Australia: Trip to Sydney Olympic Park

One of the first things we did in sydney was visit the Olympic Park. It amazes me the entire thing was built for the olympics, but it was, and it was amazing to see. I wanted to also see the Saltmarshes in the park, so we did some hiking out of the main urban area.
Let’s get to the pics.
Here is the Anz Stadium in all its glory. This thing was huge. I can’t even begin to explain how big it was.
We have here the train station. This was also custom built for the olympics. The train comes in underground, so you don’t have any tracks visible to people in the park.
Of course, the cauldron that was lit for the games. Looks like a spaceship to me. ;) Seriously though, it was very cool to see it in person. We watched to opening ceremony with this exact cauldron being lit… Talk about surreal.
After a quick game of giant chess… (three foot tall pieces) Ok, not so quick. But I won though. :) We headed to the outer edges of the park. This part was the more rustic area, lots of landscapes and creation to look at.

This was called the “Brick Pit”. Basically it consisted of a huge circular walkway around and above a body of water. It served as a conservation center for the local frogs which lived in the area. As you can see, it is very tall and very large.

Another site we walked to, was the bird wetlands. It was amazing to see hundreds of bird in some places, and water only a foot or so deep, strechting out hundreds of yards.

A little family of ducks right here… :)

A cool surprise and little side path led us to Shipwreck cove. At first I was like “Woah! Real shipwrecks!”
But then I read the sign.
It seems, people used to just wreck ships they no longer needed in this bay. So, there were a few ships remaining from where they wrecked and left them.

I almost fell into the bay getting this pic… not even joking. 0_0 The rocks were covered in some rather slippery brown silt. So glad I didn’t fall in!

The last thing we saw before going back to the stadium… Was the Saltmarshes. I think they put it at the end of the trail because everyone wanted to see it… We walked over 6 miles to get here, yeah, the park was that big. ;)

This place was one of the coolest places we have visited in my opinion. It was for one, dead quiet, except for the distant sound of cars on the highway.

For those of you who know the smell… It smelled like mosquitoes. If that makes any sense. It was  a warm, damp, and moist atmosphere. Add a little salt to that air, and you get what it was like. To me, it was such a calming and relaxing place.

The trees were not tall, but the walk was made so you walked under them. You can see from the shadows there were not many gaps in the trees at all. 99% of the walk was in the shade

And that was our trip to Sydney olympic park. It was a long day, (we walked over 10 miles) but very cool to see all kinds of olympic history here. Will definitely be remembering this trip for a long time.

Austin

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Australia: The Road Trip to Sydney

On our way to sydney, we stopped at several places along the way. The ride was easily over eight hours so, to make it easier and more enjoyable, we split it up over the course one and a half days.

We started off in Melbourne. At the Federation square to be exact. This outdoor park/ shopping center takes up a whole block in Melbourne.
In other words.
It is huge.

There were lots of abstract sculptures… Tons of clothing, food, and jewelry shops, and some great views. It was good to be able to walk around before hopping in the car.

This is called a Paradise Bird Flower. Saw this on the side of the road, and they are all over the place. :)

And some purple flowers… Don’t know what these were called.

Totally random here: We stopped and looked at a submarine. No where near the coast…
It was quite huge. Those little red dots are people.

This stop was a welcome one, as it was after some hours of driving. In a town called  Gundagai, there is a statue made in remembrance of the early pioneers and their dogs. It is called “The dog on the Tuckerbox”
In the first days of australian Pioneers, food was quite scarce. So, the dogs would guard the men’s Tuckerboxes (Lunchboxes) So no one would steal the food.

Here is the poem that made the tuckerbox and dog famous.

Nine Miles from Gundagai’ by Jack Moses

I’ve done my share of shearing sheep,
Of droving and all that;
And bogged a bullock team as well,
On a Murrumbidgee flat.
I’ve seen the bullock stretch and strain
And blink his bleary eye,
And the dog sit on the tuckerbox
Nine miles from Gundagai.

