The Tri-X Files S2E06: September 29, 1984 (Roll 84_23/24), PART TWO

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #6: “Piggies in Their Starched White Shirts”

(Continued from PART ONE, where we discussed the Marion County Country Ham Days Festival and the Model High School Band’s preparations to march in the Pigasus Parade as well as the bus trip down to Lebanon, Kentucky and the moments leading up to the parade.) Saturday, September 29, 1984. This was the day that the Model High School Band Members had been practicing towards for the past month. All those hours of marching around the field and in the school parking lot was but a prelude to this: The first parade performance of the school year, at the Marion County Country Ham Days Festival in Lebanon, KY.

potential-parade-route
All of the bands and floats started from the staging area at Lebanon Elementary School.  I do not recall the specific route that took us to the downtown area, but I do know for sure, based on the photographic evidence, that the parade proceeded westward down Main Street, aka US68/KY52 (the gold street running through the center of the image above, proceeding in a right-to-left direction relative to the map).  To get there, we either marched east along either M.L. King Avenue or Mulberry Street and then took one of the side streets (possibly Forest Avenue/Street) to get onto Main Street. I have reason to believe that we took M.L. King Avenue, and that reason is based on a number of assumptions as to where we were lined up prior to the start of the parade, based on the photographic evidence.

Tri-X Files 84_24.03a: Almost at Attention Tri-X Files 84_24.04a: Almost at Attention, The Other Side

In these two photos, the railroad crossings are visible in the background.  Unfortunately, these railroad tracks no longer exist as they were apparently taken out years ago.  Through the magic of Google Maps, I was able to find the following image:
potential-parade-origin-point

The red line near the top of the photo represents an area on the map where the railroad tracks used to exist, and Google Street View at the corner with L&N Street shows a historic marker for a train depot that used to be at that spot.  The inset image is of the Google Street View at the spot right before the area where the railroad crossing used to be, which COULD be the same spot where the band members lined up; if not the exact same street, it looks very similar and, at the very least, lines up with the area where the railroad crossing would have been in 1984.  Note the proximity to Lebanon Elementary School — the parade participants could have easily moved from the staging area at the school to the side streets along Main Street/US68, waiting for their turn to enter the parade.

Tri-X Files 84_24.05a: The Band MascotBefore we get to the parade photos, I do have to mention the new Marching Band Mascot. The percussionists picked up this plastic duck at the festival, dressed him up in a bandanna and sunglasses, and mounted him on top of Neal’s bass drum, where he would remain for the rest of the parades this year, and would be the source of some controversy the following year between the percussionists and the new drum major … but that’s a story for Season Three. Last year, Mr. Stephens had walked alongside the band with his trusty whistle around his neck, and had used it to signal the band to begin playing the marching piece (”Chester”).  This year, with Lance as the drum major performing that very function, Mr. Stephens was now free to walk alongside the band, talk to dignitaries in the crowd, and not worry so much about leading the band from the sidelines.  It was because of this situation that I asked him to carry my Walz Wide and shoot the photos of the marching band in action for the Band Yearbook Project as well as the school newspaper, and he happily agreed, having had experience with using a camera similar to mine, and he took some rather good shots.

Tri-X Files 84_24.07a: On the Way to Downtown Lebanon

This was taken on one of the side streets coming up on Main Street, but I’m not sure which one, and Google Street View did not give me a match on any of those houses.  The banner carriers are Darlene and David, both seventh graders; note that Darlene uses the one handed method while David hoists the banner with both hands.  Also note the rather wide space between the banner and the band; did Drum Major Lance really need THAT much room to maneuver?

Tri-X Files 84_24.08a: Performing for the Crowd

The line-up of band members for the front row was a little different than anything the band had done before in that it contained four trombones (two on either side) and two trumpets in the middle. Note that Guy, the trumpet player third from the right, is out of step.  Guy always seemed to get out of step, and this became somewhat of a running gag with the other band members (although Mr. Stephens did not find that to be very funny).

Tri-X Files 84_24.09a: Percussionists Bringing Up the Rear

The percussionists bring up the rear. Mr. Stephens particularly liked this one, saying that it was an image that none of the band members ever really got to see. Note that they are the only band members who did not have to wear the uniform coats, as they were too bulky and would get in the way of carrying the drums. They are also the only band members who intentionally did not have to wear hats during this parade. There are OTHER band members who, ahem, simply forgot to bring their hat. We were also having a bit of a hat shortage, and most of the Middle Schoolers did not have one. At this point, the band members start to approach the heart of downtown Lebanon.

Tri-X Files 84_24.10a: Downtown Lebanon

Tri-X Files 84_24.11 / Image of the Week for 09-29-14

Tri-X Files 84_24.12a: Continuing Through Downtown Lebanon

Tri-X Files 84_24.13a: Nearing the End of the Parade Route
The unique architecture of the buildings downtown as well as the street pattern made it surprisingly easy to place the photos of the band marching through downtown Lebanon on a current map, thereby confirming the direction of the route:

pigasus-parade-route

From this point, the parade wound its way back to Lebanon Elementary School. We put away our instruments and many of us shedded our uniforms. Mr. Stephens, accompanied by a group of us, including myself, returned to the downtown stage for the awards ceremony, which was preceded by the annual auctioning of the Pigasus (pictured to the right) and that year’s winning country ham.

Tri-X Files 84_23.09: Pigasus Auction

There were three trophies at the foot of the stage, and those were for the top three bands in the parade. There were a total of eight bands participating in this year’s parade, and Mr. Stephens felt that our odds of taking home one of those trophies were pretty good. We weren’t the BEST band, we knew that, but some of the other bands were quite average and Mr. Stephens felt that we had done a pretty solid job … which made it all the more devastating when we did not win at all. This situation put Mr. Stephens into a bit of a foul mood, and he instructed us to return to the school and wait by the bus while he went to have a civilized discussion with the judges. The reason we did not win became apparent when we eventually saw the score sheets (click to enlarge):

1984 Pigasus Parade Judging Sheets for the Model High School Band

Obviously, we had some problems: “Many out of step,” “weak/poor alignment,” “alignment needs work,” “tone forced,” “percussion too loud” and “not together;” although, on the plus side, our drum major was cited for his “grace” and “effectiveness.”  But what made the situation even more upsetting was that, while Judge #1 and #2 gave us criticism and feedback and an average score of 65, it was Judge #3 who had brought our overall score down with an abnormally low score of 27 that he apparently gave us for NO REASON WHATSOEVER.  Such an experience with a judge of this caliber would be enough to make a band not want to return to this particular venue, which might explain why we never did.

Tri-X Files 84_23.10b: Watching Joe Fly

Meanwhile, back at Lebanon Elementary School, something exciting was up …

Tri-X Files 84_23.10a: Joe Jumps Off a Swing

Or rather, it was Joe, demonstrating his elegance and athletic prowess and utter foolishness by swinging on the swing and then leaping off it, flying through the air with the greatest of ease, much to the amusement of the Middle Schoolers, and almost killing himself in the process.  I believe that this is the point in his life where Joe decided that he wanted to fly (and, eventually, he did).

