Review, Ilford HP5+ The perfect choice of film for shooting on the streets.

Today is a dull day, no sunshine and grey, grey skies but I want to go out with my Hasselblad, I haven’t used it for a while, I’ve been concentrating on 35mm, so today’s the day. I’m going to use a standard 80mm f2.8 planar lens and Ilford HP5+ film, this film is made for street photography.

I’m going to go into Middlesbrough, I’ve heard about an area where the houses have been partly demolished, supposedly in order to rebuild new houses. I want to explore…

I walk up Linthorpe Road, a bustling area filled with cafes, bars and restaurants and of course home to the well known fashion store Psyche. I keep walking for a couple of hundred yards and find myself on a street of boarded up derelict houses, this is what i’d been looking for. I later found out it was called Gresham.

I took my Hasselblad 500 C from my camera bag and added a yellow filter to the lens to help with the contrast and loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 plus film the ideal choice for a spot of street photography.

As I walked deeper into the area I meet a lovely lady, Edna, walking her dog. I asked her how long the area had been like this. She told me of a council plan to demolish 1500 houses and replace them with more expensive apartments which no one already living in the area could afford, it started some 20 years ago and as you can see from my images not a lot has been done.

Edna was very vocal about how it had destroyed a community where everyone knew everyone, where they helped and looked after each other. She herself had lived in one of the houses many years ago and when she moved in there was no electricity upstairs only downstairs and no bathroom, the toilet was outside but she remembered the community was lovely. She told me of one old lady who still lived in the middle of this dereliction, she was defiant and did not and would not move from her home and Edna feared for a safety. (You can read more about the demolition plan here).

I like to record images like this and learn about the story behind them and my Hasselblad was a good choice to use today as I wanted a large negative to capture the full essence of the area and show the different contrasts and textures.

So, onto the film.. HP5 plus film is perfect for this kind of micro project. It has a wide exposure latitude with good smooth, tonal range and fine grain.

It’s a high speed film rated at ISO 400 but very versatile so I’m able to push it to 800 or 3200 if needed, but today I’m sticking to 400 as although the light is quite grey there is enough to rate it at 400.

My personal preference for processing HP5 plus is Ilford ID11, for me a perfect marriage for this film. I processed 1 to 1 for 11 minutes and 30 secs at 20°C. I pre-soaked the film in the tank for 2 minutes with water at 22°C this is prevents bromide drag, (streaks that run vertically from the film sprockets) I also agitate with a quarter turn 4 times per minute. Stop for 1 minute and fix for 5mins.

It has produced excellent negatives with good sharpness and smooth medium contrast. I’m really pleased with them, they are beautifully toned and the fine grain adds to the atmosphere I wanted to create, so I know I will get a good quality print. HP5 plus has been formulated to be able to push process and give good results so that’s my next project.

I’ve scanned my negatives and it has produced brilliant scans too. They are super sharp with beautifully smooth lush tones, ideal for use on the internet and also for very large, light jet silver gelatine prints. I used a Plustek medium format scanner to get a medium res scan at 2600 DPI which gives a 92 megabyte 8 bit image. I only ever use medium res scans as they are big enough for me but a high res scan will be around 5600 DPI yielding approx a 300meg 8 bit image.

I hope you’ve found this review helpful but feel free to get in touch if you have any questions..

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