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:

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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.

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Introduction to Photography

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.


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.

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A Karaoke Break

A Karaoke Break

I travel a lot in my line of work, moving to different cities, countries and even continents across the world gives me plenty of opportunities to take some breathtaking shots just while I’m in transit, too. But like everyone else I’m sure, I do like to get up and stretch my legs after a long bus, boat or plane trip. Recently I was in Japan for a project and I have to say, that’s quite the place to stretch one’s legs. The bigger cities, like Tokyo, never seem to sleep – they’re as lively in the middle of the night as they are around noon.

I was actually there on business, to get some captivating images of that lively night life I described above. I don’t know what it is about flashing lights, neon and low light, but they turn the heads of people and demand attention when they are seen. Naturally, to get these late night images, I had to be up and working after the sun had gone down. I’m not used to such hours to be honest, and after finding my feet aching from walking up and down the streets with my head tilted toward the sky, I decided to step into one of the man buildings for a bite to eat.

What I got was more than just food; it was a kind of karaoke break since, by luck, I happened upon a karaoke bar. There was good food, good drinks and even some good music too, despite the fact most of the men and women singing had already imbibed a bit much. It’s amazing to me how popular music from the United States is in Japan and I heard plenty of songs from the other side of the world, mixed in with more localized fare as they were. It was a display about as colorful as the sign-lit night outside and I did enjoy myself.

I even managed to get a few pictures of some of the patrons while I was there, and that brings something to my mind I feel like I ought to share. There are different laws about public photography in different countries and different parts of the world. It could be illegal to take pictures of people, places or things without consent, either verbal or written, depending on where you are. For instance, throughout Central America, taking unsolicited pictures of children throws up a lot of red flags and brings up concerns over crimes like kidnapping.

I’m not saying everywhere is unsafe for photography, but that if you find yourself in the middle of a strange place with a camera dangling from a loop wrapped around your neck, you might want to figure out where you are and how they feel about photography before you start taking pictures. You might be somewhere attitudes are easy, a place where you could have a meal and get a couple good shots of people having a good time; you might be somewhere else where your camera could land you in a cell.

Real Estate Photography

Real Estate Photography

Sometimes I’m not looking for the best light in which to catch a person’s portrait, or amazing sights around the globe which are inherently worthy of being photographed. Sometimes I’m just taking pictures of homes or buildings around town to make a little extra money in the real estate business. Realtors are always looking for flattering photos of the properties they want to sell and sometimes I take a little piece of that pie. All the concepts and principles behind professional photography are still necessary for this kind of work – lighting, angles, time of day, filtering, lens quality and other factors all matter.

The last home I took pictures of happened to have a pool and that was where the realtor wanted me to get a number of my shots; from some angle including a view of the pool. The building itself was two floors tall, so I was able to get a number of aerial style shots showing off the backyard from up above. Of course, there is much more about any house which you must show with pictures to give viewers an accurate image. The bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room and basement storage space all needed pictures, several at that.

Overall, the job took between two and three hours to finish. It involved getting multiple images of every aspect of the home, then going through the pictures I’d taken to look for the best in each particular set. I won’t say it was as exciting as some of the work I’ve done, but it’s nice at times to get down to the nitty gritty so to speak. It is photography, pure and simple, and that’s probably why I enjoy doing it so much, even if the subject matter can get, well, repetitive. While the job wasn’t very exciting, it also wasn’t very difficult, which was a nice change of pace.

Getting back to the point I’m trying to make, we rely on photography a lot, every day. It’s something many of us take for granted but when you consider we are visual creatures who rely on our eyes more than any other sense we possess, that we take it for granted in the first place is not very surprising. Visual aids can help regardless of what you’re trying to explain to a person. Do you want to describe the interior of a home, or the appearance of a beach, or the makeup of your last evening meal? Often, pictures relate information better than even words can.

That’s not to say there aren’t some compelling writers out there – there are those who can paint pictures with their words still more vivid than something literally painted by another. But, as a people, we do all rely on our eyes more than other senses. I suppose that’s why photography is such a popular way to pass time. I mean, it’s easy enough to understand why there are so many amateur photographers out there when we can all see, right? Anyhow, hopefully my next project is something a little more intensive.

