Book Review blogs

Book Review blogs
  • Path Of The Spirit Runner

    Path of the Spirit Runner is the second book in the Rootstock Saga series. The story retains its engaging and amusing tone developed in book one. One subconsciously gets hooked to the characters and the astounding story line in the book. In this expansive fantasy novel we follow the story of villages struggling to exist peacefully. The villages hope to live in clans and even better avoid any warring affair over the lands. Through a dynamic and character driven story we see how people operate when they have opposing ideas that they doggedly pursue.

    L.H. Leonard is able to blend together several riveting sub plots, intricately developed throughout the novel, into one epic overarching narrative. A rare gift in writers, and superbly displayed in Path ofthe Spirit Runner. One thing I appreciated in this story was the engrossing character development that continues from Legend of the Storm Hawks. Each character is unique in their character setup and their development unfolds in uncommon yet exceptional ways. While not every character was a favorite of mine, I can say that they were all entertaining. Some of my favorite characters in the book include Isobel because I so desperately wanted her special ability, Captain Tobias Buchanan for looking out for his people and Seth for being an invaluable resource.

    Path of the Spirit Runner is an absorbing book that consistently delivers action punctuated by moments of levity and engaging dialogue. For readers who are looking for an epic fantasy series they can sink their teeth into, now that we all seem to have more time on our hands, Path of the Spirit Runner delivers a though-provoking fantasy story that subtly pulls you into the depths of a rich world.

    Pages: 525 | ASIN: B083NP168V

  • Unleashing Sin Release Blitz
    Title: Unleashing Sin Series: Revive #0.5 Author: A.M. Wilson Release: April 9, 2020 Genre: Romantic Suspense Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30972637-unleashing-sin Blurb: Alex ‘Sin’ Sinclair has spent the past two years being haunted by the ghost of his missing–presumably dead–sister. However, chasing monsters has its limits, and he often finds himself at the bottom of a bottle to cope […]
  • Equipment You Should Donate to Help Hospitals Fight Corona virus

    The whole world is fighting against the common enemy – corona virus. The fight has been going on for a couple of months, but things are getting serious now since more and more people are getting infected by the virus all over the world. It seems that people and the entire world is in pain while facing challenges during this fight. Most people and countries are under lockdown to prevent an easy spread of this virus. It seems that now more than ever is important to stay at home so you can help your country’s health system and doctors and nurses who are tirelessly helping patients. Unfortunately, no-one’s ready and no-one’s prepared for this kind of epidemic, especially hospitals which are getting crowded day by day. If you’re thinking ‘is there anything I could do to help hospitals fight corona virus?’ here are some suggestions on how to do that.

    Use Your Skills

    Medical providers are dealing with a serious shortage of medical supplies that they need in a fight against coronavirus. Doctors and nurses need surgical masks and medical face masks that will keep them safe so that they will be able to help others and cure them. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough masks and proper equipment since this is a pandemic that no-one expected. So, if you’re talented and you know how to sew this is a perfect time to use that skill and make masks that you can donate to your local hospital. Even if you’re new at this and don’t know how to sew, you can use this extra time in your quarantine and watch some tutorials on how to make a facial mask yourself. All you need is a proper material and patience. After all, any face mask even a sewed one is better than no mask at all. Before you donate masks to your local hospital, check out if they accept them. Some hospitals still accept them and some don’t because they’re trying to be cautious. But, even if your local hospital doesn’t accept homemade masks, it’s always a good idea to give them to health-care staff eg. the hospital receptionists.

    Medical Refrigerators

    Medical refrigerators are special medical products that are used for keeping heat sensitive products stored. These refrigerators are usually used in laboratories, hospitals, pharmacies, research centres or blood banks. Medical fridges are designed to keep safe and properly stored vaccines, drugs and other medical or pharmaceutical products which should be kept in controlled conditions. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most respiratory virus diagnoses depend on the collection of specimens and the appropriate storage of it before bringing it to the laboratory for testing. Samples and specimens of corona virus should be kept in a fridge at the appropriate temperature. Unfortunately, most hospitals are running out of these kinds of fridges since there are more and more people who are being tested on corona virus so the hospitals are running out of the space. If you’re thinking of what you could donate to help hospitals fight corona virus apart from masks and other personal protective equipment, think of donating vaccine fridge that will be more than helpful to all the doctors and laboratory technicians.

