Vienna: Must see and do

Well by now you’ll know that in Vienna you simply *must* drink lots of the excellent coffee, and eat copious amounts of cake and sausages. But what to do in between meal times?

We had such an amazing holiday in Vienna, and although a LOT of it was spent at the amazing Christmas Markets (half the reason for us going in honesty!) I think we did pretty well at soaking up what this gorgeous city has to offer….and here is what I’d recommend you do too….

You can’t really get away from Mozart in Vienna, although it’s not quite as Mozart-crazy as Salzburg! The beautiful statue of the composer in the Burrgarten is well worth a look, although you may have to fight through hoards of school trippers to get your photo!

I love the way you can see Vienna’s Gothic masterpiece, the Stephansdom cathedral from so far away, yet it sort of creeps up on you as you discover it up close. One side of the roof is decorated with a rather on-trend chevron tile design, whilst the other bears the Austrian eagle. Inside though is the real surprise, as we found it lit up in a rather crazy tie-dye effect!

The guide books said that if you only go to see one palace in Vienna, make it the Schloss Shonbrunn. And it is certainly worth the short U-bahn trip out of the city. The audio guided tour will take you through the palace’s tumultuous history and gives you an insight into the lives of its many occupants, including the famous Habsburgs.

The palace also boasts incredible grounds, including various themed gardens, fountains, a labyrinth and maze, and a stunning gloriette….the climb up to which is well worth the effort when you turn around to see the whole of Vienna before you.

And as if that’s not enough, your combined ticket will also let you into the palace’s own zoo, the fascinating Wustenhaus (desert house) and the breathtaking Palmenhaus (Palm house) which is actually a replica of the one in our very own Kew Gardens!

Vienna is home to the world’s first Lomography shop, and so a pilgrimage to its vast photo wall was a must for this analogue-lover. It also has a great little gift shop and the rest of the Museum Quarter in which it resides is worth a visit too.

We found out about the Globe museum by chance, and hadn’t planned it into our schedule at all, but as soon as we knew it existed we couldn’t miss it! The museum far exceeded our expectations, and not only houses some of the most visually impressive and historically important  globes in the world (including an entire room featuring globes from private collections) but also teaches you the history of globe manufacture using clever interactive exhibits….I had no idea it would be so interesting! A combined ticket also lets you into the Papyrus museum and the fascinating Esperanto museum!

Vienna is so famed for its musical history that it would be rude to visit without experiencing some live music. We opted for a rather touristy package at the Kursalon in the Stadtpark…..a sort of a variety show featuring chamber music, ballet and opera, this was the perfect taster and had everyone toe tapping along to the familiar tunes of some of Vienna’s greatest inhabitants.

And whilst we’re on music…..Vienna’s answer to the Hollywood walk of fame is great fun, with golden stars featuring famous composers’ names stretching from the Staatsoper, all the way under the U-Bahn station tunnels.

And whilst you’re there, take a look at the charmingly funny Opera loos! In London we have cockney cash machines, but in Vienna there is a public toilet where you can listen to opera! Love it!

I could also argue that no trip to Vienna would be complete without a good fix of Klimt either, and the Secession museum is a great place to get a feel for the artist. Home to his masterpiece the Beethoven Frieze, the building itself is just as impressive, with its owl motifs and Medusa heads over the door!

And just over the road is the colourful Naschmarkt, the city’s largest and most popular farmers’ market.

I personally couldn’t let the opportunity to visit an iconic Bond film scene pass me by, and so we took a bit of a walk over to the Wurstelprater Amusement Park (actually the world’s oldest amuseument park!) to see the Riesenrad…..those of you who are as fond of Bond as I will recognise the Ferris wheel and the sliding glass doors below from The Living Daylights. The 65m wheel also featured in the film The Third Man, as well as cult classic Sunrise.

