Photowalk – Edinburgh Doors Open Days 2019

Doors Open Days is an annual Scottish event where many venues offer free entry to the public. While I have been in Edinburgh for two years, I did not have the chance to visit many of the older buildings and heritage sites. I decided that this event would be the perfect opportunity to visit these places and also practice some architectural photography.

As I knew that I would have more time to compose my shots compared to my street photography sessions, I brought out my trusty Canon A-1. The lack of modern auto-focus and auto-exposure settings required me to slow down and think about my compositions. I chose to bring a 28mm lens for wider-angle shots and a 50mm lens for general shooting situations.

The images were taken over the two day period for the Doors Open Days event in Edinburgh from 28 September to 29 September.

New Register House Dome Interior [Ilford FP4+, 1/30s, f/3.5, FD 28mm f/2.8]

The first stop on Saturday was the New Register House for the General Register Office for Scotland. The building exterior was similar to the other buildings near the central area of Princes Street. However, the interior was a completely different story.

The shelves were lined with binders, books, and other archival materials. There was a television in the center of the room which displayed a video of the frame of the structure and certain points of building. A number of tour guides guided visitors around the room and discussed the building’s history and activities of the National Records of Scotland.

I had originally wanted to photograph the ceiling of the dome directly underneath the center window. Unfortunately, the 28mm lens was not able to adequately capture my vision for the dome’s ceiling. I chose to shoot half of the dome while still capturing the multiple floors of archives and I believe that it provides a better representation of the structure and its contents.

Playfair Library, Old College, University of Edinburgh [Ilford FP4+, 1/60s, f/4, FD 28mm f/2.8]

Next on the trip was the Old College campus for the University of Edinburgh.

The first location I had visited on the campus was the Talbot Rice Gallery. Inside, there was a large art installation of giant-sized musical instruments and lights supported by accompanying music. There were also contemporary art pieces related to music and sounds. I do not have many photos from this section as I am not a fan of photographing art pieces in isolation. However, the art gallery was very enjoyable and I would like to revisit it in the future.

The Talbot Rice Gallery connected to the Playfair Library and this is where I had taken the above photo. Large white pillars lined both sides of the library with busts of famous figures beside each pillar. Shelves and shelves of books filled the opposing walls of the library, only to be separately by large windows overlooking the central area of the campus and the surrounding buildings.

The sun had reached its peak in the midday and it shone brightly through the glass windows of the hallway. This was perfect for capturing harsh contrasts and separate the human subjects from the whites of the pillars.


I had finished off the day with a session of street photography while listening to the buskers in the park.

McEwan Hall Basement [Ilford FP4+, 1/15s, f/3.5, FD 28mm f/2.8]

On the second day, I headed to McEwan Hall, a large auditorium for the University of Edinburgh. I knew that this building was going to be a fun experience as soon as I had entered.

The entrance to the auditorium was a basement-like area with white walls containing the names of whom I believe to be graduates from the University of Edinburgh. There were curved hallways which led to smaller rooms around the circular building and connected to a central miniature atrium area.

The central area of this basement had pillars placed neatly with lights adorning the walls. The tiled flooring was smooth enough to provide reflections of the light from the pillars and the walls. I was captivated by the pattern of the lights from the pillars on the rounded surface of the ceiling of the room.

McEwan Hall Stage [Ilford FP4+, 1s, f/4, FD 28mm f/2.8]

Up the stairs to the main floor was the main auditorium area of McEwan Hall. This section of the building was spectacular in both form and magnitude. Rows and rows of chairs were arranged neatly and the walls were decorated with beautiful paintings and painstakingly-crafted sculptures.

I managed to capture this scene from the second floor of the auditorium. As I did not have a tripod available, I used the seats to steady the camera so that I would be able to expose the shot properly.

While the scene is mostly devoid of people, there is a lone photographer with his camera and tripod on the stage. I have used this person to emphasise the sheer size of the auditorium.

