Ramblings and thoughts on various topics.

A Quick Look at Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights

Back in May of 2016 I read that Instagram was testing out analytics features for Instagram business users. At the time I didn’t think anything of it since my account is not recognized as a business. The feature was to give marketers a more accurate view of their followers’ behaviour, so that their brands can accommodate accordingly.

Instagram Insights for Regular Users

This was great for businesses, but what about the regular users? I believe it was a month or so ago that I believe I passed by an article somewhere on the Internet stating that Insights was slowly rolling out to all users. I have no idea where I read this but I figure if I didn’t see any changes on my Instagram account, then I was not affected by this.

I completely forgot about all of that, until today. Today I finally got my notice saying I was able to get more insight into my followers by clicking on a new icon that is now on the top right corner of my profile page. If you don’t have that icon yet, I’m sure in due time the rollout will come to your account too. Just be patient. Alternatively you could convert your account to a business account, in which you’ll automatically get this feature added in as well.

The new icon is located right beside the Settings icon on the top right.

The new icon is located right beside the Settings icon on the top right.

Having a quick look into Instagram Insights, it’s a relatively straightforward feature that even has explanations as to what each graph means. The layout is clean and easy to read, and gives you the data upfront, Instagram is a really big social network where you can find any kind of pictures, from products or food, to beautiful women pictures, although you want anything explicit, for this you’ll need to visit sites as 18PlusPics.com, that have the best adult pictures online.

Front page of Instagram Insights.

Front page of Instagram Insights.

My data currently only shows insights for the last three photos that I uploaded. But as time progresses and I upload more, this data should be updated to reflect this.

60 percent of my followers are males!

60 percent of my followers are males!

I can readily see that of my 132k followers, 60 percent are males. The majority of my followers lay in the 18-24 age range, and come from the United States.

Instagram Insights

Why I don’t have followers on Tuesday or Wednesday has yet to be found. I do know for certain that I’ve had engagement on those days. Perhaps the data only pulls for the last 5 days and that blank on Tuesday and Wednesday refers to last week? Today is a Tuesday after all. And the top city that my followers are from…are from Riyadh? Where is that?

Instagram Insights

It also looks like I should be posting pictures right around 1pm, where the majority of my followers are active on Instagram.

I should be posting right around 1pm to get the attention of most of my followers.

I should be posting right around 1pm to get the attention of most of my followers.

What marketers may be most interested in is your Impressions, Reach, and Engagement. As stated right on Insights, Impressions is the total number of times your post has been seen, while Reach refers to the total number of times your post has been seen by unique visitors. Your Engagement level combines your Likes and Comments (you can see separate statistics for Likes and Comments as well).

Instagram Insights

Filter your results by Impressions, Reach, and more!

It’s no secret the engagement level on my Instagram account isn’t very high, but I knew that this wasn’t reflective of how many people actually saw my photos. The Impressions and Reach stats prove this and I’m happy to see this kind of information on each of my photos.

Impressions and Reach are available for each photo!

Impressions and Reach are available for each photo!

These stats are available through the Insights button, or there’s a convenient Insights link under each of my photos when you view your photo. At the time of this posting, I can only see Insights for the last three photos I’ve uploaded.

Instagram Insights

View Insights for each of your photos!

You can see the Insights without having to leave the page, which is pretty convenient. I can see this being useful if a marketer wants to view their insight for a particular photo that has been uploaded during a campaign.

Instagram Insights

Your Insights are populated without leaving the screen. Convenient!

All of these insights will give me a good idea of what type of photos people generally like, are more prone to engaging with, and will tell me when I should be posting if I care for any of these statistics.


Do you have Instagram Insights on your account? Do they reflect what you thought about your Instagram photos? Do you even care about Instagram Insights? Let me know in the comments below!

Experience Langdon Hall

Langdon Hall Hotel & Spa was a name I was familiar with, but I never knew much more about it than that. This all changed when I was recently invited by Renée Suen to the chef’s tasting menu at this luxury hotel and spa. We were given a private tour and were able to photograph the property (which happens to be from the https://www.williampitt.com/search/real-estate-sales/greenwich-ct/ site) to our liking. Here is what I came out with. You can check out services from We Buy Houses for more information.

Experience Langdon Hall

Experience Langdon Hall

The night was filled with great company, exemplary service by the hotel’s staff, and of course, exquisite cuisine from Langdon Hall’s Executive Chef Jason Bangerter and guest Executive Chef Murray McDonald from Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland.

