Selecting a Good Setting for Your Photography

Any good photographer realizes that a good picture requires three things: a smart photographer, a great setting, and a suitable camera. And since only one of the three categories can produce a good photograph, it’s up to the photographer to find the right setting for the picture.

1. Is your photograph scenic or just a white background? If it’s scenic and there are no people in the scene, then it’s perfectly OK to take the shot “as is.”

Unaltered Sunset - No Digital Effects

What that means is that you won’t need to do much with lighting or keeping the background blurred, etc.  If you’re taking a portrait and have a white background, make sure you play around with the natural or artificial lighting to get the best results.

2. How will you digitally alter, or will you digitally alter the picture at all? Usually a good photograph doesn’t need much altering after the fact, but there are times when you just might need to tweak it. In such cases, you can rely on a number of different software programs to help out. Photoshop and Portrait Professional are two really good ones. I personally think Photoshop has a long learning curve, so I use Portrait Professional to do fixes on faces. I even took out some of my own wrinkles!

There are other fun and free programs which can be found online as well. Try BeFunky.com and Picnik.com. They both have a lot of features that are free to use and all you have to do is upload your picture to work on it. You can save it to their online library as well as to your own computer when you’re satisfied with your special effects.

3. How much natural light do you have in your photograph and what impact will it have on your picture? Check to see by taking more pictures. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, then move the subject until you find just the right lighting and can take the pictures at angles that look pleasing as a finished product.

4. Should you set up a photo studio? A lot of people who are just starting out will stick with using natural light for quite some time until they’re comfortable with indoor lighting. You don’t need a fancy studio with tricky lights to take some great indoor shots. I would recommend at first to simply get a bounce flash for your camera, which can be found at Amazon for a modest price. A bounce flash attaches to your camera’s hot-shoe and will bounce light off a ceiling to diffuse the light, creating a softer light source on your subject. The other thing you can do is set up a chair, a white sheet for background and open up your garage door for light. Voila! Instant studio without the artificial lights. Practice on your family members and pets.

5. Is something in the background overpowering the foreground? I once took what I thought was a great picture because of the look on the person’s face, only to realize later that he was sitting right in front of a pole and when the picture came out, it looked as if the pole was coming out of the top of his head. So keep an eye on what’s back there and move your subject as many times as necessary to get rid of a busy background.

A good setting can be just as important to your picture as the object in question. A good setting can make an entire photograph, adding an atmospheric element to the piece.

More articles on photography, anti-stress, aging, etc.

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Complimentary Sunset

Being a visual person, I learn best by seeing something. Hearing is great and I’m grateful that I can hear. All well and good but seeing – well, that’s a gift that I feel more gratitude for more and more every day. Especially now, when the energies around and upon Earth seem to be intensifying. Is anyone else besides me noticing that? Are any of you noticing that time seems to be speeding up?

Tonight my husband and I went to dinner and on our way home, I was watching the clouds thinking “this is going to be a high-drama sunset tonight.”  Talk about thinking something into manifesting! We got home, took the dogs for a ride on the golf cart as we usually do, let them run alongside the cart (wowzer! did they have fun!), fed them and did our usual evening stuff.  Then all of a sudden I looked out the window, caught a glimpse of some beautiful colors, so off I trotted down the driveway to get these. OK, call me crazy but I get really excited to see a sunset like this. Guess it’s true . . . the best things in life really are free.

Autumn Sunset - Tucson AZ
High Drama Sunset - compliments of our Creator

Neither of these have been edited – these colors are straight from Him.

God’s Sense of Humor

Sometimes something comes along that just resonates with you, right?  Well, that happened to me today when I got an email from a friend in southern California. She knows I love taking pictures and always manages to find some pretty cool ones from other photographers to send to me. Wish I could take credit for these shots . . . whoever took them should get some major kudos!

What do you think of when you see the baby swan? It says peace, protection and serenity to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there’s the curious giraffes . . .

 

 

 

 

 

And the final one . . . God’s Sense of Humor (might have to use this one as my computer wallpaper). Even though it might have been Photoshopped, who cares? It’s a great photo.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Namaste!

Use Your Brain, Not Insulin, to Control Your Diabetes

Because I was told at one point that I was “Pre-Diabetic,” I thought it might be helpful to pass on some of this information since Diabetes seems to be gaining ground in many countries around the world.

The word Diabetes strikes uncertainty and fear in anybody.  Once you have been diagnosed, you start thinking about your future, such as taking insulin shots every day. However, there are ways to control the disease by changing your diet and exercising.

