Friday, 30 October 2015

Blogging Wishlist

Having been blogging for a year now I have come across some equipment that could help to enhance and improve my posts. I know from reading other peoples posts that these items are very popular and definitely worth the investment. Some of them are a little expensive, but it's something I can work towards and look forward to.

Canon 700D DSLR
I already own a Fuji S100FS which I have used for blog photography so far and it produces some brilliant photos. Saying this, upgrading to an DSLR would make the photos that bit better and has some neat features such as the flip out rotating screen that would come in very useful. Like most cameras nowadays it boasts Full HD video which would be great when out filming rather than using my iPhone. Having high quality photos really makes a difference to a blog and this camera would be brilliant for that.

Softbox Lighting
As much as a good camera is important, having proper lighting is key to getting the best photos. These softbox lights give a bright white diffused light and can be used together to fully light up the area and eliminate shadows you would experience otherwise. A simple piece of kit that could make all the difference for photos, as well as being useful if I wanted to start filming blog videos.

Rode Video Microphone
I'd love to start making videos to include in lifestyle and travel posts when I could upgrade my camera, and I think that having a good quality microphone on the camera can help capture those impressive and enjoyable moments while you are filming those new experiences. I have seen loads of vloggers use these so they must be worth the money.

MacBook Pro
I currently user an Acer laptop and its been pretty good for blogging in the past year, but now I'm wanting to edit photos more often and edit my GoPro videos, having a more powerful laptop would be a welcome change. From what I have seen and heard, most bloggers swear by their MacBooks and I can definitely see why! The high quality retina display, quick processing, and photo and video editing software available would make blogging much easier and allow for better content overall.

What products do you currently use for blogging and what would you like to get?

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

8 Quick Tips for Blog Photography

Having been taking blog photos for over a year now, for both mine and Laura's blogs, I have noticed a massive change in the quality of the photos since I started, and thought I would give a few tips on what I have found useful. I'm not saying I'm the best at taking photos, but having improved my own over time, these are the key things I use to get the best photos. 

1. Get to know your camera
Whatever camera you are using for taking photos, knowing the best settings becomes so useful. One of the main settings I alter is the aperture, which changes how wide the lens is and means you can get sharper photos. Another feature of adjusting the aperture is that you can blur the background of the image, which is great for product photos. Reading through the camera manual will give you pointers for using the settings, but the best way to learn is to just practice taking photos while playing around on different modes and settings.

2. Lighting
It doesn't matter whether you are using an iPhone or DSLR to take your photos, if you have poor lighting, the likelihood is that your photos won't be great. When taking photos inside, you have a range of options to get good lighting. If shooting product photos, I set them up in front of the window in the middle of the day to receive the best sunlight. If you need to use lights, you are best to use white lights, and box lighting will give you a bright and diffused light. 

3. Background
I take the majority of product photos on the top of an white Ikea shelving unit so I have a light plain background which gives more focus to the product being photographed. Having a plain background makes your photos look more professional, and will stop your camera trying to focus on the background rather than the product. Laura has recently bought some floor tiles to use as a new background and something like this can give you an even better look. 

4. Margins
This is something very simple to do and is an easy way to make your photos that little bit better. Having the focus point of your photo in the centre will just a much more professional appearance. It's often easier to get your margins correct when taking the photo, but you can always crop the image afterwards to resolve any problems. 

5. Angles
This will vary depending on what type of thing your are shooting, and choosing the best angle will be important when it comes to getting the photo you want. When I take product photos for Laura such as makeup, I will take the photo from overhead, as it gives a much better look and means all products in the photo get the same attention. Sometimes, products can't be photographed overhead, and when choosing a different angle, make sure the background isn't cluttered, and try blurring it out like I mentioned in the first tip. 

6. Editing
There is a lot of prep you can do to get a good photo, but editing your photos can give them that edge to really stand out and impress. I only know a few very basic things about Photoshop, but I'm still learning from Laura. Making little tweaks such as brightening and sharpening images has stepped the quality of photos up. Even if I don't edit my photos, I will always re-size them before uploading them to my posts. I make all the photos 1000px as this keeps the quality of the image, but means it will still load quickly when people view the post. If the image size is too large, people may experience a delay waiting for your photos to load on the post.