    Money Donations

    Donating money is one of the easier and most effective ways how you can help your local hospital and its professional staff working during these harsh and challenging times. Most hospitals have created and now have a special local fund dedicated to fighting this virus. This way, the donation is even easier because you can donate directly to your local hospital and do a good deed.

    Blood Donations

    Due to the corona virus pandemic, most hospitals are now facing a blood shortage. This is happening because of a huge number of blood drive cancellations because of the virus. It’s important to remember patients who still rely on a steady stream of blood donations and that need our help more than ever. Unfortunately, there are still many other patients, except the ones with coronavirus, that are dealing with their battles and trying to beat the disease that’s causing them pain. Some of them need blood donations. To make sure these patients aren’t being neglected and ignored because all eyes are aimed to corona virus nowadays, schedule a blood donation appointment to help others and save lives.

    PPE

    Personal protective equipment includes using protective helmets, clothing or any other part of the equipment that will protect a worker’s body and keep him or her safe. Usually, health workers (eg. doctors and nurses) have the proper equipment but unfortunately, the global supply for PPE is and continues to be uncertain. Most hospitals are actively taking steps that will help them get more supplies and keep health workers safe so that they can help others. Keep in mind that this global shortage can lead to nurses and doctors getting sick, and in the worst-case scenario even dying from complications of corona virus. Is this happens, the number of professionals who are qualified to take care of others who got infected will reduce and then there might rise a bigger issue. That’s why we need to keep our health-care staff safe at all costs. Apart from the shortage of masks, other personal protective equipment is needed too, including gloves, scrubs, gowns, shoes and shoe coverings and hoods.

    Summary

    Due to the corona virus and its fast spread, there have been increasingly pleas from public authorities and healthcare workers not only for helping them by staying safe at home but also for donations of various protective equipment and much needed medical supplies. If you’re able to donate or help in any way your local hospital on this challenging journey, make sure you do that. Your small act of kindness will mean a lot and it will support not only healthcare workers but also patients that need help and their families that are hoping for the best. If we don’t protect the ones who need protection the most and the ones who are fighting against this virus to save others, who will help us then? Make sure you check what your local hospital needs the most and start with that, if possible to help hospitals fight corona virus. Until then, stay home and save your life and lives of others.

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    The post Equipment You Should Donate to Help Hospitals Fight Corona virus appeared first on Daily Morning Coffee.

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photography

09 April 2020

photography
  • Flash Photography: Learn a New Skill and Master It with Affordable Gear
    09 April 2020
    Utter the words flash photography to any new (or even some quite seasoned photographers), and the look of fear will wash over their faces before they run away and hide. Many photographers think that flash photography is either far to difficult to master, or much too expensive to break into. We are here to tell you that those statements are fake news. Modern flashes and monolights are incredibly affordable, and with just a little practice and learning, you will find that there is nothing to fear about flash photography. After the break, we will share with you some excellent learning guides and some of our favorite lights and modifiers.
  • New Sony A9 II firmware fixes flicker and lets you close shutter when switching lenses
    09 April 2020

    One of the big issues for many photographers when it comes to mirrorless cameras is keeping that sensor clean – particularly when cleaning lenses. With DSLRs it’s easy. When they’re not actively taking a shot, the shutter is closed up tight and the mirror’s flipped down. With mirrorless, on the other hand, the sensor is […]

    The post New Sony A9 II firmware fixes flicker and lets you close shutter when switching lenses appeared first on DIY Photography.

  • How to Properly Use a Tripod
    09 April 2020

    One of the most fundamental and useful pieces of gear any photographer or videographer can own is a tripod. These two excellent videos will give you numerous tips to ensure that you are getting the most out of your tripod.

    [ Read More ]
  • Man Discovers His and Work of Six of His Peers Stolen by 'Ireland's Most Loved Photographer'
    09 April 2020

    A portrait photographer based in New York has revealed how an anonymous email brought to light that his work was being stolen and used by a man claiming to be “Ireland’s most loved wedding photographer.” And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

    [ Read More ]
  • The Art of Bodybuilding
    09 April 2020

    Bodybuilding is also an art. Your own body is a piece of marble, and your goal:

    Sculpt your body into a Demi-god, greek-god, Adonis-status.

