Saturday, 20 August 2016

iMovie iPad App Walkthrough Guide


As you may have seen from our YouTube channel, we've put up a few travel vlogs. Editing a video can be annoying at the best of times but if you don't have the right sofware, it can make it ten times harder. I've searched through so many free apps that were available for my Windows 10 laptop but there was always something that let them down such as restricted access to features or requiring you to have a watermark across your video. After hours trying different ones out I realised I had overlooked the most obvious option. I've had an iPad for a while and it comes with the iMovie app for free. Although this version has limited features compared to the full version on MacBooks and iMac's it seemed so much better than anything I had tried previously and seemed like it should be good enough for what I needed. I know getting this app relies on having an iPhone or iPad, but more people are migrating towards these because of their multimedia uses. I'm going to try and show the different features available within the app to try and help you decide whether it would be a good fit for you.

Importing & Starting Off

The first step when you open iMovie is to select whether you want to create a movie or a trailer. I've never needed to create a trailer before but I can definitely see its uses. After this you'll have to choose your theme/template of which there are a decent amount so you there should be something suitable for everyone. For the videos I've produced I ended up using the simple theme as it gave the clean and professional look I wanted.


Next you will see the editing section open up which is where you can add in your clips. You can scroll through your folders to find where your content is and then click onto the clip that you want to add into the timeline. From here you are able to preview the clip, drop it into the timeline or add it to a clip already there to access the 'picture in picture' feature so that you can have one smaller video playing within the main video or splitting in into two different sections. This is great if you have multiple clips you want to include at the same time. There is also the option to add in photos and audio both from your folders and using the iPads camera and microphone. 

Editing Your Video

When you select your clip in the timeline a variety of options open up. The first one lets you complete three actions. You can split the clip if you want to break it up into multiple sections, detach the audio if you either don't want it included, and lastly you can duplicate the clip. There is also a zoom function which lets you pinch zoom into the video to achieve the right size. The second option is to adjust the speed of the clip. On this version of the app (2.2.2) you can only slow down the footage but you may be able to speed it up on newer iPads etc. It will also let you freeze a clip if you want to hold the action to show a key part. 


The third option will let you alter the volume level which works on a percentage scale. You can reduce it to a lower level than the initial volume which may come in useful for including background music while keeping the original audio for example. You are also able to increase it up to 500% of its original level so it gives you a bit of freedom to switch up the levels to suit what kind of output you want. The fourth option allows you to add text to the clip and you can choose from different styles to suit your video such as fading in and out. If you are including the 'picture in picture' type video, when you select the additional clip, this text option will change to let you choose how you want the two clips to appear, such as side by side or one within the other. The fifth and final option lets you add filters to your clips to alter them for your own preference. Some of them are more intense than others so make sure you preview them before going ahead. 


Exporting Your Video

When you are happy and have finished editing you can watch it back to make sure everything runs smoothly before exporting it. If you are completely happy with your video you can upload it directly to one of your social platforms such as YouTube or Facebook. You can also save it onto the iPad so you have a copy, and it will let you choose the resolution you want it in. I know this will depend on what resolution it was filmed in, but I recommend exporting in the highest one possible to get the best out of your video. 


Overall I think that the iMovie app is great even though it's only a simplified version. If you are like me, who doesn't make loads of videos and can't afford to get a full version of video editing software and you already own an iPad/iPhone, then this is definitely worth using. If you want to see what kind of videos you can produce using the iMovie app, have a look at our YouTube channel and check out some of the videos such as our LA vlogs.


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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Best Places For Photography In Liverpool


I've been into my photography for quite a while now and since moving to Liverpool last year I have managed to explore some of the best photography spots the city has to offer. There are so many great places and I've tried to include a variety so that you can shoot a range of areas. 

Albert Dock

There are a number of great areas around the Albert Dock so you won't get bored while going around it. I have found the docks work just as well at night as they do in the day, as you can see from the photo above taken of The Big Wheel. There are some other lamps and lighting around that give you some great things to include, either as the main focus of the photo or to be used as a backdrop. In the day, the dock has plenty of opportunities such as the museums, moored boats, the Liver Buildings in addition to all the restored dockland buildings.

Liverpool City Centre

There are some impressive buildings within the city centre that can make for some great photos so if you just wander around with your camera you should definitely come across some. There are a number of museums to snap as well as the famous lambananas that are dotted around the city which would make for quite a unique subject to photograph. 

Chavasse Park

This is the area on top of Liverpool One and is great to visit in the sun. Being so high up you get a great view down into the modern shopping centre and out towards the docks area on the Mersey, as well as being able to walk through a garden area to get some nice floral shots. They have seasonal events at the park such as a beach in the summer and Christmas stalls in the winter. This means you can take photos in the same place at different times of year and it will look completely different, so it's definitely a spot you can revisit.

Sefton Park

I've been here loads of times as it such a big park and there are so many areas to take photos. There is a large boating lake which gives a great view and also works if you want to set up a time-lapse. You can also capture some great shots in the evening as the sun is starting to set. It was especially good in Autumn when there were countless opportunities for colourful seasonal photos. The Palm House situated within the park houses a range of different plants and is one huge glass house which is very impressive and can provide plenty of angles and opportunities to shoot from. Covered in snow the park would once again look different so it's a great place to go back throughout the year. 

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

If you are into your architecture then there are plenty of things to explore in and around the cathedral. There are numerous stain glass windows which can make for some really bright and colourful photos. It is quite dark at some points inside, so you may need a tripod if you're going to be using a slower shutter speed. I'm not quite sure whether you can take full sized tripods in, but I used my Gorillapod as this was an ideal size.

