Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Gallery - Animals

This weeks prompt for the Gallery, over at Sticky Fingers blog is Animals.

Well I could use one of thousand photos I have that fit this... so what to choose?

Tara asked us to think outside the box, so something other than our lovable pets, but I have just posted all my safari photos in my last post, so don't really want to post them again today.

So Jackson pips it here are some of my favourite photos of our wonderful boxer dog Jackson.

Here he is when we got him as a tiny little pup

and here are some more recent ones:

He is just the most amazing dog, he is loyal and so friendly, he adores the children and is never far from their sides, he is their best friend and they love each other so much.

Not to mention how cute he is, and the fact he just makes the best photograph subject!

Now for some other animal photos be sure to check out the Galley :)

Selective colour removal: How to

I posted the other day about how I love taking and editing photos and told you about some of the tricks I use to get good shots you can find the post here: Making good... GREAT

I asked if anyone who tries out Picnik (a great editing online application ) to show me their results, or if they wanted a helping hand with any editing techniques to give me a shout, well a few of you said you'd give Picnik ago and I can't wait to see some of your edits, L-plate mummy asked me how I got the specific area colour removal edit to work. So here is my walk through for you all.

So when you go to you are greeted with the following screen:

you upload your photo via clicking the 'upload Photos' green button and selecting your photo file from your computer hard drive

Once your photo has loaded up onto Picnik, you will see it appear make sure you have clicked on 'Basic Edits' on the top menu bar just below where it says 'home' I have highlighted the button in red below.

The Basic Edits are great and make such a difference, the two main ones I use are the Exposure and the sharpen, If you click on Exposure as highlighted above then more options pop out shown here:

the new slider bars which appear enable you to adjust the contrast and brightness of your photo play around with these slider bars and you can improve your photos no end, sometimes only a slight tweak makes a huge difference! always remember to click 'apply' if you are happy with your edit.

The next Basic Edit I always have a look at is the 'sharpen' options, if you click on the sharpen on the menu then again you see more slider bars

If you move the slider bars up fractionally then it improves the overall sharpness and clarity of your picture, again sometimes only a small tweak makes a huge difference, be careful not to over do an edit.

Once you have improved the photo via these basic edits you can then click on the 'effects' tab on the top menu bar, highlighted again on the below photo,

in the Effects menu there are lots of options, each one makes a huge difference to your photos.

Today I am showing you how to get the black and white effect but keep a specific area in colour, so the first thing you do is select the 'black and white' option from the menu, this turns your whole photo greyscale.

You will notice an additional box appears,if this box does not appear you can click the little paintbrush button underneath the colour selector, the box is for effect painting and has options to paint back on the original colour, so make sure that original' is selected.

Then you simply 'paint' back in your colour on the photo, click and drag the mouse around on the area you wish to recolour, if the brush size is too large, or small you can adjust that from the effects box. If you need to 'zoom' in to get small detail use the zoom option in the bottom right corner.

What I normally do is select a fairly larger sized brush to colour back in the main portion, then zoom in and reduce my brush size to get the detail. It may take some practise and a steady hand but its worth the practise because the end results can be amazing.

I hope this is of some use to someone, again if you do play with picnik then please share with me your edits.

This is NOT a sponsored post, nor was my 'making good.. great post' I just like to share my knowledge and help other people enjoy their photos, The edit above can all be achieved via picniks free features.

If there is any other edits you would like to know how to achieve then please get in touch.

Lets go on Safari!

We had an amazing day yesterday we went to explore West Midlands Safari Park and got to test drive a brand new Hyundai i40

The day started out bright and early we packed a picnic and left to West midlands Safari Park nice and early, however it took us longer than expected to get there, no reason except our wrong turns - how many times can you drive round a roundabout? but once we arrived we could see the Hyundai tent but somehow managed to enter the Safari before getting to them! So we had to flag down a staff member to escort us out of the Safari drive area so we could meet up with the Hyundai team.
At the Hyundai tent they signed us in for our test drive and let the children play with the iPads. Then we were given wristbands so we could explore the park and rides.

The entrance to West midlands Safari park is abit like how you would imagine entering Jurassic Park would be, everything is themed it really had a great feel about it, you passed several gift shops in the entrance which sold the most beautiful soft toys, but they are all rather expensive.

Once you were in the park there is LOADS to see and do, you can follow a discovery trail, explore reptile houses, twilight bat zones amongst other fascinating things.

Jake especially liked the Alligator!

The selection of rides at the park are just right, there is something for everyone and with us going into the park before the Safari it was very quiet, no ques on anything at all and we had free run of the park all morning (I think everyone was doing the Safari first - park later)

The children loved the Log flume, and Rhine roller coaster, why Dad enjoyed the Rapids ride.
I even had ago on the Venom Power Drop!

After the thrill of the rides we enjoyed our picnic and then went to see the Walking with Lemurs attraction. We entered the Lemur Wood and were greeted with several Lemurs who were scurrying along the hand rails, right in front of us!

A member of staff was at hand and was answering any questions and making sure everyone did as they should, the Lemurs all looked very happy and active and the children loved being so close to them, we continued through the woods along the track there are several notice boards telling you interesting facts about the lemurs,

The woods itself is not huge and doesn't take long to walk round, other than the Lemurs who were playing around the entrance we couldn't see any others, I think they were all having an afternoon nap!

Once you have passed through the Lemur wood you can go through the Goat walk which again the children loved.

