Night Photography fun

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Night photography in reality encompasses just before, during, and just after nightfall. The genre is still utilizing the available light, just a lot less of it. Night photography incorporates a variety of light sources ready to aid you in capturing your magic shot, such as street lights, moonlight, window lights from buildings, and even the last glow of the setting sun.
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Night photography is a wonderful opportunity to experiment and play with light. The most critical tool or accessory you WILL need is a tripod. This is due to the slow shutter speeds needed to expose the scene. You may even consider a flash if that is the look you are going for.
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It’s a good idea to set up your shot while there is still plenty of light in the sky and take a number of photographs of the same shot as the light changes, this is a great way to practice your manual settings as well.  Here is a good place to start would be ISO 400, SS – 60sec, f4.
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Enjoy the process and don’t forget we would love to see your night(life) images, share them in the comments below.
Cheers
la

Whats in your bag? – episode 1

Katie and I thought it would be a neat idea to start our own IACW series of the popular ‘What’s in your bag?’ videos. As the title suggests, it will be a small video clip of different people, that we interview or write about, taking us through the contents of their bag. So naturally to kick off the series I thought I would take you through what is in my bag on any given photography exploration walkabout  or photo shoot day. Enjoy!

Want to see who’s bag we will be going through next? Make sure to follow the blog so you don’t miss out.

Cheers

la

Our Must-Have Photography Accessories

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Many of our tutorials or blog posts are inspired by mentoring conversations and workshops sessions we have with our DGRCP community of photographers. One topic that arises almost every time is “what are our ‘must-have’ accessories”. Lindy-Ann and I can only speak to the items we have used ourselves in the field, so this list is not all encompassing. That said, if you don’t see a brand or item on here that you love, share it with us! Our goal is to help others get the most out of their photography journey and build community, so we are always open to hear from you and about your experiences!
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1. UV filter There are several types of filters out there, but this specific recommendations is for protecting your lens. I have firsthand experience of when a UV filter protected my lens during traveling when I opened my bag and the filter was cracked, but my lens was safe. Filters are dependent on the diameter of your lens and there are several good brands out there, with prices range from $15-100 depending on the quality of the glass. The downside to any filter is that it is one more piece of glass for your image to go through, which can possibly degrade it. However, weighed against the potential for scratching your lens, I would use still use it.
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2. Lens pens – this is a great gift for photographers! Throw them in your bag or car and pull them out whenever you see a smudge or dust spec on your lens. They are a awesome!
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3. Flash Sadly, the kit flashes that most cameras come with have ruined many a photograph. We all have to shoot in low light settings at some point and an off-camera flash (also referred to as a “speed light”) is a huge improvement on your kit flash, with the ability to bounce light off the wall or ceilings to add diffused light to your subject. There are good third party alternatives to the main camera manufacturers that are quality products and less expensive for the novice or hobbyist photographer. That said, I highly recommend looking at your brand specifically (ie. Canon or Nikon) as the camera and flash will be able communicate well and the TTL (auto settings) will be better paired.
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4. Camera bag This is one of those subjective accessories. It is highly dependent on your style and specific needs. There is a great market of stylish bags that don’t even look like camera bags! I have had two Kelly Moore bags and I love them, plus their customer service is fantastic. Lindy-Ann has Epiphanie. One of our manly photog friends loves his ONA bag.
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5. Straps Ask any photographer and they will tell you that the strap that comes with your camera is not very forgiving and can cut into your shoulder as you wear it. I recommend getting a softer, padded, and more stylish one. They even make infinity scarf options that are soft and look great! I really like the patterns and styles from Mod Straps, another brand we really dig.
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6. Tripod There is a tripod for every possible need and use! When selecting a tripod, it is important to consider your budget, your goals (capturing yourself in the images, night photography, etc), and read reviews. Here is a link two great articles listing their recommendations: The Wire Cutter and The Shot Kit.  A gorilla pod is great for traveling, light, and malleable, I just used it over the weekend camping for a shot of our whole group! I also have a  Zomei that I use for most tasks. It is sturdy and can change from tri to monopod easily.
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7. SD cards  Using a dSLR, you will definitely need at least one of these. From personal experience it is important to have backups, so let’s say you need at least two! I recommend Sandisk or Lexar brands and you can purchase these almost anywhere. It is important to note that if you are shooting in jpgs (not RAW) the lower storage may work for you. That said, in addition to the quantity of the images the memory on the card is capable of storing, I would consider the speed of capture (looks like: 95MB/S). If your card’s writing speed is slow it will cause you to miss the in-between shots and won’t be able to keep up if you’re especially trigger happy.  I personally use 32MB and 64MB cards with high speeds of capture.
We hope this helps you as you consider your equipment needs. Just remember it is never the equipment, or the stylish accessories, that makes the photographer, it is about you and your unique perspective. Get out there and snap away friends!
Stay tuned as Lindy-Ann kicks off our new “what’s in your bag” video series, where we, and our photog friends, will share what we carry to and fro living the photog life!
Cheers,
la-kdg-signature

