Four common photography mistakes to avoid


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If your photos seem too bright, cluttered or ordinary, you can take simple steps to avoid these and other common photography mistakes.”Photographers know it takes a good eye, practice and patience to make the most out of every moment,” says Bill Robbins, an award-winning advertising photographer, commercial film director and current program chair of professional photography at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, graphic design, and photography. “Whether you’re a professional or amateur photographer, it’s also about trying new techniques and experimenting with everything from lighting to composition.”

Robbins offers these tips for overcoming four common photography errors and turning any good photo into a great photo:

* No focal point. Ask yourself this simple question before you snap a picture: What are you taking a photo of and why? Your answer will ensure you capture the right elements for the viewer to easily understand the photograph’s subject and purpose. Less is usually more when it comes to photo composition. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a beautiful landscape, what’s the main focal point – is it the rock formation, sunset or covered bridge? You may need to move in closer to fill the frame with your subject and eliminate any distractions in the background or foreground. In addition, consider turning around to see if there’s a more interesting image or focal point in that direction.

* Too much or too little light. Getting the right exposure – the amount of light that passes through your camera lens – is critical to capturing the sharpest photos. If you’re shooting in a dimly lit space or standing too far away from your subject, your photo may be underexposed or appear too dark. Quick fixes: Add extra light if you’re indoors, move closer to your subject, or manually adjust your camera’s shutter speed to be slower or the aperture to a wider lens opening, thus allowing in more light. When there’s too much natural or indoor light, your photos may look washed out or have unwanted shadows. Consider using a flash to even out the lighting, moving the subject (or yourself) out of the brighter light, or waiting for a time of day when the lighting is better. For outdoor pictures, overcast days work well. When you get in the habit of focusing on the light, you’ll find the best places and times to use light to your advantage.

* Centered subject. The best photos may not be perfectly centered in your frame. When eyeing any photo opportunity, consider the tried-and-true “rule of thirds.” As you’re framing your photo, imagine two vertical and two horizontal lines spaced evenly, creating a grid of nine rectangular boxes. Try placing the main subject near the points along these lines or where the lines intersect.  This creates more visual interest than centering the subject. In a landscape shot, for example, it prevents the horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half. Instead, the horizon might appear in the lower third of the photo. You can also consider framing the image from a different position rather than always shooting at eye level. With digital cameras, it’s easy to experiment and be creative with your composition.

* Red-eye. This is one of the most common – and annoying – issues with photos. Red-eye is caused by the flash reflecting off the person’s retina, in which blood vessels cause the red glow. The easiest solution is to turn off the flash. You can also activate the red-eye reduction feature on many digital cameras, or, if a flash is necessary, ask the subject to avoid looking directly into the camera lens.

Courtesy of BPT

Affordable decorating tips to take your home from ho-hum to high style


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Feeling uninspired in your space? Updating the decor in your home is an easy way to add more color, style and personality to rejuvenate your residence. Whether you’re making a few updates, like new artwork or wall colors, or renovating an entire room with a completely new look, decorating should be fun, not stressful. With a few simple tips, you can up the design ante in your home without breaking the bank.

 
Decorative painting for design

 
Painting can consist of much more than simple strokes of one color. Take things to the next level with decorative painting. Create different patterns on your walls with textured rollers to achieve an artistic design. Sponge and fabric paint rollers provide unique patterns to give your walls a one-of-a-kind look. Low in price and high in design, using textured rollers is a great option for redecorating on a budget.

 
Painting stripes in your room is a refreshing way to update your current color scheme. A sequence of wide and narrow stripes in complementing colors is a stylish option. To achieve crisp, clean lines between each stripe, painter’s tape will get the job done. It will also help to prevent paint bleed, leaving precise lines and keeping the transition between your colors looking sharp.

 
A plethora of plates

 
Artwork is a great way to change things up and give any room a boost. Expensive traditional framed pieces of artwork aren’t your only option anymore. Instead, create an eclectic art piece with plates you already own, or find them at garage sales and antique stores. Opt for various sizes and shapes and attach each one to your wall with plate hooks. You can cover an entire wall, or focus on a smaller area – but before you get started, be sure to lay out your design on the floor first. This way, you’ll achieve your desired look, without extra nail holes on the wall from hanging as you go. 
Perk-up hallways with runners; rooms with rugs
While re-energizing your home, the hallways may seem a little drab. Add a pick-me-up to your walkway by hanging portraits with funky frames along the walls. Add a runner along the length of the floor for a touch of pizzazz. Runners come in a multitude of lengths, patterns and colors – not to mention price ranges. Updating the flooring will keep your feet cozy and help to diminish the sound of footsteps during the night. 

