I know it has been a while since kodak decided to stop making TRI-X Pro 320 in medium format. I think I am one of the only people on the planet that actually still shot the stuff, most folks think of TX or TRI-X 400 when they think of TRI-X at all, well at least the stuff that comes in rolls. I think they still make the TXP in sheet film but it is soooo expensive it's not funny and I tend to shoot subjects on sheet film that don't really have me reaching for TXP since speed is the least of my sheet film issues, then again maybe I'll use it for some figure studies or something.
I just had a little pang of regret this morning when checking up on my 120 medium format film supply and saw my one and only 5 roll pro-pack of TXP 320 sitting there all by it's lonesome. It is less than a year old and I am sure it still looks fabulous. The regret is that I really don't know what to do with that box. I am sort of torn. On the one hand I don't want to just shoot it to get rid of it - I typically use it for very specific people type shots - usually high key skin where I want whites whites and more whites with a lot of separation. On the other hand I don't want it to be sitting around 5 years and get grainy and have it's characteristics like speed and contrast to be iffy. I am racking my brain trying to think of a project to do that will give it a proper send off. Too bad that will only last for the rest of the day and I will be thinking the same thing next month or two months from now when I look through my 120 film again.
For those that don't know and never will know TXP - it is a very quirky film. Most dabblers shoot it once and think that it's awful. I think this is mostly due to the name - TRI-X. The reality is that this film could not be more different than TRI-X 400. In fact it behaves the opposite. The "normal" TRI-X has a strait line section - meaning more linear contrast starting very early and going through the mids, the highlights tend to flatten out and shoulder off with lower and lower highlight contrast for a long time. TXP 320 on the other hand is considered by us old folk to be "all toe". In normal people terms this means it has low shadow and mid tone contrast and starts to get linear in the highlights. If you expose this like you would most other films you will get very very blah results - this is because until you hit the upper zone 6 (a stop more than mid-grey and a little) you get very flat tones. The magic is in the right developer with the tones placed from zone 6 through zone 9 this film separates highlights fantastically with virtually no compression. When you couple that with the low shadow and mid separation it looks really really cool for some subjects but you do need to get to really "know" it.
It's really hard to see the "magic" on a display medium that only covers 256 levels of brightness and a whole lot less in the range that I am talking about but the included little scan is of skin tones mostly zone 7 and higher. The negative was developed in PMK Pyro and shot at ISO 200 with a Zeiss 80mm lens.
Any ideas for a proper send off?
Kodak TXP 320 RIP.