Monochrome Nottingham Street Photography With the Lomo LC-A [Ilford HP5 Plus 400]

nottingham council house

Images shot on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 in the Lomo LC-A

When I lived in Shanghai, wandering around with my Yashica Electro and shooting in the streets was my number one creative pastime.

For some reason though, when I came back to England I didn’t feel so keen to walk around towns and cities with such a conspicuous camera. This led to a spell of photographing more classically scenic places like Roche Abbey with it instead.

To get back out onto the streets, I wanted something a little more discreet, but also something different and more interesting than the Olympus Supertrip or the Canon Sure Shot AF-7 I had sitting in my drawer.

So when I saw an original Soviet Lomo LC-A for sale from a reputable source, I grabbed it. And that, after loading some Ilford HP5 Plus 400 in it, is when I finally went to the city to shoot some Nottingham street photography.

Read on to see how that turned out.

nottingham street photography

Shooting around Nottingham’s Old Market Square and Council House

Like any town or city, Nottingham has a few distinct areas. But its de facto heart is undoubtedly the Old Market Square. Or Slab Square, as some of the locals call it.

One of the largest paved squares in the UK, it hosts various fairs, markets, and other events throughout the year.

And when none of the above are happening, it’s still a 3-acre open space that people use for stuff like meeting friends, sitting about drinking coffee, skateboarding, feeding pigeons, or just general people-watching and photographing like I did on this day.

The square is overlooked from its eastern end by the imposing Council House, which was built between 1927 – 1929 and provides some good photographic opportunities with its architecture.

That might be in the background of wider shots, as a few of these in this post show, or in and amongst its archways as seen in the image above and a couple more below.

Also worth mentioning are the two art-deco stone lions that sit in front of the Council House and are popular meeting points for people.

Named Agamemnon and Menelaus by their sculptor Joseph Else, apparently folk tend to call them the easier-to-pronounce Leo and Oscar or Lennie and Ronnie these days.

I say apparently because I’ve never heard anyone call them any names, aside from the right lion and the left lion.

They are genuine symbols of the city of Nottingham that people from elsewhere might not be aware of though, having been used by the council on promotional material before, and even giving the local magazine Left Lion its name.

A selection of shots from the streets and station

I didn’t start this day of shooting Ilford HP5 Plus in the Lomo LC-A in the market square though, and even taking these photographs wasn’t really my main reason for going into Nottingham that day.

A friend had come to watch his Grimsby Town beat Notts County – which means I can tell you exactly which day these photographs were taken on – and I went to meet him for a drink before that. Once he’d gone there, it made sense for me to walk around for a couple of hours and shoot a roll of film.

And because we’d met up in a pub near the train station – the Canalhouse if you really must know – I had some streets to walk through and photograph before I got to the market square.

And the station too, of course. Because, as mentioned before in this post from Mansfield, I do sometimes like to use up some exposures at a train station when I’m shooting in a town or city.

A building site and a crappy picture of Rock City where I cut off half the sign because I didn’t want too much overexposed sky in the shot complete this little mini-set.

A few from around Nottingham Castle

If you pay attention to such things as light in a photograph, you may have noticed that these have been a little dreary so far.

That’s because the weather that day was dreary, and not the kind of light I would usually go out and shoot in. However, because I was in town and meeting my friend anyway, I thought I’d get some practice in with the Lomo LC-A regardless.

And besides, although I do think my – and anyone’s really – photographs do look better when the light is better, if I only went out when it’s optimal I wouldn’t be going out at all during the English winter. Or much of spring. Or a lot of autumn. Or some of the summer either.

If you’re prioritising creating as much as you can, it’s better to shoot on an overcast day than not shoot at all.

That said, the three following shots from around Nottingham Castle are the last ones I got on that day. As it was February, the sun was setting by early evening.

None of these images are of the castle, though. Which isn’t even a castle these days. Instead, we have the Robin Hood statue, another statue where I played with the Lomo LC-A’s aperture and zone focus, and a line of tree silhouettes.

And with that, it was time to go home.

Finishing this roll of HP5 Plus on a sunnier day

That isn’t where this blog post ends though. Because a week or three later, when the weather was brighter and sunnier, I went back into Nottingham to finish my 36 exposures of HP5 Plus.

As this was the first roll I’d put through the Lomo LC-A, one of the main aims here was getting more comfortable and speedy with it. It was like a practice run with the camera so I could get good with it for the future rather than a trip to take the best photographs possible on the day.

That means the shots here didn’t need to tell any kind of cohesive story. It was more a case of going with the light and shooting whatever was nicely lit by it, because that’s usually the quickest and easiest way to end up with more pleasing results.

These ended up being of… people passing the closed-down Debenhams. The Theatre Royal’s colonnade. A tram. Lines and shadow at Royal Standard Place. And someone passing the closed-down Crafty Crow. That sort of thing.

The next sunny shot is looking out through the Nottingham Castle gatehouse, which is just about the only surviving structure from when there was a castle here, and is followed by one looking down at that Robin Hood statue we saw earlier.

Another Nottingham legend immortalised in metal and stood on a plinth is up next, in the form of the inimitable Brian Clough OBE.

I say inimitable but let me tell you this, young man… plenty of people do actually imitate him.

And to finish this post, we’ll go back to where we started. With some views of that Council House that towers over the market square.

I know I spent a fair percentage of this roll of film on that building but I had to get some more shots of it in this better light. Just to give it a fair chance to shine.

The start not the end of Nottingham street photography for me

I’ve got a few takeaways from shooting this roll of Ilford HP5 Plus in the Lomo LC-A in Nottingham, and the first is something that you can think about too.

It’s something I’ve mentioned so many times on this site before, but the difference in the feeling of the shots taken on the damp day and those on the sunny day is clearly noticeable, to me.

The former do have their own feel of course, and an ISO 400 monochrome film like this is ideal for shooting in such conditions, but I think I prefer the sunnier ones. I just like light and shadow in my shots.

Perhaps you prefer the ones from the gloomier day. That’s fine. Whichever it is, I think just noticing the difference and considering how it would affect your own future work is the important thing here.

A couple more personal takeaways are that the Lomo LC-A is a great little camera. Simple to use with its zone focus system and auto-aperture setting – although you can choose your f-stop too if you prefer – it didn’t take long for me to get comfortable with it.

If you’re taking photographs of things further than three metres away, like most of my shots were here, it’s pretty much a point ‘n’ shoot anyway.

The final thing to say is that, although this was the first roll of film – and check out the Ilford HP5 Plus 400 review by the way – I spent on some Nottingham street photography, it certainly wasn’t my last.

I’ve got through at least three more since – including the one I shot this colour Nottingham street photography on – and there will be more in the future too.

I’ll link to them all here once I’ve written them up. 🙂

If that post shooting some film in the streets of Nottingham piqued your interest for some more analogue photography essays, why not have a look at some of these ones:

And if you think others will find this post worth a read, help them find it by giving it a share 😀

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.