Birthday Boy and Combat Boots

Birthday Boy and Combat Boots

So, preparations for my son’s birthday are in full force. We are having a smaller party, but we will be having some of our family in town for the first time in a long time. They are coming especially for the party and to see my boy, so I want this event to be as nice as possible. It will be in the backyard since the weather is still okay, and we will have grilled chicken and hamburgers along with potato salad and the chocolate cake and ice cream.

My son recently asked me for a pair of combat boots for part his upcoming birthday gift. He is becoming a really athletic type of young man and I am used to requests for sports equipment, but I admit that I found it to be a pretty unusual request. So, I asked why, and in typical teenager style he answered something along the lines of, “Because they look cool.” Well, I guess that it’s reason enough in the end.

Of course, if that’s what he wants I am happy to get them for him, since there doesn’t seem to be any harm in owning a pair of army boots. So, I spent all of yesterday trying to find him the perfect pair on I guess that I always assumed that there was one style of military issued boot and that it would be a piece of cake to buy him something, but boy was I wrong about that. There are so many different types of combat boots to choose from apparently. I really had no idea that there were so many styles of boots.

Thinking about it, I actually like that there are so many types of combat boots. It means that my son can still express his individuality while he is wearing them. I like to think that I know my son well, and I tried to choose a pair that suited his tastes, and  I came up with a pair that I really think he will like. The boots that I decided on are Altama OD Jungle boots. They seem like a perfect match for his personality and sense of style, and even I like how they look. They came to the door today, and I have to admit that I also really impressed at how durable they seem in person.

I still have to wrap them and hide them with his other presents, but this is the last of the big purchases. I’m very happy that the shopping is over. All I really have to do now is get the house ready for weekend guests and decorate and do the cooking on the day of the party. This shouldn’t be too hard. I really expect it to be a great day with the family. I hope that he likes his gift, but I am pretty sure that he will. He did ask for it after all!

Getting to the Bottom of Boots

Getting to the Bottom of Boots

I am always up and about with my job as a photographer. This means that I have to stay on my feet for long stretches almost every day. At a certain point in my professional career, I knew a lot about camera lenses and lighting, but nearly nothing about how to take care of myself. I was getting run down and suffering from all sorts of foot and back pain from standing and carrying around heavy equipment. It really got to a point where it was terribly painful, and I had to go to a podiatrist for help. He gave me good advice. It helped, but I still had persistent foot pain.

Eventually, I wised up and realized it all came down to the shoes that I was wearing. They seemed like they should be comfortable, but they were heavy and did not support my feet well. The problem was that I didn’t know where to turn to find a good pair of shoes. Every brand and style I tried was more of the same. I was desperate as it was actually affecting my performance and my bottom line at work

After I started wearing sensible shoes in full force, I actually found out that the most sensible styles for my feet were almost invariably nicest shoes for nurses. I’m not a nurse, but it does make sense. Nurses are some of the hardest workers that I can think of. They spend all day walking and standing on hard hospital floors, pushing gurneys and equipment around, and they hardly ever get a break to rest. Thier shoes are designed for this and are incredibly comfortable and lightweight. And, the styles are practical, usually easy to slip on and nice looking. Many are in white to match nursing uniforms, but there are many other colors available too. I know, because I have several pairs at this point.

I really do believe that a good pair of shoes is essential to any professional who spends most of their day standing, and nursing shoes are the best of the best. They should not be limited to nurses and photographers. Teachers, bank tellers, sales associates and many other workers can gain from trying to find nice pair of shoes that fit well. The online marketplace has made access to all sorts of products, including nursing shoes, available to consumers to often dizzying effect. Sometimes, the choices are really overwhelming, so I recommend going here to find reviews and guidance if investing in a good pair of shoes seems like something to look into .

In the end, I learned that investing in a good pair of work shoes was not only smart but basically essential if I wanted to stay in the photography business for a long period of time. I am sure that other people are in the same boat, an I think that a good pair of nursing shoes may be just the ticket for them as well.

