Here comes #JanuaryJoy!

It’s that time again readers! Time to reveal #JanuaryJoy 2014! I’m super excited to get going and make January a lot more joyful than dreary December was!

A little bit of background in case you’re new to January Joy…

The numbers in the image above correspond to dates. As per usual here at FF, there will be no weekend tasks. You don’t have to sign up to do everything and you don’t have to do them in order. Dip in and out as you like.

If you would like to follow along with January Joy feel free to spread the word on your own blog (and use the image above,) or tweet about it using the tag #JanuaryJoy. You can even post it (and hashtag) on Instagram!

So let’s get excited about 2014! See you tomorrow!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
Last years January Joy

A short service announcement…

Hi Readers,

I just wanted to update you all on something new as you might have noticed that there has been a bit of downtime on the blog lately – both last Monday and again yesterday. On both occasions my hosters closed the site down due to a database size warning, which was in turn due to a massive amount of spam comments I’ve been getting. You guys don’t even see these as (unlike some blogs where you might notice them in the comments,) I have a filter set up that puts them straight in a spam box. I was advised by my hosters to install a Captcha on the comments but I resisted as I hate them personally and I really didn’t want to put you guys off commenting. However in the last week, after clearing out my spam box, I received another 25,000 spam comments, resulting in more down time yesterday and making me realise I had no choice but to address the problem.

As a result, I have had to go ahead and install a captcha for the comments (for those of you who think I’m speaking greek, it’s the little box you have to retype the text in from a rubbish picture when the computer thinks you might be spam, can you tell I don’t like them?) and I have tried to keep it as simple as possible by choosing a number test instead which is super quick. I just wanted to tell you all so it wasn’t a surprise and also to please ask that it doesn’t stop you commenting on Florence Finds! I love reading your comments and it would be very sad if this stopped you as I’ve really had no choice in order to keep Florence Finds up and running at all.

Thanks guys!
(and normal post coming at 11am)

Rebecca x

Monday Must Have: Everlapse

Recently life seems to have been flying past me, I guess that’s what happens when you’ve got some kind of big life event on like moving house! Despite that I managed to spot this on Twitter, (via DesignMom) and thought it was worth sharing.

Everlapse is a nifty little app that creates a highlights reel of your 20 most liked Instagram snaps (that’s what you can see up there at the top of this post) that you can share across social media, via email or embed as I have done on the blog.

Where it comes into it’s own however is the way you can download the actual Everlapse app (the above trick is done by signing in online via Instagram) and then create your own showreels. As a blogger I quite fancied doing this for my next monthly round up – it’s quick easy and a little bit more fun than a static image, although I guess it may have issues for those with slower connections. You can embed the reels you make via the app to a website, or share them on twitter. For now, if you’re not a blogger and want this for personal use, I can see it lending itself really well to making showreels of perhaps a monthly baby shot to post on facebook for a baby birthday, or maybe anything your want to show the progress of, a diy project or decorating job?

What do you think readers? Go and have a litle play!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Pinterest (for everyone) Part 2

Ok, so hopefully by now if you’re vaguely interested, you’ve got a Pinterest account and maybe you’re having a feel around it. For part 2, I’m going to talk about how to pin (there are several different ways…) and what you might use Pinterest for :)

There are three ways for you to get your image onto your Pinterest board.

  1. Lots of blogs have a Pin it! Button that appears if you hover over an image, so look out for this. (You will see that there is one on all of my images if you hover over them for example…) When you press it, you’ll be prompted to log into Pinterest in a pop up box (if you’re not already) and the blog will autofill the comment box. You simply choose which of your boards you want to put it on and change the comment if you want to.
  2. Secondly, lots of websites have a Pin it! Button within their social media bar – this works in the same way a floating Pin it button on a blog image does. (Again you’ll find one of these next to the ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons at the bottom of this post.)
  3. Thirdly, you can add the Pin it bookmarklet to your web browsers tool bar. Just follow the instructions, and then anytime you’re browsing the internet and see something you want to remember you can press the pin it button and hey presto, up pops your pin it box again.