Vienna really is one of those cities though that you can just amble around all day, and although we crammed in lots, I’d happily return again (in the summer perhaps) to simply soak up some of the lovely atmosphere there.

Ems x

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Wednesday Wants….Stocking Fillers

To me, stocking fillers have always been things like satsumas and Ferrero Rocher. But I’m noticing lately that the shops are telling us that much bigger (and more expensive!) things will make the ideal thing to bulk out your over sized sock. But as much as I love tradition (and Ferrero Rocher), this post was never meant to be about the things I will possibly have….that would be so dull….it’s about the things I lust after, no matter how extravagant!

So with that in mind, here are a few ‘stocking fillers’ I’ve had my eye on…..

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Diana Baby 110 Gold Edition

I adore my Diana camera, which Adam bought me a few birthdays ago. I love its plasticy-ness and the crazy photos it comes out with….not to mention the way people look at me when I use the brilliantly huge paparazzi-style flash. It’s not *the* most easy thing to carry around though, especially with the umpteen lenses and accessories I was lucky enough to receive alongside mine….but this baby-sized one is! I’m crazy about its shameless glitzy-ness and bling-factor….it’s so different from the super-retro black and blue of the original one. It’ll cost you almost as much as that though, as this special edition is £59 from the Lomo shop. Still, a bit of bling is worth it!

Lee Broom Crystal Light Bulb

I really can’t think of something much more extravant to fill your stocking with than this. Inspired by the delicate craftsmanship of crystal cutting, this decorative light bulb-shaped crystal light fitting from Liberty has been individually hand blown before being cut with a classic crystal pattern and etched with the Lee Broom logo. Apparently it refracts the light beautifully as a play on the common light bulb versus a glitzy chandelier. Clearly for the person who has everything! Especially at £109!

And as a rather blingy theme has emerged….I give you…..

18k Christmas Bow Necklace

I am totally in love with this. It’s sooooo shiny and wonderfully fun and festive. I would like to think it would go with everything too. But then I’ve never been shy about wearing something a little OTT with a T-shirt and jeans. It’s made by hand by ilithe, and is available on Etsy for £625. And I bally love it!

Happy stocking stuffing!

Ems x

Analogue photography and DIY all in one!

My friends over at Lomography UK have just drawn my attention to their latest release…. the DIY Sardina!

The little, super compact camera has received all kinds of makeovers since it was released, and on top of its awesome wide-angle lens and easy to use settings, it is quite the style icon.

But now you get to set the style yourself, with the new DIY Edition. A blank canvas, the camera boasts interchangeable panels made from special ink permeable material, so that you can draw on it, stick stuff to it, and generally up its fabulousness!

Included for your £99 is the camera and its set of white panels for you to customise at will, a set of transparent panels which allow you to affix multimedia materials on the body (photos, textiles, stickers, etc.) and a handy little screwdriver to help you take it apart.

It is just now available from the lomo online shop.

I would love one to doodle on when the sun’s not shining enough to take photos…..or decorate it with my own illustrations…..or maybe fill it with photos taken with it! Maybe I need three…..?!

Ems x

Changes…..

I’ve been doing some work towards making my site a bit prettier and easier to use….. I want to update my ‘About’ page, as I haven’t done so since starting the blog a year ago, and I want to make it simpler to find posts within specific categories. As always, I’m very pleased to hear any feedback and ideas!

First though, I’ve been drawing some little link illustrations to replace the standard ones I had before, for Twitter, Bloglovin etc. I find it much easier working with a pen and paper than with all the technomalogical stuff I’m trying to get my head round to develop my blog, so I thought I’d use some original images I’d created myself!

I’m rather pleased with them, especially my little drawing of my favourite camera! I’m hoping to use these as a starting point for how my new look takes shape….

Hope you like!

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Trying out the Lomography LC-Wide at the LoBlography Event

A couple of Saturdays ago I took part in the ‘LoBlography’ workshop, at the Lomography Soho HQ. Designed to inspire bloggers and introduce analogue photography to those who hadn’t tried it, it was a super event and I enjoyed the chance to try out a new camera.