    Why bodybuilding is so fun

    During COVID, I am just bored. What more fun than to build your body when stuck indoors all day?

    Also when you workout and see your muscle mass grow, it is fun to see the progress!

    My equipment

    Two 60-pound dumbbells. My body (bodyweight exercises, pushups, one-handed pushups, one-legged pistol squats, and pseudo-planche).

    Why build your body?

    Do it for the adrenaline boost. It also boosts your joy hormones (serotonin, etc).

    Also, now we cannot buy anything anymore, what better use of your time and money than to lift weights, get super buff and ripped, and eat lots of delicious meat?

    Your body is your ultimate instrument

    If you wanna build anything or make anything, treat your body like an instrument as Cindy says.

    The muscular artist

    My thought:

    The more muscles you got, the more you can create as an artist.

    I can personally attest. The more muscle I’ve built and the buffer I’ve gotten, the more artistically productive I’ve become. I have more turbo thoughts, have more desire to walk around more, and to create more!

    More scholars should body-build.

    My thought:

    When you do mental labor, it takes much physical power and energy.

    Thus doesn’t it make sense that if you have a stronger body and frame (more muscle) — your ability to do deep scholarship would improve?

    My Muscle Philosophy

    Treat your body as sculpture.

    This is not my body

    The first thing:

    I don’t see my body as belonging to me. I look at my body like it belongs to someone else.

    When I look at the Lamborghini of someone else, I admire it. When I see the muscles and physiques of anyone else, I admire it. Then I had the epiphany:

    Why not transform my own body into a Lambo, and admire my own body instead?

    The logic

    The great logic:

    1. It is far cheaper to get buff than to buy a Lambo.
    2. The human body is the apex beauty. This means your personal goal in life should be to beautify your own personal body to the maximum (without plastic surgery, steroids, etc).
    3. Ultimate democratic approach: Genetics doesn’t matter. Sex doesn’t matter. Racial ethnicity doesn’t matter. Anyone can both add muscle mass and subtract fat.
    4. It doesn’t cost much to get ripped. Just intermittent fast [no breakfast, no lunch], one big ass meal a day, and mostly a ‘ketogenic’ diet.
    5. Your body is always with you. Why not beautify your body to inspire yourself?
    The joy of sculpting your own body

    To sculpt your own body is insanely fun. Why? You can see the change over time!

    Once again, the goal is simple:

    Never stop adding muscle mass, and never stop reducing body fat, or keeping it low (around 10%).

  • Joel Meyerowitz on making photographs in the street
    09 April 2020

    New York City, 1976 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)

    Although the sidewalks are relatively empty these days, it wasn’t that long ago that the streets of New York City were bustling with activity—and potential pictures. Joel Meyerowitz has been photographing New York City since 1962 and is seen as one of the pioneers of street photography. This September he will release a book on the topic called How I Make Photographs. The book can be pre-ordered through Bookshop.org with proceeds going to support the independent bookshops that are currently suffering due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Below is an excerpt from the book.

    I’ve been asked many times, ‘How do you work on the street? I’m afraid to work on the street, I’m too shy, I can’t take pictures of strangers because I shouldn’t really be taking their picture.’ People have a kind of mythic fear about photographing in public spaces. My feeling about the street, and street photography, is that the street is ours. Once you enter a public space, everyone and everything there is fair game.


    New York City, 1963 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)

    So how do you go about making a street photograph? First of all, you must have an appetite for life on the street. The street is chaos. If you are comfortable in chaos, you’ll find your way. When you’re on the street, it’s important to be able to see across the entire frame. You own the territory that you see when you look through the viewfinder of your camera. One of the most interesting qualities of street photography is making connections between things that are not related, because when you put the frame around them you create a new relationship.


    New York City, 1963 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)

    One of the great fears that everyone has is that if they take a picture of someone on the street, that person will be insulted, or will attack them. But the fact is, a simple smile and being good-humoured goes a long way. So if you’re on the street and everything you see when you’re taking pictures makes you smile, you’re already a softer, more approachable, more human person. People won’t feel negative toward you. But if you’re standing there with a 200mm telephoto lens that you’re waving in someone’s direction and they catch sight of you, they’re going to be on their guard and maybe even angry. They’re going to say, ‘Hey, get out of my way.’


