Aug 09

This is my first Blog ever! I will try to keep it short and hopefully interesting. At least my friends and relatives will be able to keep track of my whereabouts. Roughly. Without too many details or names :).


First class

My mum, (not so) little brother and I

Daddy, me and my brother joining the demonstration (in the first line of course)

My name is Nadia Isakova. Now I live in London, UK, but I was born in Russia, in the Leningrad region, close to the one of the most beautiful, proud and romantic cities in the world – Saint Petersburg. When I say close I mean close by the Russian standards (as my country crosses over 11 time zones) - about 250 km away. I did some photography when I was in the school but not that much. I've always dreamt of travelling though, of the far away adventures, of seeing new places and people and trying out different things. Well, back then, in USSR, these were dreams I've never really expected to come true. Most of all I wanted to go to Greece – I fall in love with that country after reading Gerald Durrell book “My family and other animals”. However my first ever “foreign land” was Finland where I also tried my first ever hamburger – at a tender age of 15 or so. Then Hungary. UK. USA. And only then Greece. And so I've got a “travelling flu” and at a later stage a “photography bug” too.

Let start my photography blog from this year. What have I done so far? Well, these 8 months have been a very difficult emotional time for me so my mind and my heart were not really in the right place and state. I have not visited many places or done a lot of photography. In January I spent one week on a photo workshop in Glencoe, Scotland. Then I briefly revisited St. Ives in Cornwall and Norfolk broads. At the end of March I travelled to a country from my “childhood travel list” - Cuba. For us, Russians, it's always have a special side to it. Castro, revolution, communism, free healthcare and education, no visas for Russians, cigars, rum, pina colada – I always wanted to go there. Well, it did not disappoint. Though it was quite shocking to see how poor most of those people are – but at the same time so happy, friendly and proud. It made me feel so privileged but at the same time missing some things – simplicity of their lives, their ability to be happy about small pleasures of life, friendship between neighbours, dancing and singing during the day just because they feel like doing so… Yes, I did enjoy that trip even if I prefer landscapes to people and architecture photography.

St. Ives, Cornwall, Jan 09

Suffolk, Jan 09

Glencoe, Feb 09

Havana, Cuba, March 09

Our swimming pool, Cuba

Cuban paparazzi, Trinidad

Me in Havana

In May I spent one week in my Russian motherland which is always relaxing and wonderful.

In July I photographed lavender, sunflowers and hill-top villages in Provence. We (I joined a photo workshop) were very lucky with the weather – not only sky was blue (which is nice enough for “normal” people but can be boring for photographers – I know, life is tough!) but there were occasional clouds of the right fluffiness which – believe you me – happens very rarely, both in UK and abroad! So, now in my portfolio I have images of my favourite “Big Four” – lavender, sunflowers, poppies and rapeseed. Finally I am (at least photographically ;)) happy.

Windmill (and me) in Provence

Now in my "wanderlust" plans are a long photo weekend in Bruges, Belgium, in August, and a short vacation in Russia in the autumn. Write to you soon! Nadia

Sept 09
Just back from Russia… As always fabulous and very relaxing but did not manage to do much photography – my parents needed help to dig out potatoes at our dacha. Tough job but somebody has to do it! Still, I was lucky with the weather and took few images of Somino, traditional Russian village, and of the Tikhvin monastery.

Me in Russia

Before my Russian holidays I and my friend Virginia spent a photo weekend in Bruges, Belgium. Again, we were lucky with the weather and were blessed with few reflections. As for food and wines – perfect, really enjoyed it!

Oct 09
Not doing a lot of the "field" photography – working on a huge backlog of the images from my previous trips/ submitting to the libraries, busy days in the office, buying a new flat, joined fencing club (saber), partying, etc... In plans so far – a weekend in the Lakes in November, few evening/ morning shots of London, frozen Russia and joining a photo workshop in Namibia next year – V. excited about this! More details later.

Nov 09
Just back from the Lakes – yes, most people who know me will guess – it was raining and windy and mostly grey. For the 9th time in a row. But, thanks to Virginia’s “weather magic” there was a bit of light on Saturday and I hope I've got few images I wouldd be proud of. I also got a bad cold there but this is normal – as long as it is not of a swine type!

Love the Lakes District – not only for its “photo” beauty but for its inspiration and spirit and feeling of freedom. It never fails to soothe and encourage me. It recharges my “life batteries”. It is my “muse”.

Rydal Water, Nov 09

Jan 10
Just back to London from my winter Russian holidays. In a few words – home, sweet home… Weather was rather grey and cold (-25c) so I did not really have a chance to take images I wanted. Now back to London and to more snow and cold!

