Friday, 3 July 2009

I've been a bad blogger...

I've been absent for a week. Shocking.

But there is a good reason. Other than it is stinky hot here in Amsterdam (and I am not a hot weather girl) and that we are now only 7 days (eek) from getting the keys, I decided to move the blog from blogger and have been busy setting up a new "home" for Number Seventy Five at squarespace.

Blogger was a great starter platform for me and I know 100's of high profile blogs who very happily reside on Blogger forever but I needed a bit more flexibility and control over the design. I'm a control freak, what can I say? So after, considering my options and soliciting advice from those in the know I switched over to squarespace. It seemed like a good time to also get my own proper grown-up address for my random witterings as well.

So (drum roll please) without further ado I redirect you to for all updated posts and also a new section on all the weird and wonderful projects I am and will be undertaking.

There is a further section coming soon (ish), but with the big move coming up in the next couple of weeks it may take a while for it to materialise.

Don't forget to update your bookmarks, google readers etc. Since I began this blog back in March I have had:

580 Visits, from

330 Visitors, from

35 countries, generating

1,112 pageviews

I would hate lose any of you in the switch over. Come on over...

Friday, 26 June 2009

Souvenir Foto Friday: Amsterdam in Motion

Assignment 6: Blur on Purpose

I read the assignment notes for this on Flickr before the notes went up on the Souvenir Foto website; and I had a little panic.

Blur on purpose? It was like a return to the dark days of childhood photography. Handshake, cutting off people's heads - not good. How on earth would I blur on purpose without it looking like I gave the camera to a small child?

So I hit the internet, ah google, my old friend.

What I discovered was that there is a whole movement of photography dedicated to blurring on purpose. While the photographs I found were stunning, details on technique were not very forthcoming.

I did discover that it was all to do with playing around with shutter speed and aperture. Which meant I had to learn about shutter speed and aperture. Which meant that, three months after getting the camera I was finally going to have to break out the instruction manual.


The instruction manual was informative. It certainly told me how to set shutter speed and apperture but I still didn't understand what I was doing.

Next stop, the Digital Photography School . I read up on Shutter Speed and Appertures. Then moved on to Aperture and Shutter Priority Modes.

Now we were getting somewhere.

I had been particularly taken with a Blur on Purpose photo I had seen during my research, (now regretably lost in the internet) a black and white shot taken in Japan which showed blurred movement on a crisp background. I knew I wanted to do something like that, which would mean playing with the shutter priority mode, which blurs movement.

I took myself into the centre of Amsterdam and positioned myself on a busy cross roads. Then I just started clicking. I aimed for dense crowds and bikes. I shot at eye level and from the hip to see which came out best. I varied my shuttter speed until I found one that let in just enough light while still giving a good blur of movement, 1/20 on a very bright day.

In post-processing the black and white wasn't quite working for me though. It looked good but the bike wasn't quite right. When I had looked at the photo, the bike had seemed ethereal, almost ghostly and I wanted to play that up. So I cropped it down and layed the holga-ish effect from Picnik over the top. And it worked.

I am particularly pleased with the crispness of the shadow on the ground against the blur of the people above.

The original of the photo is in my photostream.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Restaurant Review: La Place

It has to be said that Amsterdam is not a city that lunches. Obviously, people eat lunch but if you are trekking around time and want something other than soup, salad or a sandwich but you don't want a full meal then your options are going to be a little more limited.

Step in La Place eateries. La Place have quite the coverage in Amsterdam. Not only do they run the catering in two major department stores (V & D and De Bijenkorf), but they also service several major workplaces. Lucky workplaces.

It is self service, but certainly not the self service I recognise from British department stores. At La Place everything is divided into zones. A salad bar zone, and what salads! Grilled veggies as far as the eye can see. huge bowls of leaves and wedges of tomato. A grilled meat bar, a grilled fish bar. Some locations have a pizza oven, some a stir fry bar. A soup station, juice bar and drinks bar are all within striking distance. Just pick up a tray and load up. The best thing is that everything is prepared right in front of you - fresh, fresh, fresh.