    New York City, 1974 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)

    Being quick and being happy and excited about what you’re doing sends out an aura of, ‘This person’s OK. I don’t have anything to worry about.’ What is important is intuition, being positive, having a sense of humour and being in the right place at the right time. Always have your camera turned on and its lens cap off. Touch the button frequently, if it’s a digital camera, so that it’s always ready to shoot. All these things are part of your basic preparation for being a photographer on the street.


    New York City, 1965 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)

    There are a lot of subjects that people think are off-limits: you shouldn’t photograph people with infirmities, for example. Opposite (top) is a photograph that illustrates my feelings about this. I was walking down the street and I see a guy carrying flowers. I keep walking to find a position to make a photograph. At the moment I get near the guy, a woman with a big bandage across her nose appears next to him in the crowd. So I made a photograph. People might say, ‘Oh no, but she’s, you know, look how she looks.’ But it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. In a way, photographing people with infirmities or injuries is, at its most basic, acknowledging their existence.


    New York City, 1976 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)

    We must be humble enough to recognize that we’re all humans, and we come in every shape, size and colour. You’re not making fun of anybody; you’re telling it like it is. This is how the world looks, and these are the ways people interact. I believe every-one is fair game as long as you’re not trying to take advantage or being cruel. From a humanistic point of view, the sweetness of photography is its capacity to embrace everybody in every kind of situation and to make works that come from the heart. That way, what you say through your pictures to the world at large is that you are warm-hearted, generous, sympathetic, vulnerable and open. This doesn’t mean you can’t be tough about getting what you see, however. Street photography is a tough field to work in, and demands a sharp eye and a resilient nature.


    New York City, 1974 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)
    New York City, 1964 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)
    London, England, 1966 (© Joel Meyerowitz/)
    Joel Meyerowitz’s <i>How I Make Photographs</i> will be released next fall. (© Joel Meyerowitz/)

    Excerpted from How I Make Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz Copyright © 2020 by Joel Meyerowitz. Excerpted by permission of Laurence King Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • How a Weird Lens Helped Me Fall Back in Love with Landscape Photography
    09 April 2020

    I’ve been an amateur landscape photographer for some time now. I remember fondly my first years in the field—I loved roaming around and shooting like mad. I even started getting good at it. Year by year, though, I found myself shooting less and less.

    Habits started to form. Whenever I found myself on a scene, I almost instantly knew what I would do: good foreground? shoot wide; no foreground? get the long lens and find some detail. I was in a rut and my hobby was giving me less and less satisfaction.

    Turns out, most of the photographers I know reach this rut at some point or another. Most of them also find their way out. Some turn to other genres, others find new inspiration in distant lands, others … whatever, you get my point.

    With me though, something else happened.

    The past decade saw the emergence of some brilliant third party lens manufacturers. Their business plan goes like this: invent some wacky new lens, make it good and cheap, fill the market cracks left open by the big dogs, grow as a result. I just love them.

    So one day, while browsing the Internet, I saw a headline that caught my eye. It contained three words that, up until this moment, had no place in the same sentence: “wide-angle macro.” No way, I thought, that’s an oxymoron.

    Obviously no one at Venus Optics knew what an oxymoron was, and someone had dared to ask “What if … ?“

    The answer:

    • 15mm prime lens – wonderful!
    • Manual focus – no big deal, I’m used to those
    • f/4 – good enough for me, don’t be greedy
    • Minimum focus distance of 4mm – What? no, seriously… WHAT??
    • Front filter thread – well, thanks for the cherry on top!

    It got even better when I browsed through the sample images – this was a whole new way of looking at the landscapes for me. I just had to have it. So… I bought it.

    Now what?

    Well, now you start to learn. First challenge: focus stacking. Fortunately some smart people have already invented software for that. Second challenge: well there was none, I just needed to go out and shoot. It took some time but the results started coming:

    And it turns out, there was one more advantage—the brilliant sun-star you get at f/11 and up:

    Soon the process showed its ugly side: while shooting the focus stacks for images like the above, I had to bracket, which often meant that I needed to produce something like 80 separate shots or more for a single image. Meanwhile, the slightest wind rendered everything useless and I had to start over.

    Oh, well, you can’t win them all.

