South Bend on expired Kodak Tri-X 400

The stash of Kodak Plus-X I bought a few months ago came with a few rolls of 20-years-expired Kodak Tri-X too. Now that I develop and scan my black-and-white film at home, I avoid Tri-X because it curls and is hard to lay into my scanner’s negative holder. Ilford HP5 Plus offers a similar look but lays flat, so I use it instead. But I’ve got these rolls, and I might as well use them. I brought one along with my Olympus XA on a trip my wife and I made in April to South Bend.

We stayed one night, in a room in the DoubleTree downtown. This hotel is connected to the headquarters of First Source Bank by a huge glass atrium.

Glass wall

The hotel and bank buildings were built in the early 1980s. From then until a few years ago, the hotel was a Marriott, and I will probably always think of it with that name. Here the atrium connects to the First Source Bank building.

All the angles

This is the East Race of the St. Joseph River, taken from LaSalle Street looking south. The river’s main channel is about a thousand feet west of here. In the ’80s, you could kayak down the East Race. I did it once and it was a lot of fun.

The East Race of the St. Joseph River

This is the Jefferson Boulevard bridge, one of my favorite South Bend subjects. This concrete bridge is of a Melan arch design, which is a way of reinforcing concrete with giant curved steel ribs.

Jefferson Blvd. bridge

Here’s the bridge from the other side of the river, in Howard Park. I’ve always thought of downtown South Bend being west of the river. But the Howard Park neighborhood has revitalized over the last several years, with shops and bars and restaurants opening. Downtown is now on both sides of the river.

Jefferson Blvd. bridge

Howard Park borders the east shore of the St. Joseph River. This sidewalk and railing have been there for more than 100 years.

Howard Park

Looking the other direction, the walkway leads to this former railroad bridge that carries pedestrians today.

Howard Park

Here’s the view from that bridge.

St. Joseph River

Looking south downriver, we saw these rowers. We guessed that they were a team from Notre Dame. This would have been a great moment to have a zoom lens!

Rowing in the St. Joseph River

This film had always been stored frozen, so I treated it as if it were fresh, shooting it at box speed and developing it normally (in HC-110, Dilution B). I notice a little loss of detail in the shadows, however, which suggests that the film may have degraded a little. Perhaps I’ll shoot the next roll at EI 200 and develop it normally and see if I get better shadow detail.

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17 responses to “South Bend on expired Kodak Tri-X 400”

  1. brandib1977 Avatar

    The lines and contrast in those atrium shots- wow! Cool!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m happy that I was able to get those shots. I wasn’t sure if there was enough light to make them handheld.

  2. Mike Connealy Avatar

    Yes, nice work with the architectural subjects.
    I think you are on the right track in trying a bit more time in the developer with the expired Tri-X. I’ve often heard the complaint about curling Tri-X, but I’ve never experienced it. Too long in the fixer may be part of the cause. I never leave mine in fresh fixer more than five minutes.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I fix for exactly five minutes. My fixer might not be perfectly fresh every time, but I only reuse mine for about 10 rolls, give or take. That ought to be well before the fixer exhausts.

      Every single time I’ve developed Tri-X, I’ve had trouble laying it into the film holder for scanning because of the curling! As difficulties go, it doesn’t rank up there with homelessness or bankruptcy.

      1. Jerome Avatar

        I abandoned Tri-X for HP5 for the same reason. Recently, I found that gently re-rolling the negative with emulsion side out and using the leader to protect the final portion, and letting it stay in the plastic canister, removes the curl for scanning in a few hours and does not harm the images. I do the same with Fuji 100, which also has the curling issue. I do this after the negative is completely dry and wear vinyl gloves.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          That’s a good idea – I’ll try it.

          The expired Tri-X I’m currently using also suffers (?) from having been wound inside their film cartridges for 20+ years.

  3. Suzassippi Avatar

    I enjoyed all of these, but especially the race, the railroad bridge, and the rowers–like little human ducks on a pond.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Seeing the rowers was fun! It turns out that Notre Dame’s rowing HQ building is just south of here on the river.

  4. Mike Connealy Avatar

    Well, there goes my theory about curling Tri-X. Maybe it’s the music you are playing during processing? I like Nina Simone and Billie Holliday.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I process in silence! Maybe next time I process Tri-X I’ll play some Billie. I have a couple of her 1950s albums on my phone. We’ll see if that ends the curling! ;-)

    2. Jerome Avatar

      I like Nina’s version of “The Folks Who Line on the Hill.”

  5. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Great photos Jim! I have a friend who is a big fly fisherman, he used to fish the st Joe river often. He said it was as good as some of the streams out west.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My uncle Jack fished the St. Joe a lot when he was young. But because the city dumped a lot of its sewage into the river then, he always threw back the fish he caught.

  6. jim Hanes Avatar

    I solved the curling problem with many films: after it dries, I recollect it against the direction it wants to roll, place it in one of those old, aluminum film containers, thence into a (clean) jelly size canning jar, then into a warm water filled sink. When the water is cool, take it out and remove from the film container. The film will be flat! Works every time. Can’t believe I’ve never been to South Bend. I grew up in Indiana.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Terrific! I’ll remember that, as I have a lot of expired film to shoot and that stuff always curls if for no other reason than it’s been wound tight for decades.

  7. Peggy Avatar

    I absolutely love those first two shots!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! I’m pleased they turned out.

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