29.1.19

Useful Tips to Touch Up Portraits Effectively

Touching up portraits can be tricky – but not for the reason that you think. While it is true that there is a learning curve involved, editors have made it easier than ever to perform alterations to portraits.

Instead the main challenge that you will face is using the tools available to you to touch up portraits in a way that brings out the beauty in them without making them appear fake or unnatural. That requires a lot more experience, but the following tips are a good place to start:

  • Compare the edited photo to the original
As you touch up any portrait, you should periodically compare it to the original. If you do, you should be able to spot any alterations that look unnatural early on.

When you first start out you should compare the edited portrait to the original frequently, but in time you’ll find that you’re able to more readily identify when you’ve made a mistake without having to compare it.

  • Improve the white balance
Generally it is best to start touching up any portrait by improving the white balance. That can be done quite easily, and most photo editors will have an automated tool that you can try if you want to.

For more control you should adjust the temperature of the portrait until you feel that it is properly balanced. It may help to adjust the exposure beforehand, especially if you feel your photo is too bright or too dark.

  • Accentuate the iris - carefully
One of the favourite ways to touch up portraits is to make the iris stand out – and for good reason. By adjusting the saturation and exposure of the iris you can make them look brighter and more vivid – though you should take care not to make them too vivid.

In some cases it may help to darken the edges of the iris to make it look more natural.

  • Remove some blemishes, wrinkles and spots – but not too many
Removing some blemishes, wrinkles and spots to make skin look better is great – but you should take care not to remove too many. Flaws are natural and in some cases may even be expected – and their absence can make portraits look fake.

For example if your portrait is of a 70 year old man and they have absolutely no wrinkles, spots, or blemishes – wouldn’t you think it was odd?
Photo by Jaku Arias on Unsplash

  • Sharpen certain features slightly to bring out details
Sharpening specific facial feature slightly can really help to make them stand out by revealing more detail. However the features that you choose to sharpen will vary depending on the subject.

Typically some of the more common options are the eyes, brows, lips, and some parts of the hair. Be careful that you only sharpen each a little bit however, otherwise they will not look very natural – especially when set against the rest of the portrait.

In most photo editors you’ll have a wide range of tools that you can use to edit portraits, and some may even have specific features to help you whiten teeth, remove red-eye, refine the hair, and more. For example if you use Movavi Photo Editor you could even apply various types of digital makeup as outlined at https://www.movavi.com/support/how-to/makeup-photo-editor.html

At the end of the day the tips listed above cover some of the most effective ways to edit photos, while at the same time making sure that they look natural. The more you edit portraits and get some experience under your belt, the more easily you’ll be able to gauge what types of alterations would be best for them.

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26.1.19

Why Adopt a Black Cat

Back in 2017 I was looking through Facebook and saw that a litter of black kittens had been dumped in a nearby town. I hadn't even been thinking of getting a new cat, I already had two and wasn't really a cat lady, I just had those because of my previous marriage. 
I tried to forget about the kittens but there was something in my head telling me to keep looking specifically for a black cat. I'd started to have enough of Online Dating and only had my children half of the time, my other cats were super independent and I wanted something new to love, and something new to love me back.

I ended up contacting Cat Protection and the lady had mentioned that another black cat was in their care, they had to wait another week or so for anyone to claim him but he was highly likely to be available to re-home. 
They'd sent me a photo, told me his name which at that time was 'Forest' as he had been found near some woods (really Cat Protection thought his owner couldn't cope and handed him to them saying she had found a kitten in the woods) which suit me fine, as a Tom Hanks fan. 

After passing a house check and filling in various forms and paying £50 Forest was mine. 
A month later I met my boyfriend and Forest was renamed...Ainsley. 

Black cats are statistically harder to re-home than tabby, ginger or tortoiseshell cats. I read an article in 2018 that stated that black cats aren't bought or re-homed because they aren't "instagrammable" and "don't look good in selfies". Which to me is ridiculous. 
The majority of cats that are in rescue centres and are euthanised due to not being able to be re-homed and due to lack of space in the centre, are black cats or black and white cats.

The main reason I had it set in my head to rescue a black cat was because, after research, I realised that they were the hardest to re-home. And I was really surprised by that. 
The reason they are hard to re-home is due to how they look...people finding them boring because they would rather have one with prettier colours or patterns, and because of superstition. Which I understand if that is down to your actual beliefs or religion but in most cases, it isn't. It's because people in general assume black cats are unlucky.

Ainsley is an amazing cat, with a cheeky and fun personality and a soft side too. He was also the perfect playmate for Walter, and is also the perfect playmate for my new kitten Bodhi. 
Ainsley went missing for two months last year and it broke my heart. I went through all the stages of grief which was horrible. And then one day turned up and it was one of the best days of my life. I couldn't believe it. 
He walked in as if he had never been away, asking for food. 

Not only did I feel good for re-homing a cat (Ainsley was around 4 or 5 months old when I got him so wasn't completely brand new tiny), and not a brand new kitten from a breeder or a random person on Facebook who hasn't had their cat spayed and wants to earn a quick £30-£50, but I felt good for re-homing a cat that had less chance than one who had a prettier pattern or a fluffy coat.

