Currently Browsing: Hobbies and Interests

How to Take Better Portrait Photographs

We all want to look good on a photo, especially if it is a portrait. But have you noticed how you look better in some angles and with certain lighting, while in others you look like you are sick or you have a bigger face? The good news is that those pretty portraits are not accidents but there are tried and tested ways to take better photos.

Pick a short telephoto lens. Selecting the right equipment for a portrait will help you a lot. The best lens for a portrait shot is a telephoto lens because it compresses the perspective. You can pick lenses between 85 to 150 mm lens.

Set the ISO setting low. Adjust the ISO setting to not more than 400 as this will help reduce the noise in the background. But this works only if your subject is not moving. If the lighting is poor, however, you can use a higher ISO setting or open the aperture. If you are still unsure, try taking different shots with different settings for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture until you find the best combination that works.

There is no single rule for aperture. In some guides, you might see recommended aperture settings for portraits, but remember that the subject and background are unique. The general rule would be to use a wide aperture if you need to shoot a portrait of just one subject. If the aperture is too wide, the photo will end up highlighting parts of the subject’s face. If you need a portrait for more than one person, the starting point can be at f/8 then adjust accordingly.

Shutter speed is unique for every subject. Adjusting the shutter speed is based on what you want to capture from your subject. If they are still, you can use 1/15th or lower. But if the subject is moving a lot or you are trying to get a portrait of more than one person, use 1/125th or higher. Do not forget to check the ISO setting if you still get blurry images.

Always shoot on manual mode. If you have a tripod, use it so you can shoot in manual mode. This will give you better control on the settings of the camera especially if you need to take several shots of the subject. An alternative would be to shoot in aperture priority mode. This also works great in portraits especially if you are shooting with a background that have a lot of movement or objects.

Match white balance settings to the natural lighting. You will want the portrait to show the subject’s natural skin tone as much as possible. The best way to do this is to utilize the natural light in the setting. Complement it with the proper white balance setting that is closest to the natural lighting. Do not use the auto white balance, but select from the presets.

Collecting Video Games for Beginners

Some gamers prefer to keep their games instead of selling used ones to get new titles. But the maintenance and the cost of building an impressive collection will need a lot of time, effort, and money.

How do you start building your collection and what do you need to keep them in good condition for years?

Don’t Forget to Research

Most dedicated gamers are familiar with the history of video games and the different platforms, but for those who want to collect vintage games and consoles, it’s important to know which items you’re supposed to get and what to look for in each.

Take note of the features, especially with retro consoles, so that you don’t end up spending money on something that you can’t use. You might also want to look for a reputable electronic repair shop in Singapore that is experienced with old video game consoles in case you need to have one of your items repaired or cleaned.

Set a Budget

Spend your money wisely when buying used or new titles, unless you’re just collecting games for the sake of displaying them. Maybe you don’t need that exclusive edition because you’re not a big fan of the franchise, or maybe you’re already hard-pressed to make ends meet.

Gaming is fun, but you should not starve yourself just to get a special edition that you’re not going to play anytime soon. Set a limit to how much you’re willing to spend and do not buy a ton of games that you won’t be able to play for months. Unless you’re looking for rare titles, you’re not going to run out of copies, so relax!

Don’t Buy Randomly

It could be tempting to fill up a shelf with some of the popular titles you can find, but you should not spend on games that are only good for display. Starting your own collection means that you need to define what your preferences are and to use your budget wisely by purchasing only the titles that you’re interested to play.

Trying to collect everything you can get your hands on defeats the purpose of building that collection, and you might also end up buying defective or fake products if you fail to test them. Start small with a list of titles you want to play, or you can start by purchasing a personal computer or one console and browse through some of the exclusives.

You Should Know What to Look For

If you’ve done your research, then you should be able to tell which items are worth buying. When shopping for accessories, consoles, games, and other gaming items, keep in mind its functionality, condition, extra features, and its accessibility to use the item. For example, do not buy retro consoles if you cannot purchase games to play it with. Inspect the items thoroughly for any damage especially if you’re buying second-hand items, and know how to spot fake goods by knowing what extra items should come with the product.

The 12 Best Turn-Based RPG

If you have a lot of time to spare and can’t be bothered trying to defeat enemies in real time, then turn-based games are for you. As the name implies, you will be taking turns attacking or defending or casting spells until you or the enemy has zero hit points.

Here are 12 of the best turn-based RPGs to get you started.

XCOM 2 (2016)

If you enjoyed XCOM: Enemy Unknown, then you need to play this sequel, which covers events two decades after the first game. Unfortunately, the military organization that was supposed to fight off an alien invasion has lost the war and are forced into pockets of resistance.

The Banner Saga (2014)

Anyone who is a fan of the Norse myths will love this game. It focuses on a caravan of humans trying to fend off the Dredge. The humans are led by two playable characters whose destinies are determined by the player’s decisions.

Sacred (2004)

Players can choose from six playable characters from different races. Each skill, item, and rune for that character are also unique. The goal is to find the five elements to defeat the Sakkara demon.

Darkest Dungeon (2016)

If you want a mix of both turn-based and real-time combat, then this is the title for you. The goal is to take care of your roster of 25 heroes to improve their combat skills but to keep them physically and mentally strong throughout the game.

Ys I & II (2007)

This is a compilation of the first two games of the series which tells the story of Adol Christin whose mission it was to look for the Books of Ys.

Wild Arms 3 (2002)

This game introduces players to Virginia Maxwell whose goal it was to explore a desert planet. Following an attempted robbery, however, she and her newfound friends found out about the ancient war that took place.

