A Camera Tripod for Christmas

A Tripod for dSLR cameras

Camera and Tripod

Digital SLR cameras are still the best way to get that magical image. The combination of bodies, lens and flash heads, make for a machine for producing superb images with exceptional levels of detail when used in RAW mode.

When it comes to those wild life shots with the big (heavy) telephoto lens, you need a camera tripod to produce those sharp images. Those heavy lens will magnify any camera shake so a good tripod is key here.

Why you should use a tripod

Not Just any old Tripod

Large Camera Tripod

Tripods come in all shapes and sizes and it’s easy to get side tracked and select a tripod that looks good. But in reality a tripod is an investment and you need something that’s sturdy but not too heavy. Like the tripod for camera shown here.

Telephoto lenses with wide apertures tend to big and heavy but these are what you need for wildlife photography. To get up close without being seen.

Because those lenses are heavy, compared to the camera, they have a mounting point for a tripod built into them. This mount point is just off center slightly nearer to the camera body. So that the mounting point is near to the center of gravity for both the lens and the camera body.

Although the center of gravity has been taken care of, that leaves the weight of the lens to contend with. Some tripods become unstable with big lens and sometimes the tripod head can’t hold the lens and camera in position without slowly drooping over to the heavy end.

So a compromise is needed between weight of the tripod and its stability. And of course on the type of photography you do.

Don’t forget phone tripods

Like it or not the cell phone/camera phone is here to stay. To be fair each year that passes sees a major improvements in small camera technology. From multi-lenses to powerful software, designed to get the shot for you with just point and shoot.

The images can be both superb one minute and poor the next. But the same rules of photography still apply, however most cell phone users are blissfully unaware of all the technology behind the button.

Just because you using a phone doesn’t mean that it won’t suffer from camera shake (the same laws of photography apply). So there are gadgets for fixing a cell phone to a tripod and a bluetooth device to take the shot. Real simple and not expensive. Which takes you a notch when using a phone camera.

When to use a tripod

Christmas is Coming

Christmas present camera tripod

Which Christmas coming soon and your a keen photographer who’s yet to get a tripod now is the perfect time of year. Get your relations to head over to best camera tripod site and choose from the best.

Better still, why not treat yourself. There’s no better time to indulge in your pleasures and pursuits than at Christmas. And think of this as an investment, one that will reward you for many years to come.

Gifts for Freemasons

Compass and Square

My Freemason Journey

As with all journeys into freemasonary, my journey started with a friend, Jack, who I’ve known for over ten years. I new early on that he was a freemason but I never delved into it further.

At my office I was introduced to Ben, I noticed he had a freemason lapel pin. This is the one with a square and and compass. I new exactly what it was and what it meant because Jack also wore one.

I got to talking to Ben and he opened up the world of freemasonary to me, obviously not the secrets but the fraternity, charity and the social aspects of it all. Armed with this new knowledge I started to quiz Jack.

Jack was equally forthcoming and felt this was an organisation I might like to join. It took another six months before I finally took the plunge. But I filled out the application, met the committee and then initiated.

You can find out more about freemasonary here

The 3rd Degree

I finally became a master mason last month. Initiation to master in 10 months. It’s still quite new to me but I’ve visited a few other lodges as a guest. Was it worth it? Yes, so far so good. Different masons will get different things from the Craft but for me I like the social side of it.

For me meeting new people in convivial setting at the meal after the meeting is most enjoyable part. But slowly I’m starting to learn more of the ritual but that takes time.

But freemasonary is a journey and I’m still at the start but well on my way. I really would recommend freemasonary to other friends and colleagues.

Masonic Gift

My wife was very encouraging in my new quest and was keen to follow my progress and take an interest as the wife of a mason. When I became a master mason she suggested this milestone should be celebrated with a gift.

Jack suggested some apparel that could be worn at the lodge meetings and later at the festive board. That sounded perfect and he suggested this site Ashlar Masonic Gifts they have the “best of” all different types of masonic regalia.

What Freemason Gift Did She Get?

As I have to wear a white shirt and those shirts need cufflinks she got me a two sets of masonic cufflinks which I have to say, look really good.

About three weeks later after she bought those cufflinks, it was my birthday and she bought me a nice masonic tie pin. Which I’m quite proud of, it looks really quite smart.

To find a freemason lodge in your area try this

What’s Next?

I expect to spend some time as a master mason in the craft but at some point I will venture into different aspects of freemasonary. At this time my next step will be into Mark Masonry, which I understand expands on the 2nd degree of craft mason.

