Kodak Pro Image 100

This is my second time shooting Kodak Pro Image 100. I used Kodak Pro Image 100 last fall.

NOTE: I’ll begin this experience report with a brief disclaimer. It’s been less than three years since I returned to shooting 35mm film after switching to digital photography over 20 years ago. I’ve inundated myself with as much film education as possible between web articles and advice from experienced film shooters. But, since my prior experience with film is decades old, this review is from a rather novice point of view.

The photographs from the 36 exposure roll of Kodak Pro Image 100 that I exposed a few weeks ago during our visit to Brick Farm Tavern and East Broad Street have finally been developed and scanned. The Dark Room sent me a link earlier this week.

This is my second time shooting Kodak Pro Image 100. I used Kodak Pro Image 100 last fall, mostly while attending an outdoor beer garden hosted by Flounder Brewing Co. At that time, I was using the Minolta X-700. This roll was exposed using my Minolta XD-11 and Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 lens.

The Minolta XD-11 is a 35mm film SLR camera produced by Minolta in Japan from 1977 to 1984. The Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2.8 was a popular lens among photographers who valued its excellent optical quality, compact size, and lightweight design. It was designed as a high-end camera, offering advanced features and excellent performance for serious photographers. The XD-11 has a solid, all-metal body that is durable and well-balanced. It features a bright viewfinder that shows the entire frame and provides a clear, accurate view of the scene. The viewfinder also displays the aperture, shutter speed settings, and a battery check indicator. The camera has a wide range of exposure control modes, including manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, and program modes. It also features a unique "aperture-preferred automatic" mode, allowing the photographer to set the aperture and let the camera automatically adjust the shutter speed for proper exposure.

The XD-11 has a fast and accurate through-the-lens (TTL) metering system that uses a silicon photodiode sensor to measure light. The metering system provides accurate exposure readings even in difficult lighting conditions, and it also features a centre-weighted averaging mode for more precise metering. Other features of the XD-11 include a self-timer, multiple exposure capability, and a depth-of-field preview button. It also has a metal focal plane shutter that can operate at speeds up to 1/1000th of a second. The Minolta XD-11’s compact size and rugged construction make it a popular choice for photographers who want a high-quality, easy-to-use and reliable SLR camera.

The Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2.8 is a compact and lightweight lens produced by Minolta in the 1970s and 1980s. It is designed for Minolta manual focus SLR cameras such as the XD-11 and is known for its excellent optical quality and durability. The lens has a 45mm focal length, which provides a slightly wider field of view than a standard 50mm lens. It has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, considered fast enough for most lighting conditions, and a minimum aperture of f/22. The lens has a smooth and precise focusing ring, allowing easy and accurate focusing.

The lens's optical construction consists of five elements in four groups, which helps minimise distortion and produce sharp, contrasty images with good colour saturation. The lens also has multi-coated optics, which reduces lens flare and ghosting and improves overall image quality. The lens is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry and use. The lens barrel is made of metal, which adds to its durability and longevity. The lens also has a built-in sliding lens hood, which helps to protect the lens from glare and damage.

I tried capturing the same images I exposed on my Fuji X-T2 that day. Swapping back and forth between the two cameras was challenging, so I enlisted Bhavna's help. I would hand her one camera, and she would return the other. This is one of the few times I have exposed an entire roll of 35mm film in one weekend. Out of a 36-exposure roll, I got back about 32 usable images. My only regret is that I didn't get better-quality scans or make some prints. I could send the negative back to The Dark Room to get prints or scan the negatives using my Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner.

Name Kodak Professional Pro Image 100
Type Colour (negative)
Native ISO 100
Format(s) 35mm
Lab The Darkroom
Process C-41
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Hopewell Pharmacy · Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Bhavna · Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Sourland Mountain Spirits · Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Bhavna · Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Dog Run Bar · Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Sakrid Coffee Roasters · Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
Saturday 3 July 2021 · Minolta XD-11 · MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2

Chasing Dragons

Tuesday

During the pandemic, Bhavna and I talked about how when it was safe to do so, we would take some road trips to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, perhaps with a stop in Boston to visit some of our college days favourites. I wanted to satisfy my urge to photograph lighthouses, and Bhavna wanted to experience the romance of the New England coastal towns.

Now that most of the North East are vaccinated, it seemed like the right time. It's cooler up north, so a trip to Maine would help us escape the heat and humidity of a New Jersey summer. It seems that everyone everywhere had the same idea.

