Thursday 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween

Driving home from work as I entered the village I was greeted by pumpkins glowing everywhere, there's even a scary looking chappy sitting on the village bench as well as another pumpkin sitting on a car roof. 
Halloween pumpkin
Maybe we should start a competition for the best pumpkin in the village, although when I mentioned the pumpkin carving to my other half and he asked what I wanted... I had to ask for a sugar skull pumpkin. With the use of drills and electric files and half the house covered in Pumpkin I now have my very own sugar skull pumpkin lantern. I just wish he wasn't a vegetable and slowly he will rot away :@(
Sugar skull pumpkin

Wednesday 30 October 2013

How to Photograph your Holiday Cottage in Cornwall?

I've got a wonderful guest post to share with all my photography fans from a wonderful Cornish graphic designer on Interior Photography.

"I have kindly been asked to share a post on photography, I'm a graphic designer with a keen interest in photography. One of the websites I was involved in designing recently was for a working farm near Port Isaac. They converted some of their barns into luxury holiday cottages.

When we are designing websites for our clients, like Rooke Cottages, we know it is all about good photography. I like the design to be minimal so the photographs can set the scene, and after all, Cornwall is just so beautiful! But it is a challenge when you need to capture an interior, especially in the low light levels of a Cornish cottage.

So, here are some tips when taking promotional shots of interiors:
Cornwall Cottage Photography

1. Light
One of the best thing you can do is to show light and space. If you don't have any special equipment then try and catch evening sun. A warm glow can make a charming but dark Cornish cottage feel cosy and inviting.
Holiday Cottage Photography

2. Details
When showing an interior off to its best it can be a good idea to focus on a detail. With the holiday accommodation we wanted to hint at the lifestyle, creating moments of calm or suggestions to tempt. You can stage a scene or just just think how the room is going to be used.
Cornish Cottage Photography

3. Bringing the outside in
Every interior can be enhanced by some nature. Whether that is a bunch of flowers, or angling a shot to include an open door, or an open window hinting at the world beyond. It can really help with enlarging spaces too.
Photographing Interiors

4. Composition
Of course this is crucial to all aspects of photography, but in a crowded interior I feel perhaps more so. Are there any structural details that can be enhanced, or consider a different angle, get low down or take an image framed through something."
Interior Photography

Common sense really, but have a go and see if you can improve your interior shots. Im Emma and you can see more of my posts at Design Debate All images copyright Rooke Cottages taken by Angela Spain

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Brave surfers ride the storm waves in Cornwall

With the whole of the UK braising themselves for the biggest storm of the century Cornwall was already experiencing massive waves on Sunday morning. At Fistral beach the lifeguards were protecting everyone from the stormy waves and the beach was red flagged to warn people of the dangerous conditions. 

Fistral beach red flagged

 Massive waves in Cornwall
Waves were also crashing over Porth island with full force smashing right over the top of the headland, The waves were forecast in places to be up to 18ft and they were certainly powerful from were I was watching. 
Giant waves in Cornwall
But taking shelter from the storm several brave surfers were out tackling the storm swell in Newquays harbour, although the waves were smaller than everywhere else they were still packing a heavy punch. I stayed until the afternoon watching the surfers as the tide dropped and the waves really picked up. Several surfers were attempting to paddle into the waves but very few were making the drop in and the crowds watching from the cliff top were chorusing ohh's and agh's as surfers got washed under the giant waves.
The picture below was in the morning when the waves were a lot smaller but you still wouldn't catch me out there attempting to surf a great storm swell! 
Surfing the storm in Cornwall

Sunday 27 October 2013

Cornwall coastline gets battered by giant waves

The wind is starting to build outside and with high tide just been and gone the coastline of Cornwall has already started to feel the force of the impending storm.
Winter storm 2013 hits Cornwall

With several hours to go before the eye of the storm hits Cornwall, its already feeling very wild out there with massive waves pounding the coastline and the rain sweeping in. With winds due to reach 80mph by tonight this scene could get a lot more dramatic.
Giant storm waves hit Cornwall

Cornwall feels the force of the winter storm

Massive waves from storm hit Cornwall's coatline

Massive waves ingolf Porth Island Massive waves ingolf Porth Island

Photos of storm hitting CornwallPictures of Cornwall in storms

Lewinnick Lodge in big storm

Check out all my pictures of the 2013 winter storm hitting Cornwall here and don't forget to like my Facebook page to keep up to date with all my latest photography adventures.

