Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4 {England on Instax}

I was doing a daily photo project on instant film in 2016, so I took my Fuji Instax camera along with me. I shared some of these on the blog for my daily photo project, but most of them were saved for a blog post on this site. And it only took ten months¬†to publish them here! ūüėČ

26 August 2016

A terrible doughnut I had the day I landed in London

27 August 2016


I bought “airmail frame” film for my Instax camera before I went to England, and I took what I considered “intentionally touristy” photos on it…

St. Paul’s Catherdal

Red phone box

28 August 2016

Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street

Piccadilly Circus

29 August 2016 (Bank holiday Monday)

Breakfast at the hostel before going to Brighton

Brighton (I was stopped on the street after taking this by a couple who wanted to ask about my Instax camera!)

Best moment: randomly seeing people from one of my favourite bands from America, on a pier in England

Helter Skelkter at Brighton Pier

30 August 2016

My favourite thing in the world: Tower Bridge!!!

Cool building next to The Monument to the Great Fire of London

Rose Alley, photographed for my mother who is all about roses now

Kayla and her niece at the kimono hen do party

The Ritz hotel, photographed after leaving Kayla’s hen do

31 August 2016

Bottle of wine in the foyer of my hostel

1 September 2016

Baby Baxter’s little legs ‚̧

2 September 2016 (Kayla and Tony’s wedding day)

Kayla’s niece was one of the flower girls

Islington Town Hall was the wedding venue

Kayla baked and decorated her wedding cakes herself!

Kayla and Katy #FIERCE 

This newlywed right here ‚̧

3 September 2016

Rachel’s beer when we ducked into a pub to escape the rain

Art installation outside the Tube station near my hostel

4 September 2016

My favourite self-portrait ever. Magical double exposure of me and the Underground sign

My last dinner during my London 2016 holiday: pizza and lemonade near my hostel

5 September 2016

Saying goodbye to London, taking the Tube to Heathrow ‚̧

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Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: Epilogue

After I travel to London, I sometimes do an epilogue of sorts to gather my thoughts and conclusions, as to what I did right and what I’d do differently if I had the chance.

The biggest thing for me is always: “Which cameras am I taking?” Maybe only my fellow self-professed “film nerds” out there will find this of interest ūüėÄ I shared earlier that I took four this time:

The Fuji GA645i was my primary camera. Large negative size, automatic exposure and focus but the ability to adjust those factors manually. I completely LOVE that I took the GA645i. It was the perfect tool to use at Kayla and Tony’s wedding. It did change the way I took photos, because it only focuses down to 2.3 ft and has a maximum aperture of f/4. I am used to using an SLR with a maximum aperture of no smaller than f/2.8 and the ability to focus fairly closely (see I told you this was a portion of this post that only photo nerds would care about!) But I found that the differences in the way I was able to make photos¬†didn’t have a negative effect upon my photography. I am happy with the photos I was able to to produce with the GA645i whilst in England.

Some favourites taken with the GA645i while in England

As for the other cameras I took with me, I probably could have taken only the Pentax point-and-shoot OR the Ricoh FF-1. However, they were both so small that it didn’t really matter that I took both. Generally, I only carried¬†one or the other out with me on any given day, depending upon the circumstances I’d be in that day. I think if I had to choose though, I’d take just the Pentax. It turned out to be really handy! I will say that I shot too much expired slide film in it, which went only marginally well, but that was my fault, not the camera’s ūüôā

Some favourites taken with the Pentax Espio Mini (UC-1) while in England

The Ricoh FF-1 definitely has its charms though…

Some favourites taken with the Ricoh FF-1 while in England

The Fuji Instax Mini 90: I hate to say it, but it was a bit superfluous. I only brought it along because I wanted to continue my daily Instax photo project. There were some days that I tried to get my daily photo requirement out of the way before leaving the hostel/neighbourhood so I could leave the camera back in my room while I went out for the day.

Also, I managed to drop it on Carnaby Street, causing it the crack a little (though still totally usable, it was just a bummer!)