Then on to the Meerkats which are always a big hit

Then it was time for our Hyundai test drive, we were briefed with the features of the i40 and off we went. The i40 is a superb car, it has electronically adjustable seats which can be adjusted up down forwards back anyway you like to really make for a comfy journey,the mirrors are all electronically adjustable too making the car really easy to set up for a great driving experience.

The steering is really responsive and the car has a powerful yet smooth engine and just drives amazingly well. It has really modern features and a touch screen for controlling these.

There is plenty of space in this stylish looking car and our family of 5 fit in perfectly
So we set off on our Safari drive, we were greeted by all the animals who all seemed eager to come and take a closer look at the i40.

We loved seeing the Lions who decided to take a leisurely stroll passed our car,

and the Giraffes who ate out of our hands.

The whole Safari experience was a great one, the comfort and easy driving ability of the i40 combined with the breathtaking animals we saw along the way really was a great experience.

After the Safari The hyundai team had face painting available,

then we went back into the main park, it was alot busier in the afternoon, but we still didn't Que long for many of the rides.

There was so much to do, we stayed till 7pm and still didn't get to see some of the shows and demonstrations we wanted, we deffinately will be visiting again (all be it next time in not quiet as comfy car)

For great offers, and to keep upto date with West Midlands Safari park and the Amazing people at Hyundai then be sure to check out their facebook pages here:

West Midlands Safari Park Facebook

Hyundai UK facebook

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Postman Pats Birthday!

Postman Pat, what can I say? everyone knows Postman Pat don't they, he's one of the all time classic childhood icon which never seems to date.

Well did you know it is his 30th birthday on 16th September?

Yes thats right, Pat's the longest running childrens animation on the BBC he has been entertaining children for the past 3 decades and no doubt most adults have found memories of Postman Pat, and can still happily sing along to his song. I know I grew up with the likes of Postman Pat and its so nice to see that he is still entertaining children as much today, I must say I'm not a huge fan of alot of the modern childrens characters, and my three have never really watched alot of childrens television, they don't really know what In the Night Garden is all about, or Peppa Pig, but Postman Pat is such a classic they all loved him and my youngest still does.

To celebrate Pats birthday there is news of a Special Delivery a brand new DVD with 8 episodes which equates to 3 hours of Postman Pat fun, but not only that, included with this great DVD sure to delight any Pre schooler, is a Postman Pat Party Songs CD which is sure to get everyone in a party mood to help celebrate Pats Birthday!

The songs on the CD are all Postman Pat classic friendly happy style,there is the Postman Pat theme tune, the original Postman Pat medley which we all can sing along too along with the newer Whats in his bag? theme song, but not only that there is a Great Big Party Song, and others such as The Greendale Anthem, Whats her name? (Mrs Goggins), Fruity Feeling, Greendale Knights, Put on a Show, and lots more all sang by the familiar voices of the Postman Pat Characters.

So if you have a little Postman Pat fan then this is a must, the music CD is sure to be greatly received not to mention the actual DVD jam packed with Postman Pat adventures including Postman Pat's Great Big Party, Postman Pat Takes the Bus, and Postman Pat's Pirate Treasure to name just a few.

This would be a perfect Birthday Present for any Postman Pat Fan, or a great gift to introduce any youngster to the great character which we all know and love. The DVD and CD set will be available from all retailers from the 12th September be sure to get your hands on a copy!

Can't wait to get your hands on the video? be sure to check out Postman Pat's website where you can find video clips, games and print out activities along with lots of other information about live shows and all things Postman Pat related!

I was sent a copy of Postman Pats brand new DVD to review, but was not told what to write and as always my opinions are my own :)

Making good... GREAT

I must admit I am completely addicted to photography, I'm not a proffessional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, I simply take photos because I love capturing moments, and I am forever trying to improve and take that photo that wows.

People ask me what camera I have and I chuckle to myself my camera is a simple point and shoot, nothing fancy, nothing expensive, yes its a stunning little camera ( a cannon powershot A480) which i highly recommend, the clarity of the pictures is great, but a great photo can be achieved with any camera.

So whats the true secret to an amazing photo?

I think taking a wonderful photo is a skill, and one which I am still trying to master, but there are definitely little hints and tricks to help you along.

Obviously computers have changed photography now you can edit your photographs amazingly easily, you can take a photo which is good and make it great with a few touches of buttons.

My favourite place to edit photos is Picnik, where you can so quickly and easily enhance the colours, increase brightness and contrast, change to black and white or do several other amazing edits all so easily with slider bars.

One other thing which people in the know talk about is setting up the shot, the rule of thirds is mentioned alot, but to be honest I don't hold this in mind when I take a photo, nor do I when I edit them, but what looks comfortable on the eye does often lie with the rule of thirds so there is definitely some seance following it, and although it isn't in the for front of my mind when I take and edit my photos looking back through them most of them do indeed follow the rule of thirds. For those of you who may not of heard of this before, the rule of thirds is a concept that applied to all art, paintings, photos whatever, and is where you imagine your picture split into 9 equal squares, 3 x 3 and try and aline the main points of interest to thirds, rather than simply centering the subject.

Here are some before and after to show what can be done by using The majority of effects on Picnik are able to be used for free, so I'd love for you to try it yourself and then share with me your efforts :)

(click to see the pictures larger)

And if you'd like me to do a walk through of how I achieved any of the edits I have then let me know.

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