Tuesday, 30 August 2016

V Festival Photo Diary & Vlog


This time last week I had just got home from V Festival down in Chelmsford. Me and Laura decided to head down south from Liverpool hoping we would get better weather down in Essex and it seemed to pay off. This was our first festival together and it was amazing. I've put together some of my favourite photos from the weekend and included V Fest vlog at the bottom so be sure to check out some of the action.


Here's our vlog of the weekend with some of the best bits from the festival. It was so great to see multiple people live, so check out the video for some of the bands. 


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Saturday, 27 August 2016

It Was Time For A Change


I've finally done it. I upgraded my blog design to a professional layout after pondering with the idea for ages. I had always liked the designs on pipdig and had myself set on a specific design but couldn't justify to myself why I should get one when I hadn't long been blogging. Moving to where I'm at now after blogging for nearly 2 years, it's also the time when I'm about to start my full time career which I talked about in a previous post.

I know this is going to be a big step and will leave me with less time to blog, but I didn't want this to stop me moving forward with it or mean that I'd neglect it. I thought it was finally time to treat myself so that I was really happy with how my blog looked, as this would give me another reason to make sure I keep on top of all things blogging. I know quite a few people do blog while having a full time job, so I know it's possible. I feel that in the past few months I've started to pick up my game with blogging and managed to keep a regular schedule while improving my content. I think when your heart is really in it, you seem to be able to come up with new ideas more easily and start to get really excited about future posts.

When I first started I wasn't very organised at all and struggled to come up with much to write about, but since getting myself in check I'm planning further ahead, with a substantial list of Christmas post ideas already set out to be able to do Blogmas which I never dreamt of being able to do. I know I might have rambled a little in this post, but my point I'm trying to get across is that small things can make a big difference for your blog, and it's much more of an investment towards its future as it can give you really positive steps forward.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

How To Get Into The Career You Want


Things are going to be changing a little for me as I'm starting my new job in a couple of weeks. I've been working in retail for nearly 6 years part time, through my A-Levels and Uni and carried this on after graduating while looking to start my career in the area I'm going into. Now I've managed to get my dream job, I thought it would be useful to do an advice post about what I found useful and things that should help you. Some of you may not know what you want to do, even after graduating, which is completely fine. I had set myself on the area and found certain things that helped me to achieve what I wanted.

Tailor Your Modules

Whether this is in uni or other educational courses, if you have the ability to choose which modules you take, then think carefully about which ones will be the most beneficial. It may be easy to have a quick read over them and just pick the ones that sounds fairly easy but you may well regret this further down the line. Some modules may be different to what you first think, so read into them before deciding. Go and talk to your tutors if you want more information as they will be happy to help. Certain modules will give you specific skills that are highly valued by employers so keep this in mind. 

Get Experience

Any experience in a work environment is valuable and can really help you stand out above other candidates. If you can get experience in the same or similar area then this will be a real bonus as it gives you experience that is even more transferable and shows that you are keen to work in that field. Experience gives you plenty of things to draw on when applying for jobs and can be a great way to demonstrate your skills and capabilities. I did an part time placement while in my final year of uni which definitely helped and is one way to get key experience even if you don't have a year out as part of your course. 

Take Time Doing Your Application

There is nothing worse you could do than to rush your application and missing out key information or making mistakes with what you have put in. If you take the time to submit a quality application it can make all the difference and give you a much better chance. Even once you have finished and checked your application, getting someone else to look over it may spot things you had missed and could save those pesky spelling mistakes.

Interviews

You can spend so long doing your application, if you are successful in getting an interview you may feel like you can relax a little. You now have the opportunity to prove yourself in person and can really be the make or break point. Use this chance to demonstrate why they should hire you over someone else. When preparing, there are a variety of questions they could ask you so be sure to plan for each. There could be basic questions about the companies values and why you want to work for them so don't overlook these basic details. Other ones could be situational which will ask you to draw upon your previous experience to prove yourself. You may also get technical or specific questions related to the role, so make sure you know your stuff before going in. 

Don't Give Up

When you are applying for jobs, don't get disheartened if you get knocked back. I knew the company that I wanted to work for and had applied for a number of jobs with them, even had some interviews but couldn't make it over the last hurdle. I felt like I was never going to get where I wanted to be and it would have been easy to give up trying. At one of the interviews, one of the interviewers told me I should go for the graduate scheme and this gave me another boost of confidence and fast forward to present and here I am ready to start my position on the scheme. 

