Pulling Ilford HP5 Plus

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 (4x5) is very new to me, but I have heard how well it works with portrait work and how nicely you can push and pull it. This weekend I wanted to put it to the test by shooting a situation where I would need to pull it in development. I ended up shooting a few situations (just three different shots) and developed each sheet differently (ranging from n-0 to n-2 development times), but this turned out to be my favorite example.

Anna - Ilford HP5+ 4x5

I was hoping to capture a timeless scene with Anna - looking like it could have been taken 100 years ago. I had her put on this outfit that I felt would really play well with light and shadow and she added some subtle pearls to continue that old look.  The sun was beaming indirect through the window which really helped build the scene. The light was awesome in this room - light blue sheer curtains and her red hair was a dynamic combo. Look close at her hair and the details are really cool, if I do so say so myself. It almost looks painted in.  Anyhow...

So, the details:

  • ModelAnna Madsen
  • Camera: Chamonix 45n-2
  • Lens: Schneider 150mm
  • F-stop: 5.6
  • Shutter: 1/8
  • Filter: Light Yellow
  • Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
  • Shadow EV: 5.3
  • Midtone EV: 6.6
  • Highlight EV: 11

For this scene, I metered some wrinkles in the fabric for the shadows (EV 5.3) and then metered the window for the highlights (EV 11). This was a 5.6 zone stretch. With my zone developing calculations, I debated between n-1 and n-2 or even splitting the difference. As I wanted it a little more dreamy, I decided to let the highlights develop a touch longer and went with a n-1 development time. So:

  • Kodak D-76 dev time of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 4x5: 7 minutes 30 seconds at 68°
  • Calculated adjustment: n-1 means a reduction of 90 seconds
  • Total calculated time: 6 minutes

I developed this in the sink at the calculated time in D-76 at exactly 68°. I used Ilford Stop and Fixer to complete the process and let it dry for a couple hours.

Once developed, I scanned in with the usual methods. I was so pleased with how this came out. Shooting boudoir is not my forte, so I honestly had no idea what to expect with the outcome. Controlling the light in development was the bigger goal - so nailing the shot was just icing on the cake! Now I am dying to do a lot more experimenting with pushing and pulling Ilford film stocks and seeing how they behave.

If I didn't already love film and large format photography, this experiment sealed the deal. Never have I had this much control over a single image. Next, off to the dark room to print this... BIG.