5 Frames… Of Edinburgh Castle on ILFORD XP2 Super (120 Format / EI 400 / Rolleicord) – by Jake Williams

ILFORD XP2 Super is a long time favourite of mine. I’ve been using it since my earliest steps in photography, back when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, Prince hadn’t yet changed his name to a symbol and the likes of Duran Duran were topping the charts (the reflex is a lonely child…). Some of my negatives from back then have shifted colour towards green, but they still print with no problems. I must have stored them reasonably carefully!

On the occasion of this shoot, I was visiting Edinburgh Castle on VJ Day 2020. There are few things I enjoy more than wandering around a city that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, pointing my camera at random bits and pieces of this and that. Usually, I’m inspired by a dead poet or some of my favourite tunes. As photographers, we look at things in more detail than most people and for me, history can quite literally be underneath your feet. Edinburgh is a place I often visit to enjoy all the culture and it always inspires me (Glaswegians, I will get to your city in due course…) no matter what the weather does.

XP2 is a film I reach for frequently because of its ability to handle a range of contrast with ease and its beautiful tonality, reminiscent for me of pre-WW2 films (but without the grain). Since it uses the standard C41 process, you don’t have to agonise about what to develop it in…unless you feel like experimenting of course. The Rolleicord is like an Aldi version of the more iconic Rolleiflex. It’s quite light and compact, which makes it an excellent choice for city wanderings.

This was my first visit to Edinburgh since lockdown was relaxed and although it was a bit of a grey day, I sensed the presence of images waiting to be captured on film: “It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them” (Elliot Erwitt). You can always surprise yourself! But you want your equipment and materials to be reliable while you’re doing all this and XP2 never fails to deliver for me.

I’m continuing to edit my pictures from that day. The subject and the history are always a jumping-off point for further explorations-the ripples just keep widening. RM Rilke wrote: “let life happen to you”. If you stay curious, then you’re on the right track.

~ Jake

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About the author

Avatar - Jake Williams

Jake Williams

I can barely remember a time when I wasn't taking photographs. The artistic gene is strong in my family and in my case it expressed itself through photography. I'd probably sum up my philosophy as following the White Rabbit and saying yes to the world.

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