The Lake District was a very rainy place this weekend. When the weather held off for a while we found lots of new routes to the cafe. One route was by boat from this jetty.

You can never have enough excuses to stop by a good cafe, right?!

N.B. The Judging a Photograph series will return after the school summer holidays.

Photalife

Plan a Trip to New York with All the Movies on Falcondale Life blog. Get in the mood for a trip to New York with this list of favourite and iconic New York city classic films.

We will soon be visiting New York as a family to see relatives. We hope to see the best sights of the big smoke while we are there. I’ve never been much of a city break person. We normally take a holiday to enjoy nature, scenery or the coast. Even though I am looking forward to visiting New York, mainly I am quite apprehensive, even nervous.

I’ve not been able to get my children excited either. I asked them “aren’t you interested in helping plan some things to do and see?” but they replied “no, you do it mum. You always take us on brilliant holidays. Whatever it is, it’ll be great.” Very flattering but in this case, really annoying!

Then one day the film Madagascar came on the TV. The zoo in this film is based on the real zoo in central park, near to our New York hotel. I realise that we can get in the mood for our trip to New York with some great movies! So many films are set in New York. I asked some fellow bloggers for films that made them think of New York, or films that reminded them of the city. I hope we can watch a few of these before we go and really set the mood.

New York Favourite Movie List

  1. Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York, suggested by Emma Reed “It really gets you in the mood for Christmas, and is just as funny as the first film, which is rare.”
  2. King Kong “with those fabulous skyline shots” suggested by Erica from Nine to Three Thirty and Taxi Driver “because so much of it is set on the streets of the city.”
  3. Enchanted is an idea from Laura from The Unsung Mum: “The way everyone is really mean at the start then sing in Central Park! Love it!”
  4. Sleepless in Seattle suggested by Leslie from Messy Blog UK: “Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make a great team and I love the scene on top of the Empire State Building.”
  5. Breakfast at Tiffanys “a classic”, says Sarah at Toby Goes Bananas, and On the Town “it’s an old musical but it’s fab and it was the first musical shot entirely on location.”
  6. Fools Rush In is a suggestion from Lyndsey at Me, Him, The Dog and the Baby: “Grays Papaya have THE BEST hot dogs in NYC and a must do when you go. Seeing them makes me want to go back every time.”
  7. New Years Eve is suggested by Nicola (Mrs Lighty) from All Things Spliced. She says it’s “one that I love but is a bit seasonal. It’s a bit like an American Love Actually, set in the Big Apple.”
  8. Elf and Miracle on 34th Street are two favourites of Abi from Something About Baby: “I fell in love with New York at Christmas time because of these films. They show all the iconic landmarks such as the Empire State, Macy’s, and Times Square. I actually went to visit NY for Thanksgiving to see the parade because of Miracle on 34th Street.”
  9. Serendipity is one of Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders favourite films. “It’s set in New York and many scenes are in the Waldorf Astoria. I have wanted to stay there ever since. I think it would be an ideal spot for my next big birthday!”
  10. Annie is an idea from Family Travel with Ellie: “My daughters absolute favourite film – so upbeat and uplifting – portrays New York in a wonderful light of positivity , hope and promise.”
  11. Coming to America is suggested by Nicola from A Blogs Life, she says “Eddie Murphy plays a brilliant part.”
  12. Big is a suggestion from Laura at Milton Keynes Kids who says “I’ve adored Tom Hanks since I was a child and loved visiting the Big piano in FAO Schwartz when my husband and I visited before we had kids. It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise when the shop looked very different to the film. We visited 20 years after the film was made.”
  13. When Harry Met Sally is an idea from Sophie from Life As Mrs D: “Katz’s Deli – “I’ll have what she’s having” Need I say more?”
  14. Ghostbusters is a tip from Kat at Confessions of a Working Mum: “It features loads of iconic places – Statue of Liberty, Central Park, NY City Library. You can go and visit the fire house where they filmed. I’m such a geek and got really excited about it. Sadly I didn’t see Slimer but they have the real Ghostbusters sign hanging up inside!
  15. The Odd Couple is suggested by Chris from Grey Matters: “Most of it is played out in an Upper West Side apartment. I love it, not just because of the wonderful script and fantastic performances by Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. The atmosphere of 60’s New York comes across in the film.”

