Tuesday, 19 April 2016

LA Packing List


Clothes

Looking at the weather forecast for Los Angeles, it's looking pretty warm over there at the moment so I'm packing hoping it will continue to be nice when I get there. I'm going to be there for 7 days but want to take enough so I still have a choice of what to wear. 

Tops - I'm going to have enough tops for 1 a day with a few spare to give me a few options. I think I'll also throw in a couple of shirts for a smarter option if we end up going out somewhere a little nicer for dinner.

Shorts - Hopefully it will be warm enough to wear shorts everyday so I'm taking a few different pairs to last me the whole week. 

Jeans - I'm hoping I won't be needing these during the day but I think it will be good to have a couple of pairs for going out anywhere in the evening when it might get a bit cooler, or places that you can't really where shorts to. 

Shoes - I'm going to want some shoes that will be comfy to wear all day so I'm opting to take my Nike Free Run's and Adidas Los Angeles trainers. I think I'll throw my Nike Janoski's in for a slightly smarter pair to wear with jeans if I wanted to. 

Technology

I want to be able to document our trip so I want to have enough kit to be able to do this without going over the top. I've also added a few things that should come in very useful along the way.

Camera - I'll be taking my Fuji S100FS that I use for all my photography. This has enough zoom range to capture anything I'll want to take photos of so will make it the best all round camera. Spare batteries will be an essential so I won't miss out on any photo opportunities. 

GoPro - I'll be using my GoPro Hero and taking a few different mounts. For general bits, I'll attach it to The Handler so I can capture what I'm doing. I'm also packing the tripod mount so I can attach it to my Gorillapod for a stable mount for filming or doing time-lapses. We may be renting a car out there so taking the suction cup may well come in useful for in car footage. The last mount I'll be packing is the Chest Mount, so I can film what we get up when I need my hands free. 

Gorillapod SLR Zoom - This is the perfect travel tripod as it's so light and adaptable, so it will be great and easy to use, and I can still carry it around all day. It can be used for my Fuji and GoPro so means I only have to have one tripod with me. 

Portable Power Bank - I bought an Anker Power Bank that can be used to charge my iPhone, iPad and GoPro. It will have enough power to do multiple charges so will come in very useful when out all day.

iPhone & iPad - My phone will come in useful as a quick option for taking photos and videos and can be used for maps to help get directions. I think the main thing I'll use the iPad for is entertainment on the plane. As the flight is around 11 hours, I downloaded some TV shows to watch to make it a bit more bearable. 

Laptop - The main reason I'm taking this is to back up the photos and videos so we don't risk losing everything we have taken. Even though my GoPro has the largest memory card it can take, it will still only hold 4-5 hours of footage, so I will have to keep moving it from the memory card onto the laptop so I have enough free space for the next day.

That's my packing list for when I go to Los Angeles. I hope this comes in useful if you are going away anywhere soon. If you liked this post you might also like my Food Places To Visit In LA and my LA Bucket List

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Saturday, 16 April 2016

10 Places I'd Like To Visit Next


I've done a similar travel post like this before of the Places I Want To Visit In The UK. This got me thinking about where else in the world I'd like to travel to.

Santorini
I'd love to go here in the summer as the weather looks amazing and I really like the style of the apartments. You have the whole hillside covered in white houses looking out onto the sea, and it would be great to have one with a private pool. I think this would be good for a more relaxed type of holiday, having the option to wander around some of the villages on the island. 

Venice
Italy has also been somewhere I'd like to travel to, and Venice would be my first choice. There is so much to see here with the city full of culture giving you loads of places to explore. Wandering around the many canals and taking a ride on gondola would be a must. Even though there are so many backstreets to see, I think you could still go around at your own pace for a relaxed walk around the city. The architecture is something to indulge yourself in and would be a great photographic opportunity.

Iceland
Seeing the northern lights has always been on my bucket list, and I think Iceland would be a great place to see them. Being further north with a lot less light pollution, you are going to have a much better chance to witness them. Iceland also has some great landscapes to explore, so I think renting out a car to travel around the best spots of the country would be a good option. There are some things I'd want to do such as visit the hot springs and go to do some whale watching.

