Friday, March 17, 2017

From the Archives: Sugar Land, Texas, in 1984 with Kodak Technical Pan Film

Sugar Land is a city southwest of Houston, Texas. Although Houston was inexorably sprawling in that direction in the 1980s, you still had a sense of countryside in Sugar Land. The town was surrounded by farmland and was known for the giant Imperial Sugar factory that occupied a multi-story complex of buildings and railroad tracks.

The Southern Pacific Railroad built the mission-style depot in 1927. It looked unused in 1984. I am glad to report that the depot was moved to 445 Commerce Green Blvd. and now houses the Chamber of Commerce. Good for them to reuse such a nice historic building.

Commemorative medal from the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation

This is a postcard of the Sugar Land sugar mill and nearby railroad lines in 1909. The depot was built to the left of where the men are standing on a locomotive. (From: ( accessed March 2, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Fort Bend Museum).

I liked the old-fashioned farmhouses. Back then I did not take careful photo notes, so the exact location is unknown.

This old farm had asphalt shingle sheets for siding ("tar-paper shack").

More tracks and warehouses. I tried to identify the trailer company in the warehouse, but it may no longer exist.

I took these photographs in 1984 with a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic camera with 55mm ƒ/1.8 Super-Takumar and 28mm ƒ/3.5 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar lenses. The 55mm lens is one of the late-1960s versions with a thorium element, which has turned slightly yellow with time. The film was the ultra-fine-grained Kodak Technical Pan film, which I exposed at EI 25. This was an emulsion developed for the military or for microfilming use. It was very contrasty unless you used the special Kodak Technidol developer, and even then it was hard to use. I only experimented with Technical Pan one more time, in Athens, Greece.

I scanned the negatives with a Plustek 7600i film scanner using Silverfast Ai software.

The Spotmatic is still in good condition, and I recently used it in Vicksburg with Tri-X film. As always, I am amazed at the superb quality of these mid-century optics.

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