Okay, it was pretty cool to take an Instax shot of the Weiss brothers when I ran into them in Brighton…

Another component I’ve had trouble with in the past: “What am I taking in the way of camera bag/handbag/etc.?”

Back in 2012, I thought I’d be smart and bring a messenger-style bag that I’d use both as my handbag and my camera bag. HUGE mistake. The one I chose was really flouncy and difficult to deal with. In 2014, I took an actual camera bag that was also worn cross-body.¬†That bag was heavy itself, so when I had so much camera equipment in it, plus items I’d normally keep in a handbag, it just ended up being an unwieldy experience.

How about 2016?

This is what I carried. The GA645i went everywhere with me, in the little sleeve I’d crocheted for it. I kept it slung over my shoulder. Then I just had this relatively small cross-body purse that I put everything else in. Usually, I’d have the Ricoh FF-1 OR¬†Pentax UC-1 in one of the pockets on front of the bag. Then, if I took the Instax mini with me, it was also worn over my shoulder. By far, this was the best combination of items I have taken with me only a daily basis during any of my visits to England. Granted, there were times when I packed the red purse til it was practically bursting at the seams, but trust me, had I been carrying a larger messenger bag, I would have just ended up putting more and more stuff in it! That’s why I tried to bring a bag with me that would give me a more finite amount of space in which to carry things.

Here’s a classy photo of me, showing how I went out¬†most days in London

There’s something else I’d like to shout out that doesn’t look like anything special, but it really saved the day:

A few weeks before I left for England, I found this smallish bag at the Salvation Army. It was PERFECT when I was navigating airports and making my way to the hostel. It was just large enough to hold my cameras, phone, travel documents, and a few other things. It slipped over the telescoping handle of my rolling luggage, meaning I didn’t have the weight of it on me as I was walking around the airport and such. It has pockets outside, on each end. Great for putting little notebook and other small items in. Since I don’t check bags when I fly and you’re only allowed two items as carry-on, I kept my red cross-body bag in my rolling luggage (that bag lies pretty flat when nothing’s in it) and used the olive green bag as my secondary piece of carry-on luggage. It was a great decision, and the $7 or $8 I spent on it at the thrift shop was well worth it.

See the olive green bag resting on top of my peacock luggage? This was how I was set up when at airports/traveling to and from the hostel with my luggage.

Non-luggage/photography-related things:

I learned that I may not be a “hostel girl” anymore. Maybe you’re thinking, “Amanda, you’re well past the age of people who should stay at a hostel!” But, the hostel where I’ve stayed throughout my past three visits to London is not a youth hostel. I’ve seen people much older than I am staying there, as well as families with small children. I had largely good experiences at the Swiss Cottage hostel when I stayed there in 2012 and 2014, but in 2016, most of the stereotypical problems with hostels were visited upon me. For most of the week, there was a girl in my dorm who coughed all night, which kept me up. There was a group of Italian school children staying on the same floor as I was, and they ran up and down the corridor half the night, screaming to the tops of their lungs. One night, it was about 11:00 PM, and a couple of girls came in and were speaking very loudly, despite the fact that the lights were out and clearly there were people trying to sleep. So I may have had my nuff!

If¬†I’m not a hostel girl anymore, that would greatly impact my ability to be a MAJOR budget traveller (since part my ability to travel on a shoestring budget is staying in a hostel rather than traditional hotel.) Don’t get me wrong. I love the Swiss Cottage hostel. What I love most is that I very easily learned how to get there and back and use the Tube station there when I first stayed in 2012, so I get a great feeling of comfort and security by staying there. It’s also in a residential area that has shops and supermarkets on the next street over that I can walk to any time. It made me feel as if it were MY neighbourhood, ya know? Especially walking to the Caffe Nero there on nearly a daily basis. It became¬†my Caffe Nero. But who knows? If I want to go back to London badly enough, I’d probably be willing to continue being a hostel girl!

Another thing: In the future, I will bring very few toiletries. If you need it, they have it in London, for around the same price you’d pay for it here in the States. There was a Boots and a Superdrug on the next street over from my hostel. It may seem like a little thing, but every item I bring with me adds up to extra weight I’m carrying with me in airports, on the place, etc. Make sense?