New England resorts are booked through the end of October. Hotels like the Marriot have raised their rates to almost resort levels. My brother-in-law planned road trips to Tennessee. On Sunday, he mentioned that even the usually budget-friendly Holiday Inn has rates one would expect if staying in a hotel in Manhattan or Philadelphia.

But I think we really need to getaway. What to do?


Tuesday 29 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 17000 sec at f/1.7 | ISO 400

I'm bored with breakfast. Every day it feels like I eat the same things. Part of it is that my mornings are busy, and I am too lazy to make something, but it's also partly because I have not returned to some of the routines I had pre-pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, I alternated between a few places to get coffee and breakfast on the days I worked from home. Sometimes I went to Bagel Barn for a bagel, egg and cheese bagel sandwich or bagel with a schmear of cream cheese. It's excellent with a coffee from Buy the Cup. Sometimes I drove into Princeton for a muffin and cappuccino from Rojo's Cafe. If time permitted, I sat outside on Palmer Square. On Friday's, if my morning calendar allowed it, I drove into Hopewell for a sit down slow breakfast of grits and collard greens.

I am wary of using the word normal, but I miss these routines. I think it's time for a reset.

Last on the Card for June

I think this is the first time I am linking to the Last on the Card challenge. According to Adobe Lightroom, the last image pulled in before July 1 is this one. The photo has not been edited or post-processed in any way. But that begs the question. Given that my Fuji X-T2 can use in-camera film recipes to apply certain effects to a JPEG before an image is recorded, can I use the straight out of camera JPEG for this challenge?

beer
Tuesday 29 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1640 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 400

Wednesday

No one can amass millions of followers on a person blog in a matter of weeks. That is something that can only happen on a social platform like Instagram or TikTok. And that's why most people don't go down the personal site path. Most people are not chasing freedom of expression. They're chasing fame. Quantity over quality seems to be the law of the modern web. ~ Manuel Morale

Thursday

Two years ago, I started photographing migrating Warblers in southern New Jersey. I rented a Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens and did my best. These photographs are not significant compared to other photographers, but they are precious images to me.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler | Sunday 19 May, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1500 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 4000

Kunj Tirvedi has been photographing wildlife - lions, tigers, cheetah, elephants, etc. - around the world for over two decades, mainly in Africa (Serengeti, Samburu, Kaziranga, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania), America (Argentina, Antarctica, Florida), Europe (Iceland, Norway) and Asia (India, Sri Lanka). He's put together a two-volume bounded portfolio book of his bird photograph, simply entitled "Birds, My Portfolio". I am fortunate that Mr Trivedi's daughter is a good family friend, and she loaned me both books.

Thursday 1 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1125 sec at f/1.7 | ISO 2000

The book starts with a foreword that introduces the photographer and explains the purpose of the books and the care and effort put into selecting each photograph and identifying each bird. Though there is no index or table of contents, the book is broken down into sections featuring specific birds - rollers, bee-eaters. I agreed with Kunj Trivedi when he wrote in his book that the "Lilac Breasted Roller was my favourite bird...". The lilac-breasted roller is stunning. But one of my favourite photographs is one of an Indian Roller in flight. Others are the European bee-eater and Fischer's Lovebird. Their colours remind me of the wooden fishing boats of the West Indies. The photographs are stunning. The book contains over 400 photos.

One more thing about which I am thinking. When will I produce my photobook, what shall I put in it, and who will "read" it?

Friday

I've had an ongoing debate about electric vehicles (EV) with my friend Johnny over the last several months. Unfortunately, there's no economic incentive in the USA to push for bikes, e-bikes, scooters etc. A dedicated bicycle infrastructure requires almost no maintenance, vehicles are incredibly cheap to buy and run, insurance for accidents is irrelevant, and health improvements means fewer hospital visits.

In addition to providing a more affordable and more efficient form of alternative transportation for riders, e-bikes actually help improve things for everyone. While e-bike riders can directly benefit from lower transportation costs, perhaps quicker commute times, and free parking, more e-bikes on the streets mean fewer cars. And fewer cars means less traffic.

I'm writing a bit tongue in cheek, but promoting bicycling could lead to an economic recession. With very few notable exceptions, the USA government won't prioritise cycling infrastructure.

