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Ilford HP5+

“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate”

The above sentence translates to “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
That sums up my 2016 regarding film photography.

I can’t remember being so long without using film cameras and shooting film and that fact is, of course, tied down to having changed my income activity from graphic design to  photography.

Back in 2014 I was shooting and developing two rolls a day, yes, every single day!
(Those who follow this little blog know that the goal was to feed Cooking Film with experiments and examples of films/developers combinations.)

Changing my main income activity makes me shoot a loot more and to edit a lot more. My clients don’t care about the “visual poetry of film”. They care about the result and, many times, the result is not a photograph, it’s a visual product.

That is fine, those are the rules. The clients play the tune and I dance to it. I know my way around the digital tools and I have no problem in meeting the clients desire. I don’t aim to be like Paolo Roversi, or Dan Winters, or Anton Corbjin… I don’t have their talent and I’m just starting to build a name for myself and I’m already too late at it.

I know it will not be a name connected to talent but, I hope, very much connected to competence.

The bottom line is getting home too tired to even think about photography. I don’t have the mental energy to pick up a film camera. I need to reboot. My 9 to 5 is what it is but I need to find that extra bit of energy to keep shooting film.

Many of you know the following story but I’ll write it anyway because it means a lot to me and I often go back to it when I need to restart.

A few years ago I sold my Leica D-Lux 3 (amazing camera) and bought the Leica X1. It was such a bad, bad decision. I hated everything about it and instead of making me want to shoot more, it almost made me give up the whole photography thing.

Luckily I came across the work of two amazing pinhole users on Flickr (thank you Nhung and thank you Wayne). Everything changed! I discovered new possibilities and also a new camera, the Zero Image 2000.

And that was a (photographic) life changing event!

I never use the Zero on a tripod and, as you can guess, exposing for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 seconds, hand held, can produce some pretty… abstract stuff. To me that was magical. I couldn’t care less about the results, I was enjoying the process.

In a couple of weeks I’ll take a few days off. I’m planning a little road trip with my son and I will take the Zero 2000 along.

Zero 2000 means fun, means letting light do the whole thing. Means I can just relax, enjoy and uncover/cover the pinhole from time to time.

 

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I’ve never been a great fan of the Hp5+.

I mean, I’ve had some decent results with it but I always feel that it’s too cold. It lacks the depth and the spirit of the Delta 400 or Trix.

Kodak Trix 400 is like a sprinkle of cinnamon on a hot apple pie slice. It’s smooth, warm. It has depth.

Ilford HP5+ is like a lemon slush on a cold afternoon.

(I’m no photographer as you all know and I don’t know how to express myself using technical terms however, I use the films, I develop them, I scan them and I print them in the darkroom, and these are the therms I know to share my thoughts.)

On the other hand I absolutely love using HP5+ pushed to 1600 or 3200 or 6400! That’s when those blacks really start to show up. Well it all depends, of course, of what we want from our pictures.

I’m just saying that the HP5+ is not my favorite 400 ISO film, to use at 400, and despite being very good when pushed it is not, still, my favorite film to push.

Trix is still my favorite film and choosing from the two Ilford offers I like the Delta 400 more than the HP5+.

Please do take all of the above stated with a huge grain of salt!

Here are the samples.

Gear:
Hasselblad 500CM
Recipe:
Ilford HP5+, Tmax Dev, 1+4, 7 min

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Gear:
Hasselblad 500CM
Recipe:
Ilford HP5+ @1600, Tmax Dev, 1+4, 11 min

 

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There’s a short tale by Italo Calvino that goes (pretty much) like this:

“Once upon a time a man was crossing a road and all of the sudden he started to see things as they really are.”

These words always come to my mind every time I use my beloved pinhole.

The pinhole sees slower. It drags things throughout time and space and, to me, that’s where the magic is.

What if things really leave a trace?

What if things are not isolated snaps but a whole fuid action and we can only see a fraction of it at a time?

