Myths And Facts About Botox

Botox is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures ever since it was first introduced more than ten years ago, but despite its global acceptance, it is also perhaps the most misunderstood one.

While it’s easy to get seduced with the promises of turning back the years and getting back your younger face literally over night, many who are intrigued by this cosmetic procedure are still held back from taking the plunge with the myths surrounding Botox and its use.

Some fear that they will end up with a “face freeze”, the notion that probably originated from seeing too many stars and starlets in the media, sporting a perpetual dear-in-the-headlights look. With their faces frozen in a perpetual surprise, it seems like they themselves can’t believe how far they went with their Botox use and abuse.

The truth is that – when properly administered – Botox will preserve your normal facial expressions, only smoothing out the frown lines and wrinkles.

Botox was approved by the FDA specifically for treating moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows (called glabellar lines or “the 11” because they resemble that number), but is often used “off label” for other wrinkles. Botox is therefore used for smoothing out crow’s feet (lines around the eye), forehead lines, skin bands on the neck, lines around the mouth (“smoker’s lines”), for turning up “mouth frowns”, for arching the flattened eyebrows – and the list goes on and on.

Those starlets with their strangely arched eyebrows may simply be the victims of using Botox injections in a way they were never intended to be used. Properly administered Botox injections will smooth out the forehead while preserving the natural arch of your eyebrows.

Using Botox is not supposed to make you look “fake” or “plastic”. Of course, one should know when enough is enough: that’s a lesson that obviously eluded all those expressionless starlets.

Many are afraid of using Botox because “it’s a toxin”. While Botox is indeed produced from the potentially lethal botulinum bacteria, the concentration of the toxin in Botox is so low, that – when properly administered by a certified professional – there’s no way for a toxin to somehow spread outside of the tiny area where it is injected.

Since Botox is commonly administered via injections directly to the muscle, being afraid that the procedure will be painful is understandable. However, what you can expect to feel is more like a burning sensation or a slight irritation. While bruising on the skin may occur, it will typically clear in a few days.

The notion that “anyone” can administer Botox injection is a dangerous myth. Only a trained clinician can properly and safely administer Botox injections in a way that will leave you satisfied with your new appearance. Botox “mills”, salons, mall shops, are not the places to get Botox. “Botox parties” are just a stupid and potentially harmful idea. You will probably leave from those places looking awkward, if not disfigured.

A qualified clinician will know what is the right dose of Botox to use to get the desired results, and which muscles to target precisely to achieve it. He will not leave you with a complete muscle paralysis that prevents any facial expression for a distressingly long period of time, unlike some needle-wielding amateur.

You may have heard the tales of women (and men) liking their new smooth foreheads so much, that they had become addicted to Botox. It’s easy to dismiss that kind of stories, but this one may not be only a myth. You can become addicted to virtually anything that makes you feel good: if applying Botox makes you feel great because it works so well, but eventually it wears off – you can become psychologically addicted to the procedure to keep experiencing those feelings. A “real” physical addiction to Botox is not possible.

In the end, despite its proven efficacy, Botox is not a panacea for all wrinkles, furrows and creases. Botox works by temporarily blocking nerve impulses and thus relaxing the muscle contractions which eases out wrinkles. Because of its specific targeting of wrinkles caused by the overly tense muscles, there is no logic in using Botox to treat those wrinkles caused by the sun damage and gravity.

These Custom Kitchen Ideas Will Make Your Home’s Kitchen Stand Out

Think about your home’s kitchen. It might be the first place the kids go after school if they want a snack. It could be the place where you put all of your stuff after fist coming home from work so that you can take a few minutes to get settled. If you host Thanksgiving at your house, it’ll definitely see a lot of traffic as people pour in to make sure the feast is everything that you want.

It serves all of these purposes adequately but, if you want to get the most out of it, then you’ll want to get a custom kitchen that makes yours unlike any other that you’ve ever seen before. There are a number of different things that you can do to make the kitchen in your home a place that you, your family and your guests will be happy to be in and this article will help you get started with your kitchen renovation.

