Before I write a review of any camera on this website, I like to put at least one roll of colour and one roll of black and white film through it. Just to see how both turn out and to be able to provide example shots for if you only shoot one or the other, I guess.
That’s why I wanted to put this Kodak Gold 200 through the Reto Ultra Wide & Slim when I went to Great Yarmouth. Because the first roll I’d shot in it had been the monochrome Kentmere Pan 100, which I did around Southwell Minster.
A sunny day at this old British holiday town gave me a good opportunity to see how the Kodak Gold 200 and Reto UWS combination did with some summery seaside scenery, and the very simple point ‘n’ shoot experience this camera brings made it a fun walk around however the images turned out.
In the end, I think results were alright. But don’t just take my word for it. Read on and see for yourself.
The Britannia Pier and a shack on the beach
For me, no photo-themed trip to a British seaside town is complete without a few shots of a pier. Or a whole post dedicated to one, even.
Unless said town doesn’t have one, like when I went to Mablethorpe for example. But there’s not much I can do about it then.
Fortunately, to make up for that, Great Yarmouth has two.
The first I’ll mention here, to get it out of the way, is the restored Wellington Pier. I’m getting it out of the way because I didn’t take any photographs of it on this roll of Gold 200.
The one I did shoot here was the Britannia Pier. Unfortunately, as I was in Great Yarmouth in March, this pier was closed. So all we’ve got is that shot above of the main frontage and a couple looking along its sides.
Getting these as the sun was going down did bathe it in a nice light though. The cheeky deckchair shack was looking resplendent too.
Some of Great Yarmouth’s best old buildings
If I was looking for somewhere to spend a week doing nothing but taking a well-earned break at the beach, Great Yarmouth would not be it, chief. None of these old British seaside towns would be.
Like most people with the ability and resources to do so, I’d head to mainland Europe or further afield for that. Because those places are just better for it. I don’t think that’s too controversial an opinion.
I still really enjoy going to places like Great Yarmouth though. It’s just for different reasons, and one of the biggest is the history of them. When I’m there, of course I’m enjoying the moment, but I’ve often got my mind partially in the past too; thinking, reading, and looking at images of how these places were in their heyday.
A heyday that was typically at least a hundred years ago.
Thankfully, that history is still on show in Yarmouth in the form of some very nice old buildings. More than I got around to shooting here, too. You can see some others elsewhere on this site though, like the Windmill Theatre, which I shot with the Sprocket Rocket.
The image below is of The Empire, which was built in 1908 and first operated as a cinema. It’s since been a bingo hall, a nightclub, and… derelict.
Today, it’s a live music and street food venue which looks pretty cool, to me.
The next image is of the Hippodrome, which dates back to 1903. While there are plenty of theatres that call themselves a hippodrome, Yarmouth’s is a genuine one. That is, built as a permanent circus venue with seats all around the performance area.
Along with the Blackpool Tower Circus, it’s one of only two such buildings still in operation for their original purpose in the UK today.
The second image below is of what is today a cinema but began life in 1876 as an aquarium. With a skating rink on its roof. Because why not.
In 1883 it became a theatre and remained so until the 1920s when it became a cinema for the first time. It then had a spell as a nightclub, before returning to what it is now – that aforementioned cinema.
Finally for this section is the landmark Great Yarmouth Tower. Not to be confused with the old revolving tower of the early 1900s, this one was completed in the 1960s and has undergone various regeneration projects since.
It certainly stands out among these photographs in its style, and to me shows how really old buildings often have a timeless quality while semi-old ones – whilst retaining their own charms and providing a snapshot of their own era – often find themselves looking a little outdated.
Away from Great Yarmouth’s seafront and into the town
Something else that’s worth mentioning about these British seaside towns is that if you go just a couple of streets away from the sea, you can remove the word seaside from that description. Because they do pretty much become just a British town then.
I found this in Mablethorpe, I found it in Scarborough, and I found it in Skegness too. Those latter two places I’m yet to publish my shots from, unfortunately.
There’s also perhaps more than a fair share of economic deprivation and urban decay in a lot of these towns. Beyond its iconic tower, Blackpool is one of the worst-hit in this respect.
