Running Away to Join the Circus

When it comes to photography I am a great believer in saying yes to as many opportunities as possible to expand your skills. Earlier in the week I was invited by family friends (who have 10-year old twins) to come to the circus.

I have shot much performance photography in the past but thought it’d be an interesting way to stretch myself. Inside the circus tent itself I wasn’t allowed to shoot video or use flash, but I often find restrictions can make you think outside the box.

It was a small circus but this worked to my advantage as I could get a front row seat and get up close to the incredibly talented performers.

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.58.29

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.58.16

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.59.25

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.58.57

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.58.41

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 11.59.12

 

 

Where to Shoot Street Photography in London

London has long been one of my favourite places to shoot street photography. No matter the time of year the streets are always filled with opportunities to photograph people. In this post I’m going to break down my favourite spots in London.

First up: Trafalgar Square. The square is home to both the National Gallery and Nelsons Column. This provides a great space to photograph people interacting with the architecture and environment around them.
Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.04.38

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.04.53

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.04.09

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.05.20

Leicester Square/China Town

Located next to each other, Leicester Square and China Town provide plenty of colour. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of people and finding it hard to spot scenes to photograph, try and focus on shooting one thing such as dogs, the colour blue, people wearing hats etc. Whilst I was here I focused on photographing couples..

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.05.49

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.16.59

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.03.11

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.17.10

Leading you from Oxford street to Leicester square is Regent Street. It’s a wide road filled with shops such as Apple and Hamleys. If you get there during golden hour the light hits just right through the buildings to create some striking portrait opportunities.

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.03.01

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.17.25

Outside of Buckingham Palace you’ll find the full spectrum of emotions from vloggers and excited tourists to stressed parents and tired children..

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.03.55

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.03.39

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.03.28

Street photography takes lot of patience and you have to be prepared for people to watch you taking pictures. But its a great way to see a city and when you take your shoes off after a long day walking theres nothing better than flicking through the photos you shot and coming across your new favourite photo.

More Street Photography

Camden  Prague Golden Hour  How to Use the Background in Street Photography

Dougie Wallace When the Subject Spots You  East London

Returning to Medium Format Photography

It’s been way to long since I last picked up my Yashica 635 and shot a roll of film. So long in fact the last time I shot medium format was with the Diana F+  back in February. But after flicking through one of my favourite photo books (Vivian Maier) I was inspired to go out and shoot a roll of 120mm.

Scan 2

My Yashica 635, a beautiful camera with a temperamental focus. 

For the last few years I have been focusing on street and travel photography so I thought I’d try my hand at some portraits.

I was shooting on Portra 160 film which is always my film of choice for portraits. And as the sun set we headed inside..

The film performed incredibly well considering I was shooting at ISO 160 in such limited light.  If you’ve never shot medium format photography- I highly recommend it! Although it comes at a higher cost than 35mm and on average you only get 12 shots, the detail you can capture with a good camera and the experience is well worth the extra pennies!

Portraits: How to Utilise your Location!

To take a great portrait you don’t need the latest high-tech equipment or a studio- although this can help. All you need is a camera, a model and the time to experiment.

I took all these shots within 1km of my flat using my Pentax K1000 35mm camera (around £100/$139).

Light

When shooting outdoors always look for where the sun is in the sky- light is a vital factor in creating a striking portrait. Golden hour  is a great time to shoot photography outside but if the light is strong it creates lots of interesting options..

20

7

With great light comes shadows, always be on the look out for unusual shadows to add some depth to the portrait

BUT if you live in England or somewhere similar, the chances are if you’re waiting for sun you’ll never take a single photo. So if the light is dull look for an interesting composition or location to detract from the lack of light.

 

Background

Think about your background wether it adds to the image or detracts the focus. Graffiti can be a great way to add some colour to your image. If you just want the subject to be in focus make sure they’re standing at least one step away from the background to allow some depth in your image.

 

 

Framing your subject

Use what have around you; trees, building, graffiti etc. For example, in the image below by looking up at the building it not only frames the image it makes the subject more imposing. Flowers are also a great way to add colour and fill the frame.

 

Have fun and experiment

Photography is all about enjoyment and learning from the mishaps. When shooting portraits on film I would always recommend shooting different angles of the same shot.

 

Thankfully I took two shots in this location, despite the frame counter telling me different, the first image just happened to be the first of the roll.

Lisbon Travel Diary: The Graffiti of Alfama

My favourite district of Lisbon is without a doubt Alfama. Its a cool neighbourhood filled with locals, students, cafe’s and elderly women selling alcohol from their front room..

