My Sunday Photo

I won’t always join in with #mysundayphoto but when I do it will probably be a flower, insect or something nature related!

I have recently been wondering why I am drawn to flowers or nature when looking for a photography subject, and I guess it’s because there is always something new to find, and it’s easy to find something beautiful.

Today we had a lovely day out as a family, first we went out for breakfast, which is a rare treat, and then we took advantage of the National trust open doors weekend and visited Tredegar house and grounds (for free!) there were a lot of interesting things to see and I’m so glad we went.

Here is one of the shots I took in the grounds there, what to you think? Do you enjoy pretty flowers too?

MyPhotoSchool Review

As I have pointed out in recent months I’ve been working hard to improve my photography and learn as much as I possibly can, so I was very keen to try out ‘MyPhotoSchool’ when asked. I have been looking around for part time photography courses to fit around working, blogging and parenting, and have been unsuccessful so this really seemed like a great alternative.

MyPhotoSchool offer a range of courses from basic ‘introductions’ to photography to a foundation course and fine art subjects. There are a large range of subjects, and most of them for less than £150 which is good value I think. I chose to review the Macro photography course with Heather Angel and couldn’t wait to get started.

I had been playing with macro a little beforehand, and watched the first video with interest. Heather explained everything in the video in great detail but not in such a way that meant I could get confused, I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to photography but everything Heather made sense. Once I had learnt about ‘A Seeing Eye’, which covered the basics of equipment and how to assess the potential shot, we were asked to take two macro shots at two magnifications and composing them in different ways. I tried to take some close up shots of the pollen stem of a lily but ended up frustrated as I couldn’t get the shot right, I did however manage to spot a little mosquito and snapped that instead, I also spent some time in the garden taking some other shots and ended up forgetting the original assignment. However I did upload the images I caught and awaited Heather’s feedback.

Your second shot of a mosquito is the star of the quartet. It is not an easy subject to photograph, yet you capture the spirit of this lively insect well with the narrow depth of field, making it pop even more from the background. You could try cropping it to a letterbox shape because neither the top nor the bottom of the frame, add anything to the composition.

I was really pleased with the feedback Heather gave and she made some excellent points about the settings I chose such as my F stop being slightly off as my depth of field was very shallow. I really appreciated the constructive criticism and even now some of the comments Heather made stick with me when I am lining up a macro shot. Clearly I learnt a lot.

The following lessons covered light and how to use a diffuser, and this was really interesting, I had a lot of fun playing with bouncing light around and working out how to get the best light on the subject. I even tried my iPhone torch at one point, but that wasn’t very effective, except to light a little spider, but I didn’t upload that one to the course.

Towards the end of the course we were given some direction on taking shots through water droplets and other techniques plus information about some different useful tools that can be used. By this point I had slowed down with uploading as life got in the way again, however I had taken the lessons from the videos and used them in my day to day ‘playing’ with my camera.

I really learnt a lot from the lessons in the MyPhotoSchool classroom and I really liked the fact that other people taking the course were able to comment on the images being uploaded and we could learn from each other. It was really nice to have individual feedback from Heather as well, and she is clearly very knowledgeable. The site was also very easy to navigate so I would certainly consider taking other MyPhotoSchool courses and would recommend them to anyone looking for guidance from a skilled photographer.

Here are a few macro shots I have taken since taking the course-

I was provided with the course mentioned for the purpose of review.

K’NEX Mighty Makers

Recently my eldest daughter has been very interested in everything science related, from our own little science experiments to astronomy and all the wonderful things she is learning about in school. I think it’s really important that children learn as much STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) as possible. So when we were asked by K’NEX to review the new Mighty Makers range I thought it would be great for my girls to try out.

The Mighty Makers range is essentially K’NEX aimed at inspiring girls, and by that I don’t mean it’s covered in pink glitter in the usual way things are aimed at girls, but in a nice, subtle and positive way in my opinion.

My girls were so excited for their Mighty Makers to arrive, my youngest had decided on the Deep Sea Dive set and her older sister chose the Inventors Clubhouse set. When they arrived and I had to collect them from the lovely neighbour that had taken them in for us, there were many shouts of joy and jumping around.

Even though it was a weekday evening we opened up the boxes and I set the girls on their way, I explained that the best way to start was to lay everything out on the floor in lines to make sure they could see which pieces they had, this took them a good half hour and then we were ready to get making.  My eldest, who is only just over the recommended age herself, needed very little help and focussed on her club house model and motor car (which actually moves!) for a good few days, only taking a break for food, dance classes and sleeping. It was fascinating to watch and I was pleasantly surprised at her persistence even when some parts “just won’t fit!

As our weekend progressed our living room floor became the work space and the whole family became involved at some point, my youngest daughter did need a little help with her Deep Sea Dive set, however she really grasped the idea of reading the instructions and following them, she seemed to learn an awful lot from working on her K’NEX.  Once both sets were finished we had a deep sea diver and her boat, plus the sea beneath, including marine life and the option to turn the girl, Marrisa, into a mermaid. Also a marine life food chain option or a mermaid castle. That’s the beauty of K’NEX I guess, you can make so many different things.

The Inventors Clubhouse was a really great set, once my eldest girl had completed it I was impressed with all the details, there was a pulley mechanism in one area to pull the lift up, and a zip wire that the girls, Audrey and Emily, can ride on. The idea behind the inventors club house is that the girls are the inventors and once you’ve made the car and club house you can then create their inventions, such as an egg beater, I thought that was an excellent idea.

K’NEX have always been something I have liked the look of, and have considered buying some for my girls before, but I am definitely adding more of these sets to my Christmas list for them now. I would recommend them as well. The quality of the pieces were great and are really good value for money in my opinion, they kept us all entertained for hours. The Mighty Makers sets also have other educational elements and I love teaching my girls at home, so opening up a conversation about marine biology and inventing was lovely for us.

We were sent these sets for the purpose of review