#13 in the Judging a Photograph Series . When you edit a photo the option will appear to add a vignette (pronounced “vin-yet”). It will darken the edges of the photo, like a thin black cloud. A true vignette is caused by zooming out and shooting a wide-angle photo. Remember, camera lenses are circular. You may think that all photos are rectangular but in fact they all begin as circles. When the edges of the circle are visible in the corners of your rectangular photo, that is a vignette. Adding a Vignette Artificial vignettes are a useful effect. When you are editing a photo, try it out. Generally, it is a matter of your own taste. A vignette can work to draw the eye to the centre of the…View Post
Camping at its best is all about the delights of fresh air, newly mown grass, prosecco from a plastic wine glass and sausages spitting on the barbecue. Naturally you don’t want piles of smelly rubbish attracting the wasps or a carrier bag of waste that keeps getting kicked over. No matter how much bunting you decorate your tent with, the fact remains that camping requires a lot of housework. “Tentwork” if you like! There are a few ways I get our tent tidy and I’m sharing the first of these today.
You want your camping waste bin to –
1. Close up
2. Not tip over
3. Be easy to open with one hand
4. Be compact for packing back into the car
This simple, cheap trick does all those things. You need one metal dry-cleaner’s coat hanger and a bin liner with a draw-cord opening.
Step 1: Take a metal coat hanger from the dry cleaner and bend it into a circle.
Step 2: Use a large bin-liner with a draw-cord opening. Hook it through and over the edge of the circular hangar.
Step 3: Pull the draw-cord a little tight and tie a knot in each end individually. You need to make sure that you leave a hole big enough to easily drop the waste through.
Step 4: Hang this from your camp kitchen or other tent hook. The opening will hang flat and closed. You can lift it with one hand to drop in your waste.
All you have to transport home at the end of your trip is one metal coat hanger. Easy!
Above is a picture of my camp kitchen setup which shows the waste bin hanging off the stand on the left side. It takes up so little space! We have a pretty big tent but one of the problems with that is how much mess everyone leaves strewn around. I spend half my holiday tidying up after the family! Do you find the same? Let me know in the comments!
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Read my most recent travel blog post by clicking here.
If wasps are bothering you at home, read my blog post about dealing with bees and wasps by clicking here.
#12 in the Judging a Photograph series
One of the first things that you learn when you start to enter photo competitions is that a lot of people simply don’t notice a wonky horizon. However, the judge will notice straight away! It’s not an error anyone makes twice, I think. Landscape photographs commonly have a horizon in them, of course. Tilting the horizon when you shoot a photo is a mistake that is easily made. You may get teased for being drunk or having “left-hand dropsy”! We all do it, usually favouring one side or the other. However it’s important to straighten it up in post.
Learn a Rule Then Break It
As with all “rules” in art, it’s fun to try to find ways to break them. Tilting the horizon in an image can make a dull picture more interesting. It doesn’t generally work with portraits of people and animals. Wide, pastoral landscapes don’t usually look good on a tilt.
When Tilting Works and When it Doesn’t
Structures such as buildings which have strong lines in them are ideal for experimenting with a tilt. If you get a decent result, you may not have produce an amazing photograph, but you may make your album just a little more interesting. Perhaps your tilted image will be bit more appealing on your Instagram feed than a straight one would have been. Who knows? Experiment and see.
The best tip I can offer is to find a diagonal line and use it as a vertical or horizontal line. A strong line will make it clear what your intention is.
This roof line on Ripon cathedral is pleasant but not very interesting, so I tilted it to see if it could be more striking. I think it improves it a little, but it’s not amazing.
In the above shot, these woods were green and nicely back-lit. As one tree was alone in the foreground of my image, I thought I had better make a feature of it. The tilt does achieve that.
Lastly this shot of a window in Bolton Abbey is actually taken from a side angle to give the impression of a tilt. I pointed the camera sharply upwards. The base line of the window is now a diagonal, and diagonals are always a super, strong feature in an image.
Do you like any of these images? Please let me know your opinion in the comments.