An inspiring love story

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If you have been following our blog for a while, you would have read that my mom passed away just before my wedding, 8 years ago. But there’s a second chapter to my story that I am inspired to write about. My dad got remarried to one of his oldest and dearest friends. She was a pillar of strength for our family during our hardest times and a few years after my mom’s passing she and my dad finally got together. With all the love and support under the sun for each other, it has only been a pleasure to see them so happy.

They have truly become an inspiration for me and I’m sure other couples out there who know them, too. Their kids are now grown up and independent. They are super fit and super healthy and they truly embrace life with hearts filled with joy, love, and kindness, not to mention boat loads of energy and zest. When I grow up I most certainly hope to follow in their footsteps or in their case, bicycle tracks.

A few years back they got this beautiful painting as a gift for their anniversary and I have always admired it as it really captures the essence of their relationship so beautifully. While we were reminiscing one afternoon as sunset approached, sipping on fine red wine, I blurted out that it would be a good idea to photograph them and reenact the painting. So we did. This is the result. A super fun spontaneous moment has become such a warm memory for myself and the kids. My poor husband was holding down the fort in K-Town at the time.

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I have grown a lot over the years. Although  the hardships are difficult, they also have the ability to refine. I have grown to see love as always evolving. I think the secret to a lasting love, is not a perfect spouse, a perfect self, or a perfect environment, but rather two hearts who commit to finding each other constantly as life, individuals and circumstances change. I now find myself falling in love with my husband in new ways everyday and for this I am truly grateful.

With love,

la

PS Tutorial: Blemish Removal Technique

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There are so many ways to edit (and play) in Photoshop, it’s one of the many things we love about the program. Even Lindy-Ann and I we have different go-to techniques and tools we use to accomplish the same tasks. Oh, and don’t get me started on why everyone should use shortcuts, ha! Anyways, today’s #TutorialTuesday video is demoing a great technique I picked up several months ago, and use all the time, for removing blemishes without getting rid the details of a person’s face, like freckles and laugh lines.

We hope you enjoy adding this new trick to add to your bag!

Cheers,

kdg

 

Acrobranch – Tree climbing adventures for all ages.

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We are very slowly getting back into our old routine living here in our beloved desert homeland. By slowly, I mean snails pace. I think that may be due to an extended period of humidity which has been challenging, but we’re getting there. What the kids miss most, other than family, are the trees… climbing the trees to be exact. I keep going back to the time when we went to Acrobranch in Centurion, South Africa. If any of our South African readers have not yet been to Acrobranch, please read this post.  It is an aerial tree top adventure that caters to the whole family. All ages from children as young as 3 to adults of all ages.

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I went there with my three minions, plus their cousin and her mom, and we had such a wonderful afternoon. The kids were climbing for over an hour and we then settled in to The Big Red Barn for lunch. It was truly a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Side note: The next time you find yourself there over lunch do yourself a favour and order the house fries. I may or may not have eaten the entire plate #sorrynotsorry.

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“Acrobranch is Kid Heaven! Swinging through trees, dangling from branches, balancing in the air. But wait, Acrobranch also takes care of every parent’s fear and tucks those kids safely into snug harnesses, hooked into secure lines all through the course. It’s all with adult supervision, but the children are encouraged to go at their own pace and move their own clips themselves.

All courses are designed with specific ages in mind to keep your kids entertained…and safe. Check out your desired park for more info on our kids course age and height requirements.” – via Acrobranch website.

