Category: Frugal Living Tips

The Complete Guide That Makes HDR Photography Super Simple

More than 95 million photos are uploaded to Instagram each day. Some estimates say that the number of digital photos taken each year is in the trillions.

Digital photography has come a long way over the years. Google and other smartphone makers continue to push the envelope to make smartphones better than professional camera equipment.

Canon, Nikon, and Sony are keeping up. All of these companies enhance the software of the camera. One of the areas that’s seen the most growth is HDR photography.

You’ve probably seen HDR photos and not realize it. If you want to give your photos a stunning look that’s worthy of a lot of likes on social media, keep reading.

This guide shows you everything you need to know about HDR photography.

What Is HDR Photography?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It allows photographers to capture several images of the same thing, then merges the images into one photo.

The photos get taken at different exposures, one light, medium, and dark exposure. This lets photographers capture an image with more detail and

You can create an HDR image with as little as two images or as many as nine. It depends on how mush storage space you have and your camera’s settings.

When to Use HDR Photography

HDR photography was insanely popular several years ago. People saw this new setting on their cameras and they wanted to experiment with it.

The problem is that most don’t know the basics of photography, so good images were made awful because the technology was misapplied.

HDR photography is great for landscape and architectural photography. You’re able to capture small details of a scene because you’re able to shoot at different exposures.

It’s also used by some professional photographers in food, fashion, and product images. Discover more here to learn about these areas of photography.

A dark exposure captures shadows, while a light exposure creates a brighter image. Medium exposures capture colors.  

When should you avoid HDR photography? Don’t use it for areas of photography that have a lot of movement, unless that’s what you want from the image.

For instance, expert photography in sports requires that images are sharp and capture the most intense moments. Since you take several photos with HDR photography, the subject won’t be still long enough to capture and merge the images into one clean image.

It’s the same with wildlife photography. Animals are unpredictable, and it’s very hard to get one sharp image, let alone up to nine.  

Understanding Exposure Values

There are three ways to make an image light or dark. You can adjust the ISO, shutter speed, or aperture. If you adjust the ISO too high, you can create a grainy image.

The shutter speed impacts the movement of an image. For instance, a slow shutter speed shows motion like trees moving in the foreground. A fast shutter speed freezes an image in an instant, creating a sharp image.

Aperture is the amount of light that enters through the lens. This is expressed in f-stops. The higher the f-stop, the less light enters the camera and the darker the exposure.

A lower f-stop allows more light to enter the camera, so you have a brighter image.  

Each setting affects the overall composition of the shot. Lower aperture settings create a blurry background, like the portrait setting of your smartphone camera.

A higher f-stop gives you a much sharper image in both the foreground and the background.

That’s what makes HDR photography so useful. HDR photography adjusts the exposure without adjusting your settings. You don’t have to compromise your composition to create the image that you want.

Check the Camera Settings

How do you get started with HDR photography? Start with your camera. Smartphone users can go into their camera app’s settings and turn HDR on or off.

If your smartphone doesn’t have an HDR option, download an app like True HDR or Bracketeer.

In DLSR photography equipment, you’ll set your camera settings to HDR mode. You’ll also set your camera to manual mode and adjust the ISO to the lowest setting possible.

Adjust the shutter speed and aperture to the settings you want for your image. Test a few shots to make sure you’re capturing the image.

Use a Tripod

A successful HDR image hinges on the ability to hold the camera still for a second or two. That seems like the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not with a camera in your hands.

You make small movements as you breathe and the camera picks up that movement. That’s called camera shake. It’s the reason why your photos might not be as sharp as they could be.

A tripod connected to a shutter release device reduces camera shake. Make sure you use one with HDR images.

Make Your Images Natural

Many photographers used HDR photography because it gave images an illustrated or fantasy look. The unfortunate part is that too many photographers went overboard with this.

Images of stunning sunsets didn’t look natural. It’s similar to shots of old buildings in a field.

Professional photography dictates that the technology should enhance the natural beauty of your images. The technology shouldn’t dominate the images and make them appear fake.

Keep this in mind as you experiment with HDR images.

The Best Tips to Learn HDR Photography

Out of all of the great technologies in professional photography, HDR continues to remain a favorite. That’s because it has the potential to draw out the finest details and colors of an image.

You don’t have to compromise your vision, but you do need to make sure the image looks natural. Be sure to use a tripod to make your image clean and crisp.

You’ll have Instagram-worthy photos in no time.

