I stayed in Brookville, a town of about 2,500 people in southeastern Indiana, while I attended the Indiana Byways conference in early November. I’d only been to Brookville once before, many years ago, and hardly stopped. This time, I made sure to set aside time to walk the town’s lovely main street with my camera.
Brookville is old compared to most other Indiana towns, as it was platted in 1808. That’s eight years before Indiana became a state! The downtown strip retains much of its 19th-century charm.
Brookville is on US 52, which was laid out along the old Brookville Road. This road was commissioned by the state in 1821 to connect Indianapolis with the Ohio border near Cincinnati.
I made these photographs with my Pentax ME SE, using my 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens. I shot Fomapan 200 at EI 125 and developed it in Ilford ID-11, stock solution.
I hadn’t been to Metamora since the late 1980s, and even then, my memory of the place was poor. So I was curious to see it again in early November when the various Indiana byway organizations, including the Historic Michigan Road Association, met there for our biennial conference. Metamora is a very small Indiana town, population less than 200 — but it is well known as a tourist destination for its shops and restaurants. It stands along three one-time major transportation corridors: the Brookville Road, the Whitewater Canal, and the Whitewater Valley Railroad.
I was testing a new-to-me old SLR, a Pentax ME SE, with my 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens. I’ll write a proper review of the camera after I’ve put a few more rolls through it. On this day, I shot Kodak Max 400 at EI 200. The camera’s meter seemed to be reading about a stop of overexposure, but the film’s wide latitude covered for it.
Well-known film photo blogger Andrew Morang (Kodachromeguy) sent me one of his last rolls of GAF 125 film to try. This film is the same stuff as Ansco Versapan (Ansco rebranded as GAF in 1967). My roll expired in June, 1972. Dig that red film canister!
Little information is available online about Versapan. I turned to my secret research weapon, Google Books, where I found a Nov., 1963 issue of Popular Science. There I found a single paragraph this then-new film. It said that the film features a “tight” grain pattern, and contrast increases with development time.
I shot this roll in my trusty Nikon N90s with my 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor lens attached. Andrew advised shooting it at EI 80 or even 64; I went with 80.
Where Andrew sent his rolls out to be professionally developed (see his results here), I developed mine myself. Because so very little info was available online, and the data sheet in the film box specified only Ansco developers no longer made, I used the Mike Eckman Method: HC-110, Dilution B (1+31), for 6 minutes. Any film Mike’s not sure about, that’s how he develops it. He gets great results almost every time.
Developed, the GAF 125 suffered from moderate base fog. You expect that from film this old. The images themselves have good density.
I figured my scanner (Minolta ScanDual II) could cut through the base fog to get usable images, and I was right. It was challenging to load the negatives into the holder, however, because after 50 years tight in the canister they curl like crazy.
At snapshot size, these images look surprisingly good. Grain ranges from smooth to slight, and there’s a good range of tones, but the dark areas are very dark. At 100%, the grain really pops out and you see a distinct loss of shadow detail.
I got a ton of dust on these; spotting the negatives in Photoshop took forever. A few were so bad that I gave up. But beyond that and a little sharpening, these scans needed very little post-processing.
I brought the N90s with me when I made a trip along the old Brookville Road in southeastern Indiana. That road is US 52 today. I stopped in the small town of Morristown and photographed its main street in the full sun. Here are several of the photos. Among them are photos of the Kopper Kettle restaurant, which I visited and reviewed as part of the Indiana Fried Chicken Tour many years ago; read that review here.
This was a successful roll overall, and I’ll share more photos from it in upcoming posts.
We stopped here because I saw an abandoned segment of the old highway, and because I’m a roadgeek I wanted to photograph it. This photograph is westbound. The photo of the house above is from about the same place, but I was facing the other way.
This house used to be the Whispering Winds restaurant. I didn’t know that until someone found information on my site about Brookville Road, and emailed me to ask if I knew anything about the Whispering Winds restaurant. She ate there many times while it was open, and wondered if the house still stood. I did a little research and found this photograph on a Facebook group. The poster said that the people in the photo were her grandparents and aunt, and they owned and operated the restaurant.
The house was built by Andrew Morehouse, although I’m unable to find exactly when. Morehouse’s family was said to live here for many years, and his wife died in 1864, which leads me to think the house predates that. Indiana University Library posted online a newspaper article telling some of this house’s story here.
Brookville Road is a historic road from Indiana’s early days. It connects Indianapolis to the town of Brookville, which is near Cincinnati. A historic marker is posted at this abandoned alignment that tells the road’s story in thumbnail.
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.