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Saturday, May 17

Happy Birthday Tri X

Gianni Berengo Gardin, 1968

Tri X celebrates its diamond anniversary later this year. has published an article, originally from Intelligent Life magazine, which is a lovely tribute to the little iconic yellow box using quotes from some famous photographers and some excellent pics to highlight the film's outstanding capabilities.

This passage sums up the importance of Tri X very nicely, "It was on Tri-X that McCullin captured some of the most powerful images of the Vietnam war: the shell-shocked American soldier with the thousand-yard stare and the fallen Vietnamese soldier with bullets and family snaps scattered about him.

"It was on Tri-X that Corbijn took some of the greatest rock’n’roll photographs, including his documentation of the capering genius of Tom Waits, which has now run for nearly 40 years.

"In fact, if we include just a few other Tri-X users—Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Josef Koudelka and most of the finest of the photographers who worked for the Magnum agency—it becomes clear that this film may be the most aesthetically important technology in photographic history."

On a personal level, I've been using Tri X for more than 35 years. It was a favourite film when I was just learning photography. A few years later when I started a career as a newspaper reporter in a district office that had no photographer, I got the extra responsibility of being the paper's snapper for many local events that didn't merit sending an official photog from head office.

I must have got through a few rolls a week for about a year before moving on to head office. Here's one I took in my spare time of Longannet power station in Fife not far from where I was based. Not up to the standard of some of pictures in the Leicaphile post but all my own work nevertheless.

Just to prove that you don't need expensive equipment to take a decent pic, the camera for this shot was an M42 screw mount Mamiya and the lens a pretty poor 39-80mm Sigma zoom that you couldn't give away on Ebay today.

Happy birthday Tri X and, more importantly, many happy returns.

The Leicaphile post is a great read. Put the coffee on, make yourself comfortable and enjoy.


Matt said...

I love Tri-x and I totally agree with you that you don't need top gear to make a good photo.

John Robison said...

Being a cheapskate I've looked elsewhere for my B&W in the last 10 to 15 years. Now there seems to be a convergence of prices with Ilford, Foma, Adox, Fuji and Kodak. Back in the day (for me, the 1970's & 80's) Tri-X was all I used. Looks like I should save up a bit and lay in a supply of TX. Right now 35mm X 36exp is $4.50 a roll + shipping so to make it pay I'd have to get at least 40 rolls.

Oh brother, I can hear the conversation now; "What's this $200 charge to B&H on the card?"

"Uh...well I wanted to pick up some film before the next big price jump"

"Two Hundred dollars...for film!?"

"Yeah, but that will last a long time"

And so it goes.

Herman Sheephouse said...

John - you should try buying it in Britain - the equivalent of $6.73 for a 36exp roll on average.
It is a lovely film though - I especially like it in 120.

Elliot said...

Also great in 8x10...IF one can afford it!

I agree that for film photographers Tri-X has a certain look that is difficult to replicate.