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Working with you and for you to make your memories last forever.

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Monday, 24 February 2014

Destination Kelowna

There is nothing like getting away and exploring a new environment. I had the opportunity recently to take my family away to Kelowna BC for BC's Family Day weekend. Read on to hear about some of the experiences we had, from places to stay and things to do.

Starting with our accommodations. We booked with Vacation By Owner which as of the third attempt was a great success. We stayed at Playa Del Sol in Kelowna's Mission District. Now I will say dealing with VRBO was somewhat trying and we did start our adventure off by thinking we had made a mistake. When I booked the first condo I received confirmation back very quickly and 2 days after providing the information required for a contract was informed that this unit had been double booked and was not actually available. The second attempt showed the unit as available but found out quickly it was not available either. I did consider giving up all together; however the other adventures we were looking forward to in Kelowna had already been booked as of the first confirmation.

Third time is the charm. We contacted the last person and new right away we were in the right place. The owner was professional, prompt and personable. The three P's are so important to me. We accepted the contract and were off to our Kelowna adventure.

The condo we rented was a lovely 2 bedrooms plus den, but the den had been converted to a third bedroom. The master had a king size bed and the other two rooms had queens. There was even a pull-out couch if you needed it.
Kitchen was well equipped with cookware enough to create some delightful dinners including eggs Benedict for breakfast, and my wife made tasty pineapple angel food cupcakes.

When in Kelowna in the winter no trip is complete without a trip to Big White Ski Village. We went up on the Saturday and were welcomed to fantastic interior BC powdery snow and crystal blue skies. One of my sons, an avid snowboarder, allowed me to capture this shot of his expertise. Now unfortunately I missed him face planting into the snow as he missed his landing, but exploiting what your kids give you is just part of the game.

We headed to The Bull Wheel for lunch. If you get up there the two absolute musts are the lobster chowder and the best wings I've ever eaten.

We ended the holiday in Kelowna with an exceptionally competitive round of mini golf or as my youngest calls it small golf.

So there it is. A holiday in a nut shell. Get out and enjoy your time with family, friends, or whoever. Life is always what you make it so make some memories today. Oh and try to photograph some of them too.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Importance Of Backing Up

Help I was installing a new program on my computer and now I have a blue screen. What do I do? How many times have you heard this happen or maybe even had it happen to you. Read on in this week's blog to learn the importance of backing up your photos. Take some time to get it done before it's too late.

 Catastrophic failures happen every day in life. From hard drive failures on your computer to the tragedy of a house fire, and almost every time one of these unfortunate events takes place the words you hear most are "What about all my pictures." We are a very visual species and we cherish our memories that are usually immortalised in a photo or video and when we lose those we feel a great emptiness. Why is it then that we don't look after these things better?

Today's digital age is allowing options for looking after our photos that never existed to our forefathers. I use my laptop as a first copy of all my photos. I then back them up immediately onto my external hard drive that stays in my laptop bag, when not in use, so if something happens to my home then I can hopefully grab that one bag and exit my home. From there I burn my photos monthly to DVD and have two copies. One stays at my home and the other off site.

There are other options such as clouds, multiple hard drives, and others. What works for one may not work for another, a cloud for instance would not work for me due to the sheer volume of photos I would be trying to store. The important thing here is to remember have at minimum two copies of your cherished photos, you don't want to be a statistic of someone else who lost all their photographic memories.

The second part of backing up your photos is keeping them organised. One way is create a catalogue system according to shoot date. My system is to save all my photos on my laptop and external hard drive at the same time according to year_month_day_and description of the shot. You can see this below.

Another great tool is a catalogue similar to Adobe Lightroom. With this program you can attach "keywords" to the photo making it that much easier to find it in the future. There are a number of catalogue systems available on the market today so finding one that fits your budget and needs should not be a problem.

So there it is, several different ways to back up your cherished photographic memories. There is really no good excuse for not having them survive your most catastrophic failure, whatever that may be. Don't become a statistic and lose your great family memory.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Is RAW Right For You

You have your SLR Camera. You understand some of your manual settings. Now the question is what is RAW, why shoot in RAW why not just shoot in jpeg. RAW is a professional photo format right. Absolutely not. Read this week's blog to understand why shooting RAW will help you improve your photography and smooth out your editing problems.

