Disposable fun

A forum I frequent has been running a disposable camera challenge where each participant can enter up to three photos taken with a single-use camera. I didn’t have a disposable laying around, so I bought myself an Ilford XP2 model especially to take part ( I had planned on getting the HP5+ variant, but the shop didn’t have them).

I’ve used it on three occasions – in Sheffield on the day I bought it; in London when visiting for a work meeting; and in Sheffield again this weekend just passed.

The camera itself is (or was – it’s been destroyed presumably when the film was developed) a very lightweight piece of kit with a snazzy red and white striped design. It feels like it would smash into a million pieces if dropped on a hard surface. Feature-wise, it has a viewfinder, lens (30mm f/9), flash activation button, shutter button, and a film-advance wheel. And that’s your lot.

In operation there’s not much to do other than frame the shot through the basic optical viewfinder, click the shutter, and wind on to the next frame. The frame counter is reversed so you can see how many shots remain. The flash is advisable for dim conditions – I took several frames in what appeared to be decent light in St. Pancras railway station and they’re all pretty much useless.

In terms of the results produced, they’re pretty much as you’d expect from a disposable camera with a plastic lens – soft at the edges, but with acceptable sharpness in the centre of the images. Of the 28 frames I eked out of the roll I probably have half-a-dozen that I like, several more that are ok, but nothing to write home about, and the rest are underexposed or just badly composed – I think I had a bit of a tendency to ‘snap’ images with this camera rather than taking my time to find better pictures with it. That said, I’m really happy with the first two of the five shots I’ve posted here today, and the others aren’t bad either.

I can’t honestly say I’ll bother with a disposable camera again – even if the competition is run anew in future – especially given the other good cameras I have, but it was a good experience nonetheless.

So, here are five of the photos I took with the camera.

This one is my fave of the bunch. It’s not a sharp as it might have been had I used a different camera / lens, but I’m really happy with the result. This was taken at the Barbican Centre in London

FILM - There's no such word as Barbican't

Another one I really like. It’s mostly negative space, but I think it works well. This is Blast Lane near Sheffield city centre.

FILM - Blast Lane subframe

This golden taxi sits atop the cab firm’s offices on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield.

FILM - Taxi

The lens on the camera had a tendency to flare in certain conditions, here rendering the figure with a ghost-like haze.

FILM - Barbican ghost

And finally, another shot from Blast Lane where a dmaged bicycle lay (I presume) abandoned next to the tunnel.

FILM - Buckled

Anyone else gone the lo-fi disposable route?

Ilford XP2 single use camera.

Taken in April and June 2019

Advertisements

Somewhere in Barcelona

I’m not sure of the precise location of this shot – it was taken as my wife and I wandered the narrow streets off Barcelona’s “La Rambla”, and was probably in the Gothic Quarter somewhere. It’s a shot that made me glad of the 28mm lens I had attached to the camera.

FILM - Somewhere in Barcelona

Olympus OM-10, Cimko 28mm f/2.8 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 17 June 2019

Down in the subway

This was taken in 51st Street subway station in Manhattan. We had a visit to the WTC memorial planned for the day and the subway was the most convenient way to get there. I did take a number of photos while we travelled on the subway during our trip, but most were on digital.

FILM - Subway

Canon Sure Shot Z135  & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 25 May 2019

Standing in the rain outside Grand Central Terminal

After our visit to the WTC Memorial, we caught the subway back to midtown and got off the train at Grand Central Terminal. After grabbing a few snacks from the food court on the lower level, we decided head back to the hotel.

Upon approaching the exit we noticed people entering the building with umbrellas, or with significant signs of being caught in the rain, and upon exiting found that it was absolutely tipping it down.

While we waited for the rain to ease off, we sheltered under the road bridge outside the south entrance, and I took a few photographs, including this one.

I know many photographers who complain when it rains, but for me it’s always a treat to be able to get photographs in this sort of weather. The way the floor suddenly becomes a diffuse mirror for light and clolour, and the way people behave and take shelter makes for very interesing photos in my opinion. There’s obviously some work to be done to ensure you and your camera are not soaked, but the effort is definitely worth it, don’t you think?

FILM - Outside Grand Central in the rain

Canon Sure Shot Z135  & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 26 May 2019

Morning light

On the Saturday of Memorial weekend there was a lot of activity around Rockefeller Plaza as people set things up for the events that would be taking place. Here a couple of guys stand outside Radio City Music Hall while trucks are unloaded.

FILM - Morning light

Canon Sure Shot Z135  & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 25 May 2019

Lucky bull

I’ve seen the Wall Street “Charging Bull” sculpture on films and TV shows on numerous occasions, It’s also regularly shown when someone runs a story on the US financial markets. It’s maybe not that well known by people in the UK, but I knew about it and thought it would be nice to get a picture or two while we were in southern Manhattan.

I got my chance on the first full day of our trip after we got off the boat back from Liberty Island. We decided to have a walk around to find something to eat and came across it by chance. Alas, my idea of getting a picture of the bull was somewhat thwarted by the huge crowds of people with exactly the same idea however. It was absolutely swamped by people: taking selfies; taking photos of others; climbing on the concrete barricades that protect it; touching its nose; touching its horns; and, yes, most popular of all it would seem, touching its balls (which have been rubbed so many times as to be shiny from all the attention!).

So, in the end, I figured a capture of the moment would probably have more meaning to me than a plain old shot of the bull by itself, so here you go…

FILM - Wall Street bull

Canon Sure Shot Z135  & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 25 May 2019

Just do it

You can’t fail to be struck by the advertising hoardings in Times Square, whether it be the high-tech animated electronic boards, or the more traditional versions like in today’s photo.

I’m a little disappointed with the roll of Ektar I shot in NYC – not due to the film itself (the colours are glorious), but because of my results. Apart from a couple, all the shots (including the one here) show at least some minor signs of softness. I know the camera is capable of sharp images, so this is down to camera shake or DOF blurring when using wider apertures. Although it wasn’t badly lit on the day I shot the roll, the light meter app on my phone was giving somewhat long exposure times when I metered the shots, so I was shooting with longer shutter speeds and / or wider apertures than I’d have liked. As this was a family trip, not a photography expedition, I was also taking less time than I would have liked to compose and take many shots, which probably exacerbated things too.

I wish I’d have taken my Sekonic L-208 meter with me instead of relying on the phone app. The phone app is normally ok, but on this occasion seemed to be giving me somewhat variable results even when readings were taken in similar conditions. I think the L-208 would have been a more reliable companion.

FILM - Just do it

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Ektar.

Taken on 27 May 2019