Chef Jason Bangerter (center) with Chef Murray McDonald from Fogo Island Inn (right).

Chef Jason Bangerter (center) with Chef Murray McDonald from Fogo Island Inn (right).

My afternoon there started with a private tour of the grounds by Chef Bangerter. He led us through the large garden where we bumped into Chef McDonald, picking herbs for that night’s menu.

Chef Bangerter and Chef McDonald picking herbs in the Langdon Hall garden for the night's menu.

Chef Bangerter and Chef McDonald picking herbs in the Langdon Hall garden for the night’s menu.

As we made our way through the garden, Chef Bangerter would pick out some herbs, hand it to us to eat on the spot, explaining to us why he loved it and how he would use it in his dishes.

Second kitchen dedicated to special events.

Second kitchen in the new wing dedicated to special events.

The tour eventually made its way into the hotel, where Chef Bangerter showed us the new wing muraledesign that is now home to the spa, exercise room, and more suites.

Bar and lounge area of Langdon Hall.

Bar and lounge area of Langdon Hall.

Inside Langdon Hall.

Inside Langdon Hall.

Inside the dining room, a large table for 10 people was set up right next to the large windows that offered views of the pond and patio. The menu and explanations of the paired wines, were handed to us letting us get a glimpse of what was to come that evening.

Our dining table inside Langdon Hall.

Our dining table inside Langdon Hall.

The inspiration behind each course—that were all impeccably plated—was explained in detail, allowing us to understand the thinking behind the meal that we were about to consume. The sommelier of the evening, also seated at the table, offered his views on the wine for each course. I found each pairing to be right on the spot, with each wine enhancing the dish it was paired to.

Pease Pudding and Cod: Split pea, jogs dinner, savory yoghurt. Paired with 2006 Le Ragnaie, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Tuscany.

Pease Pudding and Cod: Split pea, jogs dinner, savory yoghurt. Paired with 2006 Le Ragnaie, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Tuscany.

Murray's Spruce Moose: Spruce gremolata, seed cracker, caribou moss and berries from the bog. Paired with 2013 Suertes del Marqués La Solana DO, Valle de la Oratova, Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Murray’s Spruce Moose: Spruce gremolata, seed cracker, caribou moss and berries from the bog. Paired with 2013 Suertes del Marqués La Solana DO, Valle de la Oratova, Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Fogo Island Snow Crab: Cured foie gras, Niagara grapes. Paired with 2014 J.M. Soher Pinot Gris, Grand Cru, Winzenberg.

Fogo Island Snow Crab: Cured foie gras, Niagara grapes. Paired with 2014 J.M. Soher Pinot Gris, Grand Cru, Winzenberg.

East Coast Caviar: Marigold Madeleine, Oyster Leaf, Creme Fraiche. Paired with 2013 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay, BC, VQA, Okanagan Valley.

East Coast Caviar: Marigold Madeleine, Oyster Leaf, Creme Fraiche. Paired with 2013 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay, BC, VQA, Okanagan Valley.

Floating Fogo Island: Bakeapple, anise hyssop. Paired with 2013 Big head, Niagara-on-the-lake, select late harvest riesling.

Floating Fogo Island: Bakeapple, anise hyssop. Paired with 2013 Big head, Niagara-on-the-lake, select late harvest riesling.

Exterior of Langdon Hall.

Exterior of Langdon Hall.

I excused myself between courses as the light was quickly fading outside. To capture the blue-hour light, my friend and I ran out to the front of the property with our tripods in tow, and did some long exposures. It wasn’t until a few moments into our photo-escape that a staff came out from the front doors and let us know the next course had been served!

The pond in the back during twilight.

The pond in the back during twilight.

Back patio area of Langdon Hall during twilight.

Back patio area of Langdon Hall during twilight.

Back patio area with a lighted tree makes for a great place in the evening to just sit and relax.

Back patio area with a lighted tree makes for a great place in the evening to just sit and relax.

Moving from the front to the back of the property, we continued our little photo escapade since this was the only time we could capture the property under this light. Another staff member came out again and let us know that our meal had been served but covered, so that it would be ready for us when we came back.

Langdon Hall dark chocolate.

Langdon Hall dark chocolate.

