St. Charles Municipal Center Pentax K10D, 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL 2019
This dramatic Art Deco/Art Moderne structure really stands out on the main street in downtown St. Charles, Illinois. It stands right on the east bank of the Fox River. You can follow a path down the left side of the building and walk along the river’s edge.
St. Charles is charming. If you’re even in the far west Chicago suburbs, it’s worth visiting. They’ve made a lot of their frontage of the Fox River downtown, and there’s plenty to see and do on the main street.
Illinois 64 Pentax K10D, 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL 2019
We lost Margaret’s mom last week. The funeral was yesterday.
JoAnne Joyce was 90. She wasn’t ill; it was just her time. She leaves behind a husband of 63 years, eight children, 25 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.
Margaret and I got away last weekend, impromptu. We drove straight to her hometown of St. Charles, Illinois. We saw the house she grew up in, and we walked the town’s lovely main street. It was good to reconnect with her past as she faces a future without her mom.
I’ve reached a time in life where I can recall memories from my adulthood with great clarity, as if they happened last week — but to my surprise, some of those memories are 30 years old.
As I think back beyond 30 years, memories seem to have aged on a logarithmic scale — the farther back I go, the disproportionately more ancient the memory seems. My college days now firmly feel like they happened a long time ago. My public-school days feel more remote and disconnected the farther back I recall them. What little I recall from before those days seems to have happened in another era, in a different place, the jumbled images faded and color-shifted like cheap photo prints left in the sun.
Yet so much happens in even a relatively short time span that it’s easy to forget key details. In this ten-year-old photo I’m at my first Mecum classic-car auction, having won tickets in a radio contest. I was in nirvana, happily experiencing cars I’d only ever before seen in photographs. I had recently bought my first digital camera, a surprisingly capable Kodak. I shot a couple hundred photos there with it, depleted the battery, and wished I had a spare. I switched to shooting with my phone, a Palm Pre, until its battery had depleted as well. And look at my hair! I wore it to my shoulders in those days.
This photo reminds me of most of these details. Would they be lost to me now otherwise? Do I remember the last 30 years as clearly as I think I do?
More importantly to me now: at what point will my 20s start to feel like they happened a very long time ago? My 30s? My 40s? I know a blogger in his 80s who says he mostly can’t remember his kids’ childhoods anymore. Is that my fate, too?
Oak trunk Kodak Retina Reflex IV, Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenar 50mm f/2.8 Kodak Tri-X 400 2013
Lately I’ve lost touch with why I started shooting old film cameras in the first place: wondering what quality of images an old piece of gear could produce.
I’d never shot a Kodak Retina Reflex camera before and I got this one for a song. These leaf-shutter 35mm SLRs offered a limited set of interchangeable front lens elements to yield a few common focal lengths. It can be hard to find a Retina Reflex in good condition as the works are complex and, after 60+ years, failure prone. Mine wasn’t perfect, but it worked well enough.
I put a roll of Tri-X into it and blasted through it in an hour in my front yard. It was one of those charmed times with a camera, where I just got lost in the pleasure of shooting. None of my subjects was profound or memorable, but that 50mm Schneider-Kreuznach lens penetrated deep into the detail and made some wonderful images.
It doesn’t always go that way. Sometimes an old camera is just frustrating and returns crap images. This year I haven’t wanted to invest time and effort into a camera to get nothing usable back. That’s always the risk with an unknown old camera.
I have a handful of older cameras I haven’t shot yet. A few old boxes, an early Kodak Retinette, and an Argus Argoflex Forty are upstairs in a box under the bed, awaiting their turns. Here’s hoping I can make time for some of them yet this summer.
I spent so much money in this place in my late teens and 20s.
It’s an old-style head shop, still operating in Terre Haute, Indiana, of all places. Since 1970, Headstone Friends has sold records, tapes, and (since the mid 1980s) CDs. They also sell rolling papers and scales, black-light posters, and tie-dye T-shirts. Spend even fifteen minutes in here, and you’ll walk out smelling of incense.
The guys who founded the store all still worked in it when I first entered in 1985. They looked the part of aging hippies, their graying hair spilling most of the way down their backs. I’m older now than they were then, of course. One of those fellows still owns the shop, and his wife now runs it.
I love that they’ve persisted. I don’t get back to Terre Haute much anymore but when I do I try to stop in and buy a CD, for old time’s sake.
While I had Ilford HP5 Plus loaded into my Nikon N90s, my wife bought me a gift of two vintage pocket watches. I’ve always loved watches and for decades have had to strongly resist collecting them. My wife tossed all that good resistance out the window. Not that I’m complaining.
I mounted my 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor to the N90s and went in close. I shot handheld at box speed, ISO 400.
Analogue Wonderland provided me the roll of HP5 Plus in exchange for mentioning that they did. Get yours from them here.