First Ilford HP5+ 400 (Film #12)

It makes good sense what I’ve heard on several occasions: that one should stick with one sort of black & white film, say the Kodak T-Max 400, and become good at exposing it, developing it, and printing it. Still, following my little test of different colour films I thought it’d be fun to see what other black & white films were up to; at the very least to know that there are good alternatives when Kodak stops their production.

As a result I picked up a bunch of different Ilford black & white films, including the Ilford HP5+ 400. I shot it for the shadows like a T-Max (perhaps by accident pushed it a bit too much) and developed it in the same chemicals as well, most notably the HC-110 developer; this appears to be normal practise from what I could find online. One thing I notice here is that it curls less when drying that the T-Max, meaning it’s ready to scan immediately (in my Epson V600 with its silly holders anyway) whereas the T-Max demands a couple of days underneath a stack of books. Other than that I’m afraid more study is needed before I can tell the different, yet at this point I’m very happy about the outcome of the experiment.

Moving on to the photos, about a year ago I for whatever reason went from using zoom lenses (55-200mm) to using wide-angle lenses (28mm, 35mm, and 50mm) as also seen here:

One of the things I like about wide-angle lenses is their powerful ability to pull you into the frame, perhaps best illustrated in Point Ephemere of the photos above. However, there’s also a real danger in them when used to capture “too much”.

For instance, Jardin du Luxembourg not only fails a bit to obtain the pulling effect, it also makes everything so small that the atmosphere I felt when taking the photo (relaxing afternoon in the park with several games of petanque being played in the background) gets hidden. One issue here is not being close enough, but rather staying at a distance to capture everything. Another is that dead space creeps into the frame, making parts of it without interest, for example the upper left in Bastille and the sky in Point Ephemere and Winter Sun (for Point Ephemere I would have liked to be a bit higher to remove some of the sky, and a bit closer to crop the foreground and the sides).

Having said that though, these lenses are also excellent at turning dead space into negative space, as best illustrated by Tree House in the above; here, I don’t see the sky as dead space but instead as a margin providing a clean room and perspective to the subject matter.

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