If I was to rescue a cat again in the future, I would go again for a black cat (or grey as apparently they are next on the list as hardest to re-home).
I don't believe that a cats coat or colour necessarily determines their personality. And if you see my Instagram, you'll notice how loving Ainsley is, and how he is almost like a parrot at times, but also how he is perfectly beautiful enough to Instagram and have a photo with. 

If you are ever considering adopting a kitten or a cat, please consider a black one. Not only will they love you, but you could be saving their lives. And I'm sure you will love them immensely. 

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19.1.19

My Word for 2019

Looking back on my posts I was sure I had done "my word for..." in 2017 but it seems last year was the only year I took part.

At the end of December I started thinking about what my word would be, and I came up with what I thought was the perfect name....and then I forgot it. So I figured it wasn't my word. 
I then stressed a bit because I thought I would end up with a word that was too obvious or boring or picking something at random that didn't mean anything at all.

And then it came to me, and has been going through my head non stop and not only means something in itself, but also branches off to mean a lot more also. 



The definition of 'be' pretty much sums up exactly why I have chosen it as my word for 2019.
1. exist.
2. occur; take place.

I feel like I want to exist a bit more, to do more, and to enjoy life more. To not sit around planning things and thinking how nice it would be to do things, and instead just go and do them.
Last years holidays and mini breaks gave me a taste of just getting on and getting out there and doing things. Walking, visiting, driving. Anything. Just being.

To be alert, be organised, be involved, be proactive, be productive, be a better mother, be a better adult, be a better person.
Be a better version of me.

To just....BE.
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16.1.19

Tips to Remember When Buying a Used Car

When it came to buying my car I was so overwhelmed and knew that I needed to have an idea in mind of what I wanted before and whilst I looked. I knew roughly what I wanted in terms of space (enough for 2 suitcases in the boot), enough growing room in the back for my children, a cd player, air con, something not too expensive to run, and comfy to drive as I do like to drive long distances as and when needed.

My biggest tip is to research where you are buying from. Look at dealerships in other areas as well as your local area as it might be worth travelling to get that ideal car for you. In the past I have travelled 130 miles to get a used car because it was exactly what we wanted, ticked all the boxes, but just happened to be a little further out of town than ‘local’.
Researching dealerships can help to see what services they provide, especially in terms of after care, the brands they sell, and to see reviews on their service.
KAP Motors offer an amazing collection of Fiat used cars at their Brighton centre. Check their range online.

When buying my car I was told straight away how many previous owners the car had. Why is this important if the car looks ok? It is important because it will give a clearer view on the cars history. The more owners a car has had, the older it usually is and ultimately, the more miles it has driven.
It will help to find out how and when the car has been driven. Was it just used for short journeys to and from work, or was it used for longer trips? Driven mostly on motorways or country lanes? A car driven mostly on country lanes will have potentially used their brakes a lot more than one on a motorway and would have to deal with potholes, which could have caused different wear and tear on the car.

Check paperwork before you buy. Is everything available, and if isn’t is there any way of getting hold of it?
The logbook or V5C.
Servicing booklet, this when the car was last serviced, as well as what's been repaired/replaced.
Manuals.
Spares. If you were expecting a spare wheel, check it’s there along with the tools needed to change it. As well as a spare key.
Sales contract. Make sure you get a dated sales contract showing that you've completed the deal and paid the right money. Check your name and address, plus the full details of the car, the agreed price, and any payments already made.
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12.1.19

Dear 2019

Dear 2019

You have a lot to live up to. Last year was great. It obviously had its down times, in fact a few of those with two deaths in the family, one of which I am finding it incredibly hard to still come to terms with, as well as the passing of a blogging friend. 
It was definitely one of those "life is for living" reminders. 

I wrote my Dear 2018 post and wrote down some words that explained my expectations and my wishes for that year. 
Memories, strength, the best version of myself, confidence, belief, growth, knowledge, faith, strength, trust, determination. 
I also wrote a post about my promises for the year:
Save money, be in control of finances and outgoings, lose weight, write more, meditate, oracle cards. 
I can honestly say I only really did well with meditate and oracle cards. The others were a fail. But never mind. Not worth stressing or beating myself up over. 

To focus on 2019 I feel it's important to look back on 2018. To look on areas that worked and that made me feel better. 

I receive emails from a newsletter called Wild Arisings and I've just received one that I think goes well with this post that I write.

“What do I REALLY want in 2019?”    

What do I want from 2019, pretty much the same as 2018, but maybe a bit more security. To feel a little more, well, a lot more secure, in a few aspects of my life. 
Some of it is to do with things I cause, with my actions, and other things to do with other people, choices and things out of my or anyone elses control.

I've not had the best start to the year, but, I will not let that define how my year will be. 
It doesn't mean that this is how my year will be, and in fact has made me realise that it is down to me to guide what happens, down to me to decide on what controls my life, and down to me to react in the way best for me.

I guess in 2019 I am going to make me more important. 
Looking after myself, my needs, my wants, my feelings. Make me a priority and to look after myself, no matter what the consequences are.