Tri-X Files 84_24.14: On the Bus, Heading Back to Richmond

Mr. Stephens came stomping back to the school, clearly agitated, and he gruffly herded everyone onto the bus for the trip home. The mood, at least for a little while, was a little overcast and tense …

Tri-X Files 84_23.11a: One Tired Band Director

… and then, as it would inevitably happen, Mr. Stephens nodded off to sleep, and all was well once again.  At least until the following Monday, when Mr. Stephens would make a decision based on what had happened at the Pigasus Parade …

EPILOGUE ONE

The trip back to Richmond was largely uneventful.

Tri-X Files 84_23.12: Sacked Out Kurt

Many of us slept most of the way, worn out from the excitement.

Tri-X Files 84_23.14: The Cool Kids in the Back of the Bus

The cool kids sat in the back and ignored the rest of us.

Tri-X Files 84_23.15a: Jeff K and Ryan Tri-X Files 84_23.16a: Jeff K's Rubber Face

Jeff K and Ryan flipped off cows and Ryan demonstrated how he could “mold” his best friend’s face.

EPILOGUE TWO

Upon arriving at Model Lab School, I needed to finish off the roll of film that I had in the Canon AE-1, so I gathered whoever happened to be standing around at the time (which just so happened to be Tanya, Josh, Shay, Kurt and Paul) for a group photo:

Tri-X Files 84_23.18a: Tanya, Josh, Shay, Kurt and Paul

This would become one of my all-time favorite photos that, 28 years later, when I had the opportunity to be with three out of the five people in the photo, I had to attempt to re-create it:

Band Members, April 5, 2012

(Anne standing in for Tanya and T.J. standing in for Josh. I opted to let Kurt keep his pants on.)

EPILOGUE THREE

Tri-X Files 84_23.13a: Meena and a Mystery Band Member

I took this photo of Meena lounging on the bus with another band member, and for 30 years I do not have the slightest idea as to the identity of this other band member.  She is not one of the regular High School band members (there were so few female band members this year that they were all easily distinguishable) and so I can only assume that she is one of the Middle Schoolers, but there is no one in the yearbook photo of the Middle School Band who matches her.  It is possible that she might have been absent on yearbook photo day, and there is also the fact that the yearbook photos were taken in the spring and her hairstyle might have changed by then.  However, I cannot identify her, and Meena does not recall who she is.  IF YOU CAN IDENTIFY THIS MYSTERY BAND MEMBER, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

EPILOGUE FOUR

I was not the only one with a camera at the festival that day. Sarah had brought along her 110 camera and had taken some photos as the day went on. After the parade, while we were waiting by the bus for Mr. Stephens to return, she asked me to take a photo of her and Ranjan, and then she took a photo of me and Tanya. Later, after she had the film developed, I asked her if I could borrow the negative so that I could get a reprint of the photo of me with Tanya, and she did, and I had the reprint made, and then I forgot to return the negative. Which reminds me … Sarah, if you are reading this, I still have your negative. Here are the four photos from that negative, scanned and reprinted for the first time in 30 years:

Warner_13: Sarah and Dawn B with their balloons
Sarah and Dawn B with their festival prizes.

Warner_14: Sarah and Ranjan
The photo that I took of Sarah and Ranjan.

Warner_15: Jimmy and Tanya
Me and Tanya. You’d think I was never kissed by a girl before … that’s actually my regular goofball expression. Also, note the Canon AE-1 around my neck.

Warner_16: Melissa and Aaron
Melissa and Aaron; this photo is of special significance because it is the only photo that I have from 1984 that shows our band uniform in color.

EPILOGUE FIVE

Here is the article that appeared in the October 15, 1984 edition of The Observer which included a mention and two photos from the Pigasus Parade, although it is interesting to note that apparently I did not actually know, at the time, the actual name of the festival or parade.  Click to enbiggen:

October 15, 1984 Band Article in "The Observer"

The article does give a hint as to what happened as a result of this parade, which will be covered in the next episode. Hey wait, I was Band Treasurer? How did THAT happen?


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted on Friday, October 3, 2014: The MHS Band travels to Nicholasville, Kentucky to march in a parade that was not originally on their schedule! Plus: Lab rats, typewriters, and the return of the Obligatory Donna Photo!


Half of the photos from this roll that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set as well as the marching photos in this set. There’s also a lot more in the way of commentary and random blathering on all of the images, including some that were not featured in this episode.  As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

All contents copyright © 2014 JLK Productions.

Image of the Week for 09-29-14

Tri-X Files 84_24.11 / Image of the Week for 09-29-14
Taken exactly 30 years to the day that this is being posted, on Saturday, September 29, 1984 at the Marion County Country Ham Days Festival Pigasus Parade in Lebanon, Kentucky.  Photo originally shot by Allan D. Stephens.

A classic slice of a southern small town preserved for posterity.  Here is the same intersection as captured by Google Street View in 2013:

lebanon-2013

The Tri-X Files S2E05: September 29, 1984 (Roll 84_23/24), PART ONE

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #5: “Prelude to Pigasus”

Saturday, September 29, 1984. This was the day that the Model High School Band Members had been practicing towards for the past month. All those hours of marching around the field and in the school parking lot was but a prelude to this: The first parade performance of the school year, at the Marion County Country Ham Days Festival in Lebanon, KY.

Marion County Country Ham Days 1984 Brochure, Front

Marion County Country Ham Days 1984 Brochure, Interior

Marion County Country Ham Days 1984 Brochure, Back and Insert

Like many a Kentucky Fall Festival — such as the Garrard County Tobacco Festival or the Berea Spoonbread Festival — the focus was on one primary regional specialty, and so it would appear that Lebanon’s pride and joy was their country ham; enough so that, in 1969, on the last full weekend of September, they built a festival around it, one that continues to this day.  And we were going to go there and march in their annual “Pigasus” Parade.

Last year, the band had marched at the Garrard County Tobacco Festival Parade.  Director Mr. Stephens always liked to mix things up and to offer us a variety of experiences, so we never attended the same event for two years in a row.  This would be our first appearance at the Pigasus Parade.  Mr. Stephens wanted to attend this particular parade because we would be competing against other marching bands in the parade for one of three trophies, and since there were only going to be eight bands in attendance, he thought our chances were pretty good.  In spite of the fact that we were a very young band — half of the members had been drafted from the Middle School Band to help fill out the ranks — we were pretty solid in the basics and managed to stay in line and in step most of the time.

In Monday, September 24th, Mr. Stephens passed out the following letter to all of the band members, outlining the schedule, uniform requirements, and general “standards of conduct” for Saturday:
September 24, 1984: Letter from Mr. Stephens to the Band Members regarding the upcoming appearance at the Marion County Country Ham Days Festival and the Pigasus Parade
“Moral behavior above reproach!”

Since this was the first major Band event of the school year, I wanted to make sure that I captured every moment worth capturing, for both the Band Yearbook Project as well as in my capacity as contributor to the school newspaper. To that end, I brought TWO cameras on this trip: My trusty Walz Wide and my father’s Canon AE-1 (which I had borrowed a few days earlier to take photos for an Earth Science project).  I practically had to bank my life on protecting my father’s precious camera, and so I was going to use that one to take photos on the bus and at the festival, and it would be stashed in the safety of the bus during the parade, which is when my Walz Wide would come out, and Mr. Stephens would use that camera to take those photos.  I was quite nervous about carrying around the Canon AE-1 and ended up not taking it out to take hardly any photos (except for one) at the festival itself.

