Tuesday, 1 May 2018

THE MUST LIST: CÓRDOBA

Page Divider

Córdoba sits in Seville's shadow. They are both quaint Andalusian cities with Roman roots and Moorish architecture, and are just a one and a half hour train journey away from each other. But Seville is far better known, and for that reason Córdoba is often forgotten. I've gone on about Seville plenty, so today I thought I'd shine a little light on the lovely city of Córdoba instead.

Page Divider Page Divider

The Must-See: Puente Romano De Córdoba

That's the Roman Bridge of Cordoba, to those of us not fluent in Spanish (that includes me, unfortunately)! It was originally built in the 1st century, but was later restored in the Medieval period, and today it looks much like it did then.

If you're lucky, your walk over the bridge will be to the tune of a local musician, an accordionist was out busking when I crossed over. From the bridge you can watch the Guadalquivir River, but for the best view you'll want to walk to the side of the Calahorra Tower and go down to the park by the riverbank. From here you'll be able to count the bridge's 16 arches that lead to the Old Town. The perfect spot for watching the world go by.

Page Divider Page Divider

The Must-Sip: Salon De Té

Whenever I explore a new place on my own, I love to spend some of my time (perhaps too much of it!) in a good coffee shop or eatery, plotting my next move. Tripadvisor led me to Salon De Té, and what a find it was! With its intricate Moroccan decor and architecture, and a long list of exotic teas, it felt more like Casablanca than Córdoba.

I recommend choosing a small pot of whichever tea takes you fancy, ordering hummus and bread if you're in need of a snack, and spending a while in the beautiful surroundings. And once you're ready to get back out and explore, you're only around the corner from...

Page Divider Page Divider

The Must-'Gram: Calleja de las Flores

Córdoba is known for it's beautiful patios lined with brightly-coloured potted plants, many of which open to the public during the Patios Festival in May. If you don't happen to be there for the festival, you can still get a taste by visiting the Calleja de Flores. This narrow alleyway is decorated with flowers sitting in blue pots and leads to a small water feature and a few touristy trinket shops. It's worth having a wander and getting a few snaps while you're at it!

Page Divider Page Divider

So that's The Must List for Córdoba. What do you make of this new format? I thought it'd be fun to try something different from my usual What To Do With One Day In... posts.

That's all for now, catch me on Instagram or in the next post!

Page Divider

Monday, 9 April 2018

MISSING NEW YORK + PHOTOWALL CANVAS PRINT REVIEW

Page Divider

When Photowall reached out to collaborate with me, offering to send me a canvas print in return for an honest review, I knew I had to opt for one of my shots of the New York skyline. I wanted a reminder of the city, something that I'd see that would prompt me to think of the city that meant so much to me and even changed me. So I thought I'd take some time to reminisce, before I get stuck into the review.

Page Divider Page Divider

Only in New York...

Any time, any day, you can always find something to do...
Including Christmas Day! I'll never forget the December 25th I spent in Queens eating a roast dinner at an Irish bar with my expat buddies. It was strange to be away from home for Christmas, but I was grateful to be in a city that didn't come to a complete halt for the day.

Opportunities are everywhere.
It just comes with the territory. Since New York is a huge city with millions of people, there are going to be a lot of opportunities, especially when it comes to your career. For me, New York offered me chances to work as a photographer's assistant, production assistant, and even land my own gigs as a blogger photographer.

50 shades of matcha.
This might be a niche point, but New York is matcha-mad. At the tail end of my time there, cafés dedicated to just matcha beverages were popping up all other the place, and I was living for it. The thing is, whatever your current craving, New York probably caters to it. My poison was matcha, for others it's fancy iced coffees, or poké bowls, or vegan fast food, or... You get the idea. There's every type of food, drink, and unicorn milkshake floats (because, let's be honest, that doesn't quite fit into the first two categories).

Page Divider Page Divider

My New York City Canvas Print

Now I've gushed about my old home, it's time to chat about how I'm keeping it close with my new print. As I stated in the introduction, I got this through Photowall. Photowall is an online store where you can choose wall prints or canvas prints to brighten up your space. On their site you'll find hundreds of designs to choose from, or you can upload your own image, which is what I opted to do!

I found the process of uploading my image and choosing my canvas super simple. Select the "canvas print using your own image" option and follow five steps to tweak the canvas style. I chose the 40cm x 40cm size and had my image running all the way over the edge (meaning that there would be no white or black border along the canvas edge). Easy.

Now, when my canvas arrived, I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed. It's a do-it-yourself job. The frame and material of the canvas is separate at first - was up to me to put it together! As you can see from the image above, I was provided with the screws that I needed to hold the frame and material together. After a few moments of head scratching and staring at the instructions, I got to work and built the canvas without so much as a hiccup.