Australia
I know its rather a large country but I just couldn't pin down where to go. This has been another place that has always been somewhere I'd love to go, but being so expensive it's going to be a lot of saving. I'd love to spend a few weeks over there and visit as much of the country as possible. I think I'd like to see some of the main cities but also explore some of the outback to see some of the wildlife. 

New York
Even though I'm so lucky to be going to LA soon, it doesn't mean I wouldn't want to go back to America. I think if I was able to go again, New York would be the place I'd love to go as it would be an amazing experience. You'd never be left with nothing to do, with places to visit such as Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Art Museums to name a few. There is a great variety of things to explore so there should be something to suit everyone, from wandering around Central Park to going up the Empire State building.

Berlin
There is so much history to this city which would give plenty of things to take in. There are some interesting places to see such as the Jewish Memorial, Brandenburg Gate and the Reischtag Building. You read about some of these places and what they represent, but I'd like to experience it for myself to appreciate the history. If you fancied a spot of shopping they have the Alexanderplatz Mall with a huge variety of different shops to enjoy.

Cancun
This would be the sunny holiday option that is a little different to your normal summer holiday. It seems like it would be a bit less touristy than some of the normal resorts you might go to so would be a nice place to go and relax in the sun. 

Rio de Janeiro
With the Olympics taking place over there later this year, it has received investment to boost the area to improve services and make it a much safer city. They have the large stretch of beach to enjoy and relax on, while also having areas in the city to explore the culture of Brazil. I'd like to head up the hillside to experience some more of the culture and get some amazing views of the city and ride up to the top of the hill in the new cable car system that has been built.

Madrid
Being the capital of Spain, the city is going to be thriving with culture so there will be so much to be part of. They have quite a few parks to wander around as well as places such as the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral and El Rastro open market where you can delve into some souvenir and gift purchasing. I think I would go around some of the museums it has to find out more about the history. 

Marseilles
I went to the south of France years ago when I was in secondary school on a water sports trip, and the weather was amazing. I think there will be a good combination of things to do in the city, as you can relax in the hot weather down on the beaches or explore more of the city. There are some big landmarks to see such as the Cathedral de la Major and a number of areas around the port and harbour areas that look appealing. 

So that's my 10 places I'd like to travel to next, is there anywhere else you can recommend that I should add to my list?

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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Food Places To Visit In LA


Seen as I'll be flying out to LA in just over a week, I wanted to get down a list of the food places I'd love to try. I've already done my travel LA Bucket List, so this is the food version. I have included some restaurant type places as well as more fast food options which I'm excited to try.

iHop

It looks like there are so many nice things to try from here, and the good thing is they do loads of breakfast items. I'm particularly excited for things such as the Waffles and Pancakes that can be topped with so many different things. You can even have fried chicken and Waffles!

Cheesecake Factory

I think it's quite self explanatory what this is known so I will definitely be trying out some of their well known for but don't think that's all it offers. You can get main meals from pizza, burgers, salads, steaks and more so there is plenty of choice. Another bonus is that you can take away your slice of cheesecake if you wanted to save some until later on. 

Olive Garden

This is an Italian Kitchen that includes many of the Italian favourites, including quite a few different fried options, particularly the appetizers. They offer things such Scampi Fritta, Lasagna Fritta and Crispy Risotto Bites.

Chipotle

I like the idea of this Mexican Grill restaurant where you can customise your meal. You get a few different meal options to choose from such as a burrito, taco or bowl. You get to pick your meat from steak, chicken or some others and then add your fillings such as rice or veg. It gets topped off with one of the many salsa's they offer, and to complete the meal you choose your side and drinks such as tortilla chips and a margarita. Although it' s a fairly small menu, I think this should mean the food they do offer should be really nice.

Taco Bell

You can probably guess by the name that they specialise in tacos but they also have a decent range of burritos. Having a scroll through the menu, I wasn't expecting the sheer amount of options they offer. There are so many different choices and all of them seem really well priced. I can't wait to try out some of their menu, the only problem will be deciding what to choose. 

