Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Advanced Search Options Help You Find Your Way Around Clipart Sites

Clipart image of a businessman looking through a magnifying glassIt doesn't come without its problems but among the more positive aspects of the internet, when used wisely and with good intent,  is the fact that it allows us to find things — from people and places to information and pictures.

While taken at face value,  it can be somewhat off-putting to realize anyone can track us down on the world-wide web if they want. However, the discovery of long-lost friends, I can attest to personally, is a real gift. I have re-connected through social media with chums from elementary school as well as from other aspects of my past life and established even stronger ties as an adult.

We can find our way with Google maps, etc. We get answers to questions that in the moment really feel must be answered. Of course, in doing so, we hopefully exercise the necessary due diligence to ensure what we have read is accurate, through further research on reputable websites to confirm it.

It's the picture part I mentioned earlier, though, that I'm going to focus on a bit more. Primarily because that is the industry in which I work.  Finding images for projects, whether they are for professional use as in presentations and worksheets or for personal projects such as scrapbooking, embroidery, invitations, etc., has never been so easy thanks to the internet. However, while free is tempting, it is advised that you be cautious when looking for images. For example, many 'free' ones  will carry a headsup  in tiny print warning that the image you're using could be subject to copyright.

The best way to find high-quality, virus-free content, that will also not lead you into a copyright issue, is to purchase them from a reputable site such as iCLIPART.com, iPHOTOS.com or Clipart.com. You can buy a subscription or individual image to use in projects, royalty-free. There are no additional fees or credits.

The other benefit is the diversity of the massive content available. With millions of images in the inventories, there should be something for every need, style or taste.  Typically, a simple keyword search will help you find exactly what you want.

However, the Advanced Search options are wonderful tools to help you narrow the field when necessary.  Regardless of what website you choose,  check for them and see what they offer. For the sake of example we're going to take a little stroll through the options on iCLIPART.com.
Let's assume that I want a simple colour illustration of an ordinary guy, just standing still. Sometimes it's best to try a lot of keywords, but you want to be careful too not to limit yourself too much. I've opted for our purposes here to start simply. Using just the word 'man' in the search box to begin with I knew would bring oodles of results, 124,505 to be exact.

Eliminating 'Santa', 'Christmas', 'hockey', 'sports', 'player', 'band', 'music', 'entertainment', 'cop', 'woman' and 'occupations' based on some of the images I saw that I knew I didn't want, as well as 'animal' and 'monkey',  because there are occasionally  random examples,  significantly decreased the choices.

Clicking off the B&W option also dropped the selections by thousands.

Next I selected the category 'People' which again make a significant difference in the number of results.  However, there were still plenty to wade through so I thought I would add the word stand to the initial keyword of man, which then brought me to 611 results.  Which included the winner – right in the top row.
Keywording is a human science and therefore open to interpretation as well as human error. It is, therefore,  prudent to try a few options when searching. As mentioned, sometimes the path is through a single word; other times as the best thing is to use as many keywords as you can consider.  Just remember that the Advanced Search options are well worth the extra steps and can eliminate any sense of being overwhelmed by what you see.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Get Great Summer Photos With These Fantastic Tips

Clipart image of a woman standing in the water at a beach
"The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing." — Dan Simmons, Drood

Paints a lovely picture doesn't it? Summertime. Such a beautiful season. Sunshine burns in azure skies. Lightning streaks across dark broody nights and heavens open to douse us with refreshing rain.  Melodious birdsong is carried on gentle breezes that kiss our heated skin, and make garden flowers dance and sway.

Finding words to evoke the essence of summer, such as those written by Mr. Simmons, is a talent. Capturing it effectively in art and photography also requires creativity and technique. Summer is more than a season — it's a feeling, a lifestyle, an energy. It takes more than a camera or paintbrush and easel to show it.

When it comes to art, there's no hope for me. As a photographer, however, I am a little more positive about my capabilities. While I'm unlikely to reach the end of the path to perfection,  I do  possess a modicum of talent for the medium. My skills were first honed in my 20 years as editor of a community newspaper, where the jobs of reporter and photographer were as much a part of my role as the more logical duties.  My efforts were generally acceptable, occasionally worthy of compliment. My interest was piqued.