*Just beware if you do this on a blog and haven’t clicked into the particular post, you will link to the blog, not that specific post, which can be annoying if you want to come back to it later.

Lastly you can upload an image via the Uploader or from a website by using the big plus sign at the top of your Pinterest window. To upload an image from your computer, simply browse your folders to select the image then upload, or paste in a web address to search the images on the site.

Just a final thought for you when adding your images, always credit the image. As I mentioned above, when you add a pin using a blogs pin it button, or social media buttons, or the Pin it bookmarklet, Pinterest automatically adds a link so you can click the image later from within Pinterest and go back to the source you pinned it from. If you upload your own image you can add a web address for where it came from or add in the comment (via FlorenceFinds.com) for example.

Now how do I use it?
There are loads of different ways to use Pinterest but here are just a few ways I use it and that I find useful:

Plan
Probably the most used function of Pinterest is to plan things. That might be an event like a hen party, a room you are decorating, or a round the world trip.

Organise
Like I said, I am a terrible hoarder of paper, so being able to store collections of recipes, fashion finds and hotel recommendations stops me stockpiling cut outs and keeps my life tidier.

Remember for later
You know when you see something on the internet, a great outfit idea, 5 tips for stress free entertaining, or the perfect gift for your niece next Christmas? Pin it. Save yourself frustrating hours of searching for it all over again. I’ll go so far as to say this is something that has changed my life.

Search
Do you know you want a blue kitchen but not sure what it will come out like? Looking for brunette bob hairstyles to show your hairdresser? Simply use the search box at the top left of the page and see hundreds of images pop up.

Tip: Be specific to get better results – ie ‘white gloss kitchen’, rather than just ‘white kitchen’ and consider using American language like ‘countertops’ instead of ‘worktops’ if you’re having trouble finding what you want. This works both ways too, if you want people to find your pins, label them clearly according to what they contain. You can find new reading material this way too – when you find a picture you like (of a recipe for example,) if you click it, it will take you to the source and just like that, you’ve found a new favourite blog!

Share
Share your pins with others by getting them to join Pinterest or simply sharing the link to the board you want to show them. You might want to bounce some decor ideas off your best friend, or help your mum out with her christmas shopping by showing her a few things you’ve been coveting. One of my friends recently got engaged with her perfect ring that her fiancé had found by looking on her Pinterest board!

Switch off
Because I’m a very visual person I could look at Pinterest all day. I log on perhaps 2 or three times a day and scroll through everything until I reach the ones I saw last time I was logged on. It’s a way of switching off, destressing and taking a break. Beware though – it’s such a time waster!

Are you a blogger? This post is to make Pinterest accessible to everyone, but there are more tips on how to use Pinterest specifically to increase your blog traffic and web presence here, on the Dream. Find. Do. blog.

Phew!

I hope this mini-series helped you guys understand Pinterest a little better. There’s even more to it – for example you can share boards with friends to work on joint projects, or keep secret boards too. Plus there is an iPhone app. As you can probably tell, I really love it. Like my iPhone, I can’t quite imagine how I lived without it, so if you get even a little bit of benefit from it, I’ll be happy.

So what do you use Pinterest for?

Rebecca x

Pinterest (for everyone) Part 1

A few times when I have mentioned Pinterest, some people have commented that they don’t really ‘get it’ or know how to use it. It’s easy when you’re a blogger and friends with lots of bloggers, to think everybody is doing something or au fait with something new on the internet, but it seems some of you want a kick start and a few pointers on Pinterest so I’m more than happy to oblige! (Of course if you just have no interest in Pinterest, feel free to move right along to your next favourite blog read!)
Tip: As well as the pictures I have included to illustrate my points here, click through all the links for examples of what I am talking about.

