Photography Basics – Portrait Photography Tips

People are easily the number one subject for photographs. From party snaps, to photos of children and travel shots of family members in front of famous monuments, millions upon millions of people photographs are taken every single say of the year.

Portrait photography is a little different to general people photography. The intent of portrait photography is capture and display something of the ‘essence’ of a person; to say something about their character, personality, or life.

The three most important things to get right in portrait photography are camera settings, lighting, and your relationship with your model.

Camera settings for portrait photography

Because taking portrait photographs is all about a person’s face (or if it’s a wider shot, their head-and-shoulders), classic portrait photography settings seek to remove anything distracting from the background of the shot. This mimics the effect of looking at someone’s face from very close up, and makes the subject ‘pop’ (this is photographer-speak for ‘stand out and capture attention’).

The way to achieve a distraction-free portrait photo is to use a wide aperture, often as wide as possible (f/2.8 or f/4 are popular choices). Wide apertures produce a shallow depth-of-field, which renders anything far from the plane of best focus – i.e. the background – as a soft blur.

Aside from a wide aperture, the only other important setting is ISO. This should be as low a number as possible (e.g. ISO 100), as higher ISOs will lead to digital noise, which is particularly ugly in a portrait.

There’s one offshoot of portrait photography where the recommended settings are different, and that’s environmental portrait photography. Environmental portrait photography seeks to show a person in their ‘natural habitat’, which is often their workplace. Here you want to show the background, so a smaller aperture is appropriate.

Lighting for portrait photography

Lighting in portrait photography can be as complicated as you like. Professional portrait photography is almost always done in a studio, where the lighting can be 100% controlled. If you’re reading this, chances are you don’t have your own photography studio, so let’s discuss a simple lighting scheme you can set up at home.

First, position your model at a window. The light coming from the window should be bright, but not direct (i.e. not coming directly from the sun). You model should be facing you, side on to the window. Light from the window light will obviously light up the side of their face that is closest to it. Then, position something on the other side of your model that will bounce reflected light from the window onto the other side of their face. Anything white or reflective will do, for example a piece of white cardboard or a sheet of aluminum.

Now you have a basic, flattering light scheme, with the main light source on one side of your model’s face, and ‘fill’ light from the reflector on the other. Don’t forget that you should frame the shot close enough that the reflector is not in the shot.

Interacting with your subject

Portrait photography inevitably says something about the relationship between photographer and subject. Unless you’re shooting professional models, the hardest thing about taking portrait photos is not in fact camera settings or lighting, but ensuring that your model is comfortable and relaxed enough to give you good results. A model who feels awkward, uncomfortable or self-conscious will not photograph well.

Often the best strategy to relax your model is simply to engage them in conversation, as this will take their mind off the camera. They’ll probably get more comfortable with the process after you’ve rattled off a few shots, so schedule a decent amount of time and plan on taking your best shots towards the end of the session.


Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

Low voltage outdoor lighting fixtures generate areas of safe secure light around your home and garden. They come in a wide range of styles and sizes and can be easily installed by a home owner. Look for high quality construction, you can spend as little as $10.00 for a fixture or as much as $200.00 for a solid brass fixture. Avoid low priced all plastic fixtures as they are poorly made and will not last long outdoors. We recommend buying your outdoor lighting in a kit and save a few bucks. A good quality kit will cost you $100.00 to $200.00.

Lighting kits usually contain six well made all metal fixtures, 100 feet of low voltage number 16 wire that connect them together, six lamps and a step down transformer that converts ordinary house current from 120 volts to 12 volts. The step down transformer just plugs into an electrical outlet and the output connections then feeds 12 volts to all the fixtures. For greater value buy an expandable lighting kit with a step down transformer rated at twice the wattage of the total number of fixtures it contains. Expandable means that the transformer can power extra fixtures if needed.

Low voltage outdoor lighting fixtures are made in several different styles. Spotlights focus light on to a tree or highlight important architectural details of your home. Choose a kit that contains a halogen bulb for a bright directed beam of light. A Path Spotlight is ideal for lighting the key plants in your landscaping or walkways. Use Tier accent fixtures for narrow paths as they direct light downward. Other fixtures spread light downward in a circle illuminating everything in a wide radius. Post lantern fixtures with larger halogen bulbs directs the light outward and are ideal for replacing existing gas or 120 volt post lamps.


Vacancy Vs. Occupancy Sensors

The most convenient feature of occupancy sensors is their ability to automatically turn the lights on in a room or space when they detect movement within their range. Occupancy sensors are very valuable in exterior lighting for added security, and have many other beneficial uses in the home. Another beneficial attribute of occupancy sensors is their energy efficiency. These low voltage modules can be ceiling mounted or mounted in your existing wall switch junction box and can most notably save significant amounts of energy by turning lights off when occupancy is not sensed for a designated amount of time.

With so many advantages, it might not seem too unreasonable to replace all of your home or office’s light switches with occupancy sensors. However, this may not be the best idea to rush into because what you soon might realize is that in some cases this may be more of an inconvenience than a convenience. You may be wondering how, so a few examples will help to clear things up perfectly.

Rooms that are great for occupancy sensors are garages, basements, bathrooms, rec rooms, and sometimes kitchens. In these spaces, it is common for an occupant to walk into the space with their hands full making turning lights on a hassle and if leaving the room with their hands full the same conditions apply. Also these rooms are active spaces. The importance of this is that the lights will not turn off on you if you are remaining relatively still in the space.

One may notice that there are several common rooms left off of this list. These rooms are bedrooms, TV rooms, and if you have pets, other common areas. It may be more practical to install vacancy sensors in place of occupancy sensors in these spaces. The difference between a vacancy sensor and an occupancy sensor is the manner of which they are turned on. Each light switch will detect the lack of occupancy and turn the lights off, however only the occupancy sensor will automatically turn the lights on.

The benefit of a vacancy sensor is that if you don’t want the lights to turn on when you walk into an area, they will not unless you manually turn on the switch. This is practical in bedrooms so you might not wake anyone sleeping in a bedroom when you enter, or if you roll over in bed the lights will not illuminate. The vacancy sensor is especially beneficial from an energy efficiency point of view in children’s bedrooms if they tend to leave the lights on constantly. In TV rooms occupancy sensors may not be the best choice for similar reasons. If your light switch controls overhead lighting that might not be desired when watching TV in a room, the lights will not turn on when someone walks in or if you get up to get a snack. A special case in common areas where occupancy sensors may be a nuisance is if you have pets. Animals are large enough to turn on occupancy sensing switches. If they roam the common areas at night, this may cause unnecessary energy consumption.

As mentioned early, the use of occupancy sensors in kitchens can sometimes be a good idea. This all depends on the placement of the kitchen in the floor plan of the home, and how other rooms may run into the kitchen’s space. In an open floor plan home where the kitchen is considered a common area, a vacancy sensor may be a better idea especially if you have pets. If the kitchen is in its own separate room from the rest of the house, an occupancy sensor is an excellent idea, especially if natural light is not abundantly present. Occupancy sensing lights will help you see where you are going as soon as you walk in with your hands full of groceries. A combination of an occupancy sensor switch controlling LED under cabinet lights will be convenient in function and also provide modern luxury to your space.

With all things considered, consumers can make smart decisions when deciding which rooms to install occupancy sensors and which rooms vacancy sensors may be more appropriate. Some manufacturers offer occupancy sensing wall switches with an optional function to turn it into a vacancy sensor. One cannot go wrong with these products as he or she can decide after they install the switch, which function best suits their needs.


Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Sky Lantern Flying Experience

Flying sky lanterns are not fireworks, but they have the power to create even better visual effects than fireworks. As fire is involved in lighting them, many people feel that they can cause fires. In fact, some senators in the US have tried to get such lanterns banned during ceremonies and celebrations in their towns. But, in reality, sky lanterns are safer than most fireworks as they are made from fire-resistant materials.

The fire in the lanterns heats up the air, and the hot air collects in the lanterns. This hot air pushes the lantern skywards. Once the fire is extinguished, the air within the lantern cools down, and the lantern gently floats down to the ground. As the fire lanterns come downwards only after the fire has burned out, they do not constitute a fire hazard. And, by taking proper precautions while lighting the lanterns, you can guarantee that no damage is caused by these lanterns.

Dos of Launching Sky Lanterns

Buy Branded Sky Lanterns: If you buy them from a well known store or online web store that specializes in selling such lanterns, you minimize the chances of anything going wrong. On the other hand, buying a sky lantern which is even slightly damaged can have disastrous consequences.

Choose your Ground Wisely: An open space would suit your lantern decoration a lot better than a crowded space. Make sure that you keep a reasonable distance from skyscrapers. Also, most places have laws against flying the lanterns within 5 miles of airports. So, make sure that you are not close to any airport.

Let Emergency Services Know in Advance: If you plan to launch too many sky lanterns at the same time, you must notify emergency services in advance. This is of special significance in coastal areas as people may mistake the gliding lanterns for emergency flares.

Take Precautions: There is hardly any chance of the lanterns catching fire while they are in the sky. Things can go wrong only when you are lighting them. It would be best to keep sand or water close to ensure that there is no fire if something goes wrong while lighting the lanterns.

Don’ts of Launching Sky Lanterns

Ensure there isn’t too much Wind: If the wind speed is more than 5-7 miles per hour, you may want to consider shelving your flying lanterns celebrations. High winds can take the lanterns far away, and this could be dangerous.

Keep Away from Kids: While flying sky lanterns are easy to light and harmless, it would be a good idea to keep them away from children. If a child is lighting the lanterns, make sure that a responsible adult helps him and guides him.

Don’t Smoke or Drink while Launching Lanterns: Lighting flying lanterns requires some attention and concentration. If you are drunk, you may end up burning the lantern instead of lighting the wick. Smoking while launching the lanterns gives birth to the possibility of starting a fire. So, avoid that too.

Don’t Wear/Carry Inflammable Stuff: While lighting the lanterns, you will use fire. So, it makes sense avoid wearing clothes that easily catch fire. Also, keeping any stuff that can catch fire close by while lighting the lanterns is not a good idea either.

As long as you follow the simple dos and don’ts of flying sky lantern lighting, you will minimize the risk of fires and enjoy a safe and joyous celebration.


5 Tips to Make Breathtaking Photos

There is no single rule of thumb to follow when it comes to making a stunning and professional photo. The only thing to know when you first get started in photography is that it will take some time before you are able to take stunning shots.

But without general guidelines you may wander off the path quite easily. This is why we have decided to provide you a list of things to pay attention to. If you follow it through, you will be able to focus your efforts on learning how to take pro shots. Let’s see what we have in store for you.

Pick Your Spots Carefully

If you take your time to review the stunning photos captured by your colleagues, you will start to discover certain patterns. There is a particular one that emerges from the pile of the miscellaneous others – unique perspective.

You can easily notice that some of the photos of world-famous architectural masterpieces are simply more stunning than others. Why? Because a photographer picked an interesting spot to take photographs from.

Practice Composition

Every great photo follows the rules of great composition. If you are completely unfamiliar with composition in photography, the first thing you should learn is the rule of thirds. You should look at your photo as if were a tic-tac-toe (3×3) board. If you check the work of your colleagues, you will soon discover that they place interesting objects on the intersection of these lines.

This bit takes a lot of practice. Start by using the grid system most DSLRs and smartphones already have. After some time, you will develop an instinct to place the objects of your photography spontaneously in these spots.

Play with Lighting

Lighting is also one of the factors that plays a crucial role in the making of a stunning photo. If you are a beginner photographer, you should start by learning a few tricks, such as when to position the object behind and in front of the light source, how to leverage lighting to emphasize something on the photo, etc.

If you like to take photos of landscapes and city scenes, try focusing your photography efforts on taking pictures during the golden hours. During the early morning and evening, the light is perfect for photography, and there are many pro photographers who swear by this rule. If you take photos indoors, you will have to invest into some lighting equipment to play with.

Photo Editing is a Must

All of the stunning photos that have been captured in the modern history of photography were tampered with. Lightroom and Photoshop can make a stunning image out of the ordinary and “meh” photographs. You should definitely start post processing your photos if you want to end up with diamonds in your hands.

On the other hand, many photographers don’t have time or simply don’t want to get involved in image editing. If you belong to this group of people, you can outsource your image editing to professionals with years of experience in image post processing software.

Start Learning Exposure

We have saved the hardest for the end – exposure. Since you can control the exposure with ISO, aperture and shutter speed, you will have a lot to learn about how each of these affect your image, and eventually be able to take incredible photos.

Learning exposure is very important because you will end up taking photos in tricky lighting situations, and that’s where your knowledge will really shine. If you want to see how exposure affects your photos, load them into any image editing software and check the histogram. The graph to the left indicates that the image is too dark, while the graph shifted to the right indicates the opposite.

There you go. Now that you know what you can do to ensure your photographs look stunning, have a go at it. And remember, nothing beats raw experience and constant practice.


You Want Me to Perform Comedy Where? Comedy In Strange Situations

Comedy is one of the easiest forms of entertainment… if it’s done right. All you need is a microphone, a stage, lighting and a focused audience. But have one of those things out of kilter, and you get a vastly different experience.

When I started out entertaining at some tough bar gigs, my goal was to get so successful that I’d never again have to perform comedy in a room in which you can hear the blender! Bartenders seem to have great timing: they always crank it up right as you’re hitting a punchline. No one hears it and you look foolish. Little did I know that there are room setups that make the blender gigs look easy.

I once got to do comedy at a company party on a turntable or Lazy Susan for those of you over 50. The room was stationary but the part of the floor that I performed on spun around, making a 360-degree lap every 10 minutes. In a 60 minute show, everyone got to see my face six times. There was a wall behind me, so people on each side of the room couldn’t see each other, which made it even more interesting because I’d spin slowly into one part of the room, annoy the people who had forgotten there was comedy, and then I’d spin out. Sixty minutes of this. The client was drunk when I got there, so she didn’t see the problem. She probably was drunk when she reserved a spinning stage and a comedian, but I can’t say for sure. My only saving grace was that the DJ was booked through the same agency, so I had a witness to this mess. Needless to say my comedy-on-a-turntable did not resonate well with the group.

I got another chance to do some comedy spins at an event a few years later, but instead of the floor spinning, it was just me! The company that hired me said that since there would be more than 1,000 people in attendance, they wanted to make sure everyone could see the comedian. So they put me on a pedestal in the middle of the room, with people sitting all around me, and asked me to spin while I told jokes. I’ve always wanted to be put on a pedestal- figuratively, not literally. I didn’t know about the spinning until I arrived at the event, and the client kept asking me before the show, “So do you think this is okay?” I refused to say yes because I didn’t want to take the blame for it, so I just responded, “I’ll try it.” I did end up having a lot of fun with it, and even though the comedy show went very well, I would not recommend spinning comedy. This is when I decided that being a famous comedian would come in really, really handy because I could put my foot down and demand that I not spin. But I needed the money and I’m not famous, so spin I did!

