Blog post

Simple Simon Says …

Accepting the Simple Simon Says challenge to photograph Liverpool with a Lomo Simple Use Camera and Lomo Metropolis.

My challenge to photograph Liverpool using a Lomography Simple Use Camera with a roll of Lomochrome Metropolis.

I was pleasantly surprised to get a DM tweet from Darren Rose (@winterosephoto) to see if I fancied being next in line with an Analogue Wonderland camera challenge. I wasn’t too aware of what had been going on, but it sounded fun so I of course said yes please.

It turns out this challenge started off with Paul at Analogue Wonderland sending Sandeep (@givemeabiscuit) a Lomography Simple Use camera loaded with Lomochrome Purple as a way to stimulate some photographic creativity during lockdown. I believe the camera really did the trick, but it also started a bit of a chain reaction, cue Diana Ross, because Sandeep then sent it on a journey to somebody else and so on and so on until it arrived with Darren to pass on to myself.

When the parcel arrived, I found that Darren had very kindly provided me with a roll of Lomochrome Metropolis to shoot, along with some nice goodies in the box, PLUS a photographic challenge. It became apparent that Darren had seen some of my photos, as he challenged me to show my home city of Liverpool off as best as I could with the Lomo camera and film. I was very grateful for this particular challenge as it was one I should have been able to take on without too much trouble, especially as the lens of the camera had a nice 31mm focal length.

So, it turned out the ‘Simple’ use camera, was not so simple for me in the first instance. It is basically a disposable camera, that has been made so that you can reload it with further rolls of film after the first one has been used up. Re-loading caused a little bit of head scratching for me, I am afterall a bear of very little brain. First thing to work out is that you load the film backwards, then wind it all onto the spool, and you then wind it back into the cartridge as you shoot frame by frame. There are two small plastic switches you need to know about, one allows you to wind the film onto the spool, and one on the frame counter which allows you to reset the counter to the start. Easy once you know how 🙂

The next steps were more straightforward, over a single weekend visiting the historic Toxteth area, the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and Bold Street in the City centre I got the 36+ frames done – result !

Bold St. Liverpool City Centre.

It was then the job to develop the film, I’d developed Metropolis before, and was aware the plastic cartridges were something of a pig, in particular if you can’t leave the leader sticking out. As you are gradually winding the film back into the cartridge while shooting with the Simple Use Camera, it’s pretty impossible to know when you are truly at the end of the roll.

However, as I knew the problems with the cartridge, I put a nice chunky screwdriver in the changing bag when loading the tank, so I could brutally prise the cartridge open to allow access to the film for loading.

Leeds-Liverpool Canal, Stanley Dock Flight

Developing was routine using the Tetenal C41 kit, it’s always a surprise though when you go to hang up Metropolis to dry, that green tinge instead of the usual orange is a bit off putting. Once it was dry I scanned the roll on a flatbed scanner. Looking at the results in Lightroom, I could see some minor potential there, but also that overexposure had been an issue on quite a few frames. The camera has in theory an f9 aperture and a 1/120th shutter speed, with Metropolis having a mean ISO rating of 200, I did a quick calculation and thought that ideal conditions would therefore be slight overcast- bright with a bit of cloud. Then allowing for the latitude of the film I could go from quite bright to a bit dull, meaning most conditions in the UK 😀 To be fair we had a lot of good weather in the UK at the time so perhaps the overexposed frames were not too surprising. Those overexposed frames required a bit of compensation in Lightroom, and I was thankful they mostly corrected without too much problem.

Georgian Quarter, Toxteth, Liverpool.

Well, if you got this far, many thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the Lo-Fi photos and views of the city I call my home. Simple Simon is off next to Emily (@PhotosEmily) in Ireland for its next challenge, definitely looking forward to seeing those results, keep an eye out for them !

© Copyright owner Stig Starr, first publication 19th August 2020.

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