I find myself shooting at my film’s box speed less and less lately. I just always find myself in some sort of challenging lighting situation without the appropriate high-speed film. But for me, film photography is all about tinkering and experimenting, so I welcome it wholeheartedly.
I brought my old Olympus OM-G (yep, that’s really the model) to a late-night pub session, and all I had with me were a few rolls of Ilford HP5 400. The scene inside is typically quite low-light, but I just wanted to see how it’d do. The meter on the Olympus only goes to ASA 1600, which was still not fast enough for handheld exposures. I wound up doubling the suggested shutter speed and shooting at an effective metered ASA of 3200, because, well, I figured that was a thing people did with HP5 (as is very common with its competing Kodak offering, Tri-X).
When I got it back to the lab, however, it turned out that not only did the Ilford datasheets not have info for processing it at 3200; the Massive Dev chart didn’t have any times for processing it with HC-110 Dilution B, the only developer on hand. A fellow photographer who is much further along in his tinkering offered up some parameters from his stack of old notes, including time in the developer around 26 minutes. Massive Dev corroborated a bit, giving us a dev time of 25 minutes if we had D76 in a 1+1 solution, so I adjusted for temperature and went from there.
The negatives turned out fine, though the results are… well, it depends on your aesthetic preference. Even wide-open at f/1.4, I was still getting shutter speeds of around 1/30, so camera shake was an issue (probably not helped by the several pints consumed). And the images show heavy grain, which may or may not be an issue depending on your taste.
Of course, this is by no means intended to be the best results I can manage over my journey to rediscover film; but experimentation is important.