Of course there are stationary room setups that are not conducive to comedy either. Try telling jokes in the basement ballroom of a fancy hotel with posts placed throughout the room. I started off trying to dodge in between them and around them and beside them, until I finally blurted out, “I went to college so I didn’t have to get a job dancing around a pole!” It got a big laugh and I got to acknowledge the situation I was in. At least everyone in the room was experiencing my “pole dance,” so it was funny and the comedy show still rocked!

And sometimes, the stage is a little more makeshift than I’d like. I did a comedy show at a college, during lunchtime, in which I had to stand on a long, narrow lunch table. These college gigs are called “nooners” because they happen at noon in the cafeteria. Many comedians do them and the comedy-on-a-tabletop is pretty standard. Weird. I don’t know how many decibels the noise level got to that day, but I’m pretty sure no one heard my jokes; the students were more interested in their burgers and fries than my humor. But no one questioned why an almost 40-something woman was standing in their cafeteria on a table. I did my act to the clock. When it struck 45 minutes, I jumped down and left. Now, I do a lot of keynotes at health care events, and they have a term called a “never-event” for a mistake that should have never happened, like operating on the wrong body part or injecting the wrong medication. I think that term, never-event, sums up these nooners.

In addition to these venues, just a few other off-the-wall comedy settings I’ve told jokes in are:

In a bakery on a gigantic bowling alley with people inside gigantic clear bowling balls rolling by me in a winery outside in a field next to a canal with huge barges going by on a floating dock on a lake with the audience on the grass embankment on shore at a restaurant while people were eating at a restaurant filled with hundreds of statues in a multimillion dollar gymnasium with a $20 sound system on an aircraft carrier with the wall open behind me so you could see the ocean inside a museum, on the steps leading to an exhibit

WISDOM: Don’t overthink things. Some of these situations came about because the client was overthinking the audience, such as “Comedy will make the students eat lunch.” No, hunger will make the students eat lunch, but the client was trying to fix something that didn’t need fixing. Thinking about things from too many angles can make your head spin, even if you’re not telling jokes on a Lazy Susan!


Beware the LED Killers – Over-Heating & Over-Voltage

LEDs are the greatest lighting source available, but in the RV environment they have two Achilles Heels — Over-Heating and Over-Voltage.

LEDs are tiny slivers of semi-conductor material (p-n junctions for the geeks who want to know), a piece of silicon doped with rare earths that is mixed to emit photons in the visible spectrum whenever a proper voltage is applied across the junction such that an electrical current runs through the semiconductor. Like a true diode, LEDs resist letting current run in the wrong direction. The chemical composition of the p-n junction determines the wavelength of the emitted photons, so you can have red, amber, green, and blue LEDs, among others.

White LEDs are most often made using a native blue LED that shines blue photons into a phosper that in-turn re-emits a spread spectrum of light across a range that looks like white light to the human eye (for the geek, that is Stokes radiation).

Comparing regular lights to LEDs, the standard incandescent light bulb is only 15% efficient in converting the wattage into useful light. Fluorescent lighting is at best 50% efficient. LEDs have an efficiency of 85% or higher in converting the electrical energy into useful photons. This light source is the most efficient of all the choices we have for light in our RVs, boats, and homes.

None of our light sources are 100% efficient — there is always some residual heat. And it is the heat energy that destroys the light source. With incandescents, the 85% wasted energy is heating the filament to a temperature between 600 and 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. At those high temperatures the filament is literally vaporized away over time, most often within a thousand hours or so, and the bulb simply burns out.

LEDs, too, are heated by the flow of current through the circuit. LEDs will immediately fail when the junction temperature exceeds 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Properly designed LED circuits require two very important features to be successful: protection from over-heating and protection from over-voltage. Often the over-heating is related to over-voltage.

Even when an LED is operated at a carefully controlled voltage, it still generates some heat. This heat must be removed from the LED device at a rate that ensures the junction temperature does not exceed the operating limit. The best way to do this is to place the LED device on a “heat sink” that has the capacity to soak up the generated heat from the LED and move it to a place where it can be radiated into the air or some surrounding heat pit. Early generation LEDs did not bother with this problem since the printed circuit board they were used on was generally large enough to serve as a sufficient heat sink.

As LEDs became more advanced, and more LED emitters were placed upon a single semiconductor device, the problem of heat dissipation became more accute. The requirement for doing a good thermal analysis of the printed circuit board holding the LED chips became apparent to those who understood what they were doing. Others tried to use the old technology with the new chips, and their products consistently failed.

The heat generated by an LED device strongly depends upon the input voltage to the device. If an LED circuit is designed to handle the heat load and operate only in a 12.8-volt environment, it will not operate well in a 14.7-volt environment. It will deteriorate and die much sooner. It’s lifetime will be only a few thousand hours, rather than 100,000 hours. And if the over-voltage ranges up to 18 or 24 volts, the LED device may die immediately.

A fully charged type-27 lead-acid battery typically provides a maximum of 12.8-volts. Some people assume that is the operating voltage of an RV. But if you connect to the Shore Power Pedestal and let your AC/DC converter charge your battery, the line voltage will rise to 13.8-volts. If you have a solar system, the controller may raise the line voltage to 14.7-volts. Battery equalization runs typically increase the line voltage to 16.6-volts for two hours or more.

Most of the early designers producing LEDs for the RV environment assumed a 12.8-volt environment, and their products failed at a remarkable rate in today’s RVs and boats. Some learned that if they did not provide some kind of voltage regulation or power regulation on their LED circuits, product failure rates went out of sight.

How the designer protects the LEDs becomes important when you are concerned with overall power efficiency. If the LED circuit has a simple voltage limiter, it “throws” away any excess voltage, reducing the efficiency of your LED in using the available power. On the other hand, if the LED circuit has a power regulator, it converts excess voltage into usable power by taking less current from the main line. Ask your LED supplier how they are protecting their LEDs and what is the cost for such protection. Many of the LED sales people do not understand the basics of the problems with heat and voltage. Will they give you a decent warranty for all conditions, like the full 100,000 hours – about 11 years?

LEDs are a big investment. They are expensive, but if they are constructed properly and used properly, you will have many years of great service, and they will pay back their original cost many times over. But you must be sure the LEDs you use have sufficient protection against excess heat and against voltage vagaries that can destroy them sooner than they should die.

Go for quality, and ask for proof, and a warranty.


Recessed Ceiling Box Lighting

We’ve all seen the basic florescent lighting fixture. Bare, bald, bland and industrial looking lighting isn’t the way to go in your interior design much less your garage space. That’s where recessed box ceiling lights come into play. Best of all, you can install these recessed light sources into an existing kitchen, bathroom or laundry space with ease. Use this guide and you’ll be on your way to getting the most out of your basic florescent tube lighting.

Before you begin

Before doing any electrical work, always turn off the breaker to the source. You can test if the power is shut off by testing it with an electrical meter. You can buy these for less than $5 at any hardware store. If you’re not sure, just turn off the breaker to the entire house. Be sure you have a flashlight handy to work in the now dark place.

Besides electrical wiring causing shocks, the recessed area where the light fixture is going to be installed in needs to be checked for structural irregularities that might make this job impossible. As long as there is room between joists, trusses or other structural material, you can remove the material and create the box; otherwise, you will need to choose a suitable location for your recessed light.

