This is not groundbreaking stuff. I’m not the first to experiment with pushing and pulling Ilford HP5 but it’s my first time experimenting with it. I make no secret of the fact that Ilford HP5 is not my favourite film stock. However it’s versatility is brilliant and I will admit that some of my favourite shots that I’ve taken were shot on it, but it doesn’t wow me. I also find that it often moves too far into the realm of grain for my tastes.
The reason many people choose to shoot it is the fact that you can successfully pull and push the film and still get good results. There are many, many articles which deal with this but even so, I wanted to share my initial test rolls and my thoughts with you, as an amateur.
Shot and developed at ISO100
Overall I wasn’t massively impressed. It was quite nice in slightly darker or higher contrast situations.
In bright situations it was quite flat and dull. The images appeared a bit washed out and I struggled to pull any contrast out of the negatives.
At this speed I would be more inclined to reach for Ilford FP4+.
Shot at ISO200 and developed at ISO400
I really didn’t like this roll. Essentially I was giving the film an extra stop of exposure and developing it as normal. From my experiments I find that HP5 works better (for me) when it’s given a little less light rather than more. I tend to prefer the darker scenes than the bright ones with this film.
I found that all the images on this roll felt a little flat and lifeless.
Shot and developed at ISO200
I think this was one of my favourite ways to use HP5. I’ve shot some of my favourite images on this particular roll. It reduces the grain that comes at ISO400 whilst retaining some nice contrast.
From this roll the macro shots of the dandelion clock and the fern leaf are my favourite. Prints of these two images will soon be available to purchase. I am having them printed by James Lane at Zone Imaging Lab and the profits will be going towards building my own darkroom. Therefore any purchases will be going towards supporting both an independent lab (James) and a little-known creative (me). The prints will be 5×7 and will be £45 to purchase plus PP.
Shot and developed at ISO400
I find this to be hit and miss. I’m not a big fan of grain and often images at this ISO come out very grainy, not always but quite often. Equally a few of my best shots have been on this.
I’d like to try other mid speed film stocks in 35mm to see what I like. In 120 I love Rollei RPX 400, it’s one that I’ll have to try in 35mm.
The shot below will be soon be available to purchase. As with the macro shots above, I am having a limited number of prints created. They will be 5×7 and will be £45 to purchase plus PP.
Shot and developed at ISO1600
I don’t feel I did this roll justice. It was definitely an experiment – particularly in how the light meter in my Pentax ME Super coped with metering dark situations.
I think there is a lot of potential but I need to practice and experiment more at these high ISOs.
HP5 is still not one of my favourite film stocks but I do think that it is an important one. If I were going on an assignment with no idea what the subject matter, lighting conditions, etc… were going to be, I would stock up on HP5.
I’ll be experimenting more at ISO1600 so who knows, it may be my go to, low light film.
Having said that, I would like to try pushing and pulling other mid speed film stocks to see how versatile they can be. Particularly Rollei RPX 400 as I mentioned above. I’d really love to know your favourite way to use Ilford HP5 or your favourite alternatives and why!
If you’d like to see more of my work, or follow along with my learning journey you can do via my learning log or Instagram. Please get in touch via my website or instagram if you would be interested in purchasing a print.
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