So what is Pinterest?
Try to think of it as a virtual scrap book. Did you make scrapbooks when you were younger? Have you ever made a book of travel memories? Cut out an recipe in the newspaper to remind you to try something later? Kept a page out of a magazine to remember a room scheme? Well essentially Pinterest is exactly the same, but online and anything that reduces the paper clutter around my house is a welcome addition in my opinion. Because it’s an American idea, they liken it to a pinboard, hence Pinterest.

How do I get started with Pinterest?
Firstly, create an account and log in. Next you need to create some ‘boards’. Pinterest will start you off with a few and you can either delete these or run with them, and of course add your own. Think of these as folders, or pages in your digital scrapbook, groups of things that go together. You might choose to make a board of fashion you have seen for your winter wardrobe, a travel bucket list or just a ton of cute puppies. You don’t have to make all your boards now, you might find later on that you want to start collecting images of something different and everytime you ‘pin’ an image, you have the option to create a new board for the image.

The next part is a bit like Facebook, you need to find some people to follow. (I’ll explain why in a minute…) Pinterest allows you to connect via Twitter or Facebook and find your friends who are also on Pinterest. If you happen to have super stylish friends, then this might be the way forward, but I don’t tend to follow many of my friends for 2 reasons. Firstly, Pinterest is about visual inspiration and you want to see the very best of it. Find your favourite bloggers who are already famous for selecting beautiful imagery and let them do the hard work for you. (You can find my Pinterest account here.) Secondly, most people use Pinterest to plan stuff, and so it kind of takes the wind out of your friends sails when they tell you about their plans for the new kitchen and you’ve already seen it all on their Pinterest board!

How do I ‘pin’ things? Again, there’s lots of answers to this question.

For starters, this is where those friends you followed above come in. Every time you log into Pinterest, just like on a Facebook wall there’s a page of all the pins the people you follow have pinned. You can browse them and repin them to your boards. Some people don’t do anything other than this and are perfectly happy. If you follow enough people, you’ll have more than enough inspiration to play with.

Tip: Here are 5 top ‘Pinners’ to get you started:

Decor – Kimberley (Redlilocks)

Style – Kirsty (A Safe Mooring)

Fashion – Kimberley (Eat Sleep Wear)

Events and Style Inspiration – Michelle & Vicki (PocketfulofDreams)

Beauty - The Beauty Department

Another great way to use Pinterest is to pin something you have seen elsewhere on the internet. You might see something on a blog for example, a hotel on a travel agents site, or that recipe in the newspaper online.

Next week, I’ll explain more of how to pin and also why I love Pinterest so much (i.e. what I use it for.) For now, if you haven’t already got one, get yourself an account and dive right in!

Happy Pinning!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

GIVEAWAY: Moonfruit

** THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED **

It’s almost 2 years since the launch of Florence Finds now and 2 things I have definitely found to be true: 1. Design is everything and 2. Great images are key to growing your readership. As a result, when Moonfruit contacted me to share their services and offered to give away a Max package membership (worth £25/month) and fancy camera to a lucky reader, I pretty much jumped, knowing there were many of you who would love to win a prize like that!

So who are Moonfruit? Having done most of the work on FF myself, I didn’t know there were any great services like this around and if I was starting out afresh or a little less handy with web design, I would be jumping at their packages. Sometimes the only thing keeping you from getting started or upgrading your design is a lack of time and knowledge! Moonfruit are the UK’s leading DIY website building platform and their standard package is totally free, but with their premium packages you can make some pretty spectacular site designs, all of which are tablet and mobile-friendly. Plus you can find some genius tips for your website and business on their blog here.

As I said before, great images are key to growing your readership, with Moonfruit’s Lightbox image gallery, you can showcase your photos and creative work via their pre-designed templates, and it’s really easy to share your content on social platforms straight from your website. I do so much online now that feeds into Florence Finds; just look at the way I could create moodboards for the room sets I planned last month, get all of you to offer your advice and then buy the whole lot online!