Electric bicycles certainly can't replace all car trips but e-bikes continue to outsell electric cars massively around the world. The growing number of e-bike styles and the emphasis on e-bike utility mean that an increasing number of people are trading a second car for an electric bicycle. If I worked from home regularly, Bhavna and I could get by with just her car and with me using an e-bike for trips around the area.

orange cat
Sir Alphonso Mango | Friday 2 July, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8 | 130 sec at f/1.8 | ISO 640

At first, Alphonso Mango was like, "Please, play with me".

orange cat
Sir Alphonso Mango | Friday 2 July, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8 | 135 sec at f/1.8 | ISO 640

Then ... he was a bit more forceful. "Get off the computer. Play with me now!"


The Last Word by Flounder Brewing Co | Friday 2 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/1000 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 400

This evening Bhavna and I picked up a few slices of pizza from Joe's and headed over to Flounder Brewing for a few pints of ale. While we dined, we were surprised to see Jim D. and Kath D. sitting at another with a group of their friends. They came over to say "Hello," and we ended the evening with a few pints at their table. It turns out that Jim's friends, Rob and Tammy, live in our neighbourhood at the other end of Blue Spring Road.

Saturday

I let Alphonso Mango play outside on the deck. It's enclosed. Bhavna and I sat outside so we can keep an eye on him. He had so much fun sniffing around and exploring and hiding under the house plants.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1640 sec at f/5.0 | ISO 1600
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1640 sec at f/5.0 | ISO 640

Lens Artist Photo Challenge

For John's Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #155 – On the Water I had initially planned to go whale watching in Cape May with Bhavna. I rented a Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR in anticipation of excitement. But as the long weekend neared, Bhavna had heard on the local news that the shore towns were expecting large crowds for the 4th of July weekend. I reluctantly agreed to set my focus (pun intended) closer to home when the lens arrived. Bhavna even suggested a few places nearby; Carnegie Lake, the D&R Canal State Park Trail. Since the brought up the topic of the canal, I suggested we try canoeing or kayaking. Bhavna was hesitant. She remembered that our last attempt at canoeing was frustrating. We could not co-ordinate our paddling and got stuck going in circles on Lake George. If I remember correctly I paddled out and in. Despite that experience being over twenty years ago Bhavna could not be convinced to try canoeing on Carnegie Lake.

Honestly, I think I have some sort of PTSD. I am reluctant to visit many of the places I visited heavily pre-pandemic but avoided during the pandemic. I also didn't want to see either of those places with a super-telephoto.

Inspired by Stephen Gingold and local photography David Mathre I decided I would photograph dragonflies.

On my way out to the Montgomery Farmers Market, I almost tripped the box at the front door. I guess correctly that it was the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR that I rented. It arrived a day late. It was supposed to come Friday evening.

In the afternoon, Shaan suggested that I visit the tiny bit of wetland near the outer edge of Van Horne Park. She knew that I had rented the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR to photograph dragonflies and had remembered that we had previously seen dragonflies and butterflies in that location.

I parked on Princeton Avenue and crossed onto the trailhead. I immediately found several dragonflies. Several prominent black and silver specimens were darting among the cattails.

At first, I struggled with the lens. It's been over almost two years since my last birding field trip. I needed some practice. The dragonflies did not co-operate, choosing to land on the concrete wall of the man-made wetlands. The butterflies were more cooperative.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 1600

I was ready to leave when this blue and green dragonfly darted overhead and then landed on a branch of a nearby plant. He sat still long enough for me to capture him in two different poses. Then he was gone.

Dragonfly, Van Horne Park, Montgomery Township
Dragonfly, Van Horne Park, Montgomery Township | Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 640
Dragonfly, Van Horne Park, Montgomery Township
Dragonfly, Van Horne Park, Montgomery Township | Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 640

I drove over to Sylvan Lake in Skillman Village, hoping to duplicate my success at Van Horne Park. I saw a few butterflies, the occasional bird and bee, but my efforts were for nought. I saw no dragonflies even when I walked down the embankment and stood almost in the water.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 290.6 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 800
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 320

I saw people, butterflies and a few birds, but I saw no dragonflies. But I finally had one image that I think qualifies for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #155 – On the Water.

