Incredibly, this film is the first black and white film I have ever shot. I’ve been converting some photos in Lightroom for a while now, and enjoyed the results, so I thought I might as well get as old-school as I can with my manual film camera. In fact the film itself is something of a classic too, having been introduced way back in 1931 as the snappily named “Hypersensitive Panchromatic” and going through various iterations until this HP5+ variant was introduced in 1989 (which, funnily enough is the same year my Praktica BMS originally went on sale). It’s very much an old-fashioned film with a nice level of grain and good contrast.

The only real problem was the fact that because it needs to be developed in different chemicals to colour film, the shop had to send it off somewhere. Unfortunately they used a particularly glacial lab and it took over three weeks to come back! So long, in fact, that I’d actually shot and developed my next (colour) film before it arrived. I guess this means that I will have to either find a better lab to do black and white processing or learn to do it myself.

Anyway, none of that really matters, because I like how it looks and I didn’t start shooting film for speed or convenience! I think skin tones look particularly nice, as in the portrait above. (Note: if you want to see that lovely grain properly then try clicking on some of these pictures to see higher-resolution versions.)

One thing that surprised me is the way that different colours don’t necessarily come out as bright or dark as I expect. The keyboard above is mainly yellow, with blue next to the keys. I would say the blue is considerably darker than the yellow, yet both look almost the same brightness. The other thing that this picture demonstrates is that much like using shallow depth of field to draw attention away from distractions, using black and white removes the distraction of colour to focus your attention on the main subject. And this gaudy plastic keyboard needs all the toning down it can get!

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The lack of colour also really emphasises the form of this rather special car. It is an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, which is pretty much a concept car for the road – it has a Ferrari V8 engine and was one of a production run of just 500 with only 41 coming to the UK. This particular one belongs to a racing driver who happened to be stopping by at the office where I work.

By way of comparison, here is my typical workday transport in the idyllic surroundings of a park in Bicester…

A little note: As an experiment I have tried to link the pictures to high resolution versions here on smxc.co.uk rather than flickr. Hopefully this will make things simpler when I’m posting, but if anything seems broken please let me know.

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