Kodak Tri-X – My First Roll – by Aukje

My first year of shooting film Part 3

My journey exploring film photography continues (read Part 2 here)… After shooting three rolls of film with my first film camera (a Minolta Hi-Matic 7S) I decided to trade it for an Olympus-35 SP because of it’s brighter viewfinder. The light meter is broken, so good practise for all-manual control :-). I shot a roll of cheap colour film with it to see if there were any light leaks (all working fine, but I am not sharing the results, really bad scanning at my local drugstore).


I decided that the second roll in this camera would be Kodak Tri-X 400. I rarely do black and white with my digital camera, but I wanted to do some portraits of colleagues, and I thought monochrome would be better (also easier to find subjects as black and white feels less exposed I guess).

Before doing portraits I took the camera on my usual landscape exploring, so I’ll start with some of the results from the forest and the beach. At first I was a bit disappointed with the contrast in the photos. I added contrast and clarity in Lightroom, but after viewing the photos a couple of times I appreciated the originals better, I guess I had to get used to it. A couple of photos were a bit too dark for my liking though, so I increased the exposure slightly.

First photo with the Tri-X roll (slightly adjusted exposure in LR as I thought the result was too dark)


Forest path, I do like the tones here.


Tree in the morning. Slightly increased exposure.


Playing with longer exposure (on tripod)


Difficult to focus from low viewpoint on moving subject (dog), but still ok. Composition could be better…


1.7 lens wide open.

On to the portraits. I don’t do portraits, or very rarely. I thought it would be nice to do some co-workers, but it took me some time to get the nerve to ask them. When I finally did, I got mixed reactions. Some said that no-one ever took a nice photo of them (let me try!), some just said ‘ok’, and one really surprised me by saying that he would have chosen a different outfit had he known I would take his photo today (I work in a high-tech company, so I consider me and my co-workers as nerds, and outfits is not something that seems to get a lot of attention…). I limited myself to one frame per person. The photos were taken on different days (different light) and at different locations. I could have thought it trough a bit more, when taking the photos I realised that it is quite difficult to just take a nice portrait, without any preparation time or time for exploring the location. Most of the photos were taken during lunch break, and people needed to get back to work quickly. It’s not allowed to take photos inside, so I couldn’t include a work-related context. After seeing Hamish’ photos of his co-workers I realised that I had been too far away, so I gradually moved closer…








Portraits of co-workers in different light conditions.


There is one portrait that I particularly like, because it has more dynamics and a fun. I asked Petra if I could take here portrait during a lunch walk on a path lined with trees, and I asked here to toss some leaves in the air. Again, only one shot, and I liked how this turned out, although her face is partly covered by the leaves. By the way, people think it is quite strange that after one click you say you’re done, without checking anything (display, screen).

Co-worker. First-time-right shot.
Co-worker. First-time-right shot.

The final photo is from the campus were I work, as is the photo on top of this page. These two were taken in really bad weather, although it doesn’t really show in the photo below, apart from the blurred/moving leaves. A few moments before there was a lot more wind, blowing all the leaves across the path. But I was afraid to take the camera out in this (wet) weather, which of course I regret now.

Bad weather, which you might be able to tell from some blurred leaves.

I am not sure about these photos. Maybe there were too many things taking me out of my comfort zone: film, new camera, no light meter, black and white, portraits (shooting people, scary!). And the turn-around time for the development of these photos was almost 4 weeks. That is a lot of time, I went from excitement to a lot of concern about them being any good. What I have to learn is how to catch light on black and white film. I don’t know if different exposure would have made a difference here (mostly I used my metering App and exposed at about one stop extra).

