When you’re driving through the mountains somewhere, and you notice a car parked half off the road and some guy leaning to the left to avoid a branch with his Rebel 2000 camera in the act of focusing, you’ve met me. I do this because, to me, a trip isn’t fulfilling unless I’ve preserved that beauty for posterity. I’d like to share some of the techniques that make scenic photography such a wonderful artform – simple, yet elegant.
First off, equipment. As much as the cheapo disposable camera beckons, get real. These cameras have fisheye lenses which I call “spam” lenses. They cram everything in, with equal blurriness and boringness. Good photos are sharp, unless you use blur for artistic effect. Sharp comes from an adjustable lens. It can be a fixed lens or a zoom, but it must focus specially for each picture. Fixed lenses are limiting for scenic pictures, where to frame the shot you may need to move long distances. Imagine using a fixed lens on the Washington Monument, when you’re half a block away! Zooms get my vote, even though they often don’t have as wide an aperture, which limits their capabilities in low light situations.
Practically speaking, an SLR is the absolute best. They are lightweight, and can be used with top quality lenses. Film SLRs tend to be less expensive, but have the limitations of film, meaning you have to get it developed and so forth. Digital SLRs are VERY expensive, so for the budget conscious either go with a film SLR or a high quality basic digital camera. With digital, resolution is also a critical factor, so look at the specs before you buy.
OK, we’ve got the camera, emotions are running high, and that’s great, but not too great! Sometimes I find a spot that is so wonderful, I start shooting like a madman, only to be disappointed by the pictures. What happened? Emotions. When you experience a place, there are sounds, aromas and breezes as well as the visuals of the spot. Needless to say, you can’t photograph all of these elements, only the visual. When overwhelmed by the spectacle of a scenic hotspot, we are often overwhelmed by all of these elements.
So what to do? Look through your camera. The viewfinder does not lie (usually). Try to see what you are looking at as the finished picture. Most people perfunctorily take pictures, hoping that somehow the shot will come out great. If you wonder how the pictures came out when you are on the way to the drug store to get them, you’re doing something wrong. At the moment you click the pic, you should know exactly what you will get. (Of course with digital, that’s not a trick!).
Now, I was a tad dishonest in saying that you can’t capture all of the elements of a scene. You can hint at them. For starters, motion. Yes, even in a still picture, there is motion. Something happened before, during and after your picture. In a mountain vista scene, you may find something that hints at motion, whether it be a branch of a tree that has been swaying in the breeze, or a river flowing through the valley below. These add a sense of motion.
Then there’s the “rule of thirds.” When you place the main object of the picture smack-dab in the middle, it is static and boring. Place it one third of the way from either side, and you IMPLY motion. Put the horizon in a landscape photo a third of the way up or down, not across the middle.
Remember, when a person looks at a picture, their eyes move. You want to frame your photo to help that movement. If you can find some lines in the scene, such as a skyline, cloud formation, path through the forest, etcetera, use it interestingly, and with the rule of thirds to draw your viewer’s eyes into the picture.
Avoid “summit syndrome.” You get to the top of Mount Washington and shoot the majestic vista. Great. The pictures come out … boring! How? No PERSPECTIVE. Big vistas will be flat unless you have an object in the foreground, such as a rock or a tree, to give them perspective. Then the eye really grasps how big this scene is. People enjoying the view is a real winner, because the viewer may identify with their emotions, giving the image real impact.
Cheese! Yes, you do have to take the family photos. It’s obligatory. But when you do, make sure that they show the LOCATION of the photo. Otherwise, you might as well do it on your driveway. Frame the scene in context, with landmarks as part of the picture. Find a way to tell as story in the picture, such as little Sara climbing up the rocks by the waterfall.
Finally, any element in the picture that hints at more senses than just the visual will make it remarkable. Actor headshots for example, tell a story about the subject. You can almost hear them saying their next lines. If you photograph a garden, the viewer may experience the aroma of the flowers. A tourist street with an accordion player on the corner may have your amazed friends whistling “Dixie.”
In summation, picture taking on travel is recording the experience in a satisfying way. Use motion, perspective, sensory, storytelling and so forth, to bring your photos to life. Oh, and needless to say, make your job easy and go to great places! See you at the overlook!
Kids grow up so quickly and while we are often left with countless memories, most parents have only a drawer packed with school photos, blurry holiday snaps and the forced grin of the inevitable yearly birthday picture to account for the years gone by. It’s time to stop bemoaning the latest photograph of your thumb obscuring your adorable baby and get on with improving your skills as a photographer.
