Irish eyes are smiling and here’s why

Today I’m going to dispel some of the myths of the Irish who once upon a time over a thousand years ago, fled Europe, from the Scandinavian peninsulas and from the Germanic regions, and then still later, from the British. Well, how did you guess? Most of you have, like me, seen dozens of movies in which hard-working Irishmen, over the centuries, have been cruelly mistreated by their colonial overlords on the British Isles.

There’s one myth well worth exploring about the Emerald Isles. Those of you who have an interest in Irish culture and, like me, their heritage, may want to explore this, and then leave a comment or two to either dispel or support this legend. Other than that I’m not going to say another word on this, apart from what you’re about to read here.

The legend of Patrick

Most devout Irish Catholics, and many more still who, perceptively enlightened, no longer go to church on Sundays, may be able to enthusiastically wax lyrical about this masterful tale, something for which old Irish codgers had been famous for telling. Some still do it.  Now, have you ever wondered why there’s not a single snake, symbolic of Satan in the Garden of Eden, on the island? The story goes that when St. Patrick first made his way over to Ireland, once landed and in a fit of anger, drove all the snakes into the sea, never to return again. He bypassed the Scottish Hebrides for some reason or another which is why, I suppose, the Loch Ness monster still swims about peacefully in his great lake.

Going to country fairs, even in the urban cultural centers of Galway and the nation’s capital, Dublin, is still very much a tradition, so much so that folks, young and old, and from all walks of life will be visiting a fair at least once every other month. One reviewer at the Pole Saw Report seems to believe that this preoccupation belongs in a bygone era. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Trust the Irish

And at these legendary fairs doth the drunken Irish tag along. Now that’s a myth if ever there was one. Yes, it’s true to say there was the drunken Irish, but in order to overcome their hardships, they had the perfect excuse to drown in their sorrows and for ever more wonder what the heck was meant by the next myth of the luck of the Irish.

Today’s Irish, having learnt good habits from their forefathers, are a resourceful lot. Unlike the Greeks who are still spending money like there’s no tomorrow and like it grows on trees, yet another myth, the Irish overcame austerity measures, bit the bullet and pulled their weight, so much so that now Ireland has one of the fastest growing economies of the Western world and just about every second major multinational company known to mankind wants to invest their shareholders’ dollars there. Perhaps one should be saying instead; trust the Irish.

The Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer RebellionIt was time. This writing caper was starting to be my undoing. Sitting on my ass hammering away at the keyboard and doing no exercise was adding inches to my belly and stiffness to my unused muscles. I had always been a very fit guy, playing so many sports that I had to keep a timetable to know what equipment and which uniform to put on before I dashed out the door to play.

As age takes hold of you, then the inclination to do some physical activities just for the sake of keeping fit disappears down the toilet. Older people tend to turn to more Bacchanalian pleasures that involve restaurant menus, recipes and wine lists. Oh, and don’t forget the cheese. I have to admit that I found these pastimes a lot more pleasurable than shopping for sporting equipment.

I don’t ever do things by halves. It’s always full steam ahead, like a bull at a gate. So with trying to get fit, I looked at my options, the things that I thought I might begrudgingly like. Walking? Sure, but to walk off this tummy and get a bit of fitness it meant 20 km a day. Who had time for that? Jogging? Too physical and my football knees would last maybe two days, one of them being at the medical clinic buying a knee bandage. Swimming? Yeah, worth looking at, but not in the winter. Even with a heated pool, you still had to brave the ice cold elements walking to and from the car. And a bathing costume. I would have to buy something that was both modest and stomach covering.

Most people overcome this problem I was having by signing up with the local gym. I checked it out. I met with a personal trainer there and he did a physical check on me. We went through some of the more low impact equipment there, a few weights, some treadmill stuff and specific exercises for my ailing back which sitting and writing weren’t helping. Then he suggested some boxing. I blinked twice and looked at him as if to say “You’re crazy!”