I’ve been intrigued by the little LC-A cameras for a while, as they are so compact and give great results even in conditions I know other analogue cameras struggle with. It’s much more expensive than the likes of the Holga and Diana, at around £250 so I was glad of the chance to try it out before potentially investing.

I was lucky enough to baggsy the LC-Wide which features an even more impressive lens and the ability to half close the shutter to play around with multiple exposures. It was a little tricky to get used to how it works, being so used to the Diana which is a lot more low-tech, but with a whole film to play about with for an hour, I started to get the hang of it….. Still, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the developed photos, but here they now anyway…..
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I am quite pleased with them…. at least they all came out, despite the dull grey day and lack of natural light. And I really like some of the double exposed ones. The colours are great in all of them though I think, and where I’ve got the focus right (not that often!) they are nice and clear too. I did miss some of the fun of snapping with my Diana, but I do think the LC-A is more user friendly and quicker to pick up, mainly because of how it deals with low light and because it won’t let you forget to wind on!

There are more here on my Flickr page  too, as well as some other sets from the films I took in to be processed that day….. I’m rather chuffed with some of the shots I took with my Diana in Paris.

Ems x

 

Wednesday Wants…… Snap Happy

So as you may already have read, I’ve promised myself I’m going to work hard at bettering my photography skills over the next few months. And as such, I’ve been eyeing up some gadgets and whatnot….. all in the name of keeping me interested of course!

Holga iPhone Lens Filter Kit SLFT-IP4, $24.99 from Holga Direct

I’m afraid to say that my iPhone has recently been my camera on too many occasions…… it is after all always with me, easy to use, and doesn’t cost anything to use. Still, I don’t want to get too into a rut of using it, so perhaps something like this cool contraption will help keep me working at new techniques. The makers of the iconic Holga have now cast a little of their photography magic on the iPhone world with this awesome special effect lens kit. It is apparently very simple to install, and just slips onto an iPhone 4 or 4S just like a case. Once fitted, it gives access to 9 different special effects and filters without needing an app. I love the vivid colours and the way it looks like an old telephone dial. Would love to give it a go….looks like fun!

$24.99 from Holga Direct

Gizmon iCA iPhone Case, $65 from Holga Direct

And on that subject, how awesome does this little iPhone gadget look? It’s not just a groovy retro styled case either…. The integrated shutter button actually presses down on your phone’s volume up button so you can use it with many iPhone photo apps, and a detachable tripod mount allows you to shoot long exposures too. Oh, and there’s a handy mirror for self portraits. The price does seem a little steep though, although there are far less functional cases out there for more.

$65 from Holga Direct

Ringflash (also for Diana- LC-A and Holga), £59 from Lomography

I’ve had my eye on this for ages actually. I have a brilliantly cool flash for my Diana already, and you can slot colour filters into it for added effect, but this is something even better. The Lomography Ringflash completely surrounds the lens of a Diana, Holga or LC-A camera, and throws a burst of perfectly even light onto your subject. It is said to help create photos where skin is more radiant, eyes have circular reflections, and it gives crazy shadow effects around your subject when they’re against a wall. Solid-colored diffuser rings and multiple color filters can be used to create colored light too, even with four colours all at once.

£59 from Lomography (where you can also see the kind of photos you can achieve with this)

Holga 135 35mm BC Camera, $46.99 from Holga Direct

I’d really like a cheap little camera to throw into my bag, ready to snap up good analogue opportunities whenever I can. My Diana is great for this, but I have so many attachments for it that I always want to take, that it’s not always possible to keep it on me. So I think the super-simple Holga may be the answer, and I’ve long since admired the shots you can capture with them. This version is one of 3 variants of the 35mm range of Holga cameras… the original takes 120 film but of course it’s much easier to get hold of 35mm and cheaper too. This model is said to create a funky soft vignetting, achieved through the use of an internal mask. It also boasts a hotshoe, so I could use my Diana flash with it. The white version is also super cute, don’t you think?!