It is also the Shoreditch of Lisbon, the streets and alleys house some of the city’s most famous graffiti. Here are a few of my favourite/ most controversial pieces..

img_9999-1img_9970img_9974-1img_9966img_9965-1img_0006

Lisbon Travel Diary: The Oldest Bookshop in the World!

Our second full day here in Lisbon started with a free walking tour I had booked. I had done them in Prague and Bratislava a few weeks ago and really enjoyed them. Learning about the history of the places we stood really helped me feel more connected to the city and understand the city in the context of Europe.

The meeting point was in the Chiado neighbourhood- named after Antonio Ribeiro, a 19th century continually drunk poet with a high-pitched voice (Chiado means squeaky).

Antonio Ribeiro Statue

The tour was led by Luis, a small but energetic 25-year old local who has lived in Mozambique and all around Europe before moving back to Lisbon to lead walking tours.

The tour was 3 hours long, but they really did fly by. Lisbon has enough interesting history to entertain for days from numerous invasions, revolutions and finding Brazil to how they stayed neutral in the Second World War by selling tungsten to the Nazi’s and lending land to the allies.

The tour also took us pass a bookshop, but not any old bookshop. The oldest bookshop in the world! (or universe as Luis put it).

On every travel website or book you look in the Santa Justa elevator is recommend as a much do. Yet both our tour guide and hotel receptionist said that it is overrated- yes it provides great views at the top but it’s not worth paying €5 to queue for half an hour to then go in a lift for a few seconds. So instead Luis led us to a staircase- after climbing for a few minutes we were right at the top of the elevator! No queues and no charge! The panoramic views gives you a real sense into how the streets of Lisbon were designed and you can pick out all the different, individual neighbourhoods.

After the tour ended at 2pm we grabbed some lunch and our first Portuguese custard tarts. As it was sunny we decided to catch a boat across the river to explore the city of Almada and walk up to Christ Rei (a 25m high statue of Christ which sits at the top of a hill). With my embarrassing seasickness in tow (it was a 5 minute river crossing) we started our walk. The Hill was deceptively huge and took a sweaty 45 minutes to reach the top. But boy was it worth it, although not religious myself it’s hard not to be impressed with the sheer size and architecture.

It costs €5 Euro’s to get a lift to the top, and if you’ve made it this far you might as well pay. Once you get to the top you are faced with a breathtaking 360 view.

After taking in the view at all angles and gawping at the ginormous statue ( which is based on Christ the Redeemer in Rio) we headed back down and started on the long walk home…

Lisbon Travel Diary: Thunderstorms & Rainbows

A fully packed day here in Lisbon started with a trip to one of the biggest shopping malls in Europe. I don’t normally factor in time for shopping when I’m travelling or visiting a new city but with us both needing new shoes (and an umbrella) it was a much needed first stop of the day.

After spending way too long in the maze-like shopping mall we dropped our new shoes of at the hotel and went exploring. We chose to explore the Alfama neighbourhood, home of the castle and many cathedrals.

Despite the erratic weather we had a great time winding in and out the lanes and keeping warm in the pastry shops. The area is also famed for its graffiti. Whether you like it or not it, the graffiti here adds colour to the streets and the majority is very creative (with a few exceptions of course). The only downside of the area is the entry fee to the castle- you can’t even see the grounds or view without paying a relatively expensive admission fee.

Next up-food. Both a travel magazine and our hotel receptionist recommended the Time Out market. A short walk from the main square along the river you arrive at the grand entrance of the market. Once you go through the doors you are faced with what feels like a hundred potential food options, with kiosks lining the four walls of the indoor market.

Long, communal tables fill the middle of the modern market. It was so busy it was hard to find a seat, but everyone was very friendly and happily partook in a Tetris-like game in order to fit everyone in.

Most food was fish or meat based- you’d be hard pressed to find many vegetarian options. I opted for a very tasty beef burger and was able to watch the filming of a Korean food program, it was extremely humorous watching the presenters and full crew trying to manoeuvre their way through the crowds against a time limit.

After filling up and soaking in the atmosphere we headed back through the streets of the capital back to the hotel. Lisbon is a beautiful, very walkable city but there are a lot of hills so if you visit, get ready to have aching legs at the end of the day.

Once again Lisbon has lived up to expectations and recommendations- despite having to dodge the rain for most of the day. Tomorrow we are taking part in a walking tour then will be exploring different neighbourhoods and eating even more food!