My main concern with securing the canvas myself was that it would be wonky or unstable, but I am happy to report that it is neither! In fact, it is super sturdy, much more than other canvases I've had in the past. I've never had a canvas with such thick wooden frames, and it really makes a difference, it's great quality.

Page Divider Page Divider

All in all, I'm thrilled with it! It's a beautiful touch to what was quite a bare room. Since I'm living in a rented apartment, I couldn't make a hole in the wall for a nail, but luckily this didn't matter because it looks good simply resting on the wall on top of my bookshelf. Plus, it's opposite my bed, so every time I wake up I'm reminded of my favourite city.

Page Divider Page Divider

That's all for today, follow me on Instagram for more chats and pretty photography, and I'll be back here with a new post soon!

Disclaimer: I was gifted this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thanks for reading!

Page Divider

Sunday, 25 March 2018

HOW I LAYOUT MY INSTAGRAM FEED

Page Divider

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how I edit my photos for Instagram. The individual photos are just half of the story, however. A Instagram user may stumble upon up an incredible photo of yours, but if your overall Instagram feed is a mess, they're unlikely to actually tap that follow button. If you’re looking to grow your Instagram, layout is all important.

So today, I thought I’d share my tips for laying out a Instagram feed you can be proud of. Let’s get into it…

Page Divider Page Divider

Use A Layout App

You’re not going to be able to visualise a week’s worth of content in your head, so it's time to get a grid app for testing layouts. Apps like Planoly and UNUM let you create a mock-up of your feed by pulling your most recent posts and allowing you to add potential Instagram pics into the mix. Now you can play around with the order of the images to see what works best.

I use Planoly because, unlike UNUM, you can upload images from your desktop. I found this feature super useful when I used to solely share DSLR photos on Instagram. Now that I'm uploading more phone pics, I'm using the mobile app version a lot more, and its simple drag-and-drop functionality does the job! You can also schedule posts from the app (it will give you a notification when it's time to post) but I prefer to simply upload when I feel like it.

With any free app there's usually a catch. With Planoly it's that there is a cap on the amount of uploads you can share each month. When I've reached the limit, I'll either wing it or use Photoshop to test Instagram layouts.

So you've got the app for planning your grid, now what? What actually looks good? Well, this brings me to my next point...

Page Divider Page Divider

Mix It Up

Consistency and niches are all well and good, but if every image on your feed is a flatlay, you're going to have a hard time creating an eye-catching feed. It gets boring, fast. For a fab feed, variety is a must.

Say you're a makeup Instagrammer. It's not to say you can't stick to this niche, but instead of only posting product photos in the exact same way with the same background, experiment a little more. Try mixing up your images, maybe a flatlay, next to a selfie, next to a closeup of a product, and so on.

Fashion Instagrammers can do the same, even those who want to only share their outfits on the platform. Instead of documenting every look with the same pose, background, and angle, mix it up. There are so many ways to share your OOTDs. Perhaps share a detail shot, next to a shot of footwear, next to a flatlay of that day's accessories, next to the classic full length shot. Okay, okay, you get the picture.

If you're not committed to a niche, you have even more freedom to play around with your feed. On my own feed, I break up outfit photos and portraits with location shots and flatlays. Sometimes I'll share very visually similar photos, but the key is to space them out a lot! Make sure a few rows separate the images that are spot-the-difference similar.

Page Divider Page Divider

Play With Colour

My final note for creating a kick-ass feed is to play with colour. Of course, you're probably going to want to edit your images in a similar way, perhaps sticking with one filter and choosing between either a bright or moody feed. But let's look further into how you can incorporate colour into your Instagram feed. I've come across three main ways Instagrammers use colour on their feed...

1. Stick to a colour theme

Let's start with the most obvious, the colour theme. That's when you choose one colour or set of colours and only post photos that are predominantely these tones. You've probably seen hundreds of accounts that take this route, some of the common themes being the monochrome feed, the oranges/browns/reds feed, and the millenial pink feed. It's a great way to ensure consistency and these feeds often look incredible and pick up a lot of followers. However, be aware that you might bore your audience - or yourself - if you're too strict with your theme! Pops of different colour, especially on the monochrome style feed, can add a bit of interest.

2. Rotate a through colour themes

Rotating through colour themes is an effective way to keep your feed consistent, while never getting too repeatitive. This works by sticking to one colour for about 10-14 images, and then switching to a new main colour, continuing this cycle with a new shade each time. For this one to work, it takes a lot of planning, so it might not work for you if you like to share photos on the fly.

3. Have a colour moment

Finally, there's colour moments. It was Niamh from Cinnamon Soul who first introduced me to this concept, explaining that it is when you share a few (around 3-5) photos one after the other with the same main colour. It is not the same as a theme, because these moments are seemingly out of nowhere! Your main feed may not have any kind of colour theme, but every now and then you might have a moment where you share a few images in one colour. I love this idea, and it's a techique I use on my own account, because it is so much more flexible than religiously following a colour theme.