Take these fixtures, for instance:

  • The Cabinets – This common kitchen fixture comes in a variety of styles to work with just about any kitchen design and layout. When looking at new cabinets that will fit into your own kitchen, you want to look at things like the style, color and finish to determine what will mesh well with your plans. While all of these things are important, you want to make sure that you have function to go with form. That means that whatever cabinet you use as part of your remodeling project should have enough space to store whatever you need.
  • The Table – Who regularly eats at your kitchen table? The kind of table that you decide to put into a custom kitchen project should be determined by whether your table is only used by you and your family or if you frequently entertain guests. Besides that, you want to make sure that the table you choose isn’t so large that it makes passing by it too difficult, so take the size of your kitchen versus the size of the table into account.
  • The Kitchen Island – This unique fixture is not something that all kitchens have, but it tends to be a centerpiece in a kitchen that does have one. They’re a popular addition to many remodeling projects because they can serve the dual purpose of being a place to prepare meals as well as eat them. If you decide to include a kitchen island, remember that the right placement can mean that you’ll be able to make more efficient use of your time in the kitchen.
  • The Sink – The sink is probably the single most important appliance in your kitchen, so why keep the same old one when everything else gets revamped once you get things rolling in your custom kitchen? You could opt for a larger, deeper bowl that could hold bigger pots or a double sink setup that allows you to do washing and cleaning more efficiently.

All of the items in the above list are things that can be remodeled but, at the end of the day, they are still designed so that you are able to perform a specific task. With that in mind, know that your kitchen renovation doesn’t have to begin and end with your appliances. There are other things that can be redesigned and implemented to help bring the project together.

Things like:

  • The Lighting – There are different kinds of lighting that can be put into place all throughout the kitchen to serve different purposes. Whether you want ambient lighting that sets the mood or task lighting that makes it easier to see what you’re cutting into, strategically putting the right lights in the right places is an important part of designing a custom kitchen.
  • The Floor – This is probably the last thing you thought about when it came to your kitchen, but it’s no less important than any other part of the kitchen. Consider not just the material that the floor is made out of, but the look as well. While you want a material that will be able to shrug off years of foot traffic, it’s also important to get something that you can put custom designs on, so that your floor stands out in some way.

Putting the right lighting and flooring in a custom kitchen can really tie the whole project together and give the space that extra-special, extra-personal touch that makes your kitchen then envy of any visitors that you have.

The ideas that you’ve been given are just a start, but the great thing about redesigning a kitchen is that there are an endless number of possibilities to take advantage of over the course of a project, so no two renovated kitchens will look alike.

Remodel your kitchen to fit your personal tastes and you’ll quickly see how a custom kitchen with a fresh design and brand new aesthetic can be a benefit as it creates a much more welcome and enjoyable space for all to enjoy.

For information on Cheshire kitchens click here.

5 Simple Ideas For Fun Family Photos

When it comes to the dynamics of a family, nothing is ever “posed” and stiff! A day in the life usually involves chaos and craziness at every turn. Have you ever seen those family pictures where everyone matches, the background is a muddy shade of tie-dye blue, and the kids have gone bug-eyed from posing too long? I couldn’t imagine looking at a picture of my family like this and thinking, “Wow, this picture really encapsulates who we are together.” Um, I don’t think so!

Families involve happy times, angry times, silly times, crazy times, and everything in between. The only way to get the real-ness of a family is to find a photographer that can catch those in between reactions and go on a fun (no, really!) family photo shoot with you.

1) Go OUTSIDE the box (Or studio, that is)

Sometimes being in a studio just creates that stuffy stifled atmosphere that suppresses the real interactions of a family. I believe that each family member gets nervous because it is an out-of-the-ordinary setting and one no one is used to. So, get out of there! Take the kids and go to a park. Visit the zoo or go get some ice cream. For fun family photos, take a trip somewhere to do something your family is used to doing together. Your family photos will look more real, your photographer will have an easier time of catching those moments that make your family unique, and everyone will be relaxed and at ease with each other. No nervousness allowed!

