Anderson has a special place in my heart. His distinctive visual style, with complementary colour palettes and symmetrical framing makes his movies a treat for the eye and not to mention Instagram worthy. And thanks to #accidentallywesanderson we can find thousands of curated images of places that look like they could be a screengrab from one of his many films. Think a mustard yellow lighthouse, a pastel orange store front or a bright pink bowling alley, to name but a few.
I have too often shouted ‘that’s so Wes Anderson!’ when spotting something that could be a backdrop in one of his movies. And today I’m sharing some real places in London whose colour palette or even fonts could be straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.
I honestly hadn’t even thought about going on a proper holiday this year. I’m reading about bloggers losing their identity because they can’t board a plane, wear a fluffy bathrobe or cross a border. I didn’t feel any of that, so I guess it may be the final wake up call to consider changing Teawashere to a homebody blog.
Netherlands declared itself ‘open’ during the 2020 Eurovision Special. I only went at the end of August and although this was mainly a family visit I did do some touristy things and ventured to some hotels, so I thought I’d share what it was like visiting and staying in the Netherlands in these crazy times.
Make sure to check your country’s current guidelines on visiting the Netherlands before heading out.
Getting the Eurostar to the Netherlands
The Eurostar was a hit-and-miss really. One way it was busy and stressful, and they even put people from different households across each other in a four-seater! The staff was not walking back and forth so you couldn’t get your seat changed. Eurostar automatically changes your seats at the moment, so I recommend checking where you sit before boarding. On the way back there were literally 5 people per carriage and everything went smoothly, so it really depends if you travel on a busy day.
Using public transport
You have to wear a mask on public transport and almost everyone did. When they were not wearing it (correctly) I’ve seen drivers and train conductors reminding people to wear their masks the right way. Mind you this was the local bus in the countryside, and I didn’t spot any while in the big cities. I also saw the buses getting a quick clean at the station, and even if it’s not a deep clean, I guess every little bit helps.
In NL, you can sit and eat inside, something I hadn’t done yet in the UK. At all places you either have to scan a QR code and answer questions and at others you have to fill in a card gives you a sense of safety. Once you’ve completed that you get walked to a table and then you can order as usual. Going in for the first time was nerve wracking, but once the food was there it was back to normal for a bit and I eventually got used to it.
Going to a supermarket
The times I’ve been to the supermarket in the UK I’ve worn a mask, mainly because at my local ones you can’t really social distance without someone breathing down your neck. Now in the Netherlands, every person has to take a cart (or basket in smaller supermarkets). In theory this sounds good, but in practice it was messy and people still did breath down my neck. Perhaps because people are used to it or knew their way round and felt more comfortable up close. Every supermarket had a station with gel and paper towels. I did go to one place that had a stand where your hands and your cart got a proper disinfection sprayed on you.
Just like everywhere else, there was a decline in tourists, something I saw when visiting Rotterdam, for example. The last time I visited the Market Hall and Cubic Houses during August it was packed, now it was mainly locals and some Germans, but nowhere near as busy. It was nice to have the space for yourself, but it also didn’t feel right in a way. As usual, there was hand gel and screens for staff at some of the tourist sites I visited.
Staying in an accommodation
Staying in a small bed and breakfast hotel outside the big city didn’t feel any different to normal, except when they asked to disinfect your hands and whether you had any symptoms. But as there was enough space nothing felt different. The only thing that was different was that breakfast was table service only. You filled in what you wanted the day before and it then got brought to your table.
The big city hotel chain experience was a bit more in your face. There were plastic screens at the front desk, hand gel stations everywhere, clean pens to fill in the corona form, but you did get your key card as usual. The lifts were also restricted to two people with floor stickers showing where to stand. There was no housekeeping if you stayed more than one day (though you could request it). Also, you might want to know that buffet breakfast isn’t dead! To avoid overcrowding they just ask you for a time slot, there was a one way system in place and more things were wrapped individually.
What is a visit to Tate Modern like post lockdown? I read that half of the British public isn’t comfortable heading to museums or exhibitions post-lockdown and I get it. But wanting to catch the Andy Warhol exhibition sooner than later I booked the tickets and gave it a go.
All visitors need to book a timed ticket online in advance and the day before your visit you’ll receive an email reminding you of the new guidelines (masks on, no cloakrooms, pay by card only and a one way system) and re-directing you to the Turbine Hall entrance.
From there it was very efficient during queuing and staff will also remind you to have your mask ready. The guidance marks were all clear and the staff (in masks or visors) helpful whenever you looked a bit lost.
