Week 10: Ilford Delta 400 hits a very sunny Madrid

After deciding to try some Black & White film for a few weeks, I was blinded by the light in a very sunny 15 degrees celcius Madrid in December.

I shot weeks 10 & 11 in Madrid over the Christmas holidays, deciding to bring in some more black & whitefilm, given I had a load of it in the fridge and had shot many previous weeks in colour.

I didn't have a general theme to start off with other than "let's go for a walk and see what I find" approach to life. I started off in Plaza de Colon in central Madrid, where there is a monument to Christopher Columbus right in the middle. There is also the largest Spanish flag you have ever seen, although given a distinct lack of wind I didn't bother to waste film taking a photo of a large white pole.

I did have some sort of a loose plan though, where I would walk from Colon down to Cibeles, up through the Retiro, and down to Atocha, ending up my journey with a visit to an analogue only shop I had found on the internet: Sales de Plata. I was very pleased to find out there is a bit of an analogue photography movement in Madrid, and finding film was really easy. The guys in Sales de Plata were great and also run monthly workshops for darkroom developing and other cool techniques. Needless to say I have signed up for one for my next visit!

Cool setup at Sales de Plata - highly recommended if you are in Madrid and need film, development, equipment, or a geneal chat - they are super knowledgeable and very friendly

So back to the film and the photos. I received these scanned and in TIFF file, which is very handy and allowed me to make some minor edits and in some cases add some contrast where needed.

I found overall that this film (and myself) struggled a bit with the extreme brightness of a sunny Madrid, that being said it does produce some really nice crisp images with little or no grain. This film is rated ISO 400, so good average film for most situations, probably also pretty decent in low light. In future, I'd probably go for an ISO 100 or 50 for such a sunny environment (which is exactly what I did for Week 11!). Below are a selection of shots from Ilford Delta 400 - clicking on them will make them full screen.

Our "home" bus - nicely aligned to the big building behind it. Nicely balanced sky too, and this was the first time I was using a yellow filter. More on filters in black and white photography here.

Cannot help to notice the wonderful facades in Madrid, they have done them up very nicely over the last few years. Also reminds you as a photographer to always look up - you never know what you're going to miss!

More water reflections. Bit grainy, but I like the look overall. I remember it being super bright and I was sitting in the shade, probaly used to low a shutter speed and it is a bit shaky.

Self portrain in the sun, Retiro Park. As I wondered through the streets I began to realise how much sun vs shade photos there are...so I already knew what my Week 11 theme would be: shadows!

A very clear shot compared to the previous water reflection one - shot at a much faster shutter speed as the sun was right behind me. Really excellent highlights and shadows - this is some good film!

A part of the Retiro Park I had actually never been in! I took this shot to see how well the film would balance out the darker trees compared to lighter ground and a blown out sky. Not bad overall, but needed some adjustment in my Adobe Lightroom program (photo processing software).

More facades with the sun/shadow look.

A (very) long queue for entrance to the Prado museum. Highly recommended to visit, pity these people don't know it is free after 5pm (or something like that). Bit of a flat image though due to very sunny conditions.

Atocha Train station. A wonderful building, with a botanical garden / greenhouse of sorts inside!

And there is the botanic garden...although I was more interested in getting this shot - some nice leading lines going on and balance between guy on escalator and guy on the bottom (yes, I know, I have been reading too many photography books...)

Struggling with ISO 400 in such bright conditions. If I were to use this again I would probably underexpose more in this shot.

Typical Spanish facade.

The gentle walk uphill. Nice balance between sun and shade.

I thoroughly enjoyed re-discovering my city Madrid during a sunny December morning. I had forgotten how nice of a city it is - so if you have not visited then put it as #1 on your places to go in 2017!

In retrospect, I probably should not have shot an ISO 400 film in such sunny conditions, but that is fine, you live and learn, and I still managed to get some good shots.

Overall result: My best shots were very clear with good balance of highlights and shadows. My "not so best shots" (let's be positive here) were a bit blown out, probably due to lack compensating for such a strong sunlight. However, I am very pleased overall with this film. It is a professional grade film from Ilford and seems to have a lot of "stretch" to it (learn more about dynamic range and film latitude here). I will definitely use it again, certainly in a low light situation to see how it handles that.

I hope you have enjoyed discovering Madrid in black & white! Week 11 is also in Madrid, but with an ISO 100 film (Ilford Delta 100) and focused on looking for sun and shadows!

And, as always, stop reading this and go out and take more photographs (preferably in black & white this time)