Tri-X Files 84_23 Proof Sheet
About half of the photos from the roll that was in the Canon AE-1 will be featured in this episode.  The next episode will focus on the remainder of this roll as well as the roll that was in the Walz Wide.

Tri-X Files 84_23.01a: Patriots Waiting for the Bus
10:00am, Saturday, September 29, 1984. Here we have the members of the Model High School Band on time at the school, waiting to depart. The only problem: No bus!

Tri-X Files 84_23.01c: Patriots Waiting for the Bus, Close-Up 2

Tri-X Files 84_23.02a: Looking at Something

Note that most of the band members have arrived already in full uniform and ready to go, in spite of the fact that the parade was hours away.  A small handful of band members, most of them female, opted to remain in more comfortable clothing and changed into their uniforms on the bus before the parade, and then immediately changed out of them after the parade.  It is also amusing to note that Dawn B (pictured above) would always show up for these “away” parades with her hair in curlers; I know she wanted to look nice and fashionable once we got there, but we also all wore HATS that were not at all nice and fashionable.  Ah well.

The bus finally arrived, several minutes behind schedule, and we were quite disappointed by the fact that we got an “old” bus. At the time, there were two possibilities for what kind of bus we would be able to get from EKU: A newer, sleeker, silver bus with air conditioning and comfortable seats and a vehicle that we were not embarrassed to be seen in, or one of the older, maroon-colored no-frills vehicles that looked like a school bus and had a comfort level of zero (every bump in the road felt like the main axle was going to come loose).

Tri-X Files 84_23.03a: REALLY?!
Sarah demonstrates her surprise at how crappy the bus is. Or maybe Ranjan just told her something extremely shocking. I wanted to conserve film, so I limited my shots on the bus trip to Lebanon to the one above.

Conspicuously absent on the bus were George, Lance and Tanya.  George and Lance would be traveling to the parade in George’s car, and Tanya was coming on her own by some other means of alternative transportation.  Mr. Stephens was not too happy about this situation, because he did not like not having the band members all together, especially if something went wrong and those particular band members were delayed or did not make it.  So right from the beginning, coupled with the lateness of the bus, Mr. Stephens was in a bit of a grumpy mood.  This would play out later on.

The original plan had been for the band to arrive in Lebanon at around noon, eat the lunches that they had brought, and then have a couple of hours to see the sights at the festival before coming back to the bus at 2:00pm and be in position by 2:30pm with the parade kicking off at 3:00pm.  The bus parked at Marion County High School Lebanon Elementary School, about three blocks from the downtown area where the bulk of the festival was taking place, but we arrived closer to 12:30pm which was going to severely impact our free time, so we didn’t get to look around as much as we would have liked.  Additionally, I was so concerned about the safety of my camera that I only took it out to shoot one photo while we were wandering the festival:

Tri-X Files 84_23.04: Ghost Clusters!
This was pretty clever. Note the two windows where you could get your treat either “slimed” or “unslimed.”

Tri-X Files 84_23.05: Relaxing Before the Parade
We convened back at the field next to Marion County High School Lebanon Elementary School and began counting down the minutes until we had to be in uniform and ready to march.

Tri-X Files 84_23.06: I <3 The Patriots
Paul shows off a bumper sticker that he picked up at the festival. Since we were the “Model Patriots,” we were all naturally jealous that he had discovered this unique item, but there was no time for us to go back and pick up ones for ourselves. Granted, we could have all ganged up on Paul and forced him to give up his treasure, since he was only a scrawny seventh grader; it would be a few more years before he would hit that growth spurt and become the Paul Bunyanesque fella that he is today …

You can also see that Dawn B has obtained a balloon.

Marion County Country Ham Days 1984 Button
This is the sole item that I picked up at the festival, a commemorative button, which I still have to this day.

The 3 o’clock hour approached.  Everyone got into their uniforms, prepared their instruments, and we wandered into the street towards our assigned position.  Mr. Stephens was getting a little bit stressed.  George and Lance had shown up, but Tanya was nowhere to be seen.  She eventually made it, but not before Mr. Stephens took the necessary steps to rearrange the clarinet section to make up for the missing row leader.

Tri-X Files 84_24.01/02: Parade Line-Up Street View
With the addition of the Middle Schoolers, we had about 40 members of our marching band, including two seventh graders whose job was to carry the banner (seen on the far left).

Tri-X Files 84_24.03a: Almost at Attention

Tri-X Files 84_24.04a: Almost at Attention, The Other Side
Drum Major Lance can be seen to the right in the above photo.  The only difference between his uniform and everyone else’s was that he didn’t have to wear a bow tie (he wore an ascot instead) and he carried a big baton to signal the percussion section to start the roll off for us to go into the marching piece.  The Drum Major would not get a different uniform until next year.

Mr. Stephens took these photos of the band using my Walz Wide, and would continue to do so during the parade, for the purposes of the Band Yearbook.  Since he wasn’t guiding the band from the sidelines this time, as the band now had a Drum Major, he was free to do other things while walking alongside the band.  The photos that he took of us marching will be featured in the next episode.


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted on Monday, September 29, 2014; that’s right, 30 years to the day of the Marion County Country Ham Days Festival): Part two of the band’s wacky adventures at the Pigasus Parade. Plus, the controversial scores that the judges gave us, the bus ride back, and some COLOR guest photos.


Half of the photos from this roll that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set as well as five photos in this set. There’s also a lot more in the way of commentary and random blathering on all of the images, including some that were not featured in this episode.  As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

All contents copyright © 2014 JLK Productions.

Image of the Week for 09-22-14

Image of the Week for 09-22-14: Rain and Shine
Rain and Shine

The Tri-X Files S2E04: Mid/Late September, 1984 (Roll 84_22)

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #4: “Art and Science”

In the fall of 1984, not all of my photo shoots were intended for use in the Band Yearbook Project or the school newspaper. As I became more obsessed interested in shooting and developing my photos, I began to consider other applications for my photography.  This roll contains a couple of instances of those other applications.

Tri-X Files 84_22 Proof Sheet

The first group of shots on this roll actually served a dual purpose. While I definitely needed a group photo of the band for the Band Yearbook Project, I also decided that I was going to do an assignment for Art Class using a group photo of the band. However, in order to take that photo, and in order to make sure that I was included in the photo, I was going to need a different camera. My trusty old Walz Wide did not have a timer, but my father’s beloved Canon AE-1 did. It took a lot of cajoling as well as repeated assurances as to the safety of the camera for the ONE DAY that I would be allowed to bring it to school in order to take this photo, so I had to make it count.

Tri-X Files 84_22.02a: 1984-85 Band Group Photo (modified scan)
Lying down: Ricky; Front row (left to right): Tanya, Shay, Jimmy, Lisa, Pam, Melissa, Sarah; Second row (left to right): Heather, Jon, Joe, Stephen, Bert, Guy, Meena, William; Third row (left to right): Martin, Josh, Aaron, Keith, Jeff, Ranjan, Lance, George, Mary, Mr. Stephens.