There are one-way routes around the building, guiding you towards the various galleries. As I went around opening time it was easy to keep distanced. The Warhol exhibition space itself did not have a one-way system at the time of my visit (8 August).
The Andy Warhol exhibition itself was a bit basic, especially it being marketed as a retrospective. The exhibition is broken down into 12 rooms representing different eras. With the exception of the Factory, Back To Work and the Last Supper Room the pieces didn’t particularly shine. But for hardcore fans, I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
The Silver Clouds room was meant to be an interactive room where the metallic silver balloons floated around you, but due to restrictions they were fixed to the ceiling. And the room that was supposed to give you an impression of his multimedia shows was closed. I imagine these would have been their two wow spaces so the rest was rather low-key.
Visiting Tate Modern on a Saturday morning in August was interesting and very peaceful. Look at the Turbine Hall! The numbers are definitely kept low, but as my time slot was 10 AM I don’t know how it would be later in the day.
Polaroid cameras. Whether you’ve encountered one in a street market, stumbled over several in a dusty attic, or braved eBay to purchase them, you’ll more than likely need a helping hand to navigating the world of vintage technology, films and general know-how for these famed instruments.
Ignoring the fact you may or not be holding a limited edition Spice Girls model, the first thing to get to grips with is the film. You may have noticed that the camera seems lifeless. Well, you’re right – without a film cartridge they’re essentially a retro paper weight, but once you load up a film pack, they’ll awake and you may notice a few red lights on certain models, and focusing on some will also function.
The main type of Polaroid film for most standalone Polaroid cameras is produced by Polaroid (previously known as the Impossible Project). This Dutch-based company bought up an old Polaroid film factory in 2008 and has since produced lines of instant film for the original Polaroid cameras. The main type of film varies between three models – the i-Type, 600 and SX-70 (Spectra/Image film was discontinued in March 2020).
There’s a strange sense of excitement which accompanies firing up an instant film camera. You never know what’s going to happen, what will end up being slowly spat out of the device, and what the subject will think. And yes, they’ll immediately want to see the results. And it isn’t just intrigue, it’s the sense of connection which is often lost through digital photographs – where there’s often so much processing, as well as lengthy gaps until publication, meaning you, and the person you’re shooting, can often feel detached from what actually happened in the moment.
I’ve honestly lost count of how many times people have asked me where they can get one. There’s also a child-like sense of DIY – for example, I’ve messed around with the flash on my camera, to give different filters, and have adorned it with all sorts of marks to aid my composition. What’s more, unlike digital portraits, where you’ll often have to give great thought to setting up lights and finding a perfect setting, with this, you’re working on the fly – to the truest meaning of the word – you take what you can get and make the best of it.
Without the pitch-perfect levels of depth of field in your hands to play with and processing aids to fall back on with composition and exposure, the energy of the subject takes centre stage, closely followed by the moment and atmosphere in which the photo is taken. But giving this much attention and word count to such a simple thing is probably overstating it – simply put, it’s stripped-back fun.
My first shots were in a rather cold East Berlin streetscape at temperatures of -5C, and I soon realised that in this heat, or lack of, the pictures were heavily blue in tones or worse – colourless and overexposed. My best tip is to have a pocket inside a coat or in a shirt that you can swiftly slip the picture into. Speaking of which – you need to ensure that the photograph remains flat or there will be distortion in the image, whether folds, or lines – now this can be quite a cool effect, but obviously you might not be too keen on all your pictures turning out that way.
Whatever the weather, the best case to keep recently taken pictures in that’s most convenient is the actual box in which the film is sold; however, I’ve been using a hard cardboard CD gift box as it’s a bit sturdier and easy to remember.
Now, on the other side of the thermometer – extreme heat. Sadly, we don’t tend to experience massive heat waves in the UK, so this bit of guidance might be somewhat less useful, however, if it gets over 30°C (86°F) or so, I’ve found the shots go overly red and yellow, avoid this by storing them quickly in a cool bag or indoors. The official guidelines state the optimum developing temperature is 13 and 28°C (55 – 82° F). They also state that 4 to 18°C (41°F – 65°F) is the best temperature for the photos to be stored and recommend a fridge – though I’ve found keeping them on a shelf out of the sunlight does no harm.
Speaking of sunlight – when taking photos outdoors or in bright environments, the main thing to remember here is that when you take the shot to ensure you hide it from the sun. From my experience, development times vary according to temperatures, but for most film it’s around 15 minutes.
Thanks to the ridiculous improvements in digital cameras in the last decade or so, particularly mobile phones, we’ve all become quite relaxed with taking photos and allowing the technology to do the heavy lifting – you’ll need to ditch this attitude at the door.