McEwan Hall Ceiling [Ilford FP4+, 1/15 s, f/3.5, FD 28mm f/2.8]

The ceiling of the auditorium was the highlight (pun intended) of the experience. A circular chandelier was suspended from the dome-like ceiling, lighting up the painted figures circling the center. Each figure had a corresponding field of study, ranging from the literary arts to the sciences and mathematics.

While many photographers attempted to photograph the ceiling from directly under the chandelier, I wanted to shoot a mixture of circles and rounded shapes. The curved ceiling above the main stage connects with the circular dome, and this in turn is surround by arched pillars which supported the entire auditorium structure.

I was impressed at the amount of detail that the film was able to capture. I had overexposed slightly in order to preserve the shadow detail, and the overall darkness in the scene meant that I did not clip the highlights (again, pun intended) too much.

[Ilford HP5+, 1/30s, f/2.8, FD 50mm f/1.8

The final set of images photos from the Leith Theatre. The Leith Theatre is a theatre for performing arts and other events. I believe that the theatre itself was to be demolished but the people of Leith were able to convince the council to leave the building alone. The interior of the building was bare, but still had the potential to be filled with life.

There were many small rooms within the theatre. There were change rooms, store rooms, dance rooms, and gin rooms. Each room felt distinct and unique but they all contributed to the larger building of the theatre.

The first photograph is of a disassembled organ that was repurposed as hanging fixtures above a bar area. While the individual pieces of the organ were separated, they were still able to contribute together to a greater, albeit different, whole.

Please take a Seat [Ilford HP5+, 1s, f/2.8, FD 50 f/1.8]

I decided to take an abstract approach when photographing the rows of seats in the balcony area. The seats had a nice alternating pattern of light and dark red hues and formed a sort of checkered pattern that is still pleasing in black and white.

Leith Theatre Stage [Ilford HP5+, 1s, f/3.5, FD 50mm f/1.8]

Finally, I ended with a shot of the main stage of the theatre. While the seats on the balcony are empty, the focus of this scene is the main stage. The borders around the stage, together with the rows of lights hanging from the balconies, provide a frame for the people on the stage. The Leith theatre was the perfect closing act to the day and the event.


Overall, the Doors Open Days was a very enjoyable event and exposed me to many buildings and sites that I was unaware of during my previous two years in Edinburgh. I hope you enjoyed reading through my experience and enjoyed the accompanying photos as well.


The images have been shot on a Canon A-1 film camera using either a Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens or a Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 lens. The expired Ilford FP4+ film stock (expired in 1996) was shot and developed at 125 ISO. An expired Ilford HP5+ film stock (expired in 1993) was shot at 200 ISO and developed at 400 ISO. The majority of the photos have been taken using manual settings with TTL metering set to +0.5 EV.

The Ilford FP4+ was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 for 6:00 minutes at 20C. The Ilford HP5+ film stock was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 for 7:00 minutes at 20C. Ilford Ilfostop was used to halt development for 0:30 minutes at 20C. The film was fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 3:00 minutes at 20C, followed by a water rinse for 3:00 minutes at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

Photowalk – Manchester [B&W] – Part 2

This post is a continuation from the previous post about my black and white photos from my short trip to Manchester [Part 1 here].

The previous part showcased the images that I had taken with a telephoto lens with a focal length of 85mm. For lenses with longer focal lengths, I can take similar photos from farther away or capture details of my subjects without having to get uncomfortably close. As I was still not very familiar with the city and its people, the 85mm lens was a better choice for my shooting style. However, I needed to get out of my comfort zone in order to improve in street photography.

I had used a “nifty fifty” lens, referring to the 50mm focal length, for the majority of the following photos. The 50mm lens is my preferred lens when I am starting out in a location due to its ability to shoot close-up and wider angle shots. With a shorter focal length than the 85mm lens, this lens required me to get closer to my subjects. However, the advantage of the wider lens is that I am able to capture more of a scene than if I am to shoot with a longer lens from the same distance.

