I am a film lover, a big one. As much as I like shooting digital, film photography is still the magic, a fascinating process of creation and waiting for the results. So it came to my mind to share a few thoughts about my favourite film, HP5+ by Ilford.
I don’t remember know the exact moment when it landed in my hands and got loaded into the camera. It was many years ago, when digital cameras where not even in my mind yet and I started experimenting with different films, especially black & whites. Ever since, when I look back to my old images, I can tell: HP5+ is definitely my favourite and my personal best. And I still keep showing them as part of my portfolio (which is great, considering how painful can be looking back to photographer’s early works!).
At the time I discovered Ilford, I didn’t know what kind of photography I am going to do, or even what intrests me more. I felt this primal joy of just shooting, pressing the shutter button and waiting for the results for few days, until the film is developed. I remember opening the envelope with ready prints (yes, they were more exciting than scans), and checking if everything went well. It became obvious to me, after a while, that the results I want, crisp, contrast and grainy are guaranteed by HP5+ (still I like to use the effect preset on my digital works). What were my felds of intrest? Reflections, streets, rainy pavements, some kind of magic in reality that I was searching for while walking alone trough streets of Cracow. It was a time when I started to love photography for real.
The specifications are simple: Ilford HP5+ gives you ISO 400, which is both basic and flexible, for me it was perfect for outdoor, even darker light conditions, but I’ve tried it many times indoors without any proper light source with good effects. The grain is strong, the contrast, as Ilford says: medium, but blacks are very black here. What I would recommend is to print what you shoot on Ilford HP5+, the prints look amazing.
I’m not a technical expert, so I won’t compare different b&w films, it’s probably, as everything in photography, very individual with the preferences and matter of taste. For me HP5+ is the one, and I’ve tried many more – but I keep coming back to it. If I’m shooting on film, it’s usually HP5+.