Consider these three film images. All from the same roll of Ilford HP5 Plus, developed under identical conditions with Ilfotec HC. All shot with a Red 25A lens filter. All that differs between them is the degree of exposure.
The top is exposed normally, the second 1/2 stop over exposed, the bottom 1 stop overexposed. If I was dealing with digital images, I would be potentially coping with blown highlights and oversaturated pixels. But I’m not. Instead, I am working with photochemistry. Here, the effect of too much light is to cause aggregate clumping of silver particles leading to ever more prominent grain.
Now, knowledge like this would be nothing out of the ordinary for a photographer of the old school. But for me, coming to this old art anew, it’s striking and exciting. It may be reiterating old knowledge, but the process, for me at least, is exciting and involving. Insights such as this strike as me as mysteriously seductive as any alchemist’s art. It’s just another reason why I have turned to film.
And I won’t be going back.