Wendy's

I think this is what you would expect from your typical American diner. They offer things such as burgers, wraps, chicken nuggets with your normal fries and sides. This isn't to say it should be overlooked, as I've heard some good things about the food there. 

In n' Out Burger

Another fairly straightforward option here, as you know exactly what you'll be getting when you go here. I'm looking forward to trying the burgers from here and comparing they to what other places offer. They also have a 'Not So Secret Menu' where you can get things like a 4 burger stack.

Roscoe's

If you like chicken, it looks like this is the place to go. It's the house of chicken & waffles and they have loads of choices. They do have some meals such as chicken, gravy & onions with a hot biscuit, but I think I'll be going for their more popular options such as their fried chicken and waffles, because who wouldn't like this?

Shake Shack

I think this might be more of a lunch option to grab something quick while out. They offer a selection of burgers, including a chicken option, as well as a few hot dogs. You can top this off with one of their hand-spun ones with flavours such as chocolate, salted caramel, strawberry and more. I might tempted by one of their frozen custards as the salted caramel chocolate brownie sounds amazing.

Five Guys

I've tried this one in Manchester before and was quite impressed by the burger and fries. The quality of the food was really good and although it was still fast food outlet, it did taste more restaurant like than the competitors in the UK. Even the fries tasted so much nicer that I've had before as they are actually seasoned. I'm intrigued to see whether they will taste the same over in America.

Chick a Fil A 

Another chicken diner that I would like to try out and see how it differs from the others. They have a few different types of meals that you can, such as their classic burgers, wraps or trays. These include chicken nuggets and strips and all of these can be finished off with some of their sides and milkshakes. 

So there it is, my list of the food places I'd like to try out while I'm in LA. There is so much choice so the hard part will be deciding where to go! Let me know if you know of any other places that I should add to my list.

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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Olympus Pen E-PL7 Review: First Impressions

Introduction

I've seen that quite a lot of people in the blogging community have been using the Olympus Pen E-PL7 and was intrigued as to why. Laura bought this camera around 6 months ago and I've had the chance to test it out. It will be more of a first impressions post about how I've found using it and the type of photos it can produce, but I will still cover the features and modes it has. 


Features/Modes

The Olympus Pen E-PL7 has 16.1 megapixels with a Micro Four Thirds Sensor. The Pen has a good range of modes to give you varying degrees of control. There is an iAuto mode which will try and calculate the best settings for you. For basic photography, this might suffice, but if you want to make full use of your camera, you really need to be using the other settings. You get the normal modes you would expect including aperture priority, shutter priority, program and manual. These allow you to have plenty of control over your photos and will come in very useful for different situations. 

Other modes include scene, which has 25 different options, bulb mode and art mode which gives you the choice between 14 different filters. These can come in really useful and make some generally normal photos look really impressive, such as the partial colour option. This lets you choose the colour prior to taking the photo so it removes the post editing needed. 

It does have a movie mode which is capable of recording in Full HD at the push of a button. It comes out fairly well for the size of the camera, although saying how high the quality of photos it can produce, I was expecting slightly better quality video. This will vary with the lens attached however so it's only a small point. 

A very useful part of this camera is that it has Wi-Fi. You can download the app and it lets your transfer the photos straight to your phone, or take control of the camera remotely which is great if you have it set up on a tripod, for example. You can also have a live view of what the camera sees and alter settings from the phone, so its more than just a wireless shutter release. 


Design

The first thing you will notice about this camera is the retro design, which seems to be quite popular these days. It's a fairly small size and surprisingly lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around with you. The only downside with this is that if you have larger hands it may be a bit fiddly to use the buttons etc. A great feature of this camera is the tiltable touchscreen which can be moved into various positions, including 180 degrees swing to bring it completely underneath the camera. This comes in particularly useful for taking selfies as you get a full view of your shot. 

It's very easy to change lenses on the camera with a simple button release which lets you twist the lens out. Even the larger lens on the camera is still light and easy to hold. The barrel zoom on the lenses I've used are very smooth, and the pancake lens comes with a neat lock feature to stop it moving when it's not in use. The Pen doesn't have an inbuilt flash as such, as it comes with a small detachable flash. I guess this is quite a good idea, especially if you don't tend to use flash that often.