Well that is a fabulous list but I think there must be loads more than this! Can you make some more suggestions in the comments?

Plan a Trip to New York with All the Movies on Falcondale Life blog. Get in the mood for a trip to New York with this list of favourite and iconic New York city classic films.

The Great American Eclipse is 21st August 2017. Read why we made plans to see it – click here

Photos courtesy of Unsplash 1. Rob Bye 2. Bicad Media

#26 in the Judging a Photograph Series

.Tips for Cropping Photos for the Best Effect on Falcondale Life blog. Cropping a photograph to find the stand-out image within the original photo. Become a better photographer with these editing tips on finding the best crop. Stepping stones on the Wharf at Bolton Abbey.

Cropping is pretty much the most basic photo editing action, but there’s a lot you can do to an image. If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you will know that I rarely leave my photos alone SOOC (straight out of camera). In my view photography isn’t just the bit where I click the shutter, it’s also the vision I have for the finished image. Sometimes I have that vision when I take the photo, sometimes I come up with an idea later when I see it on the computer.

Editing is not tampering, it is purist photography. Why? Because since the dawn of photography there has been a developing process after the shutter has been clicked. Post processing skills are an essential part of becoming a better photographer.

Best Cropping Thoughts

I’ll just ease myself gently off my soapbox now because I’d like to share some ideas about cropping.

If I need to crop a photo, then it’s about finding the stand-out image within the original image. To do that I mainly look for

• the rule of thirds
• the image edges
• the action
• strong lines and perspective
• errors to remove

Tips for Cropping Photos for the Best Effect on Falcondale Life blog. Cropping a photograph to find the stand-out image within the original photo. Become a better photographer with these editing tips on finding the best crop. Stepping stones on the Wharf at Bolton Abbey.

Original shot, not cropped

My shot of families trying to cross stepping stones on the river Wharf at Bolton Abbey has lots going on. The main action in the image is the Dad helping his little girl to leap the gap. I want this to be the focus of the final image so I want to place this to suit the rule of thirds, i.e. one third of the way into the image from an edge.

The line of stepping stones goes the full width of the shot and marks out where the action is taking place, so I want this to be on a third line as well. As with nearly all my photos, I have shot it slightly wonky (I think I have right-hand dropsy). I have to straighten this up when I crop.

On the left hand edge is a man looking out of the frame, backwards. That’s a distraction as he’s pointing away from the action so I will crop him out.

On the right hand edge of the frame is a couple sitting on the bank, watching the family in the centre. Their viewpoint frames the image nicely and if I can leave them in, I will.

At the top of the frame are people on the hill, I would prefer not to crop their heads off even though they are very far away. Lastly the foreground contains a nice reflection and it would look a hundred times better if I left that in.

Which Crop is Best?

When I crop an image I need to think about where it is going. The original size on this camera is 6×4 and that’s a common printing size. Instagram looks best square. Pinterest and mobile phones in general usually work better with tall, thin images. Sometimes I like to crop letterbox style, wide and thin, if the image just looks better that way.

It’s a long list of cropping shapes but the wonderful thing about this Bolton Abbey stepping stones image is that ALL of these crops work.

Tips for Cropping Photos for the Best Effect on Falcondale Life blog. Cropping a photograph to find the stand-out image within the original photo. Become a better photographer with these editing tips on finding the best crop. Stepping stones on the Wharf at Bolton Abbey.

6×4 standard shape

Tips for Cropping Photos for the Best Effect on Falcondale Life blog. Cropping a photograph to find the stand-out image within the original photo. Become a better photographer with these editing tips on finding the best crop. Stepping stones on the Wharf at Bolton Abbey.

Square Instagram shape

Tips for Cropping Photos for the Best Effect on Falcondale Life blog. Cropping a photograph to find the stand-out image within the original photo. Become a better photographer with these editing tips on finding the best crop. Stepping stones on the Wharf at Bolton Abbey.

Tall shape, 6×4 for Pinterest or mobile phones

Tips for Cropping a Photograph for the Best Effect on Falcondale Life blog. Cropping a photograph to find the stand-out image within the original photo. Become a better photographer with these editing tips on finding the best crop. Stepping stones on the Wharf at Bolton Abbey.

