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A Photowalk at the Cobble Hill Fair

The Cobble Hill Fair celebrated its 105th year this summer and the 4-H Club celebrated its 100th year in BC.

“The fair showcases everything about the Cowichan Valley that is good and its emphasis on agriculture is really a reflection of the founding of South Cowichan area,” said Cobble Hill Area Director and long-time fair volunteer Gerry Giles. “It began when people came into the area, cleared land to farm and really that tradition or heritage and culture has continued on through the years. When people come to the fair they get glimpses of our past and what agriculture means to the community.” 

If you missed the fair this year, be sure to keep an eye out for the 2015 fair date!

The Cobble Hill Fair Parade

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The Animals of the Cobble Hill Fair

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The Children of the Cobble Hill Fair

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Celebrating 105 Years of the Cobble Hill Fair

This Saturday August 23rd, the Cobble Hill Fair will be celebrating its 105th year. Visit the Cobble Hill Fair from 7am to 5pm for an old fashioned country fair celebrating South Cowichan’s agricultural roots and rural lifestyle. You’ll enjoy seeing livestock and poultry, domestic science entries, flowers and fruit, crafts, needlework, horse show, vintage machinery, stage entertainment and much much more.

The Cobble Hill Fair is organized by the Shawnigan Cobble Hill Farmers Institute and Agricultural Society and is run by volunteers with aim to promote and celebrate the legacy of agriculture and support the education and participation of youth in agriculture.

The day’s entertainment begins early with a pancake breakfast at 7am followed by a parade at 9:30am and the opening of the exhibition hall at 10am. Enjoy a full day of outdoor exhibits and activities with the whole family.

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 100 Years of 4-H in BC

This year not only marks the 105th year of the fair, but it is also the 100th anniversary of 4-H Clubs in BC. 4-H is a developmental program designed to build leadership qualities in today’s youth. Their motto is: Head, Heart, Hands and Health. Projects within 4-H can range from animal husbandry to bees, dogs, sewing, agriculture, crafts, photography, domestic science and so much more. Be sure to visit the 4-H displays and watch Club members show their animals at the fair. Visit the BC 4-H website for more information about the 4-H program or to find a club near you.

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Cobble Hill Fair Details

Come join a full day of exhibits, activities and entertainment on August 23 from 7am to 5pm, in Cobble Hill on beautiful Vancouver Island.

For a full list of events, exhibits and activities check out the Fair Catalogue.

Admission:

Adults (17 to 64) ………………………………. $7.00
Seniors (65 and older)…………………………. $5.00
Juniors 12 to 16 yrs …………………………… $5.00
Children under 12………………………………. free

Parking is available at the Christian Church at 3805 Cobble Hill Rd on Fair day with a convenient shuttle to the fairgrounds.

The fair is located in and around the Cobble Hill Community Hall at 3550 Watson Avenue, Cobble Hill, BC.

(Photos courtesy of the Cobble Hill Farmers Institute.)

9 Reasons to Visit Merridale Cidery on Vancouver Island

There are countless reasons to visit Merridale Cidery. I’ve listed 9 of them here, all of which place it near the top if my list of local Cowichan Valley tours.

Merridale Cidery is located on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island between Victoria and Nanaimo. Follow the Wine Route signs from the main highway to get to the orchard. (See the map below.)

Merridale Cider Works - Things To Do

9 Reasons to Visit Merridale Cidery

1. Orchard Tour

Merridale does not disappoint with its gorgeous orchard. Merridale is located in Cobble Hill, BC, one of the area’s main farming regions. It’s well worth taking a walk around the orchard and taking the fun and interactive self-guided tour to get a good thirst going before you hit their tasting room to sample their refreshingly delicious products. Be sure to ask any questions that may arise when you hit up the cider bar for a tasting.

Merridale Cidery - the Orchard

2. Orchard Faeries

Besides the resident bee hives, birds and other creatures, the orchard is home to a community of faeries! Bring your children along on your orchard adventure (they tend to come out when you sing as you walk) and when you get to the cider bar, they can sample Merridale’s apple juice and collect an Orchard Adventure Stamp.