I’ve been jilted, jarred and crossed in love,
And sand-bagged in the dark,
Till if a mountain fell on me,
I’d treat it as a lark.
It’s when you’ve got your bullocks bogged,
That’s the time you flog and cry,
And the dog sits on the tuckerbox
Nine miles from Gundagai.

We’ve all got our little troubles,
In life’s hard, thorny way.
Some strike them in a motor car
And others in a dray.
But when your dog and bullocks strike,
It ain’t no apple pie,
And the dog sat on the tuckerbox
Nine miles from Gundagai.

But that’s all past and dead and gone,
And I’ve sold the team for meat,
And perhaps, some day where I was bogged,
There’ll be an asphalt street,
The dog, ah! well he got a bait,
And thought he’d like to die,
So I buried him in the tuckerbox,
Nine miles from Gundagai.

This wagon is over 150 years old. Looks like it too. ;) The area on which it is sitting happens to be a ruin of an old hotel and saloon.

The remains of these walls and ruins belong to a place that was called “The Limestone Inn”. It was started and built by Mr. and Mrs. Carberry. It was opened in 1858. What made the inn so popular was the fact it provided lodging on the way to Sydney from melbourne, and Mrs. Carberry was an excellent piano player.
unfortunately, in 1861, the hotel was robbed by a man who went by “Jack-in-the-boots”. Four years after the robbery, they sold the hotel. A few years after that, (1876) It was closed and left to fall apart, and here it is today.

Can you tell I love old buildings? ;)

The last thing we stopped to look at was something called “The Giant Merino”. Australia is known for their incredible quality of wool. So, this 97 Ton concrete Merino Ram was made in 1985. Eventually it was moved to a more popular location in 2007. It is attached to a wool gift shop. It was huge, around 35 feet high.

That was some of the stuff we saw on the way to sydney. Lots coming up soon! Manly beach, The opera house, and MORE!

Austin

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

It has been eight years since that fateful day.

That day, when Harvey Dent’s murders and guilt were taken and put upon Batman’s shoulders. Forcing Bruce Wayne to put away the suit, and become despised and hated by the people of Gotham.

And so, for eight years, Bruce has locked himself away in the Wayne Mansion. Without the drive and purpose of batman, and the grief of losing his beloved Rachel, he sees no one but his faithful butler Alfred.

Until that is, the infamous Catwoman decides to relieve Mr. Wayne of his mother’s pearl’s. This action spurrs Mr. Wayne to re-enter the world to recover the pearls.

In doing so, he finds a greater evil than any Gotham has ever seen. An evil without mercy, fear, or rules. An evil, intent only on destruction of a city, and the people living within it.
Bane, has come to Gotham.
With the police force outmatched, 12 million people’s live at stake, and to preserve the city he swore to save…

It is time for the Dark Knight to rise from the shadows, and save Gotham from certain destruction.

Things I liked

If Batman could be described in one word, I would have to say he is solid. Batman’s code does not ever disappoint, nor does it change. No matter what the city has thrown at Batman, his passion as protector of the city is incredibly admirable. The people have nothing to offer him, the city hates him, and yet, he continues to protect it. In the face of certain death his spirit is not broken, showing the quality of perseverance. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the city, not for the city itself, but the people living in it. He is a hero who, while on the surface looks like a vigilante, is one who gives everything for those who can give him back nothing. That biblical trait we see over and over again. Bruce embodies this as well, acting in honorable ways even when not wearing the suit and cape.

Mr. Alfred is the voice of reason in Bruce’s life. He speaks the truth, even when Bruce doesn’t want to hear it. His love for Bruce is incredible to behold. Desperate and even pleading at times, he tries to make Bruce see how dangerous Bane is. Bruce, in his arrogance, ignores him, and we see him take quite a fall. Alfred only wants the best for Bruce, and sees that the only way for that to happen is to put batman behind him. Alfred is loyal, compassionate, and even later, when a conflict arises and he has to leave, he is still as loyal as ever, without any resentment or bitterness. He is a shining example of loving a person unconditionally. And notice? It doesn’t even have to be in a marriage to apply.