Biker Shoot

Biker Shoot

I had a great photo shoot recently that I thought that I would talk a little bit about. The location was a large studio that was once an old warehouse downtown. It was still very industrial-looking seven though it had been renovated. This was appropriate because the theme was bikers and the whole shoot revolved around two motorcycles and four models total. Two were men and two were women. One of the motorcycles was red and one was blue, which presented a nice contrast. Mostly the models were shot in pairs, however there are a couple of pictures of the whole group and both of the bikes together. My whole goal was to help the company promote some of their products and to associate the business better with the biker culture.

Like most shoots, this one started with an idea but moved quickly to makeup and wardrobe. The people in these two departments did a fantastic job and the models all looked amazing. The styling was much harder and edgier overall than is true of many of my other shoots. The clothing racks featured a lot of black leather and silver studs, which was an interesting change from what I usually do (and a bit of a challenge to capture on film too). Since hair and makeup took a while, I had a little time to browse through the racks after I had set up all the equipment. There were lots of jackets and ripped tees. My favorite pieces were invariably the accessories like the motorcycle boots, which really did add a great sense of style to the models’ outfits.

After the four models were done getting styled, we set to work on the actual shoot. I will admit that I used quite a bit of space on my memory card before we started getting the and of things  Sometimes it happens, and I try not to get impatient with myself or anyone else. Most of the poses were done with the motorcycles, which meant that I got to film a good deal of chrome and shine. It also meant that the models had the chance to try out some different poses. My favorite was when one of the girls kicked her pair of Harley-Davidson Jammie Boots over the handlebars of the blue bike. It looked great, and I made sure to mark that picture as a keeper. (I told you I like the motorcycle boots!) There were a couple of other good shots too that I am sure will get used. So, despite the slow start, things turned out well in the end.

It was a long day and I was exhausted once I got home, but I got really good shots and everyone at the shoot was very professional and good at their jobs. That is always a nice thing to see. In the end, I’m pretty sure that I satisfied the client, which is always important. So, overall a successful day.

Positive Values of Having a Hobby

Positive Values of Having a Hobby

We all need things to do to take our minds off our daily grinds. People have to get up, go to work, earn a living and make enough money to support themselves and their families, if they should have any. Doing the same thing for a long period of time can become, well, a grind, hence the daily grind bit. Adding variety to one’s day is just one positive value of having a hobby. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot either. Some hobbies, like arts and crafts, fishing, gardening and more cost relatively little to get into and are simple enough.

Hobbies don’t even need to be extraneous activities like I’ve mentioned so far – it is possible to turn everyday occurrences into hobbies just as well. For example, I rather enjoy grooming my pet, and I like to showcase my ability at a pet grooming competition whenever I get the chance. I wouldn’t call a task as mundane as cleaning a good hobby material, but lots of people cook because it makes them feel good. Cooking is a fine hobby, especially when you have enough people on hand to eat whatever you come up with. Then you’ve got a hobby that gives back, and those are the best kind, if you ask me.


This is still one of my favorite hobbies. There’s nothing like getting away from everything, and I mean everything. I look for the most remote locations I can find whenever I do get the urge to start casting a line and catching fish. I have warm feelings when traveling to nature, I really can’t explain them. I’m a people person if ever there was one, but I also like to get away from everyone and everything now and then. I think all people are like that, so it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. What’s more quiet, less stressful and easier to do than going fishing? I can’t think of much.


Don’t you go mistaking me for an elderly woman just because I like to garden. I’m fit enough to climb stairs, go for hikes and get to where I must be to take my pictures, and being active regularly helps me actually feel younger, I think. Gardening is something which is enjoyable regardless of one’s age, however. There is no number of years where it suddenly becomes acceptable to garden. Anyone who likes creating something out of nothing and cutting back on their grocery bills every month will undoubtedly find much to enjoy in maintaining a garden.

Arts and Crafts

This hobby has such a wide range of implications, there is sure to be something for everybody. From taking pictures of people, places and things to creating fashionable nail art, there are many ways for people to be crafty with their hands while enjoying a hobby or two. Like the other hobbies I’ve stressed above, getting into arts and crafts does more than just help you to kill time. It teaches a skill, improves your motor skills and hand eye coordination, and gives you that kind of feeling you can only get by making something where there once was nothing; that unmistakable joy of being a maker.

