Film Simulation Review: Changing Light, Part 2: Ilford HP5 Plus

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Clouds On Top – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

Changing Light, Part 1: Velvia

I get asked sometimes how do I decide between color and black-and-white. I don’t remember where I heard this, but a long time ago somebody told me that if color is important to the scene then it should be a color picture, and if it’s not it should be black-and-white. Back then you had to make this decision before loading your camera with 24 or 36 exposures. Nowadays you can wait until after capturing the picture before deciding, although I find it best to choose before making the exposure.

Color pictures are (primarily) about three things: light, shadow and color. Black-and-white pictures are (primarily) about two things: light and shadow. It’s easy to see that if color isn’t an essential element to the picture, then it only serves as a distraction to light and shadow; however, that’s an oversimplified way of looking at it. There are many different color theories, and whether color is important or unimportant is highly subjective. One thing is for certain: black-and-white pictures are about light and shadow and those in-between grays.

Whenever I photograph in monochrome my mentality changes. They way that I look at the scene is different. When I photograph in color, I look for color. When I photograph in black-and-white, I look for tones. That’s why it’s important for me to decide before capturing the picture whether it will be color or not. For the pictures in this article, I decided that they needed to be monochrome. I chose my Ilford HP5 Plus film simulation recipe because I thought it would offer me the right amount of contrast. It’s not my most contrasty black-and-white recipe, but it has a good amount of contrast—not too much or too little. I think it was a great choice for these scenes.

I captured these pictures over the last several days from my house. I didn’t go anywhere. There were a lot of clouds and the light on the mountain was constantly changing. Oftentimes it was rather dull, but sometimes it was amazing! The camera I used was a Fujifilm X-T30. Most often I used a Fujinon 100-400mm lens, but occasionally I used a Fujinon 90mm. These longer focal lengths allowed me to “bring close” the mountain, making it appear as though I was in them, and not at a distance. Sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere to capture interesting pictures. That’s especially true if you have a great view where you are.

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Wasatch with Snow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Dramatic Sky Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Silver Sky Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Clouds Over the Peak – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Clouds Around the Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Mountain Top – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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White Cloud – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Cloud Reaching – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Clouds & Dark Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Lightly Snowing On Top – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Gray Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Obscurity – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Mountain Rain Shower – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Downpour – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Mountain Mist – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Francis Peak Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Radar – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Dark Hills – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Storm Over Dark Mountains – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Storm – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Clouds on the Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Covered by Clouds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Film Simulation Review: Light & Shadow with Ilford Delta Push-Process

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Chair & Pillow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Photography is about light. Without light there are no photographs. Great photographs require great light. What “great light” is depends on the picture and circumstance, and what’s great for one image might not be for another. Great light can be found anytime of the day or night if one looks hard enough for it.

This series of pictures demonstrate the play of light and shadow in an image. It features instances of bright highlights and deep shadows together. It’s the contrast between illumination and the absence of it. I needed a dramatic film simulation recipe to capture these pictures. I knew that it would need to be black-and-white because these pictures aren’t about color, but light and shadow. Color would only be a distraction to the point. But which black-and-white film simulation recipe should I choose?

There are several options for dramatic black-and-white that I could have chosen, including Dramatic Monochrome, Monochrome Kodachrome, Agfa Scala, Ilford HP5 Plus, Ilford HP5 Push-Process, X100F Acros, X-T30 Acros, Acros Push-Process, and Tri-X Push-Process. Any of those recipes would have worked, but each would have produced a different result. Some have more contrast, some less. Some have a greater dynamic range and others a more narrow. Some are brighter, some darker. Some have more grain and other less. I could have picked any of them and gotten interesting results, but I went with Ilford Delta Push-Process instead, partially because I had been using it for other pictures during this time. It turns out it was a good choice, because it seems to have the right contrast, tones and grain for this series. Sometimes luck plays a role. What I know now is that the Ilford Delta Push-Process recipe is a great option for dramatic light situations like these, and I will choose it again for similar situations in the future. I captured these pictures on a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it.

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Suburban Shadows – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Seat Back Shadow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Chair Details – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Girl Ghost – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Sunlight on the Kitchen Floor – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Don’t Step Into Darkness – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

[Not] My Fujifilm X-T30 Ilford Delta Push-Process Film Simulation Recipe

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Boy in a Chair with a Phone – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Ilford Delta Push-Process”

When I shot film, Ilford Delta was my go-to for black-and-white photography. Sure, I used other films, but Ilford Delta was what I most often loaded into my camera. For fine-grain, I used Delta 100. For situations other than bright daylight, or if I wanted more contrast and grittiness, I would choose Delta 400. For dim light, I would on a rare occasion use Delta 3200. Sometimes I would push-process the Delta 100 and Delta 400 a stop or two. I actually still have a couple rolls of Delta film sitting around, although I haven’t shot much film in the last few years. The last roll of Ilford Delta that I shot was Delta 3200.

