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.
I have something really special in my group of college friends from Ohio State (excuse me, THE Ohio State University). A few years back we started getting together on a semi-annual basis and it’s like we’ve never been separated, even though a lot of us live outside Ohio now. Unfortunately this time the gathering came about because one of our number has fallen. The last time I saw him was nearly a year previous, the last time we got together (I flew in from Colorado) and not long after that he told us all that he was diagnosed with cancer. All I knew from then were the Facebook updates posted by him or his family. He leaves behind a son and a wife who is 8 months pregnant.
It wasn’t the best occasion ever, but it was good to hang out with old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a decade. For this trip all I took was a roll of Tri-X loaded in the Olympus Trip 35. I didn’t even worry about the x-ray machine, I figured that I’d test out the assumption that the film would survive just 2 airplane trips, and it seems to be alright. I haven’t looked too hard at the negatives yet, but for my purposes it came out alright (except that with my scanner in storage I couldn’t really work with them as much as I’d have liked). Though my focusing could have been better, the Trip 35 performed well inside and out (and fit in my suit jacket pocket), especially shooting the astoundingly versatile Tri-X.
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.
I already started posting pics from Wales, but before delving into more of those rather bigger posts, I’ll share a few miscellaneous pictures with you.
I grew up watching British television, and though it wasn’t my goal while I was in Wales, I did get to catch a few episodes of Father Ted actually being broadcast on Channel 4 reruns (RIP Dermot Morgan, and now Frank Kelly). On my walk around Cardiff I went past the Doctor Who Experience, but was unfortunately too late to take the tour. I snapped a few pics of the exhibitions in the lobby, and of course you have to get one of the daleks! John Hurt was one of my favorite actors and I was looking forward to see him star in Terry Gilliam’s newest film before he was diagnosed with cancer. I always thought he’d make a good regular Doctor, but sadly that dream, like so many others, will never come about now. Since coming back from Wales I’ve learned that the Doctor Who Experience will be closing at the end of the summer, so I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t able to get further than the lobby.