First things first – if you’re indoors you’ll be using flash. Yes, that invention which was incredibly used and honed by early-adopter Jacob Riis to expose the horrific levels of urban poverty in New York City in the 1880s. While you’re unlikely to be braving squalid tenements in Lower Manhattan, this tool will be essential for getting the most out of mid/low-light settings. Even if indoor conditions seem relatively light, the film’s ISO is 600, so it thrives on daylight and dwindles in the dark. Because the flash isn’t dramatically powerful – think a mobile/cell-phone level – it means that if you take a portrait of someone indoors you need to have them stand near a wall or surface (chair, sofa, etc) if you want the backdrop to appear. Without doing this – they’ll appear a lone figure somewhat engulfed by the darkness, which can look stunning, though this may quickly lose its appeal if it’s all you can produce. If you want to get creative, you can look into continuous light sources (lighting gear) – but, because the film is daylight balanced, it means indoor lights will often appear orange unless you can properly adjust their colour.
This hasn’t caused any problems for me though, I just find it makes me more aware of my surroundings and encourages me to incorporate the subjects into their backdrops, which you can often neglect when shooting digitally in a rush. If you want to ditch the flash, outdoors is where the camera reigns supreme. The sunlit tones gracing the white frame is something else to hold in your hands. As mentioned earlier, just keep an eye on hiding the freshly-taken shot from the sun (for Colour film).
Whether in the blinding sun or dimly lit backroom, the main tool you have to hand on the 600 series are their exposure compensation dials, though you may have to cope with the fact you’re playing with plastic dials in a world of holograms and oculus rift. I’ve found that edging the dial a quarter of half way towards the light arrow (overexposing) tends to be worthwhile if it’s a darkly lit indoor scene (even with flash), while outdoors edging it 1/5 to 1/4 gives outdoors shots a bit of more dream-like effect. There’s differing opinion on this, and it will vary from camera to camera, and the style and contrast you find most visually pleasing.
Despite the fact it’s taken me more than 1000 words to reach this subject, actually pressing the button and taking the shot is probably the thing most people consider the most important part of photography. It’s pretty simple here, line it up through the viewfinder, ensure you’re within the minimum focus distance (around a foot for the 660AF), and fire away! The 660AF has two shutter buttons – a flash and a non-flash variety. The flash one requires you hold it for 5 seconds or so for the flash to charge before you can fire, while the non-flash is instant. The hidden magic of the 660AF is the sonar autofocus – which uses the power of dolphins, well sound-waves to estimate the focus points. It’s incredibly accurate, and always shocks me – no surprise that it’s the tech of choice used in pioneering driverless cars.
So, if you want to delve into the world of Polaroid cameras, get used to using flash indoors, tweaking that exposure dial and keeping that film flat, but most of all, just enjoy seeing them develop, watching the subject’s intrigue at what will appear, and being a hell of a lot more thoughtful on what you waste your shots on.
With ‘the new normal’ and the speed of things changing here in the UK I’m not sure when and how, but these are some of the things I’ll be looking forward to doing on a regular basis.
It’s not like I went swimming every week, but every once in a while when I needed to clear my head I would go to the pool and do a few laps. Initially I just missed it, but since swimming has been added to Animal Crossing I’ve been longing for some front crawl so sooooo bad. The pools are re-opening from next week on, but the hassle of having to shower at home and having to walk with wet hair is putting me off. Maybe when it’s sunnier?
Sure there is eBay and all the apps. But on there I only tend to search for the brands and sizes I’m familiar with to avoid mishaps. All I want is a kilo sale and the sounds of hangers being moved, feeling the fabrics and rummaging through boxes for that hidden gem. But again, not anytime soon.
Visit a Historic House
I save these for Spring and early Summer, so I get to enjoy the flowering gardens that usually come with. And I can’t wait to go explore historic houses, palaces and castles. With the ‘season’ being very short this year I need to start planning. Ham House, Fenton House and William Morris Gallery are top of my list and I’m keeping an eye on when and how they return.
Go on a Walk
This is the one I need most. I’ve walked every street in this neighbourhood and haven’t spotted anything new in WEEKS! I really feel like getting back on the bigger routes like Green Chain Walk, Jubilee Greenway or Capital Ring. Now they really want to get us back on public transport, this one should be crossed off real soon.
Hit up a Food Market
I can get a lot delivered and have been enjoying making a lot of things, but nothing beats going to a food market, looking around at the different stalls and trying to decide if you’re going for something familiar or new while keeping an eye open for a dessert to fall in love with.
What things are you looking forward to doing again?
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