“It’s a pretty little town, isn’t it?” the man in the pickup truck asked, nodding at the camera in my hand. He’d seen me shooting pictures and stopped to chat.

I smiled and agreed with him — Covington is a pretty little town, particularly the quaint town square that wraps around the Tipton County Courthouse. That’s what had brought me back to Covington, camera in hand, even though I had been there only the day before. Even on this gloomy April Sunday afternoon, there was life in the square—cars filling a handful of parking spaces, a family eating al fresco at Jose’s Mexican Street Food restaurant, a couple looking at the courthouse. But the rain was threatening, so mostly it was quiet.

So, after making my way around the square, I began to go a little farther afield. Rusty signs. Hand-lettered signs, interesting old buildings. Covington is an old town (Tipton County, of which Covington is the county seat, was organized in 1823), with some interesting historical landmarks and nice examples of art deco architecture. After two afternoons strolling around the center of town, I feel as if I’ve only scratched the surface of interesting things there to photograph. And in the end, it wasn’t the town’s prettiness that drew my camera lens; it was the sites and sights with a little more grit and character to them.

It’s those images that I’m featuring in these Five Frames.

I was toting my beloved Minolta X-370 — an estate sale find whose Achilles’ heel is its film winding mechanism (I’ve had it fixed twice). Having recently shot a roll of my expired Kodak T400CN film at box speed and discovering that the film had come out underexposed, with an abundance of grain, I decided to try shooting at EI 200 instead.

I’m happy with the results I got — less grain, less mud in the shadows. Sadly, because I always liked the look of it, Kodak discontinued this C-41 black-and-white film in 2004 (replacing it till 2014 with BW400CN), and my rolls had sat in my fridge for several years. I don’t know what the actual expiration date was, but it seemed prudent to shoot at 200, just in case, and it paid off well.

The film was processed and scanned by Knoxville Film Lab. I did very little to the photos in Lightroom (to my chagrin, some of them needed to be straightened a little—otherwise I did little or nothing with them), so I think they are a good representation of the film, which I wish Kodak would bring back. Enjoy!

~ Jon

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Jon Woodhams

Jon Woodhams is a Memphis-based artist/photographer. Semi-retired from the publishing industry, he picked up his cameras again after a several-year hiatus and is loving shooting film (and digital too). He figures he's barely scratched the surface of what there...

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