2) Matching Smatching

I don’t know any families that wear matching clothing all of the time. If you want family photos that look real, look believable, and look like YOU, wouldn’t it make sense to do the things you’re used to doing every day? If you don’t wear matching shirts every time you leave the house, don’t wear them to the photo shoot! Wear things you are comfortable in and that make each of you feel good. Bright colors usually work the best for the camera and help each person to stand out from the background. My suggestion is to pick a color scheme and stick with it. Choose just a few colors for your family photos that everyone is comfortable with and looks attractive in. Blend – don’t match.

3) Ignore the Camera….no, seriously

I have seen so many occasions where people get in front of the camera and automatically freeze. There is just something about that big glass lens that makes people stiffen up and become nervous! The BEST way to become comfortable in front of the camera is to act like it isn’t even there. IGNORE IT. Tell the kids to ignore the camera like they ignore you when you tell them to clean their room. Yep, that should get the message across. The more you act like yourselves, the better your family pictures will turn out.

4) Photographer knows best

Moms, you may have to take a breather on this one. For your family photos, ask your family photographer for suggestions and tips on how to make your day more successful. For example, I would tell a client to make sure you scheduled your family photo session around your normal daily schedule. Be aware of naptimes, wake-up times, work-times, and any other time that you are used to during your daily routine. Also, be very aware of the time of day that you choose for your shoot. If you want to take a trip to the park for your family photos, don’t plan on having the shoot at 1pm in the afternoon. The light will not work nearly as well as it would closer to evening or late afternoon. Squinty eyes can ruin a picture! Always ask your photographer for some helpful tips and ideas to you can plan your shoot accordingly. Remember: The photographer wants to work with you!

5) ALL Day is okay!

Here is a fun family photo idea that I often like to throw out there: why not book a family photographer for the entire DAY? Have the photographer get the real low-down on what your family is like on an hour-by-hour basis. Booking your family photographer for an entire day of shooting will get many moments of daily life you wouldn’t capture otherwise. For the moms, you are usually the one taking the pictures, right? Or you dads? This way, you BOTH can be in the photos without having to set a timer and run to pose in front of the camera. These shoots produce photojournalistic style photos – ones that tell a story, moment to moment, emotion to emotion. Get the kids in their jammies eating breakfast, the family making dinner together, and the parents tucking the kids in bed. You could break apart the day any which way you like, just so long as you get the memories that you want to hold on to.

The biggest part of fun family photography is getting everyone to act in the normal way they do when together, without a strange camera in your face. When a family is real and comfortable with each other, the true spirit of the family dynamic comes across. Using these tips for better family photos, getting that spirit across to the photographer is what will give you lasting and memorable family photos for years to come.

What to Wear for Family Photos

In terms of guidelines for all family photography, studio or outdoor, all members of the family should be dressed to the same degree of formality or casualness. Typically, solid color clothing of the same tone are recommended. Avoid the look of one person standing out because of a bold, distracting pattern or a contrasting light top when everyone else is dressed darker. Clothing should be classic and timeless that will not date your family photography (solid colors are best – no stripes).

For more formal family photographs avoid t-shirts, sweats, and tight short skirts (sometimes people are seated on the ground). Also, this is not the time to experiment with a new hair style or extra makeup. Use makeup to cover blemishes if possible. Babies often spit up; bring them a second outfit if possible.

Things to avoid:

Clothing extremes. Generally, turtle necks and v-necks are good, as long as they don’t over-power the subject’s face. Bottom line, the subject should dress to feel comfortable.

Bare arms and legs where possible. Opt for long-sleeve shirts/blouses rather than short-sleeve. Women should wear pants, a long skirt, and/or dark stockings.

Bright reds and orange (they battle the subject’s face for attention). Darker colors are generally better than light colors. Colors like white, yellow, and pink tend to over-power the face and make the subject took too pale. In general, the best colors are medium shades of blue, green, burgundy, and rust.

In summary, it is important to choose outfits that will make pleasing portraits, and be coherent with the style of portrait you are planning. Remember that busy patterns, stripes and bright colors are distractions from the focal point: the face, or faces in the portrait. Color coordination lends harmony. While all clothing does not have to match, the colors should be harmonious, so that one person will not dominate the scene. Dark clothing tends to minimize apparent body size, while light shades do the opposite. Long sleeves are best for adults and older children.

