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Things I love: the Joby Gorillapod

Super technical photo set-up

As you know, I live in a small apartment with my husband who occasionally works from home, and my lovely three-year-old son. That means I don’t have acres of space to shoot photos for the blog. No spare rooms free of toy bins, scraps of construction paper, and giant pirate floor jigsaw puzzles. I love our apartment, but sometimes it makes me look like a hoarder when I try and take arty photos of a craft project.

I know tripods make all the difference when you’re trying to take crisp photos, but there’s hardly room for one in most places I need to shoot. I do have a beautiful and ancient one I inherited from my father, though it looks like it came straight from the set of The Hour. The other people at the food photography workshop I took kindly did not laugh at it. However, I recently unearthed my Joby Gorillapod from a box. What a genius thing it is! Why did I leave it to languish so long?

It is, essentially, a tabletop tripod. You need room to set it up near your subject. However, the legs are also bendy, so you can wind it around the top of a chair back, the handle of a cupboard or even fold the legs under a bit to make it shorter – making it infinitely more flexible than a traditional tabletop tripod.

Like much photography equipment, tripods can start at a bit more than reasonable price and then run up to infinity. The Gorillapod is an affordable $36 for the SLR version. There are models for compact cameras or even mobile phones. I love this thing.

Disclosure: None! I researched and bought one a couple years back, promptly forgot about it in a box and found it again recently.

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Win $40 to make a photo book on Blurb for Valentine’s Day

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Oh Valentine’s Day. What a messy holiday you are. All those sparkles to glue down, romantic expectations, and inadequate heart-shaped boxes of crap chocolate. It’s no wonder so many people get quite worked up about it.

For my son’s preschool classmates, we’re making homemade bath fizzies in the shape of a heart, with some witty card I have yet to come up with. As they’re aged 5 and under, Valentine’s doesn’t have much significance other than an excuse for more candy, really.

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For my husband – well, I’m not sure. We’ve never been into expensive gifts, though we’ve tried in the past to go out for dinner. That never works – restaurants always seem to be overbooked and over-stretching themselves. One year we waited over two hours for our promised lobster dinner, only to be told they had run out but forgot to tell us! At nearly 10pm we were ravenous and very, very grumpy.

I do like the idea of celebrating the love you have for some special people in your life. Homemade gifts are lovely, too, but sometimes you want something a little nicer than you could make with your own two hands.

For Christmas this year, I made a little hardcover book of my Instagram photos that illustrated our family’s first year living back in Vancouver for my husband. It was such a lovely experience going back through all those photos – Elliot sitting on the couch in our new and nearly empty apartment, Christopher leaning out the window with him to wave at people celebrating Pride, many shots of our very local beach, and Elliot on his first bike. I think it would make a lovely gift for Valentine’s too.

My photo book printer of choice has always been Blurb, for their ease of use and reasonable prices. I first discovered them when we were living in the UK when I was searching for a way to print some baby photo books. Even after trying a few other companies, I’ve always come back to Blurb. They have easy, clean templates, or you can design your own pages from the ground up. I think the best recommendation I can give is this: I have left countless photo book projects half-finished on other sites, but I have always actually completed and printed the ones I make with Blurb.

Blurb, in all their wisdom, have a timely giveaway for my readers: $40 CDN to spend on one of their photo books. We’ve arranged it so you will have enough time to get your photo project printed and shipped to be with you for Valentine’s, if that’s what you’d like.

Go forth and enter!

Fine print: Offer valid through April 30, 2013 (11:59 p.m. local time). A CAD $40 discount is applied toward your product total. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I’m a Blurb affiliate, but I don’t earn anything from this giveaway, I just wanted to share with you!

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iPhone photography apps I love

I take quite a few photos. Although I love my DSLR, I also love my satchel and it just doesn’t fit in there. I do love Instagram, though I was feeling constrained by their filters. A bit of research, and I discovered a couple of apps that I have found incredibly useful since.

Camera+
You can take photos in this app directly, though I rarely do, instead importing them after the fact. It’s mainly because all the options that come up overwhelm me. I love the Clarity filter, and the beautiful retro film options. The image above I used Silver Gelatin and Cyanotype, following Clarity. There’s now an iPad version that includes some cool features, like applying filters in specific areas with a swipe of your finger.
99¢ for iPhone, 99¢ for iPad (iPad version on sale right now). http://campl.us

Snapseed
I initially felt the most comfort with this photography app, as all the menus are easy to use and move with simple finger swipes. The Ambience filter does something magical to photos I can’t quite put my finger on. They have a good selection of vintage-y film textures that you can control the strength of – allowing you a really gritty appearance or just a hint of smeary. It’s just recently been made free, which blows me away. Also available as a desktop app for Mac and Windows.
Free! http://www.snapseed.com

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