And listen: I almost decided that I would just bring the clothes on my back and buy everything else at Primark upon landing. So many cute clothes, and so cheap!

I did get a skirt and booties there, to wear to Kayla and Tony’s wedding. Here I am wearing it Stateside (if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you probably don’t know that I take all of my outfit selfies in the mirror next to the bathtub in my house ūüėČ

One final thing:

Something that really had a positive impact upon my time in London was that, before leaving, I’d recently switched to a mobile phone carrier which allowed me to text loved ones back home without costing me anything extra. It was GREAT. I felt less isolated, and I think my people back in the States appreciated my ability to keep in touch in that manner. I also downloaded the Google Duo app (closest thing to FaceTime that you can get on an Android device.) My video chats with my mom while I was abroad were priceless. I even got to video chat with one of my sister’s dogs! Highly recommend it!

Okay, well that’s probably enough rambling for now. In summary, I think I applied things I’d learned in previous London trips in order to make my 2016 London holiday a bit better.


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Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 5 September 2016

I didn’t really know if I would make a blog post about the day I traveled back to America, as it wasn’t very eventful. But here we go anyway!

My flight was actually in the afternoon, so I was able to get up, wander around the neighbourhood one more time, and have my last croissant and coffee at “my” Caffe Nero.

Farewell, Caffe Nero

I will supplement this post with camera phone shots of the day. I had strategically finished the film in all but one of my cameras on the day prior to my departure, so it was just this one little camera with black and white film in it that day.

One last coffee and croissant

Travel essentials: coin purse, passport, Ricoh FF-1

I am probably one of the chief benefactors of the reminders of which directionto look (for oncoming vehicles)  when stepping off of a London pavement.

I just took a photo of this dentist office’s window because there are toothbrushes hanging in it

Swiss Cottage Grocers, Finchley Road

Fancy flowers outside a building of flats on College Crescent

Tiles showing the way on College Crescent (where my hostel was)

Travel style: Heathrow loo edition

Waiting to fly

Pretty little dainty flamingo bracelet that Kayla gave me at her hen do

I wish I had a more interesting journey home which I could write about, but it was pretty uneventful this time! That’s good though, because the most “eventful” flight home I’ve had from England involved being deboarded from the plane because someone had made it all the way to the gate a knife! The only thing I have to report for my 2016 flight home is that it was on an old, worn out plane. Had the same in-flight entertainment system as the one I’d been on to and from England in 2006, and the upholstery on the seats was separating from the chairs. The only other bit of gossip I have is that my seatmate didn’t use the loo for the entirety of our journey from London to Detroit…

Playful fountain at the Detroit airport

AWESOME light and sound tunnel at the Detroit airport. Here’s a colour video taken with my phone, since the black and white film version only does it partial justice:

detroitairport from Amanda Raney on Vimeo.

Waiting to board my flight at Detroit

Having a later flight out of London meant I got home later than I usually would. I felt really bad that my sister had to pick me up so late, but at least my niece was able to come with her and make it 4/4 for being at the airport when I arrived home from London! The worst part was…I had to get up to work in my family’s business the next morning at 4:00 AM! And let me tell you: it was PAINFUL!

And, thus ended my 2016 London holiday. Thanks for coming along for the ride. I will probably make an “epilogue” post soon*, so watch this space!

Black and white photos taken with my Ricoh FF-1

*Yes, I can drag this trip to London out for awhile!

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Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 4 September 2016

Last day in London!

Two pictures of my Caffe Nero breakfast, taken on two different cameras?

Sunnies in the Caffe Nero refrigerated bakery display case

On my way 

I decided to visit Tate Britain, which is a sister museum to the Tate Modern, a place I have visited multiple times. I had been briefly in 2006 but didn’t get much out of it. Kayla and her maid of honour said that the Tate Britain had gotten cooler, so i thought I might as well give it another try. I enjoyed it much better this time! (Like, honestly, I wonder if I even ventured inside when I went in 2006?? I have a clear memory of being AT Tate Britain but not much memory of it otherwise.) They actually had a fair amount of modern art too. I did more photography in that museum than I did in others this visit (not that I spent much time in museums this time either.) I guess I wanted make up for photo deficits from other days! I’ll try to include information on the pieces I photographed, if I can.