Yet another character that stands out with excellent qualities is a man named Jim Gordon. Jim is the police commissioner, and is one of the few common men willing to stand up against the evils bane is unleashing against the city. Even when he is wounded, he still fights from the hospital bed. He is a man however, who has lied to the public about who Harvy Dent really was, via instructions from Batman. He is tormented with this guilt of lying daily. He has an opportunity to tell the truth, but doesn’t and because he doesn’t it comes back to haunt him. He has the best intentions for the people at heart, and we see that displayed in his actions.

Evil definitely shown for what it truly is in this movie. Never is it glorified of shown to be something desired. There is no sympathetic appeal. there is justification, but quite flawed, and shown to be such.

Something else, and lastly, is the sheer quality of this movie. The writing, the actors, and how all the movies are tied together… is stunningly epic. This movie is by far the best of three production wise.

Things I didn’t Like
The Dark Knight may rise in this movie, but so does the violence as well. If the The Dark Knight raised the bar with sadistic murders from the Joker, this movie does even moreso with the sheer brutality of Bane. Bane came from “The Pit” a prison where one survives only by mercilessness and killing. Bane is Batman’s equal, if not superior in physical strength. He demonstrates this any chance he can get. Bane doesn’t use guns. Only his hands. We see him snap many necks, as it seems that is preferred style of killing. He also chokes people to death, smashes faces with anything he has available… It isn’t pretty.
His partners in crime aren’t much better. Having no regard for life, they storm building with automatic weapons, shooting anyone who is unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire.
Catwoman brings a mix of martial arts and guns to the fighting scene. Fighting in self defense, she has no problem shooting a man with his own gun, and often others while he is still holding said weapon.
Batman remains the same in every way. Sticking to his martial arts learned from the league of shadows. Batman manages to keep his rule and not kill one person. He does beat them up pretty badly nonetheless….
Other examples of disturbing violence include people being hung from bridges, sentenced to exile and falling through icy waters below, and huge clash between police and criminals result in many lives being lost and men being gunned down.

There is a dramatic confrontation between batman and bane. Watching punches being landed on the two massive guys made me flinch several times. Batman is beaten up pretty badly, and we see some blood on his head afterwards. That is all the blood I can remember shown. Not much at all.

Bruce, to stifle his pain of losing Rachel, or perhaps, to make himself move on, has a relationship with a woman who is part of Wayne Enterprises. We see them kiss several times, and passionately so. Another scene we see them holding each other covered by a blanket by a fire. They talk about running away, and then the scene cuts out. Batwoman steals her share of kisses from Batman several times as well.

There is cussing in the movie, we hear both “B” words, H— is used out of context several times, as is the Lord’s name used in vain. The S word is used as well.

Closing Thoughts
As the last chapter in the batman series, my expectations for this movie were extremely high. In some ways, I am so impressed with this movie and some messages it presents. In other ways though, we are reminded this is indeed a “Hollywood” flick.

I have noticed one reoccurring theme appearing in hollywood movies. It is the question of Fear vs Hope. We’ve seen it in “The Hunger Games”, previous batman movies, and especially this one. Bane says, “I will keep the people fighting for life, by giving them hope. When there is no hope, the fear will destroy them.” People in this movie put their hope in Batman. And Batman is, in literary terms, A christ figure. One who sacrifices everything to save the people of Gotham. They don’t deserve it, and Batman doesn’t have to.
While the fictional Batman is cool,  how much more awesome is it that we can have hope in Christ instead of fear of man? The movie shows the power of hoping in something greater than oneself, it was a reminder to me, we should not fear, because of the hope of Christ that lives in us.