7. Focus Point
Having the correct focus point of your image will make sure people take notice of what you have photographed. Make sure your products are in focus and centered, and that you don't have anything around it that will take the attention from it. Sometimes it's good to include some smaller items around the main item to make it a little more interesting. Sometimes small items pointing towards the main item draws the readers attention and will make them more likely to view your photos. 

8. Shadows
Even if you have the best lighting setup, getting shadows in your images can cause you problems. You need to make sure you don't get in the way of your light source, which sounds simple, but needs to be thought out for when setting up. Eventually I want to buy a pair of box lights, to provide a light source from both sides of what I am shooting which should eradicate any shadows, and I think they would be a worthwhile investment for anyone wanting high quality photos.   
I hope these tips will help for your blog photography, for some more tips check out my Photography Tips for Beginners
What other tips do you have for blog photography?
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Bulldog Original Face Wash & Moisturiser Review

There are so many choices out there for skincare nowadays it's sometimes hard to decide which is worth investing money in. I have tried numerous products to help cleanse my skin to prevent blackheads and spots and some have worked much better than others, although a common problem is that my skin is dried out. I've not really used moisturiser as much as I probably should, but seen as its getting colder and my skin tends to get dry sometimes it seems like a good idea. After receiving these as a gift a while ago I wanted to see whether these bulldog products be the answer.

Bulldog Original Face Wash
This left my skin feeling fresh in the morning ready for the day ahead, and clean in the evenings after removing any dirt from my face. One of the important things I noticed that my skin was not dried out at all by the face wash, yet its cleansing ability was not affected. This is a product I will definitely keep using and would replace when its empty as it does exactly what I want in a daily face wash. 

Bulldog Original Moisturiser
This moisturiser can be used daily both morning and night to help prevent your skin from getting dehydrated. It works great in combination with the face wash and I use it after I have cleansed so it's applied on clean skin. You only need to apply a small amount to cover your whole face which is good for making the product last longer, especially with daily use. One key thing I noticed when using this is the lack of greasy finish on your skin when applying it, as I found some others I have used in the past gave a shiny finish. 

Both these products are cruelty free and contain natural ingredients so you can be satisfied that they won't be causing harm to animals or your skin. I would like to try out some of Bulldog's other products such as the face scrub or eye roll on.
Have you used any Bulldog products before?

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Autumn Wishlist

With the Autumnal season well and truly under way I thought it would be a great time to do an Autumn wishlist. The majority of my wardrobe is filled with summer clothes and I never really spend my money on new clothes. Getting into this colder weather means the need for new clothes and accessories so here's my top items to get!
Asos 3/4 T-Shirt
I've never been one to have 3/4 tops before but with nearly all my other tops being short sleeved t-shirts, having a few 3/4 options would help mix it up a bit, with the added bonus of keeping my arms a little bit warmer.
The North Face Beanie
Having a beanie to wear for those cold mornings can often be a lot better than walking round with my big hood up which restricts my view from the large fur around the edge of the hood. Like everyone else I've had winter hats before, but have always fancied a The North Face one, and they seem to be a bit larger than some so I can fit my big head in it!

Topman Scarf
Another accessory for this time of year is to have a scarf to throw on. Something like this blue Topman one is simple and plain and will go with most outfits.

New Look Wool Overcoat
Although I already own a very warm The North Face Parka coat, I don't have one that's a bit more fashionable. This overcoat is a great option to wear at this time of year when it's too cold to head out without a coat but a not so cold you need to be wrapped up head to toe!

Asos Black Leather Belt
It's got to that time when shorts are no longer an option so I'm wearing jeans all of the time and seen as I'm in-between jean sizes I need a belt. I have been using my current belts to destruction and I am in desperate need of a smarter looking belt.

Topman Suede Brogues
With my current shoe selection being made up of Adidas and Nike trainers, and the fact I have already got a pair of boots, I quite fancy a smarter pair of shoes such as these brogues that give me a different option to wear. 

What items do you have on your Autumn Wishlist?

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

8 Apps I Use For Blogging

There are loads of apps out there and its hard to know which ones to use. I thought I would do a quick post about my favourite apps to use for blogging. Like most bloggers I use Twitter and Instagram to help promote, interact and expand my blog. These are the other apps that help me when I'm doing blogging work on my iPhone or iPad.



