Film Photography, Photographs

Expired Kodak Tri-X in the Olympus Stylus

Milton-Madison Bridge

My wife and I spent a long weekend in historic Madison, Indiana, in October. In Indiana’s early days, Madison became the state’s largest and most important city. It capitalized on its Ohio River location as a port of commerce. Nearby Louisville and Cincinnati soon became more prominent, stalling Madison’s growth. It had the effect of freezing the oldest part of the city in time. Lots of buildings from Madison’s earliest days are still in use. The area has been a historic district since 1973, and over the years properties have been restored one by one. It’s a lovely place to take a camera.

Olympus Stylus

I brought a couple of SLRs, a TLR, my little Olympus Stylus, and a whole bunch of film. I loaded a roll of Kodak Tri-X, expired since September, 2001, into the Stylus and slipped it into my back pocket. The rest of the film I shot was color, both negative and slide, and went to a lab for processing. That takes time. But right after I got back I developed the Tri-X myself in HC-110, Dilution B, and scanned it on my Plustek 8100i. So you get to see these black-and-white images first!

The image at the beginning of this post is of the bridge that connects Madison to Milton, Kentucky. It might look old, but it went into service in 2014, replacing a similar bridge completed in 1929 that had lived out its service life.

On the Ohio River at Madison

I made several photos as Margaret and I walked along the river, above the shore on a sidewalk. We also walked down this ramp to the bar that’s on the left and had a couple of beers.

Fairfield Inn, Madison

This building is a Fairfield Inn hotel today, but it was originally built as a cotton mill. It was vacant for a long time, decaying. Its transformation is remarkable. The hotel overlooks the river.

Third Street, Madison

We also strolled the city looking at the houses, most of which are a century old or more, and some of which date to near Madison’s founding in 1810.

Old houses in Madison

The Stylus handled easily as always. It fit comfortably into the back pocket of my jeans. When you factor in the sharp, detailed images it returns, is it any wonder why I shoot it so often?

Joy house

Images near the beginning of the roll didn’t turn out well. The base fog was thickest on the first few frames. This was the first frame on the roll that turned out at all, and as you can see the grain is pronounced and the image is a little faint.

Madison Airbnb entry

The deeper I went into the roll, the better this Tri-X behaved. This is the front door to our Airbnb, a renovated three-story row house. It was a lovely place to stay.

Etcetera

Unfortunately, my Stylus has developed a light leak. You can see it in the upper right of this image. It doesn’t always occur, and when it does I can often remove it from the image in Photoshop. Given the details the leak touches in this image, Photoshop couldn’t repair it without scrambling the lines.

On stilts

I successfully Photoshopped the leak out of this image. The first thing to check is the light seals, of course, and if those are bad I’ll happily replace them. That’s a repair job I’m willing to do myself. The photo forums mention four other causes of Stylus light leaks, all of which involve some disassembly of the camera and in one case replacement of a rubber seal that is probably no longer obtainable. Many of these problems are beyond my repair skills — and willingness.

Gourds and hay

In time, I’ll investigate the root cause of my Stylus’s leak but there may be nothing I can do about it. Time was, Olympus Styluses were cheap as chips. Faced with this problem just five to seven years ago, I’d buy another used Stylus. This is already my second Stylus, as my first one died. A reader empathized with my plight and sent me this one, free. He had picked up four or five of them for next to nothing, 10 or 20 bucks each. Those were the days! Now these cameras sell for $150, even $200, which is straight-up ridiculous.

If my Stylus is not repairable, I’ll have to choose whether to live with the light leak or to sell the camera for parts. But that’s life with an intricately designed early-1990s electronic camera. They are all on borrowed time after 30 years.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Road Trips

The same scene on the Ohio River in Indiana, 60 years apart

My wife and I still own too much stuff after four years of marriage. We went on a jag recently to rearrange the entire downstairs of our home, along the way shedding some things we don’t need anymore.

Emptying a drawer, I came upon a stack of old postcards I bought early in my road-trip hobby. They depict roadside scenes all over Indiana, but mostly on the Michigan and National Roads. I don’t need these postcards anymore. I scanned them all, and sent them to a fellow I know who collects postcards just like these.

Old postcards are a great way to see what the old roads and the surrounding environment used to look like. Sometimes places look very different, and sometimes they don’t. The postcard above is probably from the 1940s, of a scene just west of Leavenworth, Indiana, on State Road 62. (The postcard says this road is also US 460, but US 460 was removed from Indiana in 1976.)

Remarkably, some time before I bought that postcard I made a photo from the same place. I stepped over the steel guardrail and down the bank a little for my photograph, but as you can see the mighty Ohio and the surrounding terrain still look much the same.

Ohio River, from IN SR 62, Leavenworth, IN
Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80, Fujicolor 200, 2006

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!

Standard

Fog on the Ohio River

Fog on the Ohio River
Canon PowerShot S80
2009

Photography
Image

The Delta Queen

The Delta Queen
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2008

Photography
Image
Ohio River, from IN SR 62, Leavenworth, IN

Ohio River along State Road 62 west of Leavenworth, Indiana
Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 (review)
Fujicolor 200
2006

Film Photography
Image