Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Early Christmas Shopping + Travel Gifts

Now i'm not usually an early christmas shopper and this is partly due to me either being at uni and having no spare cash or having just got back from travelling and having no spare cash. Plus i'm just not that organised.

However, this year seems to have started differently when I spotted some pretty great things on a website called Uncommongoods.com


The instant draw was the fact the products are sustainable, organic and often recycled which is a big deal when you have a vegan sister and the possible gift ideas are massively narrowed down. Therefore, when I spotted this hummingbird garden stake I knew I had to get it for her. I found this on the Christmas gifts for women page. I was torn between this stake and a flower one but decided that the vibrant colours on the hummingbird was the best choice. I'm glad I did because it's lovely, seriously glad I got this but it is fairly delicate so a nice sheltered spot in the garden will be ideal for this.



I then spotted this gorgeous gala photo display for my mum! As with a lot of mums she's easy to buy for, a book, toiletries or chocolate are always a go too however, it's so nice to be able to get her a unique gift for once that I know no-one else will have thought of. There was also so many other Christmas gifts on this page for mums too. When this arrived I also realised that the pot at the end can be used for pens/ pencils as well as a plant (as seen on the box) which is great! and it comes with some pictures already (although these will be replaced) but it's nice to have a couple different things to play around with to start. 





I then decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present too, when looking at the Christmas gifts idea page I saw a travel section! So I obviously had to look, there was so much I wanted but I settled on this travel scratch journal to help me plan and document the next long trip I take. It has a planning journal with a diary section as well as individual scratch maps for each continent. The only down side of the is that on the North American map it doesn't have individual states so it's either scratch it all or guess the state lines for the places i've been.







Have you started Christmas shopping yet? Are there any other gift sites I should be checking out?

Basic Photo Editing with Photoshop

II have always loved photography and it is part of the reason that I did a degree and then a masters in Digital Media Production. My favourite module through my whole university career was Applied Photography. Therefore I thought i'd share a few basics for photo editing. The below photo I took at a county park near me with a Nikon D3100 DSLR camera with the kit lens.


The first thing I do is always resize the image, this would either be for a blog or social media there for 4000 pixels is way too large so I half it.





 
This makes the image a more manageable size and also helps Photoshop run faster as it doesn't have so much data to deal with. Next I edit the Hue/ Saturation, I like my images to be fairly vibrant so I up the saturation but don't touch anything else. (the short cut on a Mac is command U)



Next I edit the brightness and contrast, again I like bold colours and lightness so both go up for my image.


At this stage I decide to crop the image, one side is bordered with a tree which to me makes the image feel a bit closed, draws the eye away from what I want to focus to be on (the mountains)


A vital tool for any photo edit is sharpness, this can be done with a sharpness tool or a filter, I always apply a filter so the whole image is sharpened.



I then go in by hand to add more to the areas I want. For this image I sharpened the edges of the mountain


Next is the dodge and burn tool, dodge is for lightning and burn is for darkening areas. I wanted this image to have a mysterious look as the mountains are so looming so I used the area of the image that was already lightened by the sun coming in from that side. I increased this lightness as you can see below


I then applied the dodge tool to the trees and across the face of the mountain to make them darker and more imposing.





Below is a side by side view of the before and after.

Untitled-1

Much improved i'd say, and it only took 10 minutes. Do you use any of the same methods as me?

Things to do in Sheffield - As recommended by Twitter!

I went to Sheffield Hallam University for 4 years, 3 for my BA and one for my Masters in which I mostly lived at home due to work and a horse. Therefore, you’d think that I’d have a long list of free/ budget things to do in Sheffield however both last year while my boyfriend was finishing his 3rd year and this coming year while he is going back for his masters I’ve been at a loss for activities.

There is the standard cinema, dinner, drinks etc… but that can be done anywhere. We once tried to go to the peak district but after driving for a while with no idea where we were going we stopped and walked across a bridge before getting back in the car and going home.

Therefore, I took to Twitter for some suggestions of free things and got a lot of suggestions so thought I’d compile them into one with a few of my own.