Cornwall prepares for the storm of the century.

All week we have heard reports of a storm that will be battering the UK with the eye of the storm affecting the south of England and Wales.

This morning in Cornwall we have woken to sunny skies and very little wind but the waves are already starting to build on the beaches and the storm out to sea is currently several hours away.
UK prepares for massive storm

Get prepared everyone, tie everything down in the garden and stay safe, I will try getting out with my camera if possible to capture some images of the storm but I am no storm chaser and i'm not putting my camera or self at risk when the winds and rain hit. Although by the looks of the forecast the storm is mainly going to hit through the night so I guess we will only really see how bad the storm has been until we wake up tomorrow morning.

Stay safe everyone when the storm hits, stay away from the sea and don't get blown in!

Thursday 24 October 2013

Do you love or hate your commute to work?

When I think back to my time living in Essex and working in Chelmsford city centre I often think about my commute to work and how much I hated it. There was no point in driving to work there as you would sit in traffic watching people walk into the city centre quicker than you could drive and although the walking was healthy for you and saved lots of money when the weather was bad there was nothing worse then getting to the office soaking wet.

Yesterday when I was leaving my house I couldn't help but notice the sun rising from behind the St Austell hills and thinking how lucky I was to be experiencing this view in the morning. As the day continued I passed several amazing classic cars and continued along the Cornish back roads and onto the road to Falmouth. If anyone drives this route they will know about the beautiful valley with the river running along the left and yesterday the suns rays beaming through the trees I couldn't think of a more beautiful view.

Before I knew it, I was at the office in Penryn with the sun still shining I couldn't wish for a better commute to work and with lots of different back roads with stunning viaducts, epic wind turbines and a slight detour via the beach on the way home living and working in Cornwall is working really well and a massive difference from the daily trudge to work in Essex. Although I'm sure I won't be saying that when the rain is pouring and the nights draw in next week but for now I'm loving driving to work in the Cornish countryside.
Beautiful VW bay window on the A30 Cornwall

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Camera phones step up a gear for photographers

I’ve loved photography for as long as I can remember, When I was at school all I wanted for Christmas every year was a camera and when my Grandma bought me my first 35mm camera I was more than excited. I would photograph everything possible practising the real theory of photography measuring light levels and setting apertures and shutter speeds to get the perfect shot. I would spend all my pocket money going to the local chemist and getting my films processed and being delighted with my shots.

As the years have passed my love for photography has never dwindled, I studied my first photography course at a weekend tester session at Southend on Sea in Essex followed by two evening courses in Witham before attending a full higher national diploma, half at Southend on Sea in Essex and completing the second half of my course at Truro College in Cornwall.

During this time photography has changed so much even in my lifetime. I remember getting my first ever digital camera which cost me just over £400 for the camera alone, it was a Fujifilm digital camera that used a smart card memory card which cost me about £60 I can’t remember the size of the card but it was definitely in megabytes not gigabytes. With my new digital camera I really did think I was unstoppable, with the 2 megapixel camera you would find me photographing everything and only printing the photographs that were the best. To get the pictures from this memory card to the computer I required a floppy disk drive adapter to access the images on my computer. There was nothing like memory card readers or built in drives on the side of a computer and mobile phones were just mobile phones with small digital screens and the thought of having a camera on your telephone was a futuristic idea that seemed impossible.

Fast forwards ten years and mobile phones have lost their aerial’s poking out the top and have not only gained digital image ready screens but have also gained cameras, often not one camera but two! This has created a whole new level of photography taken on smart phones. People that have never been interested in photography before, now have access to really good cameras and access to aps like instagram have given photo editing to the masses.