Layout - I know Instagram has had a recent update but the Layout app gives you more options to help improve your photos, including combining multiple photos into one image, flipping and mirroring your images. As the app is created by Instagram, which is owned by Facebook it works seamlessly when uploading to either of these apps.

PhotoMarkr - This is a basic but effective app that lets you put a watermark on your photos. You can alter the size and position of where the water mark appears and is great to stop people stealing your photos for their own use.

Canva - This is the app based version of the website and it gives you some great options for creating blog post headers. For those posts that you don't have a photo to use, it has a whole host of high quality customisable backgrounds for free, and more than you can pay a small amount for if you wish.

iMovie - I haven't used this much but it has been really useful for editing short videos and gives some basic features for both video and audio changes. It lets you export easily and seems to be a decent worthwhile version of the Macbook version.

Blogger - Obviously this relies on you have a blog in Google Blogger but it comes in very useful for creating or editing blog posts. You can't change any of the settings about the post but I use it to type out my posts and then quickly alter the settings on my laptop. Its great to use when you are out somewhere without your laptop and you get a post idea. 

Bloglovin - As many bloggers use this to follow and read other blogs they love, this app brings it to mobile so you can have fun catching up with the latest posts on the go. You can search for other blogs and follow new ones you like while keeping track of your posts and collections. 

Buffer - This is a great app to schedule your social media posts. You can schedule posts through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. You can write out your post and schedule them for specific times which is great for when you are busy at work. 

URL Shortener - Very simple and basic app that, as the name suggests, shortens URL's. This comes in very useful when you are running out of characters on your tweet or you don't want to paste a huge link into your blog or social media post.

Those of the apps I use to help me with blogging. Do you use any of them? What other apps do you have that come in useful for blogging?

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Extended Smile Halloween Look

Seen as it's getting towards that time of year when everyone is deciding what to dress up as for Halloween, I thought I would give you a cheap Halloween look that will certainly give you that scary impression. Last year I did a post on a zombie look, and the theme is similar with this one. Laura was once again kind enough to use her amazing makeup skills to create this Halloween makeup for me. 




This scary look is surprisingly easy and cheap to do and involves only a few steps. A base layer of foundation was applied to give an even skin tone and then my eyebrows were filled in darker to give a darker and more intense appearance. 

To create the extended lips of the mouth, tissue paper and eyelash glue were used and then red, black, purple and blue eyeshadow shades were used all around to give a bruised impression. Adding this inside the smile gives it a bit more depth and makes the blood look more realistic when applied.

The final stage is to apply the blood, the best way to do this is tip a small amount into a tub and use a brush to gently apply it to fill in all the gaps. Take your time with this part and apply multiple layers until you get the required finish. 



This Halloween look only required some basic makeup and fake blood and gives a really scary impression. To style the rest of the costume, I would wear a dark pair of jeans and an old white t-shirt. A quick coating of fake blood on the t-shirt will complete the outfit and you have a quick, cheap, easy and most importantly scary Halloween look!

Do you have a favourite Halloween look?

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Friday, 16 October 2015

Damon's Birthday Meal

Seen as it was my birthday on Sunday, me and Laura went out for lunch to Damon's in Liverpool as they have an amazing birthday offer. I had never been here before, although it had come recommended by Laura. I loved the decor inside, as it was fully kitted out as an American diner with a separate bar area with stools and then loads of little booths for eating at. 

The birthday offer gives you a free main meal, dessert and drink which is very generous and much better than birthday offers at other places. 


I decided to go for the 'New York Steak' as I've not had one in ages and I wasn't disappointed. With the steak, you were given a choice of two sides, and I went for the chips and coleslaw (the coleslaw came slightly before and I was a bit hungry so forgot to take a photo!) It also came with fried onions and peas and was definitely a plateful! I had my steak medium/rare so it still had a bit of colour inside and it was a great choice. 


For desert it didn't take me long to decide and I went for the 'Hanky Panky Chocolate Cake', which had a biscuit base and different chocolate layers. If you are a chocolate fiend like me, this should be your first choice!

The service I received here was great, with the staff being very friendly and the food and drinks came out quickly. As well as the free meal, I was given a 25% off voucher to use on my next visit, and I would certainly want to go back again and try something else from their wide ranging menu. From fajitas to burgers and sandwiches to steaks, there should be something for everyone here, if you want to have a look what's on offer check out their website

Have you ever been to Damon's?