Although the autofocus had been very useful in both the 50mm and 85mm lenses, I did not want to rely on the autofocus to shoot from the hip. One small issue with the 50mm f/1.8 STM II lens is the lack of a zone focus indicator so it is difficult to judge the exact distance to which the lens is focused. This is a minor inconvenience as the autofocus has provided me with more shots than I could have gotten had I been using the manual focus FD lenses with my 1979 Canon A-1. When the autofocus wasn’t working with my vision for a scene, I was able to adjust the focus quickly with the muscle memory I had gained through shooting with the Canon A-1.

Man in the Park [Ilford FP4+, 1/125 s , EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

This first photo was taken in one of the parks near the University of Manchester. While walking through the park, I noticed a man on a bench who was feeding a large group of birds. I got close enough to capture some detail of the man but not too close to startle the birds. I had also wanted to photograph some of the birds flying in and out of the larger group, but I decided that I still wanted the man to be the main focus of the scene and the movement of birds would have drawn interest away from the man.

I adjusted for a slower shutter speed so that the camera would choose a narrower aperture to keep more of the scene in focus. I didn’t want to have a shallow depth of field as I knew that I could use the negative space in the grass to draw more attention to the man. I’m not too happy with the location of the tree being in the center of the frame, but I believe that this was the best angle at the time.

The man and the bench fuse together to form a single object, and this is complemented by the large group of birds in the center of the frame. I decided against a tighter crop in order to provide more context for the man. While the man is the only human in the frame, he is not alone as he is surrounded by a large group of birds. By including more of the surrounding park area, there is a sense of isolationism that is juxtaposed with the crowdedness in the center of the scene.

Life Moves On [Ilford FP4+, 1 s, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

I wanted to capture the busyness of the city and I knew that a long exposure would be the perfect way to achieve this goal. Here, I saw a pavement area with a lot of pedestrian movement. I had held up my camera to pretend to shoot some shots and observed that many people just ignored me and kept on moving. This was a welcome change from the touristy city of Edinburgh where the inhabitants and visitors are sometimes a bit too considerate of people with cameras.

For a one-second shot, I propped my arm up against a pole in order to stabilise the camera. Thankfully, the slower shutter speed was compensated by a narrower aperture and this allowed me to keep more of the scene in relative focus. I decided set my focus point to a distance which was approximately 1/3rd of the way into the scene.

The results from long exposures are difficult to predict, but they are very satisfying when they work. There is a diverse selection of people in this scene, and the differing amounts of motion blur reveal the uniqueness of each individual. Some people are moving quickly and busily to their destinations, while others are slower and enjoying their walks.

Between the Frames [Ilford FP4+, 1/250 s, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

Sometimes mistakes can occur in the photographic process, either in the development and printing of the film, operation of the camera, or otherwise. I believe that it is important to embrace these mistakes as they are an important aspect of shooting with film. In this case, there are light leaks in the frame and these led to two overexposed rectangles at the top and bottom of the frame. The light leaks are likely the result of a mistake I had made when I had respooled the film from a larger spool into the film canister.

The original scene itself is not particularly interesting. There is a woman talking on her phone and standing beside a traffic sign. I have included the out-of-frame person with the umbrella in order to indicate that it is raining in this scene. The reflections on the road also contribute to the rainy scene.

The light leaks help to remove distractions from the scene and increase the emphasis that is placed on the woman. While not forming a conventional frame around the subject, I feel that the light leaks around the woman also achieve a sub-framing effect. Interestingly, the top and bottom light leaks stop right above and below the woman respectively, leading me to wonder if there is something special to the woman.

The Disappearing Man [Ilford FP4+, 1/180 s, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

Similar to the previous image, the things that you fail to account for sometimes produce the most interesting effects. In this photo, the man on the right’s upper body appears to be transparent while his lower half remains opaque. This is contrasted with the other people in the frame who are quite nontransparent (with the exception of the reflection of a person with an umbrella and a stroller).

The photo was shot in the rain while I was waiting under a bus shelter. I looked behind me and through the glass to see pedestrians walking past the stores. I decided that the man on the right would be my point of interest and placed him in the lower right corner of the frame using the rule of thirds. A mixture of the reflections caused by the rain and the reflections in the glass resulted in this peculiar effect.

