A lot of the film photography I’ve published on this site was shot in and around the Qibao area of Shanghai. Like the shots on this post, for example.
The reason for that is pretty simple. It’s because that’s where I used to live. Luckily, there was enough there to allow me to shoot without travelling all over the city all the time.
Before I moved there though, I was at the more central Zhongshan Park area. At the time, I hadn’t gotten into analogue photography and was still shooting digital, albeit with vintage lenses. This very early blog post is from those days.
So when it was time to leave Shanghai, I thought it’d be nice to go back and spend some time walking around. To reminisce a little, but to also to shoot some of my first roll of Ilford XP2 Super.
Shooting film in Zhongshan Park
Zhongshan Park is a pretty common name for a park in China, with multiple cities having one of them. They’re named after one of the most important figures in the country’s history: the highly revered Sun Yat-sen.
If you say Zhongshan Park when in Shanghai, it could mean the park itself, the nearby subway station, or the whole area depending on the context.
These first few shots from the roll of XP2 were taken in the park, although they don’t cover many of the various activities people do there. I didn’t get any kite flyers, tai chi practitioners, or foreigners drinking cans of beer.
I’m allowed to generalise like that because I have fond memories of sitting on the grass with some cans of Kirin Ichiban myself back in the day. And sometimes a pink grapefruit instead.
Regardless, here are the photographs. They’re just of old people playing games and gambling, really.
A few photographs from my old street
The street I used to live on near Zhongshan Park was Changning Zhi Lu, or Changning Branch Road if you want to use the English. It’s right about here.
I didn’t take many photographs of it when it was my street, which often seems to be the way. Places you live at are never as interesting as those you don’t.
So of course once I’d moved elsewhere, the motivation to get some shots of it increased. The next five images from this roll of XP2 Super are indeed from there.
The one I really wanted to come out well was the only one that didn’t, which is another thing that often seems to be the way. I do wish that young boy’s face had been in focus.
Finishing this set in the surrounding streets
If you’re in Shanghai and looking for a place to shoot some streets yourself, you could do worse than those around Zhongshan Park.
Once you get away from the huge shopping mall at the subway station and head generally northeast, you’ll find plenty of local streets like the one I used to live on.
As Suzhou Creek runs past there too, you also have quite a few bridges to play with in your shots; especially just north of the park on Wanhangdu Road.
I’d imagine a lot of the city is like this in the respect that if you just walk, it won’t take too long to find an area worth photographing. I’m just telling you about this one because I went to it that day, and I only did that because I already knew it.
Wrapping up this new film from my old ‘hood
It was new to me though, as these photographs come from the first roll of it that I shot. I think that was half the reason I headed to the streets around Zhongshan Park.
As well as wanting to spend some time there and get some film photographs of it before I left Shanghai, I needed a place that I knew would have some good spots for getting through the film and not giving me a wasted afternoon.
If you haven’t shot any XP2 Super yourself yet, it’s got a couple of things going for it. Chief among them is probably that it can be developed using the common C-41 process that colour films use. This means it might be easier to find a place to get that done, depending on where you are.
It’s also pretty clean, with low grain and good sharpness. The contrast is a little low too though. Perhaps too low if you want some dramatic, gritty street shots.
If you want to know more about XP2, you can read all about it in that aforementioned review. And if you want to try some for yourself, you can order it from all the regular places, including Amazon or eBay, and of course Analogue Wonderland.
I’ll confess to it not being my very favourite monochrome film but, as you’d expect from a company like Ilford, it’s not a bad one.
Which is fitting here as, as Shanghai neighbourhoods to visit or live in go, Zhongshan Park isn’t a bad one either. 🙂
- High speed ISO 400
- BW Film using colour C41 Process
- High contrast, well defined highlights
If you found that post useful, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about the Ilford XP2 Super film I used here:
- My comprehensive review of this XP2 film
- Shooting another ISO 400 Ilford film in the streets
- Some colour street shots on Kodak Portra 400
And if you think others will enjoy this post on shooting some XP2 Super in Shanghai too, help them find it by sharing or pinning. 😀