Padding out the space

Ensure that your lighting fixture is going to fit into the space with a quick measurement. You’re going to want to add a minimum of two inches of space around the ballast on all sides. This will prevent any fire problems from occurring. That means if you’re going to use ½ inch drywall, you’ll need to add an extra three inches to the space around the box. Using a few studs or other suitable deadwood material, frame the box so that each side is plumb and square.


Trimming the interior or exterior of the box out is the next step. First, install the wiring and ceiling light fixture into the center of the opening. Now drywall can be attached and cut around the inside of the recessed box. Next, attach a piece of trim around the inside edge of the recessed box. Cut the trim on 45 degree angles on each end to get a picture frame look. Ensure that the frame hangs in on each side ½ inches. Square the trim using the 3-4-5 measuring method. This is accomplished by measuring in the vertical direction three inches, then in the horizontal four inches. Now connect the two marks with a diagonal measurement. If it equals five, then the frame is square. If it’s not, some minor adjustments may be needed to make the frame square. Once the frame is square a piece of frosted glass or crushed ice plastic may be used to cover the florescent ballast.


Save Energy With LED Lighting

LED stands for light emitting diode and it is the most efficient lighting technology that is developing most rapidly in the world today. When you have the best quality LED, you will enjoy the greatest durability and better light as compared to other kinds of lighting. There are many things you may not know about this kind of lighting, but if you did, you would agree that it is the best kind of lighting as compared to others.

Saving on energy

This type of lighting is energy efficient to a very great extent and it comes with the potential of changing the whole lighting structure in the world. There are different kinds of LEDs and some are used for residential purposes. Some of those that are the best quality save around 75% of energy and they last around 25 times when compared to the incandescent lighting. This will translate to great savings, especially if more and more people decide to use this kind of lighting in the future.

Differences with other forms of lighting

There is a big difference between the LED kinds of lighting compared to others.

The light source: this is one of the differences. LEDs are of a fleck of paper size. They are also a mix of blue, green and red and therefore they emit white light.

The direction: LEDs usually emit their light in a very specific direction and therefore there is no need to use diffusers and reflectors to trap light. This makes them very efficient for a variety of uses. Other kinds of lighting require reflection and usually a lot of the light doesn’t get to areas targeted.

Heat: usually, there is very little heat emission. The incandescent bulbs release around 90 percent of energy in the form of heat while the CFLs stand at 80 percent.

Different uses of LED

Today, there are a wide variety of industrial and home products that offer LED lighting. The list keeps on growing. This rapid growth of the technology has led to more products as well as efficiency in manufacturing and that’s why consumers can enjoy even lower prices. Some of the most popular products include:

  • Commercial and industrial lighting: since LEDs are directional and efficient in nature, it has made them a great idea for lots of industrial uses. They are quite commonly used in parking garage, streets, walkways and all other sorts of outdoor areas that need light. Others include task lighting, modular lighting, as well as refrigerated case lighting.
  • Lighting in the kitchen: LEDs are directional and small and therefore they are best for countertop lighting used for reading recipes and cooking. The color appears blue or cooler than most would desire in a kitchen and shadowing can occur. It is therefore important to select the products carefully so as to find what is most ideal in your target space.
  • The recessed downlights: these are often used in bathrooms, hallways and residential kitchens as well as in different commercial and office settings. Many people are using the downlights and the LED has decreased wattage to a great extent.


Lighting Tips for Your Bedroom That Will Dazzle!

If you don’t absolutely look forward to retreating to your bedroom at the end of the day for some much needed rest and relaxation from the world and its troubles–then something is wrong, very wrong! The living room, kitchen, even the bathrooms–all of these areas are open to the prying eyes of the public including friends, family, and guests. Therefore, we tend to decorate a little conservatively in these rooms but there is no reason for that trend to follow you all the way into your precious bedroom–especially when it comes to your lighting fixtures!

Let’s just imagine what the typical bedroom is illuminated with–some sort of flush-mounted ceiling fixture that is possibly complemented by a table lamp or two on either side of the bed…sound about right? Well, you can easily change all of that and make the bedroom a welcome retreat again by making a few simple changes, such as:

1. Install wall sconces on either side of bed and eliminate clutter of night stands and table lamps

2. Adding a chandelier or hanging pendant made from elaborate glass or intricate design

3. Creating a sitting area and use floor lamp to save space and add task lighting

4. Installing track lighting controlled via dimmer switch above headboard area

A pair of Tiffany wall sconces will bathe the bedroom in soothing light that has been gently diffused by the colorful art glass used to make the lampshades. To make the space more ergonomic and to keep everyone happy, it is best to wire the sconces separately so that each person can use the lights whenever they like without bothering the spouse. Whether you decide to go with Tiffany wall sconces or some other design–just be sure that the fixtures coordinate with the other lamps, pendants, and other light sources in the room.

A chandelier is admittedly a bit extravagant for the bedroom. However, a classy yet stylish pendant adds the perfect amount of subtle sophistication to the space. Classier than a simple flush-mounted ceiling fixture, the pendant will flood the area with ample ambient illumination when centrally located. Be sure to purchase a hanging pendant that complements the other décor and furniture in the room because the right fixture will complete a room while those clashing with the décor will disrupt the entire look and feel.

Creating a little sitting area in the bedroom is always a great idea because it truly creates a place in the room where you can relax without going to sleep. Because you might want to do a little light reading or simply concentrate on some job or other, it is a good idea to add some task lighting to the area. Remembering to buy fixtures made in the same design and style of others in the room, some options to task lighting options for the sitting area include:

1.Floor lamp


3.A pair of table lamps

Finally, to either provide additional lighting for reading in bed or simply to add some accent lights, you might want to consider track lighting above the headboard. When all of the other lights are turned off, the track lights will be serve as accent lights. Just remember–the track lights will become permanent fixtures in the room so don’t install them without thinking about their long-term impact upon the space.

The bedroom is the one room in the home that you can and should keep private. This is not a room that you want to display to guests and family–this is your personal sanctuary so feel free to indulge and decorate the space as you see fit. Just remember, the best lighting fixtures in the world will make a room look worse if they are not matching in design, style, and materials. Be sure to do your homework and decide upon the design and style of fixtures you want before committing to a purchase.


Give Your Deck A New Look With Decorative Lighting

Fitting of a deck on the house can allow you to use extra working space and there must be appropriate wood outdoor deck lighting which serves both the purpose for security and illumination. If you have outdoor pool where you would like to enjoy by sitting around and have some leisure, you can use wood outdoor deck lighting. You can decorate the deck by placing tables and chairs where you can not only enjoy quite dinner but also doze off in the summer evenings.

You can modify the basic structure of the house through various stuffs available in the market for designing the house. If your priority is safety then subdued light of 12 volts will be the right one for you for wood outdoor deck. Such a light will not be harmful for the kids playing around who might unknowingly touch it and it is also safer for pets as well. And it is not hazardous if situated near the pool area incase of it falling into the water.

One of the best alternatives is the use of fiber optics as it is heatproof and electric shockproof. It is safer in the under water fittings and is really helpful in designing pools. Another benefit for wood outdoor deck lighting is the graphics of the color. It can be made to change accordingly with the change in the season but only when it is used in fiber optics.

Beautification and Security-Hand in Hand

Deck can be used for stairways walking into the house or into the pavement; it will create remarkably good sense for wood deck lighting and also avoid the injuries by falling from the stairs for visitors and family. You can also decorate the mounted deck by installing railing which can be decorated with small and soft lighting which will not only provide illumination of the stairways but also give facelift to the wooden deck.