When digital cameras came on the scene, I was quick to rush out and get one for myself, ready to take on the latest technology. Equally swift was the move to update when I realized the initial purchase didn't quite meet my needs.

Since then, I've squeezed in some tutorials between work hours and am eager to continue improving my skills. Currently my favourite subjects are my precious grandchildren.  I never get tired of taking pictures of those darling faces.

However, of late, I've increasingly noticed a renewed interest too in the landscape around me.  This was inspired, I believe, by our first trip to the picturesque French River,  where trees soar and quiet and calm surrounds you.  With little to do but commune with nature, I found myself drawn to the verdant greenery, the lazy waters, rushing rapids and divine sunsets as photo subjects.

Having caught up with an old friend recently, who is avidly pursuing her interest in photography, I was cajoled into coming out to her camera club. Given my plans for the future it seemed a more than sensible suggestion.

Among the assignments is capturing the essence of summer. While the professionals and amateurs that attend the groups are there with ideas and suggestions to help, there are also many ideas for inspiration to be found on the internet. Here's a random sampling:

The Ultimate Summer Photo Ideas

10 Summer Photography Tips

Must Take Summer Photo Ideas

The Do's and Don't's of Summer Photography

6 Tips for Great Summer Photos

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Celebrate Summer, its Pleasure, Ease and Vacations with Vital Imagery Clipart

Clipart Image of a Woman Sitting on the Sand by the Sea
"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."

While comedy writer Robert Orben has succinctly described the pleasure of a break from work I'd have to say that this quote as a general overview might be somewhat of an oversimplification. At least when little ones are involved.

My husband and I recently returned from a lovely week at lake country, accompanied for most of it by two of our grandchildren, ages five and three.  You can well imagine, therefore, that there was plenty to do. Though nothing was exactly scheduled, there was never a moment for just doing nothing.

Most mornings began in a flurry of activity, as the little ones were scuttled in to the washroom, then guided to the dinner table with discussions already underway on what was on the menu for breakfast that day.  Then, while they fueled up, Grandma and Papa got suited up for a day at the beach before digging out tiny swimsuits, towels, buckets, pails, sunscreen, snacks and drinks and packing them up in antipation of hours of sand and surf.
Clipart Image of Two Children Playing in the Sand at the Beach

When not at the beach, we filled time with bike and trike rides, walks, visits, meals and cleanup. So, really never any shortage of things to do.  However, what made this vacation, and most others, awesome, is that we did indeed have the whole day in which to do all the fun stuff.

Since our little guests were picked up by Mom and Dad before the weekend began,  though it granted Grandma and Papa a couple of days stretching before them, without goals to be reached or tasks to be accomplished. There were no plans, no schedules and no notion of what might be coming. We spent what was left of our vacation completely at ease, not in search of opportunities for entertainment, but taking them when they arose.  It was enough to appreciate the vacation experience as described by Mr. Orben.

Clipart Image of a Book at the Beach
Having worked for longer than I care to think about, I'm never eager to fill a vacation with activities. A good book on a quiet beach, a glass of wine while ensconced in a deck chair by the water, a cold drink on a sunny sidewalk café — these are the idylls I choose to pursue when I leave my desk and computer behind.  Lazy mornings and quiet long breakfasts are the perfect start to a vacation day.  Nights under starry skies by the blazing heat of a campfire ease me to a gentle sleep.

There are always things to see and do, but these are taken at my leisure, when solitude and sitting have lost their appeal.  Easy hikes, informative tours, shopping provide mental, social and physical stimulation between the times of respite.

The word vacation isn't synonymous with any particular season — when the weather is cold people seek comfort in warmer climes. In this corner of the world, we check out colourful autumn landscapes or seek out snowy ski hills as spring revisits. But it's summer for most of us in the north that offers the best opportunities for doing nothing all day long. Kids are out of school and Mom and Dad are ready for a change of pace.