Feb 10
So many things to do so little time! And so many images… Getting excited and ready for the Namibia trip - and a bit scared too, deeply afraid of the scorpions and snakes and like plus have to take many flights. But all the locations there look so great, cannot wait to start my next adventure!

March 10
Just back from my big African adventures – ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS! Namibia was same and more than I expected and hoped for. Stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife (I saw animals I’ve only seen in the zoos or in books I read as a child), superb accommodation, delicious food, friendly, smiling people. I would never forget a feeling of the sheer joy and amazement when one morning, just after another beautiful sunrise, a vast group of swifts streamed around me catching their breakfast. Springboks leaping in the air. The grace and the soulful eyes of a giraffe. The magnificence and scale of mountains and dunes. Whisper of the grass. Cool champagne after morning balloon flight. Torrential rain hitting my skin and the heat of the sun. Baboons screeching around my tent. The understanding and the banter of the fellow photographers. The feeling of the belonging. The space, the shapes, the smells, the uniqueness, the dreams coming true – this is Namibia for me. I’ve fallen in love, and I have to come back!

Apr 10
Moving into my new flat and new office with no or little access to the internet and my images. Cannot wait to settle down and start working on Namibia!

Sept 10
For a week in July I went to Russia and visited Veliky Novgorod, one of the most ancient cities of the East Slavs, founded in 869. It is a beautiful city full of monasteries and churches. Images to come shortly.

In September I travelled to Biarritz, France. Long sandy beaches, excellent surf, plentiful drinks and food. Rather relaxing!

March 11

"The Valkyrior are warlike virgins, mounted upon horses and armed with helmets and spears. When they ride forth on their errand, their armour sheds a strange flickering light, which flashes up over the northern skies, making what men call the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights."" Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch

One week in Lapland, Finland, hunting Aurora Borealis. I have to say it is really hard work to photograph – or even see – Aurora Borealis. You never know where, when or even if, she will appear. All you know you need clear skies . Which means cold. Which means snow. And lots of patience. Ok, I did see her twice. It was surreal, magical and ever changing. Will I ever be back to find her again? I am not sure. As Finland is very similar in nature and even way of living to my homeland, Russia. But I loved huskies and reindeer sledding. And reindeer race. Photos to come soon!

Sept 11

In August I spent one week in Russia and apart from eating and sleeping as usual while at home, visited three beautiful monasteries in Lodeinoe Pole region, Leningrad Oblast, very close to its border with the Republic of Karelia. So much forest. So much water. So few villages around. Beautiful, spiritual and wild.

One day trip to Dungeness in Kent. Nuclear power stations, shingle beach, fishing boats - old and new, derelict huts, miniature railway, fish & chips. In other words, a great day out!

Dec 11

Short trip to Venice, Italy. Fortunately not too many people wondering into my shots but still rather busy. Was hoping for the dramatic clouds and even a bit of fog but all I got was endless blue sky! But ok, was not that bad, and sunsets did not disappoint. I do not find Venice that romantic but it is beautiful indeed, and every time I go there I find new locations to be admired and photographed.

And of course Christmas and New Year at the(second) home, in St. Petersburg. Skies were grey, no snow and lots of rain so not too much luck with the photography. But as always wonderful time with my family and friends.

March 12

Long waited-for trip to the Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. What can I say – I liked the place but the weather... famous Scottish weather... Hurricanes, horizontal rain, hail, never ending veil of grey skies, sheep flying around (well, just about). First time ever I’ve seen waterfalls flowing upwards - weird but fun. We did manage to get few hours of reasonable light and even some definition in the clouds but unfortunately I did not have a chance to photograph the locations I was interested in the most. Guess, another place to revisit! PS Local whisky is good. Local Hungarian goulash is quite exceptional too :). As well as Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.

April 12

A very short Easter break in Russia. Weather was cold and grey apart from one day when sun finally did come out. At the moment I am planning two very adventurous (at least for me!) trips to Russia during next 12 months – one is around Golden Ring and Moscow, and another a 2-days train trip plus a week of sea and photography in Krasnodar and Sochi. Watch this space!

May 12

Just back from the fantastic workshop in Iceland. In short – waterfalls, rainbows, ponies (sorry, horses!), volcanoes, smoke, steam, icicles, roads, mist, rain, wind, ash storms, hot chocolate, derelict objects and crushed planes (do not panic. just one plane. of many years ago. very rusty) etc. Surreal and beautiful!