You can make use of different structures of wood outdoor deck lighting to give definite designing of illumination in different styles. Light fittings can be separated and put apart which will provide illumination to a larger area and can be changed accordingly with your requirements. Here you can also have choice for 20 volts and 120 volts lighting for bright or soft illumination. You can create a different look every few months by installing the different types of lights according to different whether conditions.

You must keep in mind that wood outdoor deck lighting should be fitted in such a way that it completely matches the design of the house. There are lots of choices available for wood outdoor deck lighting in different elements, shapes, shades fittings and easy-to-use guide through which you can design it by your own. This saves money for hiring any professional for it.


Outdoor Landscape Lighting Basics

Deciding to add outdoor landscape lighting to your home temporarily for an event or permanently can produce in multiple bonuses for you. There are basic types of outdoor lighting that you should know, so that you can get the one that suits your taste.

Solar Powered Outdoor Lighting

This type of outdoor lighting gives a very obvious benefit. There is zero operating cost with this lighting. Once you have them installed where you want them, the sun charges an internal power supply in the fixture. The lights automatically go into action after the sun sets, due to an electric eye sensor built in the fixtures.

It can be used to mark driveways or illuminate pathways. However, the technology has not come to the point that is able to make the lighting bright enough for lighting up much of your landscape or your home. Installation is quick and easy, since they have on board power supply, so there are no wires to run.

The major drawbacks in these types of lights are that they are somewhat dim, plus the length of time you can expect them to stay lighted. Sadly, the brightness and duration are directly related. Basically, the light is brightest even before it perceives the darkest part of the night. This can be one of least versatile systems, but also the cheapest.

Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

This is among the most common types of lighting systems used today. Even though they are electricity operated, their voltage is very low (between 10 and 12 VAC) and this allows you the opportunity to take on the installation by yourself.

There are transformers available that can decrease the voltage to a safe level. In this way, the wiring to the lights doesn’t have to be as deeply buried into the ground, unlike in traditional lighting. This significantly diminishes the cost for installation.

There are also a variety of fixtures to choose from when using this kind of system. Choices vary from spotlights, path lights, and recessed accent lights. These are very decorative fixtures too. With this, you get easy installation with your landscape devoid of being an eyesore.

This is the most cost effective and versatile system that you can install. However, be sure that you have sufficient knowledge before you attempt to install this kind of system by yourself. If not, then it would be best to hire a professional to do the job for you.


Uses for Copper Foil

Copper foil is a relatively rare product among the many different household products that are bought and sold each year. But, nevertheless, uses of the foil remain numerous and it has many applications throughout the home and in industry as well. It isn’t used in most homes because it was largely replaced by aluminum foil because of its better flexibility and heat resistance. However, copper foil still exists and it still has some applications that aluminum foil simply can’t compete in.

The first application that copper foil excels in is in creating stained glass art. Stained glass art is the process of cutting stained or colored glass and then joining the pieces together to form beautiful designs. Copper foil plays a large role in this process because it is used to join the glass pieces together.

First, the glass pieces are cut out and laid into an intricate design that will later be glued together. After this, the foil is cut into strips and is placed between the two pieces of glass. The glass edges are then wrapped with copper tape that is adhesive and then they are soldered together to bond the two pieces of glass together. This creates a strong bond between the glass pieces which will last for years.

In addition to creating beautiful stained glass projects, the foil can also be used in repairing windows and creating new windows. Since Copper Foil is so good at bonding pieces of glass together, it is often used when windows are damaged or cracked. The window pieces are usually separated while a piece of the foil strip is placed in between the two pieces of glass. After this, the strips are soldered together to form the windows together. This will create a strong bond that will be virtually indestructible.

Another application in which the mentioned foil is sometimes used in is protecting and preserving some products and other chemicals throughout the house, although the foil has lost most of its use in the home because of aluminum foil’s rise in popularity.

The main use of copper foil as mentioned earlier is in creating stained glass artwork. The foil is used here because it is lightweight and easily seals the two pieces of glass together with minimal effort. Copper foil is also used to repair broken windows and is sometimes used in the household to preserve non food products and chemicals.


Casio CTK Review

The Casio CTK-2100 is a low-cost keyboard with a 61 piano-style key layout. It includes a USB port for general MIDI support. This keyboard is aimed at beginners, with a Step-up learning system that gives instructions on how to play.

The positives:

Plenty of features and functions for the price. 150 rhythms, a sampling function, a voice pad function, and the ability to connect a CD or MP3 player via the audio input so that you can play along to your favorite song on the keyboard. It has a step-up learning system that makes it easy to hear the progress made in your playing skills.

It has hundreds of pre-programmed songs that break down and show you how to play them exactly, note by note. A really great teaching aid.

  • New Voice Pad function
  • New 48-note polyphony AHL sound source
  • 400 Tones, 150 Rhythms
  • New StepUp lesson system
  • Sampling Function, Audio-in Terminal for mp3-Player

The negatives:

This is a beginner keyboard at a budget price. Therefore the key weight is light. You may hear noise from the keys when you press them. You cannot affect the tone by pressing the keys hard or easy – as with a real piano or more expensive keyboard. But this is not a big deal to most people buying a keyboard in this price range.

  • The headphones can be difficult to figure out (premium package).
  • The stand can be difficult to put together (premium package).
  • The LCD is not very bright which requires good lighting to see.
  • Occasional packaging issues.

The Casio CTK-3000has a 61 Key Piano Style Touch Sensitive Keyboard, 400 total onboard Tones, 150 Rhythms and Digital Effects. It has the Step-up Lesson System, audio inputs for a MP3 player, USB port for MIDI implementation and a pitch wheel.

The positives:

The touch sensitive keys makes it more like playing a real piano and therefore a good value for the price.

  • Plenty of onboard tones, rhythms, and effects for the price.
  • Digital readout is easy to see.

The negatives:

  • The keys are light and can be prone to noise, as with any inexpensive keyboard.
  • The holder for the music on the keyboard isn’t the greatest.
  • Does not come with a/c adapter.

The Casio CTK-4000 is an affordable instrument with a 61 Key Piano Style Touch Sensitive Keyboard, 570 total onboard Tones, 180 Rhythms and Reverb plus Chorus Digital Effects. Packed with great features such as Casio’s famous Step-up Lesson System, audio inputs for a MP3 player and a USB port for MIDI.

Featuring a 61 note keyboard with Piano Style, Touch Sensitive keys, 570 sounds, 180 rhythms, Reverb and Chorus Digital Effects, built-in USB and an audio input for an MP3 player.

The positives:

Doesn’t feel as cheap as some of the more inexpensive models.

