5 Frames… With Kodak Tri-X 400 (EI 400 / 35mm format / Nikon FM2) – by Mitch Walker Jr

In March of 2018, I was heading to Oakland and San Francisco for a photo work assignment and decided to do some street photography on my time off while I was up there. I took several 35mm rolls of Kodak Tri-X and my Nikon FM2 camera with a 35mm f/2.8 AI-S lens. I’m used to shooting under various lighting conditions and decided not to do any pushing. I also used a Number 8 Yellow filter when shooting outdoors. My camera became part of me on my various excursions through the city while visiting friends, shopping and general exploration of sites.

After I arrived home, the film was unloaded and put away for a few weeks until I was ready to develop the rolls a few weeks later. I live in Palm Springs and unfortunately, I chose the hottest part of the year to develop my film. I had not done any developing in a few years, so I had to dust off all my old reels and tanks.

Normally I would use my favorite workhorse Kodak D-76 but instead I had a packet of Kodak Microdol-X developer that I had purchased several years back. It produces fine grain and excellent tonality. I discovered that Kodak had discontinued manufacturing this developer, but I still found technical information online. I mixed a gallon of stock solution along with stop bath and Fixer.

Living in the desert on the hottest months of the year made it a challenge in maintaining temperature control. Cold water would run from the taps a “lukewarm’” 85ºF, I had to employ bowls of ice water to bring the temperature of the chemicals down. I processed the film for 13 minutes in a dilution of 1+3 working solution.

I had to be creative when doing the final wash and thank heavens for photo clearing solution to help speed up that process. One of the advantages of living in this dry climate is your film dries faster. I was happy with the results of my negatives. I got very good contrast, shadow detail and outstanding highlights. The images scan beautifully and I’m looking forward to eventually making prints from these images.

~ Mitch

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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