Super Close, Wide Fish Eye

 

Smartphone cameras are getting better and better nowadays which is all well and good but but sometimes I feel like there are some cool photos you could miss out on due to their limited function. I know all you hardcore photographers would be up in arms but for casual snappers, sometimes their only camera is their Smartphone of choice!

Anyway, I decided to do a bit of research to see if there was a cheap way to fun-up a Smartphone’s camera. I found a few options in the form of quite expensive cases which looked pretty naff but I did stumble on some clip on lenses which were only around £5 – £15. In the end, I opted for the AUKEY 3 in 1 Clip-on Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit for £13.99. Here’s a couple of photos for what comes in the box.

Using the Clip-on attachment was a breeze to use, simply screw in the lens you want to use and clip it over your camera lens and you’re ready to rock and roll. Sometimes you need to readjust where the lens is sitting  but I found opening the camera app and moving it around was the best way. The kit is pretty much universal so it will fit most phones. I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S6 and it worked a treat with mine.

I’ve played around with it for a couple of days and found the Macro Lens to be my favourite, getting a close up shows up some interesting details! Some of my pictures are below!

Fisheye Lens

Wide Angle Lens

Macro Lens

Not too shabby I thought plus because it’s Star Wars day, I had to take a few photos of Lego Luke Skywalker and his iconic X-Wing! Back on track – I think for less than £20, it’s quite a cool little bit of kit to get some different shots to the every day selfie, landscape shot, etc. If you’ve got anything like this, I’d love to see the results but for now, peace out!


Team Nikon / May the 4th be with you

Stronglifts 5×5 update

So I’ve been doing a bit of a modified Stronglifts 5×5 routine in the gym for the past four months (missing a week here and there) and thought I’d give an update on how it’s been going and if I think it works. Just in case you didn’t catch my initial post on this routine, give it a read!

I’ve been using a little book to note down every time I go to the gym, which exercises, how much weight, how many reps and how much cardio I’ve done. I’d strongly recommend doing this or using some kind of app on your phone. It’s a useful tool to track your progress so you know where you’re at for the next session. Looking back through mine, I started on the following – Squat – 55kg, Bench Press – 40kg, Barbell Row – 40kg, Over Head Press – 20kg and Deadlift 50kg.

For every successful 5 set of 5 reps each, I bumped the weight up by 2.5kg unless I failed a set in which case I would repeat the same weight next time around. My current stats are – Squat 120kg, Bench Press – 72.5kg, Barbell Row – 70kg, Over Head Press – 45kg and Deadlift 95kg.

My weight has remained relatively the same which I think is down to some fat loss and building more muscle. If you are looking for a routine for size, I would say this isn’t for you. However, if you want strength, the gradual increase of weight session after session really worked for me – previously I could have done between 90-100kg Squats but at my current rate, I think I could max out at about 140-150kg but already pretty happy I can do 120.

I might keep on going with the Stronglifts 5×5, however it is only recommended to go for about 12 weeks so might change it up. If you have any recommendations for a 3-4 session per week gym routine, I’m all ears!

If you’re looking for some gym safety tips or maybe some inspiration to get yourself down to the gym, I’ve got you covered!

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Watch out – the beast is about

Tiger Numbers Increasing

I read an uplifting article today which deserves to be shared because quite often we don’t hear the good side of the news – for the first time in a century, the number of wild tigers is rising.

National tiger surveys carried out show that we have approximately 3890 tigers living in the wild, an increase from the 3200 estimate of 2010. The survey attributes the rise to the improvement of surveys; greater protection for the species and rising numbers in Bhutan, India, Russia and Nepal.

After the 2010 survey results were published, the 13 countries which are indigenous to tigers gathered and put in place the Global Tiger Recovery Plan. This plan is the combined countries plan to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 which coincides with the next Chinese Year of the Tiger. The 13 Tiger Range Countries are – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam and North Korea.

Governments, species experts, scientists, park rangers, conservation experts and communities are all coming together to give tigers their just deserts. The plan to double numbers include taking on the illegal wildlife trade, training rangers and improving the level of conservation to reduce hunting.

We share this planet and I think if we can achieve these targets for one species, we should be able to do it for the others. On a side note, if you want to see our very own mini-tiger, check my other post out.

Introducing The Latest Family Addition

Hey guys and gals, just a quick post showing our new bundle of fluff! His name is Louie and we’ve have had this little fella for a week now, he is turning out to be a cool little cat. We already have a cat called Lulu and she’s 2 now, she wasn’t best pleased when we first brought him home. She would hiss and growl at everyone in a huff. She’s coming around to him now though and they’re starting to play around the house together. I’ve chucked a few photos below for your daily dose of aww.

Nintendo Silhouette Portraits

Hey guys and gals. I’ve been having a bit of an arts and crafts weekend. I saw a post where someone cut the silhouette of some Pokémon on coloured card and fancied giving it a go. Here’s what I got up to and a quick how-to guide if you fancy giving it a go yourself!