The disappearing effect is caused by the reflection of the bright bricked building being reflected in the glass. The surrounding buildings around this bricked building are not as brilliant, and as a result are not displayed as prominently in the reflections.


I hope you enjoyed the images as much as I had enjoyed taking and editing them. I may continue the series in the future with more black and white images or move onto the colour images that I had taken on this trip.


The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using either a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II lens. The expired Ilford FP4+ film stock (expired in 1996) was shot and developed at 125 ISO. The majority of the photos have been taken using shutter priority with an adjustment of EV +0. I have only listed the shutter speeds for the images as I do not recall any of the corresponding apertures.

The film was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 for 5:30 minutes at 20C. Ilford Ilfostop was used to halt development for 0:30 minutes at 20C. The film was fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 3:00 minutes at 20C, followed by a water rinse for 3:00 minutes at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

Photowalk – Manchester [B&W] – Part 1

I had recently travelled to Manchester as a break and also to do some street photography. I had never been to Manchester before and I thought it would be a good experience to broaden my horizons and improve my photography. For the first few days of the trip, I explored the downtown and surrounding areas and was mainly photographing in colour. I used these days for scouting areas which would contain interesting scenes and people, and also to identify any areas to avoid.

My preference for street photography is still black and white film and I chose to use the expired Ilford FP4+ film stock for this purpose during the last couple of days of the trip. I brought my 50mm lens for general shooting but also used my 85mm lens for some shots where I wasn’t able to get close enough to my subjects in time. The benefit of using prime lenses with these particular focal lengths is that it forced me to move around and keep my eyes open.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle [Ilford FP4+, 1/500 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

Sometimes, there’s no time to think about composition and you need to take the shot and hope it turns out well — especially with a medium such as film. This was one of those times.

I was resting on a bench in front of the town hall when I had noticed a boy performing tricks on his bicycle. As he was about to pass by, I turned around quickly and readied my camera for less than half a second before I snapped the shot. Thankfully, the autofocus on the 85mm was fast enough to focus on the boy as he performed a wheelie across the tiled floor.

The positioning of the boy in the scene ended up being even better than I had expected. The negative space in the image is perfect as the light-coloured floor and pillars in the background contrast against the boy’s dark-coloured clothing and bicycle. Due to the faster shutter speed and longer focal length of the 85mm lens, the other objects in this scene are not in focus, placing an even greater emphasis on the boy.

Street Portrait [Ilford FP4+, 1/350 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

This photo was also shot in front of the town hall, but on the other side on the bench. I was watching the trams pass frequently and figured that I would be able to work with the windows to sub-frame the passengers within the tram. I noticed this scene as the tram had pulled up to the station at the perfect location.

The metal pole and seat inside the tram, the border of the tram window, and the metal framing around the glass pane all combine together to form a frame for this “portrait” of a woman. I had intentionally metered so that the woman would be underexposed and appear as a silhouette against the white pillar in the background.

Unlike the previous photo where I did not have time to react, I had a bit more time here and noticed another pedestrian walking down the ramp from the station. I had adjusted the shutter speed to be able to freeze the motion as well as capture both the man and the woman in focus, and waited patiently for the man to come into the frame. Both people have similar postures, but the bright visage of the man provides contrast against the darkness of the silhouette.

Child-like Curiosity [Ilford FP4+, 1/250 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

In this scene, I was walking along the sidewalk and I noticed a little girl walking alongside her father. They had stopped at the bus stop and were likely waiting for the bus. I realised that the bus stop would be perfect for framing subjects and possibly be a subject in itself.

The adults are obscured by the signs and supports of the bus stop, leaving the children as the focus of the scene. The girl is interested in something outside of the frame while the child in the stroller is preoccupied with something in front of him.

I attempted to use the rule of odds in this composition with the three panels of glass of the bus stop. The scene may be enhanced with the addition of a third child in the last glass panel. Of course, part of the fun of street photography is unpredictability and oftentimes I find that the scenes are not exactly as I would like them to be.