Court Hey Park: National Wildflower Centre

I've only recently visited here even though it's not too far away in the car. There are some nice nature shots here, and with the centre being home to a range of different flowers, there are many different colours available to shoot. I think the best time to visit may be in the spring to capture the colours in the best light.

Calderstones Park

Another park that will give different opportunities across the seasons with numerous areas to explore. There is a small lake here which is a nice backdrop to make some of the photos more interesting as well as giving an area to take shots of the wildlife. There are also some small walled gardens that give some very colourful areas to shoot in the spring and summer. 


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Sunday, 14 August 2016

How To Plan Your Blog Posts


I've experimented with different ways of blogging and how I go about writing my posts. When I first started blogging I'd open up the laptop, start and new post and just type away. When I was done it would get a quick read over and then I'd hit publish. Over time I've noticed the way I blog is getting much easier and more efficient  and have found that following a few keys things can really help when it comes to getting on top of blogging. I use OneNote for planning out a lot of my blog stuff from noting down ideas to keeping track of when I want my posts to go up.

Plan Ahead For Photos

Photos can be a key part of a post and getting high quality images is something that you should take the time to achieve. This doesn't mean you need a really expensive DSLR and the newest Photoshop as you can take really good photos with your phone if you wanted, just having the correct conditions are more important. I use a few different pieces of kit for my blog photography which you can see here. Lighting is key when taking photos, which is why it's important to plan when you to take them. The last thing you want is to need photos for your upcoming post and the lighting it terrible. If you know what photos you need then take advantage of good lighting conditions and set up and bulk take them so you should always have photos for your posts. 

Whenever You Get Some Inspiration, Write It Down

Ideas can come to you at the most random times, and the most annoying thing is getting home later that day and trying to remember that amazing idea you had for a blog post. The best thing to do is write down these as soon as you think of it, whether its typing it on your phone, writing it on a scrap of paper or even scribbling some notes on your hand. I've thought of ideas if I've been out somewhere for the day or even when I've been travelling on holiday. Sometimes your best ideas come naturally when you aren't trying to force them. I can remember not long after I had started blogging when I'd be staring at my laptop trying to think of something to write and really struggling. Anything I did write felt far too forced and wouldn't have been the best quality I was capable of producing. Since I've been using OneNote I now log all my new ideas which results in better blog posts and I can keep to a schedule. 

List All Key Points You Want In Your Posts

People have different ways of blogging, some find it easier to just sit down and get a post done in one go and that might be what works best for them. I have tried this and I sometimes found once I'd published posts, there were parts missing from it or things I wish I'd thought of to include earlier on. What I tend to do now it to now is once I have my post idea, to sit down and have a mini brainstorm as to what I want to include in the post. Sometimes trying to get your ideas down gives you other ideas that would work and makes sure you get a quality post that you are happy with. I even find that brainstorming ideas for one post can give me a whole new idea for a separate blog post so it can be a really productive method. 

Have A Schedule

Having some way to schedule your posts can be very useful when it comes to making sure you always have post ideas. There are a number of different ways to create a schedule, I know Laura likes to list the posts that she wants to publish in a certain month as this works better for her so she still has some freedom for spontaneous posts. Others may want to know specifically what day the post will go up. You can see how my schedule works in my OneNote post. I do set out what days I want to post on but I'm not overly strict and can alter this when new ideas come to me, or if I randomly go somewhere or get an opportunity for something. Knowing what posts you want to write in advance can really help keep you posting consistently which will help get new readers and keep your current ones coming back.


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Thursday, 11 August 2016

How To Create A Photo Gallery Wall*


Even though I don't have my own house yet, this hasn't stopped me planning out what I'd like it to be like and what type of thing I want in the rooms. Both myself and Laura are keen to have a photo gallery wall and already seem to have it planned out what things we want on there. Well to be perfectly honest we have actually bought some of the things we want on the wall. I've found quite a lot of inspiration from Pinterest for the kinds of prints and photos as well as the layout and style of the wall.

Theme

This is going to change depending on the type of room. You need to decide on whether you want it to have prints, photos or both. Once you know this it will be easier to choose the ones you want. For a gallery wall, having different sized frames will make it look so much better and could be a good alternative to having canvases as you can always switch up whats in the frames. Don't get too hung up (excuse the pun) on where you will mount the frames as gallery walls are meant to have frames that are offset from one another. This also gives you freedom to keep adding to the wall as you wish as you're not restricted where you can put them. 

Colours

This can completely change the look of your wall, so choose carefully depending how you want it to look. One method could be to have a variety of coloured frames and just have black and white photos and prints. Alternatively you may want to stick to fairly neutral frames, such as grey's, whites and blacks and then have different coloured prints and photos. Whichever way you were to do it, you would get a really nice contrast without the gallery wall looking too random.

I'm finding myself taking photos when I'm out travelling and doing exciting things and think these would be a great addition to a gallery wall. As I've always got my iPhone with me, I often take snaps on this so have had the pain of having to transfer them to the laptop just so I can send them off to get printed. Being able to print at home directly from my phone would be perfect as it means I'm not having to wait ages for an online order to arrive. Sometimes when ordering photos online they come back cropped and not how I wanted them, so being able to control this would be ideal. This is where HP's new printer comes in, and as you can see in the video below, it would solve all of these issues and give you the freedom to print whatever you like.




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