Why should you bother when the near-by mall has a perfectly good photo studio, you ask? Photographing children poses specific challenges but yields numerous rewards. While it can be frustrating when you miss that spontaneous moment, it is also highly satisfying when you manage to capture the joy in their faces as they dance in the summer’s first sun shower. Capturing the day-to-day moments will provide a treasure trove of memories that you will cherish forever. As well, your own images take on a more personal feel and a more meaningful connection, something that can never be achieved in a generic mall photography studio.
Follow these easy steps and immediately improve your snaps of the kids.
Making The Unusual Usual
Friends with children often say to me “My child always pulls faces for the camera and I can’t get a picture without little Johnny sticking his tongue out and crossing his eyes.” Kids –and many adults as well– are prone to hamming it up for the camera, however, they will be more natural if the camera is a part of their everyday life instead of brought out once or twice a year. By making it a regular part of their lives, it will increase the comfort level and encourage portraits that are more natural. Try bringing out the camera once or twice a week and focusing it on your kids. They will become accustomed to having it around and it will give you a chance to practice your technique, too. And, if they still clown around for the camera, get into the swing of things and enjoy it. Little monkey faces are a part of childhood!
Kids’ Eye View
As adults, we look one another in the eye and photograph our friends at eye level. Do the same for your children. Bend down on one knee or sit on the floor to get a picture that reflects a child’s perspective. To add a little excitement, have fun playing with perspective by shooting the image from the ground up. Lie down on the ground and taking a picture from that viewpoint. Suddenly toddlers become giants and we can witness the world as they see it, by looking up.
Small children have a limit of two or three minutes before they become bored with Mummy or Daddy’s photo session. The urge to run off and play becomes just too much! Don’t force kids to stay in one place for long, unless you like pictures of sullen little faces. If you are taking a formal portraiture-style photo be sure to plan ahead for the best possible results. Check your batteries, make sure there is film in the camera and if you are using a digital camera see that there is space on the memory card. Provide your toddler or small child with a prop, like a ball or a favorite toy to help create a more natural expression, instead of the one that says, “Just hurry up and take my picture, Mom!” Keep it fun and stress-free.
Fill The Frame
Because backgrounds can sometimes be distracting, do not be afraid to move in closer and take a picture of your angel’s face. It creates drama and interest in the photograph and eliminates extra clutter. Unless you are taking a travel photo or an image of the child engaged in a particular activity, feel free to emphasize the most important element of the picture- your child. Use the zoom or macro tool on the camera to get in closer. Pictures of your little one’s hands or feet can also be interesting studies, and one day you may find yourself saying, “I can’t believe they were so tiny!”
Just A Little Off-Centre
Many professional photographers use “The Rule Of Thirds” approach which means that they mentally divide the frame into three sections both vertically and horizontally –like a tic-tac-toe grid– and place the subject of the photo at one of these intersecting points. It helps to create a more dynamic photograph, than one where the subject is smack-dab in the middle. Take note that if your camera is an auto-focus model, you may have to focus first on your subject and then, with the shutter button still half-pressed, recompose the image.
Natural Light Rules!
One of the tricks of the trade in photography is to use morning or late afternoon light. The sunlight at this time is wonderful and helps to produce pictures that are bathed in warmth. Direct light flatters the subject and adds to a more intimate and natural-looking photograph. It also helps to greatly reduce the bane of every parent photographer- red eye!
Experiment with taking advantage of the sunlight pouring through a window, or march the kids outside on a sunny day and photograph them while they are playing tag. To have a well-lit photograph make sure the light is behind you, shining on the subject. To create drama, try using side light for impressive shading. If you try to take a photo with the sunlight behind your children, a technique known as “backlighting”, you will end up with the subject looking like a dark silhouette.
The Last Word
It really is all about fun. View the time you are taking to photograph your children as time to share in their adventures and imaginary play. A frustrated mom directing kids to a more picturesque location and insisting on a smile does not reflect kids’ reality. Pick up the camera only when everyone is relaxed and happy. Finally, don’t expect every photo to be a masterpiece. The truth is that only a few images from each roll are frame-worthy, but the important thing is to keep snapping away to capture the moments that depict their ever-changing lives, in all its unique glory!
