Film Photography

Shooting Konica Chrome Centuria 200

When Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto launched his new site World on Film last summer, he asked me to contribute an article for its debut. That sounded like fun, so I wrote about my Route 66 trip, which I shot on a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye; read it here. To say thanks, he sent me a few rolls of expired slide film. The first one into my Pentax Spotmatic F was 2003-vintage Konica Chrome Centuria 200.

You never know what you’re going to get with expired film. That goes triple for slide film, given its narrow exposure latitude. Conventional wisdom says expose one stop less for every decade a film has been expired. But I’m not conventionally wise: I shot at box speed.

Each frame was badly washed out. Fortunately, Photoshop was able to make usable images out of the entire roll.

At Crown Hill

I started shooting this roll before I moved from Indianapolis to Zionsville. I wanted one more walk through Crown Hill Cemetery, which was so convenient to my former home.

Please sit

I’ve shot this view from Strawberry Hill, the highest elevation in Indianapolis, many times. But never before has it looked like it came straight from a dystopian apocalypse movie.

At the top of Indianapolis

Reading up on this film, I learned that it had a reputation for grain. I got plenty of grain, all right! But these heavily Photoshopped images aren’t a fair representation of what this film could do when it was new.

Down the hill

The 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar lens I used was just right for the cemetery’s wide-open spaces and interesting details.

They served

As a whiskey fan, the very thought that a pump might freely deliver delicious Woodford Reserve bourbon charms me no end. (Check the stamping on the pump body.) My sour mash dreams were dashed when I learned that this pump is from the Woodford Manufacturing Company of Colorado Springs. This looks like their Model Y34, which has been manufactured continually since 1929.

Pump

I finished the roll on an evening walk through Zionsville Village. It’s become tradition that I photograph the Black Dog Books sign. Then Margaret and I stepped inside for the first time, where I found and purchased a book of Edward Weston photographs.

Black dog

This expired stock let every color fade away — except red.

Oak St.

This film was still in my Spotmatic when Margaret and I traveled to Versailles, Indiana, for a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association. We met in a stunning Art Deco church. Look for photos of that church on this expired film in an upcoming post!

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Very expired Tri-X of unknown provenance on Expired Film Day

March 15 was Expired Film Day. I prefer my film to be fresh. But when fellow photoblogger (and EFD instigator) Daniel Schneider sent me two rolls of expired Tri-X to shoot that day, I went all in.

Daniel hand-rolled this Tri-X from a 100-foot box he came upon. He didn’t know how old it was and expressed concern about how it had been stored, so he recommended shooting this ISO 400 film at at ISO 100 or maybe even ISO 50. That said a lot — Tri-X is a mighty resilient film. Stored at room temperature, well-usable images can be made from it for decades. Stored cold, it behaves like new virtually forever.

I made time on Expired Film Day to shoot just one of the rolls. I used my Nikon F3 and my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens, which is a great combo for walking around and photographing whatever I find, which is what I did. I still worked in Zionsville then, so I went over to Lions Park and photographed the Little League practice diamond. This is my favorite photo from the roll.

Home Plate

I shot this roll at ISO 100. Every photo was underexposed. When I shoot the other roll, I’ll shoot it at ISO 50.

Hoop

Still, I like the dystopian look of these photographs.

Lion

I also walked through the Village in downtown Zionsville as I burned through this roll.

Closed

Ooo, a little sprocket ghosting in this photo of Main Street.

Zionsville

This photo’s composition is terrible, but I love the way the light plays across the building. MOBI was my previous employer; I left there late in March to join a new company as Director of Engineering.

MOBI

I finished the roll with a couple quick shots at my desk. I seem always to have a couple rolls of film here either waiting to go into a camera or waiting to be mailed to the lab.

Film cans

One last shot, of the lamp next to my monitor. I love the ragged edge at the bottom, an artifact of this being the last shot on the roll.

Lamp at the tail

I’ll be back for Expired Film Day in 2018. Maybe I’ll find something off-the-rails expired, like Ansco All-Weather Film from 1965 or Kodak Vericolor III from 1982.

 

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Twelve exposures: Starkey Nature Park, Zionsville

Margaret had a great idea, which is to go out on a photo walk but limit ourselves to just twelve exposures. Not twelve resulting photos, but twelve presses of the shutter button. She thought it might make us think more carefully about what is a worthy subject and help us pause to carefully make an interesting composition — but also result in an instant photo series about the place we walked.

We made our first Twelve Exposures walk at Starkey Nature Park in Zionsville. This heavily wooded park has a small system of trails for hiking and running. Eagle Creek borders it, and an old railroad bridge lurks along Trail 1.

Kodak EasyShare Z730I decided to get out my old Kodak EasyShare Z730 for this maiden Twelve Exposures walk. It was a very good consumer point-and-shoot digital camera when it was new more than ten years ago, and I’ve always liked the cheerful color it returns.