Sylvan Lake is not really a lake. I'm not sure how or when the word lake was applied, but the "lake" is really a reservoir inside Skillman Park. Birds are attracted to various fish, including brook trout and rainbow trout that live in the reservoir. Parts of the lake are more like wetlands with many grass and wetland plants attracting frogs and various insects.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 1250
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 640

Sylvan Lake sits on the Western periphery of Skillman Park, a newish park created from the remnants of an abandoned and condemned former New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute. The Village Elementary (Montgomery Township) school is located on the Eastern end of the property. As the township grew, parents grew concerned about the asbestos and sewage from the old buildings. They eventually pressured the township, which pressured the county (Somerset) to clean up the property. Somerset County and put in new roads, trails, a dog park, and picnic tables. Skillman Park is a multi-use park that is maintained by the Somerset County Parks Department.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 640
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1800 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 1250
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1800 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 800
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1640 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 500

In the evening, Bhavna and I drove to Conclave Brewing for a pint. We visited Conclave only once during the pandemic, choosing to sit outside. Today it was raining, so we sat inside. We ordered food for delivery from a place called Pork Chops BBQ. The menu was an odd mix of Filipino, Spanish, and Portuguese food. I ordered a paella platter and a serving of fried plantains. Bhavna had a salad.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 190 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 6400

Sunday

Today was a whirlwind of activity. We went to the Brick Farm Tavern for an outdoor BBQ. The chilli cheese dog was delicious. The experience was like being at a BBQ at a friends house. We didn't have to do any cleanup after.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1400 sec at f/9.0 | ISO 400
Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1950 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 400

In the late afternoon, Bhavna wanted to go for a hike and burn off some of the weekend "beer" calories, and I wanted to maximise my time with the rented XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. We hiked the big loop around Woosamonsa Ridge. According to the trial info I read that "groundwater seeps feed the streams and serve as critical habitat for salamanders and may contain habitat for rare dragonfly species.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 320

We opted to walk the longer Ridge Trail. We followed the base trail at the parking lot, which gradually ascended up the ridge and then dipped down to meet with Dinah's Brook Trail.
We continued along the Ridge Trail across some shallow spots in the trail of what seemed like a marsh before crossing Dinah's Brook. I stopped here to take some photographs of what appeared to be wild grapes. But still no dragonflies.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 2000

The trail then made a fairly steep (huff-puff) ascent to reach near the highest point of a second ridge. My ankles were still sore from yesterday's run around in Skillman Park and up and down the embankment at Sylvan Lake. I asked Bhavna to slow down.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1125 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 2500
Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1125 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 1000

During our hike, we stopped at Dinah's Brook. Bhavna noticed two small rocks with some small plants, which says reminded her of islands. I think this image also qualified for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #155 – On the Water.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 111.3 mm | 1125 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 2500

Fortunately, the next section of trail descended to join the Creekside Trail near Jacobs Creek. A short distance further, the Ridge Trail crossed Jacobs Creek. It ascended (again huff-puff) part way up another ridge which forms the north side of the Jacobs Creek valley. In the end, the Ridge Trail rejoined the Valley Trail, which we took back to the parking area.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 800

This Ridge Trail and the Valley Trail make up the longest hiking loop. We hiked 3.8km for just over 90 minutes with an elevation gain of 79m. I didn't see any dragonflies, but I think I photographed some damselflies.

During the hike, Bhavna and I discussed me buying my own used XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. It's still expensive.

We came home, took showers and then passed out on the sofa. I think tomorrow must be a day of rest.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 1600
Damselfly | Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 3200
Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1500 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 6400

Family

Tuesday

A friend shared a link to an article by Christopher Brennan the growing trend of "data poisoning", a type of misinformation campaign that researcher Priyanka Ranade specifically targets information security professionals.

“I used to work in a cyber security operations center, and the analysts do use a lot of the cyber threat intelligence that’s out there on a daily basis,” Ranade said.

“I was reading Krebs on Security one day and I thought ‘How does he get all this information?’ He has to do research and probably has people working under him doing research, but what if they come across something that is misinformation that gets spread on these popular blogs. You have all these analysts reading it and they trust these sources.”

Oy vey!


An entertaining piece by science fiction author David Brin in response to people "..that insists on interpreting the legends of illiterate shepherds as physically precise accounts".

Now of course, it is somewhat like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. Past scholars, uncharitable toward literalist believers in “biblical inerrancy,” have calculated the needed size of the Ark, for example. Were even just all known mammal species shoved aboard, shoulder to shoulder — you’d need a hundred modern aircraft carriers.
...
Alas, that raises a counter question about the fallibility of a deity who had to revise His design. (Not a problem, by modern reckoning! All ambitious projects undergo revision. It is only a quandary – ironically – to the obsequiously devout, who insist on zero-fallibility, a completely unnecessary trait of a creator and, well, a hard piece of flattery to live up to!)
...
… instead of as the vastly subtle Creator worshipped by Einstein, who concocts a vast cosmos of stunning complexity, diversity and extant — a universe truly worthy of respect. A God who — Albert would tell us, if he were here today — must have gotten things started fourteen billion years ago by uttering the stunning beauty of Maxwell’s Equations, in order to command…

“let there be light.”