Sept 12

One week holiday in Formentera, Balearic islands, Spain. MAGNIFICENT beaches. AMAZING water. SOFTEST sand. Would advice to avoid summer months as guess it gets very crowded. Public transport is rather limited so a car/ moped hire is essential despite small size of the island. Lots of nude people :). Really relaxing place, and really photogenic.

Nov 12

A long weekend in Lake District, one of my most favourite places on Earth, and few days in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Feb 13

Just back from very dusty and hot but amazing Burma. Completely charmed by that country. Beautiful, exotic, smiling, welcoming, colourful, slightly mad :). Full of monks, Buddhas, fishermen and oxen. Fortunately have not seen a single snake or a scorpion. Could be seriously bad for your wallet - the jewellery is simply stunning! As per photo opportunities – endless, simply endless! Another location I am fully intended to re-visit!

Apr 13

A long weekend in Northumberland, one of my favourite places in UK. I have never ever seen such sandstorm as this time!

June 13

A lovely week in Pyrenees and Camargue, France. The most definite exciting highlight of the trip was meeting, shooting and feeding beautiful, gentle, graceful and a bit naughty white horses of Camargue... Loved it, and want to go back! Black bulls were interesting (and pretty fast and mean) too, fortunately all photographers survived the experience :)...

Dec 13

A Christmas weekend in Moscow... I have not visited Russian capital for more than 15 years and I have to say I am amazed how beautiful and grand Kremlin is; how intricate, cheap, clean and efficient Metro is run, and how expensive everything else is! Unfortunately instead of cold and snow we were met with rain and sleet but at least we had a couple of hours of a really heavy snowfall. Definitely another place to revisit!

Apr 14

A short weekend in Southwold, one of my favourite locations in the South of UK. I just cannot get enough of the happy beach huts, freshly caught fish and relaxed people.

Apr 14

My second visit to Santorini – the most amazing, inspiring and friendly Greek island. “Perivolas” hotel we were staying in was fantastic too – nothing was a problem. Great food, classic “blue & white” views, multitude of churches and steps, intricate jewellery, soothing cold wine - what else one can wish for :)?! Maybe only for less tourists around...

May 14

A weekend in Amsterdam. Simply amazing stunning tulips in Keukenhof garden – never seen anything like this in my life! Neither have I ever seen so many people in one place... Lovely reflections of the old traditional houses, friendly locals and delicious food.

July 14

A long weekend in Cotswolds shooting lavender fields near delightful village of Snowshill. So beautiful, so lilac :). I only wish I could also take a photo of the lavender smell!

And a great day photographing and admiring the iconic Routemasters, more than 150 of them were brought together in Finsbury Park, London, to celebrate their 60th anniversary, 1954-2014.

Sept 14

A fantastic day out on the magnificent "Tolkien" among other Tall Ships participating in the Parade of Sails, London.

And a week in Dordogne, France. Romantic castles, lovely weather, very French :).

Nov 14

A 2 weeks adventure in Morocco, an epic journey from Casablanca to Marrakesh through the endless roads, mountains and kasbahs. It was a great fun and I enjoyed activities I've never tried before, like 2 hours camel ride on clean and friendly “Fatima” (following by 3 days of pain in the certain parts of my body), a night in a desert camp (not sure about the quality and comfort of the facilities but countless, amazing, clear stars in the velvety black and low sky were worth the discomfort), everyday tagine (or couscous) and mint tea, lovely Riads and lots of bargaining in the shops. But in the contrast, there were some things I have not enjoyed at all – poverty, harassment, evident dislike of being photographed etc.

Feb- Mar 14

Two weeks trip to Yunnan & Guizhou, China. This was an adventure in many ways. I have to confess that I have not really enjoyed this location as much as enjoyed other places – at least when I was there. Now, when I look at the images, and re-visit places in my memory, it does not seem that bad . We visited rather isolated, very un-like Western life places. Most of the local people have never met Westerners in their life before. We were photographed, touched and stared at every moment and every step. It was not really in a threatening way but rather in a ... “you are an alien” way. Life there is so unlike from what the life we are used to – and what we take for granted so easily. Personal space, comfort, quiet, hygiene are so different there, sometimes even absent. And do no not even ask me about the toilets! Food was very good but after 2 weeks of stir fried dishes and tea I was more than ready for a steak, pasta and cappuccino. On another note, expecting China to be mostly a poor country, I was shocked to see so many Chinese photographers in some of the locations with the latest cameras and tripods. And mobiles – so many mobiles and selfies. Especially popular were the actual photography of the sunset and sunrise. Will I ever be back to China? Not in my soonest plans though never say never :).