And then we got to the park, and I saw that we’d passed peak autumn color. Most things in view were some shade of brown or gray. The Z730 doesn’t get on well with such dull colors. It tends to tinge them with green. I wished I’d chosen a different camera. But then I thought perhaps I could turn this into a positive, and seek out scenes that played to this camera’s strengths, or at least didn’t play to its weaknesses. We headed in.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

I’ve grown used to “working a scene” with my digital camera, just taking a bunch of throwaway photos of it to get a feel. But limiting myself to twelve exposures took that right out. I felt like a kid again, having just put a costly 12-exposure roll of Kodacolor II into my Brownie Starmite II. Every shot had to count.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

Film and processing were expensive, which kept me from experimenting freely. Chalk one up to the digital era: you can waste all the pixels you want. A photographer learning to make good photographs can readily take all the bad ones he or she needs to, because they don’t cost extra.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

I knew that my first two shots involved  too much dull brown and gray, but I shot them anyway. I guess I was afraid I wouldn’t find scenes this camera would like, and decided to just shoot anyway. I wasn’t looking hard enough. When I saw this bright yellow sign, I started to get my head wrapped around this assignment.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

One section of a trail was littered with bright green leaves. I wonder why they fell before turning color. But they made a decent subject, providing good color and contrast against a background of crushed, dead leaves.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

Before long we came upon the old bridge, a 1919 concrete arch affair that once carried the New York Central Railroad’s James Whitcomb Riley line between Chicago and Cincinnati. Today this bridge and much of the railbed in this county are part of the Zionsville Rail Trail.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

Eagle Creek was still enough this day to provide a good reflection. This is my favorite shot from the day. I love the shade of blue in the sky as it reflects in the water. I could have photographed this bridge all day, but I didn’t want this photo essay (of sorts) to be bridge-heavy.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

I did get one more bridge shot, of some of the graffiti painted onto it. Zionsville has some talented graffiti artists. Someone took considerable time to paint this scene from Adventure Time, a show on Cartoon Network. Someone else spent considerably less time adding his spray-painted condemnation of the show.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

I knew the Z730 wouldn’t capture the light on this tree as well as I wanted. It tends to wash out anything sunlight directly touches. I hoped in vain that it would behave differently just this once. I kind of wished I was shooting Tri-X, perhaps in one of my fine compact 35mm rangefinders. That combo would have crushed this scene.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

I saw all sorts of good black and white opportunities, actually. I shot them anyway. So much for seeking only scenes that showed the Z730’s strengths.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

Like so many older digital cameras, the Z730’s screen suffers from total washout in bright light. Fortunately, the Z730 has an optical viewfinder. And, shockingly, it has a diopter dial. I gather it adjusts only from -2 to 0, but that it does it at all is pretty remarkable.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

I shot this one with the sun directly behind me. It created strong contrast, but it works for this shot. The Z730 really does its best outdoors work when the sun is directly overhead.

Twelve exposures: Starkey Park

I made some quick corrections in Photoshop on all twelve of these — which cut haze in this photo and brought out definition. Unfortunately, it’s not all that interesting of a scene. It looked better in real life.

This was a useful exercise in being more thoughtful about choosing my subjects and in learning to work within my camera’s limitations. We’ll do more Twelve Exposures walks.

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Zionsville house

The house at Maple and Poplar
Nikon N2000, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor
Kodak T-Max 400
2016

Just a snap from a stroll through Zionsville.

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Photography, Preservation

Strolling through Zionsville Village and dreaming of walkable neighborhoods

I finished the roll of Fomapan 100 on a photo stroll with Margaret. We have a few places we like to walk, and the original residential/commercial district in Zionsville, known locally as the Village, is one of them. There’s lots of great old architecture, and it’s all so well kept.

Antiques and Lighting

This little building, which has a shape consistent with being a log cabin beneath that wood siding, is tucked away on a side street. The sun was setting, making for sometimes challenging shooting with ISO 100 film.

Cabin

We walked along Main Street and dreamed of how wonderful it would be to live here. Alas, neither of us is willing to spend what that would take. The least of the houses in the Village, such as an 800-square-foot bungalow, can set you back a quarter million. From the perspective of Indiana cost of living, that’s outrageous. The same house in Broad Ripple in Indianapolis would cost half that, and in a non-named neighborhood it would probably go for just less than $100k.

Zionsville house

We’ve talked a lot about how much we’d like to live in a walkable neighborhood after we’re married. We’ve even casually priced some of those neighborhoods in Indy. The more we do that, the more we think maybe the ticket is to buy in a neighborhood just beginning to come back after years of neglect and decay. Get in on the ground floor.

Zionsville house

It’s not that we can’t afford more. It’s just that I have a life goal of owning outright whatever home I live in at about age 65. I’m almost out of debt now — except for my mortgage and still paying to have my stupid dead ash trees removed last year. I’m not eager to get into debt I can’t pay off, just for the sake of living in a place like this.

Zionsville house

Still, it’s too easy to be deeply drawn in by the Village’s aesthetic and walkability.

Front door

This house is so appealing to me. It faces Main Street at its very end. It’s forest green in real life, which makes it a great subject for black-and-white film.

House at the end of Main St.

Nikon F2AS, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor, Foma Fomapan 100

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Black Dog Books

Black Dog Books
Konica Autoreflex T3, 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon AR, Fujicolor 200
2014

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