Once he explained it to me, I got a better understanding. He didn’t mean for me to jump into the ring with a wannabe Muhammad Ali, he suggested the punching bag and gave me a website on which I could research some boxing gloves that would suit the exercise. To be honest, the only time I ever wore a set of gloves was when I had a fight in the schoolyard with the local bully. The teacher made us put on gloves and go hell for leather. I remember I won because I landed an early blow to his nose. He was a prolific bleeder. Bad luck for him.

Anyway, I checked out all the equipment I would need, not a lot really, and from this website I picked a set of gloves and started going to the gym. I found hitting the bag a rather cathartic way to release daily frustrations. Who would have thought that?

Awesome Photography Tips and Tricks Around the Net

Awesome Photography Tips and Tricks Around the NetPhotography isn’t just a hobby, it is art. I personally like several different types of photography. All of them make me happy on unique way. However, photography is complicated art. There are many rules, techniques and secrets you should know before making your own, professional photos. Luckily, I found a lot of tutorials that can help you. I know, because they helped me. Here are the best tutorials I found over the years. I tried all of them and I can say, they are very efficient.

  1. A perfect black and white photo

This type of photography may look obsolete, but these photos are classic and they look like masterpieces. The first tip, you should know is that you should take photo in RAW. Making a JPEG black and white photography is possible, but there are a lot of drawbacks. If your camera doesn’t support RAW, take a color photo. Then, you can make corrections on your computer. The last tip, shoot with low ISO. In fact, the lowest is the best.

  1. Making high-speed photos

High-speed photos are special, due to the fact they show a frozen moment of some action. As you can imagine, it is hard to make this type of photo. The first thing you have to know is that shutter speed must be around 1/500 seconds in order to make this type of photo. Also, the goal is to make a photo without blur, so practice until the photos are blur-free. A good thing is that you can use sequence mode. A lot of cameras have this mode. It is used to make several photos in a very short time, so you will get at least one photo of some action that looks like it is frozen in time.

  1. Moving objects photography

Taking photos of moving objects is usually linked to sports. In order to make a photo like this, you must set up the shutter speed. Sadly, there is no answer on the question, what is the ideal shutter speed. You should experiment and see which settings can capture the most movement blur. These photos include camera movement or object movement. In both cases, a camera must be secured or you will end up with a photo that looks bad.

  1. Taking photos at night

Taking photos at night means that you must know the secret of mixed light. For example, when you are taking a photo of a city, it is recommended to find a place where you can see a lot of building lights. When you are taking a photo of a cave, use flash. The main goal is to have a proper amount of light, so it doesn’t illuminate the photo too much, but it isn’t too dark as well.

  1. Macro photography

This type of photography included taking photos of small things, so they must be enlarged, obviously. For the best photo, you should use reflex camera with a single lens. You will have to use macro lenses as well. When you have this, you can find something you want to photograph it and experiment. Pay attention to the macro lenses, because there are a lot of bad ones.

  1. Wilderness photography

When taking photos of wildlife, tips are more than useful. For example, for the best photos, you should take use early morning or afternoon hours. These are known as golden hours. Making a photo in between, will cause poor quality due to the fact the light is too strong and you cannot make a smooth photo. When taking a photo, use wider angle. It gives an idea to viewers on where the photo was taken. On the other side, when you want to focus on just one detail, don’t use this tip. This type of photography also includes movement, so you should take as more photos as you can. This also means that you are going to need a lot of internal storage.

  1. Taking a panorama photo

A panorama photo represents one photo that was made from several photos. The most important tip is to put your camera into the manual mode. This will make sure all photos have the same depth and exposure. Also, using a polarizing filter isn’t recommended, because it can change the colors on some photos, so stitching of the photos will be almost impossible. A 50mm focal lens is the best choice. You will capture more details, but you will have to take more photos.

  1. House photography

With the house photography, you must pay attention to the angle and background. In most cases, you have two choices, so try both of them. Make sure your photo has the best background possible. Maybe it sounds weird, but this type of photography requires clouds. Taking a photo on a cloudy day means that the light will be even. In addition, use RAW. You can setup white balance and make a house look better. This is trick all real estate agents use.

