Friday, 19 September 2014

BLOGGING: On Using a Bridge Camera

Bridge camera

People judge you in the blogging world. They judge you a lot. One thing you get judge about, is the camera you use. They really shouldn't, but they do. Far too often bloggers feel they need to have a DSLR to a) take "good" photographs and b) to be a "proper" blogger. As much as I would love to own and use a DSLR, I can't justify the price and I can't see me owning one for a long way, so what do I use? Well for the most part, I use my trusty Fuji bridge although not all the photographs which appear on the blog are taken with it, I throw in camera phone and our GE point and shot photographs in to mix everything up a bit.

But also a lot of people don't know about bridge cameras, so I thought I'd share some of the pros and cons of this type of camera, and if you're looking for a new one, why it might be a great camera for you.

Sunlight

Bridge cameras seem to pass a lot of people by but they are a great alternative to a DSLR for a number of reasons. Basically bridge cameras slot between your standard digital compact and your DSLR, offering in the process advantages from both. If you want the simplicity of a point and shoot, but not the price of a DSLR, a bridge might be the camera for you. 
Ren Cen
Ren Cen, Detroit

I brought my Fuji Finepix S3300 Bridge back in 2011 (I think) from Argos for about £180, they tend to be less than £300 depending on the brand and model so they are considerably cheaper than your DSLR models. With a sizable LCD screen, they can fit in a full range of focal lengths from micro through to telephoto without the need to change lens. One big advantage is that they let you shoot in manual and raw, so they can be a great basis for learning how to use a camera away from the auto settings which is something I've loved being able to do since owning my camera. But don't worry, if manual isn't your thing they offer a full range of auto settings too.

Dragonfly

Granted they can have issues in low light and they can be slow to focus - mine struggles a far bit with landscapes for whatever reason. Mine doesn't have a rechargeable battery, so it does eat them up, but nothing that can't be limited using lithium batteries. And while they are smaller and lighter than a DSLR they aren't cameras you can just throw in your pocket, so just like a DSLR if you're after sneaking some food photographs in a restaurant, they don't make it that easy to disguise.  

FortyMilePointLighthouse

For me, a bridge suits my needs as both a blogger and as someone who loves to take photographs just because, then again I'm not a typical blogger (I don't own anything by apple and I don't use instagram). But if you do want to make the step into having a camera you have more control over, but want to save pennies, a bridge might be the way to go.

So while I feel I get judged about not being "proper" because I don't have a DSLR those are the reasons why I do love using my bridge. It's practical, has the advanced settings so I have the flexibility and the opportunity to have more control over my photographs but they also take photos I'm pleased with.

Blogger Tricks

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

LIFE: Weeding With a Woodpecker

WoodpeckerWoodpecker
WoodpeckerWoodpecker

One thing that amazes me is the amount of garden birds our little suburban corner attracts. Including what is becoming my favorite visitor, a woodpecker. I've noticed him before pecking his way into our maple tree. But looking up from my weeding the other day, there he was on this years dying flower branch. It's part of a huge grassy plant that seperates the main garden to what's going to become our vegetable patch. Admittedly, the plant was actually on a death list. It's in a prime sunny spot which, prior to this was being ear marked for adding to the butterfly garden. I guess we're working around it now. 

If I see a plant, a shrub, anything being used and enjoyed by any creature - a bird, a bee then it's staying. As much as I want a garden that's pretty and colourful, I'd prefer a garden that's a haven and helpful to the animals that need it more. He was was there a far while, barely bothered about me being about 10 feet away weeding. Even long enough to wander inside and grab my camera. But he seemed a little camera shy and took off to pecking at the telegraph tole. 

What wildlife have you spotted in your garden?

Monday, 15 September 2014

LIFE: #PhotoAnHour - A Saturday in September

It's been months (April to be exact) since I got around to joining Jane and her #photoanhour adventure. Mainly because for all the other months, it takes me until about midday to remember about it and by then, well half the day is over. But after deciding we couldn't really be arsed to driving for an hour and half just to hit five estate sales that we fancied poking, it was a lazy Saturday at home. So while watching Saturday TV, I noticed it coming up on twitter, and I thought why the hell not?!

