Photography inspiration in Budapest

This weekend my wife wanted to attend a conference in Budapest, so I tagged along. With different plans.

I’ve been to Budapest several times but mostly one-day trips and without exception I wandered only around the Citadella or Castle hill. These are on the “Buda side”. On the “Pest side” I don’t recall trying to visit. Having almost four days at our disposal I planned to get lost in the streets of Pest side and try get creative with photography as much as I could.

Actually my personal goal was to try several super long exposures over the Danube river. My main target was the Parliament building. I wanted to capture a classic long exposure, over the water, nice reflection, top notch quality photo of the Hungarian Parliament.

I got my desired shot but with a few drawbacks.

The hotel

We stayed at Achat Premium Hotel, a four-star hotel, but actually a clean decent three-star one. In my opinion.

View from the hotel room. Photogrammetry – friendly weather.

In front of the hotel, across the boulevard, there is a stadium. In one night there was some important match, or so I thought because of the great shouting echos coming from everywhere. And because of this:


Before I connected the dots when I saw this outside the hotel room window I was like … Shit. Aliens.

After opening the window to grab better shots I heard the stadium chanting. Then I noticed all the window blinds on the unfortunate fellas living above the fourth level. I smirked. Just a little.

The streets

Wifey spent most of the time at her conference, from early morning until late in evening. So I had to fill the day. And I walked. A lot. Unfortunately the weather was not as I wished but good for photography nonetheless. Windy, real felt temperature of 2-3 Celsius degrees, no blue sky nor white clouds. Just murky skies. And murky Danube.

Above, there a selection of what I managed to create while wandering the streets. A great number of photos, I know. Of course, there were more but these are the ones I deem worthy.

Note: The last two images were added in June 2020 after revisiting the photography set from this trip.

And the long exposures

First one is the University of Technology, located on the Buda side of Danube.

University of Technology

Trivia. Googling a little I found some very interesting facts about this University. Built in the 19th century, today it represents the symbol of freedom fighters against the communist regime. Back in 1956 there was a revolution against the Soviets and this University had a major part: the professors and students here started the opposition, becoming thus martyrs and inspiration for the whole revolution.

Specs: Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm L (@59 mm), f/18, ISO 100, 25s + ND 1000 filter.

The good side of that overcast day was that there were no strong shadows. As I like to say, a good weather for photogrammetry.

The next images were shot in the hottest day of the whole period we spent there: almost 20 degrees Celsius, while the other days barely hit 8 degrees. It was a wonderful spring day.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Or just The Chain Bridge. Built in 1849 it was the first permanent link between Buda and Pest over the Danube river. Széchenyi was the name of the main supporter of the construction. During the night the bridge sections are brightly green lit.

Specs: Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm L (@24 mm), f/11, ISO 100, 8s + ND 1000 filter.

And finally we get to the Parliament building. I never got to visit or even get close to it. All I wanted was to capture it from above the Danube.

I tried many shots with different ideas but I’m only going to show you tow shots. A long exposure and a panorama built from long exposures. I had to try this and I did.

Hungarian Parliament Building

I didn’t care about the crane in the back, I just wanted to test the shot. Checked.

Hungarian Parliament Building – long exposure panorama

I can’t even start to name all the bad things that can happen while trying a long exposure panorama. Just to list a few: boats passing, cranes rotating, trees shuffling in the wind (if the subject is a forest), etc. But I am good with this result.

I wish the water was clearer in hopes for a better reflection.

Specs for these last two images: Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm L (@42 mm), f/16, ISO 100, 8s.

And finally, as a bonus, the night super long exposure. At night I dragged my wife back to the spot where I shot the Parliament building during the day.

Night time long exposure

I had to shot several times to get the correct exposure. I used a tripod and the ND 1000 filter. I started somewhere around 20 seconds exposure, with ISO 200 and f/11. And I ended up with 4m26s exposure at ISO 400 and f/8. The focal length was 50mm out of the 24-70mm.

Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is the blue streak across the image. That was just a boat with an gianormous blue light in the back, moving really really slow.

The blue light culprit

The shot above was captured with a Samsung S7 smartphone.

So that’s about it for now. I hope you enjoyed and see you next time!


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