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Couple on bike in IndiaIt took more than four decades before I travelled to Asia.

When I left New Zealand in the early 1990s, the favoured journey was to fly off to somewhere such as Bali or Singapore and travel through South East Asia, jumping on your connecting flight to London just as the money ran dry.

But instead, I flew all the way to the UK. No golden sand and hippie trail for me.

The silver lining is that by the time I did make it to Asia – to southern India and Sri Lanka at the end of 2016 I was both a lot more curious and a lot better of a photographer. Staying with my fiancee’s family for a few days in the southern Indian megacity of Bangalore, I knew that film was going to be a rarity and that I should take as much of it as I could. You don’t have to have bookshelves groaning with Steve McCurry books to realise India is a riot of colour. Not a great deal of that film would be black-and-white.

Obviously, given I have ginger hair and a complexion that could burn on a cloudy day, I wasn’t exactly going to fit in like a local snapping away on the corners, but there are ways to make yourself much less conspicuous. Rather than lugging a giant SLR with a zoom lens, snapping widescreen with a compact can help you blend in a little better. So amongst the SLRs I bought along a LOMO LC-A and an Olympus Trip 35.

The Trip 35 was the Kodak Brownie of the Cold War, a camera small enough to put in a coat pocket or even the most compact carry-on bag, and intended for casual photographers and holidaymakers – people who didn’t want to spend most of their holiday with their head stuck in their camera manual. Stick it on ‘A’, and if the camera’s exposure meter could match an aperture with either its 1/40th or 1/200th shutter speed, you were in business.

The Trip 35’s 38mm lens is tack sharp and captures colours with real pop. I usually stick a roll of colour negative in it, but also bought a handful of old slide films to cross process (xpro slide loves bright sunlight). There was a roll of old Kodak Ektachrome E100VS in the camera when this shot was taken.

Much of the time spent in Bangalore’s traffic saw us wedged in a solid mass of cars, rickshaws, lorries, buses and pedestrians. On a few trips however, the roads weren’t quite so clogged. On a trip to a local wildlife park, I made sure to grab glimpses of local colour as they flashed past the window of the van.  This rider and passenger appeared for a split second, my fiancée a silhouette as they were captured in a brief blaze of cross processed colour.

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Stephen Dowling
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