Monthly Archives: March 2014

My 21st Century child’s current ambition, is to be a YouTuber. Yes, really. He loves to watch people talking about things that interest him (a LOT of Minecraft…) and people reviewing things they’ve built. He has been begging to make a video but we just hadn’t managed to get round to it and he didn’t know what he wanted to talk about, so when I was asked if he’d like to review some Skylanders goodies, I thought “Perfect!”. Like every other 6 year old we know, he loves Skylanders. He excitedly counted down the days until they launched Swap Force and it was the only think he really wanted for Christmas and spent all of Christmas morning playing it (in Swap Force PJs, obviously). If you don’t know any 6 year olds, you might not be familiar with Skylanders. It’s a console game which features various Skylanders characters (you can purchase more figures fairly inexpensively so they’re very good “tidy your room” motivators). You put them on a “portal of power” in order for them to join the game and they all have different powers, like air, fire, water, earth & magic so you switch the characters throughout the game to complete the tasks. Not that I’ve been allowed to play, of course. (You can check out the Skylanders guide for parents HERE

We were sent a Puffin book – Skylanders Universe: Complete Collection and a Skylanders Swap Force Mega Bloks jet boat to build.

The book is made up of facts about all the Skylanders with lots of really colourful pictures, rather than it being a bedtime story. Our little reviewer said it was “Awesome” because “It has loads of Skylanders in, all my favourite ones and hasn’t got big words and too much reading”. He was excited to look up the Skylanders he already has and read about ones he’s interested in an was able to read most of what was written independently.

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Now the jet boat…. this took 3 days to build but he really enjoyed building it. Parts of it were a little bit fiddly for little hands and required a bit of concentrating, so they were left to me!

 
Coming together

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Tada!

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I made the mistake of calling this a Skylanders man and he rolled his eyes so hard and said “It’s not a man, Mum, it’s a greeble… “. That told me.

This is what he thought of the Mega Bloks Sharp Finn jet boat (and yay! his first vlog!)


 

We were sent the Skylanders Swap Force Mega Bloks jet boat and the Skylanders Universe: Complete Collection for the purposes of this review. Thank you so much! The promise of goodies at the weekend also meant he was good as gold all week so thanks for that, too!

I’ve been a bit slow with updating on the blogging front lately, mainly down to a newly acquired steam mop (must clean ALL THE THINGS!) and them there kids. Who knew they required so much upkeep? Seriously! Surely the 6 year old should be cooking his own meals by now? We’ve been baking together a lot lately and I even had a little bread lesson with my friend Gemma (which I will share soon!) It turned out so well that I got a bit cocky and thought I could make bread now so attempted a soda bread for St Patrick’s Day that was awful, to be perfectly honest. I will now only attempt to make bread under Gemma’s supervision. We’ve made banana bread too (technically, it’s cake, isn’t it?) and that was sort of OK… Little Dude won’t touch anything with fruit in or anything that he suspects may be healthy, the husband’s too polite to say anything, the littlest will eat anything and me…well, y’know…cake.

I have lots of bits and pieces to share with you later this week, I’m making some little tweaks here and there, adding a few new pages to the site and have some photos to share from some recent sessions. I’m also cutting down on social media because it was getting silly how much of a time suck it can be. I now *only* have Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. And Instagram. And Google+. But that’s all! Facebook is my favourite though and the easiest one to use, I think, so feel free to add me as a friend (I’m Hayley Shutterflies-Photography).

Lately I’m loving…

Sunnier days

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This little one’s love of books.

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My bike riding pro!

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Hair tutorials on YouTube. Thanks to these, I was able to do a (rather messy) french plait and realise a childhood dream. I always, always wanted a french plait like the girls down the road but my mum was shit at hair and couldn’t do it. In the end, I got a bob, I think she was just so sick of hearing me go on and on  about it! I can’t wait until Sunshine’s hair is a little longer and she’s capable of sitting still for longer than a few seconds so I can plait her hair too. It’s going to be so cute! I offered to do one for the Little Dude but he said no, oddly enough.

This video from Jo Whiley’s Sport Relief Challenge.

How great was Sport Relief? I’m really thrilled to tell you that the blogger relay that I took part in last month for Team Honk finished in John O’Groats yesterday and raised over £26,000 for Sport Relief. I LOVED Jason & Kylie and was really impressed by everyone’s efforts, especially Jo for spending 26 hours on a treadmill! That lady’s amazing!

If you love a bit of camera geekery, read on! I’m letting my camera geek flag fly today.

