Ricardo Kalaidjian
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Blog

No. 37 ILFORD HP5

I’ve been shooting a lot of Black & White film again and I am starting to remember what certain things look like and what tends to work.

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Of course this is much easier if you know the film you’re shooting, which was not the case this week. I never shot much HP5 before, even though its regarded as one of the best B&W offerings out there. I shot a lot of Delta 400 when I was starting out for some reason

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The contrast (if you can tame it) can be surreal. It’s not a film for beginners, as it will over-expose quite easily, but if you manage to keep your exposure relatively within range it will deliver great results

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Ilford is ahead of Kodak when it comes to B&W as far as I’m concerned. Contrast, sharpness, grain-structure. I like that the blacks are really dark on HP5, even if that means it’s not going to retain much detail there, it’s the price you pay for contrast.

Some films (cough cough TRI-X) just end up looking gray everywhere, and I cant think of anything more boring than that

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The problem is that there are many times when its useful to have a wide exposure range, especially for those of us used to shooting primarily color negative film that is so forgiving. The picture above could probably be salvaged in the darkroom but its too over-exposed for my taste

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Even though the statue is over-exposed in this shot because it works because it’s contained to a single portion of the image. I don’t think anyone makes as nice highlights as Ilford, but it can be very hard to contain them, I had more than a few over-exposed shots and that rarely ever happens to me

In case you were wondering, the place I took these photos is The Frick Collection, a museum on the Upper East Side

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I’m really excited to shoot more of this film, I found the results really interesting, its WAY more contrast-y than I anticipated which is a great thing as far as I’m concerned. I feel like I’m hating on Kodak but their B&W films are too neutral for me. I imagine they’re good for studio portraits (tmax particularly) but I don’t really live much in that realm

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For a 400 film it still has deep blacks and glowing highlights, its not as drastic an exposure curve as something like Acros, but I really like the look of the HP5, can’t stress that enough.

In other news, I’ve really been enjoying my M6, which I used for all of these shots, I like it (almost) as much as my MP already, its more user-friendly if not as beautiful and precise

Do any of you have experience with the Ilford films? I would love to know your thoughts/opinions

Talk to you next week!

Ricardo