But it’s not just still images that have been brought to the masses through camera phones but it is now video with sound as well, with instant uploads onto YouTube any one can be a photographer or videographer without any studying to gain high quality footage.

When I saw this video for the new LG G2 Smartphone I was actually blown away by the promises that this little smart phone can offer. As I photograph a lot of surfers I’m often a long distance from the action and rely on high quality expensive lenses that have built-in image stabilisation to steady any movement to capture crisp clear shots and eliminate any unwanted movement from my images. 

Watching Lizzy the chicken in this video and seeing how well the image stabilisation works within this clever little phone is beyond impressive.

Being a photographer I now know which new smartphone I now want but even for those that have never studied or been passionate about photography and video will be blown away by the lens on offer on the camera phone and want one as well. 

Sponsored by LG G2

Saturday 19 October 2013

The surf trip continues

After my weekend surfing in Bude i went on up the coast into North Devon in the hunt for more waves. First I went to Westward Ho! a place i had visited many times as a child but never actually surfed and the thought of surfing here really excited me. Unfortunately like Bude earlier in the day the surf wasn't on my side and the waves were non existent.
Surfing Westward Ho!
With time on my side and not being back to work until Wednesday I wasn't going to give up that easily and headed on up the coast. My next stop was Saunton sands but yet again the waves here were even smaller. There was a group of paddle boarders in the water having fun but not a wave in sight.
Surfing Saunton Sands
Next beach along was Croyde a place were I had my first surf lesson many years ago. As I came around the coast road and caught a glimpse of the beach I could see small but perfectly formed waves and lots of people in the water. Putting my foot down I arrived at the beach car park which was full of cars and rushed to get changed into my suit and headed into the water.
Surfing Croyde
I paddled straight out back and sat on my board waiting for a ridable wave, I sat watching the surf instructors on their surf lessons and thought about how much my surfing has improved since my lessons down here so many years ago. Then the heavens opened and the rain began to pour, it didn't bother me whilst in the water but the rain became so hard that it actually stung on my face as it poured down.

Then I noticed something whilst I was in the water that brought tears to my eyes. I noticed three instructors with one young man teaching him to ride the waves. The next thing I noticed was that the young man was in fact heavily disabled. The three instructors helped the guy onto the board first of all sitting up, then manoeuvred him so that he was laying on his back on the board then rolling him over so that he was ready to catch the wave. When the next waves came in the surf instructors pushed the board along and the wave was caught, all you could here was the shrill of excitement coming from the young lad. He was laying on his board racing along all the way into the shore, the surf instructors rushed over to him to help him up an there was high fives and big smiles all around. I was left with a tear in my eye, the excitement that this young man was experiencing but also the patience showed by the three instructors helping to share their love of surfing with someone not as capable. It really was a moving experience and made me really appreciate how lucky I was to have time off work to spend time doing the thing that I loved the most.

After a few hours in the water and the cold wind cutting through me I headed back up the beach to the van. Walking up the beach I noticed the man hole cover that was lifting up with water bellowing up from underneath. As I arrived back at the car park I realised that the rain had been a lot heavier than I thought. The car park was a wash with water and I was the only person left in the car park. I opened the sliding door of the van to get my towel and quickly realised that the rain was that heavy and the rain was pouring in and soaking the bed. So I threw the towel back in the van and shut the door as quickly as I could. I decided the only way to do this was to strip off my wetsuit outside in the pouring rain and then jump into the van as quickly as possible and get dry and changed in their with the door shut. Once dry it was off to find a camping spot for the night ready for more surfing the next day.
Camping North Devon
With the rain clearing through the night I was up early excited to be going for another surf, still adamant that I wanted to surf Westward Ho! I headed back down the coast to finally surf this beach. Unfortunately yet again the waves were not good for surfing, barely any power and just ripples of white water I wasn't going to be able to surf Westward Ho! this time either. Heading back up the coast and into the morning rush hour traffic I headed to Woolacombe and here there were waves. I parked nice and close to the beach and watched the waves for a minute before rushing in, and then it started to dawn on me that the waves were actually looking a little bit big for me and actually a little bit angry. I also noticed that there was no one else in the water and started to wonder if I should go into the water on my own at a beach I didn't know. But then I decided that I wasn't going to have driven all that way not to get in the water so I suited up ready to get wet. Before I left the van an air ambulance landed right next to the van and suddenly had a sinking feeling that maybe the injured person had had an accident in the water.... I soon shook off those thoughts and headed down to the beach.
Air ambulance Woolacombe

