5 Tips to Take Better, More Interesting Pictures

Singapore is brimming with photographic potential – but that potential is only available to you if you know how to look. Here are five tips that you can use to take better pictures:

1. Study the light closely.
Where is your light source coming from? Is it from the sun or from an artificial light source, like a lamp?
How does the light interact with the foreground and background? With the subject? What kind of shadow is cast? If the light makes harsh shadows on your subjects, break out the flash to make an even exposure.

What time of day are you shooting? If you’re shooting at midday, you might want to set a lower ISO on your camera to keep the quality, and a higher ISO if you’re shooting at night or in a dimly-lit place.

2. Get friendly with your subjects.
When you’re taking portraits of people (especially in street photography), be sure to ask for permission first out of respect to the person that you want to use as a subject, as things can – and often do – get ugly for you if you don’t.

It doesn’t hurt to smile or shake hands and show them the image once you’ve taken it, and a well-timed joke will always give you a more natural smile. You’ll be amazed at how easily people will open up to you if you do this.

3. Break the rule of thirds.
Though the rule of thirds serves as a great guide for taking more engaging photos, you don’t have to be limited by keeping your subjects to the side of the grid. For example, you can focus your subject on the center, if you happen to set your eyes on something astonishingly symmetrical.

4. Splurge on books instead of gear.
While having more specialized equipment can let you take better shots, they’re only good if you know how to use them well. Many stunning images have been taken with nothing more than a smartphone – all it takes is a good eye, and good eyes are honed with time and practice.

Instead of having different kinds of lenses, spend your budget on different photography books – studying the works of masters is a good way to inspire you and develop your eye for a good shot.

5. Shoot every day.
There’s no better way to improve your skill than by practicing, and what better practice is there than to just go out into the world to experiment and have fun? After going about taking pictures, be sure to study the images that you took to see how you could improve in certain areas.

The Different Types of Women’s Footwear and What They’re for

Footwear is a staple to looking your best anywhere you go and whatever you do. Whether they’re heels or stilettos to gym sneakers, a good pair that goes well with your outfit will be sure to make you an eye-turner.

But before you go ahead and head to the nearest store, you should know exactly what kind of pair you should put on your feet. But with so many different types of shoes for women, how do you know where to start?

Well, you’re in luck. Women’s shoes often fall into three categories: heels, wedges, and flats. Here are some of the different types in each category:

• Kitten Pumps – This is the quintessential go-to pair, whether it’s for work, any formal event, or even a casual party, when you can do without the extra height but need to move around for a while.

• High Heels – Also known as “pumps”, they’re usually wider than kitten pumps and are between two and three inches in height. They’re also low cut around the front.

• Stilettos – Think of high heels, but a little higher (about eight inches) and flat-bottomed in front. Now you have a pair of heels that work wonders for enhancing your height.

• Ballroom Dance Shoes – Originally designed for ballroom dancing (duh!), they’re a must-have if you have plans on wowing fellow guests by showing off your moves.

• Wedged Heels – Wedged heels offer you the same height advantages of heels without the discomfort. Simply pair with a sleek, sexy black top along with a high-waist skirt and a ponytail, and you can basically see the flashes and paparazzi coming your way.

• Wedged Sandals – They’re basically wedged heels, but they’re a more open-toed option if you like to go along with a little tease for your outfit.

• Menswear-Inspired Flats – Whether they’re Oxfords, loafers, or bluchers, they all offer the same degree of polish as their male counterparts (without the arches, of course!).

• D’orsay Flats – Polished enough to pass as office wear without sacrificing the comfort, they’re great to wear for when you know you’re in for a long commute.

• Sneakers – Nothing says casual, everyday wear more than the ultimate comfort footwear that is sneakers. Whether you’re headed to the gym or simply out for a quick run to the grocery store, a good trusty pair is a must-have to keep around in your closet.

• Ballet Flats – Also called “doll shoes” in some countries, they’re quick and easy to slip on and go great with most casual outfits, especially jeans.

5 Tips for Long-Term Trips with Kids

Ever thought of renting a family home somewhere and just explore the world for months? It’s a vacation that plenty of families would love to get on, but just the thought of planning such as major trip is already daunting—especially when it requires so much of your energy just to prepare the kids and get them out of the door.
However, if you’re determined to take your entire family to your dream long-haul vacation, here are some tips to make prepping up a lot easier.

1. Stick to Your Decision
There are positives and negatives to long-term travels with kids. Travelling with toddlers is cheaper, since you don’t have to worry about school, but they’re also unlikely to remember anything about your trip. Older kids can remember memories but you need to think about their studies. And while your teenagers can handle more activities, close friendships at home could mean they will need more convincing to go on a long-term trip. Worried about when’s the ‘right’ time to travel? Just a pick a date and start planning.