Finally, in terms of hair styling and make-up it is best not to schedule your session immediately following a haircut. A week later is usually best. Also, your portrait session is not a good time to try out a new hair style. Women’s make-up should be appropriate for the clothing and portrait style desired. Most photographers suggest subtle make-up on most all women and girls, except for the very young.

Family Portraits: 6 Essential Preparations You Have Never Heard

Of all the thousands and thousands of images that we are bound to take with our cameras in our lives, none has as much significance and importance as the creme de la creme of portraits; the family portrait. Unfortunately, the family portrait is one of the most difficult images to get right and also to prepare for. Here are 6 ways you can help prepare your family for their portrait with a professional photographer.

1) FINDING THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER. With the digital camera revolution over the last decade, new life has been breathed into the interest of photography as a whole. Suddenly it is “easy” to take a good picture. Many say that “anybody can do it!” or “there’s nothing to it!” Oh, if only that was really true. The real fact of the matter is photography still takes great skill, practice and technique to achieve high quality results. While you are shopping around for a professional family photographer, view their portfolios on their websites and compare their work to others. Ask yourself:

  • Does each member in the family look good?
  • Can I imagine my family portrait looking something like this?
  • Does this work look similar or different compared to other photographers?

When you feel comfortable enough with the photographer’s work, give them a call. Yes, I said a call! E-mail is always an option but a phone call will help you gauge how comfortable you are with the artist. A high quality photographer will ask you many questions and see if the two of you are a good fit style-wise and budget-wise. The phone call should be a comfortable experience in which you see if this photographer is a good fit for you and your family. Always remember that the more comfortable you are, the better you will look in your portrait.

2) HOW MUCH WILL YOU SPEND? Portrait photographers are easy to find but like anything else you buy there are different quality levels to consider. If you are wanting a very high quality portrait, be prepared to spend upwards of $1,000 or more. Of course you can get away with spending only a few hundred with many high end photographers but you will be limited by the size and finish of the final print. High end portrait photographers will take great care of you and your family from the first phone call to the delivery of the final images. These types of photographers stress having a high quality experience, service as well as a high quality product. Professionals like these are in no rush and want to take the necessary time to create portraiture that shows your personality as well as accentuating your best features. If it is within your budget, don’t hesitate using a high end portrait photographer.

Not everyone can afford a high end portrait photographer so a “family member with a nice camera” is sometimes all that will suffice. Others will choose to hire a lower priced photographer. These photographers generally share a few commonalities. Some of which may include:

  • Inexperienced
  • College students still learning
  • Still building their portfolios
  • Lack of/limited knowledge in posing, lighting and expressions
  • Style of photography is mostly a culmination of what they see other photographers doing so they’re own work can tend to look very much like other photographers’ work
  • Limited products offered. IE: Print sizing, print finishing, print types, albums, etc. They might offer only a CD for a flat rate and leave the printing to you.

Choose a photographer that you are comfortable with that has a portfolio you enjoy and then see if they fit within your budget. Everyone wants a good deal and many higher priced photographers are willing to work with your budget or even offer referral incentives if you are unable to order more than a certain amount. Don’t expect discounts on prints just because you ask but many photographers will be glad to offer discounts on frames or specialty items.

If your budget is smaller, the lower priced photographer will probably spend plenty of time with you and give you a CD full of images but remember that the quality of the work might be a little more inconsistent. The saying, “you get what you pay for” definitely rings true when choosing a portrait photographer.

3. LOCATION. Congratulations! You have found a great photographer and now all you need is a location and your session will be underway! So where the heck do you take this photo at anyway? Assuming that a studio portrait is not wanted, for many, a nice portrait at the park with grass and trees will suffice. Others choose to photograph their family in their own home and around their property. It might help you to consider what your family likes to do together. If your family loves to go boating, an image created with the boat at the lake might make for a very special portrait. Are you into rock climbing? Camping? Outdoors? Whatever your interests, having an image created at a location that is specifically important to your family will offer much more significance and originality to the portrait. Get your photographer’s advice and don’t be shy with your ideas!