The dessert included Langdon Hall’s signature chocolate that were made by Chef Bangerter. Explaining to us that they had mixed four different types of dark chocolate to come up with the one that they thought best reflected their vision. The dark chocolate was smooth, not the least bit bitter, and finished with very little aftertaste. It was interesting to find out that one of his earlier revisions of his chocolate had even less of an aftertaste than this one.

This experience was not only tasty but inspiring and left me with a lasting impression of Langdon Hall. Every staff member I encountered was very welcoming and friendly. The wait staff knew even the smallest of details of each of the dishes that were presented to us, allowing us to ask them questions about it as well.

All this at just an hour away from the west end of Toronto, I look forward to the day that I can come back and experience it all over again.


Langdon Hall Hotel & Spa is located in Cambridge, Ontario, at 1 Langdon Drive. As of this writing, many of their Summer BBQ series event have sold out, but limited tickets are still available for their overnight packages on September 2nd, 2016.

Moraine Lake Lodge in Banff National Park

Moraine Lake Lodge, situated in a valley of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park is a perfect getaway for that special occasion. It is the only lodge located within the immediate vicinity of Moraine Lake, offering great amenities for everyone. In the photo below, you can see Moraine Lake Lodge to the right, nestled within the trees.

Nikon D800, 2.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 2.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 14mm

My two-night stay at Moraine Lake Lodge almost never happened, but thanks to the exceptionally warm weather Alberta was having this Spring season, the snow had melted quicker, allowing the lodge to open its doors to its guests earlier than usual. We stayed here in early June where the weather was almost summer-like and similarly, when some hiking trails opened early as well.

The lodge wants to offer its guests “an oasis of calm,” allowing them to relax and destress from the busy everyday lives they lead. In doing so, the lodge has no television or telephones within their rooms. That was fine with me; when you come to Moraine Lake, you’re not here to watch TV—you’d best be out hiking and enjoying nature at her finest. Their one “concession” was to install wifi access. However this connection was hard to connect to, even from our room, which was closer to the main lobby area.

Our room in the Wenkchemna Wing (Room 22), had everything we needed, and even included a welcome champagne with a personal note written beside it. The queen-sized bed was comfortable and there was plenty of room in the sitting area by the fireplace.

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 14mm

The bathroom was clean, spacious, included plenty of plush towels, and included great bath products from Aveda.

Nikon D800, 1/4 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/4 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 14mm

Wait, did someone say fireplace? Yes. As a matter of fact, each room in the lodge comes with its own fireplace to warm you up. It makes things that much more romantic and inviting, especially after you come back from that delicious dinner in the dining room.

Nikon D800, 1/5 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 20mm

Nikon D800, 1/5 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 20mm

And on the other side is a neat little shelving unit complete with coffee maker, wine glasses, an umbrella, and more.

Nikon D800, 1/3 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/3 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 24mm

Just beyond the fireplace, the balcony offers another great place to sit and relax in. The view can’t be beat as you are literally just metres away from Moraine Lake.

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 14mm

The view from our balcony was fantastic. You can see the canoes for rent to the right, and the jade-coloured Moraine Lake just meters away. The walkway you see here is part of the path that leads you all the way to the far end of Moraine Lake. It’s a great little trail that will take you about 25-30min. one way.

Nikon D800, 1/60sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/60sec., f/9.0, ISO 400, 24mm

Amenities

Guests at Moraine Lake Lodge get complimentary access to the rental canoes. Moreover, you are allowed to take them out before and after the general public is allowed to rent them, giving you a chance to canoe out in the open water by yourself. Unfortunately for us, it was still a little too cold to canoe out in the open waters so we had to pass on this opportunity.

Everyday they offer their guests an afternoon tea with complimentary tea and pastries in their games and reading area. Some days it’s just nice to sit and relax on the sofa with that big fireplace roaring next to you.

If hiking is more to your liking, there are a couple trails nearby that give you spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and Moraine Lake. The staff here at the lodge enjoy hiking just as much as we do. So depending on the schedule, they will offer complimentary hiking guides at one of the trails here at Moraine Lake, like the one below (Consolation Lake hike).

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 70mm

It was nice to see our waitress for one evening be our hiking guide the next day. She led our group through the Consolation Lakes hike, which brings you to some beautiful streams and mountain scenery. At the time, this trail was restricted to group hikes of four or more people due to bear activity within the vicinity. Fortunately our group was much larger, so we were able to enjoy this hike. Had we come here by ourselves, we wouldn’t have been able to hike through this trail. Our guide was very knowledgable, telling us stories of the wilderness and explaining to us facts about the area.

