Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Life List: Photography and the Northern Lights

When Transun invited me to their recent #ExperienceTransun blogger event I jumped at the chance to attend, as it featured two things which feature on my life list: photography and the Northern Lights. Sadly the event didn't involve a trip to see the Northern Lights, but on the plus side it was in one of my favourite local venues, Chapter Arts Centre in Canton.

Transun offers numerous Northern Lights experience trips to the Arctic Circle of Northern Finland and Sweden. I thought that the night-time photography workshop was a really interesting way to engage bloggers and to get us all involved.

As I only have a compact camera and iphone to take photos, I arranged to borrow a camera to make sure that I could make the most of the session.

Simon the photographer who was leading the workshop has travelled around the world taking photos, including to the Northern Lights (the lucky thing!). He was fantastic (and very patient!) at handling a room full of enthusiastic but chatty bloggers!

I learned a lot during the workshop and finally understood terms like shutter speed; aperture and ISO and how you can manipulate each of these to take the best photos for the conditions and/or type of photo you want.

Here are some of the images that I took on the night. They aren't great (major understatement!). But I wasn't too disappointed given that I had never used a DSLR camera before or had much experience of taking night-time photographs. Usually any artistic-looking blurry lights are more down to luck than any creative thought process!

In addition to talking us through all of the technical settings on our cameras, Simon also gave us some top tips for taking photos if ever we do make a trip to the Northern Lights:
  • Be prepared. Apparently the freezing cold temperatures in the Arctic Circle can drain your camera batteries really quickly, so make sure that you pack a few spare batteries for your camera. Can you imagine how disappointed you would be if you were there and then your battery died before you could get some good shots?!
  • Whilst we are on the subject of what to pack for a Northern Lights trip (apart from your thermals obviously!), be sure to pack a tripod. In order to get great shots of the movement of the Northern Lights you will need a slower shutter speed which can be tricky if your hands start shaking! In the absence of a tripod I resorted to using traffic bollards when we went on our photography hunt outside Chapter.
  • Don't just take the obvious photos when you go on holiday. Think about taking photos of your journey there and where you are staying to avoid looking like you have just lifted your photos from a travel brochure! Simon also noted that often hotels and travel companies organising the trip might be interested in purchasing the images.
Although my photos weren't great on the night I am determined to keep trying the techniques out so that I can finally take some decent night-time photographs. And hopefully one day (*crosses fingers*) I will be able to put my skills to the test in the surroundings of the Northern Lights. Thereby ticking two items off my life list at once! I am even thinking of signing up for a photography course.

You can find out more about the workshop over on the Transun blog.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

How to get your wish-list for 'free'

For many years I was guilty of spending my money on lots of cheap 'fast-fashion' items as opposed to investing in pieces that would last for years to come. However over the last year or so I have been making an effort to reduce the quantity of pieces that I buy and rather invest in a few key pieces each season.

Here are some of my top tips:

1. Adopt a 'One in-One out' policy
Every time I purchase an item I now make sure that I get rid of at least one item from my closet. To me this is a win-win situation - I get more space in my closet so that I can actually see what I have in there (!) and my local Tenovus charity shop gets a donation. One of the unexpected benefits of this is that rediscovering pieces at the back of my closet can feel a bit like getting new clothes. 'New' clothes for free - what's not to love?!

2. Take a look at your closet
No, I am not suggesting that you study the construction and fixtures and fittings of your wardrobe, but rather take a long hard look at the items that you already own. Are there any 'gaps' in your wardrobe, i.e. do you have an excess of casual skirts, but are missing a high-quality smart winter coat? This works on two levels. Identify which missing pieces would really help to 'pull together' your closet. Equally, if you find that you have an excess amount of a particular item *, consider donating some of them to your local charity shop or selling them via one of the designer resale sites like Style Sequel.

* In my book numerous breton stripe tops don't count. They are a classic, and perhaps more importantly really versatile piece. If they were good enough for Coco Chanel...

Cue superfluous image of a breton top!

Image: Damsel in Dior

3. Use cashback sites where possible
Once you have identified the pieces that your wardrobe needs then why not use a cashback site such as Quidco to purchase your items. For those that don't know, Quidco is a site which gives you a percentage of your spend back. The website does this by getting an affiliate commission from the retailer. If you are going to buy an item anyway then to me it is a no-brainer to go via a site like this and get cashback on your purchase. Sometimes the sites also offer exclusive voucher codes which can help you save on your purchases.

4. Save to spend
OK I realise  that if I was very sensible then the above headline would read 'Save to save', but hey ho! I currently have my eye on a few investment pieces which are out of my budget. Therefore in my version of being frugal I am going to make sure that any earnings from putting points 2 and 3 into action are put directly into a dedicated savings account. Only once I have saved enough via this means will I invest in the pieces I want and which more importantly will last for years to come. Below is one of the items which is top of my wish-list.

Mansur Gavriel tote

Of course the ultimate wish-list item item for me would have to be this beauty - a girl can dream!

Image: Pinterest

I would love to know what your approach to purchasing the higher-priced items on your wish-list is. Are you a 'buy now, worry later' kind of girl or a 'save to spend' lady?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Save up to 75% on Etre Cecile at Brand Alley

Just a quick post to give you the heads-up on a fantastic sale over at Brand Alley. They have up to 75% off Être Cécile, the label which has gained a legion of fans amongst fashion insiders and the street-style brigade.

I love the label's humorous take on slogan t-shirts and sweatshirts. And at such a fantastic price it is the perfect opportunity to add some street-style to your closet.

If you want to grab a piece of the Être Cécile action then you better be quick. The sale ends on 10th August.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Project 78 continues.

I can't believe that it has been nearly a month since I last posted. The last 4 weeks have flown by, what with a lovely weekend with school friends in Pembrokeshire; working on my CIPR course and decorating the house (or Project 78 as I jokingly call it!). Well when I say the house, the last few weekends have been taken up with painting the lounge. We opted for a bright white to act as a contrast to my boyfriend's dark brown 3-piece leather suite. Unfortunately the room required more coats than we had anticipated, so my last 2 weekends feel like they have drowned in a sea of Dulux 'Absolute White' paint!

However, now that the painting is finally finished we were able to get the sofa etc out of storage and have a proper lounge area. The walls are white and we opted for oak floorboards. To add a bit of interest, I chose teal and orange as accent colours. It is great having all the furniture in, so now I am on the lookout for the finishing touches.

I was recently given some John Lewis gift vouchers, so I have been browsing their website to try and find what I am looking for.

As the white walls are quite stark, I am on the hunt for some colourful prints. I love typographic prints, so these two will definitely be making an appearance on my walls!

Although I love the bare floorboards, it is still nice to have something cosy underfoot. I love this watercolour rug.

Nearly all of my books have been packed up since we moved, so I can't wait to finally be able to out then all on shelves. I don't want anything too bulky, so something like this would be perfect.

I have some cool grey & cream Orla Kiely planters in the bathroom, so I am thinking that maybe I could bring some OK to the living room too. Love how the pattern on this vase is subtle, with just a hidden splash of colour.


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