Photography Travel Essentials and Street Art in Valencia, Spain

It seems strange thinking back, but when I was in Valencia I didn't take many photos whatsoever. This is probably because me and Alice were too busy stuffing our faces with some damn good vegan burgers. Or that we spent a full day just cooing at cute animals.

Godammit! I miss Spain.
Not everybody wants to carry a huge camera bag filled with all different lenses. Three bodies. Five tripods. A belt of film roll across your chest like a Mexican gunslinger. Me and Alice only took our backpacks to Spain with us, so taking only essentials was a must. 
Deciding what it is to take, when you have very little capacity, can be a toughy. I've narrowed down five essential things you need if you're planning on taking your camera and electronics away with you across the world.

Let's get started.
1. One Lens To Rule Them All
I know myself that this one can be extremely hard. I myself struggled to decide on which lens to take. And I suppose this also depends on what you're looking to photograph. Going into the city. Something short. Going to the mountains. Something long. See?

For Valencia, I took my 18-70mm Nikkor. This is my go-to lens for when I'm unsure of what exactly I'll be shooting. Plus, it's a reasonably small lens for your bag.
2. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Let's face it. No matter what camera gear you take away with you, you are still going to end up taking a few photos on your phone. So technically, this is still photography. Your phone is essential. Keep it charged.

Get yourself a charge kit. These bad boys can save your bacon if you lose your power when out and about. Though ideally used for phones, there's nothing stopping you from charging your camera batteries on this as well. Plus, some power kits can come as an external hard drive as well! #belter. But just remember, you need a USB charge cable for your electronics. No good trying to force a three pin plug into it.
3. All Failure Is Failure To Adapt
This may seem like an obvious thing. A travel adaptor. But, more specifically, a universal adaptor. The best thing to do is buy one adaptor that fits all sockets around the world. That way, you're not struggling, or carrying loads of different adaptors. You can buy them fairly cheap, plus, it means if you spontaneously wanted to go from Europe to the States, you wouldn't have to worry about your charge.

The one I own even allows me to charge two USB cables. Crazy? I know. Wow...
4. Take The Lead
Even if you're travelling light, you still may need a lot of chargers, so this is perfect. An extension lead. Or to be more westernised, a multi-outlet. This may seem strange to carry around a four plug extension strip in your bag, but hear me out. I know people who will chuck five European travel adaptors in their bag because they want to charge multiple items. But what happens if there is only one plug socket in the hotel room?

Oh and you're sharing that room with a friend who also wants to charge their phone and camera, as well as blow dry their hair?

In combination with one universal adaptor, your extension lead will let you charge all your items. No need to worry about carrying multiple adaptors or how many sockets your hotel room is going to have.

'Four Seasons? Yes, hello, I was just wondering... how many sockets do your rooms have?'
5. I Can Do All Things Through... Compacts
Not too fussy on camera accessories? Need more space? Then you could easily just get yourself a compact do-it-all 4K CSC Camera instead. These 4K compacts are getting better and better, and they are most ideal for travellers and bloggers. 4K is all the range now. Nobody cares about 1080p anymore. People want 4K! 

Plus, flip out screens. Did someone say SELFIE?!

With WiFi connectivity, they're perfect for Instragrammers and Bloggers. No need to carry card readers, just send those photos to cloud storage.

Compacts aren't as useless as they used to be. They're now packing big punches. Ironically, considering the small size of these things.
So there are some of the essentials that I think you need if you're planning on travelling with your camera. Of course, there are other things that would be required depending on your reason for travel, or for where you are going. Don't think because a rain cover isn't on the list that your camera gear will be fine during a heavy rain storm.

What do you think is essential for your trip and why? Or have you been to Valencia before? If so, tell me your thoughts.
*This post was sponsored by Panasonic.

Feeling like a Disney Princess in Toledo, Spain

Though covered in street art and graffiti like the majority of other Spanish cities, Toledo was something like a fairytale. My photos won't do it justice as I purposely went out my way to photograph the 'darker' sides to the city. But, all you have to do is a Google search to find out how pretty the city really is!
Though, we did have an extremely warm welcome.
We only spent one day in Toledo but it was the perfect day to choose. At this point, Spain had stayed pretty cool, until we got off the train in Toledo. Dropped that ISO, and boosted that shutter. The sun was out! Thank fuck!