If you enjoyed learning about photography, head over to the Earn money section of this site to learn how to turn your hobby into cash.

Top 3 Backpacking Tips You Should Know For Your Next Hike

Did you know, almost half of American citizens take part in outdoor activities every year?

Backpacking at home or abroad is a fulfilling and exciting experience. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro, a few simple hacks can make your future outings exceptional.

By following our helpful guide, you can learn how to backpack and hike in style, safety, and security. 

It’s time to hit the road! Read on for our top three backpacking tips.

1. Plan Your Route

Select a route depending on your skill and experience. How many days are you planning to hike? Do you plan on camping overnight? What is your budget for food?

Whether you’re planning a rural hike or urban adventure, you should always have an end goal in mind. This will help you to navigate and plan your next adventure. If you’re planning an extended trip, consider breaking it down into parts. 

There is a vast range of backpacking opportunities out there, perfect for all skillsets. Do your research before embarking to truly make the most of your expedition and reach new heights!

2. Get the Right Equipment and Supplies

Hiking with a backpack can be rewarding but challenging. Having the best equipment and supplies can make your next trek one remember.

Having planned your trek, consider your circumstances. Will you have easily accessible medical care? If not, expand your first aid kit. When will you next buy food? Always have sufficient instant food solutions to hand. 

A well-stocked backpack will revolutionize the way you travel. Pack as light as possible, but always be sure to carry essentials such as a first aid kit, compass, and a flashlight.

Check the forecast and be environmentally aware – ensure you have the right equipment to deal with the climate.

3. Don’t Forget Backpack Security

When backpack hiking, you entrust your pack with your every need. Losing your backpack or possessions could mean disaster for your next trip.

Never leave your backpack unattended. If you stop in at a restaurant or port of travel, always hook your backpack around your leg or shoulder. This will deter potential thieves from cutting your adventure short.

If you have to stow your backpack during your travels, use a strong padlock to ensure the safety of your equipment. Consider investing in a backpack net to keep your belongings safe while on the move. 

If you want to learn more about backpack security and how to go backpacking, visit

Backpacking Tips For Your Next Adventure

With these three backpacking tips, you can rest easy on your next hike.

Our easy guide shows you how a well-planned route, thought-out inventory, and secure backpack can make your next expedition a breeze.

Did you enjoy this post? We offer essential advice on a wide range of topics, so be sure to check out our other posts for more information on health, fitness, travel, and more. 

At Home Physical Therapy for Knee Pain: 5 Effective Exercises to Try

Did you know that as many as 25% of adults suffer from chronic knee pain?

If you’re among this group, then you might be wondering what you can do to alleviate your symptoms. Lots of experts suggest going to physical therapy on a regular basis, but this option isn’t accessible or realistic for everyone’s budget or schedule.

Is it possible to do at home physical therapy for knee problems? Keep reading to learn about 5 different exercises you can try to achieve a pain-free lifestyle.

1. Bridges

Bridges are a simple exercise that requires you to lay on your back with your feet planted on the floor and your arms flat with palms facing the ground. The goal is to lift your hips up to the sky while engaging your glutes. Bridges are especially helpful for people who are dealing with knee injuries because this exercise uses your body weight instead of heavier gym equipment.

2. Leg Extensions

Leg extensions are also effective but simple because you only need a chair to get started. Sit with your feet planted hip-width apart then raise each leg straight up one at a time as high as you can go before lowering back to the ground. This will strengthen all your leg muscles while gently stretching your knee so you can experience less pain in the future.

3. Hamstring Curls

One of the best exercises for knee pain is hamstring curls because it targets plenty of muscles that support your knees, such as your hamstrings, glutes, and core. To do a hamstring curl, stand tall and lift one leg at a time up and back toward your glutes before switching to the other side. As you go through these reps, try your best to balance on one leg and keep your hips pointed forward.

4. Straight Leg Raises

Lots of people who have knee pain enjoy doing straight leg raises on taping tables to support their back. Straight leg raises start in a similar position as bridges, but you’ll only have one foot planted on the ground while the other is stretched out. You’ll begin by squeezing the quadricep of your extended leg and lifting it off the ground as high as your knee then holding it for 5 seconds.

5. Side Leg Raises

Anyone who has knee problems should strengthen their hip abductor muscles to give extra support to their knees. To do this workout, lay stretched out on your side with your head propped comfortably. Lift and lower the leg that’s on top to feel the burn before flipping onto your other side.