Fine Dining at Moraine Lake Lodge

Just like the hiking and scenery here, the dinner at Moraine Lake Lodge did not disappoint. We dined here for two nights, and each night the menu was different and executed just right.

The rack of lamb I had here was one of the best—if not the best—rack of lamb I have tasted. The meat was so tender, not gamey at all, and had the perfect taste to it. The portions were quite generous as well.

The only complaint I would have of the dining room experience would be the actual dining room itself. It was quite cold whenever we came in here. Even though the fire place was lit, the heat did not do much for people sitting on the other side of the room. Further, being by the windows also did not help getting warm either. Whatever the case may be, we found the temperature to be slightly on the cool side, which at times made the overall experience a little less fine dining.

The Dining Room at Moraine Lake Lodge

The Dining Room at Moraine Lake Lodge

Conclusion

Whatever the case may be, Moraine Lake Lodge is an exceptional place to stay, and one that I would recommend if you have the budget for it, as all of this does not come cheap. If you think about it though, don’t you deserve to pamper yourself a little now and then? We made sure to stay at more economical places during the first part of our trip so that we could end our trip with a bang by relaxing and enjoying the comforts of this luxurious lodge. The view and surrounding nature can’t be beat. And with dishes like the above being served on a changing daily menu, it really is a great place for a cozy getaway for two.

And for photographers, you can’t beat just walking down a few steps for a sunrise and/or sunset photoshoot at one of the most iconic places in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

For more information on Moraine Lake Lodge, head over to their website: http://morainelake.com.

Combining food and photography always makes for a good time!

I’m very fortunate to live in a city where food plays an important part in our society. Every year there are no shortages of food-related festivals, especially during the warmer months of the year. This year, I’ve been tasked to take photos for The Stop’s Night Market fundraising event, which promises to be even more delicious than previous years!

The Stop's Night Market

The Stop’s Night Market

The event raises funds for The Stop’s community food programs, and brings together local chefs, designers, and foodies in one location over two nights. The designers are housed with the responsibility for creating one-of-a-kind food carts that the chefs will use to create and serve their own inventions on. It’s a great concept and one that I’m very excited to be a part of this year.

Corndog from Delica's Kitchen

Corndog from Delica’s Kitchen

Last night saw a huge crowd at a new venue for the event, a huge expanse in front of an abandoned building over in the west end of the city. With 35 custom-made carts and chefs’ creations, it was a feast for both the eyes and our bellies.

The crowd as the sun set.

The crowd as the sun set.

As a festival photographer, I always try and make sure that the event is properly represented with my photography. Since this is a new venue for the Night Market, it was important for me to get overall shots to reflect the location and popularity of the event this year. Details of the carts, and of course the chefs’ creations, and the all important volunteers and sponsors round up my photography tasks.

It was a great first night and I look forward to returning to the second night tonight. See you there!

The very basics of The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Many have asked in the past what app I use to pinpoint the exact location a sun will rise or set during any given day. I’ve mentioned this before in several of my other posts, but today, I will go through the very basics of the app, showing you how I locate my desired area for a sunrise or sunset.

For starters, you’ll need The Photographer’s Ephemeris to understand any of this, so you can go ahead and buy it from the app store, here. It’s not cheap, but it’s a wealth of information if you know how to use it. Mind you I’m no expert in this app myself, which is why I will show you the mere basics of it all.

The Photographer's Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Open the app and you’ll  be confronted with the map screen, as seen below. I’m using Google maps as a map reference, but if you’re so inclined, the app gives you other sources of maps. Just click on the satellite icon on the mid right of this screen and choose your desired map source.

Map screen when first launched.

Map screen when first launched.

If you have a desired location in mind, use the Locations icon on the bottom bar to type in the exact location you are interested in. For example, if I wanted to find out which way the sun will set when I’m standing on the Arch Bridge (Pont Neuf) in Paris, France, I would type in “Pont Neuf, Paris” to see the results, as seen below.

Enter your desired location.

Enter your desired location.

Select the appropriate result, and you’ll be shown three icons. The red pin indicates your primary pin, or where you will be standing. The grey pin acts as a secondary pin for reference in more advanced calculations such as elevations. The third icon allows you to save this location to your bookmark, for easy access in the future. For our example, click on the red pin.

