Territory Days in Old Colorado City

From 2019.  Colorado Ave, the old main drag and original US Hwy 24, is shut down for a few days for the local version of the county fair.  Working in the area all I’d experienced before had been using detours to get around it, but living in the area that summer I decided I should walk down and check it out, shooting I think 2.5 rolls of film.

Can you tell I have problems editing?  I actually broke this up into two parts because I like all these, and am also too busy right now to go through and make deep cuts.  Several of my coworkers made it into this series.

Peak construction

Pike’s Peak is working on a new donut shop that was supposed to be finished around the same time as the new Cog Railway.  It looks that the new summit house will be finished first, though who knows.  Here are a selection of shots that I took Summer 2019 as a documentation of the ongoing work. (And yes I know I have some shutter problems)

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Workin’ on the railroad II

Here are a few shots taken Spring/Summer 2019, some of the last of the old Pike’s Peak Cog Railway built 1890-1891. (And yes I know I have shutter problems)

Some of the construction once they tore up the rails, etc.

The metal refuse pile as it was the day after they tore out the rails.  If I’d been up there earlier I could have brought back my weight in railroad spikes but I did come away with a few plates and bolts.

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What’s in the future for Ferrania?

I’ve always tried to be upbeat and positive regarding Ferrania in the past, and certainly this year must certainly have been hard on them. I suppose some will read the announcement and accuse them of abandoning their original promises (well, the phrase “Our Kickstarter campaign must evolve into something new…” probably sets off some alarm bells) and honestly I don’t know what Ferrania is ultimately saying myself.  They throw out a hint at color film (note: they never use the word reversal) down the road but wisely have not committed to anything; in the past laying out projected timelines hasn’t worked well for them.

I just hope that they actually are working on color reversal film and that it will be happening soon.  I like the P30 but it’s no substitute; I’ve hoarded my 5 Alpha rolls for years now but it’s my plan to shoot up the rest of it this year and buy some of the fresh regular production rolls.  Here’s a compilation of what I was shooting back in January and February:

It’s good stuff, but very slow for what I do so I don’t anticipate using it much.  On the other hand, if they had made just another ASA400 film I’d complain about that too (I have in the past).  Actually I’d love to see P30 slit as super 8 or at least 16mm: considering how fine-grained it is it would look lovely in small-gauge.  I hope Ferrania thinks about some of the underrepresented markets out there, like Double 8, Double Super 8, especially in 100ft rolls there.  Hopefully P30 will work with reversal chemicals but it can of course be scanned too, and even just selling long-length cans of super 8 film (not loaded in cartridges) would be great for those who load their own cartridges, like those shooting single-8 cameras.

But I am still eagerly awaiting some Ferrania Chrome 100 and it does get frustrating sometimes when all I hear about from Ferrania is updates on P30.  That said, I hope readers can tell which side of the fence I fall on here.  I want only the best for Ferrania and hope they are tremendously successful.

Why I love Takumar lenses

1. An image quality that is unsurpassed for the price point
2. A build quality that is second-to-none

Pentax made 4 series of lenses going back to the late-’50s.  There were:
Auto-Takumar
Super-Takumar
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar (S-M-C)
SMC Takumar (mostly cosmetic differences)
I try to get the S-M-C and later lenses for the better coating; evidently at the time Pentax had developed the best lens coating available and nearly every other lens maker was paying Pentax for the technology.  I’m not planning to write a detailed history of the brand here, so I’ll stop with what I’ve said.  A lot of my early information came from this site, very helpful.

Since it’s been 5.5 years since my last post professing my love of Pentax I thought I’d go back through the archives and compile some of my favorite pictures; they’re generally in order of when I shot them and it should be readily apparent how much Tri-X I’ve been shooting (a lot) compared to everything else (not much).

These lenses have a special character which I really like, they’re plenty sharp too, and extremely sturdy (also: damn heavy).  Hold one in your hands and turn the focus ring: if this doesn’t make you want to try a Spotmatic out at least once then I don’t think we can be friends.  I will however understand if it doesn’t become your main camera outfit after shooting one because there are other SLR systems that are much more advanced.  That’s ultimately what made me move on.  We had a good run together and I’m sorry to say goodbye to these wonderful lenses.  If only Pentax had made a body worthy of their greatness!