2. Get the Necessary Shots
Securing your kid’s health should always be a top priority, especially when travelling outside Singapore. Before hitting the road, get the necessary vaccinations months in advance. Bring a good first aid kit with you in case of minor boo-boos and discuss with everyone what to do during an emergency.

3. Budget Wisely
Running out of money when you’re far from home should be avoided, so work out a weekly budget and make sure to stick it. But also, do not derive yourself of some splurges from time to time by setting aside a different budget for that. To save some cash, be wise with choosing your destination. You’ll burn quite a lot in Europe and America compared to India and Southeast Asia. Also, try camping instead of staying in a hotel and cook your own food rather than dining out every meal.

4. Pack Light As Much As Possible
Are travelling around with baby paraphernalia or flying with kid who can bring their own things? Do you need to plan for different seasons or will you be going somewhere tropical? Wherever you’re headed, pack as little as you can. You can buy other stuff, like food and clothes, along the way, anyway. A small backpack that your kids can carry themselves is an effective way to get the, involved in the preparation.

5. Let Travel Be the Teacher
Learn about history and art by visiting temples, museums and other ancient sites; use the market trips as quick math lessons; study maps for your kids to understand geography; and encourage your kids to socialize by interacting with locals using local language.

It is a major decision to travel for long-term with the family. There are a lot of things to plan for, but you’ll get it done a tad easier if you keep these points in mind.

Creative Alternatives to Christmas Gift Wrappers and Decorations to Use at Home

Christmas is around the corner, and because Singapore is coming to life with the spirit of the holidays, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t up the ante with your own ideas for gift wrappers and decorations this year.

However, you don’t always have to buy new ones every year – or even at all. Follow this guide for some awesome ideas for gift wrappers and decorations you can easily use.

Gift Wrappers
No need to rush to the department store – here are a few creative ideas for gift-wrapping that you can do with materials that you already have at home:

1. Recycled Cloth
Recycled cloth is can be just as ornate as any store-bought gift wrapper when paired with a color-coordinated ribbon, but cord or twine would also do just fine, especially when it comes to gift-wrapping wine bottles.

2. Music Sheets
Music sheets will always be a favorite for paper gift bags, if you or the recipient of the gift has a penchant for playing sweet tunes.

3. Newspaper/Magazine
Who knew two sheets of newspaper, cardstock, and cord would also make for interesting wrapping with the eye-catching headlines and fonts?

4. Gift Card Envelopes
Origami paper and paper doilies are a great way to give your gift envelopes a unique and more personal touch.

In lieu of a Christmas tree and store-bought decorations, there are many ways you can spruce up your home for the holidays without rushing to the department store or straining your budget too much. Here are some ways you can do that:

1. Book Trees
If you have too many books at home to count, you can arrange them into a Christmas tree of your own and string lights around them to light up your living room. Just be careful to not rip out their pages.

2. Music Sheets
Music sheets aren’t just great as gift wrappers – they can also be versatile as decorations that you can separate into separate sheets and hang as banners on the wall for a more musically-themed December.

3. Mirror Trees
Stack anything from old shoeboxes of the same color to books of different sizes to form a triangular half of a Christmas tree, and let the mirror do the rest. This is perfect if you prefer to add a slice of optical illusions to your quirky holiday decor.

4. Old Picture Frames
Picture frames can also be a great way to add to the Christmas cheer – you can paint them in any combination of bright colors that you want, or even add photos of past Christmas celebrations if you’re the nostalgic type.

(Disclaimer: This list is compiled in no particular order.)

Cultivating Productivity

It’s almost the end of the year and you feel like you want to do a little more next year. You’ve probably realized that although you’ve done a lot, you would rather be able to do more. Whether it be reading more, focusing more on your health and fitness, doing better at work, or generally becoming a better person, you’ve realized that you have to be more productive.

Now, productivity is a hard trait to cultivate especially when you’ve already had quite a heavy and well packed routine. Sad to say, what you need to do is to get rid of those small things that make it unproductive. Whether it be spending too much time on your phone, listening to too much music, taking a longer time deciding on what to wear, or any task that is useless, you’ve realized that you have to make the most out of your day in general.

The start of a year usually begins with a New Year’s resolution but then again, what are the certain things you are willing to give up? You see, there are certain tasks that take up more of our time than other less important tasks. For example, you spend at least two hours a day surfing the internet not doing anything that productive and you’ve promised yourself that you’d work on your cooking more next year. Well, maybe it’s time to give up a chunk of your time in surfing the internet for quality time in the kitchen. Another way for you to really maximize your time is to organize your kitchen for you to be able to cook more efficiently knowing where everything is and where everything should be. The last way for you to be able to maximize your time is to prepare in advance everything you can so when you start to cook, you wouldn’t have to spend a huge chunk of your time preparing everything.

