The Indianapolis Zoo on Kodak Tri-X 400

Our granddaughter’s mom asked us if we’d like to go to the zoo. Heck yeah!

Our granddaughter is fascinated by elephants. Here she is, with her mom, looking at real elephants for the first time.

Looking at the elephants

Here’s a direct look at those elephants.


I had Kodak Tri-X 400 in my Yashica-12. I’d never shot this camera in a setting like this. I brought it along to see how it handled, and to finish this roll.


I normally shoot a long lens, or at least a deep zoom lens, at the zoo so I can focus on the animals themselves. The Yashica-12’s lens seems wide at 80mm, which made me figure out compositions that took a broader scene into account.


Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I didn’t. I came away with a strong feeling that if I shot nothing but this TLR for a year I’d grow tremendously as a photographer. I’ve used this camera a lot in the last year and have come to know it well. I enjoy using it a great deal.


The Yashica-12’s square format was challenging in this environment. A 3×2 format would have worked so much better, effectively cropping useless sky and ground out of these compositions. I want to shoot more scenes like these with this camera so I can figure out how to use the 1×1 form factor to best advantage.


Because the animals in these images are so distant, the images work better at larger sizes. If you click any of these images to see them on Flickr, and then maximize your browser window, you’ll see what I mean.

I developed this film in LegacyPro L110 (Kodak HC-110 clone), Dilution E (1+47). I always lean on the Massive Dev Chart to guide me in development times. It let me down with Tri-X — it gave me a range of times for all dilutions I normally use. I’d have to experiment to find the time that works for me. This is my last roll of Tri-X and I don’t plan to buy more, as the film base’s curl makes scanning a pain. Persistent Googling revealed a blogger who got pleasing results with Dilution E at 6:50 at 20° C. so I did that.

I got slightly thin negatives. The scans are okay, but I wasn’t wowed, as shadows were blocked up. It could be insufficient development. It could also be a result of the Yashica-12’s metering, which is probably center weighted. I should meter by aiming the camera at the darkest area of my intended composition, and then compose and shoot.

Recently photo blogger Alyssa Chiarello got very nice results from Tri-X in HC-110 Dilution B for 6:50 at 20° C. I wish I’d seen her post before I developed this roll, as I think Dilution B would have given me better results.

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30 responses to “The Indianapolis Zoo on Kodak Tri-X 400”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    HC110- Dilution B has always been the HC-110 dilution of choice for most development of films. And by always, I mean even 50+ years ago we were told that in school, and my jobs in the business. All other dilutions were for “specialty” situations. I always thought it was a little “hot” for most stuff, but for the most part, used it for sheet film, mostly Tri-X, with outstanding results. As I’ve stated on here before, I can tell you that I’ve processed thousands of rolls of film over the years (I’m looking at 4 filing cabinets full of it right now, and that’s just my stuff), and got fabulous and repeatable results in straight D-76, with replenishment, and believe me, I did all the “exotica” developers over the years, constant experimentation.

    Jim, I know you want to use HC-110 because of the ease of using liquid, so a few tips, some of which we talked about before. 1. Always mix in distilled water. 2. Always use dilution B. 3. Always mix at least a gallon, trying to mix a quart or a pint to do one roll of film, and you could be just a sliver over or under of the developer you put in the water, and you use so little, that it could be enough to be too weak or too strong (even mixed, it lasts a long, long time). BTW, use a lab grade graduated cylinder. 4. Always mix a gallon a few days before you process, and let it sit. HC-110 has always seemed too “hot” when you use it right away, much better when it’s “settled down”. This is common practice no matter what developer you are using. When I used to process all the time with D-76, I’d mix it, and save out 3 ounces of the old developer to pour into the new gallon to “cut the edge”, and then start replenishing after that.

    As an aside about formats, you know I love the 120 square as much as you do, but “shooting to format” is a construct of the 1970’s photo schools, when a lot of people were shooting 35mm and didn’t want to crop such a tiny format, and they were always shooting for “art”, rather than learning commercial. The TLR prior to that was always “sold” on the idea that you always used the camera in one position, and the frame could be cropped to an 8 X 10 both vertically and horizontally, without problems. Plenty of film area. Nothing stopping you from cropping the 120 square to 3:2 if you want. Before the 70’s, commercially, photographers had no problems cropping for a better impact, and did it all the time. Shooting to format is a photo-school/art construct!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If HC-110 keeps a long time mixed, then perhaps it’s worth it to mix up a gallon.