Merridale Cidery - Orchard Faeries

The Brandy House Distillery

The Brandy House is one of the few artisan distilleries in the province and offers tours, and tastings of their spirits, fortified line, and fruit based vodka. The Brandy House is also an excellent venue for stand-up receptions and is a unique venue to host company or group gatherings. Merridale will be adding their first whiskey product to their already impressive product line later this year. Stay tuned here and to the Merridale website for updates.

Merridale Cidery - the Distillery

3. The Bistro

I try to plan my stop at Merridale so that I can enjoy lunch or a snack in the bistro. The food is inspired by traditional cider regions in Europe using local seasonal ingredients and fresh cut herbs. The bakery features an amazing outdoor brick oven.

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4. Sunday Night Pizza and Music

Every Sunday throughout the summer, Merridale hosts their famous pizza nights on their covered deck.  Each week they feature several unique artisan pizzas straight from their brick oven featuring housemade charcuterie and local seasonal produce. Pair that with a fresh glass of cider and local musicians and you’ve got yourself a fun evening out to get your upcoming week started off just right. For a list of musical artists, visit Merridale’s events page.

Merridale Cidery - Yurts

5. Yurts and the Orchard Spa

Sip cider and nibble on charcuterie while you get pampered in the Merridale Orchard Spa! The spa is located in the Merridale yurts which include with a relaxation patio overlooking the pond. “What IS a yurt?” you may ask. A yurt is a portable, round dwelling used by the nomadic groups of Central Asia. Yurts have been around for at least three thousand years, and are known for their spiritual and calming benefits. The yurts are also available for romantic getaways from April to October. For rates and more information or to make a reservation contact Merridale staff.

Merridale Cidery - Yurts

6. Get Married!

Merridale Cidery is a magical venue for a wedding! Get ready with your wedding party in the yurts or the outdoor bridal suite. Then walk down the manicured lawn and exchange vows in the pond-side gazebo. Celebrate and feast with your guests with gourmet food and drink in the Ciderhouse with a panoramic view of the orchard below.

Merridale Cidery - Wedding Venue

7. Local Products

Not only does Merridale grow their fruit locally, but they also support other local farms and artists in the Cider Shop. You’ll find products from local cheeses and sausage to blown glass, paintings and cider-scented soaps. It’s definitely worth checking out to support the local community.

Merridale Cidery - BC Grown

8. Tasting: Merridale Ciders

Merridale makes a variety of beverages from ciders to ports to spirits, listed below. Tastings cost $5 (including tax) and all proceeds are donated back into the community to their charity of the month.

Merridale Cidery - Cider Bar

  1. Monarch Cider – It’s dry, bubbly, and created from a balanced blend of full bodied cider apples. 
  2. Traditional Cider –  It’s light, dry and effervescent. It appeals to true cider connoisseurs, and has been called “the best English-style cider in Canada” by wine expert Jurgen Gothe.
  3. House Cider – A lighter, sweeter version of our traditional cider, but still very dry.
  4. Scrumpy Cider – Scrumpy is strong and sharp, and rich in the flavours of our strongest cider apples.
  5. Cyser Cider – A traditional blend of pure vintage apple juice and wildflower honey, combined in a slow fermentation process that dates back to the Viking days.
  6. Merri Berri Cider – A refreshing blend of apple cider and the unfermented juices of a blend of BC berries and fruits.
  7. Somerset Cider – Dry and sparkling with balanced acids. Somerset is slowly aged for more than a year to become completely dry and is bottled Champagne style so it’s perfect to celebrate a special occasion.