Sometimes, you are even fortunate enough to find yourself a hobby which you both take great pleasure in doing and are able to make a decent amount of money from, at the same time. For me, that was photography. That is where I devote most of my energies these days, because it is my main source of income and overall favorite hobby. Other people write, or paint, or do nails, or grow vegetables. But there’s nothing wrong with trying your hand at all of these things, and doing a little of each until you find that one which really calls out to you.

Many hobbies can become costly, but when you find hobbies that actually put money back into your pocket, that’s a very special feeling too. Writing and playing music, as well as singing of songs, is another hobby which can yield great financial success for those with the right natural talent and training to make the most out of their time. I’m no musician, but how many musical groups, bands and individuals get to do what they love all day, while making a great living in the process? There are new ones every week it seems, and I’d highly recommend trying out singing and songs if nothing else appeals to you.

The important thing is to find hobbies which give more back to you than they take, in terms of money, time, effort and so on. You have to try many different things before you find tasks at which you excel, and even then, you need to look hard among those for the hobbies which could potentially be profitable. Even if you’re breaking even, as long as you’re having a good time and staying out of trouble, I guess that’s fine too. But I’ve never really been one to waste my time. If there’s money to be made, you can count on me to be there, looking for a way to capitalize.

Do you have a favorite hobby? I know I haven’t listed every single hobby here, but there’s not enough room to do all that anyhow. I’d love if some of you readers out there would share your experiences, or speak up about the things you really enjoy doing. That way, other people reading this can get even more ideas for ways they can get more pleasure from everyday life. That’s an important part of having hobbies too – just feeling good. The more things we have to take our minds off all the ills which mount up in an average day, the better we are able to deal with those ills and get on with our lives.

At least, that’s what things have been like for me. Rather than obsessing over a difficult situation or problem, I would take some time off, go take some pictures or get my hands dirty or snag some fish. And then I would come back to that situation or issue later, with a clear head and a fresh outlook.

Introduction to Nail Art

Introduction to Nail Art

While it’s true that my page here mostly focuses on photography and elements of taking good pictures, I’ve always found that people tend to do better than their interests are a bit rounded, rather than pointed. So I like to try my hand at a few things here and there, whenever I fancy a change of pace. I’d say my interests are about as varied as the types of pictures I take, but in this particular instance, I’m talking about nail art. I recently graduated an online nail technician course and got interested in the subject of nail art – it turns out it’s a nice way to earn extra money every month.

It probably would be more profitable if I would spend more time on it, but I’ve rather found my calling in life already. Doing nail art as a hobby is quite a bit different from doing it to make a living, and the hours and effort put towards the latter really couldn’t even compare with the amount of time and work I’d have to spend if this was my sole means of making an income. With that said, even doing nails in my free time as a side job still nets me enough money every month to pick up some nice accessories for my cameras, or to put money towards my next major traveling bout.

You might wonder what got me interested in nail art in the first place. Well, the practice has an awful long history behind it – women and men alike have been beautifying themselves by treating their nails for centuries now. Nail art isn’t all about creating flashy or unique designs on nails either; it can be simple filing and clipping, anything that makes them look better than before, really. With such a history, it is no surprise that there have been many innovations in the way nail art is created over the years. I found this particular bit of the field most interesting.

New paints and coloring agents are always coming out of labs somewhere, but natural colors have always been some of the best, even if they tend to be more expensive than artificial agents. Many flowers, when crushed or cooked, yield natural dyes with vibrant colors. Long before colors were collections of chemicals crafted by man, this was the only way to procure colors. These days though, it is just one of many methods. The colors for polish made by people are much cheaper, more plentiful, easier to make and easier to use, which explains why they continue to sell so well.

Admittedly, most of this information wasn’t included with my nail technician course. That focused mainly on the application of the skill – techniques for creating nail art, that sort of thing. For instance, I did learn about making ceramic nails, and how the enamel is layered repeatedly on top of the actual nail, until it resembles something chiseled and fine as a small sheet of porcelain. Some nail art, like ceramic, is not reversible. Therefore, I have one last bit of advice for any nail techs out there: make sure your clients are positive about what they want before you start working.