“Rang Baranga” by Rasheed Araeen

“Rang Baranga,” “Ananasis I” by William Tucker,” “Piano” by Richard Smith

“England” by Gilbert & George

“King and Queen” by Henry Moore

“Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France” by Walter Richard Sickert

“biting” by Andrew Lord

“Liar Liar” by Nicholas Pope

“Break Point” by Fiona Banner

Piece in the middle: “Untitled [8/71]” by Jeremy Moon
Piece on the right: “Destruction of the National Front” by Eddie Chambers

“After Lunch” by Patrick Caulfield

“Relation of Aesthetic Choice to Life Activity (Function) of the Subject” by Billy Apple

“Reclining Figure” by Henry Moore

Performance art, “Historical Dances in an Antique Setting” by Pablo Bronstein

People in Museums, featuring “My¬†Parents”by David Hockney

Statue is “A Boy at Play” by Sir William Groscombe John

Circular painting is “And the Sea Gave Up the Dead Which Were in It” by Frederic, Lord Leighton

“Diana of the Uplands” by Charles Wellington Furse

Loved this ballerina’s Union Jack tutu in “Rule Britannia” by Spencer Gore¬†

“Lycidas” by James Havard Thomas ¬†

I was DYING over the design elements in the museum itself

“Portrait of Margaret, Duchess of Argyle” by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst

Sculpture in the foreground: “Moebius Strip” by John Ernest
Painting in the background is “Curvilinear Structure (Abakum)” by Jeffrey Steele

I left Tate Britain and THOUGHT I was going to a place on a nearby  map that showed things in walking distance of Tate Britain. That never happened though.

I kept walking and walking, and I guess because I ran into a part of town that is less touristy, I wasn’t finding maps or other markers showing more specific directions to where I was trying to go. I ended up in a residential that I just kept getting deeper into with no end in sight!

Like I said, because¬†it’s not a tourist area, I was REALLY having a hard time figuring out how to exit this part of town, so after I wasted a lot of time walking, I turned back and found a bus heading in the direction I needed to go with a final destination I recognised. Luckily, I didn’t have to ride the bus very many stops because I saw the Houses of Parliament and hopped off the bus. Literally used Parliament as a landmark, because I knew where I was when I saw that!

I continued walking along the river, hoping that I wasn’t being a bore by photographing the landmarks there again!

Wedding photos being taken with the iconic background

They were making a video wishing someone a”happy wedding” from what I could tell

One of my favourite monuments in London: Monument to the women of World War II. From the Wikipedia page about it:

The bronze monument stands 22 feet (6.7¬†m) high,¬†16 feet (4.9¬†m) long and 6 feet (1.8¬†m) wide.The lettering on the sides replicates the typeface used on war time ration books. There are 17 individual sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of different jobs women undertook in World War II and then gave back for the homecoming men at the end of the war.¬†These outfits include uniforms as worn by the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Royal Naval Service, a nursing cape, a police overall and a welding mask.

Horse Guards Parade

Guards Memorial, behind Horse Guards Parade

Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace

Gates at Buckingham Palace

Eventually ended up back in the Swiss Cottage ‘hood so I could get some dinner and prepare for departure in the morning.

Bench outside my hostel

North Star pub near my hostel

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i, Pentax Espio Mini, and Ricoh FF-1

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Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 3 September 2016

Nearly the end of my 2016 UK holiday!

I was finally able to meet up with Richard and Rachel. While this wasn’t the most PHOTO-heavy day, the fact that we managed to take any photos at all was an improvement over our previous meet-up in 2014!


Random photo of a pub in Richmond ūüôā

Richard and Rachel had me meet them in a part of London called Richmond. We¬†walked around Richmond, had lunch in a pub there, and walked through Richmond Park, where there are deer roaming freely (and have been since the 1600s, when the park was created¬†as a deer park for the royals.) Richard also informed me that there are parakeets in the park, though I¬†didn’t manage to see one of those!