  • Quality digital sounds
  • Plenty of volume with a full, rich and improved sound than lesser models (AHL and arpeggiator).
  • Velocity sensitivity aka Touch response (note that velocity sensitivity is the speed with which you hit the keys, not the pressure with which you hit the keys).
  • 48 note polyphony (24 note for dual-layer tones like Strings Piano)
  • Split function: divide the keyboard into 2 zones, anywhere. Supports octave shift (1 octave) of each zone.
  • Layer function: layer 2 sounds for a rich effect. Layer effects on only right-side zone if split function is active. If using Dual-layer tones, up-to 4 instruments sounds are produced simultaneously.
  • Adjustable Reverb (10 levels), Chorus (5 levels), Key Transpose (12 notes), Octave shift (2 octaves) Pitch tuning (approx 100 cents), preset scales (16 scales)
  • Auto-Harmonize function: 12 types, adds additional notes to your playback, active only if auto-accompaniments are active.
  • 90 Arpeggiator Patterns: Up, Down, U/A Type A, U/D Type B, Random. Arpeggio Hold function.
  • 305 Music Presets: Based on popular songs, the tone(s), rhythms, tempo and other settings are available as presets on the keyboard. Just select the preset and start playing. Songs include Careless Whispers, How Deep Is Your Love, Killing Me Softly
  • One-Touch Rhythm Presets: Upon selection of a rhythm, activate Rhythm preset to automatically select the suitable tempo and tone. Very useful if you are moving from Trance (140 bpm) to Slow Jazz (80 bpm) and don’t feel like hammering the tempo button 60 times or pressing multiple keys to change the tone from Synth to Sax.
  • Full Range Chord: In this mode the keyboard recognizes and plays the chords if any 3 keys are pressed anywhere on the keyboard. Selecting chords is not limited to the Left-zone of the keyboards anymore. Very useful for Harmonium players of India who typically play melody using chorded formation.
  • Indian tones (15) & rhythms (7 types)
  • Great training features and onscreen help.

The negatives:

  • No weighted keys
  • No pitch wheel
  • No stored settings of music can be saved.

The Casio CTK-5000 is the flagship of the CTK-series. Featuring a 61 Key Piano Style Touch Sensitive Keyboard, 670 total onboard Tones, 200 Rhythms and Reverb plus Chorus Digital Effects. Packed with great features such as Casio’s famous Step-up Lesson System, audio inputs for a MP3 player, pitch wheel for additional expression over sounds, Line Outputs and a USB port for MIDI. All this makes CTK-5000 more realistic and expressive than ever before at this price range.

Featuring a 61 note keyboard with Piano Style, Touch Sensitive keys, 670 sounds, 200 rhythms, Reverb and Chorus Digital Effects, built-in USB, line outputs, a pitch wheel for greater expression and an audio input for an MP3 player.

The Positives:

  • Better action on the keys than from the lesser models. Keys seem to be somewhat weighted. Keys are less noisy than the lesser models.
  • Acoustic sounds are realistic.
  • Speakers are great – very loud with no noise.
  • Great ability to layer sounds.
  • A fantastic selection of 90 harmonies & arpeggios.
  • Full range chord feature (keyboard automatically selects the right chord).
  • 32 Registration Memory (store keyboard settings like Tone, Style, Tempo, Layers and recall at the touch of a button.
  • 800+ sounds.
  • XLR outs.
  • Recorder: 6 tracks x 5 songs, 1 lesson song, approximately 12,000 notes total.
  • Metronome.
  • Pitch wheel added.

The Negatives:

  • Time consuming access and programming.
  • Manual is not entirely clear on some subjects.


A Trip Through Rimini – The Past and Present

If Sigismondo Malatesta a famous 15th Century Lord of Rimini came back, what would he make of Rimini today? Apart from some of the obvious differences between the renaissance city of Malatesta and the modern city today, (Malatesta's castle is still standing) the presence of cars, modern buildings and electrical lighting would probably amaze him. The most amazing thing though apart from the above would probably be Rimini's move to the coast.

The city of Rimini in Malatesta's era had its defences inn which ran around what is today known as the centro storico. When Sigismondo Malatesta came to power he decided a change was in order and promptly embarked on a vast building program which included the Tempio

Malatesta – one of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in Europe – and his mysterious and very modern fortress, the Rocca Malatesta. The city of Malatesta was built on top of the existing city – in other words on the site of the Roman city of Ariminum which was founded in the year 286 BC Malatesta used the existing Roman monuments at the time, including the famous Ponte di Tiberio and Arco d'Augustoand incorporated them into his city. These famous monuments can still be seen today on your trip to Rimini.

Taking a walk around Rimini today, Malatesta would find the beautiful sandy beaches and their magnetism quite puzzling during the summer months. Back in Malatesta's day the practice of lying in the sun on the beach and going for a dip would have been strange if not dangerous as the beaches back then were places for smuggling and brigandry as they were away from the city of Rimini's main defenses. Italian cities just like

Rimini were often at war with each other and were in continuous conflict with their neighbors. Malatesta, through his life was in a continuous power struggle with Federico da Montefeltro, Lord of Urbino and also the Pope.We also know that Pope Pius II excommunicated Sigismondo in 1460 declaring him a heretic.

So when did Rimini start to become a city that is, for Italians and the many tourists from the world over, synchronous with sun, sea, and sand? In his fascinating study of the history of sea bathing in Rimini – Una costa lunga due secoli (Panozzo Editore), Professor Feruccio Farina, of the University of Urbino, sheds light on one of the first tourist to take a dip in the beautiful sea in Rimini. Her name was Elisabeth Kenny, and she was the young Irish wife of a Roman noble. Professor Feruccio Farina says that she is recorded as having visited the city of Rimini in the summer month of August of 1790 (over 300 years after the death of Sigismondo Malatesta), and stayed for over two weeks to benefit from the wonderful sea air and waves .

Rimini is one of those classic holiday destinations for Italians and tourist alike. Rimini has been blessed with sun, sand and sea as well as culture. The classic beach holiday and culture holiday coexist here in Rimini much to the delight of all that arrive here. Rimini is easily reached by numerous direct flights from many cities around Europe.


Keeping Dinosaur Eels (Bichirs) In Tropical Freshwater Fish Tanks or Aquariums

Dinosaur eel

The dinosaur eel is the common name for the Grey Bichir, Polypterus Senegalus, though it is a fish and not an eel. There are more than a dozen species of this fish but the Grey Bichir or Senegalus Bichir is the most common and is popular among aquarists. This Bichir is covered in dark grey horizontal bands that become paler as the fish grows. Some Bichirs can reach over three feet in length, although most species, including the Senegalus Bichir, grow to around one foot.

Natural habitat

In their native habitat they can be found in lakes, rivers, floodplains and swamps in Africa, especially the Congo River and Nile. They are capable of surviving in waters with low oxygen content and can move in search of food or to find other wet areas in their home dries in time of drought.

Characteristic features

The misnomer of dinosaur eel (hereafter referred to as Bichir) comes from the prehistoric appearance of this elongated fish. Its snake-shaped body is covered by thick, bone-like scales made of an enamel-like substance called ganoine, which resembles the now extinct earliest ray-finned fishes. It has a distinctive series of up to 18 dorsal finlets, each one with a sharp spine, which are erected when it is agitated. The fleshly pectoral fins, which control the slow movement of the fish, are attached behind and below the gill openings. It is also able to travel over land using its strong pelvic fins. Bichirs can also breathe air via a lung-like modification to their swim bladder. Other characteristics include a pair of blowholes, a long lower jaw and external nostrils which protrude from the nose to enable the Bichir to hunt by smell since its eyesight is poor. Females tend to be larger than males, while adult males have thicker dorsal spines and broader anal fins.


Bichirs are predatory and essentially carnivorous and will attack and feed on small fish that are easy to swallow as well as slow-moving fish. They will also eat insects, crustaceans and frogs. Since they are nocturnal they will feed mainly at night.


After a series of energetic twisting movements, the male Bichir fertilizes the eggs by enveloping the female’s genital opening with his anal and caudal fin. He then scatters the eggs using thrashing movements of his tail. It is difficult, however, to get Bichirs to breed in captivity. Some aquarists have noted that even if a male and female are present, the male is often unresponsive and will not fertilize the eggs the female releases.

