Donate Your Books to Prisons (in Canada)

Canadian resources/ organizations which send books (fiction and non-fiction in good condition, no hardcovers) to prisons/ inmates in Canada.

You can find out more from the post on PEN Canada – Prisoners’ Right to Read. There is also a mailing label you can print out to go along with any  books you send. Note – books can not be sent directly to an inmate, but publishers, libraries and organizations (see above) can do so.

Of course you can’t send any book, on any topic or anything which describes criminal activity. However, you can send books which will help inmates learn (or improve) their reading skills. You can also send non-fiction. Think about all those gardening, cooking, history and science books which you haven’t looked at in years.

Miscommunication?

I don’t think this is sending the message they really want the public to receive.

It almost made me laugh. I come from a background of small business owners, often working on call seven days a week. I myself have mainly been in customer service or freelancing which has few days off, lots of being on call and I only get paid if I show up and keep working. So, I was surprised and then almost laughed out loud when I saw this come up on a website for a union. unionjobSource: The Media Union of BC

Play a Game that Begins With…

From Facebook this morning:

Let’s play a game. I have been given the letter “D” by Name not included

Something I hate: Dumbasses

Something I love: Dreams

Some where I have been: Detroit

Somewhere I’d like to go: Dubai

Someone I know: Dianne Bushell Best film: Devils wears Pradha

Like my status and I’ll give you a letter.

The idea is you are given a letter by the person who had this posted on their Facebook page. Then you find answers for each of the topics but they must start with the letter you were given.

Something I hate: rudeness

Something I love: red

Some where I have been: Revelstoke, BC

Somewhere I’d like to go: Russia

Someone I know: (I can’t think of anyone with an R name. Will probably come up with something an hour after I post this).

Best film: (I’m not that into film).

Guest Post about Night Photography

Today I am publishing a guest post through My Blog Guest. Thank you to Sam for the photography tips.

Night Photography: A crash course.

We all love a good night photo. A beautiful cityscape, boats on a still harbour with their lights reflecting across the water…  These views themselves are works of art, and a good photo can even add another dimension to them.

But more often than not when it comes time to look through our photos at the end of a trip or night out, the photos tend to be blurry and grainy, if not completely black and unusable.

I remember being in Victoria, Canada, and trying to take a photo of the Royal BC Museum at night. If I knew then what I knew now, I could have ended up with something quite spectacular to show my friends, rather than the abstract mish mash of blurry lights and sense of frustration that I took home with me.

The difficulty with night photography is the lack of available light. A flash can do a great job of illuminating a close space (even if it can be a little harsh and unflattering), but the light drops away sharply at distance and by about 20 feet it is basically not doing anything.  The other big problem with a flash is it can wash out the natural ambient lighting of a scene. All the nice streetlights and sign glows will be replaced by a big dull white flash-light.

Essentially, for anything other than a group of people or a close, isolated subject, the flash needs to go. But then what? Your poor little camera has to try and deal with the low light conditions that the flash was put on the camera to negate in the first place.

There are two ways to naturally get more light into your camera. One is to open up the aperture, which basically increases the flow of light through the lens. The second is to use a longer shutter speed, which allows the film or sensor to be exposed to light for a longer period of time.

There is a third variable which may help you get the exposure you need, and that is ISO or ‘film speed’. Basically this describes how sensitive either the film you are using, or the sensor in your digital camera is, to light. In other words if your ISO is a higher number, then you need less light to get the same exposure.

With that in mind, how do we take nice night photos? Well generally speaking, with a point and shoot style camera, you should have the aperture wide open to allow maximum light to get to your sensor.  The only reason you would ever want to stop your aperture down would be to try and get a longer depth of field, i.e a deeper zone of area in the photo that is in focus, however this only really applies with bigger format cameras such as SLRs, as changes in depth of field are barely a factor in point and shoots.

The next step, and this is crucial, invest in a cheap tripod. Stabilising your camera allows you to use longer shutter speeds without getting the awful blurry mess we have come to expect from flash-less night photos. Shutter speed is really your friend at night. The one thing to keep in mind though is the movement of your subjects. Obviously if they are moving they will end up blurry at longer shutter speeds.

Another small tip that will make a huge difference when using very long shutter speeds, is to use the timer function of your camera. The actual physical process of pushing the shutter release button to take the photo can be enough to cause a blur at long shutter speeds, however if you have at least a 2 second delay the camera will have stabilized again before the exposure starts.

The only remaining variable we have to try and reduce that blur is your ISO, however a higher ISO will mean grainier, lower quality photos.

So to conclude, buy a cheap tripod, crank open that aperture, wind back that long shutter speed, set your camera’s timer and try and keep your iso as low as the situation permits.

Happy shooting!

Sam Matthews
Home Art and Furniture

Hyperlocal, What is It?

I’ve seen the term hyperlocal come up three times lately. I decided to spend some time to find out what it is exactly and how it is being used.
Of course, Wikipedia comes up first in the results I get from Google. : Hyperlocal –

refers to the emergent ecology of data (including textual content), aggregators, publication mechanism and user interactions and behaviours which centre on a resident of a location and the business of being a resident. Hyperlocal content, often referred to as hyperlocal news, is characterized by three major elements. Firstly, it refers to entities and events that are located within a well defined, community scale area. Secondly, it is intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area. Thirdly, it is created by a resident of the location (but this last point is discussed because for example a photo can be hyperlocal but not locally produced).

Hyperlocal World – Developments in news, people and the first law of geography.
HyperlocalBlogger.com – Tips and discussion for local bloggers.
Hyperlocal 101 – Tools and technique for the hyperlocal revolution.

Blog TO is a hyperlocal news blog from Toronto. It comes from a network, Freshdaily.ca (site is not up).

Other hyperlocal blog networks:

Individual hyperlocal content blogs:

If hyperlocal blogging is interesting you take a look at TwitterLocal, which gives you a Twitter feed by location and LocalTweeps which is a directory built with zip codes. Also, look for blog directories based on regional locations, each blog you find there is a possible source of news and events locally. You may find other locals to post their perspectives, advertising, photos and news stories on your hyperlocal blog. Of course everything local is a marketing/ promotion resource for a hyperlocal blog. You don’t need to be in to top rank of international lists for blogs, keep your focus on local in every way.

The links for networks and especially those for individual hyperlocal blogs are just a few I found when I went looking. There are masses of sites once you know what to look for. Some don’t use the term hyperlocal, they may call themselves citizen journalists, or maybe cell journalists.