Notes from the East – Part 1.

Well, I’ve been off on my travels again. Despite the fact that moving between Scotland and Holland for a year has largely satisfied my wanderlust, there was a birthday to be celebrated, and what better way than to do that with a little trip. Over the years I have collected a few favourite places and this time I decided to follow in my “12 City Project” footsteps and visit both Budapest and Romania. Although once in Romania I was headed for an area that I’d not been to before – pictures to follow in the next few posts.

Its nice to mix things up and have a combination of the familiar with the new. And so ,to Budapest, where I’d found a very lovely little flat to rent. On the Buda side of the city in a very charming neighbourhood which was good for transport to the rest of the city but also full of little bistros and cafes, not to mention a really good daily market.

( If you are planning a trip to Budapest this is the company I used – great customer care, with lots of tips about the area )

I travelled light this time, no big camera gear , so all the images come from either my trusty point and shoot or from my iphone. ( By the way,now that it is autumn and I have a bit more time, I am working on a little something that will help you get the most out of your images. Initially I planned to cover only Iphonography – but due to a few requests I will also make a version that is appropriate to those of you using simple digital cameras. If you’d like to get a tip off when it is ready you can subscribe 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.

12 City Project – Budapest

The next in my little series of “12 City Videos”. Apparently the reason it is so difficult to take smooth videos on a little hand held camera is that we insist on breathing while we are doing it. Maybe using a monopod would have helped – but too late for that now, for this set.  Again, this is another of those view points where I took some Polaroids,  I’ve done a triptych from here that worked pretty well.

Hard at work on the book stage of this project now. Still  deciding on the balance of images versus text. Comments would be welcome – would you prefer to see  the full set of images or less images with some background information on the project, the cities and some ideas about carrying out your own “Big Project” ?

  * You can sign up for my “soon-to-launch” Ezine from the link on the right or from here – and receive two downloadable postcards* )

12 City Project – Budapest Polaroid


Processing processing – that’s what’s going on here. Trying to get the best out of the Polaroids I’ve taken over the last year. Actually this project has given me a huge amount of material to work with – not just the Polaroid photos but also all the other images I shot while I was on my travels. I’m already starting to “cook” the project that I will do next year, but from now until the end of the year my goal is to have completed the work on all the city photographs and to have created some kind of finished format.

This Polaroid is of the Freedom  Bridge over the Danube with the Gellert Hotel in the background.

Budapest Details.

Budapest Details

Ringing the changes from the city Polaroids that I’ve added to the last few posts, this little mosaic is made up of detail shots around Budapest. In each city I’ve taken quite a few “non Polaroid” images – mainly because the collage range requires this additional material.

I’ve been scanning pretty intensively for the last while, so it was fun to have a look at other images and consider what I might do with them.

Five on a Friday

Istanbul Street


 ( Photograph is the most recent Polaroid that I’ve processed from the Istanbul series. I am trying to get rid of the green cast. Not perfect,but on the right track. I should post the original and you’ll see what I have been battling with !)                                                                           

Now that I have a bit longer at home , in one stretch, it is a bit easier to keep up with these regular slots.

First up, when I was in Budapest I mentioned that I read a little of this book  The Polaroids by Andre Kertesz   in a bookshop. ( I’m sorry, fantastic Bestsellers  bookshop, for not buying it there and then, but when I travel I try to keep any additional items to a minimum). Once I was home I sought it out in the equally fabulous Beyond Words  bookshop in Edinburgh – it is an inspirational read and the results Kertesz achieved are beautiful.

Musically I am still in the east – and this cd  “Kings and Queens” – Fanfare Ciocarlia – is a nice mix  not only of Fanfare Ciocarlia but also some of the other musicians from  the eastern european Romany community .

Back in Edinburgh, the city is getting busy a little earlier than usual, with the “Gathering” taking place over the weekend. Clan chiefs and clan members from all over the world converging on Holyrood Park for a full weekend of events. My favourite Edinburgh guidebook in current publication is The Local’s Guide to Edinburgh. Beautiful layout (which always wins me over), interviews with locals about their favourite spots and a nice compact size for bag or pocket.  Although there are always the “big name” tourist guide publishers who cover every place,  I am increasingly drawn to the quirkly little one off guides.

An Etsy favourite who I’ve featured in quite a few treasuries is Pamela Angus – she works in stained glass but with very original designs – beautifully coloured garlands and delicate tea cups.

And this is one of my  favourite blogs if I am in the mood for a bit of design loveliness – Bloesem. Written by Irene who is from Amsterdam originally (hence the Dutch spelling of the name – it means Blossom) and now lives in Kuala Lumpur.

Please do add your own five in the comments or on your blog – let me know and I’ll come and visit. Wish you a lovely weekend 🙂