Click on the location to reveal pin markers, and select the red pin.

Click on the location to reveal pin markers, and select the red pin.

When you select the red pin, the app will switch over to map view again, and immediately take you to that location and it will put a pin in that location. You will now see orange, yellow, light blue and dark blue lines coming from the location. These indicate your sunset, sunrise, moonrise, and moonset respectively.

Now, if the red pin is not the the very spot that you like, you can relocate the red pin. It’s important to put this red pin to the exact location you wish to be standing during sunset time.

You will be directed to your desired location, and a red pin marked at your location.

You will be directed to your desired location, and a red pin marked at your location.

To relocate the red pin, simply move the map until you see the target symbol over the exact location. For example, if I want to be standing on one of the viewing platforms of this bridge, I would just navigate the target icon until that is directly over the viewing platform.

To further fine-tune your location, move the map so the target symbol is at the desired location.

To further fine-tune your location, move the map so the target symbol is at the desired location.

Then, select the red pin icon on the right bar, and your primary pin will relocate to the new location.

Select the red pin to relocate the pin from current location.

Select the red pin to relocate the pin from current location.

Now that you have your exact location pinned, we need to find more information about this very location. Swipe up from the bottom bar to reveal all the sunrise, sunset information for this particular location on the day, indicated on the top bar. You can swipe down to hide this as well.

The colours of the sunrise, sunset, moorise, and moonset are all indicated in the bar allowing you to easily see which lines indicate which event.

Swipe up from the bottom data bar to reveal sunrise and sunset info.

Swipe up from the bottom data bar to reveal sunrise and sunset info.

To get a better view of where the sun will be setting, zoom out so you can see a larger area.

Zoom out to see where the sun will be.

Zoom out to see where the sun will be.

Now you can see that the sun will be setting to the right of the Seine river, as seen from the Pont Neuf. To find out when the sun will set along the Seine river, we can zoom out even more, and adjust the date on the very top bar, as indicated below.

The single triangles immediately beside the date allow you to go forward or behind one day at a time. The icons beside that allow you to jump to celestial events, like full moon, half moon, solstice, etc.

If you hold down on the date, you can actually see the events in a list, and change the date to an exact day of your choice.

Alter the day from the top arrow icons to see how the sun markers change accordingly.

Alter the day from the top arrow icons to see how the sun markers change accordingly.

By looking at the screen capture above, you can see that on Friday August 21, 2015, the sun will once again rise along the Seine river, as seen from the Pont Neuf.

Now, keep in mind although this is meant to be exact, it can be off at times! I’ve had it a couple of times where the location was not exactly as I had thought it would be, unfortunately. It does, however, give you a very good indication as to where the sun will be give or take a day or two.

Keep in mind this app is capable of a lot more than the above! It allows you to incorporate elevation to see exactly when the sun will rise above a mountaintop, and performs other advanced calculations. I hope this brief guide enabled you to see an introduction to the app and has whet your appetite in finding out exactly where the sun will be around your neck of the woods!

If you use this app, please feel free to comment below and let me know how you like it!

Why I am addicted to Periscope

There are very few apps these days that attract my attention for a lengthy period of time—let alone make me want to come back to it time and time again. For as long as I can remember, Instagram has always been my go-to app during my spare time. As a photographer, it’s inspiring, and the ability to engage with like-minded individuals is very attractive to me.

Why I am addicted to periscope

Why I am addicted to periscope

 

Pre-broadcast screen

Pre-broadcast screen

That is, until now.

If you haven’t heard, Periscope is a new iOS app (Android version is currently in the works) that allows anybody to live-stream themselves to the world at any point in time. It’s only been out for just over a couple of weeks, but its meteoric rise to fame aims to challenge how we see the world: through other people’s eyes. The viewers can engage with the broadcaster by tapping on the screen to give hearts (as a form of appreciation, love, or support), in addition to writing comments which appear on the screen for about 5 seconds—if you’re lucky—as it scrolls up the screen as more comments get written.

Periscope is still in its infancy but that didn’t detract Twitter from buying the company even before the app had launched. The company is now part of the Twitter family and is a direct competitor to similar featured apps like Meerkat.

Profile screen in Periscope

Profile screen in Periscope. My username is @smaku, which is oddly not shown on your profile page.