4. CLOTHING. This is the big one! If you want your portrait to stand the test of time and always keep that “looks like it was taken yesterday” quality, you must carefully choose your clothing. Keep it as simple as you can. Remember that not everyone has to match but keeping the same general tonality is always a good idea. Earth tones work best with just about any background or skin tone. Avoid patterns and logos. What looks good in real life will not always look as good in a portrait because certain clothing patterns will distract from the faces of the family. The main goal in a portrait is to see the faces without difficulty. The foreground, background, posing, clothes, etc. should all compliment the image but never distract from the subjects’ faces.

Imagine a family of five and they are all wearing black. Now imagine that one person is in a white shirt. The white shirt will now be the first thing you see because it is the point of greatest contrast in the image. The same goes with a family of five all wearing white. If one person in the group is in black, the black will be all you see.

Your family photographer should be able to instruct you on what to wear and offer suggestions.

5. THE PORTRAIT SESSION. “Oh no! My husband is mad that we have to take a photo and my kids are fighting and my daughter didn’t wear what I told her to wear and I have bags under my eyes because I didn’t sleep well last night…..” Sound familiar? A lot can happen between planning your portrait and having it taken. There are so many variables to consider but remember that your photographer understands this perfectly! Take a few deep breaths, relax, and trust your photographer’s expertise. Your photographer will work on putting you at ease during the session and make you comfortable with being photographed. He or she will be watching closely how the family is interacting during the session and will no doubt do whatever is possible to put you at ease. Focus your mind on how fun the session will be and how happy you are that the portrait you have worked so hard to organize is finally being created! Very soon you’ll have a beautiful, custom piece of artwork for your home’s decor, which brings me to #6…

6. DISPLAYING THE FINAL PRODUCT. Your session went great and the images looked amazing! You can’t believe how good you all look and how happy you are with the images that were created. Now it’s time to decide what you’d like to order!

Most professional photographers will sell your images to you ranging from wallet sized images up to large framed wall portraits that can be a beautiful sight to behold. It is best to plan ahead with your photographer where you intend on displaying the final print. Look around your home and find the right location. Take a picture of the location for the photographer and they will help you decide what will look best for your home. You might be surprised how small a “huge” print like an 11×14 can look above an entire couch or how a large image like a 30×40 can be far too big for your hallway. Measure the area you’d like to fill with portraits and your photographer will recommend what size of portrait would work best in that location and also recommendations for different sized images in a beautiful cluster of images. It depends on your current decor and your personal taste.

For smaller sizes, write down who in your family and extended family will want a smaller gift sized print (8×10 or smaller) and then plan on Christmas cards, albums, fun keepsakes, etc.

Have fun with your photographer and enjoy your family through the entire family portrait experience. We are all so lucky to have photography in our lives to look back on different moments of our lives and although it takes a lot of effort to create a family portrait, it is well worth the effort!

The Value Of Perfect Baby Photography

For some parents, baby photography begins prior to the birth of the baby. Once they get the good news about the pregnancy, many parents will take ultrasound images of their unborn baby in the womb. Each moment can be recorded right up until the mother gives birth.

After their child is born, many parents will hire a professional photographer to photograph their baby. Most of these photographs will be taken right after the baby is born or a few months later. This is the perfect time to portray the baby in all types of endearing poses while awake or asleep. These photographs will serve as constant reminders of some of the best moments of the parents’ lives and the beginning of a new one.

A baby photography session requires patience. This has to come from both the photographer and the parents because the baby will not understand what is happening. A good baby photographer has to be understanding and sensitive. The parents will therefore need to be very sympathetic and should monitor their baby’s comfort.

Parents often choose to use props during their photography session, which can help entertain and distract the baby; props can also help the baby feel more comfortable. In addition, props will enhance and give a unique look to the photographs. Depending on the needs of the parents, props can either be simple – such as baby toys, blankets – or larger and more intricate.

Some baby photographs include the baby’s parents. They can either be fully in the photograph or just parts of them, such as an image of the baby on the father’s hands or in a parent’s arms. These types of photographs portray a sense of tenderness and love.

Baby photography can be quick and easy to organize. Once the parents find a good baby photographer, decisions can be made regarding location – whether they want to have the session at home in a family environment or outside in a park or on the beach, which can provide a sense of imagination and a large expanse of space to photograph.