Surfing Woolacombe

I paddled straight out back and sat on my board assessing the waves, which were pretty messy and all over the place. I caught a few waves and before I knew it I was joined by many other surfers I think I counted about 15 in total so felt much happier in the water once I wasn't out there by myself. After a few hours I left the water happy that I had managed to get in but yet again the weather was turning for the worse and the rain started again. I spent half an hour having a quick look around the shops before heading on back up the coast to start making my journey home. With another quick stop in Barnstaple for a spot of shopping I managed to get the first of my Christmas presents on the long list. Now it was time for the drive back to Cornwall and the end of my epic surfing weekend.

Surf at Woolacombe

Friday 18 October 2013

Womens surf club weekend

Last weekend 13 girls from Newquays women's surf club hit the road for a weekend surf trip heading up the coast to Bude. Arriving at a bunkhouse in Bude us girlies checked into the hostel for our first night packed full of watching surf dvd's and several drinks.

After our fun night we all got up early ready for our first morning of surfing, unfortunately the much anticipated surf did not want to join us girls and was completely flat.
Surfing in Bude

Checking the tides and the forecast we were ready to catch a small afternoon swell so what better way to spend the morning than a spot of girlie shopping.

With a gaggle of girls we walked from the hostel to the beach and arrived to find some lovely clean small waves and no one else in the water. (it really was small) but this didn't the girls from having loads of fun and loads of laugh. sharing the boards around a few of us tried our hands at longboarding and others just enjoyed a good gossip and girly catch up whilst waiting for the waves.

Back at the bunkhouse a feast was cooked up by the girls and we all sat around laughing and talking about the day. another evening of surfing movies and lots more drinking followed with a few a little worse for wear for the next days surfing.
Womens surf club Newquay

Unfortunately the Sunday didn't bring any better luck for the surf club with another bout of smaller swell so a swim in the sea pool was all the water action that we got.
Bude sea pool

The surf camp minus a lot of surfing was absolutely brilliant and I can not wait for the next one. Whilst the rest of the girls travelled back to Newquay with sore heads I continued up the coast further into Devon for a few more days surfing. Check out my blog soon for my post about my lone adventure in the search for waves.
Keep calm your in Bude

Thursday 17 October 2013

10 Wedding Reception Activity Ideas

Weddings at the moment seem to be all about the guests. You want your guests to have an amazing time so that your wedding is memorable. You will also enjoy your wedding more if your guests appear to be enjoying the celebrations and appreciating the wedding activities, food and entertainment you have arranged. It’s so hard to decide what to do for your wedding, especially if you want it to be unique. Here are 10 ideas for potential wedding receptions activities.

1. Secrets For Success Want to know what makes a happy marriage? Why not ask your guests for their stories and advice? You can get funny and interesting tips from the people who know you best. It’s also quite fun for guests and makes them feel included in the celebrations.

2. Guest Book Almost everyone has a guest book at their wedding. However, there are lots of different and quirky ways to present guest books. You can do things like getting guests to write on the back of polaroids or taking a picture with their note written on a chalkboard. Get creative and find a unique way of doing your guestbook.

3. Photo booth Photo booths are probably one of the most popular wedding activities this year. They have taken the wedding market by storm because of the unique and memorable experience they provide. Guests love to pose in the photo booth with items of fancy dress, and the pictures will get more interesting as the night goes on.