Merridale Cidery - Cider Bartender

9. Tasting: Merridale Spirits & Fortified Products

  1. Winter Apple – A fresh and velvety sipping drink with an aroma of baked apples and buttery brown sugar.
  2. Pomme Oh! – A delicate balance of apple and brandy with a soft, slightly sweet finish. This is wonderful with soft cheeses. 
  3. Mure Oh! – Has a strong blackberry odour and taste with a bitter sweet finish. Great for dessert or with apple pie. 
  4. Stair’s Pear Brandy – Exhibits a clean fresh pear nose enhanced by the oak with subtle fresh aromas of pineapple and lemon zest finishing with strawberries and marzipan. 
  5. Cowichan Cider Brandy – Made from six different blends of cider apples which we then placed in French Oak Barrels. When tasting the brandy, it is best served in a ‘snifter’ at room temperature. Swirl it in the glass and enjoy the aroma.
  6. Frizz Vodka – This is not fruit infused vodka, but vodka made from fruit. It is a secret blend of spirits made from cherries, plums, apples, and some pear. To make it a little more fun and distinctive, they’ve carbonated it!
  7. Blackberry Oh de Vie – Unfermented blackberry juice is added to rough brandy for the final distillation. This brandy has hints of anise along with the blackberry notes.
  8. Apple Oh de Vie – Has a distinct apple and cider aroma with a slight floral undertone of spring apple blossoms. It is wonderful as a digestif or in your favourite martini. 

So what are you waiting for? Merridale Cidery is a fun afternoon outing for the whole family! Wander the orchard, search for faeries, learn about the cider making and distillery processes and then tickle your tastebuds with a bite and a tasting.

Have you visited Merridale Cidery? What was your favourite Merridale product?

Where is Merridale Cidery?

1230 Merridale Road, Cobble Hill, BC
Phone: 1.800.998.9908
Website: merridalecider.com

Follow Merridale on Facebook and Twitter.

Photography: 10 Composition and Creativity Tips

I’ve shared a whole schwack of photo tips over the past several weeks:

Now that we’ve covered the technical aspects, we will be getting into the fun part with some composition and creativity tips.

In photography, composition and creativity can be about following the rules or breaking them. It’s all about experimenting and trial and error. There is no wrong answer when it comes to being creative, so get out there and start shooting to see where your eye takes you.

10 Composition and Creativity Tips

  1. Create a Project For Yourself – Coming up with shooting ideas can be tough sometimes when you’re running low on inspiration. To get around this, set yourself a project so that you have a focus. If you’re feeling particularly inspired one day, create a list of mini projects and write them on small pieces of paper. Drop them into a jar and pull one out every time you need some inspiration. Check out this article to get yourself started.
  2. Simplicity – Some of the greatest photo compositions are not about what’s in the image, but rather about what has been left out. Look through your viewfinder to see if there is anything you can remove that doesn’t add to your image and adjust your shot to crop it out.
  3. Straight Horizon – Make sure your horizon is level. There’s nothing worse than capturing a great shot but then finding out later that your horizon is totally crooked, sometimes rendering your image unusable.
  4. Rule of Thirds – The rule of thirds states than an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally. Position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. You can also apply the rule of thirds to existing photos by cropping them later. You’ll find more information on the rule of thirds here.Photography: Rule of Thirds
  5. Fill the Frame – Filling up the frame forces you to keep your background simple and clean. Getting in closer to your subject eliminates distracting elements and cluttered backgrounds that detract from your image. Use a wide aperture to render your background slightly out of focus to make the viewer focus directly on the foreground and subject being presented.
  6. Look For Reflections – Reflections in water or in glass can add symmetry to your image. You can also try to shoot reflections in isolation for more abstract compositions.
    Ucluelet Boat Reflections
  7. Try a Low Viewpoint – Get a more creative view by shooting from ground level for a different perspective on common subjects. For portraits of animals or children, get down to their eye level for a more intimate image.
  8. Try a Panoramic Image – I’m a big fan of the long thin panoramic images. They can add impact to your landscape shots. You don’t need to worry about stitching images together however, you can just take your high resolution image into your image editing software and crop it for the same effect.
    Vancouver - False Creek Panorama
  9. Shoot in Odd Numbers – Odd numbers give a more balanced composition than even numbers. Try to arrange your shot with an odd number of elements.
  10. Break The Rules!!! – The rules of composition can be helpful when you’re finding your eye and your vision, but they can also be a bit restricting. Once you have the rules down pat, get creative and start breaking them. For example, try putting the horizon at the top or bottom of the frame.

There are many more composition rules and ideas out there, but these should get you started.