What if I add more tobacco to the mixture?!

Nevermind…

Here are some images from the Zero Image 2000.

Gear:
Zero Image 2000

Recipe:
Ilford HP5+
Tmax Dev
1+4
7 min

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Hello guys.

The title of the post is a joke, of course, however I would like to try and write something a bit deeper about it, about ugliness.

I’ve been reading a book for the last 15 months, it is called “On Ugliness”. Being too simplistic it’s about The Ugly and The Ugliness in art. Of course the analysis go beyond the art world and into sociology and psychology. The perception of self and others.

According to the authors, coordinated by Umberto Eco, the Ugly or the perception of the Ugly is tied to the concept of “non conformity”.

We, as individuals and as society, look at non-conformity as Ugly.

We do that in order to protect our “group”, the ones that fit into “conformity” but in this case we are protecting a huge group, society itself.

The physical aspect of someone is the primary target of evaluation. Too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny… As society we tolerate some deviation from the conformity. We set the average point and go from there.

Being blind, missing an arm or a leg, being disabled, having scars, missing teeth, mental illness… Those are all severe deviations of the average, those are all ugly.

The homeless, the refugees… modern days ugliness.

Here’s an example. (Taken by Bruce Gilden)

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Please keep in mind that there’s no judgement whatsoever about morals. Of course we all look at a fellow human and despite the fact he is different from us, we accept that difference. But that’s a process of reason, not a process of perception.

Perception rejects, reason makes it acceptable.

Some more “ugliness”. (Taken by Roger Ballen)

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To accept the non-conformity we, as society, have to sit down and think about it. It’s all reason and, through the complexity of our societies, reason turn into laws and we all know the failure of imposing something that collides with our perception of the self and others.

Religious issues.
Race issues.
Sexuality issues.
Human rights issues.

Basically we can’t stand the person next to us on the bus.

We are narrowing down “non-conformity” to everything that it’s not “us” and the very few we find “beautiful”. The rest of the world is nothing but ugliness.

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I went for the first photowalk of 2016 with some friends. It’s always a good excuse to go out and take pictures.

It was also an opportunity to take some portraits using a combination I like very much. The Hasselblad with the 120mm and the 21mm tube.

Really tight head shots with shallow depth of field. You can see some examples here.

I want to find out a formula or a way to do this right. I don’t like the distracting background and I don’t like using the lens at f8.

I’ve done this many time and I pretty much have an idea how to do it. Plain background, lens opened at f4.

Gear:
Hasselblad 500CM
Zeis 120mm Makro Planar
Hasselblad 21mm extension tube

Recipe:
Ilford HP5+ @ 1600
Kodak Tmax Dev
1+4
10 min

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The bottom line is… well, there is no bottom line.

These are all friends, these are all beautiful, they are all so very unique and it showed in that 1/500 of a second.

Unique is a good word.

As usual I apologize for my writing.

I know nothing but I know this: nothing is THE real thing.

Film is not the real thing, digital is not the real thing, darkroom printing is not the real thing, scanning is not the real thing.

Nothing is the real thing. The only real thing is the pleasure we get doing the things we love the way we love.

True photography??… I’m yet to find out what that means.

After the post about my darkroom adventures I got a comment from the excellent serial photographer saying:

“I always found it therapeutic when i was printing, the slow, measured moments were always valued I do miss it, that said i still use film but have to now scan, which to be fair has its own unique quality.”

Most of us, film passionate, do treasure darkroom work. We all share the fascination for that process but, the truth is, very few of us have the time/space/money/patience to still do things in that particular way.

However and this is the most important thing, like serial photographer pointed out, scanning has its own unique quality. Most TRUE!

Scanning is not a poor substitute for printing in the darkroom. Scanning is/can be a working/creative process in its own merits.

It’s not about which is the “most real” process, it’s about using different methods to suit our creative or workflow needs.

That being said, I’ve tried to come up with some examples to show you guys what I often do with a scanner.

