How to Live a More Fulfilling Life

How to Live a More Fulfilling Life

Life isn’t exactly easy. There are bills to pay, mortgages and rent, food, fuel and other things which are pretty much essential to living. These same things become more expensive every day thanks to inflation, a dwindling supply and an ever-increasing population.

I’ve found that there are many ways to make the life I’m living more fulfilling, without adding a lot of extra costs to my daily operations. Changes, both small and large, can really make a difference in one’s quality of life. So, here’s a little list of things I think might make everyone a little bit more happier.

  1. Stop telling yourself you can’t do things. The only things you really can’t do are the things you’re not prepared or fit enough to do, and you can change yourself to become prepared or fit enough, with some conviction and effort.
  2. Don’t go thinking you’re perfect, either. The world is made up of people who are proficient and deficient at some things, and you’re just one more of those people. You can always improve yourself, but don’t think you’re better than others just because of some knowledge or ability.
  3. Besides being good for you in general, living a more healthy life will certainly make you a happier person. Getting rid of excess weight, lowering bad cholesterol levels and making other changes will have you feeling better than ever, but it takes time like anything else.
  4. Stop depending on other people so much. I’m not saying you, specifically, are too dependent on others, but we all know someone who just never seem to be able to get their act together. At the end of the day, the only person you can depend on is yourself, so do more than that and count on the people around you a little less. You’re guaranteed to be disappointed less often by doing this.
  5. Knowledge really is power. The more you know, the more you can do, so keep learning. Read more, and I’m talking about books, not magazines or sports pages in a newspaper. Try things. You should be learning something new every day, even if you aren’t in school anymore.
  6. You’ve never really lost until you stop trying. Sure, you might not be able to perform a task or accomplish a feat today, but that’s just today. This kind of feeds back into the second point on this list, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your head up and keep moving forward.
  7. Happiness is a decision you make. You alone control how you feel, so you’re the one who has to stop being miserable and start smiling more often. It’s a conscious choice that must be made.
  8. Removing negative aspects of your life is always a good way to start feeling better. If it’s not something that you can easily remove, perhaps you can remove yourself from that thing instead.
  9. Adding to that, the only really important thing in life is love. It feels good and leads to a lot of good being done, so don’t be afraid to share a little more of it with the people around you. You might be surprised what you get in return.
  10. Last but not least, remember that you do have a purpose. All too often, people get caught up in the hustle of life and forget that they’re here for a reason. If you don’t know what your reason is, you can always do some soul searching and try to figure that out.
Travel Tips to France

Travel Tips to France

Recently, I made a trip to France to find great photo opportunities and take lots of great pictures. I do that sometimes; just getting up and going somewhere to photograph what I see. While I was there, I did indeed get a handful of quality shots, so I figured I would share the sites I saw and give other photographers a few ideas on what they might photograph if they happen to be in the area too.

Just about everyone knows about the Eiffel Tower, but how many people have taken good pictures of the popular French monument? The angle of a shot is one of the most important factors when taking pictures, but you can’t underestimate the effects of lighting on a finished image.

Traveling to the Eiffel Tower was easy enough. Once you’re in France, getting around isn’t much of a problem. It’s getting back out that can be an issue! After you see the sights, hear the people and try the great foods and wines to be found, you just might not want to leave. However, there are plenty of other things to photograph, so don’t get stuck.

I also recommend checking out the Mt. St. Michel Abbey, one of the largest abbeys in France and a must-see location for photographers seeking top quality shots. The place is humongous and brings to mind some of the large cathedrals and castles which dot Europe’s landscape. Germany has plenty of those, but France has far fewer opportunities to get pictures of big buildings. You may have to take the picture from quite a distance, since the Abbey is unreachable when the tide comes in and nearby water levels rise.

Many people have heard about the Catacombs running underneath France, but few have actually made the trip under the ground to get pictures of the place. I understand the reluctance to descend into a massive grave site, especially when it would be “oh, so easy” to get lost going down an unmarked path. Still, it’s one of the most significant places in France, so getting some pictures while you’re in town is just good business.

As for traveling between these sites, I did most of my moving by bus. There are plenty of taxis and cabs and that sort of thing, but the costs can mount up quickly, making traveling in this way unreasonable. For those places where public transportation doesn’t run, you’ve always got your two feet to keep you moving.

Speaking of that, I went for a walk along Normandy beach, partly to get some good pictures of the ocean and partly to see what it was like moving through the area for the Allied soldiers back in WWII. Some of those ridges are really steep, plus sand doesn’t make for a good walking surface, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like running up that beach with full kit strapped to your back. If you’re just carrying a handheld camera, it’s a much easier climb, naturally.

