Another test roll of HP5, but where the last roll had a bunch of shots I liked this one is boring. With this roll I decided to meter it at 320, 1/3rd of a stop slower than the box speed of 400. I still developed it as a 400 speed film.

I wanted to see if that change helped lighten shadows and give me a little more texture in the dark parts of the photo. Just to make my life difficult I decided to test this by shooting a backlit wooden bird house in a nearby garden.

Here’s what I was working with:

A black and white photo of a wooden birdhouse. The face of the birdhouse is in deep shadow with very little detail.
1/500, f11, 50mm. This is from a previous roll of HP5 that I metered at 400.

The birdhouse is lit from behind at an angle, such that most of the direct light is hitting the side of the birdhouse. The front of the birdhouse is getting some light, but it’s mostly in shadow. And at the bottom of the birdhouse is deep shadow.

Over several exposures in this new roll of HP5 I tried to make the face of the birdhouse visible, roughly in Zone 3. I found that I could do that, but only by overexposing the rest of the photo.

A black and white photo of a wooden birdhouse. The face of the birdhouse is visible, but the garden around the birdhouse is overexposed and very bright.
1/250, f16, 50mm. Shot on a different day than the previous photo, but at a similar time and lighting.

One solution could be to get closer and reduce the highlights from the sun and reflections.

A black and white photo of a wooden birdhouse. The front of the birdhouse is in deep shadow and barely visible.
1/1000 f8, 135mm Takumar

This is the same effective exposure as the previous photo, though it was taken on a different day. I don’t have the overexposure problem here, but the face of the birdhouse is darker than I want, though.

A close up black and white photo of a wooden birdhouse. The face of the birdhouse is in shadow, but visible.
1/125, f8, 24mm Takumar

A little closer, and with a different lens to push that sunflower stalk in to the background. This one is 3 stops brighter than the last shot and the shadows are finally about where I wanted them. To meter this I took several readings close to the face of the birdhouse and averaged them.

I don’t think my problems with this subject were due to me metering HP5 at 400 or 320. Rather I think they were due to a tricky (for me) range of tones and misuse of my meter. To limit the overpowering sun I needed to get close to the birdhouse (or maybe use a filter). To meter this subject well I had to get up close and take a lot of readings. Relying on a single spot reading here is a mistake.

Overall I think metering HP5 at 320 worked pretty well. These shots turned out nicely, if not particularly exciting.

1/500, f8, Takumar 105mm
1/125, f4, Takumar 105mm

I might try metering my next roll of HP5 at 250 just to see how it goes. But I think most of my problems with this roll are due to composition and not using my meter correctly.

These were shot using a Pentax Spotmatic ii. Developed in Rodinal 1+100 for 11:10 at 23.5C. Scanned with an Epson 750.

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