Lisbon Travel Diary: Touching Down

One lost boarding pass, a dropped phone and a two hour delay later we were out of Gatwick and finally on a plane flying to Lisbon.

We landed at 2.30pm and after a brief walk found ourselves on the metro. The station was incredibly grand and decorated with black and white murals.

It’s a relatively short journey from the airport to the centre of town (30 mins) and we soon arrived at the metro stop nearest our hotel. As we clambered up the stairs with our cases out the station we came to a stunning view; statue’s and a beautiful square in one direction and the sun shining on a winding river the other.

After taking too many photos we checked into our hotel. We’re not normally ones to complain but the room we were given in this highly-recommend hotel was very dark, claustrophobic and had an odd bathroom-you could see through from the bed..

But the staff were extremely helpful and moved us into another room which has both natural light and a bathroom with an actual door. So after quickly unpacking into our new room we went to explore.

We didn’t have much time left before the sun set so we just wandered around the local area, got some dinner and headed for an early night after having to get up at an inhumane hour for a delayed flight.

My first impressions of Lisbon are as good as they could be; pastry shops everywhere, trams and a beautiful riverside walk. I am really looking forward to getting to know this city and it’s history more in the next few days.

72 Hours in Prague

The longest day of my life started at 9am at Krakow bus station, waiting for a bus that was already in the station but had the wrong number on the front. After eventually coming to the conclusion that that was indeed our bus me and Emily got on and sat in the last two remaining seats. Both were single seats next to people who I can only assume had forgotten to wash for a number of days.

But then more people boarded the bus- it had been overbooked. The 8 hour journey consisted of 3 people sitting on the floor of the bus, due to the overcrowding, blocking the way to the toilet. So every time we stopped to pick up more passengers to squeeze onto the bus, me and Emily sprinted to use the bus station toilets.

Thankfully just as the sun was setting we arrived in Prague and not only that, we got a free room upgrade at our hostel!

IMG_9602

Our local metro station had the longest escalator in the EU. It took 2.5 minutes to go up.

Day One 

After the first good night sleep we had had in weeks we made our way to the start of a free walking tour. The tour was led by Michael, an American 25-year old. At first we were sceptical about having a Prague tour led by an American who had not yet lived in the city for a year. But he was extremely knowledgable and personable. Although his timekeeping was not the best- the 2 hour tour lasted 3 hours in the bitter cold. But we did learn a lot about the Prague’s history and the famous architecture which contributes to the capital being known as the ‘city of a hundred spires’.

IMG_9574

IMG_9656

Students taking a break

After warming up in a cafe we made our way through the narrow streets and crowds to the famous Charles bridge. It was incredibly busy but it was worth it to see the beautiful statues that line the bridge and a very enthusiastic busker.

IMG_9585

The busker on the bridge

All the sightseeing took its toll on us so after an amazingly tasty burger (which we go on to eat for the next two nights running) we headed back to the hostel for an early night.

Day Two 

By complete coincidence Emily’s dad was also in Prague. So while she went to meet him to drop off all the stuff she had bought on our trip and couldn’t fit in her case I went to the main square, which was draped in sunlight, to do an hour of street photography. It was the first time on the trip the sun allowed me to do some street photography. I will be posting them to this blog on Thursday but if you can’t wait till then you can head over to my instagram.

IMG_9688

After miraculously meeting up with Emily after my phone ran out of battery we headed over the Charles Bridge and up to Prague castle. Again it was very busy and the queue was so long we decided to take in the view of the city rather than go inside the castle. We then wiggled our way through the alleys and streets surrounding the castle. This was the first time in two days there were no tourists in sight and we felt like we were seeing an authentic side of Prague.

IMG_9593

Emily on our way up to the castle

We spent the rest of the evening trying to get lost to see a different side of Prague but kept ending up at the main square!

IMG_9635

A consumer of a ‘traditional’ chimney cake

My first impressions of Prague was not what I expected. Some places were so busy and full of tour groups you literally couldn’t move and we witnessed how a select few locals have capitalised on this. With ‘traditional’ cakes being sold (which are from Hungary) along with signs put up by the council warning tourists of not using taxi’s due to how much they will overcharge. We were also on the end of some very poor customer service in a couple of restaurants and a cafe (think 1/5 on Trip Advisor worthy). And we saw road rage so extreme the two drivers took to the street to ‘sort it out’ in front of a historic statue.