Introduction to Photography

While many people would agree that photography is a form of art (good photography, anyhow), I want to take some time today to tell you that there’s plenty of science behind the art. There are several terms every budding photographer should become familiar with before they go out and spend tons of money on a camera which may not fulfill their specific needs.

Like everything else, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean much better. If you’re travelling around the market for a camera, then you should be looking at the following information, not the price tag, and basing your purchasing decision on these several points.

Controlling Exposure Quality

Most cameras have timers built right into them which control how long film is exposed, usually producing quality negatives which yield legible pictures. However, to really be a great photographer, I think it’s important to get more control over the picture-taking process, from beginning to end.

Too much light will ruin an image by destroying whatever you’re looking at and giving back a bright, blank image. Too little light will make everything dark, sometimes too dark to see anything at all. This is why understanding the three underlying factors which control exposure quality can be of much help to a photographer. Knowing how to control the ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed will improve your images.

ISO

Essentially, ISO is a number on a scale which represents the sensitivity of a particular camera to lighting conditions. Upgrades in technology have made it so you’re not stuck taking a whole film roll of images in whatever lighting you’re working under – many digital camera come with ISOs which can be adjusted on the fly. While a camera’s native ISO rating can vary widely (from as little as 100 to as high as 1,500+), there’s really only one thing to take away from this:

A higher ISO rating provides better images in darker environments, but also increases the amount of grain and other artifacts which appear on the film. Low ISO ratings won’t give any images at all in low light or darkness, but will provide the highest quality images overall when the pictures are taken with enough lighting. This is because your camera has a harder time distinguishing between light and heat as the ISO rises; very technical stuff and certainly worth reading more about, but I think we should proceed.

Shutter Speed

Even amateur photographers should be familiar with this term. It is a measure of how quickly the shutter covering the lens opens and closes, during which time light can hit the camera sensor and images are actually created.

Shutter Speed and Aperture are constantly doing a balancing act. For example, let’s say that the ISO rating on a camera I’m using to take a picture remains constant, along with the lighting level in which I’m working. Under these conditions,  a larger Aperture would require a faster Shutter Speed to prevent overexposure of film, and a smaller Aperture would require a slower Shutter Speed to prevent underexposure of film. It’s a little complicated, but I’ll explain Aperture more in a moment.

If everything about the shot I’m taking is fairly constant, then the one thing Shutter Speed will still have a strong effect on is the amount of blur in the image. Generally, I stick with a speed of about 1/60th of a second, since this does a good job of eliminating any blur from my hands shaking, or movement in the image I’m trying to capture. Higher and lower Shutter Speeds have their uses, but I’ve found this to be a good speed in general.

Aperture

I’ve mentioned it a couple times now, but what exactly is Aperture? To put it simply, a camera’s Aperture is the size of the lens hole which light passes through when taking pictures. Bigger holes allow more light into the camera when the shutter is open, and vice versa. The measurement used for Aperture is called F Stops, though some photographers call the measure Stops of Light, which is the same thing.

Unlike ISO and Shutter Speed, a camera’s Aperture may be a little more difficult to adjust. That’s why you should pay special attention to this factor when shopping for a camera. Basically, a larger Aperture leads to a shorter depth of field in images, which has an effect on the focusing of elements within that image.

Depth of Field is basically just a technical way to measure the sharpness of an image. If there is a blurry background or foreground, an image is considered to have shallow depth of field, and images where everything is crisp and clear to see have a high depth of field.

Here’s a small chart to show how Aperture works:

  • f/11 to 22 or more: tiny Aperture, about the size of a pinhead.
  • f/8 to f/11: small, but not the smallest Aperture size available.
  • f/5.6 to 8: an average Aperture size, also usually the best size for taking quality pictures.
  • f/3.5 to 5.6: larger than average Aperture.
  • f/1 to 2: the largest Apertures. These allow the most light to reach the lens.

Now that I’ve explained the three major things to consider when looking for a camera, I’ll tell you what every photographer should know before they take a picture – a sort of algorithm for the clueful photographer.

  1. While paying attention to your working environment, set the ISO of your camera to the lowest possible level where you can still get good pictures. Lower ISO means less grain in your images.
  2. If possible, turn on Aperture priority mode on your camera. This will allow you to choose the Aperture and adjust shutter speeds with a switch.
  3. Consider the depth of field you want in your image. Should things be blurry or focused?
  4. Check the shutter speed to make sure it’s reasonable. You don’t want a blurry or shaky image (Or maybe you do).
  5. Finally, take that picture.