Something that people might not be aware of is that Delta 3200 is actually not an ISO 3200 film, it’s actually rated at ISO 1000, but has “built-in” push-processing to ISO 3200 (labs know to increase the development time unless you specify otherwise). Ilford Delta films have a lot of latitude and flexibility. There’s a lot that one can do in the lab with any of the Ilford Delta films to customize the contrast and grain.

Fuji X Weekly reader K. Adam Christensen shared with me his film simulation recipe for Ilford Delta 3200, and I really like the way that his recipe looks. It’s a great black-and-white recipe! I made a couple of small tweaks to it, nothing big. Adam uses this recipe on his X100V, and he sets Grain to Large, which is an option on that camera, as well as the X-Pro3 and X-T4, but not on my X-T30. If I could set Grain to Large I would, as that would better mimic Delta 3200. Without it, perhaps these settings more resemble Delta 3200 shot and developed at ISO 1600. It reminds me of Delta 400 pushed one stop or maybe a stop and a half.

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White House Beyond the Thistle – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Ilford Delta Push-Process”

I have the ISO on this recipe set at 12800, which makes it difficult (but not impossible) to use in daylight situations. It’s a little easier on X100 cameras that have a built-in neutral density filter. If you need to drop the ISO, you can go as low as ISO 3200 and still get good results, but for best results keep the ISO at 12800 as much as possible. All of the pictures in this article were shot at ISO 12800.

Monochrome (+Y, +R, +G)
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: 0
Shadow: +3
Grain: Strong
Color Chrome Effect: Off
Toning: 0
Sharpening: -3
Noise Reduction: -4
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +2/3 (typically)
ISO 12800

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this Ilford Delta Push-Process film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-T30:

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FED 5C & Industar 69 – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Phone Numbers – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Girl, Smile – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Broccoli – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Faux Leaves – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Glass Bottles with Stems – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Flowers Waiting to Pot – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Potted Tulip – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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White Tulips at Night – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Outdoor Shelf – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Dirty Feet – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Roller Skating – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Skates – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Girl Outdoor – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Two Feet – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Chair Shadow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Blackberry Vine on Concrete – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Watering Plant – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Wet Handlebar – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Raindrops on a Window – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

See also: Film Simulation Recipes

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My Fujifilm X-T30 Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Push-Process Film Simulation Recipe


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It’s better to be lucky than good.

This film simulation recipe was a mistake. I discovered it when I accidentally chose ISO 51200 instead of Auto-3 ISO. In my hurry, I scrolled down one too far, which took me from the bottom to the top, and I didn’t notice that I had inadvertently selected the highest possible ISO. I wouldn’t normally, or really ever, use ISO 51200. Even on most full-frame cameras, that high of an ISO is pushing the capabilities of the camera. It’s beyond what most would ever think of using on an APS-C camera. I’ve often wondered why Fujifilm even made it an option. Yet on Memorial Day I made a few exposures with it, not even realizing it.

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Memorials – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – ISO 51200

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Little Flags – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – ISO 51200

When I reviewed the images that I had captured, I was reminded of some photographs I made four years ago when I pushed a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film by one stop. Push-processing is a technique where you underexpose film and increase the development time to make up for it. You are essentially increasing the exposure in the lab using chemicals. The result is a higher-contrast image with more pronounced grain. Sometimes you would do this because the ISO of the film wasn’t high enough to make a good exposure, and sometimes you’d do this just for the aesthetics of it. Different films respond differently to push-processing, and different films have different tolerances to how much they can be pushed. While HP5 Plus is a good film, it’s not typically considered one of the best for push-processing, but the results can still be good, especially if you don’t push it too much.

Here are some push-processed Ilford HP5 Plus 400 pictures that I captured several years back:

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Whiskey Pete’s – Primm, NV – FED 5c – Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Pushed 1 Stop

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Grand View – Las Vegas, NV – FED 5c – Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Pushed 1 Stop

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I-15 Travelers – Las Vegas, NV – Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Pushed 1 Stop

After seeing the ISO 51200 results from my Fujifilm X-T30, I decided to make some more ultra-high ISO black-and-white pictures. What I discovered is that for contrasty and grainy B&W pictures, ISO 51200 on the X-T30 is not only usable, but it can produce film-like results that are similar to push-processed Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film. A negative aspect of ISO 51200 is that it can sometimes produce “smudgy” results, especially in grass. It doesn’t always do that, but it sometimes does, so I would say that this maximum ISO should be used with care. Taking the ISO down one stop to 25600 seems to remedy this, and delivers similar results to the higher ISO images. ISO 12800 is almost not grainy or contrasty enough, but it’s very close and is also usable for this recipe should you need to drop the ISO.