I am not sure about black and white for landscape, I’m usually triggered by colours, but that is where my comfort zone lies. Photographing people is still difficult for me as I am usually too scared to ask, or too aware of myself to take a photo. For example, I like the top photo, but it could have been better. I wanted to take a photo, but there were a couple of people standing there, waiting for the rain to clear, and I was too busy thinking about what they would think of me taking a photo that I waited too long and missed the best moment. But I do see the potential in some, it just takes some time to get used to this kind of look and appreciate what you can do with this type of film. I guess I will have to explore further…

The film was developed by AG photo lab in the uk.

For anyone interested, you can find my digital work on www.whataukjesees.com

Thanks for reading, and Hamish, thanks for having me!

You can read Part 4 of my journey into film here.

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21 thoughts on “Kodak Tri-X – My First Roll – by Aukje”

  1. Aukje these are great! I think you nailed the exposures and many of the portraits are excellent. That camera sure has a terrific lens. And the film is very nice.
    I have not shot Tri-X for decades, but recently bought some decades-old bulk loaded cassettes which I think have Tri-X in them, so soon enough will be trying some out. Looking forward to it even more now that I see how yours look.

    1. Thanks for your nice words Ehpem. It is a great camera, and I cannot see fault in this lens. Still not sure of I am going to keep it, as I bought a Leica M2 since shooting these, but a part of me doesn’t want to let it go…

  2. Keep shooting Tri-X. Love it.

    Don’t forget you’re going to have to adjsut every image in lightroom or PS a bit. That’s normal.

    Adjusting contrast and exposure is par for the course, same as in the regular chemical and paper darkroom.

    I’d love to see some of these with more ocntrast (but then again I’m a contrast junkie just lookin for my fix 🙂 )

    Keep shooting 🙂

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Ryan. Specifically as I felt a bit awkward posting after your article with such great photography. And good to know that you do some postprocessing too, that is what I love about this website, that I can learn from others.

  3. I think some of those are great Aukje. I was interested to see how they came out, as my 35 SP currently has its first roll of black and white film in it (HP5).

    Have you considered adding a yellow filter? They make the tonal response a little more natural. You need to remember to allow for the stop of light you use when measuring exposure though.

    1. Thanks for you comment Graham. I just ordered a roll of HP5 to try. I don’t have any coloured filters, usually I shoot colour and I am not sure if black and white is something that is going to stick with me. But thanks for the tip, I might consider it.

      1. I’ve just checked my filter drawer, and I’ve got a spare one I’ll never use (it was sent to me along with an old SLR that I bought on eBay). It’s the right size for an SP, so I can send you that if you like. I’m in the UK so I wouldn’t expect the postage to be too onerous…

  4. jean-philippe carrié

    Hi Aukje,
    As always, I appreciate your delicate style. Your two first pictures are absolutely stunning. I also love the minimalist seascapes. You ask yourself about the relevance of b&w for landscape. I think it’s definitely worth more than a try. Your beach pictures demonstrate this. I also like your portraits, especially the close ups. The advice of Graham about the filters is very wise. I used a yellow filters nearly all the time with the HP5.
    We are now waiting for your next post… ;o)

  5. This is a lovely set of pictures Aukje, plenty of variety too. The portraits are superb in particular. I think any lack contrast is down to the lens having a tendency to flare. I think you should continue with B&W as well as colour.
    I look forward to seeing your work with the Leica

  6. Aukje, my favorite is Forest Path, too. I love its tonal range. And the portraits really seem to capture the personalities of the people. Black and white photography is a special art form. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Your environmental portraits are great.

    Be brave and do more. Don’t tell people you want to take their picture, tell them you want to immortalize them, on film! And if you really want to amaze them, make a print. Your techie co-workers would be blown away to see themselves rendered on a gelatin-silver print.

    By all means continue your black and white work. Well done.

  8. I think you really did great with the portraits Aukje! And I totally understand that it took you a while to ask them. It’s something I still haven’t had the nerve to do. 🙂

  9. Pingback: My First Roll With a Leica Film Camera - Guest Post by Aukje - 35mmc

  10. Pingback: The Yellow Filter And Why I Love This Community - Guest Post by Aukje - 35mmc

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