Was it Worth a Sweat? Visiting the Marble Mountain and off to the Street Markets of Hoi An.

Having just arrived to Da Nang, the city of golden bridges and few people speaking proper English, we decided to do something cultural. ¬†“Marble Mountain” – a some kind of a marble hill, overlooking the city, adjacent to the marble market where you can literally buy anything made out of marble.

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The place was fantastic, but the humidity was whipping hardcore that day. Just being outside we quickly turned into some kind of sad, wet and stinky creatures. And the +35 C temperature… so as you can guess, we very quickly stopped looking presentable in the photos.

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At least the advantage of black and white photography is in the fact that you don’t see how red your face is.

It is also quite remarkable how much more resistant the locals are to this weather – you will never see them drenched in sweat, they are somehow just glowing with their bad-teethed smiles, or maybe their hearts just beat in a different rhythm… who knows.

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Not without a little bit of suffering, we made it up and touched upon a few temples, went down to a cave with a massive Buddha, fought with some kinky and loud Americans for the scenic outlook… watched the sunset, which was not really memorable in comparison with the state of our shirts’ ¬†moistness.

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One thing worth mentioning about climbing this mountain was that I was very, very much happy that it wasn’t raining that day, because all the stairs are made out of marble stones and it was quite a miracle that nobody broke any limbs on their way. Those stairs were not steady, straight or safe. But if they were also wet, this whole adventure would have probably had a nasty turn.

Ana Shtraus - Fujicolor 200 - AA008ASadly, most of those temples were too dark for photography, but definitely worth the visit alluring the tourists with foreign burning incense sticks smells and candle lit figurines with the donations.

We didn’t invest in any marble goods, and came to a decision that the rooftop swimming pool was a necessary visit after the profound sweating in the mountains.

Danang seems like a new city full of construction, young people and shiny bars and restaurants. But in fact it dates back to 102 AD, so not so new in the end. There is more than a million people living in there, but it doesn’t feel as crowded as other big cities of Vietnam, though also can get quite loud.

 

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Danang has a beautiful coast which felt quite deserted where we were. It was heavily used by Americans during the Vietnam war times to unload the new-arriving soldiers…

In just 30 minutes drive from Danang, there is an absolutely stunning little city called Hoi An – meaning a peaceful meeting place. It looks and feels like and old-school Asian settlement with plenty of small temples, bridges and lanterns all over the place.

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Most places would want a small payment to enter, but it is usually only 1 dollar per person. What can you seriously buy in your home country for 1 dollar? Here, you can literally touch the history. We visited one home where the Chinese guy told us he is the 6th generation living in this place since 1690 (and he was like 85 or older) and his house was made out of beautiful dark wood with lots of intricate carvings… not comparable to the kind of places we live in of course.

Went to have a late breakfast in an awesome restaurant called Cafe des Amis.

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The owner is playing majong with his friend. This guy (on the right) was a chef in Paris and made friends with a few french celebrities from the 60s and 70s. Their music still plays in his restaurant every day. And I must say I never had such a tasty tofu meal as in this place. Ana Shtraus - Fujicolor 200 - AA031A

These are the street vendors taking a break just outside the restaurant. If eating inside is too fancy for you, you can always grab something from these guys, or from one of those mobile cafes where everything is on one scooter – the stove, the serving station, the seats, the umbrella… what else do you need?

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Gotta say, I loved this little city. It was a delight for photographer to be there, and I shot a whole roll of film just in this place.

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Ah what a good coffee they make in Vietnam, so dark and so flavourful. We bought a bag of the most expensive coffee in the world for the price of 3 dollars… but for some reason it just doesn’t taste the same at home.

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There’s plenty of tourists in Hoi An, but it never feels too crowded.

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You can also take a boat cruise, which I believe is a nice thing to do, but we didn’t have enough time for that. Hopefully, with our next visit we will plan it better.

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You can also cheaply make any kind of outfit in the clothing factories in Hoi An. The choice of materials is quite extensive and the prices are way below your expectations.

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Hope you enjoyed a little trip around the central Vietnam with me… and stay tuned for the continuation of this party as we go to explore the night life of Da Nang.

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If you missed the first part of the Vietnam adventures, you can find it here:

Hustle and Bustle of Saigon, Vietnam.

Vietnam part 2: Mui Ne, Train Adventure, Why do We Play Flip Cup?

Love,
Anna

What Happens if You Develop Colour Film as Black and White?

Hello there,

I just came back from my holidays to the land of ice and fire (yes, again), yes, I know. In addition to shooting my traditional long exposures with the beloved Fujifilm XT-2, I brought a film camera with me, and shot a bunch of images on film. Just because I love how the memories look on film, and it is always fun to shoot with my friendly snappy Pentax.