Another thing the movie shows well, is man’s depravity. When Bane takes control of Gotham. he declares there are “No Rules! It is ruled by the people.”
And utter chaos breaks loose.
What a powerful showing of how desperately wicked man is when there is nothing to hold him back.
Another time Batman tells Catwoman she should help the 12 million innocent people. She says something like “I don’t believe in innocent people.” In a way, she is right. None of Gotham deserved to live. None of them were truly innocent, from a biblical point of view. It hammers home the fact that people are not nice. And given the chance between themselves and someone else… They will probably choose themselves.

To wrap this review up, this movie definitely has it’s redeeming qualities. On the one hand, Batman and his supportive cast are incredible examples of honorable heros. (I didn’t even get into Lucius Fox) There are some excellent themes to ponder, and to bring up next time you are working with some of your buddies who are christians. and Honestly, the movie itself is a beautiful work of cinematic art.
On the other hand, the violence is tough to watch, and Bruce/Batman are involved with women much more in this movie.

So, do I recommend this movie?
I say this with great caution, as I would hate to make any believers stumble in recommending them to watch this movie.
I benefitted from watching The Dark Knight Rises, as I was reminded of how wretched I am as a sinner, and that without Christ, I could have been any one of those men tearing apart Gotham. It moved me to think of a life without hope in Christ, and how sad that would be.
I also know many of my co-workers will be watching this, and I look forward to the chance to bring up topics of hope and depravity.

But do you need to watch this movie to do and be reminded of those things I just mentioned? I would hope not.

But if you do go and see this movie, I hope you are reminded, and praise God for the gift of hope he sent us through Christ.

The big 2-0. Older, and hopefully wiser.

Since my birthday happened recently, I thought you guys might like to hear how it went and some thoughts…

Twenty sounds so much older then nineteen. This is probably because there isn’t any “teen” in the number. ;)

As I shared with some of my friends on that day, being twenty makes me feel so old in some ways. I can look back and remember graduating from highschool, all the trips I have been on, and watch my younger friends graduate. I have grown so much more too in my walk with the Lord, learning things through scripture, and in my walk with other christians. All this and so much more has resulted from a truly blessed and full life.
In other ways though, I am reminded just how young I am. How much I have to learn. Both academically and spiritually. I learn new things, and gain new wisdom everyday from the bible, my parents, and others with whom I associate.

So all ramblings aside, we did do some fun stuff on my birthday.

To start if off, I was able to walk to a local coffee shop and get a Hazelnut Latte. The Cafe was called “Rocksalt” and I loved it so much I went back everyday while we were still in Brighton. :)
The remainder of the morning was spent talking and spending time with my family. We had a great devotion time, played some games, and just hung out together. :)

Lunch consisted of an extremely tasty pizza, which we ordered from an italian restaurant on the corner. The crust really was amazing, and the toppings, perfect.
After that, I spent the rest of the afternoon studying, blogging, and playing with photoshop. We didn’t go anywhere, as we planned to go out for and early supper with dad.

Unfortunately, dad had some problems at work… (the computers decided they wanted extra one on one time, so they misbehaved. :P ;) ) So we wound up going to Rocksalt for supper as well. Can you tell I loved that cafe’? ;) We all had a great time over supper. Some of us tried new things, like Pumkin soup and seafood linguini, and others of us went back to comforting staples with a twist, like gourmet cheeseburgers. Everything was excellent and the time together quite fun.

To finish the day off in grand style, we all got Magnum Ice Cream bars for dessert. Then after dad got back to the apartment, watched Casablanca and the count of Monte Cristo.

It will be a day long remembered, and I feel so blessed in what God has done for me in my life so far, and look forward to serving Him in the years to come.

Australia: A Walk to the Brighton Bath Houses

Last week when we were in melbourne, we took an afternoon walk to a beach in Brighton. This beach housed some historic bath houses that were very well known in Australia.
Loving adventure…
Off we went.

Our walk took us through suburbs and city. These huge trees towered over everything in the suburbs. I bet they were some of the oldest trees in that area.

