Friday, January 30, 2015

Great Football Illustrations for Super Bowl Sunday

They say, "Write what you know." Sometimes, though, when you're trying to turn the mundane aspects of your life into a blog that might be of interest in some way to other people, you have to step outside your comfort zone. Today, given a major event happening this weekend, I decided to leap a great distance beyond those boundaries.

Super Bowl Sunday is days away and the New England Patriots will be taking on the Seattle Seahawks for the championship.  When it comes to football this is what I know.  All that I know.

When I started high school,  it was brought to my attention that game days meant an afternoon off school.  The sport befuddled me, but who could resist such inducement?  I attended but never came to feel the love.

Recently  hearing this,  a colleague did her best to instruct me in the finer points of the game. And she  actually succeeded in getting me to see what the attraction might be. I came to appreciate that this is a sport not just about athleticism, but one involves tactical strategies as well.  There are those I've heard  say that the Patriots will be the ones to beat in this game because they have  implemented strategies in such a way as to take play to a whole new level.  The real trick has been knowing the rules and how to exploit them, my experts have told me.

Well, what I know about the rules of football could be printed on a single cleat, but it does seem me that it's strategy that  makes the game so exciting for so many.  Well, that and the tight pants.

So, in recognition of the Super Bowl, the players and all of the people who will spend hours in front of the television on Sunday here are some terrific football illustrations from, and

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tips for Taking Great Romantic Photographs

Romance is an important part of any successful relationship. At least it is to my mind.  Finding the time to fit it in, of course, is often easier said than done. Between work schedules, appointments, family, and other social commitments there is very little spare time to dedicate to nurturing the bond between you and the person with whom you have chosen to spend your life.

These thoughts ran through my mind last night as my honey and I finally plopped down in front of the television sometime around the time we probably would have been better served going to sleep. Exhausted, we spent a couple of minutes trying to connect before turning our bleary-eyed gaze to lose ourselves in mindless entertainment. As I stared at the screen, my mind strayed to the daydream of time for a quiet leisurely dinner,  long, meaningful conversation, and being close.

Perhaps it's the fact that we're racing towards Valentine's Day that has my brain wandering down this idealistic path. It is a time when love and romance are everywhere, in images of couples embracing, cards full of hearts and flowers. It's a chosen time for engagements and getaways.

For photographers, whether their work is geared to business or people, it's a time for getting photos that speak to the romantic in all of us. Portrait photographers are called upon for engagement photos, while those who deal more with commercial photography find ways to put romance in the everyday for promotional projects.

If you're looking for insight on how to take romantic pictures here are some tips from a number of online sources:

Tips for Well-Lit Properly-Posed Romantic Photos

How to Take Romantic Portraits

How to Take Stunning Romantic Photos

How to Take Romantic Pictures

Tips for Taking Romantic Sunset Photos

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thousands of Valentine Illustrations

It was grocery shopping day and as I sauntered past the produce, dairy and meat, between the rows of  packaged goods and toiletries, and shivered my way along the frozen food section,  my mind was full of my bare cupboards and what was needed to replenish them. Rounding a corner, however, I was distracted by a display rack.

While not especially eye-catching,  its hues of red and pink, visions of flowers and hearts shouted out a reminder to me that Valentine's Day is only a few short weeks away. 

Now, my sweetie and I might not make a big deal out of this highly-commercial occasion, but we don't ignore it either. A chance to remind ourselves to not take what we have for granted and be a little romantic in this busy world in which we live, is not a bad thing.  It only takes a bit of effort to sign a card and attach it to some chocolates, flowers or, if honey's feeling particularly generous, jewellery.

The starting point is typically finding the 'right' card, the one expressing just the right sentiment and tone. This selection of cards, however,  didn't speak to any of the feelings I have more my guy.  Or if they came close the design held no appeal. It's the reason that I have occasionally taken a little extra effort and simply created my own Valentine.

The starting point for this, of course is always a perfect illustration. A look recently at one of my favourite online subscription graphics services revealed a huge inventory of Valentines. Here is just one collection which I selected because I think it's absolutely adorable:

Some of my other choices for places to find great Valentine images are:

Acclaim Images


ClickArt Online


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cool Photography Gadgets

I enjoy taking pictures. My focus is generally family first. Then when they're not around or the scenery is spectacular enough to grab my attention away from them for a second or so, nature.

At this point in my life, busy as I am still with gainful employment and few spare hours, my interest in photography is a somewhat passive hobby, one of little investment or educational nurturing. I own what I own and achieve what I can.  While my very nice Canon with its basic lens has  effectively handled the photos of kids and grandkids so far,  flora and fauna has been more of a challenge. As a result I've been thinking a bit about adding a telephoto zoom to my limited equipment.

Spare time these days then is spent researching, comparing and thinking so that when I finally make the decision I feel confident it's been the right one for my needs. Do I require something for low light? How much zoom will do? Does the use justify the price?

Needless to say, there has been a bit of shopping around websites to learn the answer to these and other questions. Which means that besides looking at what I want, I'm discovering a variety of other interesting gadgets, even a few that might be worth future consideration when retirement inspires me to pursue this hobby less passively.

Here is a sampling of what I've discovered:

Gadgets for Photographers

Creative Gadgets for Photography Lovers

Coolest Photography Gadgets

Must Have Gadgets

iPhone Camera Gadgets

Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Choose Your First Camera Lens

There's one thing that keeps me sane during the winter — thinking about spring and summer. And one of the biggest mind-wandering fixations is daydreaming about our annual vacation to the gorgeous French River.

This is a place where only the sound of serenity breaks the silence. It's a world without cellphones and internet, television or radio.   It's a restful example of Mother Nature's handiest work, a backdrop to cure the ills caused by the insanity of this fast-paced world in which most of us are living.

Thus it is too, a perfect place for me to hone my photography skills. With virtually no distraction from modern technology,  I am, to pass the time,  at ease to wander the woods and ride the river in search of something beyond my usual family shots. 

The results over the years have generally satisfied me.  Let's face it, the landscape pretty much guarantees success at some level. However, last year I realized that unless I'm going to be content to keep taking the same photos over and over, I will need to up my game. While I have a perfectly nice camera, there are limitations.  For example, there was no way we could get out boat close enough to the majestic crane standing at the water's edge, for me to get the type of photo I was so desperately wanting.

So, with the weeks of winter lessening, it's time to start preparing. A little research turned up helpful information from a variety of sources, for comparison purposes, that  I'd like to share here:

Camera Lens Buying Guide

The First Canon Lens You Should Buy

Choose the Perfect Lens for Your First DLSR

What Camera Lens Should You Buy First?

First Nikon Lens?

DSLR Lenses You Need and Crave

The Best Inexpensive Canon Lenses

A Simple Guide to Choosing Your First Lens