The expert photographers have a great sense to spot the exact expression or mood of the baby. Further, they know how to tackle the babies and photograph them. Quick and effectual service of these birth photographers will surely make you cherish. One call is all it takes to ensure that the priceless memories are preserved for life.

Digital Marketing And Its Importance

Undoubtedly, the new and smart strategies for the businesses are the need of the hour. The market is now full with small and large scales business, thus the biggest challenge that both the consumers and producers both have to face is the presence of different brands selling the same product. For example, if you go to a store for buying dark chocolate, you can easily find 6-7 brands selling the dark chocolate even at the same price. This is the level of competition, which producers are facing these days. Therefore, to make your product recognized by everyone it is important to standout your business presence in the online world with smart digital marketing tactics.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is a broad term that includes advertising, promoting, and strengthening the online presence of businesses through digital platforms. Some of the digital tactics that fall under the umbrella of ‘Digital Marketing’ are digital advertising, email marketing, content marketing, pay-per-click, online brochures, and more. Unlike other offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows getting accurate results in real time. For example, if you put an advertisement in the newspaper, it is nearly impossible to estimate how many people flipped to that page and paid attention to that ad. While with digital marketing, you can easily measure your ROI of any aspect of your marketing efforts. According to Crux Creative Solutions Private Limited, one of the best online marketing agencies in Delhi NCR is here to explain why digital marketing has become so important.

Website Traffic: As discussed above, it is very difficult to understand how people are engaging with your brand through offline marketing. While online marketing helps you in identifying trends and patterns about how people are behaving with your brand. Hence, you can make better strategies in the future to attract more and more consumers to the website. Not only can this, with digital marketing you get the exact number of people who have viewed your website’s homepage in real time by using digital analytics software. These stats help you in deciding which digital strategies to continue and which to stop using.

High Visibility on Search Engines: Search Engine Optimisation is another powerful digital marketing strategy that offers a variety of benefits to the business owners. As discussed, there is tough competition between the brands in the market. When we search any service on the search engine, we get 100s of results. Naturally, we believe in the top five searches because they are the most reliable website links according to Google. Thus, by optimizing your website content through digital marketing strategies, you can reach to more online buyers.

Content Performance: Online marketing lets you estimate your content performance. Let us understand this with an example, imagine you have delivered pamphlets and posters to a different sector of societies. The problem is that you have no idea how many people opened those posters or threw it in the dustbins. Now imagine that you have that same poster on your website. You can exactly measure how many people clicked that poster, how many closed that poster and the details of those who clicked the poster. This not only informs how engaging is your content also generates leads for your website.

For information on socialhackr marketing click here.

Bounce House Rentals

Visit any kids’ birthday party and you’ll see the newest fashion in birthday party entertainment; the fun, inflatable bounce house which is popular as well as party jumper, moonwalk, water slide or inflatable moon bounce. Fairly cheap to rent and filled with a constant stream of cold air, these sewn vinyl party supplies come in bright colors and fun shapes (like castles, houses, slides) and keep kids jumping and entertained for hours. Bounce House rentals are huge hit with both kids and grownups. Not only do they keep children occupied, they also give the parents a needed break and help them socialize with guests. Bounce house rentals and bouncy house birthday parties for children are generally held in backyards, front yards, but depending on the season and the area, they can even be held in local parks, recreations or indoors.

Perhaps the key factor when renting a bouncy house or other inflatable such as water slides, party jumpers, moon bounces or jump and slide combos is safety. A good party rental company will have insurance, and this is particularly important if kids will be using the bounce house. Most city parks in Los Angeles and all over USA also consent that the party requires insurance if they are to set up in a community area. If possible, go and see the bounce house jumper before hand, just to be sure it is safe. You may also want to check and be sure it is clean, as microorganisms can pose just as great a danger as substantial injury. Although there are many reputable companies involved in this business, there are also those who do not appropriately take care of the party supplies.