Letterbox shape

Which crop do you prefer? Please let me know in the comments.

This is number 26 in the Judging a Photograph blog series which has now been running every Sunday for half a year. Wow, that’s a lot of blog posts! If you have enjoyed my blog then please sign up for the mailing list to get an email each time I publish. Sign up in the sidebar, or if you’re on a mobile then you can find it below.

See also Talking Crop on Safari Part 1 and Talking Crop on Safari Part 2

Last week Photographing Weddings as a Second Shooter

Photalife

 

For the last month I have been testing the new Samsung Galaxy S8+ mobile phone. This was on loan to me courtesy of Three.co.uk . As you will see, all the opinions are my own. Samsung have aimed to set a new benchmark with this phone which is the biggest android launch of 2017.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

Samsung Has Come So Far

I last bought a new mobile phone two and a half years ago. When I was browsing phones in shops, I had a good look at the Samsungs and they felt quite flimsy in my hand. I wasn’t sure that the edges were firmly fixed on. The display phones had collected dust in these corners and reviewers complained about Samsung filling their phones memories with “bloatware”(i.e. Samsung’s own apps which you have no choice about using). No surprise that I didn’t buy one.

Scroll forward to 2017 and I find myself reviewing the new Samsung S8+. I can hardly believe it’s a Samsung. It’s a lovely thing to hold with it’s no-edges design. When I first use it, it allows me to choose NOT to install all the bloatware. It’s blisteringly fast and unlike my daughter’s little old Motorolla, it has a strong connection to the ThreeUK network. The screen resolution and visual quality actually makes me think that screen resolution matters. The screen is so good, I now know what I am missing. For Instagram addicts, I think nothing could be better.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

Edgeless Screen on the Samsung S8+

The S8+ is a big phone but not huge. Its proportions are a little long and thin so it feels narrower than the iPhone 7 and the various large android phones we have in the family. The no-edges design throws up the first problem for me which is reflections. The edge of the screen curves round the side of the phone and when I’m near a window there’s a bright stripe of light obscuring the edge of the screen so that I can’t read it. Because it’s curved, I can’t simply angle the phone away from the light. One of the places where I sit and work for an hour every week has windows on both sides. I simply cannot use the phone easily there. Of course most people don’t actually work on their phones but stare at it mainly for leisure so this might not bother everyone.

Apps and Desirability

This brings me to the next dilemma, which is what do you actually do on your phone? I use 70 apps on mine, mainly for blogging, travel and photography although candy crush cannot be ignored. Every single one of those apps runs on any android phone. So why buy an expensive one?

Samsung, and every phone manufacturer, is up against this problem which is that the apps are king. They run on all phones which levels the playing field. Producing a phone for the market at a high price point means taking a big risk that most customers will think it’s just not worth the extra dosh. It’s clearly possible to sell expensive phones because Apple have persuaded so many shoppers to part with large sums for a phone that does everything a cheaper one will do. Samsung are seeking to achieve the same level of desirability and the S8+ firmly aims for this.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

The User Experience

The S8+ has very smooth functionality, it’s blisteringly fast, it links everything quickly and the interface is user friendly.  Everything is obvious. Like most androids it has an expansion slot for an sd memory card, making the capacity huge. The only grumble I have is the fiddly keyboard which requires extra taps to get to the punctuation screen. Perhaps that bothers me more than some people because I’m a writer, but I hope people don’t give up using punctuation in the future!

The phone’s performance in the charging and batteries department is hardly stellar. It performs well when in use but its run-down time when idle is too fast. It doesn’t take a standard android charging wire but instead a slightly larger one. You may have to put your glasses on to see the difference! There’s a tiny adapter but it’s the size of a micro sim card and losing it means a dead phone. For me the adapter is just a non-starter. I can’t take the stress of wondering if I put it safely away or have knocked it though the air-vent on top of the microwave (this actually nearly happened!)