Also, I saw this really cool apartment complex. It looks like a futuristic castle. :)

This guy is doing a sport called “Kite Surfing”. Basically, the dude has a board to which he has attached his feet. Then, has a huge kite to catch the wind and pull him around on the water. Using a device hooked to his waist, he can control which way the kite pulls him. It was very entertaining to watch. I am going to see if I can take some lessons when we get to the golden coast.

And the Bath houses! There were over 80 of these houses, and each one completely different in paint jobs. Some were old, some new. Most of the houses are privately owned.

These three houses were built by the government a few years ago. They are going to be auctioned off to fund some public project. The government estimates the two houses they are auctioning will auction for more than $250,000,000. Craziness? I think so.

These next houses are just some of my favorites that we saw…

And just for good measure, one more group shot. :)

The last thing I saw that I thought was really neat, was this tree. I loved how it was so twisted and old looking. It reminded me of Gandalf’s Staff.

So that’s the Brighton Bath Houses! They were awesome to see, and we were blessed with an incredibly nice day.

Been doing a lot of sight seeing lately… So expect more in just a few days. :)

American McDonald’s McCafe… Start taking notes.

A few days ago, we went to a mcdonalds here for breakfast because we were kinda under a time crunch, and had only 15-20 min to get breakfast. So, we pulled in and grabbed some Australian McDonalds.
American McCafes need to start taking notes.
A lot of notes.
First, the tea. The tea was served not only in ceramic mugs, but ALSO in little tea kettles, so you could pour however much you wanted at a time. The “McEmployees” ;) also told us how long we should let the tea steep, just in case we didn’t know. :)
Pictures are with my iphone, so please excuse the quality. :P
Now, let’s get to the important stuff.
The Coffee.
All the McCafes have full espresso machines with designated baristas to run the machines. Actually good tasting and good quality coffee from McDonalds?
Who would have thunk.

Now, as if the coffee itself wasn’t good enough, they served it in a very nice way. Below is my Hazelnut Latte. Not in a takeaway cup either. They have dishes for dine-in, and cups for takeaway only.

It was absolutely delicious.

So there ya go. Australian McDonalds actually have some quality to them. The sausage actually tasted like real sausage (not like at home where it is a pile of grease), and the other food was not to bad as well.

If our McDonalds implemented this stuff at home… I just might be tempted go there more often. ;)

Australia: American Drinks

One thing I am missing a little bit here in Australia is a nice fountain Dr. Pepper. Don’t get me wrong, Coke is my preferred drink of choice, but sometimes a crisp Dr. Pepper is desired over the classic Coke.
So when we were walking in town, I saw this and had to take a picture. These are imported American drinks.
You are reading that price right, $2.60 for a can of A&W, Grape Fanta, Cherry Coke, or Dr. Pepper. I didn’t get any, as that is to much $$$ for my wallet, but found it interesting what we so often take for granted in America.
Even if it is as petty and superfluous as a soft drink. ;)

Book Review: Reckless

Ok Folks, I am going to try my hand at a book review today.

This review will cover the book called “Reckless, written by Cornelia Funke and Lionel Wigram.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “why pick up a book like that?!” It was however, recommended by a friend I know, and the whole “Don’t judge a book by its cover” adage came back to me.

A little backstory on the author, Cornelia Funke has written several best sellers, and is from Germany. She wrote this book with Lionel Wigram, who has worked in several Harry Potter videos. There is a dark feel throughout the book, which is extremely similar to the feel of what I have seen from Harry Potter in reviews and the movie previews.

Synopsis
This story takes place in another world. It was discovered by a guy named Jacob Reckless. It is a dangerous world. Full of Magic and where all the old fairy tales originated. Unfortunately, all is not as usually seen in fairytales of this world. Rather, this world is dark, dangerous, and full of evil creatures. There has been a war going on with the humans of that world and creatures called “goyls”Creatures made of various stones.
The trouble comes when Jacob’s younger brother, Will, comes into this strange land, and due to some magic… Is becoming a goyl himself.
Jacob has three days to save his brother from turning into this creature and losing his identity as a human completely… And the odds are definitely not in Jacob’s favor.