For many customers, bounce house rental rates are the biggest concern. While you want to make sure you don’t pay more than you have to, be sure you do not sacrifice quality or the safety of your kids. Most moon bounce party rental companies have a set rate for the entire event, including set-up and break-down. Try to find some information on the company you are considering renting from. Check the Internet, ask friends and family, and look at local business reviews. A little bit of research can help you a lot. Remember just because jumpers cost more or less than their competitor, it doesn’t mean they are better. Do some shopping around; try to find a price that you can afford. For a 13′ by 13′ sized Bouncy House, it should cost around $95 US Dollars for 8 hours, and that should include delivery setup and break-down. Also be sure you try to rent one with a front ramp, the last thing adults are going to want to be doing are lifting kids in and out of the jumper all day long.

Before you rent a Bounce House in Cincinnati you need to find out what your requirements are. Take into consideration how many kids are invited, what their ages are, if any grown up will want to join the fun jump, etc. If there are going to be small kids or babies visiting, it may be worth renting a small Jumper House as well, to prevent possible injuries with older kids inside the moon bounce. Also evaluate how much space is available on the area, as Bounce Houses can be pretty big. All in all, bounce house rentals are a great way to add fun to any occasion.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Tripod

Most people tend to think of tripods as being a “unit”. In reality, most full-sized tripods can be purchased as two parts: the legs and the head. These parts may come in various configurations so that you can customize the tripod that best suits your style of shooting, your budget and even your height!

You’ll want a much smaller, lighter weight tripod for hiking than for studio work. You’ll need a sturdier tripod for star trails or time-lapse images than for simple landscapes. You may need a more flexible tripod in confined spaces than if you always shoot in wide open areas.

Legs

  • Height – Legs may be purchased in various sizes and strengths (how much weight they can support.) Very compact models may not even go up to waist height, versus super stretch models that can extend tall enough for a basketball player to use without having to bend over. For any tripod you plan to use on a regular basis, the ability to raise the camera slightly above your head is a must-have feature, in case you are standing uphill or on some elevated surface.
  • Low – If you shoot small subjects (such as flowers, mushrooms and the like) then it’s also important that the tripod be able to get your camera low to the ground and hold it steadily in place. This may be different from simply collapsing the legs. Some tripods offer reversible center posts for mounting the camera upside-down between the legs. Others have clever designs where the center post can be mounted horizontally or locked in an infinite number of positions.
  • Collapsed – For carrying around, you probably want the smallest collapsed length possible. Bear in mind that there’s a direct correlation between amount of collapsibility and cost. More collapsible generally also means less stable when extended, though this isn’t always true. A good rule of thumb is that a collapsed tripod should be just over 1/3 or 1/4 its maximum height, depending how many leg segments it has.
  • Flexibility – As noted, some tripods have clever adaptations for moving the center post. Some also have legs that can be splayed independently of one another. A few have secondary camera mounts on the legs themselves. Some very small models even have flexible legs which can wrap around things. The more flexible a tripod is, the less weight capacity it’s likely to have but the more ways you can use it in unusual settings.
  • Locking Mechanism – Tripod legs have various different locking mechanisms when the segments are extended. Most popular are:
    1. Flip levers. Simply flip the lever to the open position, extend the segment as far as you want it to go, then flip it back to the locked position. Flip levers are popular and handy because they are reliable and can be operated with one hand.
    2. Twist-locks. In essence, you twist two leg segments against one another. One direction releases the segments so they can be extended or collapsed, the other direction locks the segments from moving. Twist locks have a low profile and won’t catch on loose clothing or camera straps but require two hands to operate. Lower quality ones are very prone to sticking, freezing up or even breaking.
    3. Thumb screws. Far less common than the other two options, thumb screws are literally screws with oversized heads that can be loosened and tightened without tools. They are low-tech and very reliable.
  • Capacity – All tripods include, as part of their specifications, maximum recommended weight capacity. Think of the combined weight of: your camera, the largest lens you are likely to use, whatever additional “weight” you place on it by holding onto the camera. (Most people press down a bit when operating a tripod mounted camera.) It’s good to go for the most capacity possible. This will also be the strongest, most secure setup but remember that there’s a direct correlation between capacity and carry-around weight. There is also a rough correlation between capacity and cost.