This was the first shot taken, out of two, with the Canon AE-1 on a tripod with the timer, and this ended up being the group photo that was used in the Band Yearbook.  There are only a few errors with this photo: Lisa (first row, directly in the center) has her eyes closed, Meena (second row, second from the right) is partially obscured, and there are some light artifacts at the bottom lefthand side of the shot.  The biggest problem with this shot, as well as the other one, comes from the sun coming through the windows behind the band members, creating an unfortunate situation with backlight.  The original shot was quite dark, and it took a considerable amount of manipulation in the darkroom (as well as several ruined prints) to lighten up the photo while retaining the contrast … something that was a lot easier to do in Photoshop, 30 years later.  In every instance, however, it was impossible to complete save Martin (back row, first person) from being wiped out by the backlight.

In retrospect, there were two obvious solutions to some of the problems that I had with taking this photo.  First of all, Mary, the Student Worker, was there … why didn’t I just have her take the photo with my Walz Wide, since, technically, she wasn’t a member of the band?  There had been some discussion about just having Mr. Stephens take the photo, but I was adamant that I wanted to have Mr. Stephens in the photo.  But there was no real reason for Mary to be there.  In regard to the backlight, the obvious solution would have been to CLOSE THE BLINDS … but I didn’t think about that at the time.

Tri-X Files 84_22.03a: 1984-85 Band Group Photo, Alternate Version (modified scan)
This is the second group photo taken on this day but this one was rejected pretty quickly.  More eyes are closed, Lisa isn’t even looking at the camera, and there are more sour expressions on many of the faces.  It should be noted that while it appears that Stephen is trying to give me the bunny ears, he later CLAIMED that he was just trying to flash the peace sign.  Uh huh.

So how did I use the band group picture for my Art Class project?

1984 MHS Band Group Pic Art Project Version 1
In Art Class, we were learning about the basic concepts of photography and the process of making image prints in the darkroom, using photo paper, a light source (the photo enlarger itself), and a random assortment of objects placed on the photo paper and then exposed to light. The areas not covered by the objects on the paper would turn black after exposure to white light, while the areas covered by the objects would appear white (the color of the paper) since they were not exposed to the light. The photo paper was then placed into Dektol Developer fluid until the image appeared, then transferred to a Stop bath to halt the development process, and then into a tray of Fixer fluid to “fix” the image onto the paper. Very basic stuff … the class had not yet moved on to actually shooting photographs with a camera.

Since I was a little bit ahead of the curve, I came up with the idea of placing a negative in front of the light source and then placing the objects onto the photo paper, giving the effect that the objects (as white space) were superimposed on top of the image.  Naturally, I decided to use my band group photo as the image, and created the above print with a number of plastic arrows subliminally pointing to one particular person in the shot.  But while this fulfilled the darkroom assignment for Art Class, I had another extra credit project in mind.

1984 MHS Band Group Pic Art Project Version 2 (bad version)
I had discovered, entirely by accident, that placing an exposed piece of photo paper into the Fixer fluid first (before placing it into Developer fluid) would effectively “erase” the print; in other words, it would come out entirely white (since, obviously, the photo paper was “fixed” before it was developed). I also discovered that, while running around in the darkroom, that Fixer fluid that was inadvertently splashed out of the tray and onto the undeveloped piece of photo paper would create white spots on the printed image, for the exact same reasons previously mentioned. I came up with a print project that would use this phenomena to my advantage. I placed a blank piece of paper under the enlarger, which contained the band group photo negative. I ran the light through a red filter, which would not expose the paper but allow me to see the image as it was projected onto the paper. I then took a paintbrush dipped in Fixer fluid and applied it to the faces of the band members, in an attempt to erase their faces.  I was originally going to try and do this with small pieces of paper laid on top of the sheet of photo paper, but that would have been a LOT of small pieces of paper and they would have all had to have been different sizes, so that wasn’t very practical.  As you can see from the failed attempt above, my aim wasn’t very good on some of the faces nor was I using the right amount of Fixer.

1984 MHS Band Group Pic Art Project Version 2 (alternate version)
This version was also a failed attempt at erasing the faces with Fixer fluid, and at the time I knew that I had messed up, so I just went ahead and exposed the photo paper and put a number of objects on top of the sheet, including a broach, some netting, a curved flat wrench, a zipper pull, and a feather (across the top).  I then took the photo, with the haphazardly-erased faces, to Band class, and told my fellow band members to go crazy and draw in whatever they wanted in the faces.  And they responded in a number of creative and weird ways.

"Strange Band": 1984 MHS Band Group Pic Art Project Version 2 (final version)
In the end, this was what I was trying to do: Erase all of the band members’ faces (except for me) and replace them with hand-drawn renditions of my “Strange Profeccer” symbol, my signature avatar that I had been using since 1980 and continue to use to this day. Unfortunately, the original print that I made is currently inaccessible and so I had to use Photoshop to re-create it.

The band photos on this roll take up the first three shots. Since my time with the Canon AE-1 was limited, it is pretty likely that the rest of the shots on this roll were taken on the same day, which leads us to the second photo shoot, for my Earth Science class.

Our teacher, Dr. Birdd, in an attempt to encourage creative thought, had us do an independent research project in the fall and spring, and each student had to give a five minute presentation.  I had problems coming up with a good research topic and I had put it off until the last minute, when my due date was coming up, and so, in an act of desperation, I decided to do something with my photographs.  I figured that none of the other students in my class had access to a darkroom and the ability to print their own photographs (I was one of two sophomores in a freshman level class, which is another story entirely), so I thought, at the very least, I could dazzle Dr. Birdd and the class with some fancy photography.

Tri-X Files 84_22.09: Clays Ferry Formation Along Interstate 75
Along Interstate 75 between Richmond and Lexington (in northern Madison and southern Fayette County), there were numerous areas where the road had been cut through the hills, exposing the various layers of limestone.  They are especially impressive along the road leading to and from Clays Ferry Bridge over the Kentucky River, separating Madison and Fayette Counties.  I have always been fascinated by these rock formations, even though I had no idea what they were called.  Coincidentally enough, they are known as the Clays Ferry Formation, according to Geological Survey Bulletin 1224-B, by Weir and Greene, published in 1965.

clays-ferry-formation
I had my mother drive me out to this area and I took a bunch of photos from the back seat of the car of the various formations. This is actually a historic moment as it was the first time that I took road pictures out of a moving vehicle.

Tri-X Files 84_22.04a: Clays Ferry Formation Along Interstate 75

Tri-X Files 84_22.05a: Clays Ferry Formation Along Interstate 75

Tri-X Files 84_22.10a: Clays Ferry Formation Along Interstate 75, Approaching Clays Ferry Bridge

Tri-X Files 84_22.12: Clays Ferry Formation Along Interstate 75, Edge of the Kentucky River at Clays Ferry Bridge

Tri-X Files 84_22.14a: Clays Ferry Formation Along Interstate 75, Southern Fayette County

Tri-X Files 84_22.11a: Clays Ferry Formation Along Interstate 75, Approaching Clays Ferry Bridge
Interestingly, I would take this same photo almost 25 years later …

I-75 North, Clays Ferry
Note that the interstate in 2009 is three lanes. Also note that construction on the bridge to widen it to three lanes was just starting in 1984.