Bonus Tip: Try shooting a picture everyday to get yourself into the habit of finding great photographic opportunities. We all have our smartphones with us all the time these days, so use your phone’s camera if you don’t want to lug your DSLR around with you everywhere. Post your daily pics to Instagram and see what people like. This is a great tool to find out what people find aesthetically pleasing. Share your Instagram profile link below so we can follow along and weigh in too!

Do you have any composition tips or tricks to add? Share them in the comments.

Ventures in Wine Country – TV for Wine Lovers

I’m a wine lover, this is no secret. Just this past weekend I visited four Cowichan Valley wineries, but I’ll tell you more about that later. Right now I want to tell you about a vine-to-glass television series set in our very own back yard that could be coming to a screen near you soon: Ventures in Wine Country.

B.C. wine is having a moment – a ‘coming-of-age’ moment – as Anthony Gismondi (@TheSpitter) put it in a recent Vancouver Sun article. Wineries throughout the gorgeous Okanagan Valley have been winning awards and making waves with their increasingly sophisticated wines.

What Is Ventures in Wine Country

So, a friend of mine and his newly minted production company, Asymetriq Productions Inc., thought it would be timely to create a lifestyle (documentary style) TV series called “Ventures In Wine Country” that chronicles the “vine to glass” story of this booming homegrown industry. They are working with Covert Farms in Oliver, Terrabella Group‘s new Black Swift winery in West Kelowna, and Painted Rock in Penticton on the pilot episode as we speak, but to bring this unique and exciting story to life, they need to cover a funding gap.

Ventures-in-Wine-2

This Is Where You Come In

They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign and are looking to the masses for help, and only have a week – yes, 7 days – left to do it.

They have already raised over half of the funding they’ll need to make this project a reality. Your contribution, no matter how small, will help them bring Ventures in Wine Country to life!

So please, check out their Kickstarter pitch/video and the TV series pilot trailer.

You’ll be hooked!

If you like what you see – or if you want to learn more about what goes into that delicious glass of B.C. wine you’re sipping, then please consider backing this project.

They are offering some exciting rewards for contribution from special screenings of the pilot episode to t-shirts and corkscrews. If only 388 more people bought a t-shirt to support them, they’d reach their goal and be able to bring this local B.C. wine story to the world. I think that’s pretty awesome, don’t you?!

Ventures-in-Wine-Country---Tshirts

What’s This Kickstarter Thing?

If you’re unfamiliar with crowdfunding and don’t know what Kickstarter is, or how it works,you’ll find more information here.

The main thing you need to know is that Kickstarter works on an all-or-nothing model. So in order for Ventures in Wine Country to receive their funding they will need to raise the full $40,000. This is why your help is so important to bringing the project to life.

So, if you’re a wine lover, and you’re interested in finding out more about how that delicious nectar gets from the wine to your glass, please support Ventures in Wine Country today!

SUPPORT VENTURES IN WINE COUNTRY TODAY!

Follow Ventures in Wine Country on Facebook and Twitter for project updates.

 

Photography: 10 Lighting and Colour Tips

In the past few weeks we have covered camera setup and shoot planningexposure and camera settings, and focusing and sharpness. Today I’ll be sharing some lighting and colour tips to help advance your photography skills even further.

10 Lighting and Colour Tips

  1. Take Advantage of Cloudy Days – You don’t need to wait for a sunny day to go out and shoot. Cloudy days are great for portraits, macro and even some landscape situations. The cloud provide a natural diffuser to the sun’s bright light and help eliminate harsh shadows.
  2. Shoot Into the Light – Don’t always shoot with the sun behind you. Experiment with shooting into the light for some interesting images. Try to position the sun (or light source) behind your subject to help minimize flare.
    Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, Canada - © 2011 Mariska Richters Photography

    Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, Canada – © 2011 Mariska Richters

