Never one to let a photographic opportunity pass him by, David Simper took his twin lens reflex film camera down to the Aunty Social building to join Blackpool Community Darkroom and explore the surrounding Heritage Action Zone.

I got to Aunty Social on Topping Street reasonably early due to Sunday bus times and the need to load the camera, however there were already plenty of friends and new faces already there.

Aunty Social created a community darkroom space for people to share, learn and refine their photography skills. Run by a collective of local photographers, it launched at the start of the year offering workshops, photowalks and more.

I still had plenty of time to prepare my Yashica 635, fixing my usual yellow filter and slipping in a roll of a favourite HP5 film.

Twelve shots is a useful number for an exercise of this kind and virtually guarantees that the camera will be cleared, or that’s what I thought. In fact I could have done with another few frames.

The light wasn’t the best with not a lot of contrast in the sky. Even with the yellow filter, the sky’s still pretty washed out. On the other hand, the light was even and there were few harsh shadows to contend with, meaning that detail is well rendered and highlights are not burnt out. It was bright enough to set the camera on f5.6 with shutter speeds between 1/125 and 1/250, for sharp and deep images.

We set off into the Heritage Action Zone area and worked our way from East Topping Street, onto Cookson and then Church Street, into the town centre before walking down Coronation Street and back up Adelaide Street behind the Winter Gardens. My pictures track the trajectory and you can see how my film ran short. I lost a frame when a chap walked into the shot unexpectedly as I pressed the release. ‘Bother!’ I said, because I’m English.

There was more of the tour to do, but I knew that there was tea tasting and music at the Tea Amantes cafe that afternoon and being close by that point, decided to peel off to Albert Road and join this. Bye bye to all! After all, I was out of film.

At Tea Amantes the tea was tasty, as was the food, the company congenial and the music, a solo guitarist, was entertaining. While it would have been nice to finish the tour and chat with fellow photographers, this was a pleasant end to a morning walk and an afternoon chill session.

Here are the results, I hope you like them.

Fom East Topping Street, down Wood Street to Topping Street, with Abingdon Street market in the distance.
East Topping Street with the aesthetically pleasing rears of Topping Street, looking towards Church Street over the former Syndicate site car park.
Public art blocked by public car parking, but it still looks good and there is good perspective.
Public art blocked by public car parking, but it still looks good and there is good perspective.
I’m afraid there are a number of empty shops to photograph.
The sight of construction cranes in Blackpool has not been all that common, but there have been more of late. This is helping to construct the new DWP office block.
These are not empty shops, just closed for Sunday. I understand that’s a very fine model shop, a rare thing nowadays.
Milbourn Street towards King Street, the Tower adding vertical element.
A corner property has been removed leaving a bricked up end wall that was never meant to exist. For some reason, this bit of brickwork has been left to add quality to the area’s aesthetic.
There’s always a good door to photograph, this one in the side of the soon to be renovated Stanley Buildings on Church Street.
The former Stanley Arms is a feature building, now including a micro-brewery.
Down Church Street into St John’s Square and the town centre.

Out of film! Tsk!

Blackpool Community Darkroom hosts its next photowalk on Sunday 24th March. Meet at Stanley Park Cafe at 10am.


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    I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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