Unfortunately, taking a bunch of photos of rock formations was no substitute for actual research, as I found that five minutes was a lot of time to fill after spending 20 seconds passing around a handful of photographs.  As it turns out, I didn’t really have a topic for this presentation, other than “these rock formations are neat” and “there’s a lot of erosion taking place here.”  I didn’t get a very good grade for this project.

The rest of the photos on this roll are of a personal nature and were taken solely to finish out the roll so that I could develop it and print the photos for Art and Earth Science Class, so there’s really nothing more to say about them.


All of the photos from this roll that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set, including some that were not featured and additional commentary on all of the images.  As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

All contents copyright © 2014 JLK Productions.


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Image of the Week for 09-16-14

Image of the Week for 09-16-14: One Year Old Portrait
One Year Old Portrait … technically, taken about this time, 44 years ago. You do the math.

Hey, a Tuesday IotW post! Get over it.

The Tri-X Files S2E03: September, 1984 (Roll 84_21)

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #3: “Assumptions”

The next roll in this series consists of a single strip of five shots. And I did not take any of them.

Roll 84_21 Proof Sheet / Strip

It seems extremely likely that all five of these shots were taken on the same day. The first three were taken during Marching Band practice.

Tri-X Files 84_21.01: Sarah in Motion Tri-X Files 84_21.02: Tanya and Shay and Some Guy

Tri-X Files 84_21.03: The Drummers, Always a Bunch of Classy Dudes
At this point in our month-long development as a marching band, we had advanced to the point where we were marching in formation through the school parking lot with our instruments. The percussion section was still working out the cadence, as evidenced by there being only two drummers (Stephen and Keith, the other two drummers — who were there that day — are not carrying their drums).

The other two photos on this strip show someone lurking underneath a drainage grate:
84_21.04: Beneath the Grate, Version 1 84_21.05: Beneath the Grate, Version 2
These grates were located all around the school and were not locked down, although they were quite big and heavy and required more than one strong person to lift them. I do not know the identity of this person who stuck themselves in there for the purposes of these photos.

The question arises: Where did this negative come from and why do I have it?  I did not take these photos; in fact, I can be seen in the photo of the clarinet section along with Tanya and Shay.  And another question: Who took these photos?  The immediate answer that comes to mind is that these were taken by someone from either the yearbook or newspaper staff.  Both the yearbook and newspaper classes met during sixth period, the same as band, and so it is possible that someone from one of those groups was wandering around, taking photos, and decided to get some shots of the band for future use in one of their publications.

I am fairly certain that these photos were taken by Rodney, the head photographer for the school newspaper.  As to how they came to be in my possession, I have a vague memory of asking Rodney if I could borrow the negative so that I could print the photos for my Band Yearbook Project, and then I never got around to returning the negative to him.  I also believe that since the yearbook staff consisted mostly of upperclassmen girls who intimidated me, I never would have mustered up the courage to ask any of them if I could borrow the negative if they had originally taken these pictures, but since Rodney and I were both photographers for the school newspaper, I would have not had any problems asking him.

The other question that comes to mind is when were these photos taken? I can definitely say that they were taken sometime in September of 1984.  Pinpointing a more specific date is where things get a little murky but there are some factors that can be considered.  The biggest factor would be this photo:
"The Observer" October 15, 1984 Page 10, Band Photo 1
This flattering shot was published in the October 15, 1984 edition of “The Observer,” the school newspaper. I remember that I was coming back into the school after Marching Band practice when Rodney popped out of nowhere and took the photo; my expression reflects my surprise at the situation and does not reflect my usual face. Really.  Note the camera around my neck … that thing was attached to me at all times.  But also note the jacket that I was wearing … the same one that I can be seen wearing in the photo from Marching Band.  While it should be noted that I tended to wear THE SAME JACKET ALMOST ALL THE TIME during high school, this does present the possibility that this photo was taken on the same day as the ones from Marching Band, especially when you consider how unlikely it was that Rodney, or any other photographer from the newspaper or yearbook, would have come back on a different day to take more photos of the band (we got very little attention from either group, at least until I joined the newspaper staff). But it is important to note that this is just one possibility.

In that same issue of “The Observer,” there are two other photos of the Marching Band in action:
"The Observer" October 15, 1984 Page 10, Band Photo 2 "The Observer" October 15, 1984 Page 10, Band Photo 3

October 15, 1984 edition of "The Observer," Page 10All three of these photos were part of a two-page photo spread featuring candid photos from all around the school.  This 12-page issue of the newspaper had obviously run short on articles (in spite of three pages being devoted to “fall fashions”) and so they had to fill the space with SOMETHING.  I’m sure that Mrs. Combs, the sponsor, would have vastly preferred that some of that space were filled with advertisements since this issue was much larger than usual, but what else were they going to do?  While these two pages of photos were the highlight of the issue, it never happened again.

We can assume that all three of the band photos on page 10 of the October 15th edition of “The Observer” were taken on the same day, just based on the fact that, as stated earlier, I just can’t imagine Rodney or any other newspaper photographer coming back on another day to shoot more pictures of the band members.  So, based on that assumption, as well as the assumption that my jacket is the same in the two groups of photos, we might as well assume that all of the photos seen so far were taken on the same day.  The newspaper generally had a production time of one week at the printer, although since October 15 fell on a Monday, it is possible that it was submitted on the previous Friday, the 12th, which meant that all of the articles and photos had to be submitted by the beginning of that week on October the 8th, which therefore means that the latest that these photos could have been taken was Friday, October 5.

Model Lab Bands "Please Excuse ..." Letter, dated September 18, 1984HOWEVER, I believe that these photos were taken much earlier than that date.  The band was still working through the basics of marching and had just started marching with instruments, although not all of the drummers had theirs at the time, as the cadence was still being worked on.  However, by October 5, the band had already marched in one parade, on Saturday, September 29th. In fact, by September 20th, the band would have already figured out how to march, how to play their instruments while marching, and how the cadence went, because that was when they merged with the Middle School Band to create the final version of that year’s Marching Band (as evidenced by the letter on the left that Mr. Stephens sent to all of the high school faculty requesting that the band members be excused from their classes for second period on that day).  These photos show the band in a more inexperienced state, and so I would place these photos as being shot in early to mid September.

It should also be taken into consideration that the first issue of the school newspaper came out on September 14th.  With the cutoff date of items for that issue being around September 4th (the Tuesday after Labor Day and accounting for printing and final edits), I would postulate that these photos were taken after September 4th (while making the assumption that the band photos were not taken before that day and not used in the first issue of the newspaper).

The thing about both the yearbook and the newspaper staff is that they did not pay a lot of attention to the band, which was the reason why I decided to do a yearbook for the band as well as report on the activities of the band for the newspaper.  In the past, both the yearbook and the newspaper would feature a chance shot of the band performing at a basketball game, or maybe they might pop into Band class one day and take a quick candid, but photographers from either publication never attended any of our parades, concerts or other performances, and so there was never any photographic evidence that the band even did any of those things, if the newspaper and the yearbook were to be trusted as the sole providers of that evidence.  The truth of the matter is that the only time there were candid shots of the band in either publication was during marching season, when the band was the most visible during sixth period when they were practicing their marching in the parking lot.  The hypothetical situation I envision is of a photographer sitting in the journalism or yearbook class, wondering what to do, when they hear the band performing in the parking lot, and they grab their camera, race outside, and take some shots … and this is the only time, all year long, that they pay any attention to the band.  I know that this is true because, historically, the majority of the photos in both the yearbook and the newspaper of the band have been from the first of the year, during marching practice.