Now You Know How to Do at Home Physical Therapy for Knee Pain

Lots of people wonder if it’s possible to do at home physical therapy for knee pain. With this guide, you can feel empowered and start seeing positive results almost right away.

Did you enjoy this article on at-home physical therapy? If you want to know other ways you can nurture your health, our site has everything you need to flourish. Check out our blog to find more great wellness tips.

How Do I Choose a Professional Cleaning Company in My Local Area?

The average American spends almost 24 hours a month cleaning. That’s a full day gone!

With that, many people are turning to residential cleaning companies. These people can come to your home once for a deep clean or visit on a regular basis to keep your home looking and feeling great.

It saves time and, often, money, and the job they do is invaluable.

If you’re thinking of getting some professional cleaning, how do you choose the right company? By considering all of these factors. 

Listen to Referrals

The first thing you should do is simply ask around to get the ball rolling.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask friends and family if they’ve had professional cleaning done and what they thought of it. They might have a local cleaning company to recommend — or one they recommend you stay away from!

You can also post on social media and ask for people’s suggestions. That way, you can curate a list of companies to look into and talk to. This is often the best way to get started. 

Consider Reviews

When you have some house cleaning services to check out, consider their reviews. 

If they’re a very new company, they may not have many to think about. If they’ve been around for a while in the cleaning industry, however, there should be some reviews to check out on places like Google and Yelp.

If they have very low ratings, think twice. Look at the one-star ratings and consider why they were left.

Sometimes customers are unreasonable, and sometimes they’re not! It’s usually easy to tell from the reviews and responses.

Reviews aren’t everything, but they tell you a whole lot about the company. 

Ask About Experience

Most of the best home cleaners will have a lot of experience behind them. This isn’t true of everyone, of course — there could be some new companies who are great at what they do — but if you don’t want to take any chances, they should have a lot of experience behind them.

Ask how many years they’ve been in business and what kind of places they’re used to working with. You can also ask to talk to past clients to make sure they do a good job, as sometimes a lot of experience doesn’t mean good experience!

Consider Your Schedule

You should make sure that the cleaning company can work on your schedule. If there are only certain days when you’re happy with someone cleaning the house, that’s one of the first things you should ask about.

They might be booked up on those days, or not work them all!

This could be dependent on whether you’re home or not, or simply the days you need the house to be extra clean. Your reasoning is your own, but the residential cleaning company you choose needs to be able to work with that. 

Consider Their Communication

Their communication style needs to be good for you too. Do they have an online booking system? Do they text, e-mail, or call?

Whatever your preferred communication style is, matters. Some companies may be old-school and not have anything except calling, and others may be more text-based.

There’s nothing wrong with either method of communication, but it needs to work with what you’re comfortable with. 

Weigh the Costs

People are often surprised that residential cleaning companies can end up cheaper than doing it yourself. This is because if you’re doing it yourself, you have to buy equipment, supplies, etc. If a deep clean or anything specialist is needed in your house, it can add up!

A cleaning company has all their own supplies, which helps.

This, of course, is only true if the company is reasonably priced.

You should ask them for a quote and weigh up every consideration when it comes to cost. Never go with the cheapest company automatically without considering everything else, or you might end up with a bad job being done.

However, if you weigh up the cost in consideration with everything else, you should end up with a solid choice.

Consider What Matters to You

There’s also something else to consider: what matters to you personally, about processes?

For example, you might have pets and need pet-friendly supplies to be used so that they don’t end up accidentally poisoned. You might need someone who’s understanding that your cat is shy, and will work around them. Or you might feel passionate about the environment and want a particularly green company.

Whatever matters most to you and your house, you should take it into account. There’s a cleaning company out there for you, so no need to compromise!

Go With Your Gut

In the end, you also have to weigh up everything and consider how you instinctively feel about the company you’re considering.

If you don’t feel good about them, consider why. Do they not work with your schedule? Do they seem unprofessional? Can’t get those bad reviews out of your head?

Whatever the reason, you should ultimately feel good about whoever you choose. 

Now Get Some Good Professional Cleaning

If you take all of these things into account when choosing a company to do professional cleaning for you, you’ll end up with a good one. Remember to read reviews, ask about their communication and scheduling, and ultimately choose the one that feels good for you.

Remember, if you have one who isn’t working out, there’s no shame in switching either. 