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Crobat

What you will need –

  1. A5 coloured card x2 (two different colours)
  2. Scalpel or pair of scissors if you have a simpler design
  3. Cutting mat if you are using a scalpel
  4. Pencil
  5. One photo frame (65p in Ikea!)
  6. Blu-tack
  7. Some form of adhesive (but not necessary)
  8. Scrap paper
  9. The image you want to use
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Toon Link

OK, first thing you’re going to want to do is find the image you want to use. I found Nintendo character to have quite recognisable silhouettes so picked a few of my favourites – Toon Link, Pikachu, Crobat and Mario.

Once settled on the character or item, you should look at what the primary colour is to pick your foreground colour, for example the main colour people associate with Mario is red. Then the secondary colour could be any of your choosing but I liked to pick the colour which is most prevalent after the first colour chosen.

Now you have your picture and card, it’s probably best to get your picture silhouette drawn out on a piece of scrap paper either by free hand of tracing. Make sure the picture that is drawn out will fit inside your picture frame! For instance, my photo frame can hold a 15 x 10 picture and measuring it will show 14 x 9. I cut both pieces of my card to 15 x 10 so I had a bit of extra border to sit behind the frame.

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Pikachu

Place your image silhouette on top of the card which will be your foreground colour and secure in place using a few pieces of Blu-tack. Then using either a scalpel or scissors, cut through both the paper and the card at the same time, keeping as close to the lines as possible. If you do feel like you are going to make a mistake, it’s best to go inwards to the picture so the silhouette isn’t effected. Once cut all the way around, you should be able to push the cutout through revealing the silhouette.

The next part is optional depending if you want to have your two pieces of card stuck together or just free floating in the frame. I opted to use some double sided adhesive plastic to raise the foreground card slightly. After cutting a few adhesive strips to size, line the two pieces of card up and press firmly. If you opt to use glue then give it a few minutes to dry.

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Mario

If like my Toon Link and Pikachu pictures, you might decide there is a piece inside which is going to be worthwhile keeping such as the part between Toon Link’s shield and head. To get the alignment right, put the card cutout back in place, line up the piece, stick in place and remove the cutout.

This is pretty much the final product! All you need to do is pop it in your frame, put the back on and you’re sorted.


Writing this little piece, I initially found I had to think about typing the word silhouette but after a couple of times and saying sil-hoo-et it started to come out pretty naturally. If only it worked for sesquipedalianism.

7 Wanderlust Hotels

In the advent of Spring and the lighter nights hers in the UK, a lot of us start looking forward to summer and our holidays. So I’ve been having a mooch at some crazy cool hotels which are probably out of my budget but are guaranteed to give you some wanderlust. Here are 7 hotels which are bound to make you hungry for your holidays.

1. The Manta Resort, Pemba Island

Off the coast of Tanzania, this hotel has its own Underwater Room where you get a glass bottom boat type effect. Being a pretty rubbish swimmer, this room looks awesome to chill out in but still see some aquatic life. They do run some diving lessons and to be fair, this looks like the perfect place to learn. It’s pretty expensive though coming in at around £400 per night per room.

 

2.Cocoa Island, Maldives

The Maldives are synonymous with idyllic beaches and dream holidays. The Cocoa Island resort definitely upholds that idea with it’s boat houses, turquoise sea and white sandy beaches. One £700 per night ticket please.

3. Dedon Island, Philippines

I have never really looked to the Philippines as a hotel destination but have changed my mind after seeing this resort, this looks incredible! That bar and swinging pod seat thing is enough for me. Get a cocktail and kicking back in your own pod would be ideal. This is a mid range of the hotels so far coming in at about £550 per night per room depending what time of the year you go.

4. Katikies Hotel, Santorini

Typically I think of Greece as a bit of a cheaper package holiday to get a bit of sun but looking through these photos of the Katikies Hotel, you can’t help but think how serene it must be. The ultimate relaxation holiday. Coming in at the lowest price so far of around £290 per night which isn’t exactly bank busting to visit.

5. Marataba Safari Lodge, South Africa

This place is an animal lovers paradise. The views look unreal from the deck and if at least one person visiting here hasn’t played The Lion Sleeps Tonight then this place isn’t being utilized to its full potential.They run safari trips too and the pictures of the animals they’ve seen are on David Attenborough’s level. All this isn’t as expensive as you’d think, it works out for the most expensive rate at about £45 per person per night. Bargain really.

6. Montana Magica Lodge, Chile

Like the Philippines, Chile isn’t really somewhere I’ve thought about when looking at holidays but the Montana Magica Lodge would be the place I’d want to stay if I did go, especially considering it looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. This place comes in at around £150 per room for two people sharing.

7. Attrap’reves, France

This is my personal favourite. The concept is essentially sleeping in a clear sphere in rural areas, there are semi private ones available too. This would be ideal for any budding star gazers or wanting to feel closer to nature. During winter they look like reverse snow globes, a pretty fun idea if you ask me! Prices range from £85 – £195 depending what time of year you go and what kind of bubble you want.

There’s definitely a few hotels and resorts on here that will be going on my bucket list. Some of them are a little bit pricey but the memories, stories and photos you would have would be worth it. Excuse me while I count my pennies and look on Expedia.