Read the Judging a Photograph series from the start by clicking here
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There are lots of possible routes to your French destination. Finding the best one is not as simple as looking it up on Google maps. When we go on a family holiday to France we need to take into account the cost of the channel crossing, the cost of fuel, the amount of time between stops, the amount of time off work it will take, and also the cost of tolls. As a family with school age children we travel at peak times.
All channel crossings cost less if you book them long in advance.
Dover, Folkestone and Newhaven
The Eurotunnel and Dover ferries are the cheapest and quickest crossings. There are plenty of departures all day long. The next best value are usually the Newhaven to Dieppe crossings with DFDS. The arrival and departure times are not so family friendly and the route is longer. I would still brave it if I lived nearer Newhaven. At the Dieppe end there are plenty of good value B&Bs which daily receive late night arrivals from this ferry crossing.
Portsmouth is a massive port with lots of route options. The most convenient routes are those run by Brittany Ferries. There are economy routes or more luxurious ships with plenty of shopping and entertainment. Some cross overnight and if you book early enough you can get a cabin and a good sleep. Condor Ferries are also in Portsmouth but you have to change ships or stop over in the Channel Islands. This is obviously slower but it seems it’s not any cheaper.
Plymouth and Poole
Other south coast ports include Plymouth and Poole, with fewer and more seasonal routes. Brittany Ferries run a very popular route each summer to Roscoff in Brittany. If you want this crossing overnight with a cabin, I suggest you book about 8 to 10 months in advance to secure a place.
On the other side the ferries arrive in Normandy at Le Havre, Caen (Ouistreham) and Cherbourg which are very close together. Also there are arrivals in St Malo although not as many.
When leaving your ferry at Le Havre, be very careful indeed if you have a roof load or a caravan. There are some underpasses on the main route which are only 2.2m high. If you have your wits about you then you can go around them.
Hull and Newcastle
From Newcastle with DFDS now you can only get to Amsterdam, which is still quite a drive from France. There are also P&O crossings from Hull to Holland and Belgium. Zeebrugge is really only a very short distance from Calais. It’s a convenient port for a French holiday. We’ve done the Hull to Zeebrugge crossing a few times and it’s very pleasant. It’s overnight and everyone has a cabin. It’s very family friendly as there is a children’s disco and soft play. You can opt for elaborate dining with vast carveries and a big breakfast if you have space for it.
We don’t usually bother dining but order hot drinks delivered to the cabin in the morning instead. The cost reflects the long journey but it’s in a different league when it comes to your own personal relaxation and energy levels. Your holiday starts as soon as you are on board.
Driving Routes – Examples
We have to keep my husband’s days off work to a minimum so the best route we ever did involved setting off after work one evening from Harrogate. We drove 3 hours and stopped in a budget hotel in Bishop’s Stortford around 9pm. At 7am the next morning we drove the 90 minutes to Eurotunnel for an 11:15 departure. We were in France for lunch and there was plenty of time for an onward journey. By teatime we arrived in the Nantes area and felt fine.
We are not the sort of family who can sleep in the car. Any routes which include an overnight ferry also work well for us. Hull to Zeebrugge is super but a bit of luxury. It also requires more hours off work to get to Hull because it departs at 6.30pm. Instead we might visit relatives down south before getting a cabin on a Portsmouth ferry and arrive refreshed next morning ready to drive a long way onwards.
Here’s what some other bloggers have told me about their cross-channel routes.
Natasha from Mummy and Moose “We drove from Peterborough to Paris. We stopped overnight in Horsham then drove to Dover and took the crossing to Calais and drove down to Paris. It was actually MUCH easier than I had imagined.”
Sarah from Toby Goes Bananas “We drove from Scotland (near Edinburgh) to Brittany with a 10 month old. We had an overnight stop at my parents’ house in Blackpool, then another in a Travelodge in Portsmouth before getting a morning ferry to Cherbourg. We went on the fast catamaran so arrived in south Brittany by late afternoon. If you have a good sleeper I would recommend a night crossing but Toby’s sleep was rubbish then and I couldn’t face trying to get him to sleep on a ferry.”