  1. Smoke photos

Smoke photography is the most interesting type of photography, at least for me. It is completely different and unknown type. A lot of photographs doesn’t even know how to take these photos. The secret is in incense sticks. They are cheap, but they can make smoke for a long time. In addition, they even smell nice. You can make adjustments any time you want and there is no need to rush. So, all you need to do is to use incense sticks and create some shape from smoke.

  1. High Dynamic Range (HDR)

Making HDR photos require special software. You can use Aurora HDR Pro, if you are a Mac user or Trey’s Photomatix Presets, for Windows users. This type of photography includes HD photos that capture almost all sources of light and details. These are photos that look like they were taken in the future. For most people, they are precious. The main goal of these photos is to provide the same feel of some place as when you were there. The best tip I can give you is to put your camera in the Aperture Priority mode before taking photos. The rest is easy, just use the software.

6 Photography Tips for Shooting Interiors Like a Pro

6 Photography Tips for Shooting Interiors Like a ProI was recently invited to do the photo shoot for a freshly renovated restaurant. The 80s-inspired diner has an interesting vintage design. The designer and its contractor did a perfect job. The unique and intricate detailing left me awe-struck. I wonder what tools they used for this project, I’m sure they must’ve used a reciprocating saw (much like the ones found at this website) for achieving with precision, the odd-shaped wooden custom details. With such an impeccably designed space, I’m sure I can take some incredible stills.

Having done a number of interior photography projects for different clients (mostly in the interior design and real estate industry), I understand just how important excellent interior photography is for businesses. And regardless of the industry you’re business is in (such as interior design, hospitality, restaurant, healthcare, corporate,) gorgeous photographs of indoor spaces are essential in your marketing efforts. They catch the attention of audiences and entice them to choose your service.

For freelance photographers out there, here I’ve compiled a number of tips learned from some pro photographers:

  1. Picking the best perspective

Indoor spaces will look differently when viewed from a different corner. Make sure step back, try taking stills from all corners, and see which perspective captures the indoor space at its best.

  1. Use proper lighting

You want the photo to look balanced without under-lit or over-lit spots. As much as possible, you want to use available lighting to make the photos look more genuine. Maximize the natural soft light that enters from the window. It is best to shoot late afternoon or early morning.

This video explains a little more:

  1. Wide shot

A wide angle shot allows you to capture as much of the space. To achieve a wide shot, you may need to use a lens anywhere from 16mm to 24mm. However, avoid going too wide as it can also distort the perspective.

  1. Avoid blurring

Your indoor photos must look sharp and free of blurring. Use a tripod or other stabilizing measure to make sure that the shot is untainted by any unwanted movements.

  1. Stage the space, but not too much

Make sure the photos make the indoor space look organized. If you want the space to have a certain vibe, you may need to add accessories or details. You may also need to rearrange furniture or move them around. Of course, you have to remove clutter. If the space is just newly renovated, make sure to take out unwanted items; any power tool such as a cordless reciprocating saw is included.

  1. Be versatile

Photography TipsEvery indoor space will have its unique features as well as unique purpose. Be creative and be ready to experiment. With every shoot, be mindful about what the photo is meant for or what it “sells”.

Most important of all, keep taking photos – more than you think you need. You’ll appreciate having plenty of options to choose from later on.

All You Need to Know About Door Handles

All You Need to Know About Door HandlesHi guys! Well, I recently got a pretty nice gig – photographing door handles. I had to get the perfect door handle photo so, naturally, I wanted to do some digging into door handles and their types. Here’s what I found!

Door handles are protruding devices attached to door frames as a mechanism of opening and closing the door. They can either be just fixed holding objects to push and pull the door or be connected to the door lock for the purpose of latching and unlatching the lock to open and close the door. Nothing new so far, right?

