Over Christmas I spent quite a lot of time with my film camera - trying to learn more about exposure, composition, contrast, and just how to work more smartly. Because of course, every image costs in the film world. This post contains some images from the first three rolls of film I have ever shot - I can't say how satisfying (and exciting) it was to see these images on the roll of plastic as I pulled out the developed film from the tank for the first time...
Roll 1 - Ilford HP5+
I decided for my first roll to be a film classic; Ilford HP5+. So many people had recommended this film as either their go-to, or a great beginner's film to experiment with. It has a really nice grain that I personally think compliments black and white portraits. It isn't too oppressive, but is noticeable, and it adds a nice mood to the images. This film also had a reasonably pleasing contrast - the images above were not really corrected for exposure or contrast in Lightroom (dust and marks were removed). If there was one thing hindering me when shooting that roll, it was getting used to the split prism-type lens focusing that the old Nikon lenses had. Some images I thought would be nice and sharp just weren't (although, this might be due to the fact I was shooting pretty wide open because of the low level of available light!), but this hopefully will begin to sort itself as I get used to shooting this medium with this gear.
Roll 2 - Ilford Delta 3200
This was the roll I was really looking forward to shooting. Some people hate it (too grainy), but I love the roughness of it, coupled with the quite strong contrast (...at least, heavier than the HP5).
Perhaps counter-intuitively (or at least going against the grain of what people normally do with this film), I decided to shoot some candid portraits of my new nephew with my mother. I actually found that the lovely contrasty tones made the highlights pop, giving the images some nice soft, dreamy character. This worked well coupled with the bokeh being produced by the Nikon 105mm - I was pretty pleased with the results.
Also, I was onto my second roll and I hadn't messed up the developing yet...I'm not sure exactly how contrast and general film characteristics can be affected by the development temperatures and times used; perhaps something for me to look into in the future...
Roll 3 - Ilford Delta 400
My last roll over the christmas period I shot was a roll of Delta 400. Delta is generally considered the Rolls Royce of pro films, so I was interested to see how this (more expensive) film compared to the cheaper, but identical ISO, HP5+. I did shoot some more portraits with this roll, but I also took it with me when I was shooting in Snowdonia over New Years (see my previous blog post) as I was keen to see its potential and performance shooting landscapes.
The grain is pretty similar between both films (maybe, if I squint, you could argue the Delta's is a bit finer...) but the tones across the board are in my opinion a bit more pleasing with the Delta. This film also seemed a little sharper, and responded better to light sharpening in Lightroom. As a film for landscape photography it worked pretty well - especially in dull conditions, it was useful to have that raised sensitivity.
I really enjoyed the whole process over the holidays. Slowing down and properly considering a shot, then having to wait to see if I got it right, then the development steps themselves. It is definitely something I will be continuing with, and I have already bought in some more rolls ready for my next outing. I've even splashed out and picked up some colour negative stuff (some Portra 160), which should be pretty fun...