But let’s get to the nitty gritty here. The lucky winner will receive:

  • Moonfruit membership to create a shiny new website on their Max premium package worth £25 a month
  • A Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ30E-K Bridge Camera – Black

All you have to do is:
Leave a comment below telling me why you would love a shiny new site from Moonfruit and what you would like to take photographs of with the fabulous camera on offer.
*Bonus entry methods*

  • Follow @moonfruit on Twitter leave your user name in a comment below
  • Tweet the following phrase on Twitter and leave me a comment saying you have done so: “Win a camera and new website from @Moonfruit on @FlorenceFinds http://www.florencefinds.com/?p=10310″
  • Like Moonfruit on Facebook and leave me a separate comment below saying you have done so.

I’m really excited to hear what you would do with the camera and how you would improve your existing site, or maybe this is the push you need to create a new site?
Either way, get those entries in!!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*The giveaway will close in two weeks on Wednesday 21st August at 12 midnight. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator.

*This post and giveaway is sponsored by Moonfruit.

Spotted: Style Me Vintage Weddings

I have been excited about writing today’s post for what feels like months and this weekend I finally got my hands on a copy of Style Me Vintage: Weddings. I don’t normally write about weddings these days, but this wasn’t hard to make an exception for as it was written by my friend and fellow blogger, Annabel Beeforth of Love My Dress, a wedding blog with ‘a focus on vintage, retro, glamorous, chic and elegant content.’

Way back when I was a wedding blogger (at Rock My Wedding,) I had 2 big goals. 1. I wanted to be featured in Grazia magazine (just because it was my favourite magazine,) and 2. I wanted to write a book. I’ve always taken great pleasure in blogging as an industry and being a part of it as it advances and develops, particularly in the UK, so although it wasn’t me who eventually wrote that book, it gives me no end of pleasure that it’s my friend Annabel who takes that prize and deservedly so.

Annabel is one of the hardest working wedding bloggers out there. Anybody who thinks full time professional blogging is a cushy job really doesn’t know enough about what’s involved. Sure there are perks and glitzy industry events, but nine times out of ten you arrive knackered after the usual slog of prepping blog posts and the part of the job that really takes over, the administration behind the scenes of answering emails and actually running a blog as a business. To add writing a book to that is a massive workload so my hat really goes off to Annabel for pulling it off.

The book, as the title suggests, focuses on vintage wedding style, breaking it down by decade and this is where Annabel really shows off the incredible knowledge she has developed as an expert in vintage style. There are real vintage style weddings and inspirational styled images. Each chapter also has sections on perfecting every aspect of your look for an authentic take on vintage inspired, with beauty, fashion, stationery and decor touches to complete the look.

And what a job Annabel has done. I love a good coffee table book – for me they have to be beautiful to hold and beautifully illustrated. Annabel ensured that when she enlisted Joanna Brown who has captured the images which really are of the highest quality and completely breathtaking in places. Special mention goes to Michelle Kelly, (my colleague at Dream Find Do,) and founder of Pocketful of Dreams, who styled the images to ‘create distinct decor elements that would bring each era to life’ with her impeccable eye and managed to make vintage very very modern. Zoe Lem takes credit for the fashion picks and styling.

For me the triumph of this book is in its genuine display of knowledge, collection of real historical references and then the incredibly thoughtful respresentation of those eras presented in the inspiration images.

You can find Style Me Vintage: Weddings on Amazon – if you need to buy a gift for a bride to be that you know, if she likes vintage style then I guarantee she’ll love it. :)

Well Done Annabel!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Dream Find Do comes to London…

Some of you may remember me announcing a new project a while back – the new blogging workshop that I launched with Michelle, Dream. Find. Do. Well, this weekend sees us teach our first workshop in Manchester and I’m just a little bit excited. So excited in fact that we decided to announce another date, in London this time.