Photographing Air Gun Enthusiasts

Photographing Air Gun Enthusiasts

So, today I had one of my more unusual photo shoots. My clients were all very much of the outdoor, hunting enthusiast type. They wanted a couple of shots for a new hunting and fishing project that they are starting in their community. I was only one component as the still photographer. They also had a small film crew there. So, I knew from the start that it was going to be an unusual day. That’s part of what I love about my job. I am always meeting new people and finding myself in unusual situations.

About the Location

The first thing that I have to say is that the location was absolutely gorgeous. We shot the photos in a wooded area near a lake. It took a bit for the film crew to set up after I had finished, so I walked around and explored the area for a while. It was really beautiful and everything had a faint green cast because of the light and the brightness of the foliage. The lighting was really good overall, and entire setting was so serene. I really enjoyed the shoot just because it meant I got to spend the day outside in the fresh air. I am definitely considering using this location again in the future. I think it may be nice with a change of season too.

Interesting accessories

So, probably the most noticeable thing on the shoot is that most of the men wanted their air rifles included in their individual photos, and they even wanted some photographs of just the guns. Of course, it makes sense for what they were doing. If you aren’t really sure what I mean, you can see what an air rifle looks like at Air Gun Zone. This meant I really had to be creative, as we had to find ways for the guys to pose naturally with their air guns while still being safe. They were really game and did their best, though I could tell that most of them were not really used to “modeling” for a photographer.

Big Cats and Beginner Guns

I won’t go into too much detail, but part of what they were doing for their project was offering advice for young people and beginners who were interested in learning to hunt.You can see one of the guns that they were focusing on in this Gamo Big Cat review. I don’t know too much about it myself, but I got to listen in on the segment for a bit between my jobs and the guy who was talking about that particular gun seemed to be really sold on it. Who knew there was such interest! You learn something new every day.


This actually turned out to be a nice day at work. It was definitely a new type of job for me. Everyone was really friendly and tried to do their best for the photos. The location was the real star of the show though. I am definitely going back there again sometime soon.

Friends, Memories and Piano Music

Friends, Memories and Piano Music

When I was a child, I remember listening to my grandmother play the tall, upright piano. She was a wonderful pianist in almost any style, but where she really lit up was when she was playing old standards from her youth. She desperately wanted me to learn how to play the piano, and I took lessons for a couple years when I was a child. I never really took the lessons seriously, however, and I never got beyond the basics. My grandmother, always the gentle type, never expressed disappointment that I never really learned to play as well as she could.

Helping a Friend to Learn

Recently, a friend mentioned that she had a similar experience with her great aunt, who was the pianist at their local church. We got to talking about it, and she expressed interest in learning to play. She asked me if I knew how to so that I could help her out. She was a little lot on where to start. I had to regretfully inform her that it had been a long time since I have played anything more complicated than “Chopsticks.” However, I did promise her that I could help her to get more information on how to buy an instrument so that she could learn to play like her great aunt.

Finding a Digital Piano

My friend does not have the space for an upright piano like my grandmother had, but she does want something nice. She’s decided to go for a digital piano because they are smaller and cheaper but still sound really nice. One of the best sites that I found for her is because it has great information on different types of digital pianos. It has really helped her narrow down what she wants in an instrument.

Getting Good Advice

She has also managed to find a piano teacher that is geared toward adult learners. My friend started with her very first lesson last Tuesday, and she says the teacher seems like a perfect match but that she is not a natural learner. Even so, it seems like she is serious about sticking with it. She has even printed off a page with the type of digital piano that she has decided on with her husband. Next week, my friend is going to take the print out to her piano teacher to see if it is a good choice for her price range and goals. Then, they plan on making a shopping trip. Soon, she’ll have a nice little practice space.


I am really proud of my friend. She and I both know it is best to learn an instrument as a child, and I don’t think she has any pretensions about making it to Julliard, but I also think that adults are capable of becoming proficient with a little hard work. I really hope she sticks to it so that she can honor her great aunt and so that I can hear her play just like I listened to my grandmother play all those years ago.

