America’s First Motorcycle Company

A local motorcycle dealer organized a rally/show of vintage, and modern, Indian Motorcycles. One of the organizers explained to me that Indian more or less went in and out of business several times, eventually becoming acquired by Polaris, the ATV and snowmobile manufacturer. They started in the early 1900’s, in Springfield, MA. Indian made a pop culture resurgence a few years back, with Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of motorcycle legend Burt Munro in “The World’s Fastest Indian”.

I had no idea this event was taking place. Bikes are really not my thing. But they are beautiful to look at, with their chrome and bright colors, and colorful paint schemes. I drove by the dealer, after having some lab work done at the doctors. As it was close, I continued home, grabbed the Canonet and one roll of Portra 160, and started shooting. The participants are shown here receiving information, before getting on their bikes-

Planning the ride.

Planning the ride.

Old and new were both on display, and taken to the road.

Old and new were both on display, and taken to the road. This was the only orange Indian Motorcycle that I saw in attendance.

Front wheel detail, complete with wooden Indian.

Front wheel detail, complete with wooden Indian.

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Comparing Rides.

Red seemed to be the most popular color.

Red seemed to be the most popular color.

Hitting The Open Road.

Hitting The Open Road.

Lots of red, and lots of polished chrome.

Lots of red, and lots of polished chrome.

By 9:30 or so in the morning, the New England summer sun was starting to get harsh. The sky color temperature, bluish. And, the photographer was on his last few frames. This event was so much fun to capture. Almost too much to take in all at once.

Worcester Pride

On Saturday, I loaded up the F3 with Portra 160, fully expecting to do the usual downtown photowalk. As I have become better at shooting Portra film as of late, it would be nice to break out of the usual TriX/TMax/Ilford black and white habits.

So, I came across a Worcester Pride parade/rally. The wide shots here were taken with the Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 AiS, and the telephoto photos with the 135mm f/2.8 Ai.

Parade moves down Main Street.

Parade moves down Main Street.

The parade route wraps around Worcester Common.

The parade route wraps around Worcester Common.

Portra really shines with bright colors.

Portra really shines with bright colors.

But Portra really is amazing for portraiture.Lifelike skintones.

But Portra really is amazing for portraiture. Lifelike skintones.

Skintones AND bright colors. To think there used to be 2 varieties of Portra- VC and NC. This one does it all.

Skintones AND bright colors. To think there used to be 2 varieties of Portra- VC and NC. This one does it all.

Try, Try, And Try Again – More Musings On Kodak Portra 160

As noted here in earlier articles, I expressed have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Kodak Portra 160. Amazingly, I have overexposed it quite a bit, despite working with accurate metering. Overexpose a 160 speed color film? Happens to this photographer a lot. While Portra 400 continues to amaze with its wide latitude and crisp images. Yes, 160 is insanely sharp. But I have not been able to squash the tendency to overexpose it. And, not by choice.

Until now? The film seems to like lots of light, but not direct light. When I shoot a bright, high contrast scene, I can almost count on overexposure. However, don’t include a sky or a horizon, and the colors just pop.

For these scenes, taken on a brief midday photowalk downtown, I shot with the F3, yes, my “bread and butter” go-to film camera, and new 35mm Nikkor f/2.8 AiS. The gorgeous coating on this lens almost seems made for Portra 160. Finally, the emulsion I’ve been wanting to like all along, well, now, I love. No color adjustments here, a linear scanning curve, and slight levels and sharpness adjustments. That’s it, nothing more.

Eyewear Window Display

Eyewear Window Display

Wall Mural Near Union Station

Wall Mural Near Union Station. You can even see some of the paint peeling and chipping.

Not Much Light Here- Underpass, Shot At Box Speed.

Not Much Light Here- Underpass, Shot At Box Speed.

Wall Mural Outside Hanover Theatre- Maybe My Favorite Use Of Color On Film In A Long Time.

Wall Mural Outside Hanover Theatre- Maybe My Favorite Use Of Color On Film In A Long Time.

Coney Island And The Nikon 35mm f/2.8 AiS Lens

The 35mm focal length lens has always been baffling. It is too wide to be a “normal”, too close to be a “wide”. From what I have read, it has been considered a moderate wide, or a photojournalist’s normal. Recently, I won on auction at ShopGoodwill.com a Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 AiS lens, for a fraction of what they sell for on eBay. Quite often, even the most common items, such as 50mm lenses, and real basic bodies, such as the Nikon EM, sell for a premium, simply because of the Nikon name.

The 35mm focal length may be my new go-to look. The perspective seems to be more in line with how things look. In comparison, a 50 looks almost too tight. Like most things in photography, your mileage may vary, and often does. I think that photojournalists liked it because it is fast to focus. Not sure if they liked it for the perspective, maybe. Nor does if get in tight for close-ups. That old cliché, which I hate, “zoom with your feet” may actually be applicable. But a 35 up close is not going to look the same as, say, a 105 for portraiture. That is what I don’t get with that real tired line.

