Kelly-Shane Fuller on Pushing Ilford HP5 to ISO 51,200

All images by Kelly-Shane Fuller. Used with permission.

Black and white film photographers know very well that they can often push a lot of their film quite a bit; but probably not many photographers have tried pushing Ilford HP5 to ISO 51,200 like Kelly-Shane Fuller does. Kelly-Shane has been on the site before for his tinkering about with Kodachrome to develop it. But we wanted to see what he does with Ilford HP5 to get such great photos from it at this ISO.

Phoblographer: Photographers who shoot black and white photos generally really love the ability to push and pull the film. But sometimes it can be tough to do. Do you feel like you’re able to push HP5 to ISO 51,200 because you’re shooting large format or could this be easily done with 120 and 35mm?

Kelly-Shane: While I’ve never actually TRIED it in 120 or 35mm, I suspect that given how low the grain is that it would be certainly possible. It’s something I should absolutely try and find out!

Phoblographer: When you’re shooting, and even though you’re developing for 51,200 ISO, are you shooting for a lower ISO just in case like maybe 6400 or something like that?

Kelly-Shane: Obviously I don’t want to push any farther than I NEED too, I first tried this when attempting to shoot my 4×5 Crown Graphic in an EXTREMELY dark steampunk fashion show (luckily it wasn’t my only camera at that show), I had done pushes before but I quickly realized that there was no way I’d be able to shoot my F5.6 lens at less than ISO 51200, so I said what the hell and went for it. I was actually super surprised that I got any results.

Phoblographer: What applications do you that pushing the film this far is best for? Even in digital, I never end up pushing that far.

Kelly-Shane: Shooting at night with large format is really one of the few times it actually makes sense to push that far. Most large format lenses aren’t all that fast, making it hard to shoot anything other than log exposure when it gets dark. I wanted to shoot my Travelwide handheld at night, so this was really the only viable way.

Phoblographer: Mind telling us about the process of how you do this exactly?

Kelly-Shane: Absolutely, I developed these semi-stand process in HC-110B. Normally you’d use a very dilute developer to do stand, but with an extreme push like this I needed the extra developer activity. I agitated for one minute, then 3 times every 30 minutes for 1.5 hours. I honestly could have gone probably all the way to 2 hours to get a bit more density out of them, but they scanned ok. I also should have filled my tank a little more with the shots from the fashion shoot, as there’s some under development at the top of that image.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.