Page Divider

So those are my tips for laying out a beautiful feed that people will want to follow! Do you have any other tips for perfecting the feed? Let me know, and feel free to leave your Instagram handle below too!

For more inspiration, follow me on Instgram. And keep up-to-date with the blog on Bloglovin'. See ya next time xx

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

4 MUST-SEE SPOTS IN SEVILLE

Page Divider

Seville was never on my list of places to visit, but after serendipitously ending up here, I've come to realise it should have been. Other Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona hog the spotlight, but Seville is the country's hidden gem.

In this post, I'm highlighting the spots that make Seville so special. Let's jump into it...

Page Divider Page Divider

Plaza De España

What? Traditional Seville architecture and handpainted tiles.

When? Anytime, it's open 24 hours. But of course it's best during the daylight hours.

Where? Distrito Sur / South District

Originally built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929, today the Plaza de España is a tourist hotspot, and for good reason. It feels like a Disney princess's castle, with its towers and handpainted tiles that line the fountains, bridges, and street lamps. The effect is truly whimsical. You'll want to pack your camera for this one.

Brush up on your geography by perusing the 48 painted alcoves. Each one represents a different Spanish provience, apart from Seville, that is, because its shoutout is the plaza itself.

If you're looking for an activity to do, you've some options. For one, you could rent a cute rowboat and drift along the moat. If that's not your thing, head over to the María Luisa park to rent a bike - regular or tandem! - and cycle around the plaza.

Page Divider Page Divider

Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower

What? The world's largest gothic cathedral complete with a eye-watering golden alterpiece.

When? Monday, from 11.00am to 3.30pm; Tuesday to Saturday, from 11.00am to 5.00pm; Sunday, from 2.30pm to 6.00pm.

Where? Casco Antiguo / The Old Quarter

I’m not the biggest history swot by any stretch, but there’s no denying the story behind this cathedral is fascinating. It began as a mosque, before Christians took over and transformed it into a cathedral. Today there are elements of both religions in its design and appearance. Be sure to take a guided tour, or pick up an audio tour, if you want to learn about the cathedral's history.

But the reason Seville's cathedral is a must-see is simply because of its scale, and for that reason you probably won't miss it! It’s one of the biggest cathedrals in Europe, and the largest gothic cathedral in the world. Inside, you'll find the Retabol Mayor, the main alter. It's an overwhelming, massive golden structure showcasing scenes from the life of Jesus, and according to andalucia.com it's the largest in the world. The Spainards certainly don't do Christianity by halves.

If you want to save your euros for your cervezas (beers) you might want to make like a local and attend Sunday mass at the cathedral. That way, you can see inside for free, if you don’t mind sitting through mass in Spanish, of course!

It is worth buying a ticket, though, as it will allow you ample time to explore every nook, take in the artwork, and grant entry to the Giralda Tower. The tower is another must! You’ll climb to the top over 34 successive slopes - not stairs - and be rewarded with an incredible view of Seville from above.

Page Divider Page Divider

The Metropol Parasol

What? Wooden mushroom-like structure with a view that'll get you high.

When? 10am - 11pm (11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays). But the best time to visit is sunset.

Where? Casco Antiguo / The Old Quarter

Speaking of views, you’ll find my favourite atop the Metropol Parasol. Nicknamed Las Setas (The Mushrooms), they’ve been reluctantly embraced by Sevillanos. The structure, which was completed in 2011, is far from traditional Spanish architecture and even looks a little out of place, but that’s part of its charm.

Besides, what makes it isn’t what it looks like from the ground, but how it looks from above. For just €3 you can take the lift to the observation deck where you’ll discover a 360° view of Seville. Visit at sunset, use your ticket to grab your discounted tinto de verano (red wine and lemonade), and watch as the city drifts into dusk.

Page Divider Page Divider

The Alcázar

What? A Moorish palace turned Christian palace turned tourist hotspot.

When? October to March: 09.30am to 5pm. April to September: 09.30am to 5pm.

Where? Casco Antiguo / The Old Quarter

Once a Moorish palace, it ended up becoming a Christian king's dwelling, and today its doors are open to regular Joes like you and I. Wandering around the intricate rooms you can't help but imagine you're living some luxurious life in the past. That, or you'll picture yourself in Games of Thrones, since this was the filming location for the Dorne scenes.

If you're doing Seville on the cheap, take note: you can visit for free on Mondays at 4pm. But make sure to book in advance on the Alcázar website, because there's rarely free tickets left at the door.

Page Divider Page Divider

There you go, the spots in Seville you shouldn't miss. I'll admit, these are all touristy, but must-see places usually are. For my next Seville post, I'll be sharing some spots that the locals dig - so don't worry, we'll get you off the beaten path yet!

Until then, you can join me on my travels on Instagram. ¡Hasta luego!

Page Divider