Monday, November 30, 2015

Photography Remote Control

When using slow shutter speeds it is important to minimise or illuminate all camera movement as this will blur the image. A photograph of a night city scape will only impress the viewer if the lines are crisp and sharp. The slow release image of moving water creating a soft almost fluffy effect in the water itself only works when contrasted against the sharp clear image of the rocks, trees or pier pylon.

Using a tripod is essential. Equally important is the use of a timer or remote control.

Manually depressing the shutter release button will cause the camera to move, even if the photographer has the dexterity of a brain surgeon. The movement might only be slight and everything might look clear on the playback screen but print it or upload it onto a computer and the clarity will not be there.

To read more about remote controls and other free photography lessons visit

Christmas Eve

Growing up Christmas Eve was an unusual day, there was endless amounts of cleaning and preparing food, decorations and gifts for Christmas Day even if we were not having Christmas at home.

The evening was laced with excitement of the possibilities of the day ahead and yet was a period to be endured if not survived.

My family attended a local church all year round, not just for Christmas and Easter. The church we attended was situated in close proximity to the local public hospital. As such as a group from the church would visit the hospital each Christmas Eve and sing carols. Floor by floor we would search endlessly for an available power point to plug in the portable Casio keyboard. The acoustic guitarist and carolers would gather around. Well those who were not chasing their kids up and down the stairwells.

Many of the singers would be either in an article of clothing resplendent with a Christmas motif or be wearing “fun” Christmassy earrings or would have strategically place a bit of tinsel – woven into a hair scrunchie was poplar. Others would come in their Sunday best. We were as geeky as it sounds. It was the cliché so often depicted in sitcoms at this time of year.

As if the patients were not already sick enough they now had to deal with a band of nerds bursting forth tunelessly with carols. Moving from floor to floor, ward to ward we ensured that no one was going to enjoy a silent night.

The singing on each floor concluded with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, generally after four or five carols. It was always the youth and children who would try to start singing “We Wish You A merry Christmas” after two or three songs to try and reduce the suffering of all involved. Occasionally it would stick and the adults would be shuffling back into the lifts before and of the halls and been decked with boughs of holly or before the patient suffering unbearable migraines came out of their room and decked one of us.

The evening of carols would always end in the secure mental health facility out the back. We would sing for the patients residing here before being given a piece of Christmas cake and a glass of cordial.

Growing up in the church I am used to some terrible cordial, usually with so little cordial added to the water that it looks and tastes more like dishwater rather than a sugary drink. But nothing quite compares to the cordial served by the hospital. The predominant flavour, regardless of the colour of the beverage was plastic. If a kitchen hand had come out to apologies explaining that they had in fact run out of cordial and had instead added food colouring to melted down disposable cups, then no-one would have been at all surprised.

And not just once, it was plastic flavour every year.

Having concluded the caroling, we all returned to church suitably proud of ourselves for the midnight mass –that in fact commenced well before midnight. This was a service to get to early because all of the twice a year Christians attended. More visitors attended on Christmas Eve than Christmas Day. Even though Jesus is meant to be the reason for the season no-one wants the religious obligations to interfere with their capitalist plans of sharing unfathomable amounts of gifts food and alcohol.

Christmas Eve services were always timed perfectly to finish right on midnight. They had to be. The same youth and children who tried to curtail the carol singing on each floor would boldly proclaim “Merry Christmas” right on the stroke of midnight.

Like a benediction it quickly drew the service to a close.

If you are looking for a different way to bring some Christmas cheer to people in your life have a look at the photographic gifts including cards, prints, smart phone and tablet covers, notebooks and coffee mugs 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Free Food

I am a big fan of. No, I am not a freegan. I am not waiting out the back of bakeries for them to discard each day’s unsold products. I am talking about food that is provided as catering, or shared between colleagues.

Like when there is a work meeting or function at which catering is provided. Free food! This this should be consumed with appropriate decorum – nibbling not stuffing one’s face – but definitely still in volumes as though this may be the last food on the planet. Definitely keep eating until the service plates are empty, all but the egg sandwiches. These should always be left. How else are caters ever going to get the message that even if people do say that they like egg (most probably lying) there is no place for egg sandwiches in the workplace!

Even better when there is left over food from a meeting where the participants have not following the above rule. This means you get to enjoy the food without having to suffer through the presentations and discussions.

Shared afternoon teas in the work place or catered parties then social etiquette requires some levels of self-control, couple of items on the plate/napkin/hand a time. This does not prevent grazing, taking one or two items each time you walk past the table. It is then just a matter of planning a route that takes you past the table each time you need to move.

It is not acceptable to stock pile “for later” especially at the beginning of the event. Arriving at the table, pocketing your favourite items for later in case it runs out and then sitting down to eat the rest.

At the end of the event it is ok, however, to take an item or two back to your desk or “for the road” at the end of a party.

The other staple for a free foodie is the supermarket sample. A piece of sausage here a cube of cheese there. Get to a new supermarket during their week of opening celebrations and you can piece together an entire 3 course meal plus a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Black and White Photography

Good black and white photography is more than changing a colour to monotone in Photoshop, choosing the subject and composing the image for black and white is key. Great black and white, or monotone, photography perhaps take photography back to its purest and simplest (or is that the most complex?) form.