The first iteration of Periscope was a little slow and buggy, but after a newly released version, it’s a much more pleasant experience. What hasn’t changed yet though, is if there are too many viewers in one periscope (I use this word both as the app’s name and the live broadcasts that people stream), you are restricted to only giving hearts. [Sigh] the world needs more bandwidth. But enough about the app, let’s see why this app has taken time away from my instagramming.

Kevin and Dina of Breakfast Television in between segments. (@kevinfrankish)

Kevin and Dina of Breakfast Television in between segments. (@kevinfrankish)

So what’s the big deal?

I found out about this app just five days after its launch when I was watching Breakfast Television. Kevin Frankish (@KevinFrankish) boasted about it, and how much he was into live-streaming his daily activities. It sounded interesting so I downloaded Periscope that day and started browsing for other people to follow.

That’s when I took a real liking to this app. There’s just something about watching things happen live anywhere around the world. It really does change how we view the world around us—and in this sense, can be both great and not-so-great: think live-streaming breaking news, sporting events, behind-the-scene activities, and more. Kayvon Beykpour, the CEO of Periscope, says major sports associations are just starting to use Periscope to see its potential.

I was tapping happily at random people’s periscopes and was pleasantly surprised to see other photographers on there too. They gave me glimpses of Half Dome at sunset, walks through California mountains, panoramas of cherry blossoms in Japan, and views of the beautiful vistas of New Zealand. And inside people’s fridges—don’t ask, but that seems to be a common trend with users of Periscope.

Out of all this distraction, however, there was one person that stood out from the crowd. And her name is Amanda Oleander (@amandaoleander).

 

Amanda's Giving Tree couch where she conducts her interviews.

Amanda Oleander’s Giving Tree couch where she conducts her interviews.

Who’s she?

You probably haven’t heard of her (yet), but she has this innate ability to draw viewers in with her positive talk, enthusiasm to share, and Californian adventures. After seeing some of her periscopes, I later found out that she was quickly on her way to being one of the top users with the most followers, and was in the top five users with the most amount of hearts.

Amanda goes the extra mile to please her followers by taking requests to go to various places in and around Los Angeles. So far, she’s taken her Periscope family, as she likes to call her followers, to see Picasso and Monet paintings inside LACMA, a hike up to the not-so-secret Jim Morrison cave in Malibu, tour of the Grove mall, and in and around Hancock Park. She promises more tours in the future.

It’s not just her tours that make you want to watch though. She’s a talented artist that paints and illustrates for a living, some days even letting the family just watch as she paints and jams to music in her studio apartment.

Amanda OleanderIn her own words, Amanda says she loves Periscope because of its rawness, it “opens up your mind more” to places around the world, and that, “is a beautiful thing.” She wants to build a network where everybody is following their passion and doing it full-time. And because she knows how hard it is to do that, she wants to share what she can to help others out in their journey.

You can sense the genuineness in her as she plans interviews with actors, musicians, and other guests on her “Giving Tree couch” (pictured above) which she painted herself. I personally like the variety of things she streams, so I’d recommend following her account while you still have a chance to interact with her.

What about the others?

If you’re not into peeking into the life of a full-time artist, here are some other accounts that have taken my time away from Instagram:

  • Mashable (@Mashable) for anything tech related, and behind the scenes antics from their office
  • Imai Ami (@iuhya) A Japanese blogger who doesn’t talk much, but takes a lot of walks around the streets of Tokyo
  • Trey Ratcliff (@TreyRatcliff) A well-respected photographer based out of New Zealand
  • Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvon) He’s the co-founder of Periscope. He’s taken us through his company headquarters, and even through his live interview with Bloomberg Newsweek.
  • Dan Caldwell (@tapoutpunkass) I’ve only seen one of his periscopes but as an entrepreneur, he gave us some great insight on how he made his company, and answered any questions we had about starting up our own.

There seems to be a thing with newscasters periscoping from their desks while they are on air. I’ve come across about five accounts now from different stations. Here’s a couple reporters from News 12 in Augusta, GA:

  • Christie Ethridge (@christieetheridgewrdw) and Laura Warren (@LauraWRDW) Two reporters/anchors for News 12 in Augusta, GA who stream from their desks as they’re live on air, and answers our questions in between and after segments.