It actually turned out to be more productive that I had planned.

photoanhour
9 am - starting the day with some kitty purrs from the Eddy // 10 am - lucky charms for a late breakfast // 11 am - trip to home depot  (oh looky we haven't been here in a while) for a brand spanking new spade and pruning shears although this was taken in the "oh my look at those blades on the saws, I want one" aisle.
photoanhour1

12 pm - watering the hanging basket which, at midday is part of my daily routine while picking up the mail. The hanging basket was actually one of the first things we brought, well I say we, Joe brought it for me as a thank you for basically moving our entire apartment when he busted up his ankle moving house. In the last couple of weeks it's found a new lease of life so it's looking super colourful at the moment. And speaking of ankles, his ankle now aches when it's going to rain, he's a walking barometer, who needs weather apps?! // 1 pm - having a brew, lunch and watching the diy channel which continued to be on for most of the day // 2 pm after hanging around the #socialbloggers twitter chat for a bit, I felt the need to get outside and test out the brand spanking new spade while checking out my dahlias which were brought and planted as bulbs out of their planting season but are now on the verge of flowering - double yey (the hollyhocks have never done anything mine - you win some you loose some).

photoanhour2

3 pm - admiring the hard work - plenty of weeding got done, widened the border ready for spring bulb planting and transplanted some flowers around (you can kinda see how this area looked back when we moved in here in the last photo - it's the general same area - and well was covered with the same weeds) // 4 pm - coming in from gardening getting my Maximo Park fix // 5 pm - homemade burgers filled with cheese & onion made and cooked by Joe - very tasty

photoanhour3
6 pm - teeny tiny came over for some snuggles // 7 pm - watching the world go by out the front window, it's still hard getting use to somewhere that's so quiet when we use to live next to a freeway // 8 pm - settling down to a night of relisting stuff on ebay, watching Modern Family and catching up on blogs 

How was your Saturday? 

Friday, 12 September 2014

TRAVEL: Carnegie Miniature Railroad & Village

Pittsburgh Science Center

If you love things in miniature then seeing the miniature railroad and village within Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Museum is a must. Not only does it include a fully running o-scale railroad but replicates the life, times and buildings of the late 1800's through to the 1930's but anyone familiar with this corner of western Pennsylvania will recognise any a feature or two as you walk around. We took a trip to the museum last thanksgiving and I thought it was high time I got around to sharing it here for you all to see. 

Miniature Railroad

To understand this railroad, first we need to talk about it's history. It was the project of Charles Bowdish (1886 - 1988), who after being honorable discharged from the US Army during WWI began constructing miniature replicas of his hometown of Brookville, PA. Around Christmas of 1920, Bowdish set up and displayed his railway to entertain the guests at his brothers wedding. He then went on to open his house for free every Christmas for anyone interested in looking at his display. Sadly when his insurance company refused to offer him coverage, Bowdish offered the railroad to the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh, with the first run of the line in 1954 and it became an instant hit. Eventually the Bulh became part of the Carnegie museum and the railroad now has it's very own room, the layout stretching a huge 84 feet (25m) by 30 feet (9.1m) a whole 60% larger than the original and the layout changes yearly - to be revealed the day after Thanksgiving. 

Miniature Railroad

Computers control the lighting which changes through day and night as you walk around. There's so much detail to take in that it's impossible to talk about everything that you see. It's pretty overwhelming, especially when you consider all the time it takes to put it all together. And it's not only the trains that run, boats, the incline mover to rides in the fairground are all moving constantly. Plus there's 250,000 trees. Just wow.

Reflecting and remembering Pittsburgh's industrial heritage, the railroad does have the largest o-scale steel mill replica which can be seen in the distance of the above photograph.

Miniature Railroad Miniature Railroad

When the lights dip down reflecting night time the fairground area of the display really comes to life. There's replicas of an amusement park and the Leap-the-Dips - the world's oldest operating wooden roller coaster located at the Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It even has a little cart that goes around the track.

Miniature Railroad

Pittsburgh is located a short drive away from the Laurel Highlands where you'll find one of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpieces, Fallingwater - a house basically built over waterfalls which has been on my must list list for ages. Joe likes to joke that I've actually been there because of seeing the model. Eventually I'll get there. 

Miniature Railroad

There's even something for the sports fans with a replica of Forbes Field - once home of Pittsburgh's baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Don't you just love all the fan details in the stadium?!

Miniature Railroad

It's hard to pick between the fairground and the town scenes as my favorite part of the miniature railroad. Again, it's all in the details. I mean look at all the windows - the curtains, the details in the shrubs to the cars and it's like that the entire way throughout the layout.

The railroad was certainly my highlight from the Carnegie museum (review of which I posted here) - which as a whole is more aimed at children. But the railroad, well that's great for kids and adults alike whether you know Pittsburgh or not or if you have an interest in model trains.