Day Three

Our final day consisted of no plans- just to wander. We felt very safe to explore the different suburbs. We ended up walking along the river and up to a huge pendulum at the top of a hill. The pendulum represents moving forward and the end of communism. From here we had one of the best views of our whole trip. You could see the river wind round the city, all the bridges and hundreds of church spires.

IMG_9764

With a few hours left before our flight we decided to explore the suburb at the top of the hill- I’m so glad we did. It was understated yet beautiful and filled with Prague locals going about their day. The suburb was surrounded by well-maintained parks and an easter fairground. Until this point I could never imagine what it would be like to live in Prague, but here I got a small glimpse and loved it.

IMG_9763

IMG_9769

My opinions on Prague changed from hour to hour. I loved the architecture and river but the mass of tourists and lack of customer service skills left us feeling a bit underwhelmed. But these are just my personal views from what we experienced and I would never discourage anyone from visiting. Prague and the Czech Republic have an intriguing history and the beer is not taxed like other alcohol which helps contribute to a (very) lively night life.

Sadly Prague was our last city on our trip! I am currently putting together a video of our Eastern European adventure which I’ll be posting to this blog, but until then I hope you all have great week, and please recommend where I should visit next!

72 Hours in Budapest

I am currently inter-railing around Eastern Europe so thought I’d put together a quick guide to each city I visit.

The trip didn’t get off to the best start as I missed the first city (Vienna) due to illness but I flew (along with 4 stag-do’s) to Budapest where I met my friend Emily to start our European adventure. Having visited Budapest for the first time around 4 years ago I was excited to return..

Day One

We woke up in our incredibly humid hostel around 9am, threw on some clothes and escaped to a bakery to get some air and food. From here we started our journey to the children’s railway- a railway run by children (?!).

Around 8km from the city centre it should’ve been a simple journey. But 4 trams, 1 cog railway and a bus later we found the station. We bought our train tickets from a boy no more than 12 years old and had a tickets checked by a girl who looked around 11 years old.

We went a few stops watching the beautiful snowy forests rush past the window as we gained altitude and then got off in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We slipped our way up an icy path through a forest to a chairlift. A chairlift that takes you down through the tree’s giving you a view across the entire city. It took at least 5 minutes giving us enough time to take some photos without dropping our cameras and soak in the view.

As the sun set we headed back into the centre of town to walk up to the citadella (some very grand statues) and along the Danube river to get some food.

Emily at a touch screen restaurant

A fully-packed first day but everything was well worth doing.

Day Two

As I drew the curtain back of my hostel bed I was greeted by a new arrival in our room. He proceeded to tell me and Emily how vodka is one the main components of the human body- 3 times in half an hour. Again we made a swift exit out our hostel to start the day. The first port of call was an old-school, Wes Anderson-style vernacular. It took us up slowly to the Hungary museum of art, an absolutely stunning building. Which we walked around the outside (the art was a bit modern for us) and then weaved our way through a village to Buda Castle. I had visited 4 years ago but it was just as jaw-dropping as it was before.

Knowing we wanted to try out the ruin bars in the evening we headed back to the hostel to have some rest and a shower, not before checking out the basilica and running around a Hungarian shopping centre looking for a toilet you don’t have to pay for.

As we are only in Budapest for a few days we decided to go for the most famous ruin bar. It’s made up of loads of quirky rooms, a mish-mash of items and variety of chairs (stools, signs, bathtubs..). After enjoying a few drinks we stumbled upon a music room. What first appeared to be a jazz band turned out to be an evening-long jam session where anyone can bring an instrument and swap out with another musician. It quickly turned into one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time and we even got to witness the most epic saxophone battle.

Day Three

The third day started slowly with some sore heads so we decided to spend our last day visiting the famous baths.

It’s just a 10 minute underground journey but it feels like you’re in a different city. Surrounded by grass, a frozen lake and huge statues it feels like a world away from the centre of Budapest.

We took many photos, had a walk and then entered into the baths. It was a great way to relax and warm up a bit. The baths were very busy but we never had any problem getting a seat in any of the them. After staying so long we looked like wrinkly raisins we decided it was for the best to go back to the hostel to pack our bags ready to check-out the next morning (and have a quick drink at our favourite ruin bar).

We are now on a train to Bratislava. The train is set out in cabins so we feel like we’re on our way to Hogwarts and have made many Harry Potter references much to the dismay of the fellow passengers in our cabin. I am really looking forward to Bratislava as I’ve never been before and have no idea what to expect!