Family Bonding and Recurve Bows

Family Bonding and Recurve Bows

This past week, I had dinner over at my cousin’s house. Over the casserole, the conversation turned to a rather unusual topic—archery and recurve bows. It’s not an area I know too much about, but my cousin, Luke, is a bit of an outdoors man. Because of that fact, I wasn’t too surprised that this is where the night would lead conversationally. I have to admit, it was a pretty interesting conversational topic in the end, and I learned a lot.

Here’s a little back-story for explanation: Luke has been having a bit of a hard time lately. He and his wife are separating, and he is trying to make the whole process as easy on his two sons as possible. He is making sure to take the time to really bond with them, and I really admire him for that. So, two weeks ago he decided to take them to an outdoor retreat about 45 minutes outside of the town he lives in for four days and three nights. This retreat offered his boys the chance to try canoeing, camping, hiking, horseback riding and archery practice.

They tried everything, but horseback riding, because the oldest boy was a bit scared of horses (though he wouldn’t admit as much over dinner).Of everything, the boys liked archery the best of everything that they did. This isn’t that surprising considering their father is into it and they are at that stage where they want to be just like him. The youngest practically fell in love with it and is now insisting that his father buy him his own bow. His father already has a top-of-the-line Hoyt Buffalo bow, but I guess that they are going to be adding to the collection fairly soon!

Luke mentioned how different recurve bows really affect speed, accuracy and stability. I told him that I think that I can understand that a bit. I imagine that it’s similar to steadying a camera and trying to get a shot from a moving subject. Not an easy task! Luke’s eyes lit up when he realized that we had a common point to talk about. The next thing you know, he was really excited to tell me all about shooting a bow and arrow!

I honestly don’t know that much about it, so Luke gave me a pretty good walk through of how a bow works during the conversation. I had no idea that bows were so technically advanced. He wants me to come out with the boys one day in the next couple of weeks and try my hand at some target practice. Something tells me that I won’t be that good at it, but who knows? It can’t hurt to try for a day. And, it may even teach me a few balancing and eye-hand coordination skills that can help with my photography.

Decorating with a Serger

Decorating with a Serger

I love traveling and photography and arts. When I’m at home, however, I am usually in my sewing room. Sewing is such a relaxing way to pass the time. I am not much of a dressmaker, but I’ve found that it is useful and fun to know how to sew for making projects for around the house. Recently, I’ve made ivory and green curtain valances and throw pillow covers for my guest bedroom as well as some larger projects. I’m even thinking about doing some quilting to finish out that room’s bedroom set. With all of this sewing, I am reaching the limits of my very basic sewing machine’s capabilities, and I am now seriously considering investing in some more advanced machinery for my sewing needs. I really want to buy a serger.

You may not know what a serger is. Sergers are a little different from traditional sewing machines. They often look larger and more complex. In actuality, however, they make sewing easier. A serger is a machine that has a knife that cuts off excess fabric while it sews. This means that sewn edges always look professional. Depending on the type of serger, they can also work on different types of fabric and do decorative stiches and cording, which would be great for many of my home projects.

The best serger should have a quality cutting mechanism, as well as differential feed for working on stretch or heavy material. This is very important for the type of sewing that I do, since I often work with heavy fabrics. I have looked around quite a bit lately, and I know that I want a medium-sized serger that still has a lot of power and is from a very good brand. I’ve pretty much decided, and this Juki Pearl Line MO-654DE review shows the serger that I am looking to buy in the future. What do you think? It has so many accessories available, and it also has many stitch patterns. It is really top of the line, and I think it can do everything I need it to and more. I have a feeling that this is going to be a happy buy, and I am going to grow a lot as a sewer with this type of equipment.

What I am really interested in right now is the cording feature. I can see so many uses for that in home decor. I’m already starting to think about what I want my first serger project should be. I did see that amazing video online about serging together quilts, and I do have a stash of leftover fabric, so that may just be what I try. I really can’t wait to get started!

