Behind the Film - Neil Hibbs Posted On 15th June 2021 To Magazine & Behind the Film
In week three of our behind the film series we're heading to our technical department to meet our Technical Service Manager Neil Hibbs.
Who are you? What’s your job title HARMAN technology and how long have you worked here?
Neil Hibbs – Technical and Lab Services manager
Tell us a little about your day to day role.
I manage a small team offering technical product support, both internally (to manufacturing and marketing functions) and externally to our worldwide customer base.
I also set-up the Harman Lab business (Formerly Ilford Lab) and run this as a commercial lab operation, offering quality black and white and colour film developing, scanning and printing services.
Share a favourite photo that you shot on ILFORD / Kentmere film and tell us why it’s your favourite.
This is one of my favorite shots I have taken on film. It was shot with XP2S in Marbury park on a misty morning.
My digital file is not very good and doesn’t do it justice, but the print I have on the wall at home looks amazing.
Have you always shot film, or did you get infected with the bug when you started working here?
Before I worked for ILFORD I used to use my friends dad’s darkroom. At school I used to carry a Zenit-E on Duke of Edinburgh trips. Of-course it survived no problem!
What subjects do you like to photograph and how would you describe your photographic style?
I like architecture and landscapes and capturing movement, when the kids were growing up I took loads of them, kids take such great pictures... I’m always looking at composition, it means everything really, completely changes an image.
I love pinhole photography too – Such a different perspective and way of working. I’ve included a couple of pinhole shots.
What mistakes have you made shooting film that you are not too embarrassed to share?
Plenty, especially when shooting large format, opening darkslides by accident, double exposing darkslides, you’ve got to get organised with L/F or it can get messy!
Not hooking the film used to be an early mistake !
How many different film stocks have you shot? (Not just ours.)
Back in the day, lots of Kodak and Agfa colour and some E6 colour slide, even the old Ilfochrome slide film we used to sell. B&W mostly ILFORD stock unless testing competitors. I like XP2, FP4 and DP100
Do you develop yourself or take advantage of the staff discount at Harmanlab?
Bit of a silly question as I run the lab, actually a bit of both, but usually just to keep my skills up more than anything, otherwise I would just use HARMANlab.
Have you ever printed your negatives in the darkroom?
Yes, I do tend to scan all my negatives too. If I find something nice, I’ll make a darkroom enlargement. Much prefer the creative control and sense of achievement it brings.
What film camera(s) do you own and which is your favourite? (Please send us a picture of it if you can).
I’ve got loads probably too many to list and not all in working order! But my favourites are my OM1-N, Canon EOS 5, Ilford Advocate and My dads old Rollei 2.8E. I probably need to clear out the rest.
Which is your favourite film in our range? Tel us why and share a shot taken with it.
I think it’s a toss up between XP2 and FP4+. Both are very versatile. I think I’ll go for XP2, just to be different. XP2’s colour process dye image is completely different to our other films. It’s easy to scan with digital ICE and can be push / pulled (or badly exposed) on the same roll without the need to adjust the processing time. XP2 is super sharp and highlights seem to have an added sparkle I like.
It can also be dev’d like a regular B&W film for something different again! People maybe don’t know this.
About The Author
I’m 51 years old, married with two sons and have worked for ILFORD/HARMAN pretty much all my working life since 1988. I studied for a Chemistry degree whilst working for Ilford and have worked in many different roles and area’s of the business, mostly with some technical or scientific aspect.
As my sons are now young men (where did that time go?), I’m finding a bit more time for hobbies, of which I probably have far too many! I would include amongst them hiking, biking (both kinds), photography, fixing and tinkering with things (is that a hobby?), retro gaming – I grew up in the 80’s! Astronomy, Cooking, Wild Camping, DIY, Beer etc etc… too much to do and not enough time! My wife and I really fancy a Camper van, I think that could be next on the list of things!
I keep work and family/social fairly separate. Sometimes I post on twitter @neilhibbs, but not work stuff, it’s fairly random and might be about some retro-gaming project or long-distance hike. I’m not a reality TV star, so no-one takes any notice anyway!