What may be the most important thing for you to do is lose weight.  You may not realize it, but the statistics for overweight people getting diabetes is far higher than those people in their ideal weight range. For every pound you lose, you lower your risk.

As a diabetic, one of your responsibilities is to check your blood sugar.  When you monitor your glucose levels will depend on your diabetic type, what medication you are on, how you take your medicine, and what kind of life you lead. Depending on your type of diabetes and your medicine regimen, you may not need to use a fingerstick every day. Basically, if you take care of yourself, you take care of your disease and will need to test less frequently.

There are guidelines you will need to follow regarding your new diabetic diet.  The proposal of smaller meals throughout the day has been thought to be a foundation to healthier living. By eating six times a day, you will see a less erratic change in your glucose levels.  Eating these smaller meals will also make you less hungry, which will keep you from binging. Since you usually drink when you eat, your body will have constant hydration also.  

While you are eating these smaller meals through the day, you must be aware of what you are eating. Your diet should be balanced with carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Diabetics need to eat more fiber every day. Whether this is in the form of vegetables, fruits, or whole grains, the benefits of fiber are important. Eating plenty of protein is also important. Proteins, such as meat and eggs, take longer to process, therefore, your level of energy lasts longer. With the proper balance of foods, your blood sugar should remain steady.

You will quickly realize that you need to decrease the amount of alcohol you drink, as well as eating snacks high in sugar. Many people do not know that alcohol is considered a carbohydrate, which when ingested, breaks in to simple sugar.

You also need to be aware of sugary snacks or snacks that have carbohydrates. Just as alcohol does, sugary snacks will make the glucose levels in your body increase sharply.

You absolutely must drink plenty of water throughout the day. You have to keep your body hydrated and therefore, keep your blood sugar level. When you get dehydrated, your sugars concentrate, which can lead to problems.

Keep your doctor informed of your daily regimen of food and drinks.  If what you are doing is keeping everything at a healthier level, you probably will not need medicine now or in the future.

Research the disease, plan your meals, exercise and lose weight. This is a basic plan for any diabetic. Keep your mind in the game, your eye on your sugar levels and make it work.

 

 

Five Photography Tips for Everyday People

Anyone who can operate a simple digital camera is capable of taking wonderful pictures. Photography doesn’t have to be done by a professional to be considered great.

Step One: Find a spot with multiple sources of shade and natural lighting, such as a grove of trees or even buildings. Trees make a great backdrop for any picture of people. The color green, whether in the trees or grass, seems to fit any mood or scene.

Step Two: Always try to take pictures spontaneously as opposed to having people pose. I’ve found that it’s easier to get people to have a natural smile if you’re having a conversation with them as you’re snapping your photos. For example, what if you asked them to name their favorite dessert or their favorite funny movie. Both of those ideas will automatically bring a natural smile to someone’s face. My other favorite is to ask “what do you love the most about your sweetheart?” or “grandchildren” or “child.” You get the idea. Start a conversation.

Step Three: If you’re just beginning to start your photography, get into practice by taking lots of candid shots. With a digital camera, there is absolutely no excuse for not taking tons of pictures. Challenge yourself to take one new picture a day. It doesn’t matter what it is; just do it. Lots of candid shots!

Step Four: Most of the point and shoot digital cameras these days have many settings to assist you in getting just the right shot. Take a look at your camera’s manual to see all the things you can accomplish using the various settings and then practice with each one. I got a prize-winning photo with my Epson Point and Shoot of a flower that blooms only at night. I used the camera’s macro flower setting and it was just gorgeous. So find out what your camera’s settings will do and then become very familiar with them.

Step Five: Only your mind can block your creativity. The other day I was chopping the end off of a bunch of celery and the bottom looked like a flower so I took a picture of it. Then I posted it on my blog and Facebook and asked people to guess what it was. Amazing the answers that came in; everything from a desert cactus to a crocheted slipper. Huh? Only the people who cook guessed it right.

Remember not to analyze too much. Just let your natural talent flow. The point is to allow your mind to play, and have fun with pictures by enjoying yourself and others will enjoy your photos, too.

Now that you’ve read the photography tips in this post, I trust that you will feel more confident in taking more pictures.

Managing Tinnitus

If you suffer from tinnitus (or persistent ringing in the ears like me), you know that this condition can often feel crippling and extremely frustrating. Tinnitus is not a hopeless condition, however, and there are specific steps you can take to manage it.

