Going Shooting? Do not Leave the House Without These 5 Gadgets

I personally do not like to drag a lot of equipment with me when I'm out shooting, but there are a few things I simply can not do without. I have listed my top 5 pieces of equipment that every photographer (amateur or not) should consider adding to their camera bag.

Epson's Multimedia Photo Viewers
These small, portable backup / storage / display devices can truly save the day if you are out shooting and find yourself with filled up memory cards and lots left to see. You can transfer photos (as well as video and music) straight from your camera or through the built in card slots. The viewers come in three different configurations: the P-3000 has a 40GB hard drive, the P-6000 80GB, and the P-7000 160GB. All measure 3.5×5.9×1.3 "and weigh 1lb, and some of the features include 4" screens, long life rechargeable batteries, and A / V output. $ 299- $ 699.

Gorilla pod
These flexible, funky looking tripods are amazing little gadgets. Sturdy and durable, their legs twist and bend so that they are able to attach to almost anything (your bike, a car, a pole, a branch, etc.). They come in 5 sizes to suit everything from cell phones to heavy video cameras, and are really lightweight: 1.6oz (the "Go-Go") to 1.1 lbs (the "Focus"). The SLR model weighs in at 5.8oz and costs $ 44.95, and the original model (for point and shoots) weighs 1.6 oz and sells for $ 24.95.

Homemade Flash diffuser
On-camera flashes typically produce some pretty horrible results, and not everyone wants to spend money on an external flash (and take the time to perfect using it). I have found two home remedies that work really well:

For popup flashes, use an old film canister (not the black ones obviously, the hazy white ones). Take the lid off, cut a strip out of it from top to bottom, just wide enough so that it fits snugly over your flash, and just slide it in place so that the flash is being fired through the canister. You'll have to play around with the camera settings a little bit to get the exposure to where you want it. If you do not have any old canisters lying about, ask at a photo printing shop if you can have one.

For point and shoot flashes, I use a small piece of tape, regular Scotch Magic Tape (not the totally clear kind). Put one piece over the flash, test and see what you think. If it's still too strong, just put another piece over it. Weight: negligible. Cost: Around $ 2 for the tape.

Collapsible Reflector
It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but these small, lightweight disks are invaluable for adding light to the shaded part of a person or object, both indoors and out. I use the 22 "Photoflex disk in Silver / White for just about everything, but they come in several different colors. your subject holding the reflector (outside of the picture of course) so that it bounces the light from the window into the shook side of their face, and look at the difference. a white piece of cardboard .It works just as well, but it's not as easy to pack in a bag.

Rain Protection
The Shutter Hat is like a raincoat for your camera (SLR) so you do not have to pass up shooting outside just because it's raining or snowing. It's held in place by Velcro and a rubber piece that fits into the flash hot shoe, and covers lenses up to 8 "long. It also has two slits for the strap, so you can still carry it around your neck with the Hat on. It folds up really small, so you can carry it with you and have it on hand all the time in case of a sudden downpour.

For point and shoot cameras, your best bet is to invest in a waterproof case such as Aquapac or DiCAPac. Not only will they protect your camera in the rain, you can also take it snorkeling or diving. 2.7oz, $ 29.95- $ 49.95. For a land-only low cost alternative, use a shower cap or a ziplock bag with a hole cut out for the lens.

Creating An Indoor Herb Garden

Creating an indoor herb garden is quite an easy task as herbs are inexpensive plants that are easy to maintain and are undemanding. An indoor herb garden can be termed as an introductory course for any beginner to the art of gardening.

Depending on their use, herbs can be classified into culinary herbs, medicinal herbs and aromatic herbs. Culinary herbs include basil, rosemary, parsley and oregano. These herbs are used to add spice and flavor in food. Medicinal herbs include plants like echinacea, valerian, hypericum, gingko and garlic that are widely used in medicinal preparations. Oils from plants like lavender, rose, mint and basil are used for aromatherapies. Most of these plants are not suitable for an indoor herb garden as it is difficult to extract the medicinal parts of the plant. Ornamental herbs are those that are grown to enhance the beauty of homes.

You can start with herbs like oregano, rosemary, garlic chives, mint and thyme. You can either buy these plants at a garden center or can use stem cuttings. Containers are useful for growing herbs at home as these are easy to carry and are convenient for adjusting soil mixtures. These containers are available in different colors, so creating an added attraction. You can also start an indoor herb garden from the seed level. Heavy clay or terra cotta pots are preferred as these pots facilitate good circulation of air and water.

You can have a beautiful indoor herb garden if you follow certain tips. Soilless mixture of vermiculite, peat and perlite ensures proper growth of seeds and seedlings. Keeping pots in the southern or western window ensures proper sunlight and air. Soil in the containers and pots should be moist but not damp. Pots should be kept in shady regions during summers. Humidity around indoor plants can be increased if they are grouped together.

