Monday, September 10, 2018

Photography Basics

In which, all of my secrets are revealed. *wiggles eyebrows*

First off, I do not claim to be an expert in photography. I just happen to have a measure of luck getting the shot I want from behind the camera.

So this post may be helpful, or it may not.

Anyhow, that's out of the way and you all completely trust what I have to say.

Here are the basics:


Exposure is how bright the photo is. Over exposing, if done right, can have a nice, bright and airy look, but you could risk losing details and making it too bright, plus you can't always fix it when editing. Under exposing is tricky. You can fix it when editing, and you do catch all the details, but if you leave it, it will just make the photo too dark.

On the phone, it's pretty easy to adjust, as we will learn later.

On the camera, there are three different settings you can play with to change up the exposure; ISO, F-Stop, and Shutter Speed.

ISO: Is an adjustment made with numbers and deals with the general exposure. 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, and 6400. The higher the number, the brighter the photo.

F-Stop: Is how wide the lens is open. How much light the lens allows to hit the camera body. This time, the lower the number, the wider the lens opens, the more light hits the body, the brighter the photo.

Shutter Speed: You can actually adjust how fast the shutter opens and closes. You can set it to stay open for a matter of seconds, or for 1/4000th of a second. Amazing. The longer the shutter is open, the brighter the photo will be. So if you're taking a photo of the sky at night, you'll want a very slow shutter speed, and also something to set the camera on to reduce blurriness from your hands shaking.

And it's okay if absolutely none of this makes any sense. It took someone telling me how to do it, watching a basic photography course, and a major amount of trial and error before I could get it all straight. XD

The Easy Stuff:

Zoom. We all know how that works. Zoom in to get closer.

Focus is also pretty easy. Sometimes I like autofocus, sometimes I don't. Depends on what I'm shooting.

And that's about all the settings I play with on my camera. The main thing is making sure the photos are properly exposed, in focus, centered, and level.

I also like to shoot in manual mode. There is a fully automatic mode, and that's what I used when I was first starting when I wasn't yet comfortable with playing around with the settings. But after a while manual mode is really fun.

Taking The Pictures:

Alright, so about half of the photos on here were taken with my phone (iPhone 5s and iPhone 8).There are a fair amount of tricks you can still use.

For instance, the auto exposure (how bright the picture is) is not always your best friend. You can change the exposure by tapping any area of the screen before taking the picture and dragging the yellow sun icon up or down to adjust the exposure to your liking. This is particularly helpful when shooting sunsets. The auto exposure tends to add an abundance of yellow and orange, so that the horizon is properly exposed instead of the sky. It's very annoying, but easily fixed by adjusting the exposure.

I don't usually use editing programs on my laptop, so if a photo needs a slight touch up, the standard editor that comes with the Photos app on my phone does what I need it to do. It's no Photoshop, but it does get it done.

Of course, with the new swankified iPhones there are a lot more toys in the camera department. The only difference I notice with my new phone (iPhone 8), is that the photos are maybe a slightly better quality.

The other half of the photos are taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T2I (I think the series is up to 7 now) with just the regular kit lens because I'm a normal human being.

"What about those super close up shots of the feathers? There's no way you got those with a kit lens!"

Oh yes. That was definitely still the kit lens.

So to get that particular effect, I had to take the lens off of the camera body and shoot through it. It's called Freelensing. It does take a lot of practice to get the shot right. Sometimes a whole corner is black from not lining the lens up correctly. Or there will be a weird purple tint from the light leak getting out of hand.

Don't be discouraged if it takes a while, it's not something where you can get the perfect picture the first time you try it (and dude, if you do get the perfect shot right off, wow! You got some talent right there!)

Hopefully this was somewhat helpful for y'all! 
Let me know if there's anything else you want to know about photography!

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Night Circus- Review


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

My thoughts:

I had heard some good things about The Night Circus, so I was pretty excited when I found a copy at a used bookstore that was in decent shape.

It wasn't really my favorite.

I mean, the idea behind it was really fantastic, but I would have done it a bit differently.

But it was much darker than I was expecting. See, I thought it was going to be a bright, happy, small magic, darling and enchanting story. Boy was I wrong.

It was a let's ruin two other people's lives (and potentially a few more) for the sake of a selfish competition between two old magicians with different skills and views so they can have bragging rights and continue to jab at each other kind of story, with deep seriousness.

The pace of the book kept changing too. It was stiff and slow for a while, then it finally loosened up and went faster and was more interesting, only to go back to being stiff and slow. Also the time hops and the fact that nobody involved with the production of the circus could age threw me off a bit.

A caution to younger readers/parents of younger readers: 

First of all: Magic. Just for the sake of magic. If you don't want to read about magic that is unexplained and overall without purpose, this is not the book for you.

Language: There is one f-word and the d-word is used a few times. It took me by surprise completely, so there's that warning.

There is kissing in there. Also a short scene where two characters behave as if they are married. It is described semi-vaguely, but could have been left out as it did not move the plot anywhere except to make sure the readers knew they were supposed to be in love, and all that would've needed to happen for that would be for them to say "I love you." But no, for some reason it was included and as soon as I figured out what was going on I skipped the scene.

There is also a character that was hinted at being gay, but nothing explicitly stated there.

For these reasons, I would not recommend The Night Circus to readers under 16-17.

Honestly, I wanted to like The Night Circus, but there were just too many things that didn't sit right with me. 
2 Stars- mostly for the creative idea, and the cover is pretty.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Worth of a King- Review

I'm a little late with this (thankyouthankyouthankyou Kendra for being so patient with me!), but it is still within the first week of Worth's release, and I have a review for y'all!



Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.

Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.

Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.

The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.

My Thoughts:

Here's what you absolutely need to know: the book is amazing, clean, and perfect: go buy it!


I have to say, this is my favorite of Kendra's books thus far!

I love that she showed us a side of Amber that we hadn't seen before- how great her influence was before she was corrupted by the dragons.

And the Zovordians! They are awesome! A+ approve! 

I really loved how Adrian and Obsidia interacted with each other; the fact that they both felt an emptiness but didn't try to fill it with a significant other because they didn't know exactly why they felt empty, resulting in a healthy brother-sister relationship once they realized the other was what they had always been looking for.

And of course, Delany and Obsidia are perfect for each other; as are Adrian and Christa, who I might add is an excellent cake-baker and I wholeheartedly approve of the amount of cake mentioned throughout the story.

The character growth too! Obsidia realizing that she needed to have faith in El Shaddai not because it would make other people happy, but that because He is the Truth. The unrest of who would be the one to be crowned ruler, and everyone coming to a respectful, mature, and logical decision for the good of the people. Nobody killing Ossian out of revenge.


I just really love it, ok!

Favorite Quote:

"That's how you know the worth of a king... of any man, really. The legacy that he leaves. The good he did or the lessons you can learn." 


It is fantasy, so there is some use of magic, though not more than would be in either Narnia or Lord of the Rings, and it is from a Christian perspective.

No language- again, Christian Fantasy.

Brief fairytale-ending true-love's kiss between a married couple.

Would recommend anywhere from ages 12 on.

Author Bio:

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.
Find her online at: 
Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon 

In conclusion: I really, really, really like The Worth of a King, and give it a 4.5!

***I was given a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review, but trust me on this, totally worth spending the same amount you'd spend on a cup of coffee to have it show up on your e-reader device!***