My friend Jack is also a member of the Secret Monitor and he does sell this order quite well. I may join this order at some later date. You can find out more here.

88 keyed – weighted keyboard

Scales on the piano

For all pianists, it’s a great advantage if you have knowledge regarding the scales on the piano. Playing different scales also helps pianists to improve. If you can use different scales, it also help you to better understand and increase your knowledge. Such as progressing with chord structures.sheet music scales

The relationship between notes

Knowing how well different notes work together in different scales. This is an important factor for pianists who improvise when they play the piano. This is often the case for those who’s genre is in jazz music where improvisation is an important factor. Because of this fact, one has to make sure how notes work together in different scales. For those who want to develop their piano playing, it’s an important factor for the best possible development.

double clefDefine different scales

Scales are a collection of notes that belong together. This is also important in terms of different chords. The big difference between chords and scales is that scales contain several notes that you do not play at the same time. A chord is a collection of notes played simultaneously.

Scales contain a collection of notes that in musical terms have a connection and belong together. The notes themselves are assembled together to form an arrangement that creates the chord. It can also create a starting point for those that improvise.

By learning or recognizing scales you will be able to place a song into a musical context and as a result, you can play it with less an effort.

The scale to focus on depends mainly on what kind of music you are most interested in playing. At the same time, it is good to be able to use the most common scales. It is also good if you learn the other smaller scales. Versatility helps when playing the piano.

pianist at a pianokeyboard

Normally, one piano has about 88 keys on a keyboard. All keys are also symmetrically placed in order. There are seven white and five blacks in a repeating group. In general, you play according to scales and therefore it is also more advantageous if you can study notes and even also the scales. When you play the piano, it is achieved by playing notes. The notes themselves are in different scales.

Different scales

Major Scales – this is the most common scale you play and perhaps the most important. This is because they are so common and they are basic to understanding different keys. There are several different types of scales that go into Major.

Minor Sales – There are mainly three different scales in the Minor.

double clef over piano

Major and minor are the most common scales when playing the piano. Major has some more positive tones while the minors have a more negative tone. There are also scales like blues, jazz, pentatonic scale and exotic scale. Popular music is based on the pentatonic scale, while the others are more specific to other styles of music.

In today’s world a large piano is mot an option for most homes. But luckily the are electronic pianos that sound and perform just like an acoustic piano They even have weighted keys as the ones here 88 key weighted keyboard

Variable Temperature Kettles

Herbal Teas

If like me you enjoy tea and in my case Chinese green tea, jasmine and oolong varieties. Then your going to love these variable temperature kettles. How to make a perfect cup of tea

Isn’t this just another kitchen gadget that you don’t really need? Cluttering up an already busy kitchen (most households already have a plethora of useless gadgets that never get used but take up space valuable space in the kitchen). And besides you already have a kettle and certainly don’t need a second one.

Well all of that is true but this isn’t about extra gadgets, it’s about taste and in particular the flavor of your drinks. You see traditionally if you want a hot drink, tea or coffee are the main ones, then you just add boiling water.

saucepan with water boilingThe Problem with Boiling Water

Adding boiling water is at 100 degrees centigrade, which is not ideal for hot drinks, destroys the subtle flavors and actually scotches the tea/coffee. Leaving a burnt after taste.

Ideally you want the water to be at the ideal temperature and that’s where variable temperature kettles come in. You could try and do this DIY style, using a thermometer but I think you’d agree, you’d soon get fed up with such an arcane procedure.

The DIY Approach to Boiling Water

This new device will heat water to any temperature you desire, all the way up to boiling point. For delicate green tea the optimum temperature is around 85 to 90 degrees centigrade. Perfect Brewing

Now for tea you could make the argument that the teapot, being cold, will take some of the heat from the water thus cooling it down. This is true but you initially scorch the tea with boiling water and quite likely under shoot the ideal temperature for brewing. Getting the worst of all conditions. Plus you don’t know what temperature the water’s at, it’s pure guess work.

Modern Temperature Control KettleWhere to get Kettles with Temperature Controls

Ideally you should invest in a variable temperature kettle, like the ones shown here electric kettle with temperature control They will get the temperate just right to make your hot beverage and you’ll be rewarded by a better tasting drink with more delicate flavors and aromas.

These devices also have the ability to keep the water at the desired temperature for a short time. Unlike a normal kettle that boils and stops, then cools down. And because everything comes with a phone app these days, so do some versions of these kettles. So, you can be in one room and set the temperature and switch on the kettle all from the comfort of your armchair using the kettle’s phone app. The app then beeps to let you know that the water’s ready.

old copper kettleThe Humble Kettle – Room for Improvement?