Learning music enhances the development of the mind in that it promotes strong cognitive skills, logical thought patterns, discipline and creativity. A music education causes a student to meet challenges whether it’s mastering an instrument, singing, reading or writing music. Based on how the student approaches the challenge determines the outcome of it. For instance, the student must examine the challenge in order to determine how to persevere successfully. This raises the conscious awareness of the student and puts the student in a position to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle thus strengthening cognitive skills.
Once the challenge has been analyzed, the student must rationalize as to how to solve the problem or overcome the obstacle, which encourages logical thought patterns. Once this is done, a consistent course of study or regular practice patterns must take place in order to master the challenge, which gives the student solid discipline skills. After the challenge is mastered, the student is equipped to repeat the process for the next musical challenge.
If the student continues to study music, then other areas of music such as history should be studied. Eventually, this will help uncover the inner musical expression that may lie dormant within the student if it is not explored. This brings forth the student’s creative ability. Now, if a sound music education opens the door to endless paths of learning, skill development and pleasure, then why isn’t every child in America reaping the benefits that music provides and how can we “right this wrong?”
Often incorporating creative and realistic graphics along with high tech software, online casinos offer a wide variety of game themes with Slot Machines, Roulettes, Craps, Specialty games, Black Jack and Poker rooms. Anyone new to online gaming will want to do a bit of reading up on whats popular and who is reputable before they reach for their credit card. Payout percentages will vary slightly between casinos, but much between games, the specifics of each game not generally revealed with most varying from an average of 95% to 98 % for all games the highest payouts in the slots.
There are quite a few informative websites for the new online gamers, several with densely populated forums full of some riveting stories from thousands of real users over the years. A quick Google for “online casinos” or ” no deposit bonus” and you will find oodles of directories with tons of reviews to get you going, including watchdogs.
These watchdog sites are dedicated to monitoring the online gambling industry and providing the public and the industry with guidance from how slots and video card games work to which casinos have a reputation for delivering a positive customer experience and which casinos have had several to many player complaints unresolved.
Many of the casinos are licensing or purchasing casino templates and because of the availabilty of this practically plug and play casino software, anyone who can afford it can start up there own casino. This is another reason you might want to stick to the popular and already trusted casinos as there can be a mistaken impression of popularity induced and exaggerated by aggressive advertising. Casinos that have been up for 6 months may appear as established as one that has been active for years, though often new casinos are owned by already trusted operators.
When looking into anything new, it is normal to have questions. Here are some common questions and answers about real estate to help you gain that edge when deciding whether buying a home is right for you.
Which is better: renting or buying?
Before buying, you need to determine what will save you money over the long run, and what might be of the most financial benefit in the future. It is indeed cheaper to rent, even in the long run (according to a Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University study). Additionally, when you rent you do not have to pay maintenance costs, as those are the responsibility of the landlord.
However, there are tax benefits to owning, and the home will likely appreciate in value, allowing you to possibly make money. If you buy a home now for 150,000 dollars, in a few years is will likely be worth more than 200,000. Additionally, rent always goes up, but your monthly housing costs remain relatively stable when you buy. Until you reach the end of your mortgage when it drops to zero.
Ultimately, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons. There are advantages to both renting and buying, and you need to determine what works for you.
How do I figure how much house I can afford?
The big question that needs to be answered before buying how much can one afford? To figure that out, you need to take into account several factors. Most lenders accept a five percent down payment, so you will need that up front. What remains after the down payment is what you will borrow.
You will have to figure interest, mortgage insurance, an escrow account, and possibly taxes as well. All of that is added to the amount of monthly principal payments, and that is your payment. Most lenders want to see that your payment is only .28 of your income, although some are stretching it to .30 or .32. Take your monthly payment (everything included) and divide it by the percentage your lender finds acceptable. Then multiply by 12. That is the yearly income you need.
So, if your monthly payment expenses total 983 dollars, this is what you would need:
To be safe, you would need to make about 43,000 dollars a year. In order to see if you can manage, open a savings account and put the down payment in the account. For six months, add the amount you would pay above your rent to the account (if you pay 600 dollars in rent, put 383 in the account each month). If you can handle the extra, you can afford the house.
How can I know whom a real estate agent is working for?
When looking for help finding a home, many people turn to real estate agents. However, many agents are just looking to sell a home. If you would like someone who wants to help you get the best price, look for what is called a buyer’s agent. He or she is required to work for your best interest. This means that you pay the agent, but it also means you have someone lawfully bound to work for you.