And here’s someone who will have you laughing out loud. She’s a voice-over actor who does voices for various TV shows, including a character from the new Tom & Jerry. In her very first periscope, she didn’t know what it meant to “show us your fridge” so when someone explained it to her, she opened it up and started giving the contents of her fridge character with voices for oranges to almond milk to onions and even daikon radish. She’s a hoot: Alicyn Packard (@alicyn)

Did I mention Chris Hadfield (@cmdr_hadfield) is also using Periscope? Canada’s very own astronaut takes us around the world as he visits locations for book tours, speaking engagements, and more.

The CEO of Periscope, talking to his followers.

The CEO of Periscope (@kayvon), talking to his followers.

The Tokyo Tower courtesy of @

The Tokyo Tower courtesy of @iuhya

Mashable staff talking about the new emojis.

@Mashable staff talking about the new emojis.

Looking at Monet at LACMA with @amandaoleander

Looking at Monet at LACMA with @amandaoleander

Alicyn is a voice-over actor with character!

@Alicyn is a voice-over actor with character!


And you?

My account is @smaku. Your Periscope account is linked to your Twitter account, although your usernames do not have to be the same. You’ll initially be able to select Periscope users that you also follow on Twitter, if there are any. So if you have a lot of followers on Twitter, chances are, you’ll start off with a lot on Periscope as well. For newcomers though, I do find it hard to attract new followers on here. Hopefully the app’s Global section will allow for the underdog periscopes to be discovered more easily.

I think apps like Periscope and Meerkat have a lot of potential, if used right. Whether these new waves of social media apps are just a fad or if they’re here to stay remains to be seen. I think as the app gets polished, and more users start to periscope, it will become something of value to many of us. So if you don’t see me on Instagram that often, you’ll probably find me on Periscope—that is until my battery runs out. Man, does this app drain your battery quickly.

You’ve been warned.


Tips for effective periscoping

  • If you ever find yourself in a periscope without the ability to chat because there are too many people, wait until the number of users drops down to about 250 or so. Then exit out of the periscope, and enter back in. You’ll find the chat feature magically enable itself so you can interact with the broadcaster.
  • If there are too many comments flooding the screen, the chances that the broadcaster may see yours will be diminished as the comments get pushed up as new ones come in. Before commenting, wait for a small gap or wait until the broadcaster is paying attention to the comments so that yours will have a better chance of getting read. Be aware that sometimes there’s a slight lag in what the broadcasters see and what you see.
  • If you’d like others to see your periscope via the web, make sure you enable Twitter notifications before broadcasting. If people click on the link in your Twitter feed, they will be able to view you through the web browser. Web viewers, however, cannot comment nor give you hearts.
  • You are also able to initiate private broadcasts to only those that you follow. This will allow for a more personable periscope, and one which may cut out the spam comments that pop up now and again.
  • Make sure to keep your audience engaged whenever you’re broadcasting. Even if nothing is happening, ask questions and chat. Your viewers will be more likely to interact with you then.

Free coffee giveaway because I can’t have caffeine!

So it’s come to the point that I’ve amassed a whole lot of coffee—enough so that I can’t drink all of this myself. So that’s why I turn to all of you to help me! I’ll be giving away two bags of coffee beans from Crafted Coffee on 133 Ossington Ave. If you love coffee, read below for the details.

And just as a reminder, my photography is still up at Crafted so be sure to enjoy them while you can for the month of April!

Free Coffee Giveaway

 

Pictured above are the Easy Mate Decaf and Little Bro, but those do not necessarily have to be the coffee you choose!

Really, this is free coffee!

I’m not going to have you jump through hoops, take any quizzes, or have you sing me songs—although that would make for an interesting time. I’m simply going to pick two names from whoever comments on this blog post. If no more than two people comment, then those two people will get it. If more than two people comment, then I will randomly pick two names.

Which coffee do I get?

The best part about this is that you get to choose which coffee you would like from Crafted’s beautiful selection. They have a tonne at their store (selection varies by day) so you’ll have your choice from decaf to mild to bold, and more. My personal favourite has always been the Little Bro. Each bag retails between $17 – $20.

That being said, you should be able to get to Crafted if you want to win this prize. You can either meet me there, and we can have a coffee together while we admire the beautiful artwork on their walls, or you can simply go there at your convenience within the month of April.

Do they have to be beans?

No, if you don’t have a coffee bean grinder at home, that’s cool. Just tell the fine folks at Crafted that you would like your beans ground, and they will do it for you right on the spot! Don’t forget to ask about the monthly coffee club subscription.

I don’t live in Toronto, can I still win?