Heads

  1. Pan-Tilt – A pan-tilt head adjusts on each of three axes separately. These are often the default heads found on the most inexpensive tripods. There is nothing “wrong” with a pan-tilt head (despite often being billed as just for video, they perform fine for still photography too) but most professional and advanced amateur photographers prefer a ball head.
  2. Ball – A ball head has just a single thumb screw. The head is literally mounted on a ball. Loosen the screw and you can adjust the camera orientation infinitely in just about any direction. The biggest problem with ball heads is getting one that is strong enough to hold the weight of your camera-lens combination.
  3. Capacity – Like legs, tripod heads always include capacity in their specifications. In this case, the capacity refers to the maximum weight the head can hold at an angle without slipping. More is always better but capacity also correlates to price. Buy the best you can comfortably afford.

Other Features

  1. Level – Some tripods come with a built-in level. This is fine except that it’s entirely possible to stand the tripod on a hillside (where it will not be level) then adjust the head so that the camera is level. A tripod-mounted level does nothing to help you in such a case.
  2. Quick Release Plates – Quick release plates can be a very convenient and useful feature if you have more than one camera, lens or other piece of equipment. Or if you frequently mount and unmount your camera to the tripod. There are several configurations of quick release plates and they are not all mutually compatible. If you already have a tripod or other support that takes quick release plates, try to match your new tripod so that it uses the same type.
  3. Spikes – Some tripod legs may have spikes on the tips. Usually either the spikes can be extended out beyond the standard rubber tips or the rubber tips can be retracted to reveal the spikes. These are for “digging” into dirt to help hold the tripod from moving. Spikes vary in their usefulness with most being not all that useful at all.
  4. Rotation Measurement – Some tripods will include a kind of circular “ruler” around the top. This can be theoretically useful in taking a series of shots to later stitch together as a panorama. (In practice, most people are more likely to look through the viewfinder when determining the amount of overlap between shots.)
  5. Monopod Leg – Some tripod legs are configured in such a way that two of them can be removed and the whole assembly converted into a monopod.

Summary

As a very broad generalization, expect to spend no less than $100 on a new, full-sized tripod. Some may go into the multiple hundreds of dollars. Bear in mind also the old adage that “the best tripod is the one you have with you”. This means that even the best tripod ever made does you no good if you don’t carry it with you and even a flimsy lightweight tripod is usually better than handholding your camera. So get one that suits your needs, your budget and that you will actually use. For information on the best hunting tripod for a spotting scope click here.

Themed Family Photography

Themed Family Photography, Anyone?

Family pictures are a lot more interesting these days. These days when there are lots of options people can avail of, the days of lacklustre photos are gone giving way to exciting themed ones.

Families who want their picture taken and displayed in their precious homes have several theme concepts they can based their shoots on. It can be about superheroes, a celebration of Halloween, a feature on Hollywood, musical and even on favourite television shows.

A picture may showcase superhero favourites of family members and they will surely have a fun time wearing costumes and pretending to be a hero while having their pictures taken.

Others who love different kinds of character may have a photoshoot with a Halloween-themed session where kids will have fun dressing up as pumpkins and bees while adults take on scary costumes.

For the movie-buff family, a Hollywood-themed family photography session is a sure-fire way to have a blast in the studio while having their moments captured in picture. Family members may choose from the many movies with exciting costumes and backdrops and the end result will be great photos for sharing with extended members of the family and friends.

Some of the possible Hollywood blockbuster movies where family photography can be lifted on are those era-based like Gladiator, Troy, A Knight’s Tale; those movies featuring unforgettable moments such as Titanic and The Hunger Games; or those magical themed films such as Narnia and Harry Potter.

Families who love music will surely enjoy a fun session with some of the greatest songs playing in the background while they put on costumes from Moulin Rouge or Hairspray movie. Those who would like a hip version may choose to have a pictorial based on the hit movie, Grease for a unique effect.

Television viewers who are fanatics of certain shows may also choose to put on costumes and makeup and be their favourite characters in such TV series like Glee and Chuck for their family photography. Both adults and kids will enjoy the colours and variety of Glee-based outfits while the serious ones who love spy series would like the serious, sporty, and slick costumes based on Chuck.

There are surely so many themes to choose from whatever fits the family’s mood and preferences. The theme is a great remembrance for get-togethers. It is also a fun way veering from the traditional family portraits lacking colour and vibrancy.