Longboarding Through the Lens

Longboarding Through the Lens

Recently, I did a cool photo shoot that had a hip vibe. It was a little bit larger project and had a fairly complex set up. I was shooting a group of young adults and teenagers in a summery, beachy setting and the big props for the shoot came in the form of a couple of longboards. One of the guys, named Ben, was an excellent skater and really knew how to fly. Before I stated taking photos in earnest, he showed me a couple of tricks on his board and explained the long board to me. It’s really not like any skateboard I’ve ever seen, and he said that it feels different from a traditional skateboard, though they are related.

Taking a Ride

Ben even had me try to ride his board for a minute. I do mean try! Ben is in good shape, but I fear this was a bit much for me. I had no idea what I was doing and must have been a sight. But, it was really fun, and I can see why it is becoming so popular among young people. He told be to check out some online longboard reviews so that I can get a better idea of what the best boards are like and what people look for in them. Being a fairly artistic person, the thing that captivated me most is the amazing artwork on the boards themselves. The colors are usually bright and really make an impact, and I was really surprised at the range of artistic styles and themes. Longboard art has come a long way. Ben said that skaters are really invested in art and there are some pretty recognizable names that got their start designing for skateboards and longboards. Of course, I am pretty sure real longboarders are interested in things like having the best wheels and the right bearings too.

Longboard Style

There are so many styles and types of longboards that I kind of wonder what the top-rated longboard brands are to begin with. Maybe if I do some research, I can find a longboard that would make a good gift for him. Looking online, each company seems to have distinctive design aesthetic. Even the board shapes are different, with some being long and rounded and some being kind of square. Apparently this is to help with different types of riding. Also, I am amazed at how reasonable the cost of many of these longboards is, especially for all that art!


Of course, I had to work some of the art and color into a couple of my shots. The whole atmosphere was really relaxed and fun. The weather was nice and I learned something new as well. I have to say that this was a very enjoyable shoot. And, even better, I think that these photographs are going to turn out to be stunning! And, I’ve begun wondering if my son and his friends would be interested in learning something like longboarding.

Breaking my Son into Boxing

Breaking my Son into Boxing

Recently my son and I went to a gym to see a local showcase of various types of sports and martial arts. This included a demonstration of some basic boxing moves from an area club. If you remember from my previous post about martial arts, my son has gotten involved in them and I have developed an interest too. I’ve really started to appreciate both the mental clarity and the sense of discipline and order that come with physical activity, and recently boxing has caught my eye. Yes, boxing. I know that I am not really the fighting type, but there is something really amazing about watching a boxer in action. I have even thought about taking my camera to the match to try and capture some of the action shots.

My boy was interested too, though he seemed to want to be an active participant more than a photographer on the sidelines, like me. We got to talking about using boxing to augment his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice. He thinks it will help him to build different muscles and skills as long as he’s careful not to over practice. At first, I was a little apprehensive about him doing too much, but he seems aware of his limits. The more he talked about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. It will give him something a little different, so that he can stay excited about working out.

Of course, as a parent, I want my son to be safe and to have the best possible equipment. We are thinking that he may go to a gym and have a trainer once a week. He already has a pretty busy training regimen, but that way he will learn proper form and we can also see what type of equipment is available there. In addition, since we are new to all this we are using to find out what the best equipment is for him to start with. We know we need some basic things like a mouth guard, and he’s found a pair of gloves he likes.

If he keeps it up and sticks to boxing for a while, then I am seriously considering buying him a heavy bag for his birthday gift. That way he can practice in his free time. I have to do a little more research using that site to see which one is the best for him. I think that it would be perfect for him since he has a busy schedule and will have to do most of his practicing on his own.

I really want him to continue with Jiu-Jitsu, but I think that boxing can be a great complement to his progress. He is getting stronger, faster and more agile. It really is amazing what sports like this can do for a person. There is something surprisingly philosophical about how they cause athletes to focus and to become more aware of their bodies and the world around them.

Give Mental and Physical Health to Teenagers with Martial Arts

Give Mental and Physical Health to Teenagers with Martial Arts

Increasing physical activity levels does more than just boost energy levels and help lead to better physical fitness. It can also be a boon on mental health. There are several reasons for this, and while it may not sound viable to some, I urge you to read onward and see just why more physical activity can lead to improved mental health. In fact, I’ll give you the first major reason right now. A mobile and active body has better blood circulation than a body which spends a majority of time seated or otherwise still. Higher blood flow in the brain means more oxygen in the brain.