In the 1984-85 yearbook, there are three band-related photos featured in their pages:

"Exemplar" 1985 Band-Related Photo 1
The first one is the exact same photo of me that appeared in the October 15th edition of “The Observer,” although in much better quality and with a ridiculous caption attached to it (the theme of the yearbook was “movies” but I’ m not sure what this photo has to do with the 1982 film of the same name). My assumption is that Rodney provided the yearbook staff with the photo, although I find it hard to believe that the yearbook staff was lacking photos to put in the book and I’m not sure exactly WHY they felt the need to run this particular one.

The other two photos from the yearbook are somewhat more interesting:
"Exemplar" 1985 Band-Related Photo 2 "Exemplar" 1985 Band-Related Photo 3
Note that Dawn B, Ranjan, Sarah and Tanya, pictured above, are wearing the same things as they are in these photos that were taken on September 7th and featured in Episode #2:
84_20.17: Marching with Mrs. Thompson Tri-X Files 84_20.18: Sarah and Tanya Breakdance, Part Two
The evidence is clear that those two yearbook photos were definitely taken on the same day as my photos.  And while we know when those yearbook photos were taken, we still do not definitely know when the photos on Rodney’s strip of negatives were taken … until you consider one more clue:

"The Observer" October 15, 1984 Page 10, Band Photo 3
George would appear to be holding Mr. Stephens’ conducting baton in his right hand, and the only way that George could be carrying that around would be because Mr. Stephens was absent. This bit of information could potentially place these photos as being shot on September 6 or 7, the days that Mrs. Thompson was the substitute teacher in Band, as detailed in Episode #2. In fact, out of those two dates, it would have to be September 6th, because George and Lance can be seen wearing something different in this photo from September 7th:
Tri-X Files 84_20.19: The Marching Band Hanging Out in the Parking Lot

Therefore, it is possible that the photos of the band that appeared in the October 15, 1984 edition of “The Observer” were taken on September 6, 1984.  However, on that same date, Sarah and Tanya were wearing this:
Tri-X Files 84_20.13: Tanya Goes on the Sarah Ride
Which is different from what they are wearing in the photos on Rodney’s negatives:
Tri-X Files 84_21.01: Sarah in Motion Tri-X Files 84_21.02: Tanya and Shay and Some Guy
Which means that, while the photos that appeared in “The Observer” might have been taken on September 6th and the photos that appeared in the yearbook were definitely taken on September 7th, the photos from Rodney’s negatives were NOT taken on either of those days. It is more likely that they were taken in the following week; the weather was the same but we were obviously a little more experienced in our marching abilities.

The only two definite conclusions that we can draw from this: One, Rodney actually popped in on more than one occasion to take photos of the band, and two, I wore that jacket way too often.


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted September 19, 2014): An episode featuring all of the band members in one photo. Plus rocks, balloons, and a dog.


All of the photos from this roll that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set, including some that were not featured and additional commentary on all of the images.  As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

All contents copyright © 2014 JLK Productions.

Image of the Week for 09-08-14

Image of the Week for 09-08-14: Pearly White
Pearly White

The Tri-X Files S2E02 Extra Shot: “Background History”

Note: Read Episode #2 before reading this!

When scanning and organizing the photographs that comprised this roll, I naturally assumed that the roll continued immediately after the previous one. After all, knowing me, if I had film in a camera, I was going to utilize it. And so, when composing Episode #2, I was placing these photos as having been shot during school hours over the two-week span of August 27-31 and September 4-7, 1984 (not counting the Labor Day holiday on September 3rd). As stated earlier, since I did not keep date logs regarding when these photos were taken, I can only make an approximate guess, based on known dates on the school calendar, which classes the photos were taken (as this establishes the time of day), and what the people are wearing. For these reasons, whenever I mention the date that the photo was taken, I also say “probably” and “most likely” because I’m just not absolutely certain about the date and I do not want to establish that my assumption on the date is the absolute truth, because there is always the chance that my assumptions are incorrect.  However, since all of this did take place 30 years ago, I could always just make everything up and no one would know any better.  But I’m not going to do that.  Probably.

Assuming that photos taken in sequential classes were taken on the same day, here is how the photos on this roll break down as far as the separation of days:

Day 1 Tri-X Files 84_20.01: 30 Years Later and Still Doing THE SAME THING
This photo was taken at home so there’s no way to really know what day of the week that it was taken.
Day 2 84_20.02: Portrait of Shay, August 1984 84_20.03: The Only Peggy Shot on This Roll, and the last one for awhile Tri-X Files 84_20.04: Portrait of Mr. Stephens, September 1984 84_20.05: Blurry Band Room
Photos 1 and 2 were taken during lunch. Photos 3 and 4 were taken during sixth period Band. I’m going to assume that they were taken on the same day, although I do not know that for sure. Also, there is always the slight possibility that photos 3 and 4 were taken on different days but during the same class period.
Day 3 Tri-X Files 84_20.06: The Lunch Chess Team Tri-X Files 84_20.07: Heather and Aaron on Band Uniform Day Tri-X Files 84_20.08: Melissa and Aaron (and Heather) on Band Uniform Day 84_20.09: Mary, The Student Assistant 84_20.10: The Try-Out Results Tri-X Files 84_20.11: Tanya Goes on the William Ride Tri-X Files 84_20.12: Watching the Clock Until the Day is Done
Photo 1 was most likely taken during lunch and is a different day than Day 2, as evidenced by Shay wearing a different shirt. Photos 2-7 were taken during Band class. Heather seems to be wearing the shirt in photos 2 and 5 (not visible in the thumbnail) so photos 2-5 are definitely from the same day.  Since photos 6 and 7 are also from band class I am going to assume they were taken on the same day (since nothing else was going on during this day there was a lot of time for goofing off).
Day 4 Tri-X Files 84_20.13: Tanya Goes on the Sarah Ride Tri-X Files 84_20.14: Workin' It in the Back Room Tri-X Files 84_20.15: Stephen, Tanya and Donna in the Hall Tri-X Files 84_20.16: Donna and Tanya in the Hall
Photos 1 and 2 were taken during band class while photos 3 and 4 were taken after school. They are taken on a different day than the previous day because Tanya and Sarah are both wearing different outfits, and they were all definitely taken on the same day because Tanya is wearing the same thing in all four shots.
Day 5 84_20.17: Marching with Mrs. Thompson Tri-X Files 84_20.18: Sarah and Tanya Breakdance, Part Two Tri-X Files 84_20.19: The Marching Band Hanging Out in the Parking Lot Tri-X Files 84_20.20: Working Out the Beats Tri-X Files 84_20.21: (Trom)bone Head Tri-X Files 84_20.22: Shay's Classic Profile
All six of these photos were taken during Band class.  It is definitely a different day than the previous batch of photos because Mrs. Thompson is wearing different clothing in the first photo of each day, as well as Tanya and Sarah in photo 2.  George is wearing the same thing in photo 3 (the outdoor shot) as well as photo 4 (the indoor shot) which connects the two photos together.  I am going to assume that the final two photos were taken on the same day as well because they look like quickie shots that I took in order to finish off the roll.