But, did you know that the use of a door handle has evolved over the years from simple door holding object to an important house decoration object; they can be made out of a variety of materials (such as cut glass, wood, brass, steel, porcelain, Victorian bronze just to name a few) to complement the general appearance of the building. Throughout the week, I suddenly started noticing door handles everywhere – taking my newspapaer, notice my neighbors handle; working out on my these awesome power racks – notice the garage door handle, etc.  So, if you’re asking yourselves by now, what are these various types of handles, well…

Some of the most common types are:

  1. Door levers –usually shaped as stick-like curved protruding handles mainly intended for unlatching the door lock’s primary latch when the lock is not closed using a key.
  2. Flush pull handles-these handles are found on sliding glass doors and are mainly used to pull the doors apart.
  3. Car door handles-these are found on vehicle doors, most of the recent car models do not have keyed door handles but most of the old vehicle designs had door handles with key holes in them. I got some nice shots of those yesterday. Sweet!
  4. Door knobs- These are cylindrical shaped door handles attached onto a door as a means of opening and closing the door. Door knobs can take various shapes such as round shaped, egg shaped and many others. They are made from various materials such as stained glass, stainless steel, vintage iron, polished chrome, polished nickel or even simple wood. I like these the best and I got the best photos out of them right after I did my daily routine on my crazy power racks from http://garagegymlife.com/

That’s what I learned about their types. Now, I also did some research into their usage – it’s all pretty basic stuff but here it is anyway:

  • Keyed entrance door knobs

All You Need to Know About Door HandlesThese are used on exterior doors, mainly because they are lockable with keys hence good for securing houses, they can be also used on interior doors especially ones with valuable contents behind them.

  • Privacy and bath door knobs

These knobs are designed in such a way that they can lock the door lock when twisted from the inside only and do not necessarily require keys. They can be used on bedroom doors, bathrooms or in any other room that requires privacy.

  • Dummy knobs

They are usually one sided knobs without a lock since they are only meant for the purpose of handling the door and not locking it. Mostly they are found on kitchen cabinet doors and clothing closet doors, however they can also be found on exterior doors especially those of large halls.

Photography around the House

Photography around the HouseSelling a house is something I hope I never have to go through. I already get enough of a headache from taking pictures for others with their own homes to sell. It’s an important part of the process to be sure, and I do well at it too, but that doesn’t mean it’s a job without some nonsense. I think it could be so stressful because the people selling the homes are stressing themselves, trying to find a buyer for their building in a market which is sometimes good, sometimes bad. I keep doing it because the pay is good, but it occurs to me that some of my clients could have taken their own pictures just as well.

Now I’m not selling myself short here. I know the value of a skilled photographer, being one who sells those same skills all the time myself. But just consider the average home for a moment. You’ve got a building with a single floor, a bathroom, a kitchen, a couple bedrooms, maybe a living room or a dining room, and that’s it. You might have a basement if you live in a place prone to tornados or get it installed specially. You might have an attic for storage space. We’re talking about fewer than a dozen rooms in total, along with some shots from the exterior of the home.

Even taking several pictures for each of these rooms along with the four sides of the home from the exterior, it only takes a couple hours to get all the pictures I need. Unless of course there are extras, like a pool or outdoor fish pond or giant aquarium with canister filter (yes, I had experience to see that!), any unique features that would really make the home stand out and attract more attention from the market. These should almost always be photographed and worked into the advertisement for the home in some way.

While it’s true that practically anyone could take these pictures, I don’t just take pictures. After sorting through the rough shots and selecting their favorite for each room and angle, I go through each client’s selections and touch up all of the photos they’ve chosen. This way they get to see all the work up front and pick the images they like the best, and I get to improve the contrast, work out any artifacts or lens flares, even out the toning and otherwise make those selections into professional quality work. That’s the part people actually pay me for, I think.

I still maintain that not every job like this which I’ve done necessarily needed me to do it. I’d feel bad if it made up a larger part of my income but since I don’t take pictures of homes for sale too often, I try not to worry about it very much. Also, it’s a lot easier than some of the other photography I’ve done – like nature shots and trying to catch animals right at the moment they decide to finally do something. That’s the kind of work that makes me stressful.