At the end of the day a kettle is a kettle and they haven’t changed their basic function in thousands of years. Well we think this is about to change because technology can improve the humble kettle for the better. Take a look temperature control kettle

Not boiling water is good for the environment too. You use less energy when you don’t boil water all the time. That fact multiplied by thousands off boilings multiplied by millions of kettles is a lot of energy that could be saved. Plus you get to save money, not much but a saving just the same.

Modern Temperature Control Kettle - ControlsUltimately it’s about the Taste

A truly amazingly simple device with lots of potential and capabilities. A device with many benefits and a host of features. But ultimately it will improve taste. And we’re all for that.

All you need to know about boiling water

Whole house water softener Kits

Water Softeners


Old fashioned tap

Water Softeners For Domestic Use

One of the things we take for granted in large towns and cities is access to running water. We turn on a tap and water flows and we take this very much for granted nowadays.

But in most parts of the country the water is hard and this has implications for all of us that hit us in the pocket. Water, as every schoolboy knows is H₂O, however this is not the whole story. Pure H₂O, if there is a such thing, would be classified as soft water. Water that contains traces of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, is classified as hard water.

And it’s these minerals that are present in our domestic water supplies that cause long term problems. Health wise, you’re okay, hard or soft water so no impact on us. The problems arise because hard water can deposit it’s minerals as limescale. How to remove


Tap with Limescale

Limescale is the slow death of domestic appliances. Slowly but surely the limescale coats elements and moving parts so that they eventually seize up or heating elements lose efficiency. The level of damage depends upon the hardness of the water. But inevitably you end up going to a white goods store for a replacement and they aint cheap.

But the inside of pipes, especially hot water pipes (as hot water releases its minerals faster than cold water) get clogged up inside slowly the bore of the pipe reduces in diameter and slow less water flows.

Heating elements which are used in hot water systems get caked in limescale, which is also a heat insulator. So the heater is now heating the limescale which retains the heat instead of heating the water. So you heating system becomes less efficient an the house seems cooler although your still paying the same bills.

The Best Solution

Most ways of treating limescale tend to be deal with the consequences instead of being preventative. Preventative measures remove any minerals from the water as it enters your home so that the water becomes soft.


water, the source

You can get these on the internet such as whole house water softener Kits these are easily fitted on the incoming domestic water feed but you can also get a plumber to fit them if your not sure how.

Prior to fitting, it’s worth getting your heating system flushed out. Plumbers will use chemicals to remove limescale from inside pipes. They will do this several times until they’re sure that the system is clean.

Once the water softener is fitted, they’re easy to maintain and require little to no service and importantly they remove limescale for good. That’s the long term objective here. And white goods and heating systems will remain in good order for a longer period of time, which saves you money. And you won’t feel cold in winter as the heating elements will be free from limescale.
As a bonus clothes will come out softer and fluffy. Washing your face and hands is nicer in soft water and you’ll feel cleaner as well. Soft water is a lifestyle change and you’ll notice it every time, water will no longer just be water and you’ll notice this when staying in a hotel some place how different their water is to yours.

An in depth article can be found here home water softener

Shopping for all of us

We all love shopping right? We’ll we’re no exception – we love it.

Girls Out Shopping

It’s not just the shopping it, it’s passing the time with friends, with family, taking lunch or a well earned coffee break.

And we like to tell everyone about it, the bargains, the real great discoveries we make and the over and above friendly staff we find that truly make the whole experience just that little bit more special.

Now you can do all your shopping online nowadays and then have everything delivered right to your door. But where’s he fun in that? How could that compare to a shopping mall, air conditioned and brimming with shops to explore?

Mt Shopping MallThe number of shopping malls in each town and in each state bears this out. We all love shopping more as a recreation than a choir and that’s the way it should be.

But there are things you need or hard to find items and you must have and then this makes sense to get that one item, online and delivered. Rather than spending hours looking around. Most of the time that item is quite dull, so why waste time on all those mundane things? It makes sense to let some internet site take care of this for you.

So what’s my game plan? I usually arrange to meet with friends, so that means meeting around ten in one of the many coffee shops they have. Rested and relaxed we set off, sometimes with a purpose and sometimes just window shopping. Around one is a good time for lunch and a well earned break from all that walking. The afternoon is when we do the serious shopping and the bags get plentiful and the heavier as the afternoon wears on. Sometime around four, where spent, both physically and money wise. Time for one last coffee and then home.

Another perfect day.