My past applications and interviews made me realise certain areas that I needed to improve on so were definitely not a waste. One bit of advice is to take something away from every application whatever the outcome and make sure you use this to improve your next one. This is what I did and I put everything into my grad scheme application to give myself the best chance and I proved to myself that if you don't give up you can do it

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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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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A Few Photos From Southport Pier

Having lived in Liverpool for nearly a year now, I had wanted to take a trip up the coast to Southport to check out the area in the sun. They have a decent sized pier where you can get a nice view along the coast and see across to Blackpool if it's clear. I'd like to head up again when it's good weather to explore more of the beach and get some more shots from out on the pier and set up a time lapse with the GoPro. Here are some of my favourites from the afternoon up there.


There are some rides at Pleasure Land just behind the beach which I didn't get a chance to go on but would be on the list for next time. 


There is a small train that runs up and down the pier if you don't fancy the walk to the end, where you can find some amusements and grab some food. I know there will be more to explore in and around Southport, and would love some ideas if you have ever visited. 


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Monday, 8 August 2016

What My First Job Taught Me


Real Responsibilities

Working in retail meant that I was being in contact with customers all the time. When you are representing the company you have to conduct yourself appropriately to make sure you give a good impression. You also have to care and see to the needs of all the customers to make sure they are happy while being required to complete certain things on each shift so you have the added responsibility of getting these done in time. The longer I had been in my job, the more important tasks I was given to do, and being responsible for these meant people were relying on me. I found being made responsible for things in my part time job made me much more responsible for life in general and has definitely benefited me in preparation for my future career.

To Be Organised

I started my first job when I was completing my A-Levels so I had to make sure I had myself organised. I did shifts two evenings during the week once I'd finished school for the day so had to make sure I was on top of everything so that I could still get to work on time while having enough time to complete all my school work. I had to get the correct balance so that I'd still have time to do things myself outside school and work, while still having time for things such as seeing friends and family. 

Managing Money

Even though I was getting more money coming through my job, it didn't necessarily mean I had all this money extra. Generally you live to your means so if you have more money, you will have more things to spend it on. Even things such as upgrading my phone to get a better one which meant a more expensive contract would mean I had to make sure I'd have enough money to pay this every month. Moving forward a year and I had moved away to uni and moved stores to keep my job while I was there. I was immediately given a lot more things to pay for, be it rent, food, bills, travel and uni supplies. Although I had my student loan, the majority of this went straight onto rent so I never really saw much of it so had to rely on the income from my job. I did have some help from my parents in my first year to help me get used to paying for all these different things, but I still had be on top of my money management.

Ability To Approach People

When you are in a job where you deal with customers on a daily basis, never-mind all your collegues, you are forced into a position where you have to interact with people. You can't be shy all the time as you often have to approach people to ask if they are okay or ask your manager for directions. Even though this may be a little daunting at first, once you have done it, I found it was a real confidence booster. I definitely noticed a difference in my confidence when I was in school and doing other things, and meant I was more confident when it came to moving away to uni with people I had never met before.

Positive Aspects For Future Jobs

All of these things I've talked about so far have benefit me through general life. Thinking about it for the future, they are all things that will help me when going into a full time role to start my career. A lot of people get their first job when they are 16 with some, like myself, doing it part time alongside studying. Even though I was doing something that I knew wouldn't be my career, it still helped me so much and gave me so many positive things to take away from it. If you are thinking about getting into your first job and wonder whether it's worth it, I'd say go for it. Even forgetting about the money you'll receive, the experience and benefits you will get can help you both in the present and future, which can only be a positive thing. 

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Friday, 5 August 2016

The 10 Best Shows To Watch On Netflix

I've had a Netflix account for around 4 years now so have had time to enjoy plenty of shows. The films available are sometimes a bit hit and miss, but I think Netflix has a really strong TV show library, and they constantly add new titles including some of their own Netflix Original productions. Sometimes I will finish a series and feel a little lost as to where to go next, so I thought creating this guide to what I feel some of the best shows I've watched are to give you some inspiration when you don't know what to watch next.

