Single Shot: Woolacombe Beach/Velvia 50/Cosina PM-1

Velvia was introduced by Fuji in 1990, as a highly-saturated, low-speed slide film. Available in 35mm and 120 format, it’s renowned for producing punchy images, drenched in colour. It’s undoubtedly my favourite slide film.

However, it doesn’t store well outside of the fridge, and definitely suffers from colour casts at longer exposures. It can be very difficult to get right (your metering has to be spot-on), but when you do… you’re rewarded with a roll of slides that look like tiny stained glass windows.

I took a roll to Woolacombe Beach almost exactly two years ago, to this day. The weather was overcast, dark and brooding in only the way the South West coast can be. I remember that sea mist rolled in over the beach at Woolacombe, and we were two of only a few people mooching about on the sand. The roll was loaded into my Cosina PM-1, which, despite being replaced in everyday use by the swankier Pentax LX, has still not been replaced in my heart. The dials on the top, the needle meter, even the peeling leatherette, all feel so familiar. This camera was my introduction to film photography, and my most trusty companion. I’ll never get rid of it.

On the front of Old Faithful was a 24mm Sigma Ultra-Wide lens, out for a trial after recently being purchased on that great GAS-enabler, eBay. The resultant shots confirmed what I suspected – you need to get much closer than you think you do – but a couple of shots were good. This tiny mussel, sitting in the sand, shows off the characteristics of this cheap lens: light dropoff in the corners when wide open, swirling focus around a central focused point, and some really awful chromatic aberrations in all those grains of sand.

Despite the flaws, I still enjoy this photo. I’ve always loved a selective focus image (I’m simple like that), and this easily conjures up the sound of the waves and the smell of the salt. I’m going back to Woolacombe this weekend – time to take the LX out for a spin instead, and see what happens.

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