The two photos above were actually an excuse to catch our breath. We'd just arrived, but by this point we had already scaled walls and climbed a lot of steep steps. So we took time out just to enjoy the view.
The two of us sat, perched on a wall. Behind us the art of artists and rebels. In front, our feet hung off the edge of the Earth. It was a beautiful clear view. Not a cloud in sight.
Besides all the beauty, we did come across a more 'rundown' area (as a way to put it). There was a bunch of students on a school trip, and we just wanted to eat our damn froyo in peace. So we took a wander down some alleys and cobbled back streets. By this point, I'm pretty sure I was sat amongst piss whilst enjoying my yoghurt. But at least it was peaceful. Peaceful piss.
This is only a short post, due to I originally had the intention of just having a photo post. I couldn't though. I needed to at least say something good about Toledo. Don't let my pictures fool you!
They do still drive cars however. Not the horse and carriage I expected.

Toledo, to me, was a fairytale. Where have you been that has given you that Disney Princess feeling?

Buying Weed and Eating Babies in Madrid, Spain

Recently, Alice and I had packed only our carry on luggage, and jetted off to cold and windy Spain, for a two week trip travelling from city to city. After a few days of planning, we had created a schedule for our 'days per city.' The first of which being Madrid. Fortunately for us, Alice has an uncle that happens to be residing in Madrid to teach English. Did I hear free accommodation? 

Of course, as well as being a getaway holiday and a chance to meet the family, I used this opportunity to experiment with my recent purchase of the Nikon D3100. When looking for a cheap entry level camera, I've always thought I'd go back to my Canon 600D. After all, I knew everything about it, I learnt DSLR photography on a 550D. Canon are pretty straight forward. Why should I experiment with anything else?

But, then I saw the D3100 in a secondhand electronics shop for a pretty cheap price. I already had a Nikkor 18-70mm lens, so there'd be no extra expenditure. Fuck it. I bought it.

So, a Canon fanboy had somehow landed a second Nikon camera. 

Backstory over.
There we have it, I'm in Spain with a camera I'm not too sure how to use. Where was the little info screen on top like the D50? Oh. It's on the main display.

I have to say, from the off, I had fallen completely in love with Madrid. It's just a very cool place, with a very easy going vibe. We went about to do our touristy things. So here's just a small few activities that we did, and you could do too, on a trip to Madrid.
The first thing is easy. Just wander the streets. Follow your feet. Having a walk around the city and spotting landmarks helps you get a bit of a radar on the place. You'll remember images, buildings, anything, and it will help you realise where you are, and how the hell to get back to your room.

Not only this, but taking a walk without a guide helps you discover those hidden gems. Google might not realise how good that small cafe bar is just around the corner. Just a warning though, during these walks, I was offered some weed quite a few times. It seems it would be easy to get a hold of in Spain. Hey, just ask a random guy in the street, he probably has a supply.
Museums! Did you guess that one? The great thing about Madrid is that a lot of the museums are actually free admission during a certain time. If you don't like it, who gives a damn, it was free, quit whining. Okay, maybe you're allowed to whine a little.

One of which we visited was Museo del Prado - in between six and eight o'clock in the evening to be granted our VIP free entry. Obviously. That free entry everyone else seemed to also be getting. The Prado Museum is a national art museum in central Madrid. It has been considered to be the greatest art museum in the world. Tick that off your bucket list and smoke it.

Although, this is also the museum in which we saw a man eating a baby, as well as plenty of 'squirty-the-milky-from-booby' paintings. Bit odd.
Visit some parks. Madrid is home to some of the most beautiful parks. Though it could be particularly chilly during our visit, the parks weere perfect when the sun would be shining. Do a quick Google search, you'll find some damn good lookin' parks.

One in particular that sticks in mind for me is Parque del Buen Retiro. The Retiro Park is probably the most famous park in Madrid. It is known for it's luscious green canopies, outdoor gyms, and rowboats. Here you'll also notice a hefty amount of rollerbladers, skateboarders, and best of all - dogs. You can also get a view of the stunning Crystal Palace know as Palacio de Cristal.

Spain not good enough for you? Visit the Oeste Park and get a little taste of Egypt. Here stands the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple that had been dismantled and rebuilt in the park. This is quite amazing to see, and a great place to get your picture taken. Just be careful of the security, they're a bit touchy about you being touchy. You don't want to be the one to destroy history do you?
The nightlife in Madrid is pretty crazy. The locals stay out way past seven a.m. and if you're out with them, you can buy beers off random dudes in the street. Imagine that in England! Everywhere just seemed to stay open, they don't want to close. The people of Madrid just want to drink, drink and drink. So, if that sounds like something you're into, you know where to go.