We celebrate the pleasures of summer, the easier life it offers and vacation time with two great clipart collections:

Clipart.com Summer Vacation Images

iCLIPART.com Summer Vacation Images

Friday, July 7, 2017

Check Out These 85 Engaging Summer Family Fun Photos

Photo of a Family Dining Al Fresco
The end result of this blog is going to be to share with you some photos. The selection today does perhaps target a fairly specific audience, but given that it's Friday, the celebratory end of the work week and an early summer one to boot, the topic seems a great one to highlight.

As is often the case, I'm inspired by recent events in my life. With some vacation days to enjoy,  I've been able to slot in extra visits, meaning time with family, good food and the beautiful outdoors. These have been, and will be,  memories created. They will exemplify everything that's perfect about summer — loved ones together to party in the sunshine with copious amounts drink and good food, music and games.

The first bit of fun earlier this week eased us in to party mode. It was our annual birthday tradition with our firstborn. A craft beer afficionada,  each year around July 2, he tours us around the city to new and favourite breweries. There the purpose is simple.  We sample and savour — the flavours a rare afternoon together.

This time we found ourselves at one of the newer brew houses, located right in the heart of downtown, where we parked ourselves by the inviting sunlight streaming into  the large front window.  From here, after tantalizing our taste buds with a couple of offerings on the menu,  we enjoyed a walk of some distance to an eatery, known for his plethora of cocktails. With the windowed facade rolled up we enjoyed fresh air and a patio vibe. Sixties tunes, always a great summer feeling, floated across the room at just the right volume to not inhibit conversation.

After a simple but delectable meal, we headed off to the patio of a local coffee house for dessert where we soaked up more of the summer in the city energy and continued discussions on everything from music to politics.  Then delightfully sated we decided to stride off some of those calories with a walk through a local park before heading to a pub to listen to tunes.

While this was a leisurely bit of socializing on an intimate level, an event set for this weekend is all about excess — more family, more food, more fun.  Sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, children and grandchildren are converging for our annual picnic.  We are a small but raucous bunch and in keeping with our German genetics create an atmosphere of  Gemütlichkeit.
Photo of a Family Barbecuing
What the point of all this has been is to reflect on the aspect of summer life that is defined by time spent outside with the people we want to be with.  Whether we gather at picnics or parties, whether our gatherings are spent in quiet conversation or boisterous adventures, there is nothing nicer than when those times include the people, whether they be family by blood or intimacy,  who know us best.  These moments, like summer, are sunshine, laughter and music.

So in celebration of special occasions and of sharing them with our loved ones, I've put together this terrific collection of photos from iPHOTOS.com Whether it's time at the beach, the cottage, the garden or partying you can find it all in this collection of  85 Family/Friends Summer Fun Photos from iPHOTOS.com

Friday, June 30, 2017

You Can Take Car Photos Like a Pro Thanks to These Helpful Tips

Clipart Image of a Girl Taking a Picture of a Car
"Cars and cameras are the two things I let myself be materialistic about. I don't care about other stuff." Louis C.K.

The American comic doesn't say whether he ever combines his two passions. If he does however, it's a terrific, but tricky hobby that presents some unique challenges.  Sun sparkling off shiny bodies can turn a much-admired colour into something unrecognizable.  Also, given that those same gleaming beauties reflect everything nearby, it's quite easy to find yourself or some other unwanted subject in the shot.

And if it's action you're looking for in your photographs, cars will bring it on. Then it's up to the photographer to do the sport justice.

While unlike Mr. CK my materialism doesn't run to photography equipment, I do believe at the least that a good camera is a worthy indulgence. An amateur shutterbug, I enjoy taking pictures of the beautiful world surrounding me, and of the cherished faces of my family.  Annual trips with my daughter and her little ones provide me with a plethora of opportunities, — shiny, happy faces that light my life, and gorgeous landscapes that soothe my soul.

These are the pictures I work to perfect.

There is, however, another subject that has been the target of my lens in the summers of the past several years.  She's glorious, fun to be around and gets a lot of attention.