Tri-X Files 84_20.01: 30 Years Later and Still Doing THE SAME THING
This first photo, of me at home on the computer (doing pretty much the same thing that I’m doing 30 years later), could have been taken at any time. Knowing my habits with photography from the time, if I had film in the camera, then once I started taking pictures, I would not be able to stop (meaning that there would not be a gap between days, as I would be taking at least one shot a day). Therefore, I am implying that the next photo after this one probably would have been taken on the next day.

But what day could that be? It could be any day after the last photo on the previous roll, which would have been Friday, August 24. When I was composing Episode #2, I had placed this photo during the weekend of August 25-26, with the successive photos being taken on August 27th, and extrapolating the dates from there. In fact, I had placed Day 1, 2 and the first five photos of Day 3 as taking place “sometime” during the week of August 27th through the 31st (I did not have photo 5 of Day 3 taking place on the same day as the previous four photos), and then the rest of Day 3, Day 4 and 5 taking place “sometime” during the week of September 4th through the 7th, which Mr. Stephens’ absence probably coinciding with the Labor Day holiday.  And I had written all of the descriptions for all of the photos from this roll based on these date estimations and was preparing to go to press with this episode, when I just happened to notice something in the background of the above photo:

Tri-X Files 84_20.01b: The Calendar Reveals All
That desk calendar in the background.

While blurry, many of the numbers are very distinct, starting with the large “‘84″ indicating the year.  The month before it looks like it could resemble September.  Looking at the dates, particularly the column of Sundays, the last Sunday of the month appears to be smaller than the others, which means that there are two dates in that space for a month where there is an extra week. The only month in all of 1984 which has just an extra Sunday is September.  If this is the case, the first day of the month should be on a Saturday, but there appears to be some sort of writing starting on Tuesday of the first week; I am going to say that those are the four phases of the moon during the month, with the fourth one, the New Moon, printing darker than the rest.

What this means is that, unless I had (for whatever reason) torn off the month of August from the calendar while August was still in session, this photo was taken in September.  And this opens up the possibility that the other four days that were taken on this roll could easily fit into the four days of school after Labor Day.  Based on the assumption that this first photo on the roll was taken on (or around) Labor Day, I went ahead and designated that the remainder of the roll was taken at school during the rest of the week.

There are a number of interesting bits of history that can be found in the backgrounds of the photos on this roll.  For example, here is the one shot of Peggy from this roll, taken from afar in The Grill:

84_20.03: The Only Peggy Shot on This Roll, and the last one for awhile

In the background of that shot is this photo of the food items for sale:

Tri-X Files 84_20.03b: The Menu at The Grill

While blurry and most of the menu items are indistinct, with the exception of “Hamburger” and “Cheeseburger” on the top two lines (and possibly “Hot Dog” and “Coney” on the third and fourth lines), there are a couple of interesting bits that can be pulled from this photo.  For the majority of the items, with the exception of the first two, there are two digits on the price, meaning that most everything on the menu was 99 cents or less.  When was the last time we had prices this low?  Oh, right, 30 years ago.  Additionally, note the “Coca-Cola” logo at the top of the menu.  Back in those days, The Grill actually sold Coke and other sodas.  In fact, it was the very next school year that some “healthy” initiative kicked in, and The Grill eliminated all sugary, carbonated beverages and replaced them with sugary, non-carbonated, watered-down fruit-flavored beverages instead.

Tri-X Files 84_20.04: Portrait of Mr. Stephens, September 1984
In this shot of Mr. Stephens (cropped for Episode #2), there are two people in the background whose faces are barely distinct: They are flute player Melissa and former flute player Dawn Q, although she would return the following year after a two-year absence.

84_20.13: Tanya on the Sarah Ride
There are a couple of things going on in the background of this one.

Tri-X Files 84_20.13b: Secret Messages on the Blackboard
More secret codes on the blackboard in the Band Room!  The names of the members of the trumpet section are written across the top of the blackboard (although Joe and Stephen’s names are obscured by the Sousa Award plaque, which was not there a few days ago, as evidenced by this photo).   And that is supposed to be a chalk portrait of Mr. Spock, with the line “He lives!” referencing “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (although I guess it could also be a drawing of Shay).  The number sequence of 3, 1-5 (circled), 4 and 2 might have something to do with the try-outs from (possibly) the day before, or it could be a secret coded message.

Tri-X Files 84_20.13c: Mrs. Thompson
Substitute Teacher Mrs. Thompson is seen lurking in the background of the above photo as well.  Her presence in the Band Room meant that Mr. Stephens was absent that day, which most likely meant that we spent the day practicing our marching outside.  Considering that there were no other indications of what we were doing on this day in any of the photos taken in this sequence, Mrs. Thompson’s presence is invaluable in revealing what exactly happened on that day.

Of course, if you were to spend hours of your time squinting at the backgrounds of all of your old photos, you’d probably be this crazy, too.


All of the photos from this roll can be found in this Flickr set.  As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

The Tri-X Files website.

All contents copyright © 2014 JLK Productions.

The Tri-X Files S2E02: September 4-7, 1984 (Roll 84_20)

In my four years of high school, I took a lot of photos: As a contributing photographer for the school newspaper, as the creator of the “Band Yearbook,” and as an obsessive historian. The majority of these photos were taken using Tri-X 400 speed black and white film, which I developed and printed in the school art room. Now, 30 years later, armed with a negative scanner, I am attempting to reproduce every single Tri-X photo that I took in my sophomore year high school, and to document the events surrounding those photos. This is Season Two of The Tri-X Files, presenting photos taken almost exactly to the day, 30 years ago.


Episode #2: “Portrait and Landscape”

Within the first few weeks of my sophomore year at Model High School in the fall of 1984, the focus of my photography experienced a major shift, and that transition can be seen in this particular roll.

Roll 84_20 Proof Sheet

As detailed in the previous episode, I began the school year planning to take photographs for my Band Yearbook project, which would involve documenting every major and minor event in the lives of the band members.  In essence, I would be taking a lot of photos of the band members, a lot of people photos, and a lot of portraits (I had started early with the group photos for the yearbook, taking a couple of shots of the section leaders).  And this roll contained a fair number of posed portraits of people:

84_20.02: Portrait of Shay, August 1984

Tri-X Files 84_20.21: (Trom)bone Head Tri-X Files 84_20.04b: Portrait of Mr. Stephens, September 1984, Final Version

Tri-X Files 84_20.08: Melissa and Aaron (and Heather) on Band Uniform Day

Tri-X Files 84_20.11: Tanya Goes on the William Ride

Tri-X Files 84_20.14: Workin' It in the Back Room Tri-X Files 84_20.13: Tanya Goes on the Sarah Ride

Tri-X Files 84_20.15: Stephen, Tanya and Donna in the Hall

Tri-X Files 84_20.22: Shay's Classic Profile

But within the first few weeks of the semester, forces were in motion that would alter the scope and face (pun intended) of my photography … in fact, those forces went into motion earlier in the summer.