Image credit: The lovely illustration you see above is by Argentinian graphic designer Hola Mimi, you can see more of her work here.

So, if you’re a blogger, thinking of starting a blog, or blog for your business, you might be interested in heading over to Dream. Find. Do. and reading all about the next workshop. You can also take advantage of an early bird deal we have on for bookings made before October 5th and this time around we are allowing attendees to book a single day as well as the full weekend workshop.

Come and join us!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS, Blogger or not, today I’m actually being interviewed on Dream. Find. Do. and you can read about my blogging journey, what inspires me and how I made Florence Finds happen by clicking on through.

Socialista Sista’

Already in the three years that I have been involved in blogging, I’ve noticed a real change in how people use social media. Of course, I already had a Facebook account when I joined the blogging revolution, but I had no idea what a business page was and Twitter was a whole new ball game.


Engaging in conversation and status updates about the new iPhone5 release with readers on my Facebook (right) and Twitter (left) pages yesterday evening

I’ve never been what I would call a Facebook addict but I did tend to check every couple of days and face-stalk peoples holiday pictures, didn’t we all? In sharp contrast, yesterday I uploaded the pictures from a friends wedding and despite me having been to several other weddings and on a few holidays, never mind general ‘life’ it had been over 6 months since I last did the same.

Now my life has been taken over by Twitter. Facebook just isnt the same when it comes to sharing and keeping up to date with news, media oulets like magazines and following celebrity or style icons. All that and it takes care of the majority of my social media exposure for Florence Finds and lets me keep in touch with my ‘blog friends’. Are my everyday friends there though? No. A few of them admit to having an account and who knows if they check it or not, but there’s a really tentative air of fear about them when they discuss it. I remember it. Like I felt before I finally succumbed to Facebook.

From a business or blog point of view, there used to be a very clear demarcation… Facebook was to capture Brides (in my wedding blogging days) and Twitter was for industry. Now, my Facebook followers (all 436 of you) are dwarved by my 1,573 twitter followers. What is interesting however is that they are largely made up of readers rather than industry types. Has there been a shift? I’d say it’s seismic.

I do still see people however who cling to Facebook and use it far more than Twitter, even amongst people who I know have and use both forms of social media. And then there’s the way Instagram seamlessly integrates with both – maybe that’s where all my Facebook albums went, trampled by the instant gratification of boastful over-sharing when you’re somewhere fun/drool-worthy/envy-inducing.

So, today I’d like to hear about your social media strategy, (spoken with a hint of irony.) Do you still use Facebook? Have you joined Twitter yet? And if not, why not? I’m fascinated to hear your thoughts and how you use social media…

Love
Rebecca
xo

Photography basics: The Fuji x100 Part 2

So, last time I wrote about the x100, I talked about how in love with it I was already, but also how I had revealed a few little frustrations as I used it. Since then, I have been out with a few friends who are DSLR owners who also couldn’t get to grips with it. Is it a bad camera? Absolutely not. Put a DSLR on auto and usd a nice little 50mm lens to blur out your backgrounds and in the right light, anybody can take a decent picture. No really, anybody. The Fuji x100 however really doesn’t cater for the lover of the Auto function and honestly, I had been getting a little lazy. It’s really made me pull my finger out and remember what my camera functions are and how to use them.

Last week, I spent the afternoon with Laura and Peter Lawson (Remember Laura wrote this great piece on Digital camera’s for Florence Finds?) and tried to get to grips with the basic settings I needed to know to use the x100. So today, I thought I would share some of my new pearls of photography wisdom with you all in case you too are grappling with the settings on your camera. I did say that I was going to look at depth of field and exposure in my next post and hopefully you will see how all of these things come together.

There are three main settings you need to get to know to get started with your camera. Aperture, ISO and shutter speed.

