Second Presbyterian Church on Kodak Plus-X

After being sure that my Olympus XA’s meter was performing well enough, I shot more film in this delightful little camera. I’ve been itching to shoot some of the Kodak Plus-X I bought not long ago. This stock expired in February of 2000, but was stored frozen. I shot it at box speed, ISO 125.

I had reason to be at the grand, enormous Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis recently. I went early and brought the XA along to photograph this favorite subject.

Second Presbyterian

Usually I stop here, make one straight-on shot of either the whole church or its massive front, and move on. Only one other time have I walked the grounds looking for details to photograph.

Church doors

Second Presbyterian is perhaps best known for hosting the 1990 funeral of Ryan White, a boy who contracted AIDS via blood transfusion at a time when this disease was ill-understood and greatly feared. His fight to attend school in his hometown of Russiaville, about 45 minutes north of here, made the national news and was instrumental in helping our nation understand that AIDS was not just a “gay disease.”

Church door

Over 1,500 people attended White’s funeral, including then-First Lady Barbara Bush, Michael Jackson, and Elton John, who performed two songs. Elton stopped in Indianapolis last month on his farewell tour. During his show, he said that Indianapolis is a “preeminent feature of my life,” because the Ryan White funeral marked a turning point in his life that led to his sobriety.

Gothic windows

Second Presbyterian might look very old, but the main part of the building was completed in 1960. There have been subsequent additions; I’m aware of one cornerstone that says 1967 and another with a date in the 2000s sometime.


I made these photographs in about the middle of April, before most of the trees were budding. One advantage of early-spring photography is that trees don’t obscure my architectural subjects.

Second Presbyterian

You’ll find this church on the far Northside of Indianapolis, on the city’s main north-south street, Meridian Street. It’s just north of 75th Street. It is a commanding presence as you travel north on Meridian.

Second Presbyterian

I developed this film in Rodinal 1+50. My first scans of these negatives on my Plustek Opticfilm 8200i SE scanner were low in contrast and coarsely grained. I explored VueScan’s settings to see if I could improve the scans. I discovered that reducing the brightness a little, and setting VueScan’s grain-reduction setting to Medium, helped me achieve “that Plus-X look.”

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7 responses to “Second Presbyterian Church on Kodak Plus-X”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    You get much better results out of Plus-X than I ever did! Back in the print days, mine always looked muddy; I never seemed to get any zip out of the film. That’s why I was always an Ilford FP-4 person…

    I wonder if Kodak made changes in the emulsion over the last 20 years…maybe I better try another roll.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      They changed the emulsion all right: to nothing. Plus-X was discontinued in 2011.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        …shows how much I’ve been paying attention to Plus-X!

  2. J P Avatar

    There must be a handful of others, but I sometimes wonder if 2nd Pres is the only church building built in the US between, say, 1955 and 1980 that was not designed in a modernist style.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve wondered the same thing.

  3. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, nice photos!
    I need to get over to Purdue this summer when the students are gone and take some architectural photos.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Lots of good stuff there to photograph!

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