$46.99 from Holga Direct

BELL & HOWELL Autoload Super 8 Vintage Movie Camera with Power Zoom, £19 from Jessiepearl on Etsy

It’s always nice to throw something ‘pie in the sky’ into these little lists of mine, and when it comes to photography, a Super 8 camera is top of that list. Ever since one of the weddings I produced was shot in this format, I’ve had a love for the rickety charm of Super 8. And I’ve seen cameras for not that much, so it would seem it’s not too distant a dream to have a go…. However, developing the film is REALLY expensive and I’d hate to never be able to use one of these cameras and leave it collecting dust. So, I’ll just have to wait til I win the lottery.

£19 from Jessiepearl on Etsy

As usual, any additions or ideas gratefully recieved!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. Saturday afternoon adventures at the LoBlography event

After that we started to make our way towards Carnaby Street, via a few more shops to check out  blazers for Adam. At 2pm I was off to an exciting workshop held at the Soho HQ Lomography shop. The event was a ‘LoBlography’ workshop, designed to inspire bloggers and introduce analogue photography to those who hadn’t tried it. I’ve been using their Diana F+ for a while now and thoroughly enjoy messing about with it, but the chance to try another of their cameras and hear talks from some really successful bloggers had me dead excited.

After telling us about the brand’s history and ethos, host Heidi introduced the Lomography ‘bread and butter’ camera, the LC-A. I’ve been intrigued by these little cameras for a while, as they are so compact and give great results even in conditions I know other analogue cameras struggle with. It’s much more expensive than the likes of the Holga and Diana, at around £250, but Heidi told me how the legendary Minitar 1 lens was what makes it special and more expensive to produce. It does fit with lots of the fun accessories I love to play with, including a ring flash and instant back (I have one for the Diana which is great fun) and represents a piece of real Lomo history as the first camera the founders discovered and began to reproduce.

We were given a quick tutorial, and then picked up a camera each (already loaded with 35mm film) and marched together through Soho for an hour of snapping. I was lucky enough to baggsy the LC-Wide which features an even more impressive lens and the ability to half close the shutter to play around with multiple exposures. It was a little tricky to get used to how it works, being so used to the Diana which is a lot more low-tech, but it is a great starter camera for those wanting to take up analogue photography I think because it won’t let you accidentally take a picture without winding on or with the lens cap on (I’m still doing that even now with my Diana!). Having spent so much time with the Diana though, I did find the LC-A rather less fun somehow. Still, I’ll await final judgement until I see the photos!…. it was a rather grey afternoon and I wouldn’t usually have shot anything with my Diana because it likes the sun so much, but I’ve been told the LC-A holds up much better with our typical British weather! I’ll be sure to share the processed images when I get them next week….. a big thank you to Heidi and the Lomography Shop for giving us all a film to play with and processing them for free (not to mention having them sent to the East London store which is super convenient for me!).

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Three on the go

When we had all re-assembled in the little workshop space under the shop (all Lomography stores have a space for training, workshops and displays like that, with the exception of the two pop-ups in Westfield and Selfridges at the moment), Bucks Fizz and cupcakes were passed around whilst we chatted and got to know the other attendees a little. We’d been sent a list of everyone’s sites in advance so I was delighted to meet everyone and put a face to the blog!

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Fellow LoBlographers

After guzzling up plenty of fizz, we settled down to hear talks from Kat of GizmodoAdam of Rock My Wedding and Domestic Sluttery founder Siany. Heidi had asked everyone to tell us a bit about how they started up and managed to develop their respective sites….. It was great to hear everyone’s stories, and pretty inspirational to know a little bit about how their blogs grew and grew. There was a lot of emphasis on finding a niche and branding, which I know I have to work on…. as well as ensuring you love what you do (which I know I need no help with!). Thank you to all three speakers….. for sharing your cleverness and being dead lovely too.