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

Samsung S8+ Camera

The camera is a key selling point of the S8+. There’s no denying its brilliance and you can shoot jpeg and RAW (if you have enough memory). A little niggle is the saturation which seems ridiculously high. Also, having imported my shots into Lightroom I can see on the histogram that there is an excess of black pixels and frequent under-exposure. I actually prefer that as I post-process all my shots and I’ve said before that digital images are safest slightly under-exposed in high contrast situations. However all the test photos in this blog post are shot on auto and are SOOC (straight out of camera), not edited.

Yes, you can shoot in HDR but I couldn’t get that setting to work. It just kept clicking off. Aaargh! You can do all kinds of things in the camera settings but I know that most people will shoot plain and simple auto. It’s certainly worth testing that way.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

I haven’t cropped these photos. For a long, thin phone they are very close to being 5×7 size. The S8+ display doesn’t show you the whole image which you export.

As with all phones, the lens is wide angle. The S8+ phone screen is so good that it’s hard to remember that other people looking at your photo will not see it in the same quality on their phones. But again, this phone wins for visual users so youtubers and Instagrammers will be kept very happy indeed. Except not this Instagrammer. I always take an engineer’s view of gadgets and for me, even though this phone represents a seminal leap forward in android design, the compromises are too much of an irritation.

Future Promise

All credit to Samsung for how far they have come in recent years. I think probably I am an android fan-girl, and I do want to see great choices in the android phone market. This phone has delighted me mainly because of the promise it shows for the future of android. I may be easily put off by niggles but the S8+ going to have an awful lot of satisfied customers.

What do you think of these photos? Comment below.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Will You Love It? Review with photos on Falcondale Life blog. With it's edgeless design and high quality camera, we test the useability of the latest smartphone to the android market and see how it competes.

More: Getting the best from a camera phone at the beach

#25 in the Judging a Photograph Series

.Photographing Weddings as a Second Shooter - How it Worked for Me on Falcondale Life blog. Bride and bridesmaid shoes on a windowsill. The second shooter at weddings helps the main photographer by getting extra photos. It's a less pressured, more flexible role, finding alternative shots.

I don’t really know how I ended up photographing weddings. There was no masterplan, it just happened. I got lots of work experience as a second shooter. A second shooter is the extra photographer who helps the “real” wedding photographer. I did that over several years but in the end I gave it up and didn’t become a wedding photographer in my own right – long story.

Photographing Weddings – Behind the Scenes

Being a good wedding photographer is 80% organisation and 20% photography. It’s about getting the shot in a dynamic situation. To do that you have to be able to make a connection with people who are probably not used to being photographed or who are not ready to allow the time for it. Having a big brassy personality helps, but I don’t like being the centre of attention.

On the other hand being a second shooter suited me quite well. I thrive on finding an image without a heavily prescribed shot list. There’s a bit more time to compose and find new angles when I second-shoot. I also like not having to get the important shots of the ceremony; oh the number of times my flashgun or focus have powered down at the moment of the first kiss! I definitely have some bad luck there.

Photographing Weddings as a Second Shooter - How it Worked for Me on Falcondale Life blog. Bride and bridesmaid shoes on a windowsill. The second shooter at weddings helps the main photographer by getting extra photos. It's a less pressured, more flexible role, finding alternative shots.

Bridal Accessories

One of the simplest and most satisfying shots to get is the bridal accessories. I always try to put them on a windowsill for some flattering natural light. I’m lucky enough to live in a very photogenic town and so half the weddings I have shot have included a lovely view out of the window of the room where the bride is getting ready. Although it’s tempting to shoot all the accessories on a very wide aperture, I just stop down a little to give an impression of the town in the distance. A photo like this fills out the story of the day nicely in the final album.

Retired!

People still regularly ask me how my wedding photography is going, not realising I stopped three years ago! It was an interesting time and I could write a whole book of memoirs and crazy tales. I am very happy NOT shooting weddings at the moment although I would perhaps like to second-shoot again when my children have grown and left home.

Photographing Weddings as a Second Shooter - How it Worked for Me on Falcondale Life blog. Bride and bridesmaid shoes on a windowsill. The second shooter at weddings helps the main photographer by getting extra photos. It's a less pressured, more flexible role, finding alternative shots.

Read the Judging a Photograph series from the start.

The next blog in the series Tips for Cropping Photos for the Best Effect

Read the previous blog in the Judging a Photograph series, all about editing filters.

Photalife