Once you’ve been doing photography for a long time, that list of checks should be like second nature to you. Until then, don’t be afraid to carry it around with you. Following those steps pretty much guarantees a better picture and fulfilling quality of life – it’s better than just aiming and shooting, so do follow them!

How I Visited Crossfit Games

How I Visited Crossfit Games

Two weeks ago I received an invitation from my childhood friend to attend the Crossfit games since he was participating in them. The Crossfit games is a nationwide competition where athletes from within this country and other countries to test their fitness abilities and a majority of game participants are Crossfit gym members. The first stage of Crossfit games is a five week competition in which people from 17 regions compete and the second stage is a three day competition. The final stage is the main competition. When I asked my friend why he enjoyed Crossfit activities and what it takes to succeed in this activity, he said that you need dedication, the right supplements, hard work and a healthy diet. He also mentioned that you need the right shoes that provide a sturdy foundation for feet.

Weightlifting Competition

One of the highlights of the Crossfit games was the weightlifting competition and it was great to see my friend do amazing weightlifting techniques in the contest. He had this huge barbell and he held it over his head for about fifteen minutes. His arm and leg muscles looked graceful and he came in third place. He was a little disappointed but I told him that I’m still proud of him.

Handstand Walk

Another interesting part of the Crossfit games was the handsstand walk contest and my friend didn’t participate in it but I was amazed at the numerous people who were involved in the contest. The handstand walk reminded me of the circus performers I would see during my travels to Europe and the circus performances there. I tried to do handstand walks myself some years ago but I’m not very good at this.

Excitement of The Crowd

It was an exciting time at the Crossfit games because the crowd was all pumped up. I heard constant handclapping and positive shouts towards participants that they knew personally. I had a blowhorn so I sounded it each time my friend was a part of certain competition within the games. Even some of the children jumped and danced around to the music that was played during the games.

My Friend Lost Weight in The Process

One benefit of Crossfit games is that you can lose weight and this is what happened to my friend after he participated in the Crossfit games some weeks later. In a letter he wrote to me he talked about how he revamped his diet by eating small portions and cutting back on refined carbs and junk food as well as sugary sodas. He has a renewed confidence that was absent years ago and I’m happy for him.

Conclusion

The Crossfit games is not just about competing for recognition and prizes; it is about testing how strong you are regarding fitness and it gives you a sense of gratification knowing that you succeeded in achieving fitness goals before the rest of the world. My friend has benefited greatly from Crossfit and he intends to attend Crossfit games in the future.

Can Modern Technology Replace Tradition?

Can Modern Technology Replace Tradition?

I was traveling through Europe looking for elegant and beautiful photography opportunities when I happened to run into a good friend of mine while strolling through the Louvre Museum. I hadn’t seen her in quite some time, so we got lunch somewhere nearby and had ourselves a nice chat about this and that. The conversation eventually turned to a question which had been bugging her for a while, a question which I couldn’t easily answer. Can modern technology replace museums?

The first answer which came to my mind was a quick “no”. First of all, how could technology emulate the effects of actually standing next to something of historical significance? Seeing it, maybe, but not actually getting the feeling of being near it, or next to it.

She told me that there are these nifty things called 3D printers. Apparently the technology is rather new, but these printers are capable of creating the likeness of something seen somewhere, on a smaller scale.

I thought that was interesting, all right. I asked her if she owned one, or knew anyone who owned one, since it was something I wanted to check out right away. Unfortunately, she didn’t.

However, she answered back with another notion: if it were possible to achieve that nearness using modern technology, then wouldn’t it effectively be enough to replace the traditional museum?

I admitted that it might. Just getting to see and study famous items from time isn’t really the same as going to a museum though. How can technology emulate that?

In response, she told me about this thing called the Oculus Rift. It’s a headset that you put on and wear while surfing the net or playing games, and it projects the images you would normally view from a distance to right in front of your eyes.

Now, I’d never heard of that, either. My friend is always finding the most interesting pieces of tech, I have to admit that. She’s a project manager at a place called Citrus, and is responsible for helping the company to complete many complicated projects all over the world.

I then asked her if she happened to own one of those Oculus things, and she told me she did. It’s quite an immersive device, she said, and surely capable of making the user feel like he or she is in the place being viewed. It would be immensely useful for a kind of virtual museum, which is what she came up with next.

You know how there are places like Wikipedia or other websites that are loaded with knowledge? Someone could do something like that with the inside of a museum, or so she suggested. I told her it sounded like a great idea, but I still wasn’t quite won over by the idea.

I asked her then, if either of us had been at home visiting some virtual museum, then how would we have met up for our little lunch? That was one question she didn’t have an answer for.