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Docked yacht and cruise ship in background (Pic: Stephen Dowling)
(Pic: Stephen Dowling)

Deep in the depths of a Northern Hemisphere winter, the bright New Zealand sunshine seems a very long way away.

And it is a long way away. If you time your flight transfers to include the shortest possible mad scramble from terminal to terminal at your connecting airport of choice, you’re still looking at the best part of 30 hours from take-off to landing. That’s a lot of time to be sat on your chuff watching movies and wolfing down airline food.

I grew up in New Zealand; in the last 30 years since moving I’ve had only one Christmas back home. In 2022 I technically made it two – as long as you were still working on London time. I took a Christmas Eve flight and spent a few hours of Christmas Day shuffling about Seoul Airport, with one solitary Christmas tree tucked to the side in a corridor. The next time I hit terra firma was Auckland and it was Boxing Day. For all intents and purposes, Christmas Day 2022 didn’t exist.

New Zealand’s summer light is almost impossibly bright and clear compared to winter London; like looking though a freshly cleaned window. To keep jetlag at bay – and yes, the jetlag from flying one side of the planet to the other is quite something – I slathered on the sunscreen and made the most of the bright South Pacific light.

This picture was taken near Devonport, a historic waterfront village on the north-east shore of Auckland’s harbour. Much of its Victorian character remains intact, unlike most of Auckland’s harbourside locales. And just like the Devonport which inspired its name (the naval base in Portsmouth in England) boats big and small are never far away. Cruise ships used to be a novelty when I was growing up; with the explosion of tourism in the 30 years I’ve been away they’re now a common sight.

The bright light here’s been accentuated by the film, one of my last rolls of Lomography’s Xpro Slide 200 slide film. After the discontinuation of many of the emulsions which helped Lomography make its name in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Xpro Slide 200 was pretty much the last Lomography film which had that magic look when processed in C-41 chemicals. Compared to Kodak EBX 100 or Agfa’s legendary Precisa CT100 it’s much yellower; the film’s supposed to be based on Agfa’s RSX 200 slide film and the last rolls seemed to disappear around 2018.

Voigtlander Vito C (Pic: Alfred/Flickr)
Voigtlander Vito C (Pic: Alfred/Flickr)

The camera? A Voigtlander Vito C, pretty much the most pocketable camera I own and a genuine marvel of miniaturisation. The Vito C (the 1980s version, not the 1950s one) is an all-plastic camera with a Minox-style folding cover on the front.

It’s a viewfinder camera with an extremely large and bright viewfinder and a sliding red indicator which shows you which focus zone you’ve selected. Anthony Rue who runs the film-friendly Volta Café in Gainsville, Florida tipped me off about this camera and I’m glad he did – it’s the ultimate travel compact.

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Stephen Dowling
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