4. Cartoon Portraits Cartoon portraits are a good activity to have at a wedding. Artists can move around the table drawing people or set up a stand after dinner. Your guests can have a good laugh at their caricature and have something to take home with them and keep as a memory of your wedding.

5. Lawn Games If you are having an outdoor wedding and the weather is kind to you then lawn games and outdoor activities can go down really well. They get everyone involved and interacting and provide some fantastic photo opportunities. Some lawn games you can have at your wedding include giant jenga and croquet.

6. Icebreakers When everyone sits down for dinner and realises they don’t know everyone on the table things can get a bit awkward. Shy guests may find it hard to start conversation and break the ice. Place some games and ice breaker questions on the table so that your guests can get to know each other, and as the alcohol flows they will get on just fine.

7. Drinks Tasting Having alcohol samples and alcohol experts on hand can work very well at weddings. If you love wine then get people to do some wine tasting or if you prefer spirits then why not get guests involved in some cocktail making?

8. Live Music Some people prefer to play their own playlist from their ipod, others prefer a DJ to get people on the dance floor. However, live bands can really add something extra to your wedding. They create a completely different atmosphere that is likely to have everyone enjoying a dance and strutting their stuff.

9. Food Stall One thing lots of guests think about when they go to a wedding is food. Don’t leave your guests hungry in the evening, impress them with food stalls of exciting treats. You could do a sweetie stall or if you enjoy savoury food have a selection of cheeses or send waiters around with canapes. If your guests have a full belly at the end of the night they will be satisfied.

10. Memory Boards Weddings are a time to look to the future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring up the past. Have an area dedicated to old photo’s and memories that you share with your guests. This will make them feel part of the wedding and everyone can enjoy looking back at some happy memories.

Kiri Novak works as an events planner in the wedding industry. He recommends Blue Steel Booths for any photo booth hire needs at

Wednesday 2 October 2013

A Guide to Backing Up Your Film Negatives

With digital cameras being so prevalent and smartphone cameras reaching new megapixel heights—just like this PC Mag piece it's becoming less and less likely that you'll own a camera that uses, actual film to take pictures.

We know that it can be easy to misplace and mistreat your raw negatives and that they can take up a lot of space if you're shooting frequently. If you want to edit and share them digitally I've put together this handy guide to cleaning, scanning, and backing up your film negatives to ensure that they're safe, stored, and ready for touch ups.

Prepare and Clean Your Film

Whether or not your film is relatively new or has been sitting around your house for ages, you still need to make sure it's clean before you get to the scanning portion of this guide. You're going to want some clean white gloves for this one along with a means of removing dust. You can use a fresh new microfiber cloth or a dust blower to remove every possible grain of dust that you can.

Scan Your Film

This part of the process is relatively easy and all depends on the type of scanner you own. The ones offered on My Smart Buy, for example, allow you to scan all your film onto an SD card. You will then load the photos onto your computer using the appropriate slot on your desktop or laptop.

Other scanners require a negative holder that requires you to make sure the film is as flat (and, again, as clean!) as possible. You can flatten the negatives out however you see fit—maybe an old textbook from school?—and then load them in before placing the holder onto your scanner. This process will require being reasonably adept at your scanner's software.

Once you're all set, then it's time to store the film again—or dispose of it if you want to make that decision. I suggest storing the film in a sleeve, binder, or something where it will not be directly touching the air. Again, you want to keep it away from dust at all times.

Edit and Digitally Store Your Photos

Now comes the time to properly edit and store all those photos you have scanned. How that happens all depends on the scanner you have acquired and its accompanying software. Should you use a scanner with an SD card, all you have to do is upload the images to your computer and use whichever photo-editing software you prefer.

I recommend using Adobe Photoshop for its versatility and ease of use. And once you're there, you can use the editing options made available to do things like remove any dust or scratches on the image. Although we cleaned them already, there will probably be some stuff left for you to touch up.

Good luck, If you need any more advice on transferring analogue pictures to digital pictures then please feel free to ask in the comments section on my blog.