Ilford HP5+ B&W Film: The 12×12 Choice of 2012!

Posted by on August 6, 2012 at 7:06 am.

Nervous about shooting Black and White film come marathon day? Don’t be! As 2-time 12×12 marathoner Aaron Macfarlane shows in this post, Ilford’s HP5+ film is a very adaptive and forgiving medium to play with. It also happens to be the film for this year’s 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon on August 18th, 2012!

But first, here’s a little teaser ;o)

Ilford HP5+ Film
By Aaron Macfarlane

Re-posted with permission. Click here for the original post.

Let me tell you about my experience with HP5+ and B&W film in general.

First off, I am not married to one brand or style of film. I like to try them all out because they are fun and, like photography, is a learning experience. Ilford’s HP5+ film is one I enjoy using on a regular basis.

One thing about shooting B&W is that you need to psychologically eliminate the colour while you are composing with your camera because there will be no colour recognition when the film is displayed after it is developed and printed. B&W for me relies very much on composition.

A good tip that I can suggest is to get a yellow or orange filter for your lens. This way, if you are unable to disconnect colour from composition, the filter will help eliminate most of the colours while you are composing. BUT if you are using a rangefinder camera, this tip will not help you as you are not looking through the lens to compose your photograph.

Note: Filters generally take away some of the light, so if you do happen to try out a yellow or orange filter and you are using a hand-held light meter, you have to compensate for the lost light. Typically it is 1 to 2 stops of light lost.

Click here for more information on factoring filters.

Another tip is if you have a digital camera, I suggest taking it out for a day or two and change it to B&W mode to help yourself get used to ‘seeing’ in black and white.

HP5+ film is a good general use film. It does perform very well in many types of situations. I’ve used it for street, portrait, landscape, macro, and most any type of photography.

It is a mid contrast film so it can produce good information in the shadows as well as the highlights. I wouldn’t say there are many limitations to this film, really. Some people like film that produces more contrast, such as Kodak’s Tri-X film.

Anyway, enough boring talk. Here are some examples of photos I’ve taken over the years using 135 format HP5+ film.

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Strong light, but shadows still show information

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Sharpness up close and at a distance thanks to the grain

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Lower contrast makes for less drama but more details

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

A longer exposure at night (5 sec). That’s ’11 marathoner Andrew Topalov there with his Canon P rangefinder!

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

HP5+ holds up well in foggy and snowy weather too

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Using a rangefinder from 1943 made for an interesting scene at IKEA

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

With proper exposure, there is still great detail and sharpness in shadowy places

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Shallow depth test shot on a rainy day

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

No flash needed. HP5+ performs indoors with ease

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Also, not related to the 12×12, but you can even create a colour image from three B&W photographs. Here I used Red, Blue, and Green filters and HP5+ film to create a trichromie image

All in all, you don’t need to worry too much about using B&W film. Chances are you have already used this film or have shot with B&W already.

If not, stop by Beau Photo and pick up a roll or two of HP5+ film. Test out your camera and try out the film beforehand. You’ll find you might get hooked on B&W film photography.

Good luck and see you on August 18th for this year’s 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon!

Aaron MacfarlaneAbout Aaron Macfarlane: “Okay I like photography; I talk about photography ALL DAY at work, then I come home and I take photos and/or process film and/or scan photos and/or go on the internet and look at photos and/or talk about photos on forums.

And I like snuggling. And I also like vinyl records.”

Aaron is a 2-time 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathoner.

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