Kodak Tri X 400 – On a grain

Kodak Tri X | © mare.photo
Fröslevlejren Danmark | © mare.photo

The black-and-white film Kodak Tri X is one of the most popular films in monochrome and analog photography and cinema production of the past, but also the present. Especially in art photography he finds his application today. We were interested in his story.

Kodak Tri X  400

Who deals with analog photography and is interested in the classic photojournalism, who visits exhibitions of well-known photographers, who comes to the Kodak Tri X around. We use the film for a very traditional reportage and want to find out what keeps him still so young after more than 60 years.

If you want to discover the Kodak Tri-X, it is worth taking a journey back in time to the year 1954. That is the birth of this classic. And with that, new classics are born that would never exist without this black and white film.

Kodak Tri X + Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph. | © mare.photo

But everything that is new is bad. This is how the critics initially feel that the grain is too coarse and the contrast too intense. Even newspaper editors take pictures of a Kodak Tri-X only when there is no better, that is fine-grained. Even shades of gray, gentle shadow drawing, all this one is used to.

But then comes the year 1957. A film camera lies in a stroller. The woman who leads him through the streets of Paris at noon rushes, feels persecuted and runs for her life. Only the lights of the city illuminate it. The drama and the sense of reality make this film unbeatable. Overnight, Moreau becomes world famous as the woman pushing the stroller. As one of the scenes of the famous film by director Louis Malle, “Lift to the Scaffold”.

This film would never have become a classic without the Kodak Tri-X, perhaps without success. For the first time in film history, it has become possible to create night scenes without artificial light. When the film started in 1959 in numerous European cinemas, it inspires the masses and also helps the Kodak Tri-X for breakthrough.

Suddenly, photographers across the bank take this material and use it in the exposure range between 200 and 1600. There should be no genre in which this material is not used. That’s just as true for the cinema world as it is for photography.

Even today, this now more than 60 years old film is one of the favorites of analogue photographers. He said goodbye to the report, but not because he lost his effect. Rather, the reportage has lost value through its own arbitrariness. And yet, there are people who are getting more and more excited about the development of the footage, getting out of it. It is now possible to expose the Kodak Tri-X in a sensitivity range from ISO 50 up to 12,800.

But he never reveals his own character. Unadjusted, idiosyncratic, robust, edgy and high-contrast – these are some of the attitudes that still make him so popular today. Making the motifs intense is the responsibility of the photographer – the rest is taken over by this film.

That’s exactly what I was looking for for our upcoming reportage series “Slesvigland”. In 1920, the current demarcation line was drawn between Denmark and Germany, quite democratically. In two years, the anniversary will be celebrated big. I go to the search for clues, discover closed barriers of border crossings that no longer exist. And visit the concentration camps on both sides of the border with their cold barbed wire and their barracks and watchtowers, find abandoned border houses and quarrel with the now most advanced surveillance systems. I mourn in the story of numerous murders at the border guards and look forward to meetings with Danish and German border officials. I gratefully accept the invitation of the Dansk Library to research historical material and meet people who are at home on this border and have been for a long time.

Which film can better document this exciting and formative event than the Kodak Tri-X? I have exposed a first film and he has strengthened my decision to complete this project only analog and to exchange already used digital images analog. Not every picture is photographed with a Kodak Tri-X, but guarantees the most moving moments. Because I want to achieve one thing. That the pictures to this landscape almost touch as this film.