Speaking of drink, I'm assuming you like food too. The indoor market, known as Mercado San Miguel, is the perfect place for a shed load of tapas, as well as the beer and wine you little devils love. This market can be pretty crowded, but it is basically like a little party. A huge range of all the foods and beers you could want. A little pricey though. At least they have WiFi nearby, I guess.
I didn't actually take many photos in Madrid. I kind of forgot if I'm honest. In a sense, this is good, I got to take in everything I was seeing, and loved every minute of it. I'm just sorry I couldn't show you guys more. So there were a small number of things that we did in Madrid. There was a lot going on in order to write about it all. Didn't even leave space for our visit to the Royal Palace. Oh well!

If you like getting fucked up, eating strange foods, as well as babies, this is your jam.

And hey, I think I'm starting to like these Nikon things...

Anyone already ticked off these from their bucket list? Did you discover something new in Madrid? Let me know.

Have a day off? Do your damn chores!

If you've been keeping up with me, you'll know that I've recently found myself toying around with a Pentax SL - an old 35mm film cammy.

A few weeks ago, me and the missus decided to take a spontaneous trip to Scarborough. On our days off from work we always try and do something somewhat adventurous. Even if it's just going a few miles out. We went to hit the beach and to visit Peasholm Park.
Since my last post I hadn't touched the camera. So I'm still learning it, but that's why I brought it out with me. I made sure I had plenty of film and off we went.

I thought I'd use this post to help you with what to do on your days off.

It's so easy to complete your week of work, feel exhausted, and think that all you really need is to catch up on the latest Netflix originals - which sometimes can be an amazing way to spend your time. But save that for the night.
Get the hell out of dodge - Taking a small adventure to somewhere outside of town is always a fun and exciting thing to do. Even if it's just for something to eat and a walk around, or maybe a picnic if the weather is nice. Going to new places is always an interest of mine. It can be boring doing the same thing in your own city, I mean, c'mon, you live there. You've probably done most of what is on offer.
The best part of this I think is the drive. If you can drive anyway. I love driving to my favourite music, it's just so relaxing and I find it way better than being a passenger. Time flies when I'm just on a road trip with my music playing. Not only this, if you're with the right company, music is just your perfect background noise. The journey is time for conversation. Which leads me to my next idea.
Time with friends and family - When working full time, or striving to progress in your career or ambitions, it's very easy to forget those who are close to you. It's not a purposeful thing, but people can start to neglect their friends and family because they can be tired from work or they just want to slob out. Keep in touch, make an effort. Even if you feel tired, you'll feel much better for it. Even if it's just a coffee and a catch up.
Be a selfish bitch - This may seem a little contradictory, but you time is also good. Don't mistake laziness and needing time to yourself however. If you know you're just being a bit lazy and can't be arsed to get out of bed, chances are, you may feel a bit shitty by the end of the day.

Taking out even half an hour of your day for yourself has psychological and physical benefits. If you give yourself that KitKat moment you'll feel refreshed and happier. Read a book. Take a bath. Find something you can lose yourself in.
Cultivate your passions - What is it that you love? Do you love playing music, writing words, or creating art? Now is your time to do it. This is a time for personal growth, doing the things that make your happy but have something to gain. Not just trying to get to the next prestige on Call of Duty. Dust the grime off the wheels and take your skateboard back out there! Go shoot some people... with your camera... geez.
Tidy up - 'But mommmmm!' No. Do your damn chores! Yes, we all hate them, that's why they're chores. But just get them done. As chores add up, it runs you down. Keep up with them and you will feel accomplished. You can not honestly say to me you don't feel happy after tidying your room? Probably even bragged about it to your mum.
The future's bright - Are you working a shitty job? Not happy in your living situation? Work towards your future. Plan and act on whatever it is that's required for you to have a happier life. Want to be a full time writer? Now is the time to hone that. Send off your work. This can deeply relate to the 'cultivate your passions' header. Have a passion? Find a way to make that passion your income.
Netflix and chill - Not necessarily in the same way the internet memes make it out to be, but Netflix and chill is a great way to end your day. It can be super nice to get cosy on the night and watch a movie just before you go to bed. Not binge watch TV series one after the other. What I tend to do is watch only a single episode of a programme before going to bed. I try not to binge. You end up staying up too late, then waste half your time looking for a new series to watch the next night. Fact: Netflix and chill is always more fun with company.
Blog - Doesn't this one go without saying? People blog because they love it, but sometimes it can be hard to meet a schedule. You still have a life to live. Use some time to do your posts in advance, then you don't have to fret too much about creating content for the next week. Daily bloggers though, I don't know how you do it. Mad respect.
There we have it. On my day off in Scarborough, I managed to tick off half of these in one day. Played about with my camera, got out of town, and hung out with my girlfriend. Went out for a meal on the night, before getting into bed early and watching some TV together. Pretty sure I even tidied my car before the journey. No one wants to travel in a dirty vehicle.