Meanwhite, my husband got inspired by my film experiments and got himself a second-hand Olympus M-10. He seems to be particularly enjoying shooting in black and white, which we then carefully (or not so) develop at home. So, when we got to Iceland, he still had half a roll of Kodak TriX400 black and white film left in his camera. Snapping left and right, it didn’t take him long to finish it on his first day there. As we returned home, we decided to develop this roll to see some photos from our holidays to feed our holiday blues.

So we did the whole shabang of opening the canister of the film in the black bag, rolling it on a spool, putting it in the development tank and pouring a crapload of chemicals on it, washing it with water, unrolling and hanging it in the bathroom only to realize… hey, the emulsion colour is supposed to be gray, not orange… and hey, these are not the pictures that my husband took.

Turn out that I accidentally took the roll of Kodak Portra 160 from the shelf instead of Kodak Trix400… and now my beautifully (supposedly) coloured film turned into a black and white one, and oh, joy, we have to start from scratch, because the actual black and white roll was still undeveloped.

I didn’t think that you can actually develop colour film in the same chemicals as black and white, but I must say that the pictures turned out beautiful. Better than I ever had on any actual black and white films.

But I let you be my judge. Shot on PentaxK1000 with the expectations to be Kodak Portra 160… but well, better black and white than no photos at all.

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Exploring West Fjords.
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Fascinated by the Super Powerful Waves.
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Always Love a Good Rearview Mirror Reflection.
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What is Iceland without Ice?
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Tried to Do a Bit of Long Exposure (You Can See A Flying By Seagull on the Cliffs).

Thanks for having a look and feel free to ask any questions, if something crosses your mind.

Ciao,
Anna

Why Would Anyone Shoot Film Today?

Good day everyone roaming around,

On all things photography topic today is: is shooting film making a come back?

Being an avid pixel-peeper, I was always laughing at people who told me they are still shooting film. Why would you shoot film in the times of digital, and also you can make any of your digital photos look like film with one click of a filter? Then I met one girl who was my age and she never in her life shot with a digital camera… oh that’s proper hipster stuff, one would say, but there’s something about it, I thought, and decided to give it a try.

Today you can buy plenty of film cameras on ebay or amazon for pretty cheap, or you can buy a super expensive Leica and feel very exclusive on the streets of wherever you are. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to just take one out of your parents’ attic. In my case, my parents camera rewinding mechanism was not working, so after ruining two films, I gave up on that one and got a cheap-ish Pentax K1000 which is also easy to use for those who don’t know what they are doing in terms of film photography and settings as it has a pretty accurate exposure meter.

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Thankfully I don’t even have to bother about thinking where to get 35mm film because it is for sale in my office plus I also get staff discount on it. The variety of film nowadays is pretty impressive, and a lot of those companies who gave up on making film are coming back in business. So far I shot mostly Kodak film, but I also tried some of Fuji…. and Ilford black and white which still needs to be developed (which I am hoping to do one of these days in my bathroom when I have a few free of nonsense hours).

So I shot two rolls of film for fun to try it out before moving to anything serious and a few photos came out very nice, some other not so great cause I accidentally opened the back of the camera and there were some light leaks… but so be it.

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We have at least one studio that does film developing and scanning within 24 hours for a reasonable price. It’s hard to wait for us, digital shooters, we need everything right this moment, we need to post! But good things come to those who wait.

Recently I went on a roadtrip to South Africa, and although that place is full of fantastic photo opportunities for wide angle and long exposure shooters like me, but I didn’t have time to do any of that because I wasn’t alone on that trip… so instead, I decided to have fun and shoot film.

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What I loved about the process:

  1. It teaches you patience. Instead of clicking like a maniac, you tend to wait for that moment when everything aligns before the click.
  2. The photos though not perfect in terms of colours, sharpness or depth, do look like real memories. No one has memories with sharpest details, they are pretty hazy and dreamy and the colours tend to fade.
  3. Using manual focusing and choosing shutterspeed and aperture for each shot teaches you to be a better photographer. After a few messed up shots, you will learn how it works for sure. I swear, I used to be scared to use manual focus on my digital camera thinking I’d never get is as right as the camera itself, but now I am less stressed about it. And in the end if it is not perfectly sharp, it is still ok… nobody’s gonna die.
  4. There’s no need for choosing the filter or editing really, and that’s such a breather because I tend to not post anything straight out of camera and in this case I can.
  5. It’s just fun do it, go around with one camera, one lens and a certain film in mind and capture things that will be kept inside your camera until the day you release them into real life. It’s almost like doing magic. And it’s a great tool for ice breaking in a party, just show up with a film camera and guaranteed you’ll find someone bugging you about it.SAtrip-50.jpg

It honestly almost feels like a therapy to me, to get away from shooting 55 photos of one pair of shoes until the client is happy with it. It feels great to roam the streets, and just imagine how the photos will come out (because you never know, they might not come out at all)… and it is very much going back to basics.

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