I might sound like an expert on the subject, but it’s something I just recently learned myself. I’m really more of a photographer you know, not so much of a physical fitness buff. Only a short time ago, I decided to get my teenager involved with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It seemed like the perfect kind of thing to teach him some self defense skills, get him up and active for a few hours a week and give me some time during the day with him out of the house. I’ve got to say, it’s worked out wonderfully for both of us.

Back when I was his age, karate and judo and the like were really popular. It was a little interesting to see how martial arts have changed and developed since then. But it’s key to remember that Jiu Jitsu is just one of many different fighting styles. It would be silly to try and judge the entire field from cursory looks at a single sport, don’t you think? Because I was never really interested in it before, I don’t really have much to compare it against in the present, either.

One thing I’m certain of is that my boy looks awesome in his new BJJ apparel. That’s what the instructors refer to the class as – BJJ. It seems people are coming up with acronyms for everything these days. My teenager practices every day. I suppose he could be doing something a lot more bothersome, like practicing drums or another musical instrument with which he has no experience. It drove my parents crazy when I first took an interest in photography and was taking pictures of pretty much everything I came across. Flash on, unfortunately.

I can see an improvement in my son’s mental and physical health since he’s started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. On those days when he has classes, he seems to go to sleep much earlier, and sleep through the night without waking up at all. Being well rested has improved his mood, I’d say. He even trains at home sometimes, with the help of this thing as well.

He seems to be a bit sharper than usual as well. He’s coming up with answers and figuring things out just a little bit quicker. The way he’s improving, I’m starting to think of enrolling myself in some kind of fitness class. I sure don’t want to be throwing anyone around, but something to get my blood going could do me some good.

Sister’s Barbecue Party

Sister’s Barbecue Party

Last week I attended my sister’s birthday barbecue party and since she grills food outdoors every weekend I decided to research some good high grade meat smokers on Backyard Bbq Guru and when I arrived at the party I presented a new smoker to her as a present. My sister was so glad to receive it and she told me that the smoker will get plenty of wear and tear. My brother-in-law is a radio personality so he played a ton of my sister’s favorite tunes from the early 80s, especially the music of the post punk and New Wave eras. We had fun dancing for hours and I was just as excited about the food that the caterers brought to the party.

Now For The Food

Barbecue was the main food of the party and I ate barbecued turkey burgers, barbecued pork chops, barbecued veal patties and side dishes such as our mother’s legendary baked beans, tomato and spinach salad, grilled garlic bread with herbed butter and pickled beets that I prepared a few weeks ago and canned in jars. For dessert we ate chocolate rum almond pudding and I ate so much that I had to head to the bathroom some hours later. My sister can’t stand big birthday cakes so that is why pudding was served.

Memories of Sis

When we all calmed down we watched a homemade DVD of my sister’s life in the living room. We saw a bunch of photos of her when she cried in the crib as a baby and then we saw a few pictures of her when she played the violin at recitals across the city as a teenager. Another thing we watched was a heartwarming video tribute by her husband in which he thanked her for 20 years of marriage and for sticking by him when he battled alcoholism. And her children performed a cute song stating why they loved their mother in the DVD. My sister cried throughout the whole presentation.

Let’s Not Forget The Gifts

Aside from the high grade barbecue smoker I got for my sister, she received other gifts. Her coworkers gave her a new ice cream maker while her husband gave her this secret love letter which she’ll read at a later time. Maybe it’s because there is a lot of heat in it. But he also gave her tickets to an upcoming concert featuring Journey, her favorite group. Our cousins pitched in and gave her three hefty gift cards to stores such as Wayfair, Bath and Body Works and Saks Fifth Avenue.


My sister is one of the sweetest and humorous people I know and she deserves to have a wonderful birthday celebration. She had a fun time with family and friends and she told me that it is a birthday she’ll never forget. She overcame childhood bullying and just this year she accomplished her goal of losing 40 pounds after a lot of hard work. I appreciate and love my sister dearly.