  3. Shoot at the Golden Hour – The golden hour is one of my favourite times of day for shooting. The golden hour is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the sun is higher in the sky. At these times the light is much warmer and you will get much better colour. You will also get some interesting shadows and textures.
  4. Use a Reflector – A reflector can help you fill in shadows by bouncing light back into the darker areas of your image. If you don’t have a proper reflector, you can use anything from a white piece of paper or poster board to a sheet of fabric like a t-shirt.
  5. Experiment With Fill-In Flash – Use your camera’s built-in or external flash to lighten shadows when the sunlight causes dark shadows on your subject.
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  6. Use a Diffuser – The sun can produce some pretty harsh shadows when it’s high in the sky. Experiment with placing a diffuser between the light and the subject to soften shadows.You don’t have to spend big money on an expensive light diffuser, you can easily make one yourself out of a piece of white cloth or paper.
  7. Shoot at Night – Night photography is where I’ve produced some of my favourite images. Experiment using long exposures and other lighting techniques like light trails and painting with light. Be sure to bring a sturdy tripod and remote shutter release to help capture sharp images.
    Granville Street, Vancouver, Canada

    Granville Street, Vancouver, Canada – © 2010 Mariska Richters

  8. Play With Your White Balance – It’s easy to set your camera to automatic white balance, but the auto setting can be fooled in lighting some situations. If you’re shooting in a mixed lighting setting, try shooting a white or grey card and use this to help you learn about and set your custom white balance. Remember that as long as you are shooting in raw file format, you can always adjust the white balance with your software in post-production later.
  9. Shoot at Twilight – Just  before sunrise and just after sunset are great for capturing some moody landscape images. It’s also a good time to catch street scenes and cityscapes while the sky has a bit of light yet you still capture the city lights.
  10. Try Shooting In Black and White – I’ve found that I don’t shoot much black and white since the emergence of digital photography. It was far easier to do when you used a roll of black and white film in your camera. But harsh sunlight can produce strong shadows for some interesting high-contrast back and white images. Try it!

Do you have any colour or lighting tricks to add? Share them in the comments below.

Next week I’ll share Composition and Creativity Tips.

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Shop Local: Russell Farms Market

One of the things I’m loving about living on Vancouver Island is that the local community makes a great effort to shop local and support the small businesses within the community. One of my favourite parts of this is the local farmer’s markets. I love my weekly fruit and veggie stock up at Russell Farms Market, the farmer’s market closest to my house.

I bought this huge bounty at Russell Farms Market for only $30!

Russells Farm Veggies

  • 1 HUGE head of locally grown romaine lettuce
  • 2 zucchinis
  • a cucumber
  • a red pepper
  • 4 apples
  • 2 pineapples
  • a giant bunch of bananas
  • a bag of locally grown baby potatoes
  • a big bunch of locally grown carrots
  • a cantaloupe
  • a spagetti squash
  • 4 tomatoes
  • a dozen free range eggs (not pictured here)
  • a cilantro plant for my garden (mmm fresh home made salsa!)
  • a mint plant for my garden (mmm home-grown mint mojitos!)

All the fresh local produce is picked each morning and can be on my plate the same day! It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

If I was to buy all of this at Save On or Thrifty Foods I would probably pay close to $50. And the best part is that I’m not only saving money, but I’m eating healthy and supporting the local economy!

About Russell Farms Market

Russell Farm Barn Roof

  • Location: 2711 Mt. Sicker Rd, Chemainus [map]
  • Summer Hours: 8am to 9pm daily, Winter Hours: 8am to 8pm daily
  • They are open year round with seasonal produce and other produce sourced from around Canada as well as internationally
  • Russell Farms is the largest strawberry grower on Vancouver Island
  • They have a garden centre, fully stocked deli and an ice cream bar for those hot summer days

For more information about Russell Farms, including weekly specials, visit their website, or better yet stop by for a visit and an ice cream cone!

Do you shop local? Where is your local farmer’s market?

 

Photography: 10 Focusing and Sharpness Tips

In the past couple of weeks I’ve shared some photography tips with you relating to camera setup and shoot planning, as well as exposure and camera settings. Today I’ll be covering 10 focusing and sharpness tips to help improve your photography even more.