Aquarium size

Due to the length Bichirs grow and their need to breathe air, it is important they are housed in long tank aquariums that are not too deep, possibly even a fish tank table. Aim for an aquarium that is at least three times the adult size of the Bichir you have or plan to purchase. Choose fish tank aquariums that are no more than eighteen inches deep and do not fill completely with water. This is important as Bichirs need to be able to breathe from the air and therefore have to be able to swim quickly to the surface and back to the bottom where they dwell.

Being able to use oxygen from the air enables Bichirs to survive out of water for several hours. Given this and the fact that they have the instinct to move out of one place in search of food in another, it is recommended to have a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium!

Aquarium decor

A thin layer of soft sand or gravel is fine as substrate. Bichirs also like hiding places, especially as they prefer to stay out of the light during the day. So it is much more enjoyable for them to have robust plants, rocks and tunnels which allow them to display more natural behaviours. Plants attached to wood work best as Bichirs tend to displace plants rooted in the substrate because of their size and when searching for food.

Water conditions

As they are tropical freshwater fish, Bichirs require a temperature of 75-85 F. They like a pH of 7 or slightly below and prefer water that is a little hard. Of course, it is important to perform frequent water changes to ensure the quality of water is good in your tropical freshwater aquariums.

Aquarium lighting

Bichirs are nocturnal so they will be typically lethargic during the day and active at night. Rather than switching the aquarium lights off complete, provide the semblance of a natural nightfall by installing a blue moonlight bulb so you too can experience some action from your Bichir!


Being carnivorous, Bichirs love to be fed baitfish, mussels, shrimps and bloodworms. They will also readily accept frozen foods. Some aquarists have tried to encourage them to take dry foods by only supplying them until their hunger overcomes them, and have found they can adapt OK. However, I would mention that this is not their natural diet.

Tank mates

Given the large size of Bichirs and their predatory nature, it is extremely important to match them with suitable tank mates. Do not keep them with fish smaller than three inches which can provide a ready meal! It is better to match Bichirs with bigger fish as they will not bother as much with fish they cannot swallow. Siamese Tigerfish, Angelfish, large Barbs, Cichlids and Knifefish are possible tank mates. It has been observed that suckermouth Catfish tend to suck on the skin of Bichirs which irritates them and so it is not advised to keep both types of bottom-dwelling fish. Also avoid matching them with overly aggressive species. In a very large fish tank it will be possible to keep several Bichirs together, provided they are around the same size. They should generally tolerate each other, apart from fighting over the food!

To keep or not to keep?

Bichirs are interesting specimen fish but do be aware of all the issues involved in keeping them, especially the size of the tank and the other tropical freshwater fish you have or plan to have. Bichirs also cost more to keep than other fish, though they are a very hardy breed. Keeping Bichirs in a suitable environment requires careful planning!


Tips to Keep Your Baby Safe in Summer

Yes, summer does that to your baby – transform him/her from a little bundle of joy to an irritable and shrieking tiny-horror troubled by dehydration, rashes, sunburns and itches all over. It leaves you wondering how you can make the first summers of the baby’s life cool and fun. Here is how:

Keep your baby out of harsh sunlight

Summer is no reason to keep your baby locked up at home; every baby needs its share of fresh air and sunlight. However, a baby’s soft sensitive skin is particularly vulnerable to lasting sun damage. So make it a rule to stay indoors between 10 am and 5 pm when the heat is unbearable. Instead, go for a stroll in the relatively cool early morning or evening. While outside, remain in the shade as much as possible and avoid too much direct sunlight.

Proper clothing keeps the baby cool

Synthetic fabrics make the baby hot and uncomfortable. Besides, it blocks air passage causing prickly heat or rashes. Cotton clothes are the ideal choice as they keep the body cool and allow air to flow freely. The baby’s head and face can be easily protected with a wide-brimmed hat – preferably, one without a constricting elastic band.

A dollop of sunscreen – is it safe for babies?

Sunscreen in summer is crucial because sunburns sustained in the first 15 years of life are responsible for skin cancer later. Though there are no confirmed reports that sunscreen itself is unsafe for babies, you might choose not to apply it on infants less than 6 months old. On older ones, an SPF 50 sunscreen recommended for babies protect skin against UV rays from sun. A generous quantity of this sunscreen should be rubbed into skin 30 minutes prior to stepping out into sunshine; for added defense, dab sunscreen on parts of skin covered by clothing. While driving in a car or even on a cloudy day, let every inch of your baby be sunscreen protected!

Sunglasses make your baby look and feel cool!

Opinion is divided but some suggest that good quality sunglasses can protect babies’ eyes from sun. Plastic fancy/toy goggles are damaging to the eyes and do not offer adequate protection. Always, buy good quality sunglasses – whether for your baby or for yourself!

Keep the baby hydrated at all times

A baby’s surface area is high compared to body mass, so they get dehydrated quickly. Babies below 6 months of age should be breast-fed whenever they like. Others must be encouraged to take extra drinks of water at regular intervals. If signs of dehydration – no urination for 4 – 6 hrs, crying without tears, sunken eyes etc – are noted, give enough water and apply a wet sponge to the forehead at once, to revive the baby. If symptoms persist rush to a hospital: your baby could be suffering from heat stroke.

Keep your guard up against food poisoning

There is at least one group that loves the heat and humidity of summer – microbes. They flourish in foodstuff causing food borne illnesses. To avoid contamination, wash your hands clean before handling food; all surfaces coming in contact with food, like dinner service, cutting boards etc should be meticulously clean. While traveling, carry moist towelettes or tissue for cleansing. It is safer to discard food left out of refrigerator for over 1 hr. The water your baby drinks can be as much a source of microbes as the food: see that every drop of water ingested is safe.

A pristine baby pool delights and cools

Splashing in the backyard pool affords the baby instant relief from heat. And for the parents, it is a delightful scene to watch. Make the experience hassle-free by ensuring that water is treated to kill microbes: otherwise, it can lead to pink eye, sore throat, cold etc, or diarrhea, if water is accidentally swallowed. From time to time check diapers and in the event of a leakage change the water. Remember not to change diapers by the pool; take the baby to the bathroom instead. In summer steer clear of public swimming pools, spas etc. All this guarantees that your baby is playing in water that is as fresh as it looks.

Drive those insects away

Swarms of insects launch full-fledged attacks, and those nasty red rashes on pudgy hands and feet make us wonder if babies are explicit targets. To shield your baby against bites deploy insect-repellents, preferably with natural ingredients, like oil of lemon, eucalyptus, citronella etc; use a product safe for babies and follow directions. While applying, avoid their hands (obviously enough, they put their hands in their mouths all the time!) and the area around mouth and eyes. Wash off as soon as possible. Apply more to clothing than to skin. However, insect repellents may not be safe for infants under 2 months. In case you are repelled by repellents, as some parents are, invest in long trousers, long sleeves and a mosquito net; lighting citronella candles in the evening can drive mosquitoes out of your house. As a matter of principle, avoid infested areas, and start clearing that wilderness in your backyard!

Erase those rashes and itches

Even babies sweat profusely in hot weather. Accumulated sweat clogs skin pores (especially under the elastic band of nappies) causing rashes and itches. Cloth nappies fashioned out of good quality cotton dries sweat faster. Frequent bathing, moisturizers and medication help banish those rashes and itches. Home remedies like applying yogurt or a cooling pack of Fuller’s earth and rose water can alleviate rashes. Greasy moisturizers and commercial talcum powders should be rejected as they make the condition worse. If you are in the habit of giving the baby oil massages wash the oil off thoroughly.