Thursday

Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Just a week after homeowners on my street organised to protest the creation of new townhomes and affordable housing on the other side of our fence line in the wooded area behind our units, a blog post in my RSS leads me to see another perspective.

Sightline Institute has a 2018 article by Dan Bertolet in which he describes how historic preservation in Seattle often impacts the need for affordable housing options. While my townhome is no danger of being considered historical, I wonder if my resistance is more about what I would lose versus what my little Central New Jersey town needs.

Who pays when a capricious preservation ruling sacrifices 200 homes? The developers? They just move on: failed projects are built into their business model. The 200 well-off households that would have rented those shiny new apartments? They just compete for other homes in the city in bidding wars that their flush bank accounts ensure they win. But then that sequential process of outbidding steps down the housing market to lower and lower cost homes until the poorest families are left with nothing they can afford. When historic preservation cuts into home production, the people who pay most dearly are those with the least housing security.

The article includes excellent examples of the problems.

Friday

Friday 25 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 3200

On the topic of gear collecting as a hobby, Michael C. Johnston had this to say over on The Online Photographer:

It struck me that wristwatch collecting is probably as close as you can come to a purely passive or undemanding form of gear enthusiasm. It really requires nothing of the collector except that they like watches and want more than one. The only skill required is telling time.
...
At the other end might be guitar connoisseurship. Does it make any sense at all to collect guitars if you can't play guitar and know nothing about music?

Although I'm sure there must be non-playing guitar geeks out there, because, well, because geekery.
...
On the spectrum of "active skills required" (guitar geekery) to purely passive (watch geekery), photography is remarkably flexible. Being a photographer can require a great deal of dedication, visual aptitude, and skills at one end of the spectrum. But on the other, well, anyone can take a photograph—just point it and shoot, as the phrase has it. You might not get a masterpiece, but you'll get something. Anyone can participate.

With photography, you pick where you want to be on the active <—> passive scale. You can just collect gear and rarely if ever use it. Or, your whole focus can be shooting and you can all but ignore the gear.

I don't collect cameras. I use them. I don't collect cars. I drive them. I don't collect guitars. I am tone-deaf. I had a small watch collection, but now I just wear the same watch every day.

I do try my best to collect experiences.

Friday 25 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 2000

Saturday

When I’ve heard vinyl over the past few years, I’ve generally not been impressed. To my ears it didn’t sound better than a CD or even a good streaming service. That evening with my brother-in-law changed my perception completely. He’s been a vinyl collector for many years and has a lovely set of refurbished 1970s hi-fi separates to play his records on. The sound quality melted the wax in my ears.

What utter shite! The sound quality from vinyl does not compare well to the quality of a CD. A listener may prefer the sound from a vinyl setup but to call the sound quality is hyperbole. So what brought me to this article.

I have some vinyl recordings by soca musicians from the West Indies that are not available in the digital compact disk, or digital streaming audio or downloadable digital audio files. The Caribbean studios recorded these calypso albums long before the advent of compact discs. The market for the 1980s soca is limited. I want to listen to them, but I need a record player, perhaps one with a USB output, to digitize the audio for enjoyment on other devices.

But as I started to explain to my wife why large thin disks were arriving in the mail from Brooklyn, I realized more was going on.

When I was a teenager, Dad was very much into Hi-Fi. Over time, he had built an impressive rig. Dad would sit in the living room on the weekends, place one of his favourites on the turntable, and sit back in the “right” spot for a focused listening session. Sometimes I would join him. We sat there, both enjoying the music, the moment broken by just a few words between us.

I lost Dad in 2019. To keep Dad alive in my memory, I want to recreate those moments. Dad’s setup was the high end. He had Linn Sondek LP12, Quad ESL 63 or Bose 901 Series III, NAD preamp, Hafler DH-200 amp, Nakamichi LX cassette tape desk, and electrical power stabiliser.

After his passing, my brothers found Dad’s LP12 in storage in pieces. Termites had eaten the wood plinth, and the metal parts were water damaged. We don’t know what happened to the rest of Dad’s HiFi gear.

I don’t have the budget or space for the level of HiFi gear Dad owned, but according to HFi Setup, I fit the demographic profile for buyers of vintage audio gear, and prices are generally trending down.