 Get Tack Sharp Images – 10 Focusing and Sharpness Tips

  1. Nikon DioptreHold the Camera Properly – Hold your elbows close to your body and hold your left hand under the lens. Release the shutter just after you exhale to help hold the camera steady and minimize camera shake.
  2. Focus Your Viewfinder – Most DSLR cameras enable you to adjust your viewfinder for your personal eyesight using the dioptre adjustment dial. Make sure you adjust this to ensure you can see your subjects clearly through your viewfinder.
  3. Set the Right Focus Point – Set your camera to single-point AF mode, rather than letting the camera choose the focus point automatically. You can then position the active point on the subject that you want to be sharp. This is very useful when the main subject is not right in the centre of the frame.
  4. Use Focus Lock – Use this when your subject is not right in the middle of your frame. Position the subject in the middle, focus on it, use the focus lock and then re-frame the shot.
  5. Pre-Focus – If you have a moving subject and can predict where it is going to be, pre-focus on that spot to make capturing a great action shot easier.
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  6. Shallow Depth of Field – A shallow depth of field (or wide aperture) to blur the background can make your subject appear sharper than when your whole photo is sharp. However, you should avoid using very small apertures unless you absolutely have to because lenses produce softer results at f/22 than at f/8.
  7. Hyperfocal Focusing – To get the full scene sharp with a wide angle lens, you should focus around one third of the way into the scene with an aperture of f/16.
    Studio-Portrait---Focus-on-the-Eyes
  8. Focus on Eyes – The eyes are usually the most important feature of a portrait, so make sure you focus on eyes of your subject. This is especially important if you’re shooting with a shallow depth of field and wide aperture.
  9. Nikon ML-L3 RemoteUse a Tripod – This is the best way to ensure sharp images, especially when shooting at long shutter speeds. A monopod may be a better option for action shots to minimize camera shake but still move around fairly easily. If you don’t have a tripod or monopod, brace the camera on a solid object like a post or a wall. When all else fails you can kneel or lie down to create a more stable position.
  10. Use a Remote – For long exposures, mount your camera on a tripod and then use a remote shutter release or the self timer to avoid camera shake when you press the shutter release button. (I use the Nikon ML-L3)

What focusing tricks do you use to get super sharp images? Please share in the comments.

Stay tuned next week for lighting and colour tips.

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10 Must-Have Travel Apps For iPhone

I like to be organized when I travel to ensure I have a stress-free experience. Thankfully, there are some great travel apps for iPhone to help with this from planning a trip, to being on the ground at the destination, to connectivity with friends and family back home.

So without further ado, here are my 10 Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhone:

      • Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhoneSkyScanner SkyScanner aggregates fares from airlines and the big travel sites to find you the best deal. For the budget traveler, there’s also an option to pin your search to your start screen and keep an eye on price fluctuations.
      • XE Currency Use this free app for all your currency exchange needs while you’re on the road. XE Currency allows you to track multiple currencies at once and uses live currency rates so it’s always accurate.
      • Dropbox I use Dropbox to save all my flight, hotel and insurance information as well as any other travel related documents that I may need to access while on the road. I find this much more convenient and secure than carrying all that paper around with me. I also have my iPhone set up to back up my photos to Dropbox as soon as I connect to wi-fi. This allows for easy organizing, filtering and sharing photos from my laptop later.
      • Google Maps This is one of the most used apps on my iPhone both at home and when I travel to know where I am and where I’m going. If I know I won’t have wi-fi or mobile reception where I’m going, I simply take a screen shot of the map before I head out, just in case.
      • Trip Advisor Use Trip Advisor to check out brutally honest reviews from real people for accommodations, restaurants, activities and attractions. I’ve found this to be extremely useful in finding places that suit my wants and needs, and for avoiding places that are less than adequate. I also leave my own reviews on TripAdvisor from time to time, view my profile here.
        A secondary Trip Advisor app is the Offline City Guide, which pairs suggestions for where to visit, shop, and eat at your destination. Avoid the stress of finding a wi-fi connection by downloading offline maps for your destination. 
      • Google Translate This app was my saviour when traveling in Russia where I didn’t speak the language, nor could I read the alphabet. Simply type in what you want to say and the app will translate it to your language of choice both in text and sound through your iPhone’s speaker.
      • Kindle Don’t weigh down your luggage with books! Download your reading list for Kindle and read them on the iPhone or iPad.
      • YouTube Capture If you like instant upload gratification, use the YouTube Capture to get your travel videos uploaded to YouTube right away. You can record your video directly through the app, or upload videos from your library, edit, add music, a title and video description and then hit upload. Quick and easy! –> Subscribe to my YouTube channel!
      • Instagram If you’re like me, you take a ton of photos when you travel. Use Instagram to share your favourite photos with family, friends and followers. Customize your images using custom filter effects to create beautiful shareable photos. Instagram allows you to share your photos publicly, privately or send your pics directly to a specific user. –> Follow me on Instagram!
      • WhatsApp Messenger This cross-platform messaging app allows you to send messages, photos and video to your friends and family across the globe using wi-fi or your phones data package without any additional international texting charges.