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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

1 Year Blog Anniversary Giveaway


My blog is 1 today! I've loved blogging for the past year, it has improved my writing and photography skills, made me a lot more interested in reading different types of blogs and I have met some lovely people over on Twitter too. As a male blogger, it can be hard to create content whilst juggling a job and uni - but I did it! A year on and I don't regret starting my blog one bit. In fact, I wanted to celebrate it turning one by thanking my readers with a giveaway.

I wondered what I could pick that everyone would love and thought that since you can buy near enough anything from Amazon, a £20 voucher for their website would be perfect. Whether it be a gift for yourself, to gift something to another or to put towards your Christmas shopping. You can enter from anywhere, just make sure you read the T&C's. I've bought camera equipment, games and presents for my girlfriend from Amazon and the opportunities to buy something from there are endless. Have fun and get entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
T&C's
- You must be 16+ to enter. Under 18's require parental permission.
- You must not sell the voucher on. No cash alternative.
- It is your responsibility to check whether you can claim the voucher from where you live. The voucher will be in UK Pounds. See Amazon's terms for further information.
- You must have a valid email address as the voucher will be emailed to you.
- I am not responsible for the voucher going missing or for non-UK issues with claiming it.
- All mandatory requirements must be fulfilled otherwise you risk being disqualified.

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Monday, 12 October 2015

23 Things to do Before I'm 23


Seen as I have just turned 23 I thought it would do a list of the things I want to achieve in the next year. There has been so much happened already up to this point, so these are my next aims.

1. Rent a house with Laura - we already lived in our own flat at uni but can't wait to get a house!

2. Get a full time job in something I really enjoy - I want to be happy in the job i'm doing and I'm so ready to start my career.

3. Grow my blog and online following - I'm trying to start a schedule for blogging and want to improve my blog.

4. Start making more YouTube videos for mine and Laura's channel - we recently created our channel and I want to start incorporating videos into my posts.

5. Buy a proper blog design and custom header - I have been toying with this idea for a while and I think it will be time to help improve my blog and my motivation to do more posts.

6. Travel to a country I've never been to before - I love travelling and gaining new experiences and want to visit new places.

7. Host my own dinner parties - it's not the first thing you would think 22 year old's would like to do but I love hosting people and would really enjoy doing this.

8. Get my fitness level back - I've was going to the gym through uni and want to get back into it with a regular exercise routine.

9. Have my own dog - since moving with Laura back to her parents house, I absolutely adore their dog and can't wait to get one of my own.

10. Try different foods - I want to try things I have been scared to try before and get a healthier diet overall.

11. Own a Macbook to help with blogging and photography - this would come in so useful for blogging as I'm sure many bloggers out there could vouch for. 

12. Go skydiving - I've always wanted to do this, and would jump at the chance (excuse the pun). 

13. Improve my photography skills - even in the past year I have noticed a big increase in the quality of my photos and its always a good thing to keep improving.

14. Get better at cooking - I'm slowly improving and Laura can make amazing meals so I'm picking up things from her so I can hopefully cook for her soon!

15. Start playing a sport - I have played badminton and 5-a-side football in the past and would either like to get back into one of these or take or squash.

16. Meet up with some other bloggers - although I would be nervous to do this I think it would be great to meet some bloggers out there. 

17. Visit the best sights in LA - after recently finding out me and Laura will be going to LA I want to make sure we get in all the best sites while over there. 

18. Go on a road trip in the UK - there are some great places to visit across the UK and doing a road trip would be a great way to explore them.

19. Get engaged - me and Laura both know we are committed to each other but I would love to make it official. 

20. Go to see the Northern Lights - it's such a spectacular sight to see and it would be great to go and see this in person, either up in Scotland or travel to somewhere like Norway. 

21. Start to read more novels - I have never been a great fan of reading, I only really read the Harry Potter books when I was younger but since reading a Richard Montanari crime thriller recently I was hooked on the story and want to read more of his series.

22. Climb Mount Snowdon - I have hiked in a few different areas of the UK but have never done Snowdon which is definitely on my list to do.