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If you have a space you want to update, but a full room makeover isn’t in your budget, consider an area rug to spruce things up. If the color in your room is dull, the rug can add visual interest and a pop of color, serving as an aesthetically pleasing addition. Area rugs also help to break up the space of a larger room and can add grandeur to a small space. A new rug will also protect your pre-existing carpet, vinyl and hardwood floors, keeping them looking newer, longer. 

 
Opt for accents as design elements

 
No home redecorating project is complete without a few perfectly placed accents. These interesting items stand out from your primary colors and furniture pieces, offering a fresh look to any space. Accent pieces – like chairs, frames or vases – will spice up a monotonous color scheme, while harmonizing with everything else you may already have in a room. Consider a bright beanbag chair for your child’s bedroom, a bold lawn chair on your patio to enthrall while entertaining or a lamp base in a complementary color on your console. Keep in mind accents are meant to speak for themselves; so there’s no need to have another elaborate piece in the room to pair with an accent piece. Just one affordable piece is all it takes.

 
When the redecorating bug bites, embrace the opportunity to freshen up your home inexpensively. With a pinch of creativity and a dash of design inspiration, you can easily make over any space into one that’s perfect for you.
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Create different patterns on your walls with textured rollers to achieve an artistic design.
Caption 2: Painting stripes in your room is a refreshing way to update your current color scheme.

Courtesy of BPT

Is kitchen remodeling cost-effective?


So, you have made the decision to remodel your home. Kitchen remodeling is one of the first rooms that homeowners explore with regard to renovations. The kitchen is the main gathering place in the home for families and friends. It is the area where socialization happens frequently, so it makes perfect sense to choose to remodel this room in your home first. The project can be extremely fun and should be looked upon as such. There are so many small changes that can be made to completely transform this room that it is mind boggling. Let us talk a bit about whether this remodeling project is a sound financial decision.

First, you should look at the long-term picture. Are you remodeling the kitchen for your own preferences, or will you be selling the home at any point in the future? In either case, renovations to the kitchen can help save money in the future, however,  if you are planning to stay in the home, your choices can help save on your monthly utility bills. You can opt for new energy efficient windows that can save you on your monthly electric payments. You can also install low flow faucets to save on water consumption. Buying appliances that are more energy efficient is a great investment and you will also experience personal satisfaction that your new kitchen is more operational and updated.

If you are planning on selling your home in the future, you can expect a very significant return on your investment. If you ask any realtor, they will tell you that one of the first things a potential buyer is interested in is the kitchen. If your kitchen is fresh and updated with contemporary finishes (counters, cabinets, flooring) it will make your home stand out against homes that have a more dated kitchen. You can expect to get a return of at least 40% of your remodeling investment when you go to list your home. 

A home kitchen makeover is a very prudent choice, especially if you can only remodel one room. The kitchen is central to the home and you spend a lot of time there cooking, eating and socializing. The benefits of new and updated appliances, and other elements far outweigh the costs you may incur. You will be surprised at how far you can get on your proposed budget, and you’ll be left with the feeling that it was money well spent.