One of the questions I get asked the most is “What camera should I get?”. I spent two years working in a camera shop (an amazing job for someone like me) and am always happy to chat cameras! There are so many options available that it can be confusing and it’s so easy to get caught up in all the technical jargon and end up with something that’s full of features you won’t use or even worse, a camera that sits on the shelf untouched. The things I think worth thinking about when looking for a camera are:

*What you’re photographing

*What you want to do with your images. Are you after family snaps to share with friends and family on social media or are you interested in photography and wanting to learn more about it?

*How much you want to spend

*Size and weight of the camera. If you want something you can slip into a pocket, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a DSLR.

Digital cameras fall into 3 main groups – compact cameras, bridge cameras and DSLRs.

Compacts 

A compact is simply that – compact. It’s the perfect choice if you’re after something small and a more price friendly option if you’re on a budget. They are really easy to use, and here are some fantastic options available including cameras with wi-fi (so handy if you love to edit your photos with photo editing apps or to share on social media) and lens style cameras which work with your smartphone like a Sony QX10. It gives you the option of a zoom and better image quality, it’s absolutely perfect if you’re a happy phone snapper. Wi-fi is one of my favourite features on a camera ever, I think all cameras should have it! It’s great being able to instantly share photos with friends and family and I love that a lot of the Sony Cyber-shot cameras have that feature AND they come in a range of colours. I know it doesn’t make any difference to the photos you’re taking and sharing but having a camera in pink? Yes please!

Bridge Cameras

A bridge camera is a great choice if you want a little more control over your settings but don’t want the bulk and investment of purchasing a DSLR. They offer great image quality ( a bigger body means room for a bigger sensor) and usually have amazing zoom capabilities although there are some you can use inter-changable lenses with, making them like a smaller DSLR. The Sony a6000 is a perfect in between, it has all the best bits of a DSLR – great image quality, good low light performance, fast focusing, interchangeable lenses but in a smaller package.

DSLR

DSLR stand for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Put simply, it’s the one you need to change lenses for. It’s not always necessary to buy a selection of lenses if that’s something that’s putting you off but it’s part of the fun! Most come with a standard kit lens to get you started, usually with a focal length of 18-55 mm which gives you a wide angle and a decent focal length for portraits. If portraits is your thing, I can’t recommend a prime lens enough. When I first became interested in photography, I’d look online at these amazing, bright portraits and wanted to be able to do the same thing. The more I read, the more I realised I needed a prime lens to take the kind of photos I wanted. I bought a 50mm f1.8 and was IN LOVE. I’m not joking, this one lens changed my photography completely. With a prime lens, you can take photos in lower light, use faster shutter speeds and they’re amazing for portraits because you can control the depth of field (what’s in focus) and blur the action behind or in front of your subject so you’re drawn to the person or thing in the photograph. Sony have a fantastic range of prime lenses, from affordable lenses for an enthusiast, right up to lenses used by pro photographers. I’d love to take some photos with the Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm f1.8 (what a mouthful!). It’s such a flattering length for portrait photography and fast enough to capture busy little ones and I’ve used Zeiss lenses before and have to say, the quality is amazing. The colours and sharpness that these lenses produce is out of this world (told you I was all about the geekery).

What else do I need?

You’ll need a memory card or stick for your camera. I am a little paranoid about losing data so prefer to use a few smaller sized cards of around 4 or 8GB, rather than a 64 GB. If you’re planning on shooting video, you’ll want a larger card. I also think it’s worth getting a spare battery and a protective case or sleeve to stop your camera getting scratched and if you’re using interchangeable lenses, then I’d get a UV filter  to protect it. One of my lenses very nearly met a nasty end at the hands of an inquisitive toddler but it was OK thanks to the UV filter which took the brunt of the damage and wasn’t expensive to replace.

 So you’ve chosen your digital camera…what’s next?

The internet is a fantastic resource for a budding photographer. There are so many sites around offering tips and photo sharing sites, blogs and communities to really make you feel inspired. On the Sony Community site you can read tutorials, research more about the models you’re interested in or already have and share your photos. They have monthly photography competitions which is a great way of getting feedback for your photos and of seeing what other people are up to.

These are some of my favourite images from the Sony World Photography Awards. There are some really amazing photographers out there.original-4Tor Birk Trads, Denmark, Finalist, Student Focus, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

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Kacper Kowalski, Poland, Contemporary Issues, Professional, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

original-2Anastasia Zhetvina, Russia, Shortlist, Culture, Youth, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

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Chin Boon Leng, Singapore, Shortlist, Nature & Wildlife, Open, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony Community team have put together 25 of their favourite images from the entries that were shortlisted by The World Photography Organisation. You can see all 25 HERE and if you have a minute, you should take a look. They make a selection from 4 categories so there’s something that will appeal to everyone, whether you love landscapes, nature, portrait or sports photography. The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards Gala Ceremony will be held in London on 30th April. Good luck to everyone who’s taking part!

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