Most SLR cameras and some higher end point and shoots allow you to shoot in jpeg format or RAW, and the biggest difference between the two formats is the amount of information that is stored. On my Canon I have the ability to shoot both at the same time which is the preference I use. The true beauty of shooting in RAW is you can control so much more of your post production work. Whenever you make adjustments to a photo in jpeg and save the file you lose just a little more information at a time, something to do with pixels being compressed. Let's face it there is nothing more frustrating than taking a photo and when you download it from the memory card you realize the white balance was a little off, or your exposure was over/under by a half stop, or any other little detail that might make the shot mediocre at best. After all you took your time, composed the shot, checked your white balance and your exposure, it should have been perfect but it's just off by a bit. In steps post production, you can see 7 Steps to Lightroom Magic for some tips. Post production is your friend and nothing makes it easier than working with a RAW file, the amount of detail that is captured and can be brought out of a photo is amazing.

This photo was taken at Harrison Lake, a place I love to wander around, and was all but lost due to the underexposure of the shot. It was a very bright back light that caused this couple, enjoying the rainy day, to become significantly underexpose. Now I realized this as soon as the shot was taken but before I could correct the problem they moved on. This is not a problem for me as I do shoot RAW and I knew that although the camera exposure sensor was tricked I could fix the photo in Lightroom and save this very candid moment. That's what the value of RAW is, saving a photo that needs just a bit of help.

There are other values to shooting RAW that I have not gotten into this week. Perhaps another time I will revisit this subject. If there is a question about the RAW vs. Jpeg please leave a comment or drop me a line.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

5 Posing Tips For Unforgetable Portaits

How many have a camera pointed at them and suddenly you feel as awkward as you were in junior high looking to ask or be asked to your first dance. Then when you see the photos you see all the negative features you hate about yourself. Read this week's blog for
5 critical tips to posing for unforgettable portraits. I will let you in on secrets that will make you look 10 years younger and 15 pounds lighter, all without Photoshop.

1) Look at what's in your closet. Colour is key; you want what you wear to compliment your background. This means looking at a colour wheel, colours that lie close to each other are considered to be balanced and peaceful. Colours that are opposite are complementary, but not always in a pleasing fashion. Blue and yellow, almost opposite create very striking images, whereas green and red can clash very heavily. Keep this in mind when selecting clothing and makeup, or outfits when taking group portraits. You will want outfits to be balanced for a better photo.

2) Hair is next, what style is best for you. Wear what is comfortable for you and don't try a new style just before your session. If you don't like your neck line change it by using your hair. This is a brilliant technique. Never use your hair to "Frame" your face, it should be over one shoulder only and usually turning your head a little to the right, showing the left side of your face gives slimmer and shorter lines.

3) How much makeup is too much? This is mostly determined by the portrait style you are wanting. Glamorous photos in evening gowns and jewels should be complimented with darker and somewhat heavier makeup. If the upcoming shoot is just a casual jeans and blouse then wearing your standard amounts with a slight enhancement of the eyes and cheeks would look superb. Again if you have challenged areas then highlight or accent the areas you like to diminish the attributes you are not crazy about. When working in the Glam realm heavy accents of eyes or lips are good but never both.

Singing Artist KAT

4) Now the question "What do I do with my arms." Nothing looks more awkward then a person standing arms hanging at their side lifeless and sometimes even stiff. If you look at yourself in the mirror standing and admiring that new dress or shoes look at your arms. They are always slightly bent or maybe even crossed. These arm stances evoke emotion and your arms give out as much expression as your eyes.

5) Finally the single most important tip I can give. Usually people try to pull away from the camera they are trying to get away from it but when you do it creates double chin, tight expressions and a very poor photo. Photographers, professional or amateur, are telling you chin up and this isn't terrible advice but this pose does not look natural and you the subject tends to look stiff. The better way is to thrust your chin out. Now I don't mean force it out to the point where you look as stiff as your chin up, just a gentle little push forward, doing this reduces double chins and smooth's lines over your whole face giving you that slim jaw and neck.

Try using some or all of these tips and you will find your portraits look more natural and unforgettable.