Playing with My Fat Cat Tom

Playing with My Fat Cat TomHave you ever used a laser pointer to get a cat’s attention and maybe get them active for a little while? I’ve recently been using lights to encourage my fat cat Tom to get more exercise, and they seem to be working well enough despite the fact he’s so extremely very large. I don’t know what it is about bright beams of light that so incurs the wrath of cats, dogs and other critters, but I know for a fact that when I turn on the light, Tom responds, just about every time. It’s kind of sad in a way – he’s never going to catch that little beam and I don’t think he realizes it yet.

He’s probably going to be pissed when he finally understands I’ve just been playing tricks on him all this time, so nobody tell him or anything, eh? Recently I’ve been trying to think of ways to make our old game new and fresh again for the both of us, and I think I’ve figured out something. What could be better than a single beam getting Tom’s attention and making him run all over the place? How about dozens of beams all right next to each other in a sort of array? I’m talking about LED light bars if you don’t understand.

They may not be laser pointers, but some of these LED systems are so intense they make beams of light all the same. It’s kind of cool to see when using a bar which features many different colored lights since they’re all coming from the same source but don’t block each other out or cause the shades to mingle together into different colors. So far I can’t say for sure which color of light gets Tom the most excited, but I can say without a doubt that he gets kind of overwhelmed trying to lunge at dozens of different lights, rather than the single one we’re both used to using.

It’s a shame, really. I thought we would have a lot more fun after I got my Vision X LED Light Bar and tweaked it a bit to get the different colors I was looking for, but Tom didn’t really go for it. I’m just going to stick with laser pointers in the future. However, the need to get some value out of the items I purchase drove me to repurpose my light bar and find another use for it. This was actually kind of easy since there’s a closet in my house with no light sockets inside. I just plastered this bar to the ceiling in there and things are more than bright enough now, not to mention all the colors and everything.

Well, if you take anything away from this babbling, it should be that sometimes simple solutions really are the best. Or maybe what I mean is, if you have something that works, you don’t necessarily need to fix it? I’m not really sure. Tom and I are back to using the simple laser pointer and we’re both much happier though, so I guess it’s kind of both.

Musical Instrument And IQ

Musical Instrument And IQ

Last week I met a friend of mine, while I was attending an awards ceremony. No, I was not being conferred an award instead, I was doing a photograph session of the awards for a news website. While I was clicking away, to my great surprise I saw my friend being awarded for excelling in his research work. I was stunned. He was not much of a learning geek during our school days, so seeing him winning an award certainly surprised me.

I said so to him. He said that his concentration had improved a lot since he had taken up learning the trumpet. He had bought it at http://www.trumpethub.com/ and advised me to try it too. After hearing from him about his recent accomplishments, I thought of giving it a try. But before that I wanted to know what exactly a musical instrument could do to make you smart. Here is what I found out.

Research on playing musical instrument and its effect on brain suggest that the power and shape of our brain can be changed. This change helps in improving the cognitive skills largely. Studies suggest that the IQ in kids as well as adults had increased to about seven points more.  The studies done on brains of musicians reveal that the structure and function of their brain is different from those who were not acquainted with a musical instrument.

What surprised me most was that people who were 65 years old could experience the impact of learning to play afresh for just five or six months. Since the memory and hearing control spots in our brain are related to the part that controls movements, we become active and our brain structure too changes.

For instance, a kid-learning piano could become more disciplined, attentive and even excel in planning. These qualities are essential for academic excellence. So the kid becomes brighter. And I guess this is what happened in my friend’s case.

But I also found out that there are other things that music can do besides spark the intelligent streak in you and make you smarter and accomplish greater things in life. Learning foreign languages easily is another benefit that you get. While you get your memory improved, as you learn to play a musical instrument like a trumpet, you also learn to grasp new languages by the increased verbal memory.

Musicians are also able to pick up emotions like disappointment, empathy and other such feelings more readily than the rest.  It is said that music enhances memory power, language skills and much more on which research is being done consistently. The researchers believe that the new revelations would help in rehabilitation of neuropsychological issues in a better way.

I was definitely impressed by these findings and it renewed my resolve to learn the trumpet. When I said so to my friend, he advised me to know about the right devices to buy as he had suggested earlier and other details. He even volunteered to help me out with the initial steps, so I could learn it better.