23. Learn SEO and HTML skills for improving my blog - I think this would come in really useful and really help boost my blog.

So these are my 23 targets to achieve before my next birthday! What goals do you want to achieve?

Andy.
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Friday, 9 October 2015

Sefton Park Photography Afternoon

I've already done a post about how much I love Autumn and I couldn't resist heading out in the nice weather to go and get some blog photos at this time of year. Me and Laura went to Sefton Park in Liverpool yesterday and I could have walked around it all day. If you are ever in Liverpool when the weather is nice, it's well worth going, I know I'll definitely be going back! It was a good chance for Laura to get some photos for her blog too with some great scenery. I thought I would share some of my favourite photos from the day. 














I hope you liked the photos of my trip out. I can't wait for the Autumnal season to really kick in when we get all the trees turning those amazing yellow, red and orange colours. For a few more photos of Sefton Park check out Laura's post here.

Have you been to Sefton Park before? What did you think of it?

Andy.
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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Why I Love Autumn

It's that time of year when the leaves are changing colour, its getting darker earlier and its getting noticeably cooler. As much as I love summer, there is something about the autumn season that I really like. I'm not going to lie, I will wear shorts and a t-shirt for as long as possible during the year, but when the weather changes there is something nice about wrapping up to head out on those chilly mornings.

Only the other day I woke up to a very misty morning and it was time to bring out my thick parka. Yes, it might only be just getting colder, but I will take any chance to throw on my coat.

Another benefit of this season is that it provides some great opportunities for photography and I'm looking forward to going to some of the many parks in Liverpool to get some seasonal shots. At this time of year you can get some awesome sunrises and sunsets and I would love to get out and get some photos of both of these on the same day.

The colour of the trees in autumn is such a nice sight and wandering down the path kicking your way through piles of fallen leaves and the crunch of them under your feet is strangely satisfying. Autumn hosts a number of great events, one namely being my birthday, and others such as Halloween and Bonfire Night.

With the nights drawing in, turning the heating up and sitting with a hot chocolate in front of the telly becomes more acceptable as a plan for the evening!

Those are a few of the reasons why I love Autumn.

What do you like about this time of year?

Andy.
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Monday, 5 October 2015

I'm Starting to Feel Old


I know I'm only going to be turning 22 but as funny as it sounds I'm starting to feel a little bit old! The last big birthday you celebrate is your 21st and then your 30th is your next big milestone.

Whenever I was in school I always had a birthday milestone to look forward to as there was always something new that you would be able to do. Turning 15 and being finally able to go to the cinema to see that new action film that you were never old enough to get into. 

16 came along and I got my first part time job, which really boosted my confidence and I felt myself mature a lot and I was able to be more independent as I could rely on myself for money. As I was starting to work I was beginning my A-Levels which really made me step up and put a lot of effort into my academic work. 

The month after starting my A-Levels came my 17th birthday which of course meant I was able to start my driving lessons! I had been looking forward to driving for years and was so happy to finally start. Once I had passed my test I became even more into driving and wanted to go out all the time.

As with most 17 year olds approaching their 18th birthday, this became the most important birthday, for the main reason of being able to finally buy alcohol. Even though I was legally allowed to buy alcohol, it seem felt so weird that I was old enough to actually do it. After a few months the novelty of being able to buy it wore off and it became normal.

Turning 18 also meant that I would be going to Uni in the near future. After going through applications and open days I ended up at Northumbria University in Newcastle where I was based for the next 3 years. 

In my final year of Uni I had my 21st birthday which always seemed to be the point of turning into a fully fledged adult and meant I would be finishing Uni soon and going into the real world of full responsilbilites. 

Now I've finished Uni I do feel like a have gained a lot of experience and know that I am more than capable of renting my own place, being responsible for myself and actually being able to adult properly! 

Now I'm in my twenties I no longer have birthdays to look forward to where I can do new things or reach an important birthday. I'm now looking forward to getting my own house with Laura and settling down rather than constantly going out 'partying'. I feel like my younger years of all that type of behaviour are behind me now and although I'm only turning 22 this month, it seems like I will be 30 before I know it.

Even though the past few years seem to have flown by with so many great things happening, I'm honestly so ready to start my career and enjoy what life has to bring!

Have you had any of the same experience as me?

Andy.
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