Real Estate Investing – Can You Make It Work?

Real estate investing is one of the hottest and most lucrative types of investing today. With hundreds of people realizing the potential in this type of investing, more and more people are venturing into it. Yet, there are risks that go hand in hand with investing in real estate.

If you don’t know enough about this type of investment plan, you may make mistakes that can cost you a considerable amount of time and money.

Education Is The First Step

Not only do you need to educate yourself about real estate investing procedures and methods, but you should be educating yourself about the property you plan to invest in. If you are determining the right location, you may be tempted to just pick land or buildings that are located in hot spots, but sometimes, that can be a bad thing.

For example, many areas of Southern Florida are facing a crucial downhill slide currently with over investing taking over. Yet, there are plenty of areas that are booming such as in the Midwest. Selecting the right area means doing your homework on the real estate market in those areas.

Financing To Back It Up

It is also essential for you to have the financing to help back up the real estate investing you plan to do. With some help from the right lenders, you’ll be able to secure a loan that will be allowing you to make money off the purchase of your real estate.

The key is to compare several lenders to get the best possible rates and terms that will allow this to happen. You can easily do this, though, by looking for quotes right on the web and comparing them.

Real estate investing is a smart move to make for the educated individual. Taking the time to gain the knowledge and financial backing that is required helps you to make the right decisions so that every one of those decisions can be profitable to you.

How to Manage Your Personal Finances – Retirement Capital Requirements

Many articles have been written about the subject of retirement planning and there are many books published by experts on this very important issue. I have just recently joined the fold of the retired group and I have been through the mill (so to speak) of planning and implementing my retirement plan in it's initial phase. It is this, the initial phase, which I would like to concentrate on in this article.

So, how do I plan my retirement date?

Most companies have contractual dates for retirement. For example, retirement ages could range from 55 years old for early retirement to 60 years old for Directors to 65 years old for operational staff. These dates are generally a guideline since companies do exercise some flexibility when applying these parameters. However, each individual should be using these parameters as a benchmark and then build a projected financial model to see if they are adequately provided for in retirement. Note: The use of a financial advisor is highly recommended in this planning process.

Since the above guidelines, your retirement date is in fact flexible provided that you can satisfy the golden formula which is expressed as: "Accrued income plus passive income must exceed your current cost of living plus an adjustment (up or down) for lifestyle choice in retirement plus inflation projections and sufficient liquid cash for emergencies ".

Let's face it, the thought of early retirement is in the minds of all of us but if you can not afford it, you are heading for suicide.

Let me expand the golden formula as follows:

  • Accrued income is the monthly pension or income that you can derive from your pension accumulation through your working life. This figure will be provided to you by your pension fund or your investment institution.
  • Passive income is income from investments that you made through your working life. Here you consider regular income from property investments, equity investments, dividends, savings interest, business partnerships and any other form of reliable income which you will derive on a monthly basis.
  • Current cost of living is the full annual cost of your current lifestyle. Be extravagant in estimating this figure and be sure to include everything that you incur as a cost.
  • Adjust your retirement requirements up or down depending on your circumstances and your intended lifestyle in retirement.
  • Make adequate provision for injury during your retirement years. Your financial advisor should project your retirement capital adequacy over your expected lifespan.
  • Ensure that you have a 'nestegg "of cash available for emergencies such as buying a new car, unexpected medical bills, renovating your house, helping your kids, taking some holidays and anything else which is relevant to your situation.

I spend many hours pondering the above elements and I suppose it is only natural to be very conservative about whether you can actually go ahead and retire. Assuming that the criteria for the golden formula are met and in order to make the decision a little easier, the following points are highly recommended:

  • You should have no heavy debt burdens. Your mortgage should be paid off, your car hire purchase agreements should be settled and you should have no major debt commitments. In fact, you should be able to live from cash out of your wallet.
  • Your "wish list" for your activities in retirement must be catered for in your planned expenditure.
  • You must not have any plans that requires you to erode your capital base.
  • You need to be sure that your monthly income is pretty secure and you need to have alternative plans if for some reason, your monthly income drops.
  • You need to be able to save some of your retirement income monthly just to prove that you are coping.

In this planning exercise, you need to budget for everything that you want in retirement. Once you have taken the step, there is no turning back if you are serious about retiring. You also do not want to find out that you can not afford some of the things which you had in your vision.

In conclusion, the most important factor in planning your retirement is to ensure that your life partner (if appropriate) is fully informed and on board with the plan and that you create a mutual acceptance and arbitration about your future in retirement.

The above article is created to stimulate thought on your own unique circumstances and you need to tailor your plan accordingly.