5 Frames… With ILFORD Delta 100 Professional (EI 100 / 35mm format / Canon A-1) – by Josh Knowles

Written by and published on
Filed under ,

This young lady’s mother asked me several months back about shooting graduation photos. Despite not being a pro by any stretch of the word, I was confident that Olivia’s natural beauty would make up for some of my inexperience and that I already knew her well enough that we’d at least have fun shooting! We did formals and casuals in both B&W and colour as well as some family photos.

My weapon of choice these days is my Canon A-1 relying mainly on my Canon FD 70-210mm f/4 zoom lens, which serves me well for close-up and mid-length portraits. I chose to shoot the B&W formals with ILFORD Delta 100 Professional. This was a new one for me as my standards are HP5 PLUS (often pushed to 1600) and FP4 PLUS. I was hopeful that the Delta line would give me the quality I’ve come to expect from ILFORD but with a bit more clarity and a bit less grain. In this, I was not disappointed (more on that below).

The weather on the day of the shoot was far from ideal. It was mainly sunny, not very warm, and incredibly windy. However, we made the most of it. If pro fashion photographers bring in huge fans to give supermodels that windblown look, surely the actual wind would work for us! The sunlight was another matter. She thought she looked better with her glasses and wanted to wear them. That just meant that I had to take care to avoid reflections and unflattering shadows.

One great location was a narrow walkway between two old buildings, but the sun right overhead was not helping our cause. In the end, rather than abandon the spot, we waited and waited for a wisp of cloud to cover the sun and got the shots we wanted.

I was really impressed with Delta 100 Professional. It’s SUPER sharp. I also thought the dynamic range was excellent. It was able to capture dark details in her hair and dress without blowing out highlights. The grain is notably less than FP4 PLUS, but there’s still enough to maintain a pleasing film look. I’d have to shoot some more rolls, but my experience here leads me to believe that it wants a bit more precise exposure than ILFORD’s “PLUS” range films. I do most of my own B&W developing, but since I wasn’t as familiar with this one, I sent it to the lab along with the colour stuff from this project. I’m always pleased with Don’s Photo/The Lab Works and their work.

I was pleased with the results, but I think Olivia was thrilled. Shooting senior photos might not seem terribly profound but there’s something special about helping someone feel beautiful and confident at an important milestone in life.

~ Josh

Want to submit your own 5 Frames...?

Go right ahead, submissions are open! Get your 5 frames featured on by submitting your 350+ word article by either using this Google form or by sending an email via the contact link at the top of the page.

This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

Share your knowledge, story or project

At the heart of EMULSIVE is the concept of helping promote the transfer of knowledge across the film photography community. You can support this goal by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

If you like what you're reading you can also help this personal passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and giving as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.


EMULSIVE interview #210: I am Carlos Lopez Medrano and this is why I shoot film

Where to from here?


Join the discussion