Push it real good…

I think a few people read my last article and assumed I was ditching film photography to pursue a digital path, but I can assure you this is not the case. If anything, I feel more invested in the analogue medium since using digital again – I don’t want the sterile detail of a 30-megapixel RAW file, I want film, with all of its inherent imperfections…I just expect those imperfections to be perfect.
When I read this excellent Johnny Patience article about exposing black and white film, and I have to admit, I was sceptical. Johnny talks about overexposing 400 iso film by various degrees (2, 3, 4, 5 stops) and then overdeveloping, or pushing, the film another 1 or 2 stops.But Johnny’s mono images look great, they look the way I think mono images should look, so I gave it a go.
All the images here were made using Ilford HP5 400 overexposed by 2 stops and overdeveloped by 2 stops – there are various ways of achieving the same result, I meter at 400 and then add two stops of light ‘in camera’ and then ask the lab to push the film to 1600. The top three shots were made using a Pentax Spotmatic and 28mm 3.5, for the last image I used a Bronica SQa and 50mm lens. I’m not sure how accurate the shutters are in these old cameras, especially the Pentax, so I’m going to try shooting another roll through my Nikon F100 using various +/- combinations.


  1. Danny

    Hi there. Would you mind clarifying what you did? When I think of pushing film I think of underexposing a film in camera (exposing a 400 speed film at 1600) then over developing, but you said you added two stops of light, which makes me think you exposed 400 speed film at 100 — which to me signifies pulling film, where you would under develop later. I am not trying to correct you, what the hell do I know — I would just like to understand what you did for the sake of experimenting myself. Thanks.


  2. Pingback: Making Portraits 8 – Ben Norcross. – Rjw inc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: