Tried and Tested Thursday: The Streets of Spain – Canon EOS 500n with Ilford HP5

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Ilford HP5 on my Canon EOS 500n.

Another Throwback Thursday from my travels, also this month marks the fifth anniversary of my solo two week trip to Spain. This was my first time travelling alone for more than a week; first time visiting Madrid, Granada and Seville (been to Barcelona before in 2011), and first time bringing my film camera with me too. I did bring along my Canon EOS 500D, my first DSLR I had for five years at that point.

I bought four Ilford HP5 35mm rolls months prior from Silverprint, a photographic retailer that was once based on London Road in Elephant & Castle, next to London’s South Bank University, before they relocated to Dorset years ago.

Ilford HP5 was the film I had sworn by during my university days, from shooting with it to even processing it myself many times with confidence. I had faith that this film was versatile for almost everything, genre and style wise. It was the film perfect for beginner, intermediate and professional level photographers alike.

When it came to shooting with two cameras (or three, counting my phone), I would use the 500n for street photography, especially around the surrounding areas. The 500D, I would normally shoot landmarks, sites plus street photography, mostly in colour. I probably used the Canon film SLR a few times during my stays at each place, which was one roll per city. This was something I would do in a similar effect for future travels through the years, except it would be more than four rolls – sometimes four times the amount!!

When I had the HP5 rolls processed at Photofusion, I didn’t have a negative scanner so I made small darkroom prints and then scanned them at home on the Canon all-in-one printer/scanner. The image quality wasn’t the best, but it was do-able at the time. I did no further editing or tweaks on Photoshop either.

Thankfully I still had the Spain negatives, which I recently organised in a negative acid free box folder. They were still in pristine condition with no signs of wear or tear. I had begun scanning them from last week until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Despite it being four negative sleeves, the process didn’t take too long and did two per day, after work and late at night.

Scanning them gave me a chance to finally look at the images through preview and choose the ones I wanted to keep. This was also an opportunity to compare my work from 2016 to now, see how I have improved over the years. Even while going through the scans and images, I did notice I shot more street photography, mainly of alleyways and street corners near to where I was staying in each place. I didn’t take my film camera everywhere with me, since I was carrying my DSLR which was already heavy. The furthest I had been with the Canon film SLR was on the beach in Malaga, which was over a mile away from my hostel.

The Ilford HP5 did work well for travel photography, even for a few random night time ones in Barcelona and Madrid. I had no filter on my lens, hence why some images probably appeared hazy or flat. Regardless of that, the tones and contrast were spot on with black tones being predominant. The lens used was a wide angle of 28mm-80mm, which was already part of the camera. Wide angle lenses are the saviours of travel photography, especially shooting landscapes – everything can fit into a frame. Also useful and work for architectural shots, when capturing detail of the buildings and landmarks.

There’s room for improvement, but not a lot. I think I would have tried out colour filters, most likely orange or red for Ilford HP5. I can see the red filter working better, especially for the shadows and tones in particular. With the speed of 400 on HP5, the red filter is a match made in film photography heaven. Another potential idea would be darkroom printing, experimenting with other photographic printing papers. I would recommend Ilford printing papers, such as the Multigrade RC Warmtone. The paper quality would produce a ‘warm’ feeling or ‘bounce’, which would make such a difference once after drying.

This is certainly not the end of Ilford HP5 for me. I will be shooting with that film for many years to come on the cameras that I own.

Hmmmm? Performance artist in Malaga city centre

I would regard Ilford HP5 as being one of the best films I have ever tried and tested with of all time.

Take care and stay safe

5 thoughts on “Tried and Tested Thursday: The Streets of Spain – Canon EOS 500n with Ilford HP5

  1. I enjoyed the variety and quality of images in this Jeannine, a fascinating collection of travelogue photography. HP5+ rated at 800 and developed in D76(1+1) has become my go-to combination for most general photography recently. All the best. Dave

    Liked by 1 person

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