Composition – expired Tri-X 400 on Mamiya 645 Super at the National Gallery, Washington, DC
Many moons ago, when I thought I would be a presidential historian for a living, I was an ardent student of American history, and found great inspiration in the messages of patriotism, pluck and persistence in the pursuit of the American dream. Age, experience and education have somewhat tempered that passion, but I still love nothing better than to take a weekend jaunt down to Washington, DC and wander the many museums and edifices that were similarly inspired. In my time off at the start of the year, I made the drive from Boston to DC, spending 3 days haunting some of my favorite spots, and discovering new ones.
Because I was driving and not flying, I showed no restraint in the number and diversity of cameras and film that I brought with me:
- Mamyia 645 Super, and ~15 rolls of a mix of Ilford HP5, Fuji NPH 400, and Kodak Tri-X 400/etc (all eBay acquired and egregiously expired)
- Minolta XG-A with a 50mm 1.4 lens, and ~40 rolls of a mix of nearly every 35mm film brand, speed, quality and expiry you can imagine
- Konica Autoreflex TC with a 28mm 2.5 lens
- Baby Diana Fisheye 110 and 3 rolls of CVS brand 200 ISO 110 film
- Fuji Instax Share printer and 3 packs of Instax mini film
With all of that, my only limits were subject matter, and what I felt like carrying. When everything was said and done, in Week 1 I shot 5 rolls of 120, and 5 rolls of 35mm film, so I’ll be posting for Week 2 in two parts.
I was very pleased with the results I got from the Tri-X 400. Having started on color 35mm, B+W medium format shooting is a brave new world for me.
In the shadow of giants – Kodak Tri-X 400 on Mamyia 645 Super, outside of the National Gallery, Washington, DC
What I had not expected, however, was an inadvertent scanning issue that would result in a beautiful new approach to my photographs. Switching back and forth between B+W and color negatives, I accidentally scanned one strip of Tri-X in as color. The result was pretty incredible!
The above shot is not technically terrific, but it is tonally really interesting. Below is my favorite of the bunch, in the color negative scan and the original B+W.
I love the “Old Hollywood” feel of the color negative scan, along with the super saturated tone and light treatment it takes on. I’m thinking of applying this method to some of my past work as well, to see what happens!
The results from the Fuji 400 NPH were not quite so wonderful. The color shift due to its shelf life was exacerbated by the mix of natural and artificial light in the Building Museum, and the shots came out muddy and gross. Perhaps in the darkroom I would be able to color correct them sufficiently to make them palatable, but as they were not great compositions anyway it’s unlikely I’d ever print them. I may try giving them a B+W treatment to see if I feel differently, but I’m not holding out much hope. I have a few other rolls of this stuff from the same eBay seller, and I may limit its use to outdoor shooting at half box speed.
You can see more of the shots from this week on my Flickr page.
(I’m incredibly fortunate that my indoctrination into the community of film photographers has given me the chance to meet some of the really terrific people I have the pleasure of regularly interacting with online; Brandon and Frank are two such individuals. They graciously trotted me around DC for an entire day of shooting (and later boozing). I thoroughly enjoyed it, and they deserve as much credit for the inspiration and opportunity of making these shots as I do for taking them!)
Stay tuned for part 2…