Sample Photos

As I mentioned earlier, this is Laura's camera, so I will include some sample photos of things she has taken, such as her makeup etc, as part of her beauty posts over on her blog. This camera can produce some amazing photos, from close up product photos to arty, landscape and nature shots. 









Conclusion

I have been really impressed with this camera and the photos it can produce. It excels at product type photos and would be a great addition to any blogger to improve their photos. Don't think its just for this type of photography however, as it can take some excellent shots as you can see from the sample photos above. 

The camera is packed with neat little features that come in very useful, for quickly transferring your photos and using the touchscreen to tap the focus point of the subject in your frame. It has enough modes to give you the freedom to get the photos you want, and seems fairly intuitive to navigate the settings. Overall, this is a brilliant camera that would be a good investment for any newbie or keen photographer. I can definitely see why it's a popular choice with bloggers, but even if you aren't, the features that make it liked will be useful for anyone.

If you liked this post, you might also like my Fuji S100FS Review, How I Take My Blog Photos or Laura's Olympus Pen Review.


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Thursday, 7 April 2016

LA Bucket List


Seen as it's later this month that I travel to LA, I wanted to put together a bucket list of what I wanted to explore while I was there. I've been looking around on numerous guides and watching videos on YouTube of people travelling there to get an idea of the places you have to visit. Here's my LA bucket list for all the things I'd love to see while I'm there.

Griffith Observatory

This is one of the popular places that everyone seems to visit. I think one of the reasons for this is simply the view of the city you can get from up there, so to fully appreciate the skyline I will definitely be heading up there. 

Hollywood Sign

This is an iconic part of LA and you can see it from so many areas. Yes, I could just take a photo from a distance away, but if I've got time it would like to go up and get a close up view of the famous landmark. 

Hollywood Stars

Another very touristy thing to do, but just walking down the street looking at all the different stars and take in the area would be great. I'll be picking out which stars that I definitely want to see as there so many! 

Universal Studios

These studios look amazing as you get to see some great behind the scenes sets of the big movies. I think it will be really interesting to learn how some of the films are created and see in person the sets, as well as experience some of the rides they have at the studios. 

Warner Brothers Studios

Another behind the scenes experience for huge movie company would be very interesting to see. You can also visit one of the soundstages that some of the biggest tv shows and films are created. There are sometimes filming around you when you visit so it makes for a unique experience. 

Santa Monica Pier

I've seen quite a few photos of this before and it definitely look worth a visit. There are some small rides to enjoy while taking in the spectacular views of the coastline. I'd love to go here in the evening and watch the sunset.

Beaches

There are 3 main beaches I want to visit: Venice, Manhattan and Long Beach. One of the good things about LA is that it has the best of both worlds. You can be exploring around the city one minute, and head down to relax on the beach the next.

Dodgers Stadium

I think it would be amazing to go to a game, as it looks an amazing atmosphere and would be a unique experience to watch a baseball game. It might be a bit of a stretch to see a game, but I'd still like to visit the stadium to have a look around. 

LA Cathedral

I quite like looking around cathedrals just to appreciate the architecture, and the cathedral over there looks quite a modern design, very different to any I've been to before. 

Bus Tour

Like any place you visit, a bus tour is a great way to see loads of different things that you wouldn't normally be able to do. It also saves you walking around for hours trying to find the places to visit. You often get to see the most popular areas by taking a bus tour. 

Madame Tussauds 

I know they have one of these in London, but having different waxwork figures will be good to look around. It will interesting to see some of the big stars in wax form. 

Beverly Hills Shops

I mean come on, you can't go to LA without exploring some of the amazing places they have over there. There are so many malls worth visiting such as The Beverly Center, The Grove and Rodeo Drive, with so much stuff that you can't get over here.

Urban Light

This is a large scale sculpture located on the Wilshire Boulevard (down the road from our hotel). Simply put it's a huge collection of streetlamps outside the County Museum of Art, but it's much more impressive than it sounds and is a great photographic opportunity. 

