I’ve used my Olympus XA so slowly over the last few months that I only recently developed a roll with some of the images I made with it while in Sofia, Bulgaria over Christmas 2020 last year. I still use the XA for snapshot, point-and-shoot colour images, which in Bulgaria left me with quite muted results from the constantly flat light. I would respond to any scene which I felt needed to be shown in colour, which isn’t often, but sometimes something jumps out at me and just makes sense.
Yellows, reds, and greens seem to be most prominent, but all succumb to the greyness which makes the mood more dour and drab than the black and white results which make up the majority of what I produced during my time there. Working within such limited palettes was close to how I used to approach colour photography, limiting my frames to only a few different shades at a time.
Fujicolor C200 remains one of my favourite colour films, as the balance of cost to image quality is unrivalled. It’s not hard to justify throwing a few rolls in my bag when travelling, although I shoot colour film very, very slowly these days as I mentioned before. I had to really be sure that what I was looking at was something I was seeing in colour. Honestly I’m surprised I took as many colour shots as I did considering just how grey I felt everything was at the time. In the selection above it really is those yellows, reds, and greens standing out from the rest.
The XA continues to work well for this purpose, offering clean renditions without needing to invest a lot of thought. The aperture priority works alongside one of the most accurate meters I’m familiar with, and in the flat light, there wasn’t a lot of room to go wrong. Although I like the colour photographs for what they are, I wasn’t able to justify including them in my publication, which would mean printing the entire zine using colour inks despite being mostly black and white – so ultimately not one colour image features in my publication, Transiting Bulgaria, which is currently for pre-order at a reduced rate.
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