Observer article on the MHS Band Sandusky TripDuring the summer, I was among a group of band members who traveled with Mr. Stephens to Lakeside and Sandusky, Ohio, where we joined up with the Danbury High School Marching Band to perform at the Cedar Point Amusement Park.  I shot a number of rolls of film during this trip and documented everything that took place for a piece that I was already planning to appear in the Band Yearbook, but when the school year began, I also thought that this would also make a good article for the first issue of the school newspaper … since that issue would be filled with articles about what some of the students had done during the summer, why not the band?  In the spirit of the classic Jeff Holland chorus trip article, I typed up a two-page report detailing all of our antics on the Ohio trip and submitted it along with a carefully-selected photo of everyone.  The article was soundly rejected because (1) it was way too long, and (2) this trip only involved a few of the band members and therefore was not deserving much space in the issue (unlike the aforementioned chorus trip articles, which involved a lot more students).  Mrs. Combs, the school newspaper sponsor, said that they would use the article, but I had to trim it down.  I reluctantly cut out a good portion of the article and re-submitted it, but once again it was way too long.  Sensing I needed help, my ol’ buddy Peggy (the same Peggy who was the subject of many of my photos from last year), who was a member of the newspaper staff, stepped in and helped pare my article down to the basics … in other words, she pretty much completely re-wrote it so that it would fit into the allotted space.

This took place sometime around the first or second week of the school year.  At this point, I was quite satisfied to have my words and picture printed in the newspaper, complete with my own byline, but I wasn’t expecting anything else to come from it.  However, I approached Mrs. Combs with the suggestion that, since I was already going to be documenting the activities of the band during the school year for the Band Yearbook Project, why don’t I submit a monthly article and photograph to the newspaper covering what the band has done?  To my absolute surprise, she agreed to this, under the condition that I keep my articles short, concise, and to the point.

The second big surprise came on September 14, 1984 when the first issue of the new school year arrived, and not only did my name appear under my photo and the article, but also in the box that listed the staff members, under “Photographers”!  I was not expecting this, since I was not enrolled in the sixth period Newspaper class (my sixth period was occupied by Band) and I thought that being in the class was a prerequisite to being on the newspaper staff.  But Mrs. Combs said that since I was going to be a regular contributor with my band photos as well as any other photos from around the school that I happened to take, they decided that they might as well list me as a member of the staff.  I had submitted a couple of non-band related photos to the newspaper the last year as a guest photographer, and so they decided to just go ahead and add me to the staff listing; it’s not as if I was getting class credit or any compensation for my contributions (for the record, they wouldn’t even let me use their darkroom), so to them, it really wasn’t that big a deal.

For me, this was a pretty big deal.  So now this gave me two specific purposes for my photography: Editor and primary photographer for the Band Yearbook, and Photographer for the school newspaper.  And this is where the focus of my photographs began to change, from photos of people in the band to photos of people and events.  Not only was I going to be taking pictures of moments from band class, I had to now keep an eye out and take pictures of moments from everywhere else.  I was going to now be shooting portraits of people as well as events going on in the school landscape.

This roll, containing photos that were probably taken during the time period of September 3-7, 1984*, were shot before I was officially a freelance photographer for the school newspaper (the Peter Parker, so to say, to the Daily Bugle, without the radioactive spiders), so the non-band events were not yet a consideration in my photography.  There were still a number of significant band events that took place during this week that I felt compelled to document:

Tri-X Files 84_20.07: Heather and Aaron on Band Uniform Day
After the band members had retrieved all of the uniforms from the dry cleaner’s in the past week or so, it was time for Uniform Distribution Day!  As far as I can tell, this probably took place on Wednesday, September 5, 1984.*

84_20.09: Mary, The Student Assistant
A rare shot of Mary, Mr. Stephens’ Student Assistant. Mary was a new student as well as a senior, and apparently there was nothing for her to take during sixth period, and so she must have been assigned to be Mr. Stephens’ Student Assistant (and, as far as I can recall, the only Student Assistant that Mr. Stephens had for High School Band class). She had very little musical ability (although she did play the triangle during rehearsal one day) and only really appeared for the dirty jobs, such as keeping track of the uniform assignments.

84_20.10: The Try-Out Results
And here we have the eagerly-anticipated Try-Out Results! By my calculations (which may not necessarily be correct)*, Try-Outs for the sections with more than four members (namely the clarinets and the trumpets; the other sections decided among themselves based on seniority) were held on Tuesday, September 4, 1984, and the results were revealed on Wednesday, September 5, 1984, the same time as Uniform Distribution Day. Assuming the try-out music had been handed out at least a week earlier, this would have given those band members enough practice time, including the three-day Labor Day Weekend.  Each musician was then assigned a number, and they performed their piece from behind a door, so that their identities would remain secret.  The judges (the section leaders) scored everyone on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best.  Here, Mr. Stephens writes out the results for what is probably the clarinet section, since there were five members of that section.  At least, I think that’s what he’s writing out … for all I know, he could be transcribing some sort of secret code …

Tri-X Files 84_20.19: The Marching Band Hanging Out in the Parking Lot
Mr. Stephens was absent from the next two days of Band class (or, at least, the next two days that I had my camera around), as evidenced by the presence of our substitute teacher, Mrs. Thompson (the respectable-looking adult, fourth from the left).  This could have happened on Thursday and Friday, September 6 and 7, 1984.* Those two days were probably spent practicing marching in the parking lot under the direction of George (our senior band leader) and Lance (the drum major), the two fellows on the left in the above photo.

Tri-X Files 84_20.18: Sarah and Tanya Breakdance, Part Two
I have no idea what is going on here, although this is not the first time we’ve seen Tanya and Sarah on the ground

All of these events were just fleeting moments in the daily activities of the band, but for me, they were all important as part of my ongoing attempt to document everything from that year.  They were certainly not events that would merit reporting in the school newspaper.  Those would come sooner than later …

* For a detailed examination as to how I determined the dates of the photographs in this entry, stay tuned for an Extra Shot bonus feature (link to be added soon).


I would be remiss if I failed to point out that there was one Peggy shot on this roll, taken from across The Grill during lunch. Unlike last school year, photos of Peggy would be a rarity this year:
84_20.03: The Only Peggy Shot on This Roll, and the last one for awhile

Tri-X Files 84_20.03a: Peggy in the Grill, September 1984

And here is your Obligatory Donna Shot from this roll:
Tri-X Files 84_20.16: Donna and Tanya in the Hall


IN THE NEXT EPISODE (to be posted September 12, 2014): A sidebar episode featuring a mystery strip of negatives that I did not take, nor should I even rightfully possess!


All of the photos from this roll that were featured in this episode can be seen in this Flickr set, including several that were not featured and additional commentary on all of the images.  As always, you can click on any of the images above for a larger view at the Flickr site.

Tri-X Files Uncut: A separate set featuring all of the original scans from this roll, uncropped and unaltered, in their full frame glory.  Here is the set for this roll.

Season One of the Tri-X Files, featuring photos from my freshman year of high school, can be found at this link.

The Tri-X Files website.

All contents copyright © 2014 JLK Productions.

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