Ilford HP5 Plus & The Yorkshire War Experience – By Phil Harrison

The Yorkshire War Experience is held once a year near a town called Hunsworth. Many hundreds of people meet, together with around 500 military vehicles and other military equipment, to re-enact scenes and battles from WW1 and WW2. There are living displays and equipment demonstrations showing what it was like to live and fight during the war.

A large field is given over to allow battles with many explosives and much blank ammunition being fired between the British-American armies and the German army. Large trenches are dug at either end of the field. It was quite extraordinary how much military equipment was brought to the Experience. There was a large retail area where you could buy anything you need to re-enact, clothing, weapons, ammo, rockets and much besides. It is all very authentic, a wonderful event to photograph.

I wanted to give my photos the same authentic look so I loaded HP5 Plus, exposed at EI400, into the Leica M6 and added a medium yellow filter to my Summarit-M 50mm lens. The film was lab processed in Xtol and scanned. HP5 Plus needs no introduction, it works well under all lighting conditions and is pretty much bullet proof when exposing. In Xtol it has the kind of grain which I think helps add atmosphere to the photos. Colour film or digital images would have been too clinical for me. I found the trenches and living displays the most interesting and tried to avoid anything modern in the photos. Care was taken with the backgrounds and no public in the shots. The photos are grouped into Armies. There are more photos of the German Army because they were the largest and most interesting camp. The question is, did I succeed in my quest for some form of authenticity?

The British Army


The German Army

Thank you for reading and looking at my images. Phil

Other content I’ve submitted to 35mmc can be found here

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7 thoughts on “Ilford HP5 Plus & The Yorkshire War Experience – By Phil Harrison”

  1. Hi Phil,

    This is excellent stuff; thank you for sharing! IMHO the combination of Leica and HP5 (or Kodak tri x) produces results that digital cannot approach.

    To further add realism to the war shots, I suggest that the organizers import a few hundred gallons of artifical blood and some maimed dummys. The only people who find war entertaining are those who have never seen the real thing.

  2. Great photos Phil. They look straight out of M*A*S*H. If there were a bit more mud around they could have been real war photos but mud was not something that you could control. I applaud your use of a medium yellow filter. Everybody should use a medium yellow filter with B&W film outdoors unless there is a good reason not to. In which case one would use orange, red or even green, but hardly ever no filter. My personal choice would have been Tri-X film with D76 developer, but I’m sure HP5 is just as good.

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