What is it that you guys do on your day off? How do you make the most of your free time?

Losing My 35mm Virginity!

I am a huge fan of charity shops. They are what I crave. I literally can't get enough of thrifting! I don't mind owning second hand gear, and when my t-shirts are only costing me £1, I don't have to cry when they're damaged.

It may gross some people out, the thought of wearing some clothes that you do not know the story of, but personally, I don't give a damn!
I had to take a look at some of the charity shops in Hessle Square, just for some clothes for my holiday that is coming up (which I will be on at the time that this is posted!). I went into my favourite charity shop that sells every single item for £1. Let me say that again, every item is only a pound! I got myself a pair of shorts and a couple of T-shirts.

As I continued from shop to shop, in the final one I noticed something just behind the counter. The lady working saw I was looking and allowed me behind to have a better look. It was an old Asahi Pentax SL.
I turned to my girlfriend, Alice, and exclaimed,

'No way! An old film camera. I've been looking at buying one of these'.

Alice told me to buy it, told me to treat myself. I knew that was said because it would give her the excuse to buy more for herself. But she also knows photography makes me happy, and she could see my excitement.
So, I checked the price tag and it was £20. Seems reasonable enough for me, especially since it came with a couple of light meters, a 55mm and an extra 28mm lens, a heavy duty flash, and my personal favourite, an extra hot shoe mount (as the camera itself doesn't have a hot shoe). I thought the mount would be perfect if I ever start vlogging in the future, as a microphone would cover my flip up screen on my X70. The hot shoe mount will mean my microphone is to the side and I can see my pretty face... Anyway, back to the Pentax...
I gave the wind lever a pull to the side, and it wound fine. Gave it a click. Shutter sound. It felt good. 'I'll take it'.

Unfortunately, I don't know much about 35mm film cameras, so even though it seemed to be in working order, I couldn't be 100% sure. I took it to my nearest camera shop and asked the guy for all the information he could give me.
The man behind the counter was extremely helpful with showing me how it worked. I'm not used to having to rewind cameras. He refused to sell me any film however. I was taken aback by this at first, but then he said it was because he was unsure if the camera even worked. He loaded it with some old film just to see if the camera gripped and wound the film up okay. Sadly, the camera struggled.

I began to believe it was a wasted buy. I thought this was it. Oh well. Maybe next time. The man behind the counter didn't give up though, he just kept winding until eventually it became smooth.
He reckons the camera just needed 'breaking in' a bit, so to speak. Not knowing how long it had sat in the charity shop, it just needed playing with. It needed a warm up.

Things were looking good. Except, he still refused to sell me some film!
Instead, what he did was this. He loaded up my camera with another film roll and told me to go. He told me to just go out and shoot. Photograph anything, to come back, and then, if the camera works, only then will he sell me the film. I was up for the challenge.
I walked out the shop eager and excited. The first picture I took was the photo of the car above. And I absolutely love how it turned out. These photos already mean so much to me, it's a nice memory. It was like I'd never picked up a camera again, I felt the same excitement that I felt the first time I ever touched a camera. The feel of the shutter gave me a rush.

Sadly, the film stopped rolling earlier than expected. With the struggle of getting the film to wind in the first place, it left a lot of wastage. So, only 19 shots later, I returned to the shop.
He took the film from me and said to return in about two hours time. And that was that. I headed home and waited. I was so excited. From being a digital photographer, I was extremely impatient. I couldn't wait. It was frustrating. Even writing this now, I have three films next to me that need to be processed.

That's the one down side to film. The wait. We are so used to having our photos instantly, it feels strange to be waiting. But this also creates a buzz. It makes you eager. Waiting for the negatives to be processed is part of the fun.
And there they are. You've just scrolled through them. The final images. I think they look amazing. It's the colour. I'm just so in love with how the colour comes out on film. Especially yellows. The yellows just pop. 

So my verdict on this dirty, dust-covered Pentax? It's a winner! I know I won't always shoot film because it becomes costly and sometimes I'm not wanting to be patient with my shooting. With film, you need to make sure you get it right! At least with digital, I can take loads and delete the rubbish. Run and gun, so to speak.

But this is also a good exercise for me. Shooting film makes you precise. You try and make every photo as perfect as you can because you don't want to lose a single photograph.

Go out and try something new with your photography! It's brings that excitement back! I wasn't bored of photography in any way, but change helps. It's fun. Get out there. Be creative.

What do you do to mix up your photography and make it exciting? What's your opinion on film shooting? Love it, hate it? Let me know!


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