Way back in 1979,  my husband was looking to purchase an older Mopar, something reminiscent of the ones his big brothers owned while he was a young teen waiting to get his licence. When he learned about a white 1967 Dodge Coronet RT, located only an hour away from our home, he decided to go check it out.

Excited by what he saw, he bought it that day and agreed to pick it up in the coming weeks. Fate dealt us a fair hand on this one since the day after he brought 'Artie' home, a tornado blew in and flattened the entire area where this car had been sitting.  It reinforced the notion that this was going to be a special car for us.

Having decided that the white really didn't do justice to the personality of our beauty,  we handed the car over to my father's body shop where a snappy red was applied. For a few years after that we enjoyed summer cruises, until my husband decided he'd like to make this a project. This time she was stripped bare and painstakingly restored as close to original as possible. Then ten long years later Artie was finally back on the road.

Every spring now I wait impatiently to bring her home from storage and get her ready for a season ahead.  For a few months she takes us to cruise nights and attends car shows. Weather permitting, of course. In becoming a classic treasure she now commands respect and a lot of pampering.

For the few months she's with us every year, I try to take some new pictures, ones that do justice to the work that was done on her, particularly the paint job. My husband spent a great deal of time ensuring that the shade of red was as close to factory as possible. Pretty pleased with the results,  you can literally feel the grimace when it comes out wrong in a photo.

After noticing the differences in'Artie's' hue in a series of pictures recently I decided it was time to refresh my memory on how to get more consistent results.  The following also provide other valuable tips on how to improve you car photography:

10 Tips for Perfect Car Photos

Digital Photography School's Tips for Better Car Photos

How to Take Photographs of Cars

Take Great iPhone Photos of Cars

10 Creative Car Photography Tips

How to Shoot Cars

10 Tips for Your First Outdoor Car Shoot

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

You're Sure to Love These 6 Super Fun Sticker Packs from Animation Factory

Clipart Image of a Little Girl Texting
I'm not a youngster.  I was actually born when people still listened to 45s, when a bottle of pop could be had for a dime.

I was even born before most homes had rotary phones.  The operator hooked us up with the person we wanted to reach. If you lived in the country, as my cousins did, you were probably on a 'party' line, which meant you not only waited for someone in your own house to get off the phone, you could potentially find yourself waiting for a neighbour to end a call before you could make your own.

We got three channels on our television and Dad's fiddling with the rabbit ears hopefully got rid of most of the snow on the screen.  If I wanted to play games I went outside or sat at a table with a board, die and tokens.

With the advancements in technology, life has certainly changed from those times for all of us, particularly in the last few decades. The internet has opened doors of communication that many people, especially those of my generation and older, couldn't have imagined.

Despite certain issues social media, we all know it has its benefits, most notably in how it has connected us to others. Think of the 75-year-old gentlemen who lost his fishing partner and posted a request for a companion to accompany him on his angling adventures. The response was huge and what could have turned into a lonely existence suddenly meant a continued fulfilling life.

Think too, of the posts of lost pets, and more importantly missing children. Whether you like it or not, there's no denying that used as intended,  social media is an indispensable tool.

New technologies too have brought us all kinds of 'toys'. GPSs instantly come to mind. When I think of the days when my husband and I would travel to unknown places, a map spread out on my lap in the passenger's seat, and a wrong turn or squabble imminent.   Now some friendly voice patiently guides us, remaining calm when we opt to not listen.

Cellphones have made landlines almost extinct, though a few dinosaurs likes my husband still hang on. The positive attributes of this technology are as known as the less so. Sadly, we've all had that dinner with a friend who seems far more interested in that phone than in conversation with you.

Putting the negatives aside, however, I'm a big fan of most of this. Social media has linked me to family and old friends in a way that wasn't possible before. And the convenience of texting,  while at times annoying,  is undeniable. Message sent, get to it when you can.  The ball, as we say, is in your court.

One of my favourite texters is my four-year-old granddaughter. Since she can't spell enough yet to carry on much of a conversation, she chats in her own style — with oodles and oodles of stickers.  From her favourite 'neigh'neighs' to hearts and smiley faces she inundates me with adorableness.