What are some of your favourite travel apps? Please share below.

[Tweet “Simplify your travels with these 10 Must-Have Travel Apps For iPhone – #TravelTips #Apps”]

 

Photography: 10 Exposure and Camera Setting Tips

Last week’s I shared some tips about camera setup and shoot planning, this week I’ll be sharing tips about exposure and camera settings. There are some basic tips here as well as a few for more advanced photographers. I hope there’s something here you are able to learn from, and I’d love to hear any tips you might have to add in the comments below.

10 Exposure and Camera Setting Tips

  1. Exposure Bracketing – To ensure you get the shot, take two or more exposures at different shutter speeds. You can combine them later to adjust for high contrast images.
  2. Aperture Priority [A]- This setting lets you control the depth of field and then sets the appropriate shutter speed for your lighting situation. If you’re not familiar with how aperture works try taking a test shot with a wide aperture like f/4 to blur out the background, and then another of the same subject at f/16 and you’ll notice that more of the background is in focus.
  3. Camera Settings - Nikon D7000Shutter Priority [S] – Mastering this setting will allow you to control motion blur of your subjects. Try experimenting on a moving subject (I learned by sitting on the side of a busy street and shooting cars), shoot a few shots at 1/1000 sec to freeze your subject, and then try again at a much slower shutter speed like 1/15 sec to create some blur. Mastering this setting will open the door to creativity in your photography.
  4. Program Mode [P] – Many people write off program mode as an automatic point-and-shoot option, but if you don’t need a specific aperture or shutter speed, using Program frees you up to focus on composition and timing your shots.
  5. Manual Mode [M] – I use manual mode whenever I can as it gives the most control. Many cameras show you the expected result on the display, but I don’t shoot in live mode so I take a test shot and then adjust my settings as needed. You will need to have time to make any adjustments if you’re shooting in manual mode, so unless you’re super fast and intuitive with your settings, you may want to avoid manual mode for action shots.
  6. Use a Polarizer – My polarizer filter is one of my favourite accessories that I carry in my camera bag at all times. It allows you to reduce reflection as well as increase colour saturation. It also reduces light so it’s a great option for situations where you want to use longer shutter speeds or wide apertures in low light.
  7. Watch Your Display – When shooting in aperture or shutter priority modes, keep an eye on the in-camera display through the view finder. If it flashes Hi or Lo you will need to make an adjustment to your settings to ensure you get a sharp shot shot.Vancouver - False Creek
  8. Bulb Mode [B] – Use bulb mode for long exposures in low light, and make sure you use a tripod for sharp results. Bulb allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter release button. If you have a remote control for your camera, you can use it to control the shutter as well. Click once to open the shutter and click again to close it.
  9. Use and Understand the Histogram – The histogram display will give you information about your exposure. Large gaps to the far left or right indicate under or overexposure. You will gain even more information about your image exposure if you use the RGB histograms.
  10. Use a Tripod – I love night photography and long exposures, so my tripod is my best friend in those situations. Make sure you have a reliable tripod that is sturdy enough to hold the weight of your camera. I love my Jobi Gorillapod, but it’s not quite sturdy enough to safely hold my DSLR, so I use a heavier Manfrotto and save the Gorillapod for my Canon G12 point-and-shoot.

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them in the comments below.

Stay tuned next week for more photography tips, when I zero in on focusing and sharpness. 

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