Most of my photography is an exploration and celebration of colour. I love the riotous, rich greens of Fujifilm Superia, the trendy muted tones of Portra and the super-saturated, gem-like slides produced by Velvia. These colours are, however, entirely wasted on a winter’s trip to a grey seaside town in North Somerset, England; Clevedon, where I found myself during the no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year.
Huddled on the banks of the River Severn Estuary, Clevedon was a popular seaside town in the Victorian era, frequented by swimmers and those wanting to take in the healthy sea air. Clevedon Pier, opened in 1869, is one of the earliest surviving examples of a Victorian Pier, and the period’s wrought-iron legs are a reminder of its origin. Spearing out into the murky water, the pier is covered with tiny brass plaques commemorating people who have visited, or those who’ve been memorialized by family and friends.
Modern Clevedon, being so close to Bristol, is more of a satellite town now than a holiday destination. It still features some scenic attractions, including a marine lake ideal for swimming (not in December, mind) and a handful of tea rooms. But its glory has faded somewhat.
It was with this destination and its history in mind that I decided to load up my beloved Pentax LX with a roll of Kosmo Foto Mono which I’d had in cold storage for longer than I care to admit. A brisk walk with a bag of chips at the end would be a perfect way to blow off the cobwebs – for me, and for the roll of film.
St Andrew’s Church sits on top of the cliff, facing out into the Severn. Built in the 12th century, it has been a place of respite and eventual final rest for residents for over 800 years. The churchyard is a sprawling, atmospheric place, with old crosses and stones nestling up against sharp, new marble headstones. Bent trees line the edges of the grounds, shaped by wind and time. It’s possible to walk from Clevedon down to the jutting headland of Brean Down, along saltwater marshes dotted sparsely with plant life – but not this time. A trip for better weather, and warmer walking boots.
It’s been a while since I tried a new-to-me black and white film stock, and I have to say that I’m very pleased with the results from my first roll of Kosmo Foto Mono. At only ISO 100, I was worried it might not be sensitive enough for the dull January light. But the images produced have a satisfying sharpness, even in shots made hand-held. I’m a big fan of a contrasty monochrome image, and Kosmo Foto Mono doesn’t disappoint here either, providing inky blacks.
My only gripe with it would be its seemingly narrow exposure latitude, but that could be overcome with better attention to metering on my part – I ended up with quite a few blown-out skies. If you’re a fan of a smooth gradient of greys, I’m not sure this is the film stock for you. However, for creating atmospheric, possibly harsh images, I’ll definitely be loading another roll into my camera soon.
Want to try Kosmo Foto Mono? You can buy it from our shop at F Stop Cameras and support the work of Casual Photophile
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