Sometimes, bringing up a baby seems like a whole lot of responsibility, doesn’t it? Except, before their arrival life was not nearly as rewarding. And we wouldn’t dream of taking chances where they are concerned, would we?


Why Are Chandeliers So Expensive?

There has long been a belief that chandeliers add a sense of class and sophistication to a home that cannot be achieved with any other sort of lighting fixture. And it is true that they are very aesthetically pleasing in a classical sense and form a feature of the space rather than just providing illumination. This has led, however, to a stereotype that only wealthy people can have chandeliers in their homes. And this may be true, simply for the fact that these fixtures can prove to be a highly expensive investment. But why is this, and what can’t there be cheaper chandeliers available too?


One of the main factors that determine how expensive a chandelier is going to be is what materials have been used in its construction. Some fixtures make use of crystals (Swarovski being a popular choice) to make them appear more elegant and extravagant but, as crystals aren’t overly cheap, this really bumps up the price of the finished chandelier. Likewise, a fixture that makes use of an expensive silk fabric is going to be worth much more than one that uses a standard blend that you could buy in any store.


Another of the factors that plays a role in how expensive a chandelier is going to be is its size. It makes sense that a mini fixture is going to be considerably cheaper than one that would be at home in a ballroom, especially as the size of the chandelier is directly proportional to the type and amount of materials that are used in its creation. If a mini chandelier is made out of crystal, however, and a much larger one out of wrought iron, logic dictates that the smaller could prove to be more expensive.


The final factor that determines how expensive a chandelier is going to be is who designed it. If you are looking at a fixture that has been created by one of the leading lighting designers in the world, you would expect to pay a pretty penny for it. If you have found one in one of your regular department stores, however, you would expect to pay much less.

At the end of the day, there actually are cheaper chandeliers on the market – you just have to know where to look and what you’re looking for. When you take into account the materials, size and designer of a particular fixture, you should be able to tell whether you are getting a bargain buy or not. The next time you visit a lighting showroom, take a walk around and look at each detail of the chandeliers on show to find one that you can afford.


Solar Lights – A Way to Lighting Up Your Yard After Dark

Illuminating gardens, decks and walkways at night with outdoor lighting can create a whole new look and feel around your home. People choose outdoor lighting for a variety of reasons:

Accenting trees, shrubs, planting beds or architectural features to turn them into focal points.

Illuminated paths, steps and walkways to make navigating them easier.

Security lighting to make your property more secure.

Adding outdoor lighting can be very easy. The first step is to choose a system that’s right for you. There are a wide variety of options to choose from and prices to fit just about any budget. Solar lights are a popular choice because there’s no wiring to install and no electricity bill to pay. They may cost more than other options, but you do save a little on your electric bills and you can move them around a lot easier than ones that are hard-wired.

The most widely used type of outdoor lighting utilizes solar power. Solar lights are economical, safe and easy to install. A nice feature about solar lights is that the lights can be easily moved to compensate for plant growth or for different lighting effects.

A couple of options for solar lighting would be:

Globe lights are designed to cast small pools of light on the ground. They’re ideal for softly illuminating the edge of the patio.

Floodlights send out a stronger, focused beam of light–perfect for highlighting a specific tree, bush or area of the yard or garden.

To get started, develop a diagram and lay all the lights on the ground where you want them. Adjust until the location and spacing is to your liking. Once you are satisfied where they should go, push them into the ground. If they don’t look right, pull them up and move them. It’s as simple as that.

A few lights in the right places can give your yard or garden a magical feel at night. The simple do-it-yourself installation allows anyone to setup professional type lighting at a fraction of the cost that a professional would charge. Installation of solar lights could not be easier. Because there is no wiring and no dangerous mains voltage, they can be set almost anywhere to create new focal points for evening viewing.


Enhance Your Room Design With Dynamic Lighting

As an interior designer, I often use lighting to create drama when my client’s decorating budget is tight. By simply adjusting ceiling lights, using inexpensive table lamps, or strategically-placing accent lighting, I’m able to increase a room’s impact at a lower cost.

Lighting has come a long way in the last 10 years. You can now easily find a sophisticated lamp or chandelier within your budget that will help you create beautiful dimension for your interiors.

Before you shop for your ideal lamp or lighting, though, you might want to take a trip to your local art gallery or museum to see how they use lighting to enhance the artwork.

You can also get a lot of great lighting ideas by visiting your local shopping center. You will find a large variety of light fixtures and applications throughout the mall.

Once you’ve gotten ideas, you will want to visit a lighting store to make your purchases. Don’t be intimidated by the huge selection of lighting possibilities. There’s a lighting solution for every need.

Below is a simple guide to lamps and shades.


  • Accent lamps: You can use these lamps in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, entrances and any spot that may need extra lighting. They’re generally under 20″ tall and provide just the right amount of accent lighting.
  • Table lamps: These are usually from 25″ to 32″ tall. You can use table lamps for general purpose lighting in living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms and family rooms.
  • Desk lamps: These are usually 12″ to 20″ high. You can use them to light a specific work area.
  • Floor lamps: You can use these lamps in dark corners or areas that regular lighting may not reach.


  • Shade size: There are three dimensions to shade sizes: top diameter, bottom diameter, and height.
  • Shade material: Shades can be made of almost any material. The most common are silk, cotton, linen, plastic/vinyl and paper.
  • Shade height: Generally, the height of the shade should be equal to the measurement taken from the base of the lamp to the bottom of the bulb socket.
  • Shade width: Shades should be at least as wide as the widest point of the lamp body. Many people prefer the lamp shade to be several inches wider than the lamp.
  • Shade length: At eye level, the bottom of the shade should cover the bottom of the socket.

No matter which lamp or shade you select, you’re sure to greatly enhance your room design.


Outdoor Lighting is Versatile and Easy

Looking for a way to liven up your backyard or patio that’s both easy and fairly inexpensive? Check out the often overlooked and underappreciated world of outdoor lighting fixtures. These fixtures range from wall sconces to post-mounted lights to hanging lanterns, and all of them make your outdoor areas more inviting after the sun goes down.

We all want to enjoy the outdoors, especially during the warm summer months, but a poorly lit yard usually means the party is moving indoors once darkness falls. Keep the party going outside by adding some sconces to your perimeter walls. Spacing out some wall fixtures every eight or ten feet adds enough light to allow the kids to keep playing outside while also adding some style to your backyard. Another option is adding solar powered path lights around the perimeter of your yard. These inexpensive lights won’t provide the same amount of light as electrical fixtures, but they are an extremely energy efficient way to add a little ambiance to any outdoor setting.

For yards with well defined patio areas, a great option is post-mounted lighting. These light fixtures are ideal for wood railings, especially at corners and openings. For open yards and patios, these fixtures work just as well by installing wooden or metal poles in the ground and mounting the lights atop them. These post-mounted fixtures come in a wide variety of styles ranging from modern designs to more antique, classic looks.

Nothing says “outdoors” like a lantern. Now you can enjoy the classic look of a hanging lantern without the hissing noise that accompanies the kerosene camping models. Hanging lanterns are ideal for eaves and covered patio areas and are often very easy to install and maintain. Turn your patio into a rustic campsite or look into the sleeker, contemporary styles of this classic light fixture.

Every outdoor area can benefit from proper lighting, and installing many of these great outdoor lighting fixtures is easier than you might think. Keep the party going longer and get more use from your outside areas.


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