My “go-to” B&W film in all formats that I shoot these days seems to be ILFORD HP5 PLUS. I actually didn’t really enjoy it all that much when I started shooting film. I was a Pan F 50 kinda shooter, then I discovered Fuji’s NEOPAN 100 ACROS and when that disappeared I went to Delta 100 Professional, and then FP4 PLUS…
In a real short version of the story, I loved the fine-grain films…but after a while I started to feel like those films just seemed too similar to my digital B&W files, so I went back to FP4 PLUS as my daily choice to get a little more classic “look” in the images. I shoot a lot of portraiture and the lower ISO was always nice working with strobes.
As I started to bulk load more, I only had access to HP5 PLUS locally… so I started to shoot more and more of it. When you have a few hundred feet of a particular film stock and you’re in the middle of a pandemic, you start to deviate from the norm…
I’ve pushed a ton of different films over the years and right now I love 35mm HP5 PLUS at 800 with a yellow #12 filter for most days. I’ve pulled it a couple of times, but never really more than a stop. I thought, what the hell, I have nothing better to do and plenty of rolls to play with, so just how low could I go? I decided to start by rating a roll at EI 50 without any filters.
I shot the roll in my M4-2 around the docks where we’re currently staying on the boat (Yep… If you missed this article – I live on a sailboat and shoot film). I tried to find some flat scenes and some contrasty scenes just to see how the film would behave. It was developed in Rodinal at 1:50 for 8min.
I was actually really surprised at the results. I kind of dig the look… If I run another roll at 50, I’d definitely use my yellow 12 to add some contrast. All these scans have a slight s-curve applied in post.
Next up? HP5 PLUS at EI 25!
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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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