About a year ago, whilst a heavy rain was pouring over the small city in Lombardy (Italy) where I live, the thought of going out with a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 snapped instantly in my head. The historical city center was my main target, so I grabbed my trusty Minolta SRT 202 and Minolta Rokkor 135mm f/3.5 and headed out.
By the time I got outside, the rain had stopped, but this didn’t discourage me. Sparse rain drops continued to fall and in the gloomy light, the rare people who were passing by offered me the human presence I needed in order to frame my shots.
I already knew Kodak Tri-X 400 behaves best in poor light, so I looked for moody photos, where the contrast and the resulting grain from pushing the film to 1600 make a perfect combo. Besides, the pools of water and the specular highlights from the rain added an extra point of interest. The perimeter where I shot these five frames is very restrained, I only had to walk a maximum hundred feet from one shot to another.
After developing the film in Rodinal, my expectations were largely confirmed: the sharpness and the grain, the contrast and the grit, everything were there. But above all, the moody atmosphere impressed me the most. Deep blacks next to flickering highlights, so characteristic of Kodak Tri-X, helped me render the particular feeling I was looking for in the drenched plaza of the old Italian town.
All the photos seem to have something timeless to them, a poetic intimation which I think I find more often than not in high contrast films.
Would I do this again? Definitely yes, maybe in another city, where I could explore the neighborhoods and simultaneously convey the sense of poetic moods.
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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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