Film Photography

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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Film Photography

At the zoo

As I’ve updated my camera reviews this year, on my oldest reviews I sometimes find myself returning to my original negative scans. I have better tools and skills now that frequently let me breathe deeper life into the images. Also, I find that in my early days of reviewing I didn’t always upload every usable photo from those rolls to Flickr, as I always do now. It’s been fun to revisit those photographs and share some of them for the first time.

I’m working on an update to my 2011 review of the Olympus OM-1. That camera came to me in a big kit with several lenses, some Olympus and some not. One of them was a hulking Vivitar 70-150 mm f/3.8 Close Focusing Auto Zoom, pictured below.

Olympus OM-1

My dear friend Debbie had come to visit. We’ve known each other since the fifth grade; she’s my oldest friend. We both love the zoo, so we went. The OM-1 had only recently joined my collection and I figured this big, ugly zoom lens would be useful there. I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and off we went.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

Eight years is a long time ago but I remember the big Vivitar making the OM-1 heavy and unwieldy. But as these photos attest, it did the job for which it was made.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

I’m happy with this lens’s resolving power, but feel that it muted the saturated colors for which Fujicolor 200 is known.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

The overcast day could have played into these muted colors, too. Also, in these days I was sending my film off to Snapfish for processing and scanning. Looking back, I think there were better lab choices even then.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

You never know what you’re going to get with some third-party lens you get with an old camera. But this Vivitar did a decent job. You can almost count the hairs at the tip of this tiger’s tail.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

That said, I’m not sure I’d shoot that lens again. I have a very good long Pentax-branded zoom for my Pentax K-mount bodies that I’d turn to first.

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The Thinker (crop)

Thinking primate
Olympus OM-1, zoom lens (I forget which)
Fujicolor 200

It was when I took my first Olympus OM-1 to the zoo that I came to see why the 35mm SLR had become so popular. I was still pretty new to the whole SLR game and up to that point I wasn’t in love, as I found their operation to be far more complicated than the all-manual viewfinder and rangefinder cameras I normally shot. But the light bulb went on at the zoo when I was able to compose and check depth of field, and be sure of the photo I was going to get.

I still have this OM-1 but I haven’t shot it in a few years. It’s a lovely camera except for the shutter-speed selector being on the lens barrel. I’m sure that if I used it all the time I’d get used to it. I need to try, because it’s just that great of a camera otherwise.

Film Photography

single frame: Thinking primate



Lincoln ducks

Duck in the reflecting pool
Kodak EasyShare Z730