Last year I worked a little on my own strength and not being so concerned about what other people thought of me, or of other peoples opinions. And this year, I am going to work further on that. 
To speak up for myself, and to not worry about whether or not people like my hair, like my tattoos, think I'm fat or so on.

2019, I want you to be my year of focus on me. On happiness, being content, secure, confident and sure that everything I do is for me. 

And that's it. No list of other things to focus on, nothing else to wish for or want. A simple, realistic goal to look after me. 

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11.1.19

Five Things | 2018 Highlights

Travelling


I know this is quite a cliche highlight I guess but 2018 was lovely for me in terms of travelling. I guess having a boyfriend who also likes to travel and explore different places was a real bonus and a real advantage to make this happen. 
Not only did we experience a "beach/hot" holiday with Fuerteventura in April, we then had a camping holiday in Scotland, and a city break in snowy Lviv, Ukraine also. As well as a trip to Whitby and Scunthorpe and my own mini-break to Somerset. 
Lviv, Ukraine was somewhere I never would have thought about visiting, and I'm so glad we went. It was absolutely beautiful and an amazing experience. Scotland was also an experience with camping, being restricted due to the islands we visited, and the midges! 


Driving


Bit of an odd one I suppose but when I think back to 2018 one of my highlights and successes was definitely driving. I drove a hire car when we went to Fuerteventura, so driving on the wrong side of the road in a car that was the wrong way round was a challenge but I soon got used to it and was genuinely quite gutted to give the car back. 
When I moved house back in May I thought I had hired a transit van, still daunted by the thought of it I thought it wouldn't be that bad. However, on collection I had hired a tail lift! A much bigger van than I expected. Again, I loved driving it and even impressed my mum by reverse parking it in my driveway. 
And in November at work I did a 7 day Forklift Truck course, which I passed. Although I won't be going on it that often I still feel a massive sense of achievement for even passing and being able to drive one. 



Cats


Jasmine and Walter have just been Jasmine and Walter. They don't do much to cause concern and are pretty loyal. 
Then there is Ainsley, who decides to disappear for two months...not a highlight...but then all of a sudden return out of nowhere and meowing at me by their food bowls one morning as if he never disappeared. And then leave for a week again over Christmas, I guess that is just his thing.
Then, well, then the year got even better.
On December 23rd Bodhi Blue, a beautiful Snow Mink Bengal, joined my cat family thanks to my boyfriend.
He is absolutely amazing and gets on so well with Ainsley especially at the moment. Jasmine is just taking her time and taking a while to take to him. 


Books

I made an effort to read more in 2018 and although I didn't get through a huge amount of books, compared to others, I was pleased with what I got through.
I'm quite strict and will only read a book if I really feel connected to it pretty much early on, if not I don't waste time with it. 
I was hoping to read 2 books a month this year, which again may not be much to some who seem to be able to read a book in a day (I really envy those people) but I think still, that's 24 books this year, that's better than none.


Unofficial Auntie

My best friends had a baby last year and I became an Unofficial Auntie and her Guardian. Having two boys it is wonderful to have a little girl I can buy things for and watch grow up into a young lady. She is absolutely adorable and I am so proud of my friends and of her. 


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10.1.19

Alex Morley Christmas Spectacular at Stonham Barns

In the half term, and any odd Sunday with the boys, one of our favourite places to visit is Stonham Barns. In fact it's also a go to with my mum, my boyfriend or even somewhere to go just by myself.
With a mixture of shops, attractions and an occasional car boot it is an ideal place to visit no matter what the weather is like.

We had the chance to visit around Christmas to watch the Alex Morley Spectacular Christmas Show and as I don't take the boys to the local Panto because they go with their school, I felt this was ideal for us to be able to have a Christmas Show experience.
With my Ukraine trip and then working either side of Christmas we went a few days after Christmas, and we still really enjoyed it. In fact as I watched I thought how it would be the perfect thing to watch to then go home, eat a roast dinner and sit around the Christmas tree feeling all Christmassy.

Anyway, before I get onto that, a little bit of background as to why I was a little extra excited and had high hopes nd I think evefor this show.
Over 10 years ago, before the boys were born, my ex-husband and I used to visit the panto in Watton, Norfolk. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were always in the panto, set up by the local production, so we would go along to support.
During the panto Alex the Clown would make an appearance, and I think everyone was impressed by the talent and confidence of someone so young. I recognised the name when I saw the show Stonham Barns were advertising so was sure it would be a hit.

My biggest thing when going to see a show is whether or not my children enjoy it, and the best way to see that is just by looking at their faces and watching their reactions during the show.
The boys were smiling all the way through, with fits of giggles whenever Alex came on, and especially so when it involved his double act with Robbie.

Singing, dancing, magic and gymnastics make this show a real variety performance and make it a great mix of circus, and a theatre performance.
The set was so professional with a beautiful staging and lighting. The atmosphere was really lovely and everyone looked like they were having as much fun as we were.

This year we would definitely go before Christmas as our alternative to the local panto. And if the Christmas show was anything to go by, I'm sure the other shows put on during the year are just as worth a visit.


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