Best of 2009 – Gift #best09

In the spring this year I was listening to a recording of a Christine Kane  phone call . And one of the questions she asked was “What are you doing without, that would make your work easier ?” , or something along those lines. Straight away I thought to myself ” A big screen” . I have managed to do a lot of my photo work on fairly small screens and a really large one seemed a bit of a luxury.  Actually its not a luxury at all, and makes all my work, both photo editing and the art work so much more enjoyable , not to mention easier on the eye. What are you doing without that would make a big difference to your work/ life ?

( This post is part of the Best of 2009 series inspired by Gwen Bell’s post here )

Carrying on the gift theme – from now until the end of the 1st of January, anyone purchasing either my City Calendar or the general Polaroid Calendar will receive a complimentary mini sized City Calendar ( 4×6 inch) – so you can keep one and give one.

(And after a bit of a delay, I am finally getting ready to launch my ezine later in January , so if you’d like to receive a copy of it , straight to your inbox you can register  from the link on the right or from here – and receive two downloadable postcards* )


The best of 2009 – Project #best09

Although not strictly 2009 only, as I completed the first third in 2008 – I still have to  choose my “12 City Project” as the project of 2009. ( If you are not familiar with my blog then a quick scan through previous posts will fill you in, but basically over the course of 12 months I visited 12 European cities for about a week each, photographing them with the last of my Polaroid film.) It has really dominated my year – and in the months since the final city, Tallinn at the end of August/ start of September, I have spent a lot of time finishing off the processing of images and working on formatting everything into a  book.  I’m not finished with this yet, but hope to have it completed fairly early in 2010, because I have another couple of projects that I am “cooking” for next year.

The photo with this post is a reworking of my dogwood heart from a couple of weeks ago, jazzed up in winter finery and with lights to celebrate the Solstice.

( This post is part of the Best of 2009 series inspired by Gwen Bell’s post here

The Best of 2009 – Car Ride #best09

I couldn’t initially think of a particularly remarkable car ride – I seem to have spent much more time over the last year in trains – or on foot. But one trip was particularly beautiful. After collecting my exhibition from the gallery in Ullapool  I decided to make the most of a beautiful day. The north west highlands is amongst the most dramatic scenery in Scotland – and this route took me north of Ullapool, following the coast road up to Achiltibuie, with a detour to a really beautiful secluded beach. If  this were further south it would be mobbed – but there was hardly a soul about.

( This post is part of the Best of 2009 series inspired by Gwen Bell’s post here

The best of 2009 – Place #best09


Almost as hard as choosing best trip is choosing best place. There were so many spots I visited in the course of the year. So many cosy cafes, interesting streets, perilously high view points, to pick  just one is a tall order. But if I have to, then my “place of 2009” is the Haghia Sofia. My whole visit to Istanbul was  full of  a lot of very vivid sights and sounds, and though I am used to travelling on my own, stretched my coping reserves somewhat.

So it was a pleasure to visit the Haghia Sofia on my last morning, in the company of a new friend who immediately removed all the hassles that otherwise confront a solo female traveller. Haghia Sofia itself is a rather surreal experience. Completed in  AD 537, it was the greatest church in Eastern Christendom for nearly a thousand years until the Ottoman Turk armies took the city in 1453. This creates a foundation of familiar Roman architecture  with the Islamic elements superimposed on the top. In one building it sums up the different historical eras of Istanbul’s past.

( This post is part of the Best of 2009 series inspired by Gwen Bell’s post here )


The Best of 2009 – Packaging #best09

I like packaging.  I pick up little pieces of packaging all over the place. And store them. Until it all gets too much and I sort it all, use some in collages and then get rid of the rest. I have a huge collection from this past year, as I have a parallel collage project going on, with the 12 City material. Still, this packaging was too sticky to save and take home. But is a reminder of some very delicious cakes.

( This post is part of the Best of 2009 series inspired by Gwen Bell’s post here )

The Best of 2009 – Book #best09

I read a lot this year. Probably even more than normally. Travel creates the time to do this – all those airports and sitting around. A lot of background information related to where I was going and a lot of fiction set in “my” cities.

But if I had to pick only one book it would be  “The Polaroids”  by Andre Kertesz.  Already possibly my all-time favourite photographer, I did know about this book , but had only ever had a quick look.  This time, on  a rainy day in Budapest, after about 4 rainy days, struggling to get a long enough gap in the clouds to shoot anything decent , I sheltered in  a bookshop and came across this book.  ( By the way, I’m not against taking photos in the rain, in fact , you can get great results in bad weather – but not very easily with a Polaroid shooting expired or “Artistic” TZ film )

From the book’s intro ” Emotionally and physically exhausted after the loss of Elizabeth, this wife and lifelong companion, Andre Kertesz was admittedly a broken man who had lost his direction. His remarkable recovery began when he was inspired by a small glass bust and he embraced the new Polaroid SX70″

In fact, I think I happened upon his book on a day when I had noticed that the first shots I’d taken , a panoramic triptych which (unusually for me, I was happy with as soon as I had taken them) were starting to go green. It would be nearly 2 weeks before I could get home and scan them.  But I read

“This isn’t to say that Kertesz wasn’t annoyed and frustrated with the unstable and somewhat unpredictable Polaroid process, but his mastery of any machine that captures light would ultimately carry him through. When mystified viewers, many of whom owned the same model of camera asked how he got such remarkable results , Kertesz explained ” You have to learn the limits of the medium, and then learn to work on the edges of those boundaries”   ”

And that was enough to set me back on track, determined to pick up a copy as soon as I got home.

#best09 Best Trip


A little late, but better late than never, I’ve cottoned on to the posts inspired by Gwen Bell and her review of 2009. She has been posting a prompt for each day in December. I don’t think each of them will strike a chord with me, so I’ve decided to start at the top of the list and catch up or jump in with the one on that day – exactly as I feel like.

But best trip…in a year full of trips….is a very tall order.

However, when I mull it all over, the best trip was one in early March, to Portugal. The south of Portugal is usually a good bit warmer than Scotland so provides a welcome burst of warmth and sun after the gloomiest Scottish winter months.This was the only trip I made with no photographic agenda, purely relaxing with family in the early spring sunshine. Eating pastel de nata, drinking tea and having breakfasts of toast and rosemary honey on the terrace, walking along the ,still fairly quiet, beaches.  Trees already quite green and oranges on the trees..the best way to come out of winter hibernation.