Hydraulic Mesmerisation

Hey there folks. I’ve got a pretty fascinating channel I’ve been watching on YouTube and it’s called the Hydraulic Press Channel. It’s a pretty simple principle behind the videos – the YouTuber has a hydraulic press and uses it to squish things. It probably doesn’t sound that great initially but you should check out some of the videos below and maybe give the guy a subscribe on YouTube!

This is his latest one to date which is awesome. He take a hockey puck it’s really satisfying watching that little puck going pop.

Ever heard that you cant fold a piece of paper more than 7 times? Here’s a hydraulic press to try and debunk that with explosive results.

A (funny) blind man’s perspective

So I happened to stumble across this YouTube channel the other day and it was amazing. In a nutshell, its about a man called Tommy Edison who talks about how things are different for him being born blind. His personality to be upbeat and infectious, he seems to be a genuinely nice guy. I’d love the opportunity to sit down and have a laugh with him. You really have to check it out – Tommy Edison XP. I’ve popped two of my favourite videos of his below –

It’s easy to take it for granted how much we use our eyes to understand things which we can’t always use our other senses. I love how he describes the Grand Canyon as a hole. His language is juxtaposed in places using words like circuitous and tippy-top but it all just adds to the charm.

This video is pure unbridled fun. Game show/elevator music, jelly beans and plenty of laughs, this is my favourite. His response to getting some right (spoiler alert) is great – I’m on fire! Describing a taste as “bright” is a little odd to people who have their sight, or possibly just me, but I get what he means. Like I would describe an orange to be bright. I find it crazy how his use of vocabulary is different because he is blind.

He has a tonne of videos on his channel. You should really go check out some more, I was on for a good hour or so the other day! If not, hopefully these two have gave you a laugh and insight into the perceptions of Tommy Edison XP.

Staying Safe in the Gym

Whether you’re a pro lifter, cant get enough cardio or somewhere in between, going to the gym is a great way to get in shape and increase your fitness. However you should always take some precautions when going to the gym, especially if you haven’t been in a while or going for the first time. Below I’ve got a few tips which help you stay safe and avoid injury.


 

1. Fuel up before the gym

It’s a common misconception that going to they gym on an empty stomach will help you burn off excess fat. If you do working out hungry can cause dizziness and low blood sugar. Your best bet is to have some carbs about 30-60 minutes before working out. I usually have some oats with honey, super quick and easy to make!

2. Warm up

On a daily basis I see people coming into the gym and going straight into lifting heavy weights or hitting some cardio hard. You may get away with it once or twice but it’s always best to start with some light cardio/weights to get your body warmed up and ready to exercise.

3. Bring the right shoes

Your feet are what connect you to the ground so it’s important to wear the right footwear for what you’re doing. Cardio fanatics, get yourself to your local running shop and ask for advise on what will work best for you to keep you going comfortably for longer. I personally like a good pair of Nike 4.0 Flyknit’s which you can get pretty cheap from the outlet stores. Weight lifters, get some trainers with a flat sole to give you good firm base. A relatively cheap option is a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor’s.

4. Good form

You can link this in with number 2. In your warm up you should practice good form for your lifts or cardio of choice. Exercising with poor form can cause joint stress and over work muscles. The internet is awash with videos, diagrams and forums to help show you what your form should be like for the exercises your doing. Do a little research and it’ll help massively.

5. Keep hydrated

This is such an elementary concept but you will often see people come without water and even go their full workout without having a drink. To keep your body cool as you work out, you will sweat, and as you do, you’re losing water through precipitation. Go buy yourself a bottle and top up before you start your work out.

6. Cool down/stretch

Just as it’s important to get your body ready to exercise, it’s also important to wind down as well and give your muscles a stretch to avoid any delayed onset muscle soreness. Most cardio machines will have a cool down mode at the end of your session. Don’t skip it, let your body calm down and I always find giving my legs a good stretch helps too.


That about wraps it up for the basics of safety. There are plenty of other micro tips but in my opinion, these six are the ones you will need to keep you in tip top form. Stay safe out there!

 

An Ode to Mam

Being Mother’s Day today, I thought it would be quite fitting to give a bit of an extended shout out to my Mam (Mum, Mom, Mother, whatever your word of choice is) because she’s class. Hopefully you have been kind to your Mam this Mother’s Day and showed her how much she means to you. I feel with the advent of technology making people connect more online but disconnect in person so we don’t often tell our Mams how much they mean to us.

Well I love my Mam loads, she’s ace. She puts up with my sister and my crap on a daily basis, albeit my sister causes more of it (Hi Charlie); is there when we need someone to talk to or have a laugh with; provides for us even though some of her meals are pretty questionable; but most importantly, loves us unconditionally.

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Me and my Mam (mid 90’s)

She has done all of this primarily as a single parent and I think my sisters will agree with me when I say, she’s done a good job on all of us. She is my rock. There will be a day when her last marbles are going and we have to look after her but for everything she has done and will continue to do, thank you.

Love you Mama G