Since Mom and Dad just happen to have iPhones, I can hardly wait to tell them about the new stickers available on iTunes created from Vital Imagery Ltd's AnimationFactory.com. From Animal Chores to special holidays, there are a number of categories from which to choose delightful stickers to enhance  iMessages.  It's as easy as a touch or a drag.
Clipart Image of a Friday Feeling Animated Sticker Pack

There are still a few days to get through before you get to enjoy that Friday Feeling, but this sticker pack can get you in the mood.

Cat lovers are sure to have some fun with this purr-fect sticker pack from Animation Factory
Clipart Image of a Girls Rock Baseball Animated Sticker Pack

Terrific sticker pack from Animation Factory for all the girls in the game.

Clipart Image of a Baseball Sticker Pack from Animation Factory

For the love of the game and summer Vital Imagery Ltd., celebrates baseball with this great animated sticker pack.

Clipart Image of a Camping Animated Sticker Pack
Camping season is here and so is this adorable animated sticker pack.
Clipart Image of a Dog's Life Animated Sticker Pack
Who doesn't love pooches?  This delightful sticker pack from Animation Factory celebrates man's best friends. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

See the Golden Years Here in All Its Glory With 2 Amazing Retirement Clipart Collections

Clipart Image of a Senior Couple Golfing
"Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing." — Oliver Wendall Holmes

Summer has arrived. Days are longer, temperatures higher. The sun shines brighter against the azure skies, while campfires cast a glow on starry nights. Life is easier, stress lower. The shorter hours of darkness give us time to do more, to pursue more, to complete more.

Amidst the clamour of this busy, busy world it's as if we have suddenly earned moments to kick back and relax. Work is shifted, or even dropped, for a round or two of golf.  Weekend chores are put on hold as we head off to the beach.  We give ourselves that one extra chapter in the book,  one more morning coffee. It's like a hint of what life will be like when we can leave behind the toil of the workaday world.

Having reached a certain age the notion of retirement has presented itself on occasion in recent months.  It's a word I've heard attached to negative connotations by a few others, who fear the notion of a life unfulfilled, of long days with nothing to do.  Personally I can't imagine it. Though gainful employment might be gone, I, like Oliver Wendall Holmes, love to play and doubt I'll be quitting that any time soon. Extra time in which to do it  can only be a good thing to my mind.

I look to my parents too and the joy they found in their 'golden' years.  They were fortunate and retired early, both of them by their mid-50s. They spent summers at their vacation spot in a popular lakeside resort town.  My father took up golfing and enjoyed endless hours on the links with his friends and grandsons.

My mother, who defined the term social butterfly, made it her personal mission to become acquainted with everyone she met. Her place became the one for coffee breaks with homemade treats, for knitting and crocheting lessons.  Moments without conversation were whiled away in the kitchen where she pursued her love of baking,  before the TV, knitting needles in hand while watching her favourite soap, or walking, where she typically made at least one new friend.

Summer evenings were spent with drinks at campfires or in a friendly game of cards when rainy skies shooed them indoors.

Winters, for many years, meant weekend dances at their favourite haunt. Drinks and cards at the Legion, coffee chats at local restaurants were just some of the activities that kept them moving. For a long, long time they celebrated retirement and played. Well.

So unlike some people I'm not remotely fearful of the word retirement. It is to me synonymous with useful leisure. In another recent blog, I spoke of retirement and of the interests I might pursue. Because then there will be time. I can't see anything negative about that.

The majority of retirees that I know are active, fun-loving and ready to go. They travel, seeing the world and learning about new cultures. They volunteer, able now to pursue selfless activities that interest them. They socialize, able to fit in those visits that they've long had to put on hold. And, yes, they play any way they can — golfing, bowling, dancing, and on and on.

You can see every element of retirement and its possibilities, including some humorous takes on the topic,  with these terrific clipart collections:

Clipart Image of a Retired Couple Walking on the Beach

Clipart Image of a Senior Golfer Talking to a Mechanic With an Empty Speech Bubble