The Spotmatics are a great line of cameras but do have some inherent weaknesses which were never overcome.  Build quality is standard 1960s which is to say solid and sturdy, no complaints there.  I learned to live with stop-down metering, and screw-mount lenses.  Actually if both bodies are hanging around my neck I’m much more comfortable unscrewing a Takumar than a Nikkor, so far!  Though considering the modular (and advanced) features of the older Nikon F, Pentax did make some pretty strange choices in camera design at the time, for all that they did right.  The most complained-about features (screw mount and stop-down metering) were corrected by the mid-’70s but quality started dropping fast soon after, about the time they went to the M-series lenses.  I used to wonder why Pentax got such a bad wrap but can start to understand with some of the later stuff where they obviously had to introduce cost-cutting measures to keep going.  They still made some quality gear (including their first and only pro-level camera starting in 1980) but eventually were acquired by the closely-associated budget line, Ricoh.  Pentax was always playing catch-up to other brands and trying to recapture their former glory by then.

But it was just about 10 years ago that I first bought a Spotmatic  (an SPII) with my first Takumar, at a garage sale for $5.00.  It looked pretty much like my mom’s Minolta XG-A (chrome and black) and I didn’t know that the lens was made by the same company as the body; I almost didn’t buy the camera because I thought I was getting a cheap off-brand lens, but at $5.00 it was still a deal so I took it.  I asked the owner if there were other lenses that I couldn’t see but she said no.  Later I studied the lens and body closer and did find that they both had Asahi marked on them so I knew at least I wasn’t getting an off-brand lens thankfully.  Shooting a few rolls in 2010 convinced me that this lens was something special so even with acquiring a few more advanced cameras soon after I kept coming back to the Spotmatic, kept buying Takumar lenses.  I’m sure I’ll still pull out the system from time to time, I’m certainly not planning on getting rid of it.

Happy to have been selected

Last week I was browsing my Facebook feed and saw that Kodak Professional shared a collection of images, among them one of mine:
https://www.facebook.com/kodakprofessional/posts/3510806662270982
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3510806662270982&id=203851912966490


(Specifically this one, from “It’s growing on me”)

It’s always nice to see my name acknowledged in Kodak’s social media!  Especially since it’s the first time it’s happened.  This is my official entry for the banner competition in the Kodak Film Photographers group.  Small-time I suppose, but I’m grateful for the acknowledgment.

(I’m gonna be showing this off like a proud mom)

I suppose this is a good example of “Your camera doesn’t matter.”  I tried to have this conversation with a high school photography student a couple days ago too, when she was talking about her equipment, but this says it so much better.  Here’s a photo I took on a $3 roll of consumer film I picked up at my local grocery store, shot through a Pentax body that I paid $5 for at a garage sale, mounting a $25 lens from ebay.  So never mind not having the top-of-the-line equipment, use what you have and stop making excuses.  There will be plenty of time down the road for you to grow into something else, if you tell yourself you can’t do anything now because you don’t have the right equipment you’ll never even get started.

Some film cameras, shot on film

Most of these are old pictures, but I wanted to put them all in one place. There might even be a Vol.2 someday.  So many people use a digital camera to take pictures of their cameras and I’m tired of seeing that so I decided a while ago that I would only shoot film to take pictures of my cameras.  So every few rolls if I think about it, I’ll burn a few exposures on this subject.

With the exception of the picture that features my SPII, these were all taken with my beloved Spotmatic and when I really got serious about it I started using a tripod, long exposures (in the range of 30-90sec), and shooting with my 4/50 S-M-C Macro-Takumar.  Before that it was all with either the 1.4/50 Yellow 50 or the 1.8/55 SMC, and got some good examples of Takumar bokeh.

Snow in Garden of the Gods

It’s been a hot week in Colorado, I hiked through the Garden just yesterday at about 80F; that reminded me of the last time I hiked through the Garden in February back when the weather was much colder.

I was scheduled for a tour that day but it got cancelled last minute due to weather.  As I was already on my way down to Colorado Springs, I took the opportunity to do something that I almost never do, take a hike through Garden of the Gods.  I usually see the park only from the road going around the outside.  Also while I was down there I took the opportunity to pick up a certain camera I’d had on layaway at Cameraworks.

As Colorado Springs has around 300 days of sunshine per year I like being able to see the park when it has something different to offer, like fog or snow.

These were taken on Ferrania P30 alpha shot at ASA50 developed in Sprint Standard for 7min at 70F (M) and I experimented with a single agitation every 15 seconds, though I don’t know what that accomplished.  I also shot a few still lifes (like cameras) and I am blown away with how little grain there is in this film, and how sharp it can be when used with my lovely Takumar lenses.  I suppose I could have used the Macro lens for these as well but shooting at ASA50 I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t need to keep the aperture open past f/4.

I also made sure to run a focus test with my Pakon scanner using this film as the template.  My theory is that it’s slightly thicker than other films and the scanner needs to be refocused or else the film won’t be sharp; that and I think the grain being so fine it’s hard to focus on it anyway.