Outdoors

Botanical Gardens 
The botanical Gardens located on Eccesall Road are full of interesting plants, a green house, café and you can also go searching for the bear…


Endcliffe Park 
I have visited this park several times while at uni for picnics and have used it to run in as well however I have never ventured much further so with the help of Twitter some routes where suggested to me


Endcliffe Park through to the forge dam

Endcliffe park to Porter Valley 
Extended with the Sheffield round walk which is a 14 mile walk that links the city’s parks and woodlands

Suggested by - @GeorgeCredland @HelpSheffield @tim_Parkinson

The Peak District!
As mentioned above the last time didn’t go well we googled walking rotes but had trouble finding anything so when @mazyMixer suggested it on Twitter I asked for suggested routes and he came through with lots of ideas!

I personally will have a car so these routes are aimed towards that but for anyone near Eccy road you can catch the 271 towards Castleton and get off at Hathersage in Hope Valley which is a small village with walking routes in the Peaks which I visited in my second year.




Indoors

Winter is approaching therefore indoor options are important!

Western Park Museum 
I have visted here before and it is an interesting place with exhibits on Sheffield life and the planet including animal models, they also have an exhibit that changes regularly. Not the biggest museum but will take up a few hours especially if you walk from the city centre area as the museum is located towards the University of Sheffield Campus



Millennium Gallery
This Gallery is located right in the city centre by the Sheffield Hallam City Campus and has lots of changing exhibits, a fun fact is that on my open day for Hallam I ate in the gallery café so it is a bit nostalgic for me. The café is on the ground floor with the exhibits above it, there are also several stalls with crafts and gifts which I always want to buy!

Peace/ Winter Gardens
Conveniently the Millennium Gallery leads right into the Peace/ Winter Gardens, which is a big green house full of tropical plants, they often have events here such as craft fairs in summer you will also find the grass areas by the fountains outside crowded with people sunbathing.


Graves Gallery
This Gallery is also located in the city centre by the Peace Gardens and is an art Gallery, they have 15 different rooms with a variety of exhibitions as well as a café.

Suggested by @margaretOT360 @GeorgeCredland 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

6 places I want to visit in Europe

Amsterdam - Netherlands

Amsterdam is definitely top of my list, I am so desperate to go here and recently tried to organise a trip with friends but dates and prices didn't match up for us so it's been put off. I would love to visit the Anne Frank house, have a classic canal picture, ride bikes while exploring the city, visit the sex museums and much more! Everyone I know that’s been has loved it so I want to experience that too!



Prague - Czech Republic

This is a city I will admit to not knowing much about but again what I do know really makes me want to visit, I get the impressions it is a quainter traditional European city with lots of culture with all its gothic architecture. The Czech Republic is also a country I’ve not visited so I would love to add it to my list





Split & Dubrovnik - Croatia


There are 2 places I’d love to visit in Croatia first being split partly just for the beaches! I've not been on a relaxing 'holiday' for a very long time, for years they've either been extended travelling, city breaks where I’m cramming everything in or drinking holidays with friends to places like Ibiza or Malia so the weather and beautiful beaches are very appealing but I would also love to see at the Roman history which there is buckets off as the city was built in the 4th century!




Secondly, I would adore to visit Dubrovnik the city is a lot newer than Split as it was completed in the 16th century but it is still packed with history including a few palaces! It is also a set for Game of Thrones! It is just another city I have heard so much about and seems to be a must do for travelling Europe.


Santorini - Greece

This one is self-explanatory! Santorini is beautiful, every picture supports this, it is such a unique city with the white buildings built up the side of the hills. I have been to Greece several times including Stalis and Malia in Crete and to Kos and know I like the culture from those trips. Greece is just such a beautiful and ancient country that I would love to see more of starting with Santorini. I feel like it is a tranquil and relaxing place with endless streets to explore!




Reykjavik - Iceland


Another classic and all for the northern lights! Seeing the northern lights would be incredible and so different from anything you can experience in other European cities, obviously to see them you must travel a little way out to get rid of the city lights. September to April are the best time to see the lights so that also means getting a winter holiday full of snow! Also, a visit to the volcanic spa and exploring the Viking history of the city would be awesome too!


What’s on your European list? Do we share any of the same places?


(All photos used are royalty free)