…the buyer market is shrinking and not backfilling. The leading profile for vintage audio buyers is ~50+ year old males. Buyer motivation is a mix of appreciation of sonics, mid-century design style and ?nostalgia for gear they grew up with?. When I sell vintage audio gear, almost without exception, buyers are 50+ year old males — while my personal experiences are anecdotal, they represent a small snapshot of a global trend to all HiFi, not simply vintage audio.

I’ve spoken to several leaders in the HiFi world that corroborate even today, the focus market for high-end HiFi gear is male, over 50 years old. Even the contemporary high-end audiophile buyer market is shrinking precipitously. Supporting evidence, the Stereophile Magazine media kit that includes readership demographics, 99% male, average age, 47.

I don’t need expensive audio gear to recreate the moments of focused listening with Dad, and I don’t want an extensive HiFi setup. I listen to a lot of digital audio, and Apple recently updated their Apple Music service to lossless audio. My iPhone is a convenient digital audio source. Apple’s audio catalogue is extensive. Schiit Audio makes capable DACs and headphone amps with phono inputs. I think I can build my audio listening experience around that. It’s not about the gear. It’s about the memories.

Sunday

My brother-in-law Dipan sent out an SMS. Come hang out in the backyard. We'll grill, make some frozen cocktails and hang out. This was fun.

The family get-together provided ample subjects to practice shooting the aperture of the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 lens wide open. I had adapted the MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 to my Fuji-XT2, and with the 1.52 crop factor, this lens offers an angle of view similar to a 76mm lens on a full-frame 35mm camera. That's a "short" portrait lens range, and the f/1.7 produced some creamy background.

Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 14700 sec | ISO 200

While hid Dad, Dipan grilled, Rahul offered up his usual cheesy smile. We chatted about the new 85" TV Dipan had bought to "hang out with your friends in the basement" room. I immediately ordered a copy of the F1 2021 racing game to be delivered. We are going to have some fun.

Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 14700 sec | ISO 200

Shaan wanted me to take her portrait, which is unusual for my kids. She wanted some headshots and some full-body photos. I took all at maximum aperture.

Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1/1400 sec | ISO 200

Dipan grilled hotdogs, veggie burgers, mushrooms with a spicy marinade, jalapeno peppers, and corn on the cob while mixing up frozen margaritas.

Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 116000 sec | ISO 200

Dipan bought a new Honda Odyssey mini-van. I had warned him that although spacious and comfortable, mini-vans were boring to drive. They are young Dad cars. I know. We used to have one. He acknowledged that I was spot on, but the mini-van is what he wants for the long roads trips with Rohan, Rahul and his parents. This summer, they want to spend some time exploring the northeast - the Maine coastline, perhaps Niagara Falls, Canada, etc.

Above, Mukesh talking excitedly with Dipan about the mini-van.

Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1680 sec  | ISO 200

Bhavna was happy to be with her family. She had a rough week with sleep, and this was a pleasant distraction. I can see the happiness in her eyes.

Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 13500 sec| ISO 400
Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1900 sec | ISO 200
Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/2700 | ISO 200
Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1/1250 sec | ISO 400

Later in the evening, we sat on lounge chairs in a circle, having those witty but deeply connecting conversations that families have. Rohan finally sat still long enough for me to capture his portrait.

Rohan | Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1400 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 400

Lens-Artists Challenge #154 – One Photo Two Ways

When I was at my sister-in-law's home last night, I noticed these flowers that she planted along the side of the hose near the garage. I thought it would be great to focus my Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 lens, which I had adapted to my Fuji X-T2, on something other than portraits of the family. Just like with the portraits above, I set this nearly 40-year-old lens at its maximum aperture.

I almost always forget to attach an image for the weekly Lens-Artists Challenge. I am either too busy during the week, don't get outside, or get too busy on the weekend, hastily post my journal for the week, and forget to attach images. I remembered this morning - Monday - so I did some quick editing in Adobe Lightroom and Luminar AI. This week's challenge is One Photo Two Ways.

The original image (below) is underexposed.

flowers
Original | Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1280 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 400

I wanted the brighten the image but still let the flowers play the central role. I increased exposure and white balance and then pulled back the shadows to darken the leaves framing these purple-pink flowers. There is some colour shifting in the flowers.

flowers
Edit #1 | Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1280 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 400

My second edit was a bit simpler. I applied a fade to the image while increasing highlights and whites just a bit.

flowers
Edit #2 | Sunday 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 1280 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 400