Thank you Serial Photographer I most agree with you.

HP5+ scanned using Kodak Gold profile. Adjusted in Photoshop. Inkjet printed on plain paper and scanned again.

HP5+ scanned using Kodak Gold profile. Adjusted in Photoshop. Inkjet printed on plain paper and scanned again.

HP5+ scanned using Kodak Gold profile. Adjusted in Photoshop. Laser printed on glossy paper and scanned again.

HP5+ scanned using Kodak Gold profile. Adjusted in Photoshop. Laser printed on glossy paper and scanned again.

HP5+ scanned using Kodak Gold profile. Adjusted/converted to B&W in Photoshop. Inkjet printed on plain paper and scanned again.

HP5+ scanned using Kodak Gold profile. Adjusted/converted to B&W in Photoshop. Inkjet printed on plain paper and scanned again.

Hello guys.

Here I am, little by little. Surgery went well and I’ve been slowly recovering at my parent’s house. Love, mommy and daddy and chicken soup can work wonders so… I’ll be up and running very shortly.

The weekend before surgery I challenged Mary for a little photo shoot on the boat and the truth is we were so very lucky.

It was a beautiful morning. Heavy rain, very windy and although the sky was not that dark, the ambiance was charming enough for some nice pictures.

I created a Pinterest board as inspiration and shared it with Mary so we could replicate some ideas. It was also an opportunity to try out my Nikon FA for the first time.

Let me state this in a very clear way.
None of these pictures is great. They are all copies from others pictures on my Mary Pinterest board.

All the things that went well I owe them to Mary, to the beautiful weather and to that smooth shooter, the Nikon FA.

What I mean is… I love these images but not because they are amazing, or great, or whatever, but because Mary is in them.

As always I ended up with the easy part of the job by just having to press the shutter.

There’s no artistic motivation behind my images. As always the real motivation was to try a new camera and, of course, to spend a few hours with a dear friend, which I don’t see, or shoot, as often as I want.

Thank you so much Mary.

Gear:
Nikon FA
Ilford HP5+ @ 800 ISO
Nikkor 35mm/f2.8

Recipe:
Adox APH 09
1+25
9 min

 

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I attended the opening of a friend’s exhibit last Friday.

Despite the fact that I never, ever, comment on a friend’s work from an artistic point of view, I like to be supportive and I utterly admire people with initiative.

As a spectator, any deeper considerations I might have regarding aesthetic issues, will born and die in this little space between my ears.

That being said, hat’s off to Pedro Jafuno, a young photographer from Madeira Island, trying to build his own path.

The name of the exhibit is “Pedregulho”, “Rock”. It’s a documentary approach to an island, called the Pearl of the Atlantic, but like every “pearl” and despite the touristic postcard landscapes, Madeira island is the stage of dramatic urban transformations that clashes with Pedro Jafuno’s memories and hopes.

On the other hand this exhibit can be the tip of an iceberg of positive partnerships.
We Love Film, a great and very dear project which has been my only film supplier for several years now, are a major gathering force for film photographers in Lisbon and, I dare to say, in Portugal. They bring people together.

Print Factory. A pro film and print lab delivering great, fast and at a fair price, services. They are becoming the safe harbor for film photographers specially the ones working with color film. I’m a client.

Fábrica Features. Located on a top floor on the most expensive commercial area in Lisbon it offers a cool and simple space for this kind of events.

This may sound like a praising list of sponsors and, of course, the heart and the soul of the exhibit is Pedro Jafuno’s work. However we all know that times are always hard for someone trying to make his way into the photography world. That’s why partnerships like these are fundamental.

As a friend I must praise all of them, Jafuno for stepping out into the spotlight and delivering his view about a very personal subject, and all the others for coming together to make it happen for real.

Hat’s off to you guys.

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Ricoh GR1s
Ilford HP5+
Adox APH 09
1+50
11 min

Grainy little bastard.