Coney Island Hot Dogs is a very cool, retro looking place in downtown Worcester. I have not eaten there in years. While people rave about the hot dogs there, they are, after all, simply hot dogs. The exterior has a cool throwback look. I’d love to photograph the interior sometime, and watch servers prepare the food. If I recall, some of them wear the old style white paper hats, 50’s style. Why I haven’t walked the extra block down here to photograph until now really boggles.

The lens seems almost made for the exteriors, I think the 28 may have been too wide for these. And the 50, too tight. This one was just right. Oh, “New” Kodak Portra 160, and the F3 were the other tools of choice for these photographs.

For once, Portra that didn't overexpose. A long running challenge with this film. The 35's front element coating is spectacular.

For once, Portra that didn’t overexpose. A long running challenge with this film. The 35’s front element coating is spectacular. Maybe it helps.

Wide enough to get the sign, but not too wide. 100% viewfinder coverage of the F3 really helped here.

Wide enough to get the sign, but not too wide. 100% viewfinder coverage of the F3 really helped here.

Used a circular polarizer here.

Used a circular polarizer here.

Window Dressing- Portra 160 And Colors

After exposing a roll of Portra 160 to maybe too much light, while walking downtown Fitchburg, MA for a bit, I came across some very cool window displays at Shack’s Department Store. They really were the perfect experiment for Portra 160’s rich color palette. While digital photography is now known as a medium that offers a very wide offering of colors, looking at these closely really makes one wonder if there is a viable alternative. The film scans beautifully, and honestly, there are some colors I see here that I have never been able to capture digitally.

I have used 160 NC and VC, the old emulsions, mostly in 120 on the Hasselblad. This new emulsion seems to take the best of both. The colors are certainly rich and vivid, but not in a wonky, over the top fashion, such as in VC, or the previously blogged about Ektar. That is also a beautiful film, but Portra 160, one may argue, is a more realistic one. While it is doubtful that it has the wide latitude of Portra 400, nor the versatility, this film has breathtaking color and sharpness. Yet, it seems almost ideal for portraiture, where Ektar may produce tomato-like skin tones.

Once again, shot with the F3HP, and 50mm f/1.4Ai, these shots really make me want to get out there again soon, and shoot more rolls. Needless to say, thrilled with the results. Kodak, if you are listening, keep pumping out this gorgeous film, please!

These are truly the colors as metered and photographed. At Shack's, Fitchburg, MA.

These are truly the colors as metered and photographed. At Shack’s, Fitchburg, MA.

I think these are some of the best colors I've ever shot with film, including on Kodachrome.

I think these are some of the best colors I’ve ever shot with film, including on Kodachrome.

Flowers

Flowers

Memorial Day, 2012- Nikon F3HP, Portra 160

Took these, out in the midday sun, with Kodak Portra 160. This is the view on Fitchburg Common, Fitchburg, MA. Portra is a gorgeous film, but I did struggle a bit yesterday with overexposure and “hot” images. “The Golden Hour”, while in principle a great rule, is not always practical, or realistic. I have been trying to train myself to shoot away from the sky, and sunlight, but when doing landscape, urban landscape, things of that nature, does not always work. For this walk, I took the newly CLA’d and serviced Nikon F3HP. I also had a brand new LCD display installed, as after 20 plus years, the panels started to dim. Nikon USA service is indeed great, as they had the camera for less than a month. In July, Nikon will no longer sell parts to the general public, or independent service techs. So, if you need coupling prongs, screws, etc, this might be a great time to do it.

One WWII veteran visiting this site said to me “there are almost too many here to photograph”. Sad, but true.

Each memorial has a flag.

Each memorial has a flag.

White subjects under the bright sun did present quite a challenge to photograph.

White subjects under the bright sun did present quite a challenge to photograph.

Definition Of Color

Color : (Noun) The property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light.

I have not shot color film photography in quite a while. Partly due to my home black and white darkroom obsession, and partly due to my stubborn resistance to it as an artistic medium. To my eyes, much color photography is too close to the “snapshot” variety, and maybe lacks the texture, tonality, and depth of B&W. While I do indeed prefer black and white film photography, Kodak Portra, in both 160 and 400 speeds, represent some of the very best color film materials available today. While the conditions yesterday at Moore State Park in Paxton, MA were far from ideal (strong midday sun, almost no natural diffusion from foliage), the mid 70 degree day in March made it irresistible not to get out there, and shoot a roll or two. Here are a few of my favorite exposures from the day. These were taken with the Nikon F Photomic FTn, 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor, and a Tiffen Skylight filter, for a slight warming effect.  Oh, and Portra 160. Next time, under similar conditions, I may opt for some Ektar, for its slower speed. Maybe it is the FTn meter, but was really surprised the exposures were so “hot”. But, looks like this stuff might be around for a while. Thanks, Kodak.

This Waterfall Really Was A Blast To Photograph With The 50mm.

This Waterfall Really Was A Blast To Photograph With The 50mm.

Would Have Been A Much Better Shot If Taken During "The Golden Hour".

Would Have Been A Much Better Shot If Taken During "The Golden Hour".

Guessing This Is A Very Old Tree.

Guessing This Is A Very Old Tree.

Favorite Of The Day, Shot Fairly Wide Open.

Favorite Of The Day, Shot Fairly Wide Open.