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With this blog post I am entering an exciting competition by Urban Cottage Industries. The prize is a fabulous £500 for photography equipment from Amazon. I could certainly spend that in a heartbeat, especially as my main 24-105 lens has broken down! Something that I really like about this competition is the requirement to showcase one natural light and one artificial light photograph. Like most people, I take far more natural light photos and I really struggled to choose just one.
Who doesn’t love natural light photography?
I wanted to select a photo where the light was real feature. Natural light can make a photo really pop in so many ways. It can lift colours, it can throw shadows, it can cast reflections. In the photo below I use backlight as a feature. Backlight is one of my favourite looks and I’ve had some success with it before (no prize money though!).
I took this shot of my daughter’s eye in the light from my kitchen window. The cool north light from this window is great for natural light photography. The macro lens is set to a very shallow depth of field to give a feeling of closeness and intrigue.
My journey with artificial light photography
I once bought a photography backdrop to use at home with flashguns and lighting stands, but I gave it away. There isn’t enough space and the cotton backdrop needed ironing every five minutes. Lighting a white background with just two stands is incredibly tricky, and I’m not fond of high key portraits anyway.
I have continued using a flashgun with some neat diffusers, and that’s perfect for taking candid pictures of events like family parties. I can’t enter those family shots for a competition on my blog but I have used that same lighting method for some blog images in the past.
For this competition I decided to showcase a tricky lighting environment which is near darkness, in a reptile house. There were a few interesting challenges to taking a photo of this bearded dragon. Flash is not allowed near the animals so the lightbulbs in the tanks were the only light source. This is another image with a shallow depth of field. I hope it makes a nice pair with the first photo; complementing each other in style.
Regular readers will know that I blog about photography every Sunday so I was really pleased to be able to enter this competition today. I’ve had great fun choosing the photos.
See my favourite flashgun diffusers on my Resources page.
You’ve probably heard that British families are throwing away lots of unused and wasted food each week. In fact according to the waste charity WRAP, UK families throw away 7 million tonnes of food each year. I find this bewildering as I rarely throw out food myself. I admit that keeping on top of household food supplies does require a little time and presence of mind.
Food Waste in the Family
I think we all sometimes lose track of the half-a-jar of ground ginger in the back of the cupboard. What is more of a problem are the things we over-purchase in the weekly shop. You have to keep on top of the dates on your fresh meat of course. When you have children and you buy them a punnet of strawberries as a healthy treat, there’s no knowing when or if they remember to eat them. They might not even find them! Perhaps you buy a baguette and hot cross buns, but the latter are so tempting that they get scoffed by your family first. The baguette is ignored until it’s stale. All these little things add up to quite a lot to remember. If you are the person who does the shopping but you’re out at work when the family is home, then you lose some control.
Food Waste in the Community
You don’t have any direct control over food thrown away by shops and restaurants, but you do have influence. As a consumer you could encourage your local businesses to donate food that has a short shelf life. In my town there is a new pop-up café run by volunteers called “Resurrected Bites”. It’s an environmentally friendly ‘pay-as you-feel’ café using donated food which otherwise would go to landfill. Based at St Mark’s Church, Leeds Road in Harrogate, it will be open every Wednesday and the third Saturday of the month, from 10am until 2pm. It is run by volunteers but it’s not a soup kitchen. It is open to the whole community and by all accounts is serving some truly delicious cuisine. I am looking forward to visiting as soon as possible. Take a look at the launch video.
There is a network of these cafés around the UK coordinated by a charity called The Real Junk Food Project. You can find your nearest café on their website, and they have locations in France and Australia too.
A Pledge on Food Waste
As a family blogger I do sometimes share recipes, and they include some of my most popular posts. Why not try this recipe for leftovers – American Style Cornbread. I’ve had some amazing feedback from readers of this seasonal blog post too – Five Ways with Leftover Christmas Mincemeat.
I am joining with other bloggers to make a pledge for my food blog posts called No Waste Within. It is a campaign started within the food-blogging community to cut down on the amount of, and ultimately eliminate, food waste created by the development, cooking, styling and photographing of recipes. You can read more here. This is the pledge to which I am signing up:
“I promise that no food waste was created by the development, cooking, styling and photographing of this recipe and that, where it wasn’t possible for me to enjoy it myself, I have redistributed, re-purposed, retained or recycled the food.”
If you have any ideas for leftovers or tips for reducing or preventing food waste, please do share them in the comments.
More in environment on Falcondale Life: Is now the time to buy and electric car?
I am not usually allowed to take photos of Fizz at all, and neither her nor Belle have their faces on my blog very much. My children are entitled to some privacy and they have strong feelings to consider. I am happy to work within these restrictions but it does mean that they seem to be mostly out of sight. Some readers of my blog might be starting to wonder whether my kids exist or not!
This shot I took recently on a snow day is not the best photo but it’s an action shot and it records a family moment. The girls’ faces are not easy to see. I do have some much better ones from the same day. It is nice that I have their permission to share this one.
Photos of Children Online
There’s a lot of concern about sharing photos of children online. I haven’t formed a strong opinion. In fact keep changing my mind about the whole debate. I don’t think it’s morally wrong at all, and I get really angry with people who make those sorts of judgments. There are some nutters around who just are anti-photography and who delight in overreacting. I do know there are a few security risks, more so for families who deal with undesirable characters in their lives or neighbourhood.