One longstanding complaint – among many, to be fair – about British towns is that their high streets all now look the same. The same shops, the same cafes, the same fast food places, the same bakeries selling steak slices, and the same pub chains have taken away much of the uniqueness most of them ever had.
Walking down Great Yarmouth’s Regent Road – which handily runs east-west for some great sunrise or sunset photography – and around some other streets towards the old market showed me some of the above here too.
If you close your ears to the sound of the seagulls, this area of Great Yarmouth isn’t that much different to a lot of inland towns that you’d probably never have any reason to go to.
A round-up of shots from the promenade
I didn’t get too many shots of that part of Great Yarmouth, because that’s not really what I want to photograph when I’m at the coast. I can just go a few miles from home into Mansfield for that kind of towny streety image.
First is a couple from the Venetian Waterways, which were completed in 1928 and sit just north of Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile.
The Waterways was a project set up as a relief program for distressed and unemployed local people following World War I, and it’s believed they were dug out by hand. Or with shovels and wheelbarrows, at least.
The ice cream on the closed-up snack shack below might be familiar if you’ve read this post before. Obviously I didn’t want to walk around getting the same shots with the Sprocket Rocket and this Reto Ultra Wide & Slim, but the same subject from a different angle is fine by me.
Beyond that is an image where I tried to include a bunch of towers. The Yarmouth Tower in the background, the lighthouse and lights, and the green fence spikes in the foreground. Did it work? I’m not sure.
I know the two after that didn’t though. The flowerpot is a bit of a nothing photograph really, and I thought the men on the cherry-picker and the statue above them would be visually stronger in the shot below that.
Another reminder that the Reto UWS’s viewfinder is even wider than its lens, and also that clichéd old Robert Capa quote that ‘if your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough’.
It’s not a sentiment I always agree with, but I do here.
On one hand, the photographs on this post are just a bunch of snapshots from a simple plastic camera on an everyday Kodak consumer film. They don’t have any particular importance to anyone but me, and even that’s probably just because of effort justification.
But then, I wonder how the old Great Yarmouth photographs on this site were thought of at the time compared to how they are now. Did the people then know they were making a priceless time capsule of the past?
I would imagine the people who viewed those images back when they were still contemporary valued them more than we value the thousands we see in constant algorithmic streams today, purely because far fewer people even had a camera back then.
With the number of photographs that get taken every day now – mostly on phones rather than film or even digital cameras – it feels like the vast majority of them are doomed to be nondescript by virtue of there being far too many for us to really care about any of them individually.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop shooting. Because at some point in the future, and it might be decades from now, someone might look at some of them and find this perspective of the world today as interesting as we do images from decades before now.
All this is to say, there won’t always be a Ukraine flag flying at this beachside cafe in Great Yarmouth. One day it’ll be a curiosity and a reminder of a history-defining moment in 21st century Europe.
And now, as the sun sets on this post from Great Yarmouth, I’ll wrap things up with four sunset shots from Great Yarmouth.
That same beachside cafe is first, where all I can say is I told you that Ukraine flag wouldn’t be there forever. It’s not even there in this very next photograph.
What is in all these four photographs though is a reminder that the sunset or sunrise is often when the best light is for your photography.
It’s not called the golden hour for nothing. Soft golden light and a golden opportunity to make use of the contrast that the shadows bring too.
I guess doing it on Kodak Gold 200 completes the gilded little triumvirate there.
Wrapping up this roll of colour film in the Reto UWS
I went out there and had a great time playing with what is a very simple little point ‘n’ shoot camera with a very fun 22mm wide lens, enjoyed finding compositions that first and foremost made use of the great light, and was then pleased with the results once I’d got them developed.
This was one of four rolls of film I shot in Great Yarmouth that weekend, in three different cameras. And photography wasn’t even the main reason for going.
That honour went to something else I love doing whenever I can.
So all in all it was a good time and I’m not sure what else to say about it. Especially as I still have other posts to write up with some of those other films I shot there.
The only thing to add is a final reminder to, if you haven’t already done so, check out the Reto camera review if you like the look of the shots here – of which there are 24 from a 24-exposure roll, by the way – and the Kodak Gold film review too.
And now I really am going to leave it at that. 🙂
If you enjoyed that post shooting the Reto UWS around Great Yarmouth, why not have a look at some of these other film photo essays too:
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