See? With a simple example, there are so many ways for you to be able to cultivate productivity. Sad to say, this does not happen overnight. Instead, this happens over discipline. Focus your time and effort on cultivating a disciplined habit rather than motivating yourself to be productive. Let’s face it, sometimes we just run out of motivation. But when we have the right amount of discipline within us, no matter how unenthusiastic we feel, we will always be able to do what we have to do.

Productivity is something we should all learn to cultivate. Sadly, we do not have the luxury of time. This is why we have to make every second count!

Avoid Drinking too Much

It’s okay to have fun but then again, there will always be limitations. Well, none of us like the feeling of waking up after a long night of having too much to drink. Also, none of us enjoy the struggle of having to go to sleep without a clear head.

Drinking is a great way to socialize and to relieve stress but once you’ve drank too much, it would be hard for you to make the right decisions and you might even do something you’d regret in the long run. You should always drink responsibly.

Here are a few ways for you not to drink too much:

1. Eat Beforehand
It is never a good idea to go out drinking on an empty stomach. Not only is this bad for your health, this also makes you weaker and more vulnerable to alcohol which would mean that you would get drunk easier. Have a good healthy meal before you start drinking. Make sure to eat at least an hour before you start drinking to make sure that you are not full anymore and that your digestion is ready for it.

2. Drink Water
Keep yourself hydrated while you are drinking. Drinking water along with whatever other beverage you are drinking does not only keep you hydrated, it also stops you from drinking too much. The advisable amount of water you should take is the same amount with the liquor you are drinking. Keeping it at a fair ratio helps you stray away from the urge of drinking too much since your stomach is already kind of full.

3. Self-control
Last but not the least, once you feel like you’ve had enough, stop. There’s no need to push yourself beyond your limits which would obviously not end up well for you later on that night. Know when you’ve had enough or maybe even when to take a break is something you should cultivate. It is never healthy to drink more than you can take.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t maximize the night you are out with friends or family, all we are saying is to take control and keep yourself safe when you are having fun. It might be hard for some to control their drinking habits because of constant negligence but once you’ve cultivated a very healthy and strict self-discipline, you’ll be able to maximize the fun you’re having while minimizing the risks and damage done to your body. Too much of something is never good for us. The only way for us to fully enjoy what we are doing is not by taking it to the extreme but by balance.

How to Take Painkillers Safely

Painkillers are our best friends because they are cheap and are readily available at the nearest pharmacy whenever we have headaches, menstrual cramps, toothaches, and body pain. But this friend becomes a silent killer when taken too often and at wrong doses, so it’s not unusual to hear news about cases of overdoses and addiction.

So how can you use painkillers safely without overdosing or getting too dependent?

Types of Painkillers
There are three types of painkillers or analgesics that can be brought over the counter or given only with a prescription from the doctor. Painkillers can be taken through the mouth in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquids; administered through injection; applied topically using ointments and creams; or given to the patient as suppositories.

1. Paracetamol
Paracetamol is valued for its mild or non-existing side effects, but this is a misconception because you can overdose on paracetamol. There are sad cases of overdosing which led to liver failure after taking paracetamol at high quantities over a long period of time. People who experience chronic pain such as migraine should be careful not to become too dependent on painkillers for relief.

2. Aspirin and NSAIDs
Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended for mild to moderate body pains and is also used to lower temperature and relieve inflammation. These are prescribed to people who suffer common ailments such as fever, headache, dysmenorrhea, arthritis, trauma, and others. Aspirin is valued for its blood-thinning effects and antipyretic qualities, but be careful not to exceed the daily maximum dosage of aspirin because they can cause stomach ulcers. NSAIDs on the other hand are used for musco-skeletal pain and are distinct from steroids. You should never combine NSAIDs with other NSAIDs, however, because an overdose can also cause stomach ulcers. Examples of NSAIDs are naproxen, ibuprofen, and diclofenac.

3. Opioids
Opioids are used to treat chronic pain and specifically target the opioid receptors in the spinal cord and brain. They can be combined with other painkillers to target different receptors and are classified based on their overall effect. Low-efficacy opioids are used for light to moderate pain, but it can cause sedation. Moderate-efficacy opioids are recommended for treating moderate pain, but should never be taken with other medication for the central nervous system, alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping pills. Strong-efficacy opioids are usually given to the person by injection to relieve severe pain, but should never be combined with other opioids because of the nasty side effects. Examples of opioids are codeine, dihydrocodeine, oxycodone, morphine, tramadol, and pethidine.

How to Take Painkillers Properly
Remember the following points when taking painkillers, especially if you’re suffering from chronic pain:

• Always consult your doctor and follow instructions carefully.
• Never combine drugs or switch to another painkiller without asking your doctor.
• Don’t wait until the pain becomes too severe to start taking your medication.
• Take note of all the side effects of the medication.
• Don’t drink or smoke when you’re on medication.
• Don’t hoard medicine and throw away expired drugs.