Bill Orcutt, October 5, 2013, Issue Project Room. Leica M4, Canon 50mm 1.4 LTM, Tri-X.

Another happy accident: shooting at 3200 (?) and developing for 400.

I try to keep track of my film and how I shot it, but I always end up finding a roll or two floating around in a bag, with no tell-tale Sharpie scribble on it to tell me what it is. I’m especially at a loss when it’s a roll of Tri-X (or Arista Premium 400) because I often shoot that film at non-box speed.

I recently developed a batch of five rolls of Tri-X shot at 400. One of the rolls was very short; I had only taken a dozen or so photos on it. As soon as I hung up that roll, I realized it was a “missing” roll of film I had shot at a musical performance in Brooklyn a couple of months ago: Bill Orcutt and Jon Mueller at Issue Project Room. It was a great show, very intense, and very quiet (except for the performers). The small audience was attentive and respectful, so, being in the front row, I minimized my clicking, and had thankfully brought the Leica M4. An SLR would have been deafeningly loud. Only a Yashica Electro 35 would have been quieter. Hence only a few shots, including a couple of Mr. Orcutt slowly changing a guitar string (not as exciting  a photograph as one might think).

Jon Mueller, October 5, 2013, Issue Project Room. Leica M4, Canon 50mm 1.4 LTM, Tri-X.

Given the space and the lighting, I’m guessing that I shot that roll with my meter, a small Sekonic L-308S, set at 3200. I underexposed by three stops according to how I developed it. I got no background information and lost a lot to the shadows. The images above are pretty much inverted from the negative with almost no adjustment of white and black points. So I don’t have a lot to work with in the darkroom, but I think that’s just fine. They look great, and next time I want to get this look, in this light, I’ll know exactly what to do. In fact, I had another batch of film that I had shot at 3200 that I decided to develop as if I had shot it at 1600; I wasn’t happy with a previous batch of film from the same shoot. Voila, I liked the second batch better.

I’ll be looking for opportunities to try this again.


Rodinal 1+50
13 minutes
30 seconds initial agitation
3 gentle inversions/minute
1 minute water stop bath
4 minutes Photographers’ Formulary TF-5 rapid fixer; 7 inversions in 5 seconds, every 30 seconds
5 minutes rinse
1 minute Edwal LFN wetting agent

Postscript: you’ll notice I’ve started using TF-5 fixer. This saves on using stop bath and hypo clearing agent–in other words, it saves time and messing around with more chemicals.