    As the seasons progressed, I managed to get the shots I envisioned when I first learned about this lens:

    As I said, this was a whole new way of looking at the world for me; nothing was too small for the foreground of my compositions:

    Not even ants:

    The 4mm minimal focusing distance let me get so close to stuff I would have just passed by any other time:

    Whenever there is no use for the macro, I just shoot the lens as a prime ultra wide-angle:

    The front filter thread also quickly proved its worth:

    Every season offered something good:

    Needless to say, I am having fun again, and lots of it!

    Final Words

    This is not an advert for Venus Optics, or at least, not a paid one by them; this is just a story about the inspiration a new piece of gear gave me.

    The glass is not perfect, it suffers from most of the usual ultra-wide lens issues, but the value I get from it outweighs them by far.

    Finally, getting this glass will not solve all of your problems, it will only give you another perspective. Every age-old rule of aesthetics still applies. Here are some below-average images that prove my point:

    Thanks for reading, and have fun!

    About the author: Hristo Svinarov is an amateur landscape photographer based in Bulgaria. He’s been shooting for over ten years now, first on film, then digitally, and is a big believer in “keeping it local” when it comes to landscape photography. You can find more of his work on his website and blog Slow Light, or by following him on Instagram. This post was also published here.

  • 10 Of Our Favorite National Park Guides
    09 April 2020

    Take a virtual photo adventure with ten of our favorite guides to national parks around the country, from the idyllic alpine meadows and dramatic vistas of Montana’s Glacier National Park, to otherworldly landscapes in Joshua Tree and the dramatic display of Earth’s primal forces in Hawaii Volcanoes.

    1. Glacier National Park, Montana

    Considered one of the best trails in North America, Highline Trail along the top of Logan Pass is not to be missed. Photo by Josh Miller.

    “Have you ever wanted to photograph Alaska, but didn’t have the time or money to make it happen? Have you ever wanted a chance to photograph glaciers, wildlife and meadows in the same day? If so, Glacier National Park in Montana may need to be your next photo adventure. Glacier offers photographers the opportunity to photograph big game and dramatic landscapes without the need for an expensive multi-week trip to Alaska. The park’s unique mix of alpine topography, wildlife and great hiking is as close to a true Alaskan experience as a photographer can have in the lower 48 states.”

    The post 10 Of Our Favorite National Park Guides appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

  • LensCoat diverts its US production facilities to make masks for local hospital
    09 April 2020

    More used to making protective gear for camera lenses, New Jersey-based LensCoat has turned its attention to making protective masks for health workers during the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The company has given over 50% of its production capacity to making the masks for its local hospital in Freehold, NJ.

    LensCoat owner and nature photographer Scott Elowitz told DP Review that he responded to an appeal by the New York governor for companies to make Personal Protection Equipment but was told the governor was really looking for those who already had federal certification.

    Scott says he was driven by a personal story in which one of his Freehold neighbor’s family had been ravaged by CV19 which lead to seven members being hospitalized and four dying.

    ‘I was a little dejected that we couldn’t make certified equipment but continued to look for ways to help’ he tells DPReview. ‘Then one of my staff alerted me that the Freehold Township Residents Community group was putting together a group of at-home sewers to make masks for our CentraState hospital and local first responders.’ Scott contacted the group to offer the company’s sewing skills and capacity and soon began making the masks.

    Lenscoat's usual product line is camo covers for lenses, cameras and photographers

    LensCoat has a large stock of camouflaged material that it uses for its usual products and used this to make some very cool-looking masks. ‘We are a Realtree licensee (Realtree is the world’s leading camouflage designer). They heard about what we were doing and contacted us to also donate fabric to our local cause.’

    Scott explains that the masks are not FDA surgical grade, so they are used over N95 and surgical masks as well as given to others in the hospital so that the hospital can use their limited resources more efficiently. ‘And I feel good about finding a way to help out our local community. We are all in this together. We have to do what we can to help even if it’s just staying home and not becoming a victim or part of the problem. The sooner we get this under control the sooner we will be able to get back to a sense of normalcy.’

    For more information on the company see the LensCoat website.

  • Photographer of the Day: Baspherical
    09 April 2020

    Photographer: Baspherical Photo: “BASK1031” In light of the current situation and most of us social distancing and self-isolating, I wanted to find images that would show us all that 1) there is still beauty in the world and 2) we can find something to photograph even when we are unable to travel or attend events. This […]

    The post Photographer of the Day: Baspherical appeared first on Photofocus.

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