For this giveaway, you will have to be able to make your way to Crafted Coffee and pick up the coffee yourself. If you cannot do that, then please do not enter since they will not be shipped anywhere. Crafted is at 133 Ossington Ave.

Is that really it?

Yes. Just say something nice in the comments below, and make sure you provide a means for me to contact you, should I pick your name.

When are you picking names?

I’ll be picking the two names on the evening of Sunday April 19th, and will contact the winners either Sunday or Monday.

Good luck!

Espresso at its finest at Pilot Coffee Roasters Working Hard at Crafted CoffeeProcessed with VSCOcam with lv03 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with k2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with lv03 preset

 

 

 

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iPhoneography: How I Edited Toronto the Beautiful

Today’s photo editing process comes from a photo that I took during one of my sunrise shoots. It was an absolutely beautiful morning with just the right amount of clouds and light reflection to give off a spectacular image. Or was it?

Here’s the original image that was taken with my iPhone 6 Plus. It was an 8 sec. long exposure using the Slow Shutter Cam app.

Original image (scaled down in Photoshop). 8 second long exposure using Slow Shutter Cam App

Original image (scaled down in Photoshop). 8 second long exposure using Slow Shutter Cam App.

You can see that all the ingredients of a great looking photo are here, but just isn’t punctuated enough: the orange glow near the horizon, the ominous clouds rolling out, the long exposure water, and the rocks seen beneath the water. I wanted to show all of these great features in my final edit.

To do this, I used the Filterstorm Neue app, which I had, but hadn’t used in a long time. It has great editing features like curves and masking, and those are what I used for this photo.

The first thing I did here was accentuate the orange and blue glow of the sky. I did this through a number of procedures like saturation, colour temperature, and tone, all within the Filterstorm Neue app.

I then used the curves tool to give it more contrast, which heightened the colours a little and accentuated the rocks in the foreground from the snow. It looks a lot better now than the original photo, don’t you think?

"S" curve in Filterstorm Neue to increase contrast

“S” curve in Filterstorm Neue to increase contrast

With all this editing done on the overall image, the snow had also turned a blue hue, which we all know is not the norm. I wanted to keep the snow white to make things look more natural. Using the same app, I applied another curves adjustment. This time, I selected the blue channel and reduced the brightness of it by pulling the curve down in the highlight areas (the snow). Since I didn’t want this adjustment to affect the overall image, I used the mask tool to select only the snow in the image.

Lowered the blue and increased brightness only in the snow, using a masked curve tool in Filterstorm Neue.

Lowered the blue and increased brightness only in the snow, using a masked curve tool in Filterstorm Neue.

This made the overall photo more natural looking, which was my goal. I was happy with this image, but wanted just a little more pop in colour.

I therefore brought it into VSCOcam where 99 percent of my photos undergo a finishing touch. In this case, I applied the KK2 filter (+12) which boosted the colours overall-in particular the right side of the water-making it a standout image, and one of my favourite iPhone sunrise images this season.

Final image after applying KK2 filter in VSCOcam.

Final image after applying KK2 filter in VSCOcam.

That’s it! That’s all there is to this iPhoneography editing.

Have you ever used Filterstorm Neue before? Let me know how you use the app if you do. Would you like me to do a Filterstorm Neue app review? Let me know below as well!


Apps Used:

Filterstorm Neue

Filterstorm Neue

VSCOcam

VSCOcam


 

Drawing impressions

Edited with Topaz Lab's Impression

Edited with Topaz Lab’s Impression

I used to like drawing a lot when I was a child, so now and then I find it interesting to see when a photo gets converted to a drawing masterpiece at the click of a button.

No, I didn’t draw this picture above, but I did take the original picture it was based on (seen below). I brought the photo into Topaz Lab’s Impression app to see what it could do. It’s a pretty fun app to play with, producing quite a variety of looks. With complete customization of how your end product will look like, you can hack away at your photos for literally hours.

I don’t believe I tweaked this photo at all after I brought it through one of the default presets, and I think it looks great. The program managed to keep the subtle (faded) tones that I liked about the original photo. If you like these kind of edits or transformations, go give the app a try. You can download and play with it for free during the trial period.

The original picture is below, taken at the Devil’s Punchbowl lookout in Hamilton. Pretty neat, eh?!

Nikon D800, 15mm, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO 250

Nikon D800, 15mm, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO 250