      I use Dil. E or (unofficial) H sometimes, when I have 35mm film and Dil B results in a dev time < 5 min. More and more I try to avoid films that require those dilutions, however; I want to just stick with B. I want consistent, repeatable results. I recently bought some Ilford ID-11, which I guess is their D-76 clone, because I got it on sale with free shipping. I'm not in a hurry to mix it up because I have some Rodinal and Adox HR-DEV to use up first. Thanks for reminding me that I'm allowed to crop. When I shoot my TLRs I tend not to crop because Hey! Look everybody! I'm shooting my TLRs! -- but in reality, it's about the final image.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Now that I’ve been thinking abut it for a couple of hours (takes time to get all the memory restarted), I remember there were a whole lot of dilutions for HC-110 that were NOT recommended for a lot of film. In fact, I think I even remember Kodak not recommending any HC-110 dilution for Plus-X at all. Unfortunately I wrote all this stuff on the front and back inside pages of my Kodak Lab Guide, and that’s all packed up somewhere! Dang it!

        To Kurt’s point, nothing better than D-76 and Tri-X. And I used to use ID-11 all the time when I couldn’t get D-76, virtually zero difference, at least in the old days. I think for some reason, I preferred ID-11, and went back to D-76 when Ilford stop making the replenisher. If you have some, mix it on up before you stop using Tri-X! Following directions, I believe it get’s mixed “hot”. I bought a little tea kettle at the Dollar Tree just to keep my distilled water heating separate from my actual tea kettle!

        And always use straight, do not dilute 1:1. The pure beauty of the highlights and shadows is when it’s used straight. Mix 1:1 and negs start to look weak, maybe the shadows go, maybe the highlights look flat, then you have to start shooting different asa’s to compensate, then…you get the picture, why dilute to save money, you probably won’t go through the whole gallon before it goes bad any way, just use one-shot, it’s good for 8-10 rolls of 120.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          This is great advice, and I thank you for it! I’ll get to the ID-11 eventually. I’m out of Tri-X but I have plenty of HP5+.

  2. DougD Avatar

    Fun stuff, great that you can have a relationship with your granddaughter with all that’s going on.

    I always wonder what the animals are thinking: I’m in a zoo… In Indiana… How the heck did this happen?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder especially how the warm-weather animals feel about our cold months!

  3. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    Nice to see the elephants. Not sure if she is in your photos, but Tombi grew up in the zoo here in Lansing in the ’80s.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t know which elephant is which, but I do know Tombi is still with us!

  4. Dan James Avatar

    Talking about shooting with your Yashica for a year, are you giving us a preview of a project for 2021 Jim? : )

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hmm. I haven’t given any thought yet to what I want my photo life in 2021 to look like! I do know that I tend to put my SLRs and TLRs away in the cold months so I can use my compact cameras. Those fit into warm coat pockets so much easier! But after that, at this point I’m open.

  5. Kurt Ingham Avatar

    There is no better box speed combination than Tri -X and D 76.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The pro labs I use develop in D-76 or a clone and when I send them Tri-X it always looks amazing!

  6. tbm3fan Avatar

    Have always used D-76 for all Kodak B&W.Granted that is what I was shown in 1967 in my jr.high graphic arts class but have seen no reason to change especially when reading others experiences with different developers such as you.

    1. tbm3fan Avatar

      Interestingly I used my Autocord this past Friday over at UC Berkeley to show my 11 year old son where I went to grad school in 1977. Only I was shooting expired Agfa APX 100 in the Autocord and the Topcon Super D. Have yet to develop.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Love APX100! When Kodak finally killed Verichrome Pan, and I didn’t think Ilford FP-4 “plus” looked as good as the film it replaced, we locked in on APX100. I was managing a retail department store photography studio, and we were shooting all our studio fashion on APX100, and ordering it 100 rolls of 120 at a time. In the late 90’s, that would have been $1.80 a roll!

