Edinburgh on 35mm

Edinburgh on 35mm

I am a strong believer that when it comes to photography, film is not dead. It does, however, sometimes break your heart…

It feels like so long ago that I last bought a 35mm camera, and even longer since my ‘a camera a month for a year’ project. I couldn’t resist buying the most beautiful 35mm camera I’d ever seen. The Exa Ihagee Dresden (sporting a Meyer-Optik Görlitz Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 lens). It has this really cool look-down-style viewing screen, which is rare for a 35mm camera and now I just needed the perfect location to test it out.

(Photo by: Rick Nunn)

When it comes to buying presents for each other, Rick and I always seem to have everything we need. So we’ve got into a habit of treating each other to mini holidays for our birthdays, instead of presents (or sometimes both because we’re (I’m) spoilt). Anyway, on this particular birthday we decided to explore Edinburgh as an adventure location, and soon after that we found the most amazing Airbnb apartment to match. Don’t worry, there are plenty of photos to follow.

The Apartment:

Other than being beautiful to look at, the apartment had so much character. Some rooms still had old wallpaper left on the bits of wall that were above eye-level, others didn’t really have much of a ceiling and the rooms were filled with history of all the different people who used to live there. There was almost every kind of musical instrument you could imagine, including some that I couldn’t even name, and there was no television. There were shelves of books, stacks of records, rows of old projectors and easels full of unfinished bits of artwork that were just waiting to be completed.

Decks of cards were all jumbled up together on every table, there was a huge collection of cooking spices and tea flavours in the kitchen, and plants (both dead and alive) surrounding every large window in the place. The ceilings were incredibly high, the electricity was incredibly low and personal documents/note books littered the desks and drawers. The place seriously had as much personality as the guy who owns it; a young artist who cared more about directing us to the nearest award-winning coffee places than he did about us playing with his gramophone. You have to ask because everyone knows that ‘make yourself at home’ actually means ‘sit down quietly and don’t touch my stuff’, right?

35mm Film Woes:

To be honest, my absolutely stunning new (old) camera was instantly overshadowed by the impressive selection of vintage typewriters, instruments and projectors, but I loaded her with film anyway and started shooting.

I packed three films. I figured that was plenty for three days. However, when loading the first film, I mistook the rewind button for the shutter button and got in a complete mess. Game over. Exposed film – straight in the bin. I then loaded my second film, feeling pretty confident that I’d nail it the second time around. Off we went to explore the city and I genuinely took some of the best photos I’d ever taken. There were couples dressed in 40’s clothing dancing in the street, the sun seemed to follow us around, highlighting the beautiful architecture, and the blossom made the entire city look like a three-dimensional postcard. I got to photo number 27 and thought ‘hmm, a 24 shot film shouldn’t still let me wind on like this?’. As I wound back the film, I soon realised that the winder hadn’t caught hold of the reel. Second game over. The light had gone, I hadn’t captured a single shot and I had wound the film all the way back into the spool. I couldn’t re-use it.

I was heartbroken, ‘don’t talk to me and bring me Thai food, please’ heartbroken. The forecast predicted rain for our final day and we had to be on a train at 4pm. Deflated but determined, I decided to relive the previous day as best as possible, using my last remaining film. After taking a few shots around the apartment I actually opened my camera in the darkened bathroom, to ensure the film was winding properly. Everything was now in place. As we waved goodbye to the apartment, and the mouse that lives somewhere in the kitchen skirting board, we stepped out into the city for one last time. Fingers crossed that I’d capture some of the most wonderful sights of any previous trip so far.

Here are the results from my one and only reel. I couldn’t be happier with them (Rick is pretty naked in one of them). Enjoy:

For more photos from our trip, including Edinburgh Zoo and Camera Obscura, check out the digital-dominator's blog here.

  • Mohamad Ramadan

    Makes me want to cry! I can only imagine how heartbroken u must have been.. You nailed every shot on your last roll though.. Such beautiful results! What film did you shoot on

  • Nice post Spadge, and awesome photos! Love the ambience the film brings! :)

  • Spadge

    Aw haha I definitely dragged my feet for the rest of the evening but I was so glad it didn’t happen on the last day! Thanks so much, I can’t wait to use this camera again. I used Kodak ColourPlus 200 ASA, it can take some strain! Highly recommended, haha x

  • philbarker

    There’s something very warm and sexy with 35mm shots, but I feel your pain

    I drove all the way to germany with my AE-1 and on my first day spotted an absolutely immaculate mk1 escort, one of my all time favourite cars. Getting excited about how amazing a retro car would look on retro film I snapped a few shots of it and felt really happy that I’d brought it with me.

    When I got home and got them developed not a single shot was in focus (manual focus + moving car = tough), absolutely gutted.

    It’s why even though I own a few film cameras the DSLR is still the one I grab on my way out the door.

  • lovely shots! I was actually quite surprised they came from a 35mm!

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  • Helena

    That apartment was made to be captured on film, you did a great job! I love every single photo, this post makes me want to visit Edinburgh even more than I already wanted.

  • Spadge

    Ohhhh noooo, for the type of photos you take I think a DSLR is definitely the way to go haha, you should play with film more though! There are tons of motorbikes around Lincoln this week, car-parks full. I’m just sayin’ :P

  • Spadge

    Thank you so much! It is honestly such a stunning city. Not a rough area in sight! It made my job very easy. I hope you visit soon!

  • philbarker

    I had noticed – and it’s a 3 day weekend, and there’s a beer festival, and I have nothing to do :)

    Hint taken ;)

  • Dave Cox

    Two things happened after reading this post for the second time, I now HAVE to shoot more film & I asked Amy to go to Edinburgh with me.

  • Spadge

    Aw yeyyyy you guys! I am so excited to see your film pics. I have been too into words this summer (although I hope you love those too when you see them), I may join you on a film spree (not on your holiday haha) x