1. Identify food triggers. Salt can be one of the worst culprits because it reduces blood flow to the head, including your ears, eyes and brain. Saturated fat is another contributor to decreased blood flow so Keep an eye on labels of what you normally eat. Try to eat more healthy fats like Omega 3 fatty acids in fish, nuts, vegetables and avocado. MSG is converted into glutamate, which intensifies tinnitus and will usually be labeled as monosodium glutamate. Avoid it if you can. And then there’s sugar. Americans are way too indulgent when it comes to sugar and it can really elevate your tinnitus symptoms. If you have a sweet tooth, try to satisfy it using fruit, especially fruit that is high in fiber.

2. Stress can often exacerbate tinnitus, but before you start taking any over-the-counter medications for stress or anxiety, please see your doctor. Sometimes meditation helps. I find that while I meditate, my mind is completely off the ringing in my ears. Another thing that makes sense to try is playing some soft, soothing music at night while trying to sleep. Before I did this, the ringing and buzzing in my ears actually kept me awake. You might also consider getting a white noise machine, which can be used at night or even during the day, depending on what you do for a living.

3. Avoid alcohol, as it can often make ringing in the ears worse. For some people, it doesn’t seem to have any effect, but for others, they report that when they consume alcohol their tinnitus seems to be more prevalent. It’s hard for me to measure that particular one, since I don’t drink alcohol.

4. Try apple cider vinegar. I use it three times a day not just for tinnitus but for the general overall health benefits it provides, which are too numerous to mention here.  Do an online search for benefits of apple cider vinegar and you’ll see what I mean. Personally I recommend the Bragg brand because it’s organic and has the “mother” in it. The mother contains the natural enzymes and minerals which are important for our bodies’ optimal health. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar can be purchased in the health food section of most supermarkets and the recipe for the daily health drink is right on the bottle.

5. If you feel that you just can’t live with your tinnitus any longer, consider counseling to learn ways to cope. There are health care professionals who deal with this condition specifically so seek the right one, even if you have to go through many. There are also countless websites that can give you insight from others who have this condition. Just be careful and use your common sense when approaching any health issues.

Understanding tinnitus and the conditions that can exacerbate it can often feel like a relief. So take charge of your condition and make choices to help manage this condition!

Best of luck to you and Namaste!

Tips for Taking Great Pictures

Almost everyone has used a camera at some point, but not everyone has used a camera correctly. Photography can be a really satisfying hobby or you can make a successful career out of it if you have the patience and willingness to learn.  If you give yourself enough time, you are sure to see a vast improvement in the quality of your pictures. With today’s digital cameras, you can literally shoot thousands of pictures and if you don’t like them, you only have to press the delete button. Having a digital camera can really shorten the practice period for any budding photographer.

It’s probably safe to say that almost all professional photographers started out with photography as a hobbyist and then moved forward as they learned the basic techniques and then became more creative.  One of the most creative ways to take beautiful photographs is to learn the art of identifying the right lighting for each picture you take.  For example, if you’re shooting a photo of a landscape, it will look dull and flat if you shoot it at high noon, so use the golden hour(s) to your advantage.  What are the golden hours?  These are the hours when the sun comes up in the morning and when it sets in the evening. In the morning the sun’s rays emit more blue and in the late afternoon and evening, you’ll notice more golds and reds. If you’re shooting a photo of a person, make sure they’re not looking into the sun (so that they don’t squint), or that the sun is at their back.  That will create darkness on their face because your camera will compensate for all of that back light. I suggest getting them into a place where there is some indirect light, which will give their skin a more evenly lit effect.

If you can’t find some good indirect light and find yourself out in direct sunlight, you can use a reflector panel of some sort. These can be purchased at a camera store, online, or just about anywhere photo equipment is sold. Go online to see if someone is selling some used equipment. If you can’t find one, you can always improvise by using a white poster
board, which will reflect the light to fill in shadows on your subject’s face.  Have them hold the board or reflector on the side opposite of the sun’s light so it’s not in your viewfinder but close enough to their face to reflect the light.  Take a picture with it and one without it to compare the difference. Practice with this and you’ll be thrilled at the results.

One of the best ways to learn photography is to simply focus on your subject. I’ve always referred to this as “fill the frame.” What that means is this: don’t have a lot of background in your picture if you’re photographing a person or a pet, for example.  If you’re at an event and you want to capture the essence or flavor of that event, then it’s fine to have a lot
of things going on in the picture. And don’t forget to practice with your lens, moving it forward and backward to see what the shot will look like up close and further away.

Photography is a fun activity to learn and improve your creative skills. If you give yourself enough time, you will love the feeling of taking an excellent picture.

To learn more and see photography samples, visit www.reginaarnold.com