I didn’t travel to Asia until my 40s.

When I left New Zealand in the mid-1990s, the traditional route was to overland through Asia for a few months, before hopping on a plane to London, broke and ready for a stint behind the bar of a pub to rescue the finances.

Instead, I went straight to the UK. In the ensuing couple of decades I travelled widely across Europe but the closest I got to Asia was stopovers in Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore.

That changed at the end of 2016; a trip to visit my fiancé’s parents in Bangalore in south India followed by 10 days in Sri Lanka.

After surviving India’s assault on my senses, Sri Lanka seemed calmer and quieter in comparison – but the colours and the vibrancy were off the scale.

Sri Lanka is a photographer’s dream. The lush jungles and tea plantations are a riot of saturated greens, and the streets hum with life and fantastic colour. Every street corner and doorway is a photo opportunity.

I usually travel with a handful of cameras and as much film as is sensible – on this trip I made sure to pack my LOMO LC-A and several rolls of slide film to cross-process. I should have packed more.

The LC-A works best when the light is strong, especially when you’re cross-processing slide film. Cloudless skies become ocean-blue, yellows dazzling, reds rich and saturated.

That can lead to amazing colours on a sunny London street – but in Asia? Off the scale.

Sri Lanka was a riot of colour and so picturesque that I had to ration my film – I doubt there’s a stash of expired Ektachrome anywhere near Kandy or Colombo.

But scenes like this cried out for the LOMO treatment.

This was somewhere around Kandy, the bustling hill city built around a giant man made lake in the hills above Colombo. It was hot but not too hot – the elevation helps – but the Sun was brilliant and bright.

The red of these two buses was powerful enough in real life. I knew that cross-processed they would be something else. This is one of those times that only a LOMO will do.

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Stephen Dowling
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