Dexter

Seasons: 8
This is a really good crime show which is based around a police blood splatter expert being a serial killer. From being a child he always knew he was a killer and found killing criminals helped to fulfill his urges. Sounds interesting right? He searches out the criminals who are being investigated by the detectives in his department and decides to 'deal with them' himself before they are arrested to take justice into his own hands. 

Breaking Bad

Seasons: 5
This was very popular with many people when it was released yet I didn't get round to watching it until all seasons had been released. How I did this I do not know as it is such an amazing show. It did take me about half a season to get into the story line, but once I did I found it hard to stop watching it. The show is based around a chemistry teacher who gets diagnosed with terminal cancer and finds he will need to raise a large amount of money to fund his treatment. He then creates his own brand of Meth which becomes the purest on the market, although you'd expect this from someone highly qualified in chemistry. 

Homeland

Seasons: 5 (only 1-4 currently on UK Netflix)
This started quite a while ago and I didn't watch it until 3 seasons had been released. It was first broadcast on Channel 4 before it came to Netflix. The show follows a CIA agent through her work and personal life and takes you along on a very intense and fast paced show. It's based around the war on terror and you get to see every gritty detail. I know there are quite a few shows around this CIA story line, but this exceeds so much better than any others I've seen before. 

Prison Break

Seasons: 4
Your first thought with this is how do they drag this story line out over 4 seasons and it not become boring? This did cross my mind but don't worry, it includes a lot of detail so that you really get to know the characters and feel part of their journey. Some of the later episodes become about what happens when the do escape and the events that occur as part of this. I didn't want this season to end and felt like I wanted it to carry on and on. Some good news is that they have recently announced season 5 so there is still more to come.

House Of Cards

Seasons: 4
This is a Netflix Original show and I was a bit skeptical as I didn't thing it would match up to others for quality and story. I was very wrong. This show it absolutely amazing and really pulls you in to the intense journey of how Kevin Spacey tries to rise to power in the White House. Even though it's a political drama, you don't have to know anything or even be interested in politics to understand or enjoy this show. It did take a little while to become engaged in the story but when I did I was properly hooked. The show has already been renewed for another season which will come out next year. 


Orange Is The New Black

Season: 4
There was quite a bit of hype about this Netflix Original show but I didn't think it looked interesting when it was first talked about. When season 4 was released and the hype started again I thought I'd give it a go. You follow the life of the main character Piper who gets convicted of a drug related crime from years ago. You get to see how she copes in the women's prison and see her serve her time on the inside. You start to learn the backgrounds of the other characters which keeps you interested as you want to learn about how everyone came to be in prison. It's quite a different show as there haven't been many out based around women's prisons. 

Whitechapel

Seasons: 4
This is a British police drama that was first broadcast on BBC. It starts off being based on the detectives trying to solve copycat Jack The Ripper style killings and the little town becomes host to some pretty gruesome killings. As the seasons move on it steers away from Jack The Ripper themed to other copycat killings and they find more and more they need to use historical cases to solve the current ones.  

Sherlock

Seasons: 3
This is the modern remake of Sherlock Holmes and is of course based on the well know detective. Played by Benedict Cumberbatch, you feel like you are constantly trying to discover more about him as a person while he goes on solving cases with his sidekick Watson. You get to watch the relationship between Sherlock and Watson change depending on the type of case they are working, and it's very interesting to watch how an old school detective solves cases in modern times. 

Spooks

Seasons: 10
This was another BBC show that came over to Netflix. It follows Section D of MI5 and how they operate battling terrorism related invents across the country. Being British, it's a bit less extreme than your typical American version. The show follows multiple characters, especially the head of Section D who plays a prominent role in the show. You get to dive into their personal lives of certain officers and watch how this plays into how they do their job. Generally on the show, each episode is based on a different event which keeps things fresh and interesting.

The Killing

Seasons: 4
Another Netflix Original that is based on a homicide detective in Seattle getting a call on her last day as a cop about a teenage girls disappearance. Let's just say she stays on for a little while longer. The story gets quite dark, yet it intrigues you to keep watching to see the case develop. As I watched I started to think of different theories about who the main suspect is, but with plenty of twists and turns it becomes very addictive to watch.


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