Kate from Counting to Ten “I live in Essex and I’ve taken the Eurotunnel to France (and beyond) several times. It’s fast and it isn’t affected by the weather, plus no risk of sea sickness.”
Helena from Babyfoote “We drove from Newcastle to Normandy the first few times and then Newcastle to Brittany most recently. We’ve stayed overnight in Kent and pushed it to stay in France immediately after the crossing the last couple of times and it’s SO much better.”
Catherine from Kids Versus Copy started her journey in Bath “Euro tunnel then 11 hour car journey with a 3 & 5 year old! We bought them tablets which were a godsend and I plonked a big box of arts and crafts/Lego in the space between them. We stopped (overnight) halfway to Toulouse somewhere in The Loire.”
Kate from Five Little Stars “We can do Midlands to Paris door to door in 6-7 hours. We almost always do Eurotunnel. I’ve even done the drive on my own with my two toddlers. Occasionally we Eurostar train or fly, but it’s much more convenient to have the car and all our stuff. Tips: unless you’re driving it at night (our fave way to do the journey) -time your Chunnel crossing with a mealtime and have a picnic in the car.”
Laura from Five Little Doves “We drove from Lancashire to Dover to Calais and then down to Paris. It took us a full 24 hours of travelling and with a 4 year old son, a lot of whinging! Just did it all in one go. Had a power nap on the ferry!”
Suzy from Our Bucket List Lives “We drove from Lincolnshire to the middle of France….with a caravan and a two year old. It was complete torture. We crossed using P&O ferries at Dover. We stayed at a caravan site halfway each time but it didn’t help the two year olds bad mood. Anything I’d have done differently? Yeah, flown.”
Carol from Family Makes “We travel from the North East so it’s always a 2-day journey for us. We often do an overnight ferry as you essentially travel while you sleep. It’s more expensive but saves on a hotel stay as well as some driving, they go from Portsmouth to Caen, St. Malo, Cherbourg or La Havre. We also like the Hull-Zebrugge route as the England drive is so much shorter, but the cost is quite high. Otherwise we’ve done Dover-Calais or Dunkerque, and also Euro Tunnel which is super fast and good for when we have our dog with us. Our house is in the Poitou-Charentes region of France.”
Read my last blog post about France by clicking here
Read the story of how I messed up a ferry booking by clicking here
#11 in the Judging a Photograph Series
You may sometimes wonder how to use reflections in a photograph, or whether to include one in your picture. Perhaps see if you can take the photo both ways. Nine times out of ten, the reflection will be worth including in the photo.
Reflections can be the best part of an image, or just an incidental extra. But the point to remember is that it will be quite large. Probably it is as large as the object which it reflects. With such a big thing facing you, you have to decide whether to include it or not. Does it merit all those pixels?
Find a Reflection in Many Places
I always try to keep an eye out for a reflection. If my eye is really taken by something and I want to photograph it, it is very easy to forget about the surroundings. Although I may want to move in tight to the subject, it’s probably better to get the reflection in.
You can get a lot of photo ideas from Pinterest or Google images for really great reflection photography ideas, but the point I am trying to make here is a different one. My point is this:
When you are taking a photo which happens to have a reflection in it, don’t accidentally miss it or crop it out.
Here I wanted to take a picture of a windmill with the red brickwork of the buildings glowing a little in the sunlight. The image is all about the windmill. But I would have missed a key part of the character of this object in the landscape if I had missed out the reflection. This mirror image speaks to its setting as a waterfront building.
On the other hand, the water is a big area, and if I crop out the reflection it is still a nicely composed image. What is the right decision for this photo – which you do you prefer? Let me know in the comments – I read every one!
Other places you might see a reflection that you don’t want to ignore:
- Something reflected in a window such as a face looking out or an item on the windowsill;
- Something you have cooked reflected in a smooth kitchen surface;
- Your family peering in a shop window;
- The clouds reflected in a car window;
- In a drinking glass;
- An upside-down photo of a building or tree reflected in a puddle;
- In a mirror – someone doing their hair or face.
Read the previous blog in the Judging a Photograph series here.
Read the Judging a Photograph series of blogs from the start here.