May 15

A long weekend in Bilbao & Navarre, Spain. Delicious food and excellent wine. Fell in love with Bilbao modern architecture – Guggenheim is amazing as well as its bridges and modern buildings.

Sept 15

A week in one of my most favourite parts of the world – Scotland. We were lucky to have still conditions for some lovely loch reflections, and some wind and rain for the moody Glencoe. Great food, lovely whiskey – what else one can wish for :)? For a first time ever visited Isle of Arran. I like it enough… but not as much as l like other Scottish islands… perhaps too close to the civilisation :)?

Oct 15

Finally, after 11 visits to the Lake District, I found what I was looking for (well, almost – a bit of mist and fluffy clouds would make it perfect) – reflections! It was a last moment decision – after seeing that the forecast for the next couple of days is ideal (calm, fog, sunny), I bought train tickets, booked a hotel, and just went there. And I was right :). Reflections were so perfect, so mirror-like, they made me speechless and staring in wonder at the beauty of the Lakes… Next time, I want drama - and more reflections :)!

March 16

Few days in Transylvania, Romania. Lovely countryside, great castles, lovely people, generous portions of food and a lot of drinking. Definitely a place to come back to :)!

A week in Harris and Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. This was my second visit, and it was as beautiful, inspiring, calming and fun as first time. Felt so good to get way from London crowds and traffic… just sky, sea and land… and huge portions of delicious food and smooth whisky :). Weather was not that great but I did not mind it at all.

April 16

A weekend in Paris - not much photography but friends, fencing and fun. One can never tire of Paris....

April 16

A long weekend in Teignmouth, Devon. Yummy fresh seafood! Fresh air, long walks alone the sea. Make sure you check if the beach huts are removed for the winter – they were in this case, rather disappointing as I love beach huts.

May 16

Few days in Barcelona. Love this city! Great architecture, lovely people, fantastic food and nicely chilled wine. Will be back :)!

August 16

My second long weekend in the Bronte Country, near Haworth, Yorkshire. Apart from trying to differ my Heathcliff from my Mr Rochester, and wandering for miles in the rain and mud on the way to Top Withens; a rather relaxing time of fighting huge Yorkshire portions and enjoying a lovely chilled champagne. Do not miss to ride a steam train on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, a lot of fun!

October 16

A long weekend in Norfolk. Always liked that part of the country for its lovely windmills, unspoiled beaches and yummy seafood.

November 16

A week in Scotland, this time in Torridon and Isle of Skye. Love Scotland, and even more so I love Scotland in autumn. Ah, those reflections....

January 17

My second trip to Burma! Despite multiple flights and a constant luck of sleep I simply adore Burma. Those misty sunrises over Bagan, acrobatic fishermen, serene Inle Lake, colourful umbrellas and friendly smiles. I thought two visits will be enough but now I am so tempted to revisit it again. Mind, in four years since my first visit in 2013, Burma has changed - too many tourists for my liking.

May 17

A lovely day out photographing one of my favourite flowers - bluebells. I have never seen so many in one place, absolutely stunning!

July 17

My second visit to Provence, France. Beautiful countryside, endless fields of blooming lavender, lovely wine and food. Just do not leave your dinner or lunch for too late - or you will get disinterested "non" in reply :).

And a long weekend in the Loire Valley, France. Excellent wine and beautiful castles.

Nov 17

A long weekend revising my favourite Lake District area – Grasmere, Rydal Water and Derwentwater. Autumn colours were not as vibrant as expected this year but as always, Lakes do not stop to impress me with their beauty. I will be back :)!

Dec 17

A weekend in Brighton. Lovely seaside town but too many people for my liking.

Jan 18

A long weekend in Valle d'Aosta, Italy. Though I am more of a cross country skier, seeing all those slightly "crazy" and certainly very brave souls rushing down the slopes filled me with awe :). Yummy food and beautiful wines, lovely!

March 18

A long weekend of spa (for some) and skiing (for some) with my fencing friends in Bansko, Bulgaria. Lots of yummy food and drinks, dancing and walking. A bit old fashioned in places but friendly and so convenient for me as I could speak both Russian and Greek, and also understood Bulgarian. Easy :)! I strongly recommend visiting Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, with the most amazing icons on the exterior walls - loved it!

May 18

A weekend in the seaside resort of Hastings, Sussex, UK. Not so busy with the tourists as Brighton, yummy fresh seafood, lovely traditional fishing boats on the beach, maybe slightly old-fashioned but in a nice, welcoming way.