Many people have lots of photos of their children on Facebook. If you want to upgrade your security on Facebook there are a few things you can do. These two tips make a big difference and don’t involve deleting loads of stuff.
Facebook Security Tip 1: Use your Restricted List
Firstly you can deal with individuals one by one. Go to your friends list and hover the mouse over the word “friend” as shown below (you need to do this on a pc or mac). If you select “add to another list” you can move that person to “Restricted”. To do the same thing on your phone or tablet, go to that person’s profile and the icon “friends” will be in blue with a tick next to it. Tap on that and select “edit friend list”. You can select “Restricted” from here.
People on your Restricted friends list can only see your public profile, just the same as someone who is not your friend. However you will still see their posts and updates. They will not be notified that you have moved them to the restricted list. Anything you put on your timeline that you make visible to just “friends” will be invisible to your friends on the Restricted list. It’s possible to feel a lot safer on Facebook if you know you’re only posting updates to people you really know and trust.
Facebook Security Tip 2: Limit All Past Posts at Once
Secondly you can change your public profile by restricting the visibility of your past posts. Click on the drop down arrow top right and go to “settings” and then “privacy”. You can then choose “limit past posts”. This changes your past “public” posts to “friends only”. To do the same thing on your phone or tablet, tap the three lines in the top right corner and scroll down until you see “Privacy Shortcuts”. Select that then select “more settings” near the bottom. Select “privacy” then you will see the option for “Limit past posts” here.
Once you have limited your past posts your public profile will not include any of them. That means strangers and your Restricted list can’t see what you have posted to your own page at all.
There are lots of other things you can do to improve your Facebook security but very few people use these two methods and I think they are really useful. Are you going to try them? Please leave a comment to let me know.
Thinking of joining Twitter: Tips to get started
I don’t think I have ever made my husband as jealous in his whole life as I did last month. I was invited by Brewtown Tours to review their Yorkshire Brewery tour and sample three fabulous craft breweries. This chauffer driven day out included a big range of tastes and beer types. The three breweries which we visited were exceptionally generous with their samples and the variety kept us all busy. I never had an empty glass.
Setting off on a Brewery Tour
I met five other female Yorkshire bloggers at noon outside Leeds railway station. Our driver and guide Mark told us that although he has more men taking the tours, in fact it is mainly women who buy these tours, and often as gift vouchers. Mark was inspired to start Brewtown Tours after his experiences of visiting craft breweries in Australia, but I’m certain that Yorkshire is much more fun!
Personally I’m not a wine drinker – it gives me ocular migraines and temporary blindness so I avoid it completely. It’s no surprise therefore that I’ve been a beer drinker all my adult life. I am over the moon to finally get beer onto my blog, and this is a pretty stylish way to do it! It really did feel quite luxurious to be driven around and try such a wide range of brews.
A few of my fellow bloggers were not sure if they would enjoy beer quite as much as their usual tipple, but Mark told us about some of the flavours such as rhubarb, and it sparked a lot of interest. It was my mission on the tour to find a drink to complement Christmas dinner. Up to now I’ve never found a beer that goes well with turkey.
Yorkshire Heart Brewery
Our first stop was Yorkshire Heart at Nun Monkton, between Harrogate and York. There’s actually a vineyard here too but we sampled about five beers in the barn. We learned a little about their history, plans and brewing methods. In my opinion this brewery specializes in lighter, sharper flavours and citrus notes. Several brews were really punchy and this appealed to the non-beer drinkers in our group. I do think that the days of mild creamy bitter are a bit old-fashioned, and Yorkshire Heart certainly know how to attract new beer drinkers. I settled on their Christmas brew “Santa’s Little Belcher” as my choice to try on Christmas day.
Quirky Ales, Garforth
Our next stop on the brewery tour was Quirky Ales in Garforth. It was a cold winter day and in their little bar was a roaring wood-burner, so we settled in happily to warm up. Quirky Ales challenged our tastebuds by getting us to taste and smell the difference between hoppy and malty brews, and between very pale and porter ale too. We had a go at tapping and bottling ale, which was a fun hands-on experience. At this brewery I got some good advice for my Christmas turkey dinner and I bought a few bottles of Ruby Ale.
Northern Monk Brewery
Our last stop on the tour was Northern Monk in the Holbeck area of Leeds. The old red brick mills of this area have been renovated and the cobbled courtyards add charm. This brewery has a large refectory bar upstairs but first we visited the vats in the brewery downstairs. Northern Monk has several visiting brewers and aims to support local creatives. In the bar we tried a number of dark ales, some served with a keg-y fizz, which was a new experience. The beers on sale to take away are in cans rather than bottles but I can’t quite remember what made me choose a mocha flavour for my husband. I didn’t pick anything for the Christmas turkey as by this point I felt I had imbibed enough samples.
Mark drove us back to Leeds station at the end of the tour. Your chosen brewery tour can also start and finish in York. I must point out that it was my own choice to write this blog post and not a requirement of accepting the trip. I bought all my own take-outs. It’s my own pleasure and opinion to recommend Brewtown tours whether for yourself or as a gift voucher, perhaps for a birthday or a date such as Valentines.
We have a Winner!
Quirky Ales Ruby absolutely nailed it for Christmas dinner! The mild chestnut notes were perfect with roast turkey. I’m really pleased to have found this solution and I’m sure it would go well with roast chicken and pork too.
More alcohol reviewed on the blog: Boozy Valentine’s Gift Guide and Drinks Review.
What’s your favourite tipple? Please comment below.