Octopath Traveler (2018)

The player controls one of the eight travelers at a time, making this an ideal game for players who love to replay. Each character has a unique origin story and abilities.

Legend of Dragoon (1999)

The game is set in the warring nations of Endiness where the player controls Dart Feld and his companions. The combat uses both turn-based and real-time attacks which allow the player to deal more damage.

Suikoden (1995)

The game includes up to 108 companions and has two types of battle systems to keep any player entertained for weeks. The series is set in the Scarlet Moon Empire which is loosely based on the novel Shui Hu Zhuan.

Grandia III (2005)

Yuki just wanted to be the best pilot, but his meeting with Alfina changed everything. In this game, players need to take note of the distance and timing when executing their attacks.

Chrono Trigger (1995)

What makes this game interesting is the ability to travel to different timelines throughout Earth’s history. The story begins in the year 1000 when the player is introduced to the six characters, including Crono.

Xenogears (1998)

This introduction to the Xeno series follows Fei Fong Wong’s quest to overthrow Deus. The player is required to master the different martial arts combos.

How to Care for a Terrapin or Red-Eared Slider

The terrapin or red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scipta elegans) is a majestic creature that is often found near warm lakes and rivers in North America. It is considered legal in Singapore to take one as a pet, but like most amphibians, the red-eared slider needs special care and attention from the pet owner.

It is not advised to care for the turtle if you do not have the time nor the capacity to do so, especially if you’re expecting your children to look after it. Proper housing, diet and nutrition, and handling are important if you want it to have a long, healthy life (they can live up to 70 years!).

Correct Housing

The housing should be based on the size of the turtle. For a 4-inch terrapin, the acrylic or glass aquarium should have the following dimensions: 16 in x 8 in in length and width and a depth of 6 in. While a 12-inch turtle should have a 48 in x 24 in aquarium with a depth of 18 in. Once it becomes an adult, it needs at least a 55-gallon enclosure with a screen cover on top.

The substrate used should be large smooth gravel, with one area for basking and another for soaking in the water. Include sanitized driftwood and cork bark to complete the terrain, but do not use plastic plants because the turtle might ingest them.

The temperature should be maintained at 75° F using a 75-watt or lower incandescent bulb. The basking area should have a temperature between 85° to 90° F. Use full-spectrum fluorescent lights with timer 24 inches away from the turtle. Water in the soaking area should have a temperature of not less than 75° F. Make sure the water is always clean and changed every month.

Diet and Nutrition

Young turtles are primarily carnivorous and must be fed daily, but they will rely on both meat-based and plant materials as they grow older. Adult turtles can be fed every other day and might need to be fed in a separate area outside their aquarium. Return it to its enclosure 15 minutes after its meal, because they tend to be messy eaters.

Commercial food such as floating pellets and trout chow for the turtle are fine, but you need to vary their diet to get all the necessary nutrients. Animal protein sources may consist of tubifex worms, mealworms, waxworms, bloodworms, crickets, snails, pinkie mice, earthworms, live feeder fish, beef heart, cooked chicken, and raw lean beef. While vegetables, which should consist of half of their diet may be provided by feeding banana, sweet potatoes, mustard or collard greens, squash, shredded carrots, green beans, dandelions, shredded apple, melon, grapes, berries, and tomatoes.

Care and Diseases

Red-eared sliders are prone to injuries if not handled properly, that is why you should not let young children handle the turtle.

You also need to watch out for symptoms of common diseases, such as, algae, shell rot, swollen eyes, abscesses, shell injuries, respiratory infections, and Salmonella infection.

Horror Novels You Should Read

For a time, Hollywood became obsessed in producing horror films that range from the low-budget B movies to English adaptations of foreign horror films. But why stick to movies when there are so much more to explore in books?

Here are ten novels you should read as an introduction to the horror.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

This debut novel of the author is a great introduction to what is known as ergodic literature, which requires the reader to piece together the story by reading through text not written in order. Johnny Truant is interested in an apartment where a man named Zampano recently died. In the apartment, he saw a manuscript written by the deceased about the The Navidson Record.

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

This story has been adapted numerous times in films and books. If you haven’t read the original, then you should. Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious scientist creates a hideous creature. At the end of the story, you’d find yourself asking is the monster the creature or his creator?

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Like Frankenstein, this one of the most famous classics in the genre and inspired many adaptations. Count Dracula is trying to move to England to spread the curse. However he finds himself being opposed by Abraham Van Helsing.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The story is set in an old mansion called Hill House. One of the four lead characters wants to find evidence of supernatural events so he rented the house and invited some people to stay.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

You may have heard the title from the famous movie adaptation of this novel. It tells of the exorcism of the possessed Regan MacNeil by two priests. What makes the book special is that it was inspired by a documented demonic possession thirty years before it was published.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

The story is told from five different characters of the Chowder Society. They share ghost stories as part of their activity. It was all fun until one of the men die. The novel is considered Straub’s best work.

The Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson

The book has inspired a movie series of the same title. Its basis is the story of the Lutz family who experienced paranormal activities since they moved in the Amityville neighborhood.

Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

A multi-awarded novel, Carrion Comfort spans across timelines chronicling the people with psychic powers called The Ability. They are able to control others from a distance and have influenced history.

The Cipher by Kathe Koja

Considered the best example of body horror, The Cipher is not for the faint-hearted. Nakota and Nicholas find a hole in a storage room and soon experimented with it. They called in the Funhole.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

We is considered the grandfather of dystopian novels and has inspired many subsequent novels of the genre. In the totalitarian One State, its residents are identified by numbers and are governed by formulas.