Photographs

Shooting some 50-year-old Kodak Plus-X

In the bottom of a box that contained my father-in-law’s photo gear was one forgotten roll of old Kodak Plus-X.

Long expired Plus-X

Based on the graphic design on the film canister, I think this film is from the 1970s. I knew nothing about how it had been stored except that it hadn’t been kept in the fridge or freezer. Who knows what environmental horrors were visited upon this hapless roll of film during the last half century?

I loaded it into my Olympus XA, which I set to EI 25, the slowest speed on the camera. I figured this long-expired ISO 125 film would benefit from a lot of overexposure. I shot the whole roll on a short walk on the south end of Downtown Indianapolis. Then I developed it in HC-110, Dilution B, for six minutes. The Massive Dev Chart called for five minutes at 20° C, but that’s for fresh film. I figured a little overdevelopment would do this roll good.

When you shoot very expired film of unknown provenance, you have to prepare for unpredictable results. Several images on the roll showed heavy deterioration of the film.

Lucas Oil Stadium

Other images were well exposed and clean, almost as if the film were fresh.

Fire escape

Here are my favorite images from the rest of the roll.

Cottage
S. Meridian St.
Greenlight Guru
Mercedes parked
Deli and Cafeteria
N. K. Hurst Co.
Mazda B2200
Department of Administration

I really enjoy just shooting whatever subjects catch my fancy. It doesn’t make for Fine Art Photography™, but it does make for fun. When I shoot fresh film, which gets more expensive all the time, I find myself being more choosy about what I photograph. Shooting with abandon feels like wasting money. That wasn’t so with this free roll of very expired film. I just relaxed and photographed what I wanted.

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Photographs

The lighthouse at Michigan City

The trip Margaret and I made to South Bend included a short jaunt over to Michigan City. Despite it being a chilly, windy day, we hit the beach at Lake Michigan and walked out to the lighthouse.

Michigan City lighthouse
Michigan City lighthouse
Michigan City lighthouse
Michigan City lighthouse
Michigan City lighthouse

Olympus XA and Kodak Tri-X 400, expired 6/2001, in HC-110, Dilution B.

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Photographs

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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Photographs

Lake Michigan lifeguard stand on Kodak Plus-X

Margaret and I drove up to Lake Michigan at Michigan City a few weeks ago. It was about 50 degrees out, but as usual the wind was quite strong off the lake. We both had only medium jackets on, and they weren’t quite warm enough. But we pressed on for some photography anyway.

This closed lifeguard stand on the deserted beach was interesting to me, so I photographed it a number of times in its context.

Lifeguard stand, Lake Michigan
Lifeguard stand, Lake Michigan
Lifeguard stand, Lake Michigan
Lifeguard stand, Lake Michigan
Lifeguard stand, Lake Michigan
Lifeguard stand, Lake Michigan

I made these photos in my Olympus XA on Kodak Plus-X (expired 2/2000 but stored frozen). I developed the film in Rodinal 1+50.

I also shot about half a roll of Kodak Tri-X at this location, including a bunch of photos of the lighthouse here. I’ll share those images soon.

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Photographs

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.

Doorway

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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Film Photography

A test roll in my malfunctioning Olympus XA

I got out my Olympus XA specifically to shoot some Kodak Plus-X I bought recently. Because the film has always been stored frozen, and because Plus-X is so hardy, I expect it to behave as if new.

Olympus XA

After I put batteries in the XA, I noticed that the needle inside the viewfinder read a few stops off. Drat it! The XA actually, and strangely, has two meters, one that controls the viewfinder needle and one that controls the shutter speed. It was possible that the shutter-speed meter was fine, and only the viewfinder needle meter was off.

I decided to shoot a test roll to check for that. But there was no way I was going to potentially waste a precious roll of Plus-X. Instead, I used a roll of T-Max 100. I shot all but a few frames with the XA set in its snapshot mode, focused to three meters at an aperture of f/5.6. Both of these settings are marked in orange on the camera.

I developed the film in Rodinal 1+50. The negatives were appropriately dense. This is the first time I’ve scanned T-Max 100 on my Plustek 8100, and I wasn’t wowed by the images straight off the scanner. I boosted contrast considerably on all of the images. But they were all properly exposed. Here are the best of the images.

Pool house
Looking out over the retention pond
The American House, Burlington
Suburban houses
The road, she is closed
Dance studio
Bathroom mirror selfie

Several of my film cameras are queued to be sent for repair and CLA, and with this, my Olympus XA joins the group. I enjoy this camera enough to invest in having it overhauled and having its needle meter repaired. But because the camera sets exposure properly and otherwise works fine, it goes to the end of the repair line.

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