Found: Gelaskins

I’ve been meaning to do a bit of a techie round up of ways you can personalise your tech items. Phones, iPads and laptops are so much a part of everyday life now and after the iPhone became cool for it’s sleek design, more and more I’m seeing bloggers snapping pictures, iPhone in clear view and they’re no longer naked, sporting snazzy designs as part of the style statement.

My latest discovery however is head and shoulders above the rest. Spotted on Instagram via Alex D who was sporting a very Dream. Find. Do.-esque iPad cover, I then found that the Gelaskins range spans nearly every device you could need a cover for.

As the name suggests, the covers are mainly thin ‘skins’ that serve as protection against scratches and also bring colour and unique personality to your device. The icing on the cake is the cool range of wallpapers that you get access to with your purchase so you can even make the screen marry up with the outside.

I’m also claiming bonus points for the fact this is a product that doesn’t just work for the Apple family. Your Blackberry, Kindle, HTC, Samsung and more can all be personalised too.

Of course, it’s the range of geometric gorgeousness that had me sold and I bought the one pictured above. The hard case is slightly different. If you’re slightly clumsy like me, the hard case offers more protection than the skins for not much more money.

Gelaskins is a Canadian company but ships world wide. Go take a look, the designs available are immense and you can even customise your own with an image you have taken.

Do you like?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Found: Picfx

Now, you know I like a gadget here at Florence Finds. Not only do I love my iPhone (which Victoria kindly reviewed when the 4S was released,) but I’m addicted to Instagram. You guys see my monthly round ups courtesy of my almost daily Instagram snaps and now I’ve found something that makes your Instagram pics even prettier. Or just your random snapshots for that matter. It’s the best iPhone App I’ve found in ages and it’s called Picfx.

Just like Instagram, or Hipstamatic for that matter, it lets you digitally adjust your images with filters, effects and frames for a vintage, artistic, or just outrageously pretty look. I’ve used the same image of my bedside table throughout this post so you can see the difference and each one is labelled with the name of the effect I used on it.


Red Grunge and Space, Nebula

I’m totally obsessed with the prettiness of some of the amazing shots you can take, and I am soooo excited about using it to capture my holiday snaps and share with you all. It fully integrates (with no faffing around,) with Instagram, twitter, your email and other social networks.


Classics, Sheen and Valentine

This one’s my personal favourite… Bokeh 🙂


Light effect – Bokeh 4

So, do you like it readers? You can get Picfx from the app store. I splashed out, it’s £1.49 but I defy you not to love it!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS, if you’re not already, follow me on Instagram under Rebecca_Norris or on Twitter @florencefinds and @_RebeccaNorris

A [Bloggers] Guide to Camera Conundrums, by Laura Lawson

Recently I have been getting more and more frustrated. Like a lot of bloggers I suspect, I have a huge interest in photography. I also have a little knowledge, having been taught by my Dad how to use his fancy Canon SLR before I even hit my teens. A combination of the passage of time and little time to practice means that put my beautiful Canon 40D into my mitts and I cannot get it to behave.

Not only do I want my photography to get better but I want great images for the blog, and as it’s me who produces those images, in the main, I need to get learning fast. However, the ‘T’ word gets in the way again… time. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m not exactly swimming in the stuff. Things have gotten so bad recently that I have even thought of selling my camera and over the weekend I abandoned it all together in favour of our old Canon Coolpix then was hugely disappointed at it’s lack of function while we were in London. (Don’t even get me started on the fact that I can’t seem to get the images off the darn thing right now.) One of my biggest issues is that I need my camera to be be a little bit more compact and portable than the huge DSLR that is the D40. I always need it in my bag, literally everywhere and so when Laura Lawson offered to write a bit about cameras and how to use them, I knew my blogging readers and perhaps those of you interested in photography would love to hear her tips. It doesn’t hurt that she’s not only a brilliant photographer but a funny girl, and if you’re coming to the Florence Finds Afternoon Tea in Manchester you can meet her (and her equally talented husband Pete) too!

Thanks Laura – you’re a star. 🙂

WHAT THE HECK IS ISO AND WHY ARE ALL MY PICTURES WHITE?
– A guide to camera conundrums by Laura Lawson.

I have a DSLR and I’m scared to take it off Auto!

Your camera is simply a tool. It doesn’t have a life of its own, it just does what you tell it to do, and once you figure out a few simple things you will feel completely in control. There is nothing more freeing than flicking that little switch off Auto and onto Manual!


Image courtesy of Lawson Photography

Firstly, all cameras are different and it’s important to actually read the instruction booklet! You’ll come up against some stuff you won’t understand – google it. There’s nothing difficult about knowing what settings to use.

The three main things:

ISO – This is how sensitive to light your camera is. A lower setting is like sunscreen – protecting those precious pixels from ‘burning out’. When a pixel ‘burns out’ you get a white image (don’t worry – it’s not permanent!). If you’re outside and it’s sunny then go for a low number like ISO100 or 200. If you’re inside you might need to choose one of the higher ISOs that your camera allows like ISO1600. The higher your ISO the more grainy the picture will be (which is why you always get a bit of grain when it’s dark).

Shutter Speed – This is how long the sensor in your camera is exposed to light. If a shutter is open too long the picture will be too bright, and if it’s not open for long enough it will be too dark. If your picture is too blurry you’re probably using too slow a shutter speed.