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Now what I appreciate the most about this concept is the benefit to a child’s physical development.  A child is constantly thinking about which hand they need to put where, which foot they need to move first, and which clip goes where. They work on balance, how the brain interprets where the body is in the environment it is in, they need to orientate their whole being to work as one to navigate the course safely, they build core strength, and improve flexibility and reach.

The next time I go, I promise to take more grownups with me, which should leave me hands free to carry my ‘big’ camera and get proper photos, but hey, they say the best camera is the one you have with you, so thank you iPhone.

Acrobranch – super affordable rates and fantastic for kids parties, I can only imagine how much fun it would be for team building too. You can contact them on +27 86 999 0369 or visit their website for more information. I highly recommend it.

If anyone has tried them out and would like to share your experience with our readers, we would love to read your comments below.

Cheers.

la

Fall in Israel – Rosh Hashanah

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The weather, the holidays, and the spirit of Fall in Israel are all definitely different from our beloved Virginia, but we are enjoying the adventure. This was a big weekend for us and the country as we celebrated the New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah. Until last year, I used to be unfamiliar with the Jewish/Israeli holidays, aside from their dates pre-labeled in my calendar over the years. For all of you like me, living in Israel means three days off of school, celebrations and toasts, religious observances, lots of new traditions, and it is a great time to travel or explore for us non-observant expats.

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Since we have missed our Fall traditions from back home, we took the long week and went camping at Horshat Tal in the Golan Heights with a few of our favorite outdoorsy friends.  We also toasted the new year at our favorite Israeli winery, Pelter Winery and one of our favorite Israeli craft breweries, Galil Brewery (they have pumpkin ale!). It was a wonderful time to be removed from the pressures of school and work and just be together and laugh a lot. Plus, I checked a few things off our Fall bucket list!

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I know I say it all the time, but experiencing the cultures of the country we live in (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and those of the people we befriend is truly one of my favorite things about living abroad. It makes me so happy to listen to the boys sing holiday songs, share the salutations in the language, and try traditional eats and treats. Their favorite Rosh Hashanah treat is apples dipped in honey, eaten to symbolize a sweet new year.

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It is especially fun to experience each of the holidays through our youngest at a local Hebrew gan (pre-school). On the Friday before the holiday the parents were invited to join a toast to the new year. The littles all wore white, the traditional color worn on Shabbat (the Sabbath) and for holy days. There was a rabbi who talked (in Hebrew of course) about the holiday and blew the shofar for us. We sat and watched the children sing and clap to songs they had clearly been learning leading up to it. I couldn’t help but smile at the tiny hands holding up glasses of tirosh (children’s wine) toasting and shouting “Shana Tova”!

Our big kid had his own Rosh Hashanah celebration at the international school and learned about the holiday in Israeli Culture class, which is one of his favorite classes. He just loves the teacher too! She has them singing fun songs, speaking in Hebrew, and excited to share it all at home with us. Let me tell you, we have learned a lot because of it! Fun fact, similar to our beloved Greeks, the Israelis see the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity, health, fertility and happiness and they are particularly important and given as gifts at Rosh Hashanah.

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To learn more about the holiday check out this fun video. I can really get behind the heart of starting fresh and walking into the new year on a sweet note!

Here’s to a sweet (and intentional) new year!

Shana Tova!

kdg

Origami birds courtesy of fellow gan mom, Noa, check out her blog post: I’m on Leave

‘There’s an oil for that’

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These were the words my cousin Cacey in Australia put out there on Facebook when she discovered doTerra essential oils, and that’s what stuck with me. After following her enthusiasm and passion for these little essential oil filled glass containers, I became curious.

Especially since before the summer my number 2 developed an extremely heightened sensitivity to smells.

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She sent me this amazing starter kit with 10 essential oils, a larger bottle of fractionated coconut oil as well as the Petal Defuser and tons of reading materials and suggestions on when and how to best use the oils for individual use as well as for the whole family.

Being new to this I naturally had a few questions:

What on earth is an essential oil?

  • ‘Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of the plants. When the oils are extracted form the plants, they can be used as single oils or in oil blends to increase emotional and physical wellness. If properly extracted, essential oils have the unique ability to benefit people in all areas of life, whether in food preparation, beauty treatment, or healthcare practices. You will be amazed with the diverse ways essential oils can help you fulfil your and your families health.’ – exert from doTerra living naturally guide book.