Six Flags/Disneyland

They have some great theme parks in LA and I'd love to do both of these, but I just won't have time to spend two whole days out of the week in a theme park, as there are so many things to see elsewhere. I'm still not decided which to go for as they both look amazing, if you have been to either, let me know which you like in the comments.

Are there any other places I should add to my list?

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Monday, 4 April 2016

Pros & Cons Of Using An iPad For Blogging

Pro's & Cons's Of Using An iPad For Blogging

Having started blogging in October 2014, I seemed to just open the laptop, write out my post and hit publish. Since then, I have found other thing that help me with blogging to make it easier to write out posts and get ideas down. If you hadn't guessed already by the title, my iPad is the addition that been making blogging a little easier. Although it comes in very useful, it does have it's drawbacks. I'm going to try and cover the points I have found on both sides so you can understand whether it will be useful for you when blogging. 

Benefits

The great thing about the iPad is that is has countless apps you can download to use. I did a post a while ago about the 8 Apps I Use For Blogging, so I'm not going to go through them all again. These are some of the main things I've noticed that come in very useful. 

OneNote
Since doing my apps post I've added this Microsoft app to my blogging collection. This is great for creating post ideas and planning out what I'm going to put within the post. You can also add in photos or screenshots to each note that you might want to use in the post, so it keeps all the information in one place. You can create separate sections which makes organisation very easy, and the good thing is, OneNote syncs with all your devices, so I can pick up all my notes on my laptop.

Small & Light
One of the great design features of the iPad is how slim and light it is. This means you can take it anywhere with you so you can use it to create notes of your posts wherever you are, so it means you'll never miss a chance to note down your ideas when you get inspiration. The battery life is around 10 hours, but can last days if you aren't using it all the time, which means you don't have to worry about it running low while you're out. 

iMovie
I've only used this a few times but it has been so easy and useful to put together short videos. Although it has only a few features compared to the full version on mac's, it's perfectly fine for basic video editing that you still want to look professional. 

Drawbacks

As much as the iPad is very useful to use for blogging, there are certain things that mean it's hard to produce the high quality content you want without having to use a laptop/computer as well. I already said I'm not going through all the apps again, but I want to touch on a problem with the blogger app that is one of the reasons the iPad isn't perfect for blogging.

Blogger App

I really wish Google had put more work into developing this app because it has the potential to be excellent, but there are a few too many issues I have found when trying to use this for blogging. Yes, you can create text and add photos directly from the iPad photos, but the formatting just doesn't sit correctly when published and you have no option to change this or edit the html. Also, you only have the ability to add labels to the post, so there is no option for scheduling or altering the permalink. What this means is that, unless you just want a basic blog layout, then you need to use a laptop to sort out all the problems before you can even think about hitting publish.

Using Blogger on Safari

I've already got my grievances out the way with the app. I tried logging into blogger on safari and writing my post this way. All seemed to be going well, there were all the options to the right hand side for adding labels, scheduling and all the rest. I carried on writing, only to discover once you had filled the available space in the post box, it doesn't let you scroll down within blogger. This was so frustrating as I thought I had found a great way to use the iPad for blogging. I don't think this is a fault of the iPad for this issue, it must be something in the coding of Blogger that prevents it working properly. 

Have you got any other apps you use for blogging?

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Friday, 1 April 2016

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

I finally took a trip to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral having been past it countless times when going into the city. I was really impressed with the architecture of the building and it had some really stunning stain glass windows. 

It's free to go around the cathedral, with numerous different areas to look around. It's located on St James Mt but you can also get to it from Upper Duke Street. There is paid car park for the cathedral, but it's only a 10 minute walk from the city centre, so if you have been in town it's worth a little walk up the hill to have an explore. I wanted to put together a post to show some of the art and design of the cathedral. 










If you are into your design and architecture, I would recommend making a trip to the cathedral to fully appreciate the building. You can also go on a tower experience which lets you go up to the rooftop for the 360 degree view of the city, but I didn't have time to do this so will be going back at some point for a climb to the top! 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like 5 Places To Visit in the North West and Trafford Centre - Another Angle

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