaminated ground water found on this site has been cleaned up sufficiently to allow construction. That contamination scuttled plans for a housing subdivision to be built here in 2007.
This sign is visible from nearby I-65, and was quite a sight when the junkyard was still in operation and the sign lit up at night. Today, many surely consider the sign to be an eyesore and will not be sorry to see it go. Here’s hoping that if it is not retained, a collector or sign museum will be allowed to dismantle and preserve it.
I photograph this sign a lot. I love it! And I drive by it frequently as it’s on the way to Margaret’s.
This time I photographed it from the driver’s seat of my car. The 35mm lens I used let me do that easily from the side of the road, where I had pulled over. Whenever I photograph this sign with a 50mm lens, I have to back way up from it to fit it in the frame.
The more I shoot 35mm lenses, the more I like them. It’s such a useful focal length for road-trip photography. I don’t have to back up nearly as much to get things into the frame, yet when I want to move in close I can still do so credibly.
Old US 52 Pentax Spotmatic F, 35mm f/3.5 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar Kodak Ektar 100 2017
I spend a lot of time on the Lafayette Road, aka Old US 52, as it is my favorite way to get to Margaret’s. It’s been a four-lane road since about the mid 1930s, but hasn’t been a U.S. highway since the 1960s when I-65 opened nearby and US 52 was routed onto it.
And so this old road, which dates to the 1830s, is empty most of the time.