You might notice that this recipe is quite similar to my Tri-X Push Process recipe, mostly just a higher ISO and added grain. I like that recipe a lot and I think it also delivers analog-like results. Even though it’s based on the same film, there are several differences between this recipe and my original Ilford HP5 Plus recipe. This one is much less “clean” and is fun to pair with vintage lenses. Also, this recipe can be used on X-Trans III cameras, except (obviously) you ignore Color Chrome Effect. I tried it on an X-T20 and it looked good, even at ISO 51200 (see the very top picture in this article).

Acros (Acros+Y, Acros+R, Acros+G)
Dynamic Range: N/A
Highlight: +3
Shadow: +4
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: -2
Grain Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Toning: 0 (off)
ISO: 25600 or 51200
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using my Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Push-Process Film Simulation recipe:

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Home Builder – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Crop from the above ISO 51200 image.

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Exchanging Money – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Crop from the above ISO 51200 image.

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Can Money Buy Happiness? – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Girl Playing A Game – South Weber, Utah

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Chance Taker – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Thinker – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Birds In The Kitchen – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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River Tree – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Riverbank – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Grey Flowers – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Hiding Grey Flowers – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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White Bloom – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Dark Cloud Over The Dark Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Bulldog – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Oil Change – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

See also: My Film Simulation Recipes

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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My Fujifilm X100F Ilford HP5 Plus Film Simulation Recipe


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Back when I shot lots of film, my favorite black-and-white options were Ilford Delta 100, and Ilford Delta 400 when “high ISO” was necessary, as back then I considered ISO 400 to be high ISO. I didn’t use Ilford HP5 Plus very often, but I have used it on several occasions. I still have a few rolls of the film lying around, which I should go out and use just for the fun of it. The differences between Delta 400 and HP5 Plus aren’t huge. Delta 400 uses tabular-grain, which is supposed to be a finer grain that produces sharper images, but I think in real-world use it’s not really noticeable. Delta 400 has a hair more contrast than HP5 Plus and in my opinion is a bit better for push-processing, but HP5 Plus seems to have more exposure latitude, making it more forgiving if you didn’t get the exposure quite right. Overall the two films produce very similar results.

I’ve been asked a number of times to make an Ilford HP5 Plus film simulation recipe for Fujifilm X-Trans III cameras. The title of this article says “Fujifilm X100F” but these settings can be used on any X-Trans III or IV camera. In fact, you’ll find a few Fujifilm X-T20 examples at the bottom. I already have a number of different black-and-white film simulation recipes that I like, so I didn’t really need to make a new one, but I enjoyed doing this and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

A few days ago I was asked if my Agfa Scala recipe is a close match to HP5 Plus, and as I thought about it I realized that it’s not all that far off, and only some small changes would be necessary to get it right. Of course, any time that you attempt to mimic a certain film the problem is that the film can vary in look. How was it shot? Developed? Printed? Scanned? There isn’t necessarily one aesthetic that’s right because there are so many variables. Still, I feel like this is recipe is in fact pretty close to Ilford HP5 Plus film.

I captured the photograph below, Airport Lobby, using a Canon AE-1 about 20 years ago using Ilford Delta 100 film. I printed it on Agfa Classic paper using a split-filter technique and toned it with sepia (just barely). This is a (rather poor) scan of the print. I included it in this article for the heck of it, as it doesn’t really have much to do with this film simulation recipe. My experience with Ilford films goes back pretty far, and perhaps that’s the point of including the picture with this article.

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Airport Lobby – McKinney, TX – Ilford Delta 100 printed on Agfa Classic paper.

You could modify this recipe to shadows +3 if you need more contrast or shadows +1 if you needed less, or highlights to +3 if you need to prevent clipped highlights. If you feel as though the recipe needs some changes to best capture an image, don’t be afraid to make those adjustments. I don’t always stick rigidly to my recipes, and I’m not afraid to adjust them when needed. The example photographs in this article are all the exact recipe, but with some other pictures (that I didn’t include) I made some modifications to the settings because the scene required it. A few of the pictures here might have been better off with a modification to the shadow or highlight, but I wanted to demonstrate the aesthetic of this recipe as is.

Acros (Acros+Y, Acros+R, Acros+G)
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +4
Shadow: +2
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: 0
Grain Effect: Strong
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs captured using my Fujifilm X100F Ilford HP5 Plus Film Simulation recipe:

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Grey Salt Lake – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Kids On The Salt Lake Shore – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Hurry Up & Wait – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Downtown Workday – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Monochrome Caution – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Window Pentax – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Tunnel Chevy – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Virgin River From Canyon Jct Bridge – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Monochrome Vista In Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Zion Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Rock & Trees – Zion NP, UT – Fuji X100F “Ilford HP5 Plus”

Fujifilm X-T20:

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Frozen Leaf & Grass – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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The Last Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Morning Clouds Around The Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ilford HP5 Plus”

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Grey Sky Over Antelope Island – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ilford HP5 Plus”

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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