5 Frames… from Shanghai with ILFORD HP5 PLUS (EI 400 / 35mm format / Yashica Electro GSN) – by Lee Webb

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Since I got into film photography after stumbling across some cheap point ‘n’ shoot cameras in a UK charity shop a few years back, my main focus has been to try as many different film stocks as I can get through. Usually in the Yashica Electro GSN that I picked up a few months later.

The motivation to do this probably won’t last forever and I am looking forward to at some point doing a big project or document a trip on just one film type. For now though, I’m still exploring and learning about as many different stocks as I can.


While I have shot a few of the more unheralded films along the way – Oriental Seagull 100 was one that I liked in particular – these five frames are from one of the best-known offerings out there. The grand old ILFORD HP5 PLUS.

I liked to shoot out in the streets of Shanghai during my time there. It’s flat, very walkable and with enough going on to be able to get through a roll of film in a session or two. Best of all, most of the people don’t seem to mind having their photograph taken.

There’s also a good amount of days with good light throughout the year, which is always something to take advantage of. When I shot this HP5 PLUS, it was the light that I was primarily looking for.

I like to have people in my shots, but it’s the light that makes a photograph for me, so the general idea here was to find that and wait for people to enter it. I also like my monochrome shots to have good contrast. Having read that HP5 PLUS is more on the medium side, I thought finding the light and shadows would help with this. And it did seem to.

Overall, I found HP5 PLUS to be a safe and solid film with a nice low grain. It’s not my favourite from what I’ve so far shot, but it gave me nothing to complain about either. I probably would shoot it again, but not yet. Not when there are still so many others to try first.

~ Lee


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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.

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