Images shot on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 in Yashica Electro 35 GSN
I still remember my process for choosing which films to shoot back when I first got into this whole analogue photography thing. It was a complex equation that involved price, what boxes I liked the look of, and what they had in the shop when I was there.
This led me to shooting things like Rollei Retro 400S (which is a very underrated film btw) Oriental Seagull 100 (which is too) and Ilford Pan 400 (which isn’t so much) before ever getting around to the ones people seem to talk about more.
Stocks like Ilford HP5 Plus 400 for example, which could make a claim to being the English manufacturer’s most iconic film. But I finally shot some. And after seeing the results, I’m glad I did. Read on and I’ll tell you why.
The history and performance of Ilford’s most iconic film
Learning all about the film for when I wrote this Ilford HP5 review made me appreciate why it’s so loved, and the images it gave me just reinforced that.
Its DNA stretches back to the 1930s when Ilford HP was first released, with the subsequent HP2, HP3, HP4, and HP5 films bringing us up to where we are today with the HP5 Plus.
It wasn’t just the name and box design that altered either, as some of the earlier versions had different ISO ratings too. While the continuation of the HP name helps make this film so iconic, it wouldn’t be worth much if it was a bad product. But of course, it isn’t.
I shot this roll over a couple of afternoons, which gave me varying situations to put it through. Good brightness and shadows, sometimes a flatter light, and the artificial illumination of shopfronts.
It did well with them all, not blowing any highlights, giving nice grain and sharpness, and allowing enough shutter speed to cope when not using sunlight.
An accidental mini-theme within a photo set
A film can have a long history and be technically good, but if you don’t enjoy the results you get with it then it all becomes a bit immaterial.
I’m generally happy with what any film has always given me though, with the only thing getting me down being when I’ve wasted it on bad photographs.
Fortunately, with great credit going to the good light I was blessed with, I got some shots that I like from this HP5 Plus. I even found a mini-theme in them that wasn’t planned when I was shooting.
Although I was enjoying that strong sunshine, a number of people clearly weren’t. I’m not sure if they’ve heard of Ray-Bans, although it’s equally as possible they were wearing some.
Thanks to their improvisation, which leads me to call this mini-set Can’t C Me after my favourite Tupac song, I guess we’ll never know.
Putting yourself out there with any film you can
Whether HP5 Plus is Ilford’s most iconic film or not really doesn’t matter. It’s a meaningless label in the grand scheme of things and something you probably shouldn’t care about.
What is important, if you want to keep making photographs, is getting yourself out there with any film whatsoever and shooting.
While I was lucky to get that good light and shadow, I’m probably even luckier that I could make these photographs. That there were no personal situations stopping me. Not everyone has that opportunity.
If you’ve never shot Ilford HP5 Plus, you could easily pick some up from Amazon, from eBay, or at Analogue Wonderland or anywhere else you get your film from and go try this famous old name too. I’m glad I finally got around to it.
I like the results I got with HP5 Plus, but not really because they were shot on HP5 Plus. It’s far more the fact that they were shot at all.
If you enjoyed that post, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about the Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film I used here:
- My comprehensive review of this Ilford HP5 Plus film
- Shots taken with an underrated monochrome film
- Shooting another ISO 400 Ilford film did in Shanghai
And if you think others will enjoy this post on perhaps Ilford’s most iconic film too, help them find it by sharing or pinning. 😀