In selecting the subject and composing the image, photographers need to consider; tonal contrast, texture and strong lines. 

To learn more about black and white photography and other FREE photography lessons visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It's the thought that counts

Socks, jocks and deodorant, the Christmas present cliché were, for me an unfortunate reality. As children my family had stockings about the size of a wellington boot. These were not for the actual gifts from Santa but more little knickknacks to keep us busy and relatively quiet until the grandparents woke up.

Somewhere along the line, the matchbox car, hand held ball bearing game, colouring book and nougat bar morphed into sock, jocks, deodorant and a nougat bar. We do not particularly like nougat and never have it at any other time of the year. It is not even mentioned, but every year there it is in the stocking.

I would like to think that the socks jocks and deodorant were in the stocking ironically, however I am not sure that there was that much though involved.

As children the only thing worse as a Christmas present was school stationery or uniform. Coloured pencils, crayons and textas in themselves can be a fun gift for children but not if they have to be put away until school starts. Particularly in Australia where there are 6 weeks summer holiday sitting around the house between Christmas and the start of the school year. Though the wait to colour still better than unwrapping and exercise book.

As adults, deodorants, soaps and body washes anything that says “you have a body odour problem” is a disappointing and somewhat insulting gift. They are also as equally thoughtless as socks and jocks.

If it is the thought that counts then a generic gift voucher for a department store is not a gift from someone who cares about you. This gift really says “I have no idea what to get you or what you like – you sort it out.” Gift vouchers for specific experiences or products can be extremely thoughtful.

The person likes outdoor adrenalin activities then a gift for abseiling through a waterfall is very thoughtful and personalised, the voucher simply allows the person to book in on a day that suits their calendar. Similarly a book of pre-paid cinema tickets for a movie buff. A voucher for the local CD/DVD store is a little bit thoughtful…but not very thoughtful.

This voucher says I know you like music but don’t care enough to know which bands/styles of music you like nor could I be bothered to find out which CDs you are looking forward to owning.

I understand with digital downloading that this has become problematic without vouchers.

Vouchers or tickets to a live show are convenient and cheap to post when the gift giver and receiver are geographically distant from each other.

One year my dad bought me a voucher for an item bought on my behalf for a third world country. A thoughtful gift. That should have been enough. It could have been for a well, digging a latrine or a bag of seeds. Dad went one step further. I was going through a cow collecting phase, anything with the black and white Friesian print was acceptable. Dad bought a cow for a village. Dad bought me a cow for Christmas. A VERY thoughtful gift voucher.

Christmas gift giving should be about the thought not the monetary value. The hardest gift shopping is when you walk through the stores with no idea of what you will buy, just waiting for the right gift to jump out at you. Although this can be a tiring and frustrating experience for the purchaser it will always be a rewarding for the receiver. This experience far outweighs the challenges of crowded shopping malls and long lines at checkouts.

For unique gift ideas visit

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Photography - Polarising Lens

no polarising filter

light polarising filter
Many lenses on both DSLR and compact cameras will enable photographers to attach filters. The question is which one(s)? There is a large range of filters that have large range of effects on the final image. A good start point to the filter collection is a polarising filter.

Polarising filters modifies the way the camera sees and treats light. Like a pair of polarised sunglasses, it affects the camera sees reflection and glare. It can also change the vibrancy of some colours in a shot.

To learn more about polarising filters and other FREE photography lessons visit

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hair Removal

As the world goes crazy over the Back to the Future movies, this rant has been inspired by another of Michael J Fox’s movies, Teen Wolf.

Teen Wolf, 1985

 Debate rages on; hairy versus smooth. With man-scaping now a thing men and women are now removing any trace of body hair in almost equal numbers. It is usually discussed in relation to sexuality.

I would like to discuss other reasons.

Body hair equals bellybutton lint. Remove the body hair and the little pile of blue fluff goes with it. And yes, it is always blue! I will admit there is something unusually satisfying about removing the little ball from the naval it is even more satisfying not having it at all.

Body hair acts like bunting and crown control ropes slowly moving and funnelling the smallest pieces of dirt and fluff from clothing ever towards the hole.

The question is for people who do remove their body hair go where does the individual elements that make up belly button fluff go?

Removal of body hair also eliminates the presence of hair of the cake of soap and shower screen, and public toilets. It is easy to distinguish scalp hair from body hair and for some reason the presence of the later once separated from its host body is so much more gross than its head-based relatives.

Talking of gross a really hairy backside adds additional complications to the morning after a night of drinking or curries or both. Definitely enough said.

For some men the removal of pubic hair may assist with the problem of not being able to see the wood for the trees but that is probably getting in to the area of sexuality.

Talking of men I have not decided which is the more unusual to see. The excessively hairy man who has a line of hair sprouting out of the top if collar – all the way around, or the excessively hairy man who has done some grooming and shaved his neck in a way that leaves what appears to be a tideline.