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LoBlographers assemble

After promising to keep in touch with lots of the nice people I’d met, and handing in the roll of film I took (as well as a few from Paris which I can’t wait to get back!) I took the short walk across Carnaby Street to meet up with folks celebrating my friend Richard’s birthday. Before I’d even settled into a sofa, I had a cocktail put in my hand….and it was all downhill from there! After a bottle of Champagne was put in front of me too (Richard was kind enough to continue my birthday celebrations even though we’d really met up to celebrate his!) I spent the next few hours chatting, giggling and taking ridiculous photos using the silly effects on my digital camera. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much!

A bit of a resolution….. turning 30 and promising to learn more about photography

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Today is my 30th Birthday and I’ve been celebrating it for weeks now with picnics and nights out….. tomorrow I’m off for a very fancy breakfast at the Wolseley and on Sunday I’m having a ‘Fashionista’ Afternoon Tea at the Berkeley! But as well as drinking my weight in Champagne and yumming up more cucumber sandwiches than I can count, I also want to mark the occasion with something a little different.

Part of the reason I have this blog (a big part in fact) is to store up all the memories I want to ensure I don’t forget, and it’s for that same reason that I adore taking photos. I’ve been a pretty keen amateur photographer for a few years now, and my skills have come on a fair bit, but lately I’ve just been plodding along and not learning any new tricks or developing (excuse the pun) my skills very much. It’s fair to say that I’m pretty addicted to Instagram, which I think shows that at least I’m always wanting to take and share photos, but at the same time it doesn’t really offer much in the way of creative or technical development.

So, I have vowed to try harder…..

  • I want to learn more about my digital camera and start honing my skills with that (I have had a Canon G12 for just over a year but never played much with it as it’s so similar to the G10 I had before and actually loved learning about)
  • I have just taken three rolls of 35mm film in my Diana, which are ready to go to be developed….. once I’ve seen how they come out I’ll assess and take some more (and hopefully get better as I go!)
  • I’ve set up an Instacanvas Gallery which I hope to keep adding cool pics to…. and with any luck other people will like them too!
  • I’m planning on buying a very simple, original Holga, so that I can keep it with me and snap lots and lots (I find with the Diana there are too many tempting attachments I always want to take with it, so I may well use that mainly for 35mm film and the Holga for 120)
  • I MUST sort out my Flickr…. it’s gotten so messy and I hardly tag anything at all! I really should create some new folders and do some serious filing!
  • Tomorrow I’m off to a photography/blogging workshop at the Lomo shop….. I will get to try out the L-CA+ and shoot a film myself, as well as hearing talks from some very clever people who I also can’t wait to meet!
  • I have signed up for Campfire Chic‘s disposable camera swap (I buy a disposable, fill it with photos, then send it to someone I don’t know in America who will do the same for me!) which I found thanks to the brilliant Vixie at Matin Lapin. I can’t wait to play about with another disposable camera (had great fun with the under water ones on my holiday to St Lucia) and I’m super excited to see what I receive too!
  • I’ve also promised myself that I will get more photos printed…. I find the quality, service and value just wonderful at Photobox and have in fact just had a big order printed up, including some of my analogue shots and some of Adam’s incredible pictures to start selling at my craft fairs.
  • And although this will perhaps be the biggest commitment of all….. I am determined to sort out all my old prints which are all stored away in packets, rather than in the several pretty photo albums I have standing empty!

It would be great if I can improve my photos, especially as I like to use so many on here, not to mention it may help me sell things on my Etsy and Folksy shops. If anyone has any ideas to keep me going, tips and advice to help me out, or just general prodding enthusiasm to bestow, I would be most grateful!

Wish me luck!

Ems x