I’ve been shooting colour film since I took up analogue photography last year. I decided that this year I would embrace film in its original form; black and white. Whilst I didn’t do much research on the topic, (something I would change next time) I opted for a 400 speed black and white film from legendary British film makers; Ilford.
The first thing I realised, once I’d finished shooting and took the film to a lab, was that most high street labs don’t have the developing equipment to develop HP5. Mine had to be sent off to Harman labs to be developed and took over a week.
I have since heard that HP5 is among the easiest films to home develop. So whilst it may be a bit of a faff to send your film off and wait over a week to get it back, investing in a home developing kit might be something to think about when shooting with this film.
Whole Grain Goodness
However, when it returned, I realised why so many love this film. The level of clarity and detail that you get from these photographs is astounding. I’m used to getting a few duds in a pack of 36 prints and maybe 4 or 5 shots that I’m fully happy with. However I was really happy with most of this roll.
The grain detail in shadows and darker areas was great and the highlights didn’t look too harsh. With a wide open 1.9 lens the in-focus detail and background bokeh came through beautifully.
Although it might not look like it, this photo was taken on a rainy overcast day under a dark bridge. I had compensated (perhaps slightly too much) and the film reacted really well to the manipulation. It almost looks like it was taken in broad daylight.
Even it poor lighting conditions HP5 Plus performed well. It seemed to pull structures from the background that were even hard to see in person.
Despite a slightly arduous processing experience, I loved the results HP5 produced. The images were crisp and clean and I now understand the unspoken artistic quality that black and white films are synonymous with. The emotion and life in shots is easier to read in black and white and the focus is on shapes and shades rather than pretty colours. It really is a photographers film.