Genre
I would have to classify the genre of this book as a adventure and fantasy novel. There is a lot of magic and mystical creatures as expected in a different fictional world, but also the entire book is one of a quest to save a brother. Also in the mix is some thriller, romance, and a tinge of horror.

Writing style
The style of writing in this book is abrupt. Simple words are used. Sentences are short and choppy. It doesn’t flow. Much like how I am writing now. This style. It gives a sense of unease. Uncertainty. It fits quite well with the style of the book.

But I didn’t like it.

Content and Themes
There is a lot of content in a book (of course) and it is virtually impossible to go over it all. Themes also, are a huge part of the story and flow throughout the entire tale. So, I will do my best to share with you the more important and notable things…

Theme #1: Family. In this book Jacob does everything in his power (and outside his power) to save his younger brother from a terrible fate. The relationship between younger and older brother is quite believable and commendable, and is one of the redeeming parts of the book.

Theme #2: Magic. This story weaves a tale based off our fairy tales of old. All things magical in our fairy tales exist in the world in which Jacob lives. However, all these things like fairies and such, have caused much more harm than good. Magic isn’t something that has made this world better, but something that has ripped it apart and made it a place dark and to be feared. A few times we see magic used in what the book would have you to think “Good” hands, but the items were always used to serve self.

Theme #3: The Conditions of Love. There is quite a bit of romantic relationships in Jacob’s past life. References are made with past fairies, maidgirls, and a girl that takes the shape of a fox (or vise versa). We read very little about emotional attachment until Will’s girlfriend steps into the pages. She continually chooses to love Will, even when he turns away from her. Her love is unconditional, until corrupted by magic. It is a mixed and messy picture. Kissing and more are done and implied by the characters in the book.

Theme #4: Violence. As in any fallen world (even fictional ones), there is going to be death. In this world, most of it is caused by evil and twisted beings whose only purpose in life is to kill. Jacob has to battle many of these creatures to save his brother. The battles are intense, and graphically described.

Theme #5: Of War and Politics. As if Will turning into a goyl wasn’t bad enough, Jacob also has to content with the entire land being against goyls, as they had been at war with them for quite some time. Peace finally has come with a marriage between the princess and the goyl king has been arranged. Of course, as with all politics, we read about backstabbing, manipulating, and more. All to gain the upper-hand so as to benefit from this arrangement.

Closing Thoughts

Jacob, being the hero of this book, clearly has no moral code. There is no mention really of any “Morals” Everything we see him do is to serve himself. Yes, he almost dies several times to save his brother, but that is only because he couldn’t live with himself if his brother turned into a goyl. Even then, his focus is not on how much pain his brother must be in, but how much pain he is in, and how to relieve that.
Jacob never changes. He risks his life only if he thinks he will live in the end.

There are some good qualities we can take away from this book if we dig really deep. However, there being no redemption, no character change, and quite a bit of content that is not God honoring…

Honestly makes me wish I hadn’t been so reckless as to read this tale, and would advise you to do the same.

Australia: The 12 Apostles

Time to end the teasing of you folks.

Time to show you all the 12 Apostles. :)
For those of you who don’t know, the 12 Apostles as a group of rocks on the Australian coast. There are 12 of these rocks, and incredibly large. I am not sure why they call them “The Apostles”.
So, onto the pictures.

If you remember from a post a few days ago, this was our destination and main reason for cruising on the Great Ocean Road. We finally arrived just before sunset.

This was by far the largest formation of rock, and was called “The Lone Apostle”, because there weren’t any other formations nearby. Also, can you see how clear the water is? I thought that was pretty cool. :)

Here are two more, it is tough to show to scale of these things… but see those black dots on the beach? Those are people.