Once you have paid and collected your cuttlery then you can choose your seating. Today I was in the V&D on Kalverstraat and scored an outside table in the glorious sunshine so that I could watch the world go by beneath me. If the balcony is full or the weather a little less clement then sitting inside is no hardship underneath the glass roof (pictured above). If you are meeting someone there then there are rooms named after nearby streets, "I'll meet you in Damrak..."

Over at De Bijenkorf, following last year's major facelift you can sit in differently themed areas all showcasing designer furniture from the furniture department below. Eames chairs, Tom Dixon lighting. Or sit out on the new roof terrace secluded from the busy streets below, snacking on sushi before heading back down into the chaos of central Amsterdam.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tomato Chutney

I know, I know. The whole point of chutney is to preserve the last of the season's bounty and we are supposedly at the beginning of summer. Which is all well and good unless you find your husband hunting desperately through the fridge for the last scrapings of a jar he has already finished. Then there is the sad, disappointed little "oh, I'll just have mayonnaise then..." and you find yourself whipping up a batch of tomato chutney for the store cupboad.

1.35kg RipeTomatoes, chopped (I used Roma)
225g Onions, chopped (I used red)
175g Sugar
150ml Red Wine Vinegar
12g Salt
1 tsp Paprika
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Place the tomatoes and onions into a heavy bottomed saucepan, cook over a low heat to release the tomato juices and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes until tender.
Add the salt, paprika, cayenne and half of the vinegar, continue to cook gently for 45 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
Add the sugar and remaining vinegar, stirring until they are fully dissolved.
Continue simmering, until the mixture becomes thick, stirring occasionally.
Pour into jars which are either fresh out of the dishwasher or sterlised. Don't forget to label them with the date you made them.
Store in the cupboard for 3 - 5 weeks to allow the flavour to develop.

Makes enough for two 300ml jars.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Souvenir Foto Friday: Long Live the King

I missed Souvenir Foto Friday last week - shocking. Luckily I got my assignment in on time - I just didn't have enough hours in the day to post it up here.

So, without further ado I give you Assignment 5 for Souvenir Foto.

Following on from last week's assignment to shoot a letter. This week we had to shoot a word. The more advanced in the group will be doing this as a diptych, and if I had more time last week I would have tried it but I just couldn't get my head around stitching two images together. Nor was I able to find a scene with a word and an appropriate image which I could shoot as is.

For my word I chose a local grafitti artist, Laser 3.14. In a city which is best described as graffiti tolerant Laser 3.14's work is prolific throughout Amsterdam. Snappy one or two lines of what has variously been called, poetry or prophecy sprayed on temporary structures all over the City. People have taken to "collecting" shots of these phrases, cataloguing the ones they spot on the website.

This particular word comes from the phrase "Elvis versus the disdained" which is sprayed on a Salvation Army charity clothes bin near our house. I cropped it and added a boost effect from picnik to pull out the bright contrast in the colours and the variation in paint density from the spray can.

A photo of the full phrase is in my photostream.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


A very kind friend visited Moscow recently and brought me back my very own Russian Dolls. I was expecting the traditional red and yellow ones but I love these so much more. I can't stop looking at them, picking them up and stacking them.

Busy doing nothing

I'm back. But frantically busy. I should go away more often though it seems... I have been tagged by the lovely Flora for a meme. Bonnie stopped by to see how I became an expat in Amsterdam. Jonathan liked my Woody Allen in New York experience so much it has been included in a database of honeymoon experiences (I wonder if I should mention to him that I wasn't actually on honeymoon at the time? The honeymoon was a whole other adventure...)

I'm feeling the love people, feeling the love.

In other news, I am thinking of switching the little old blog to squarespace instead of blogger so that I can put some ideas I have into practice which are not achievable on blogger. Any thoughts?

Other than that, its going to be a busy couple of days, just look at my to do list:

So please forgive me if posting is a wee bit sporadic for the next few days. Normal service will resume...