We did see ONE deer while in Richmond Park, but the thing in the park that I thought was the coolest¬†is something which I don’t really have a way to show you. There is a path cut through the trees so you can see all the way from the park to St Paul’s cathedral in the city. According to Wikipedia, the park is over¬†ten miles from St Paul’s. It’s difficult to see all that way with the naked eye, of course, so there is a telescope¬†you can look through that perfectly aligns with the unobstructed view of St Paul’s . It was so cool!

From the Royal Parks website:

The St. Paul’s view has been faithfully preserved by generations of landscapers who have created a tree-framed sightline from the mound to the dome. The view is now protected and no new building is allowed to impede it.

I did take a photo of one of the gates that indicates “The Way” to St. Paul’s.¬†Another tidbit of information from the Royal Parks website:

New gates, which can be viewed through the King Henry’s Mound telescope, have been installed on the edge of Sidmouth Woods to mark the tercentenary of St Paul’s Cathedral.

A map at ¬†King Henry’s mound, describing the view of St Paul’s as a “keyhole vista”

And WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT, but my camera fell on the pavement and popped partially open, so the couple of photos I’d taken were fogged by light!

Photo of Rachel which I didn’t intentionally take but I like- I was just advancing the film after the door popped open!

We ended up getting on a train and heading back to the city, where our plans were basically foiled by rain that started up after we arrived. Richard and Rachel decided we should duck into a pub to try to wait the rain out, but obviously every other person in the city had the same idea! So we had to try a couple of different spots before we found one we could squeeze into.

A pub that was too crowded for us to enter

Taken in the pub where we actually ended up that afternoon

The rain may have put a¬†damper¬†on our day out, but I really appreciated Richard and Rachel taking time out of their weekend to show me around a part of London I’d previously not seen!

After heading back to the hostel for the evening, I decided to walk a little to take a few more photos around the neighbourhood before settling in for the night.

And that was that! I had to get ready for my last proper day in London, after all.

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Ricoh FF-1

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Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 2 September 2016

Kayla and Tony’s wedding day! It was so great, ya’ll. There was laughter, there were tears of joy, and it was a heartwarming to day to be a part of (and it will go on record as the first time I ever cried at a wedding: during Tony’s speech.)

I made a larger post of photos and deatils from Kayla and Tony’s wedding day on my main photography blog, Shoot With Personality, but I saved a few snapshots for here!

Kayla’s niece/flower girl

The little room where Kayla waited before the wedding began

Tony’s great-nephew/ring bearer, with the pretty little box containing the rings

Jenny, maid of honour and smizer, extraordinaire

Man and wife, ya’ll!

Chatting with family members who’d made the trip across the pond for her special day

Silliness with Kirkland salt (Tony’s surname) and Burleson honey (Kayla’s maiden name)

Exuberant first dance

Kayla’s mom and niece ‚̧

Posing for pics

So fun!

And a random photo of the hardware store next to the restaurant where the reception as held, on my way to Kayla and Tony’s for a cheese reception ūüėČ

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Ricoh FF-1

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Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 1 September 2016

Wedding eve!

I went to Kayla and Tony’s the day before their wedding to lend a helping hand and moral support as Kayla baked her own wedding cake and did the bouquets and floral arrangements. I, along with her maid of honour Jenny, did whatever Kayla needed us to do. Moral support, rice crispy cake layers, icing, the washing up, lending a hand with the baby. Honestly though, Kayla rocked all the wedding preparations, moral support wasn’t really needed, and it was a surprisingly chill day!

I tried to snap some photos throughout the day, behind the scenes.

Then a funny thing happened when I took one of the rolls out of my camera: the film wasn’t wound tightly on the spool, so all the photos on that roll would be fogged by light! As you can see, most people these days would think the photos had been filtered in an app or something!

So I loaded another roll in the camera and tried to reshoot a few things in case the previous roll was completely ruined!

I had a lovely day with Kayla, Jen, and Baby B. Couldn’t wait for Kayla and Tony’s big day though!

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Pentax Espio Mini