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How do I use this?

  • Each essential oil can be used in one or all of three ways:

1 – Aromatic – Some oils can be very stimulating while others can be quite calming, and ‘OnGaurd’ for example can help to clean the air, great when you live in a sandy environment like the desert. Simply add a few drops of your favourite oils into the petal defuser (in my case) filled with fresh clean water and set the time. Enjoy your home or office as the natural fragrance filled the air. My favourite combination to use just before bedtime with the kids has got to be OnGaurd, lavender and peppermint.

2 – Internal – essential oils can be invested to help support many health factors in the body, one being the immune system, and if you’re on board the autoimmune disease train like I am, this brings great relief. Even if you perhaps just have the little GI issues. This is a great option. I use one drop of lemon with one drop of DigestZen in a really large bottle of cold water to get me through my mornings and it is has become such a great way to start the day.

3 – Topical – You can add these essential oils to your favourite lotions, face creams or coconut oils to be applied topically. The reading material provided has some amazing suggested combinations and suggested uses for each one of them, it really is amazing.

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And of course,

  • How can I get more?

doTerra has reps in most countries and if you did a quick Facebook search for one in your area I have no doubt that someone close by can help you. Having said that they also have an excellent mailing system in place and I received my oils here in Kuwait in just over a week via my US Aramax box from Cacey in Australia, who can also be contacted via her Facebook page Garden of Eden Oils. Thanks Cuz!

There is even an app called the doTerra Daily Drop to offer up any extra info and advice should you need it.

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Needless to say within about an hour of receiving my package, I was obsessed. This has very quickly become a daily habit in my home as I am truly discovering for myself that yes…

…there is indeed an oil for that! 

Cheers

la

 

Tutorial Tuesday: Camera Care

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This #TutorialTuesday we are talking about camera cleaning and maintenance. Whether it is a point & shoot, digital SLR, film camera, or smart phone, caring for your camera will always help with getting the best images you can and prevent dust spots. Here is a video of some “best practices” on how to care for your camera.

If you have other thoughts or tips on caring for your camera we would love to hear them! Feel free to share in the comments below!

Keep snappin’

kdg

Links:

Mod Straps

Lens Pens

Camera cleaning kit

Filter

 

The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley

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A few months ago Katie and I wrote up a review on Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley, we mentioned in that post how she is the designer and creator of The Simplified Planner. Since we read her book, Katie and I both were itching to get our hands on one of them. That itch has been scratched. In South Africa our school year went from January to December, it took some getting used to when the kids started school here and the new year went from September to June. To help that, I opted for this version of The Simplified Planner the academic year, going from August 2017 to July 2018.

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The Simplified Planner comes in 4 different designs, I chose the floral print. Katie went with the Gold Dot.

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I ordered it on Amazon and it arrived last night, one week into the first school term. (See why I need an organiser). It came in a very strong, high quality, easy to open, navy blue packaging box. I will keep this for future travel to add extra protection to my planner in suit cases. The planner itself was covered in bubble wrap and an extra layer of plastic. They made sure no water or dust could get in anywhere with this packaging. And I love  the attention to detail, even in shipping!

Emily has also included a handy little start up brochure for people like me who need a little extra beginner’s encouragement.

As a self taught designer she combined her love for design with her passion for helping others simplify their lives to produce something that is not only useful, but it is beautiful and intentional too. I love her use of colour on different pages, her space allocation for things like meal planning… (Something I have also only recently starting doing and oh my gosh has it been life changing).

Possibly one of my favourite features is her sticker page. I’m a sucker for extra detail splashed with fun.

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She has recently launched her Yearly planners as well going from January to December, for all our SA readers, those not in the school aged season of life, or if you just prefer yearly planners – there’s a beautifully designed option for you too.

Much like Katie’s post about starting fresh this fall and setting your intentions, I hope this has encouraged you to get organised and prepare yourselves for the year ahead. One thing Emily stresses, which both Katie and I are trying to implement more and more, is the power of saying “No.” To intentionally save blank space in your schedules for down time, family time, or just a little time-out time. These quiet moments are just as important, but we need to be intentional about it – especially in our ‘Always On’ society.

Cheers!

la