by: Leonard Simmons

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7310.shtml 

Downshifting careers for a more fulfilling life

Downshifting%20careers%20for%20a%20more%20fulfilling%20lifeWhen 60-plus-hour weeks, expensive professional suits and excessive stress become too much, many high-powered professionals trade in their high-paying careers for a more fulfilling life. Called “downshifting,” the move allows former CEOs and company presidents to find more balance between work and life.
The phenomenon of downshifting is due in part to generational differences between baby boomers and older generations, says Catherine Mallozzi, director of career services for Everest University in Melbourne, Fla. While older generations saw work as something mandatory – yet not necessarily enjoyable – baby boomers have always believed they deserve fulfilling lives and careers.
“When you are stuck in the rat-race trying to climb the ladder to career success, you often have to put so much of your life on hold. You may end up sacrificing time with your family, not giving yourself time outdoors, or putting your hobbies and passions on pause,” Mallozzi says. “Downshifting is one way that professionals are redefining their priorities. They recognize that perhaps their new careers won’t be as lucrative, but they will be more fulfilling.”
Traditional working environments have dramatically changed over the past few decades. These work environments now include part-time, flex-time and work-from-home options, giving employees much more flexibility in balancing their interests in life. For example, workers can decline new projects, take on fewer projects or try to change work arrangements.
“If you aren’t ready for a complete career change, you still have a number of options. For example, bargain for more vacation time instead of that annual raise. Or see if you can work from home or move to part-time work,” says Mallozzi.
But for some, small changes in the working environment aren’t enough. Many wake-up calls can encourage a complete career change. Whether it is the death of a close friend, a divorce, or getting that dreaded pink slip because your company is downsizing, many professionals realize that life is too short to stay in a career that isn’t allowing them to enjoy a personal life on the side.
For those who might be considering downshifting, it’s important to weigh how a career change will alter their lives.
“You have to take your finances into consideration,” says Patrick Wehner, business department chairman at Everest University in Tampa. “A lot of planning needs to happen before you make any big changes. Specifically, you need to be thinking about how to meet costs of your insurance, children’s education, mortgage payments and retirement savings. That being said, with careful planning, changing careers can be done well and can be incredibly satisfying.”
In addition to financial planning, downshifting may also require going back to school.
“Many downshifters want to open a new business – perhaps a bed and breakfast, or local used book store or massage therapy business,” says Wehner. “Starting a new business in something you are passionate about is a great way to find a fulfilling career, but at the same time, you want to make sure you have the knowledge you need to be successful. For example, if you want to become a massage therapist or bed and breakfast owner, you may need to take massage therapy classes, or basic accounting and entrepreneurial courses before making that leap.”

Courtesy of BPT

Which comes first: The real estate deal or the buyer’s list?


This question is kind of like another question where people can’t seem to agree on the answer; “Which came first; the chicken or the egg”? Real estate investors all have a different opinion when they are asked whether you should find a deal first or start a buyer’s list and then find a deal.  For me, the answer has always been “the deal.” If you have a great deal, you can always find a buyer for it.

I had someone email me recently that said they had wanted to begin wholesaling houses for a couple of years, but he just couldn’t bring himself to buy that first investment property. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to sell it. This man had spent a number of years learning the business, but had become paralyzed with fear over this prospect of putting a house under contract that he wouldn’t be able to sell.

If you are just getting started and you find yourself having the same problem, here are 4 tips for you.

1. Know What a Good Deal Looks Like

This is no doubt the hardest part when you are brand new. You almost always pay too much for your first couple of deals. Before you sign on the dotted line, run your potential deal by someone that is an experienced investor. Marginal deals are hard to sell.  If you have any doubt about the numbers or the area where the house is located, just walk away and find another deal. There’s always another one around the corner.

2. Know Where Investors Like to Buy

It won’t do you any good to get a house under contract at a great price if it is in an area where investors don’t like to buy.  Ask experienced rehabbers and landlords where they like to buy. Be sure to find out what types of properties they like, and the price range they prefer. In general, you will be pretty safe in bread and butter neighborhoods; the kinds of neighborhoods for first time homebuyers.  In my area there is a market for more expensive houses, but there are fewer investors in this group.  Buy houses that would work for either a rehab that would be sold to a retail buyer, or a home that would make a great rental and they will always be in demand.

3. Put an Escape Clause in Your Contract

This is vital especially when you are brand new.  Make the deal subject to inspection or partner approval. This is your safety net. It will make it easier for you make offers with confidence.

4. Begin Immediately to Build Your Buyer’s List

There is nothing like having a good buyer’s list to call or email when you have a property you want to sell quickly. It is truly a wholesaler’s secret weapon.  These folks will be loyal repeat buyers if you always have great deals for them, and if you conduct your business with them in an ethical manner 100% of the time.

Implementing these 4 tips will make it easier to make those first offers and get your first few houses under your belt.

Finding a Buyer for Your Deal

There are a number of ways you can quickly find a buyer for the property you have under contract even if you don’t have a buyer’s list.

You can take the deal to your local REIA group where you will find a group of people that are looking for their next house.  At my monthly meeting, we have a table set up for vendors and for folks that want to put out fliers about properties they have to sell. This is usually the first place people head after signing in.

You could list the house on Craigslist. I have sold several properties there, but I would rather much sell to someone at my REIA group; they are usually more experienced investors.  But even if they are brand new, they will almost always be educated to some degree if you find them at this meeting. Most investors are more than willing to help them if they can close the deal.

Concentrate on getting a great deal, and you can be sure you will find a buyer.

Author: Sharon Vornholt

Sharon’s Website: http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com

Courtesy of BPT