Thursday, July 28, 2011

More film fun - Ilford HP Plus

I have been waiting to get my roll of Ilford HP5 Plus back from London Drugs so I could share my images and talk about the experience of shooting with it. I got it back on Monday after almost three weeks. In fact, let's maybe talk about the more negative part of the whole experience first before going to the fun. (Pun not intended).

So yes.  Almost three weeks to get my film developed. I wasn't expecting one hour or anything like that but I was expecting it to be sooner than that. Alright, its film so I can probably overlook that. When I got the call and picked up my package however, I was floored by the price. Developing, printing, scanning and the CD for the images with tax was a grand total of $52.42. If I include the price of the film ($7.65 with tax) this takes me to over 60 bucks. I am pretty sure a mistake was made because rolls I have had developed in the past were around half of that. 34.95 of that total is for the prints which they apparently charged 99 cents per image for. I am not sure why they asked if I wanted 1 or 2 prints and failed to mention that each would cost my 99 cents.

Then I had a look at the images and it appears that a) they made their prints from the scans and NOT the negatives b) they made contrast adjustments to the images. I can kinda see why they would make contrast adjustments but I am really angry that they made the prints from the scans and not the negatives. Had I known this I would have elected to get no prints and just go with the scanned images. If there was anything I wanted to be printed I'd do it myself or send it in at that point.  On this point, I may go in and raise a ruckus and get it done right.  Suffice to say I won't be getting them to do any more rolls for me.

Update (July 29th, 2011): I went in today to raise my ruckus. It wasn't much of a ruckus I have to admit and I did learn a bit. Am I doing a retraction? Nope. However I cleared up a few things that I'll put in here. First off the prints were from the negatives. Secondly the cost for the prints was indeed 99 cents per print. They used to be 79 cents so London Drugs was kind enough to credit me the difference.  I should have realized this before but London Drugs has another company do their black and white prints and processing - Custom  Care in Vancouver. What I found interesting is London Drugs charges me 99 cents per print. Custom care will develop my roll for $5.50 a roll and prints appear to be $10.75 for a roll of 36. I'll have to look into this some more.

Which brings me to one more point before I carry on to the happier part of this post. I am going to have to learn how to develop my own film. The only thing stopping me before was a fear of messing up a roll of good shots. However, if I can do it faster and cheaper myself and have control over the process why the heck wouldn't I? If I botch a couple of rolls learning how to develop my film so be it. I guess I need to give myself more credit and know that I can probably figure it out and not botch any too.  In fact I think there's a link on this very page to the section of Ilford's website that talks about this very thing.  And on that note...I'll put my happy face on again. :)

Shooting black and white is a little challenging in that you have to try to see your subject in monochrome. Some subjects work well in black and white. Others do not. I find that landscapes and architecture work really well while portraits have a nice classic look to them when shot with black and white film.  For all of my shots I used my Nikon N8008S for the body and used my 50 mm f/1.8 (as opposed to my 50 mm f/1.4 I did with my last batch of slide film).   For a lot of my shots I used a red filter to try to achieve greater contrast in the skies.

The results are far more subtle than my digital images converted to black and white. These two images are of the Alberta Art Gallery in Edmonton. There is a slightly different perspective but you can definitely see a difference between the two images.

Alberta Art Gallery - Ilford HP 5 Plus

Alberta Art Gallery - Nikon D90 image converted to black and white in Silver Efex Prod

Interestingly enough (and I admit this grudgingly) London Drugs did rescue one or two of my shots. I had one of the falls at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park that I had grossly underexposed that they managed to get a decent enough image from the negative. It lacks a lot of contrast but aside from that it is a usable image.
A better exposed version of the same scene
A salvaged under exposed image

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this roll. On the one hand I got some pretty interesting shots. On the other hand, it cost me an arm and a leg and some of the results were skewed by London Drugs. I have another roll sitting in my fridge but I think I will wait until I am ready to develop it myself before shooting with it.

To check out all of the images on the roll check out the set on my Flickr Stream


Unknown said...

Sounds like you had an interesting week. I have developed my own B&W film. It's easy. Besides, Jim at the Camera Store can answer all your questions. Let me know if you want to give it a try I'm got the tanks etc. Just need to pick up new chemicals as mine have likely expired. I also have a couple of rolls in the fridge to develop.

Craig T said...

Yeah, I don't why I am so chicken. Its not like I have drink anything to get the pictures to turn out. ;)

Heather Simonds said...

Leave London Drugs in the dust. The only film that anyone ever "lost" was dropped off in their care. I should have known something was suspicious when they gave me someone's developed work.
This whole exercise leaves us wondering what great images lie lurking in basements waiting to be developed to full potential.

Sam Ramadan said...

Simple as baking a ready mix cake. Follow instructions with a + or - 10% range and you will be in the ball park of that so called perfect image. Enjoy ... call if you have any questions.

Apertome said...

I say go for it! I'm taking a darkroom class right now and I love it. You should do the same. I had done some darkroom work in the past, but I am learning so much more now.

The film part is the easiest part. The only part that's kinda tricky is getting the film on the reel without kinks. The rest is easy.

Apertome said...

BTW, I'm guessing it's the scans, but these images really seem to lack contrast. How does the contrast on the prints compare?

Craig T said...

The prints are about the same. I think the scans were made from the prints if I recall correctly so the images were salvaged. I was actually disappointed by that because I wanted to see where I messed up. I didn't want the lab to fix my mistakes.

I've got all my chemicals and kit to to develop it so its just a matter of shooting a couple of rolls to develop.