And come sunset… here are the remaining rocks we could see. the others curve around the coast.

It was amazing to see the Glory of God displayed in his creation at sunset. The power displayed in the ocean, the craftsmanship in the rock formations, and the beauty of the setting sun… It was one

of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea…. By his breath the skies become fair…. And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!

How then can we understand the thunder of his power?”
Job 26:7-9, 11-14

Good Photography… it comes not from a expensive camera.

EDIT of MARCH 20, 2013. I currently now own a Nikon 1 V1. A hybrid camera which I may post about in the future.

It seems like the current fad right now in the digital photography world is what DSLR you have, with what lens, when you got it, the best deals for it, and more.

And if you don’t have a DSLR… Well, you are not a real photographer. ;)

It is my opinion there are some more basic things one should know and use before even considering dropping a grand or so on a quality camera… Because a DSLR or an expensive camera does not a photographer make.

This post is meant to help you take better pictures, regardless of the camera you have. If you employ these techniques I have been taught by others, I can assure you that your pictures will not only look better, but you will have a more enjoyable time taking pictures.

Because that is what photography is all about. :)

I have used, and probably will always use, a Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot camera. This is the one I have right now:

I like Nikon because they deliver the best quality for the price in my  experience. I have tried panasonic, sony, and Cannon Brands in the $150-$200 range, and Nikon is what I always wound up going back to because of the superior Focusing abilities, and inclusion of features such extra wide lenses, ability to choose between auto and manual, and more.
I say all that only because if you are looking for a camera and don’t know where to start… I recommend start with Nikon. :)

So, now that you have a camera in your hand, here are three things I have been taught over the years that will make anyone a better photographer with relative ease.

#1: Know your camera.
Your camera is a complicated piece of electronics, micro-gears, and computers. The fact digital cameras are so small, yet so powerful truly is amazing. Many people buy a cheap digital camera, set it on “Auto” and start clicking away.
While this will probably work outside without to much trouble, and inside with flash overexposing everything in site… If you really want good pictures, you need to know how your camera works. Basics such as exposure, ISO, Lighting balance, and more are all included in any camera. Learn how to change these and what they mean! The computer is not always going to get it right.
The better you know your camera and how it behaves in various conditions will enable you to be better prepared going into those conditions. This comes with experience, knowledge of basic terms, and knowing what you want you camera to do… then making the computer do it.

#2: Use the Rule of threes.
If you take any good photography class, you are going to hear about the rule of 3s. This is a super simple, yet powerful technique you can apply to any picture you are taking. Here is how it works…
Picture a Tic-Tac-Toe board on your camera screen. Wherever the lines intersect, those are the best places to put the subject in your picture. Unless you are shooting a super close macro shot, The subject should pretty much Never go in the dead center of your picture. It really is amazing how much better pictures look when taken with the rule of threes in mind.

#3 Editing.
Now, you have a solid picture on your camera. It isn’t blurry, is taken with good composition, but looks rather bland as far as color goes. This is where a lot of people divide over digital photography. After image editing is a very powerful thing to use to make a good picture look great. There are many free programs out there to edit with. Some are simple like Picasa, others, quite powerful and complex, like GIMP. You don’t have to have the latest $600 version of photoshop… (Though I must admit, it is quite nice) Those free programs often do everything one needs to do basic edits in order to enhance an image.
Here is a picture before:

As you can see, it has a decent amount of color, but it was cloudy and raining outside, so you can’t quite see the actual color of the car.
Cropping the image, Applying a little more saturation, and increasing the contrast a little… (easy things to do in any editing program)

You now have a more accurate representation of what the car actually looked like.
It took 5 minutes, and you have a much better looking picture.

Not all images are easy to edit, but most are.

So there ya go, Three things I have learned over the years on how to take better pictures with a “Cheapy” camera. If you have any tips, or things you have learned, be sure to comment! They are most appreciated.

Back to editing the 12 Apostles… ;)

Austin