The Beacon Spinner

Ten weeks in and I’m hooked on the 52 rolls project.

I’ve already shot twice as many rolls of film in 2016 than I did in 2015. This year, when we’re going out anywhere, I may forget my coat, house keys or my children, but I’ll make sure that I have a film camera and a couple of rolls safely packed.

I now find myself clearing the kitchen and processing films late on Sunday evenings, rather than getting my feet up or preparing for the working week to come. I’ve spent money that I shouldn’t have on film, chemicals, processing and a(nother) camera. And I’ve not been using the digital camera kit that I’ve spent years gathering (and paying for), choosing the analogue option instead.

Where will it end?

On the other hand, I’m really enjoying getting back into film, and photography more generally. I’ve been delighted with some of the resulting pictures and most of all, it means I’m out shooting more often. I’m being creative (within my own limitations) and thinking about photography, art and technique. It’s all good.

Spinner (3 of 9)Anyway, on Sunday of week 10, I went for a walk with Emily in Leicestershire’s Beacon Hill country park. At 814ft, it isn’t high, but its position in the East-Midlands of England means that it is higher than everything around it and so offers some excellent views. It’s also home to many friendly farm animals including exotic long-horn and highland cattle, sheep and alpacas. There are usually plenty of horses and dogs around too. Emily happily sits in the carrier on my back doing her best impressions of each animal she sees. Being only 1 year old (and 100% cute), all of her animal noises are actually identical – a peculiar, throaty growl and some animated panting.Spinner (6 of 9)I took along my Lomography Spinner 360. Like most things from Lomography, it’s plasticky and ludicrously priced (particularly in the UK. Their pricing means that $1 = €1 = £1 rather than a more commonly accepted $1.4 = €1.3 = £1). The difference with the spinner though is that it produces some truly unique images (although maybe not those here). To use it, one holds it at arms length, pulls a drawstring to wind a spring, and then releases it, causing the camera to spin as film is pulled past an aperture.Spinner (7 of 9)Different films work with it in different ways. Tightly wound or aging film means that the camera doesn’t spin quite as freely, so you’re never quite sure if you’ll get 540 degrees or 270. One full revolution exposes the equivalent of 4(ish) normal frames, so each image is 144x24mm rather than 36x24mm, or around eight shots on a 36 exposure roll. It’s a camera to use with cheap film. It also exposes the whole width of the film, sprocket holes included. To scan the film, I lay it on the scanner’s glass and then hold it down with a piece of non-reflective glass that I got from a local picture-framers. It seems to work.Spinner (2 of 9)The camera’s operation also means that, unless you hold it above your head, you’ll be in the picture, usually with your finger pointing at the camera (having just released the drawstring) and a daft look on your face; an effect that I demonstrate repeatedly in these pictures.Spinner (5 of 9)For the shy photographer, another way to use the camera is in the horizontal position, meaning that the 360° view includes the ground and the sky.

It’s a fun thing to use and experiment with, and while its novelty wears off pretty quickly, it can produce some interesting results. Printing the results however, calls for small prints and lots of sticky tape.

Clicking the versions below will open them up full screen for you to marvel at the lack of resolution…


Lomography Spinner with Kentmere 400 film. The aperture was set to ‘cloudy’, so f/8 and shutter speed was somewhere between 1/125 and 1/250, depending on how fast it the camera rotated. I developed in Ilfotec HC and scanned with the negatives on the glass.

My 52 rolls so far:

Week 9 continued: Happy First Birthday

Week 9 continued: Delta Doofus

Week 9 Revisited: Good News, Good News

Week 9: Good News, Bad News

Week 8: Newcastle

Week 7: 68 Miles

Week 6: Yashica Test

Week 5 continued: Bronica SQ-A

Week 5: More Nikon F2A

Week 4 continued: Nikon F2

Week 4: Farewell Lubitel

Week 3: Reset

Week 2 continued: Scanning

Week 2: Delta 3200

Week 1: Agfa Billy Record

Week 0: Late Already

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