Back around 2015-16 my friend Kathy wanted me to take pictures of her for use as her official author photo…so far the book(s) she was writing have yet to materialize (I’d love to read them) but when they do hopefully the back photo will feature the photos I took of her using Cinestill 800T. She liked the portrait I’d done of our mutual friend Duncan and wanted something similar but in color and I did my best I could back then; I think I could probably do better now. But one thing that I did insist on trying more just for myself, was to put a couple shots through my Canon 7 rangefinder because I wanted to try that Summarit lens out with some Double-X. And here are those results:
There’s just something about Double-X that just works for me: the tonality, the contrast, whatever it is, it’s one of my favorite films for portraits. I don’t even think she saw these shots, the roll took a lot longer to use up and even though I posted some of the shots a long time ago I lost the digital files before I uploaded anything on here. I recently had my scanner out of storage and took the opportunity to rescan a few rolls I seemed to have misplaced, this was among them.
As another season comes to a close I realize I have an incredible backlog! I’ve posted some pics of last year’s season, but I’ve grouped the majority of the pictures here (there’s a Part II as well). They’re separated by camera because I’m pretty sure that these were taken with the Canon 7. However, that said, it was so long between when I shot them and when I actually looked at them: I think there was a roll in there shot on the Spotmatic.
Anyway the Canon 7 has taken a few hard knocks and the rangefinder patch is out of alignment. I haven’t used it for about a year now, haven’t gotten around to sending it out for a CLA. Another thing to note is that while I usually take my film to Cameraworks, all the rolls of film last year were processed by Mike’s Camera in Boulder.
Because for some reason Tri-X just isn’t enough for me. When I want something a bit different I go for the 5222, Eastman Double-X. Reasons to use Double-X? Though grainier, it’s sharper, and it gives a different look, lovely tonality. And cost, if you’re willing to invest in a 400ft roll of the stuff!
Tri-X is an everyday film, Double-X is for special occasions, and I used it for a few specific projects including my 2-semester-long (and just wrapping up) document of making Overwhelming Majority.
This current iteration was developed by Kodak in the late 1950s and then left alone, so it will give you a classic, mid-century look, especially if you use older lenses/cameras. And that is something I recommend! It requires fairly precise exposure and development can be tricky since it’s designed to be used with Kodak D-96, and anything else will boost the contrast quite a bit. Using older, low-contrast lenses will tame that somewhat. I tend to shoot it inside if the light is good enough, or outside on overcast days. I’ve seen some pretty good results from pushing, etc, though I’ve never had much luck myself.
It’s Thanksgiving, so what am I most thankful for? Tri-X, of course.
I suppose it’s all about the mood. There’s a lot of darkness in these photos, perhaps because I tend to use Tri-X where there isn’t a whole lot of light, and it always gets the image. You can push it, pull it, overexpose or underexpose it and still get results. It’s the most versatile film I know of, the best damn black and white film ever made.
You will notice that most of what I have here are people. I suppose that with larger formats it would work great for landscape photography (which I don’t do a whole lot of in black and white), and I was experimenting a bit with caffenol back in the day, pulling film a stop and using a semi-stand development to reduce grain. Fuji Acros 100 seems to be the king of black & white landscape photography these days, but I’ve always said it’s Kodak for black & white and Fuji for color (and I’ve always said that I’ve always said). One of these days I’ll mix it up.
I’m not the only person in the world to love Tri-X, it does happen to be the best-selling black and white film in the world. Because of its latitude and forgiving latitude in not only exposure but also development, it’s used in a lot of photography programs (including mine). It was used by newspaper photographers from the 1950s to the 1980s, used by combat photographers in Vietnam, and countless street photographers to this day. Think of a famous black and white photo and chances are it was shot on Tri-X. Classic Americana.
April 22, 2017. After Wales, Overwhelming Majority got one more chance to screen in the Springs, at a brand new iteration of the Indie Spirit Film Festival. Colorado Short Circuit showcases the work of Colorado filmmakers working in short films. I think for this version most of the featured films were made by people living on the front range, primarily Denver and Colorado Springs.
As always, a great time was had, and I certainly knew lots of people already. As a bonus, I shot a few rolls of super 8 for my experimental/avant-garde cinema class. I will be finalizing that project sometime in the Fall and then it’s back to submitting to festivals.
Some brick and stone work around South Wales. Some of it is old, some of it is newer but made to look old.
Talking to Britons, one of the things that came up is architecture and how they feel so tired of everything being made to match Victorian architecture, and wished for more modern-looking buildings. And of course, being American, I’m sick to death of modern architecture and love seeing buildings, houses, churches, that might only be 200 years old (or younger), but look like they’ve been there for a millennium.
Cardiff Castle stands in the middle of the city of Cardiff, just North of the city centre (I’ll use British spelling), quite easy to get to if you’re out on the town, just remember that they close at 6 and stop letting people in at 5. Definitely go see it if you’re traveling in the area.
From what I remember from watching Secrets of Great British Castles, Cardiff Castle stands on the ruins of an old Roman fort, and was originally constructed during the reign of Edward I. Talking with an Englishman at the bar one night, evidently castles of this sort are called “war castles,” built during either the Norman Invasion or the English conquest of Wales under Edward Longshanks. As you can see, it’s a motte-and-bailey style, but of course the original structure would have been made of wood.
Cardiff Castle is sort of looked down upon by locals specifically because it isn’t all original, though I don’t know why, if they were already building it in stone by the 1200s. The main problem is that the Marquesses of Bute started their own “restorations” in the 1800s cashing in on the gothic revival fad of the time (many wealthy noblemen of the time tore down castles built in the 14th and 15th centuries to make something more in keeping with what was considered a castle at the time). I believe there was rather a large stink raised about the demolition of the medieval inner bailey wall along with other buildings dating from at least the 1300s. The grounds of the bailey would have held extensive gardens, but now are just lawn.
There was a rather impressive collection of buildings on the outer bailey wall built (or restored) during the 1800s and containing rather impressive living quarters, said to be kept as close as possible to medieval dwelling conditions. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to take the tour, preferring to wander the castle grounds by myself and only leaving right when they closed. I’m still impressed with what I saw, and coming from a country where something built in the 1850s is considered old, Cardiff Castle is still properly ancient.
Rock Chapel, Blackwood. A converted church that is now a private residence as well as a B&B, the husband and wife team who own it are big supporters of the Wales International Documentary Festival. The chapel was my base of operations, and the graveyard outside provided much photographic inspiration over the two days of the festival.
As the chapel itself has been renovated and repurposed, so too has the cemetery outside. I’d make a joke about the neighbors being quiet, but actually they weren’t, especially at feeding time in the morning. I never knew sheep could be so excited over breakfast, but what they lack in facial expressions they make up for in the height that they can jump. I thought for sure I had more pictures with the sheep in the graveyard, so maybe they’re there and I’m not looking hard enough…maybe they’re lying in wait, ready to pounce…