City in Motion [Ilford FP4+, 1/2 s, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM]

I had wanted to capture the motion of the city while still having a stationary subject. Due to the placement of the tram tracks and the openness of the roads, many pedestrians were interrupted momentarily in their crossing of the streets by the crossing of the trams or other vehicles. With this knowledge, I took an opportunity to photograph a man who was waiting for a tram to pass before continuing on with his journey.

The difficulty of photographing motion in the scene arose from the high amount of light present. I did not have a neutral density filter available so I would need to use the smallest possible aperture in order to achieve usable images with slower shutter speeds. Thankfully, the slower film speed of FP4+ was a huge boon for longer exposures even in the daylight.

The blurred movement of the tram, together with the darkened trunks of the trees, frame the man perfectly. The trio of trees to the right also draws attention away from the other parts of the frame.

I feel that the man represented myself. While I was remaining stationary and resting on a bench, the world wasn’t going to stop and would continue on moving without me.


I hope you have enjoyed these images and I look forward to sharing more photos from this trip in the future.


The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using either a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens. The expired Ilford FP4+ film stock (expired in 1996) was shot and developed at 125 ISO. The majority of the photos have been taken using shutter priority with an adjustment of EV +0.5. I have only listed the shutter speeds for the images as I do not recall any of the corresponding apertures.

The film was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 for 5:30 minutes at 20C. Ilford Ilfostop was used to halt development for 0:30 minutes at 20C. The film was fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 3:00 minutes at 20C, followed by a water rinse for 3:00 minutes at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

On a roll – Expired Ilford FP4+

Ilford’s FP4+ is a medium speed panchromatic black and white negative film with a fine grain structure. Like its sibling, HP5+, the film exhibits a medium level of contrast and pleasing midtones.

While browsing eBay, I had stumbled upon a deal that I just couldn’t pass up and obtained a 400 ft spool of expired FP4+ in 35mm format. Given the expiry date of 1996 and the one stop per decade rule, the film should have been rated at 25 – 50 ISO compared to the 125 ISO of a fresh roll of FP4+. However, I had previously tested the film at the box speed of 125 ISO and the film did not appear to suffer from a reduction in sensitivity even after all these years.

Looks like it’s from way before 1996

I shot the film during a sunny day trip in Berwick where the low to medium film speed wouldn’t be too restrictive. I decided to shoot the film at 125 ISO but metered for the shadows to compensate for the possible slower film sensitivity. The bright sunlight also allowed me to use faster shutter speeds while still having narrower apertures to keep the majority of the objects in the scenes in relative focus.

I set out to capture scenes with high contrast and detail in order to test out the film’s capabilities. To be quite honest, I did not have any particular scenes in mind and just shot whatever caught my interest.

Being a slower film stock, I needed to be careful with my selection of subjects as I would not be able to shoot fast-moving subjects without having some degree of motion blur. I was lucky to be able to catch the butterfly at rest as it was stretching out its wings to absorb the sunlight.

The film is also great for capturing scenes with patterns and textures as showcased in the following images.

Although I chose to slightly overexpose the shots with an intent to adjust the images in post, the expired film was still quite versatile and handled a few stops of under or overexposure with ease. Having previously shot fresh FP4+, the expired film yielded a comparatively softer level of contrast while maintaining a similar level of fineness in the grain.

My choice of developer was Ilfosol 3 as this developer provides a high level of detail and sharpness with films shot at box speed. The already beautiful rendition of the midtones in the scans meant that I had to spend a minimal amount of effort on editing.

This particular spool of FP4+ has aged like a fine wine. The reduction in contrast in the final images is desirable and the film retains most of its positive aspects such as the fine grain and film speed. Due to these attractive qualities, I look forward to shooting more of this expired film stock in the future.


The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II lens. The film stock used was an expired 35mm Ilford FP4+ film stock (expired in 1996) and developed according to ISO 125. The majority of the photos have been taken using manual settings with a tendency for overexposure by 0.5 – 1 stops.

The film was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 at a dilution of 1+9 for 5:00 minutes at 20C. Ilford Ilfostop was used to halt development for 0:30 minutes at 20C. The film was then fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 2:30 minutes at 20C, followed by a water rinse for 3:00 minutes at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.