1. Aperture
When you press the button on a camera, to take the photo, the camera opens up the shutters in it’s lens (you can see these through the lens if you look carefully on an SLR,) and captures the image. The amount the shutters open is what is called the aperture.


Using a big aperture to create depth of field and blur out the background in this shot showing off my glitter fizz nails (Chanel Orange Fizz and Deborah Lippmann Glitter in the Air)

Confusingly a large aperture actually has a smaller number, for example a 1.8 is much larger than a 5.6. You will also see the aperture referred to as ‘f-stops’ Each f-stop on a lens either halves or doubles the size of the aperture, depending on whether you are moving up or down.

The key thing to aperture is that what it does is let light in. Therefore, if you are in dark conditions you are always going to want to choose a big aperture, (a small f-stop,) to get the most light into your camera and prevent the shot being dark. It also impacts on the depth of field but I’ll leave that for now.

2. ISO
When cameras used film (and when I started playing with my Dads SLR,) ISO denoted how sensitive the film was to light. You therefore chose your film according to the conditions. However in digital photography, choosing your ISO changes how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light.


This shot was taken when I had some friends over for dinner. It was warm so we were eating outside and the light was low. The shutter speed was already as slow as I could get it without causing blurring from camera shake, so I put the ISO up. That made the first image too bright and I turned it down to 200 for the correct exposure.

What that means is that when it’s bright and light (outside on a bright day for example,) your sensor doesnt need to be as, well, sensitive to pick up the image. 1-200 would be fine here. On the other hand in a dark room you might have to bump up the ISO to capture the details.

3. Shutter speed
This one is exactly what it says on the tin. To capture the image as I said in point one, the shutters in your lens open and close in speed that equates to fractions of a second. The ‘shutter speed’ is how long the shutter remains open for. In turn, that controls how long your camera’s sensor is exposed to the image you are taking. The bigger the number 1/250, 1/1000 etc (or you might see these just as the larger number,) the faster the speed.


This shot was taken out one night with friends in low light outside, hence the high ISO. However initially I chose a slow shutter speed to let the most light in and it bleached the shot out with too much light. I could have turned the ISO down, but instead increased the shutter speed.

There are a few key points you need to grasp that relate to this.

  • Leave the shutter open for longer and you will capture movement. For example those street scenes with the car lights streaking across the picture have used a long shutter speed or when you see pictures of waterfalls with the water blurred. There are situations where you might want to see movement in your photograph.
  • For a long shutter speed you need a tripod. The human hand struggles to keep a camera still at a speed slower than 1/125 or 1/60 and that causes ‘camera shake’ or blurring to you and me.
  • On the whole and for blogging purposes you’re more than likely however to want to freeze the shot and capture everything crisply, so will want to choose a higher shutter speed.
  • Shutter speed interacts with ISO because of course when the shutter is open longer (for example) it lets more light in. So you might lower your ISO. On the other hand, speed up the shutter speed and you’ll have to increase your ISO to compensate.

Understanding the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture is the hardest part of photography for me and I guess it only comes with practice.


Just a pretty shot of my dressing table.

So what did I take away from my lesson with the Lawsons? For me personally and the way I use a camera or the situations I use it for, there is an easy way! Laura and Pete taught me that of the 3 factors above, really only one is negotiable. I like nice blurred out backgrounds, so 9 out of 10 times I’m going to choose a large aperture, on the Fuji x100, a 2 or 2.8. The ISO isn’t really negotiable, the lighting and situation again dictate what you need to use. Most days in good light it’s going to be a low ISO of 1-200 or I might bump it up in lower light situations. That just leaves me to play with the shutter speed and get the exposure right by increasing or decreasing it as I go. It’s not how a pro-photographer shoots of course, but I think it’s great advice to get started with!

So, have you learnt anything today? I’m no pro but these are just the tips that have been helping me get better shots so far. I’ll keep you posted!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

~ With thanks to Talk PR for arranging my Press review of the Fujifilm FinePix X100