Image courtesy of Lawson Photography

Aperture (or ‘f stop’) – This is the size of the opening in the lens, which controls how much light is coming in. A large aperture like f1.8 lets in lots of light, whereas a small aperture like f16 lets in very little light. It can seem confusing because a LARGE aperture is a SMALL number – but basically the lower the number, the better your camera will deal with low light (and as an added bonus, the more awesome and blurry your backgrounds will be!).

When you put your camera on Auto you are giving away the chance to get brilliant pictures. Your camera doesn’t know what you want a picture to look like! A good stepping stone to setting everything yourself on Manual is using Aperture Priority (or AV mode). This basically means you decide what aperture you would like, and what ISO you would like, and your camera will guess the shutter speed itself.


Image courtesy of Lawson Photography

Laura, can’t you just tell me a couple of settings which will probably work?!

  • Inside, with some windows so it’s not exactly dark: Put it on AV mode. ISO1600, f1.8 (or the lowest number your lens will allow).
  • Outside: ISO100 (or 200 if it’s cloudy), f1.8 (or the lowest number your lens will allow)

If your picture is kinda blurry it means the shutter speed your camera chose was a bit too low, put your ISO up a bit.

WHAT LENS SHOULD I BUY?

The lens you use is so important, and getting your hands on a good one can take your photos to the next level. Personally I am a massive fan of prime lenses as opposed to zoom lenses. A prime lens is a fixed distance, so you have to get used to moving your feet rather than standing still and zooming in and out! The benefit of a prime lens is that they have large apertures, and your images will have shallow depth of field. As professional photographers, we go for the top of the line £1000 lenses, but there are actually some great bargains out there which will make a big difference to your pictures and aren’t crazy expensive!

A 50mm lens is a great start and these f1.8 beauties are a bargain at around £100!

I JUST WANT A CAMERA I CAN CARRY AROUND WHICH TAKES NICE PICTURES!
The biggest thing to keep your eye out for is a camera with a big sensor; an increased sensor size gives you better performance in low light, more depth of field (pretty fuzzy backgrounds!) and generally better image quality. The great thing is there are lots of great cameras out there that fit this ‘handbag friendly and much better than your iphone’ category.


Image courtesy of Lawson Photography

£700 BUDGET

£450 BUDGET


Image courtesy of Lawson Photography

Pro Tips…

Ok so you’ve got the camera and you’ve had a play with the settings. Here are some general tips for pretty picture taking:

1. Position yourself so the sun (or main light source) is BEHIND the person/thing you’re shooting. Although it may seem natural to have the sun shining on your subject, this kind of light is actually really harsh and nasty – it will give you bags under the eyes and no one wants that! By back lighting your subject you get a lovely flattering rim light and creamy skin. Even better – if you can choose a spot where a bit of light is bouncing back onto them (i.e. the sun is behind the person and a white wall is behind you – they’ll be lit by the light bouncing of the wall). You’ll have to shoot on Manual mode and have a play with your settings so your subject is exposed correctly and doesn’t appear too dark (slow your shutter speed down a bit if they’re too dark and speed it up if it’s all a bit bright!)


Image courtesy of Lawson Photography

2. When shooting products try to choose a background with complimentary colours. A popular look in magazine product shots is using a shallow depth of field; to emulate this get as close to the item as your camera will allow and use the biggest aperture you can like f1.8. Textures look great when they’re fuzzy in the background, so have a play using floorboards, patterned sheets, old doors etc.

3. Organise your pictures so you can find them easily! We organise our folders by date, so for example: ‘2012_03_09 Tea Party’.

4. Print the pictures you love. There really is nothing like flicking through an album, it beats scrolling through images on your computer any day! I love Blurb books for personal stuff, they’re a total bargain.

Happy snapping!

I’d love to hear if you are a camera enthusiast and have any tips on the right (compact-ish) camera or like me are learning the ropes and frustrated with set backs… Laura will be reading and available to answer any questions you have for her, and Pro togs, feel free to pitch in too! 🙂

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Found: Flipboard for iPad and iPhone

A little while back, Vicky was kind enough to pop over and talk about he new iPhone 4S release with a very witty round up. Since then, I’ve been wanting to share one of my top finds with you, for blog browsing, Flipboard. Apologies to the Android users as I don’t know if there’s an android version, but it’s available for iPhone as well as iPad. (all images taken from my iPad)

As you can imagine, I read a lot of blogs and until I found Flipboard, I really hadn’t found anything that was great for following them all. I absolutely detest Google Reader (sorry Google, please don’t unleash your mighty wrath!) – the never ending lists just depress me and I don’t think it’s a particularly visual interface.

Flipboard basically arranges all of your feeds into an easy to use and visually pleasing (I’m a sucker for pictures) magazine-like app. When you open it up it does a slideshow of images posted recently in your twitter contacts, (above) then you swipe the page to flip over and see your feeds. Obviously you can have pages and pages of them if you like!

I like it because I’m such a visual person. I don’t keep up with all the feeds all of the time, but it means either, if I’ve been on it recently I can identify the new ones easily, or once I’ve tapped into particular feed, I can flick through and find where I left off easily by recognising the post images.

Once you ‘tap’ into any particular feed the lay out changes again, to a kind of magazine format which you can just turn the pages of by ‘swiping’ across. It’s great for skimming and seeing if there’s anything you want to read. Once you tap through to the actual post you want to see more of, you can then choose to view it in the web format if you wnat to see the whole blog and comment, or email it, tweet it etc.

I’d love to know how you follow the blogs you love – they have a habit of getting out of hand don’t they? Because I found Flipboard, I’ve never delved into Bloglovin’ and I don’t particularly like the RSS feed in my MAC mail either.

How do you keep up with the latest blog posts?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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