I wasn’t ever a big fan of pushing or pulling film; developing prices tend to increase drastically, and try as I may I could not wrap my head around it. However, now that I develop my own film, and after seeing some photos online, I decided to have a shot at it with some ILFORD HP5 PLUS at EI 800 while in Azerbaijan to see what was up.

I brought the Leica IIIf with me on the trip. It has been my main carry for the past three years, and I have grown used to it’s quirks: cutting the film leader, placing it in the take-up spool, setting the frame counter (the one I forget to do the most), and looking through the separate range/viewfinder. What has made it my favourite camera is how compact it is, especially when paired with the collapsible Elmar 5cm f/3.5. Small and sharp, the only gripe I have with it is the front placement of the aperture ring, which makes it hard to quickly change it (at least without smudging the lens with my fingers), which is a must for street shooting using sunny 16. The whole kit fits in my pocket with ease.

I only spent a two days in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital city. Sandwiched between the Middle East and Europe, it’s a clash of times, architectures, and cultures, and one that never ceases to surprise. Shooting with the IIIf I was thankful that the weather was mostly overcast, since the shutter speed caps at 1/1000s which would have made shooting in bright light a bit more complicated than I would have liked.

When I returned from the trip, I developed the roll in ID-11 1+1 using the provided times from digitaltruth.com. I have to say that I love the way that the grain looks like on HP5+ at 800; it just has a more defined and organic look to it that ASA 400 doesn’t give.

Overall, I’m fairly happy how the roll turned out. I am looking forward to pushing film more often in the future; HP5+ at 800 might just become my go-to from now on.

~ Simón

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About the author

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Simón Ducos

Simón is a photographer based in the U.A.E., although he is currently travelling and working on personal projects. He began using film in 2017.

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  1. Thanks, Paul! Since writing this post I set up a darkroom in a spare bathroom and I’m trying to learn how to get the most out of my negatives. I didn’t understand the reasons for pushing and pulling and I think I’m getting a better idea now. if you have any resources to better understand it I would greatly appreciate it!

  2. Thank you so much, Daniel!! Really appreciate it. Yes, I asked for security to hand-check the film each time but they said the film would be fine. Normally I ask the guard at the machine as soon as I get there, but so far they have all been polite but dismissive. Still, they went through four machines and no apparent issues on any of the rolls I had (the ‘light leaks’ are definitely due to the camera). Can’t speak for anything higher than ASA800, though.

  3. Nice scanned images from your HP5 negatives. But saying that you are not “ a big fan of pushing or pulling film” as a film photographer is kind of like saying you are not a big fan of food. The development time controls the density of the highlight areas so by varying the development time based on the contrast of the lighting will yield the most tonal range for your negatives. I think once you start darkroom printing your negatives you will start to understand how important it is to control and vary the development time.

  4. Thank you very much! I agree, the IIIf is built like a tank, and with the Elmar it just about fits in my pocket. They’ll definitely last a long time

  5. Simon,
    Shades of the great Nat’l Geo & Magnum shooters from the 1950’s! Nice work. I’m always interested in the journey through the various security & customs checkpoints: was your film scanned? Communication between you and the various officials, etc. Would you elaborate a bit on that part of your travel?

  6. Great Simon. Very great : bravo.
    Love them.
    Like the style.
    And camera + lens = great winner, this is a fantastic kit which still work for ever, … not like some more expensive T3, T2, GR1, and so on … 😉
    Love this camera.
    You are great.
    Thank you so much