        1. tbm3fan Avatar

          Last count was around 15 rolls of 120 APX100 amd 15 rolls of 120 Verichrome. In the early 2000s I started to buy up any good B&W and color on eBay for really low prices. Immediately stored them in below freezing temperatures. I even have 20 rolls of 220 color to use in my Yashica 24. Total count is just over 500 now.

        2. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          HA! Now we know who’s got it all!

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      If the stuff kept longer it would be more compelling to me. I just don’t develop enough film. But I did buy some ID-11, the Ilford clone, and will try it in 2021.

  7. Jerome (Earth, Sun, Film) Avatar

    Jim, metering could be the culprit. These shots all have significant portions with light grey areas, which may have fooled the meter into suggesting inappropriate shutter/aperture combo. From what I have come to understand about the Zone System, metering should be done on the darkest areas that one wants to show detail. I noticed similar looking negatives when I shot using a Minolta XG-M outdoors vs inside. The outside pics were off in the shadows, the indoors pics were perfectly exposed. Just a thought. I’m still learning to apply the Zone System, so maybe someone with more experience can comment.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Metering probably is the culprit. The meter in this camera is a blunt instrument and I keep forgetting that. I’m sure it’s a center weighted or maybe even a straight up center of frame meter. It’s not easy to aim this camera at anything specific given its form factor. I wonder if I should invest in a good spot meter.

  8. Jerome (Earth, Sun, Film) Avatar

    Yeah, I’ve learned my lesson. My Yashica Mat 124 has a broken meter, and I just recently bought a Minolta AutoMeter III. It is an incident meter, but accepts attachments that make it a spot meter. Very pleased with the results so far.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’d like to get a Pentax Spotmeter V. But that’s just one more thing to carry when I go out to shoot. I like to travel light! Maybe for days like this trip to the zoo I’m best served with something like my Nikon N90s and its good matrix metering.

  9. Jerome (Earth, Sun, Film) Avatar

    That is the simplest way to go. I have a Nikon N80, which is nice. I bought it and a Canon EOS 7 to compare with my Minolta Maxxum 7. Of the two, I like the Nikon better. But the Maxxum 7 is a gem. What amazes is how little the N80 and EOS 7 cost these days. I got each with a lens for under 30.00.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh my gosh, yes, right now is the time to buy the late film SLRs, especially the pro, semi-pro, and advanced amateur versions. I got my N90s for something like $27! This for a camera that was north of a grand new.

      A reader recently gave me a Maxxum 7000i without a lens. I picked up a 35-70 zoom on Used Photo Pro for $20. It’s a great little lens. It’s amazing how little these auto-everything systems go for now.

  10. Jerome (Earth, Sun, Film) Avatar

    The 7000i was my first Maxxum and the one I’ve shot the most. It’s simple and focuses accurately. The 35-70mm is very sharp with little to no distortion. Minolta has a line of Creative Expansion cards, one of which is the Data Memory card. It can hold exposure data (aperture, shutter speed, FL, EC, film ISO for up to 40 frames. I’ve tried recording this info in an app, but always mess it up somehow. If you keep track of such things, you may find this useful. I’ve bought them for as little as 5.00 per card.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have a Portrait card that I haven’t tried yet, but the Data Memory card does sound interesting. Maybe I’ll try to find one on eBay.

  11. Sam Avatar

    The b&w makes it look like another time and place Jim, great results!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Sam!

  12. Kent Teffeteller Avatar
    Kent Teffeteller

    Jim, beautiful images. And enjoyed seeing them. An aside, my first serious camera was a late 1930’s 4 x 4 Baby Rolleiflex TLR with a Tessar. My second was a Yashica-Mat 6 x 6 format TLR. They taught me careful composition and careful thought about making an image. I need to one day get another Yashica-Mat. Granddaughter is always fun and you got to enjoy her.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’d love to have a 127 4×4 TLR! My current 127 camera is an old Kodak Brownie Starmatic, which is a surprising pleasure to use, but its meniscus lens obviously can’t compare to even the lowliest lens in a TLR!

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