For more home tips about things like saving time and money, check out the rest of our site. 

4 Things to Do With Older Books You No Longer Read

If you Google the all-time number of books that have been published, Google will tell you it’s 129,864,880 titles. We don’t know exactly how they tallied this number, just like you have no idea how so many older books have piled up in your living room.

Is it time to get rid of your books? Are you wondering where to donate books? Have you asked yourself, “Can I make money with old books?”

Here are four ways to breathe new life into your older books!

1. Donate Old Books

The thought of donating books has probably crossed your mind, but you might not know where to start. Here are some ideas for where to donate books in your area:

  • Local public library
  • Public and private schools 
  • Community book drives or fundraisers
  • Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other thrift stores
  • Non-profit literacy programs
  • Prison libraries
  • Museums or cultural centers

If you’re not sure if a particular location accepts older books, call and ask! You’ll accomplish your goal of decluttering your home while passing on the gift of reading to others in your community.

2. Sell Your Old Books

You can definitely make money with old books, especially if you have any rare titles or editions in your collection. Older books tend to sell well on eBay, and you’d be amazed by what types of books sell on Amazon too. If you’re not sure what your books are worth, do some research to see what similar copies are selling for.

Another idea? Check your phone’s app store for apps that connect you to others who want to buy, sell, or trade used books.

3. Armed Forces Charity Groups

Would you like to support military members (and their families) who are deployed overseas? 

Give the gift of reading by supporting one of two organizations: Operation Paperback and Books for Soldiers. Your books will end up in military hospitals, rehab facilities, and personal collections.

4. Make a Vintage Bookmark

Here’s a fun idea: Why not save the spine of those old hardcover books and transform it into something magical? This is a great idea for older books that are too fragile or damaged to read.

Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the spine of the book. Attach it to a piece of cardstock with glue and let it dry overnight. In the morning, trim the excess away and attach a tassel (if you like) to create a beautiful vintage bookmark!

If you have a lot of older books to repurpose, you could even turn this into a little side business. Selling bookmarks on a site like Etsy could be on your list of fun and easy ways to make cash.


Give Your Older Books New Life

Just because you haven’t read that stack of older books for a while doesn’t mean they serve no purpose. As we discussed above, you can donate, sell, or repurpose them and give them a second chance!

Looking for more tips for decluttering your home or easy ways to make cash? Keep browsing our site for more great thrifty advice.

The Best Places to Get Married

One of you popped the question and the other said yes, and now it’s time to get married! Planning a wedding is such an exciting time, but it’s also a little stressful. 

From wedding venues to exotic wedding destinations, when it’s time to tie the knot, you want the best. As most couples find out, the options are endless and so is the amount of money you can spend. 

Is it time for you to plan a wedding? Take a look at our guide to see some of the best places to get married. 

Orlando, Florida

May to September, Orlando is hot and humid but October to April is nice with few clouds and little rain. If you love sunshine and you’re a fan of the Magic Kingdon, Orlando could be the place. 

Have a casual beach wedding and then spend your honeymoon at Disneyworld. There are beach spots within an hour and Orlando’s overall costs are on the low side. 

Palm Springs, California

Want an outdoor venue with almost guaranteed sunny weather? Try Palm Springs, California. Here you’ll find sunshine most of the year.

Palm Springs has some beautiful outdoor wedding locations. There are plenty of venues that offer indoor and outdoor spaces so you can be worry-free if the weather should uncharacteristically be wet or cold. You can also have the ceremony and the reception in one place which saves you money. 

Your photographs will be beautiful with amazing desert backgrounds. There are also lots of accommodations from which to choose for your guests. 

Boston, Massachusetts

Are you an East Coast couple? Do you love tradition and history? How about Boston?

There are some amazing wedding venues available in this historic and beautiful city. Boston has a plethora of accommodations and lots for your guests to see and do in their downtime. 

Hood River, Oregon

Do you love the Pacific Northwest with its lush scenery and rustic settings? Hood River boasts several great places to tie the knot and lots of local vendors to round out your day.

There are a number of great accommodations and lots of recreational activities for guests to enjoy before or after the big day. 

Tuscany, Italy

Are you looking for truly memorable wedding destinations? How about a Tuscan wedding?

Tuscany has majestic castles and rustic farmhouses so whatever your tastes and budget, there’s something for everyone. You can even find a private villa for a small wedding. 

After the wedding, you’re in the perfect place for a honeymoon. Enjoy the architecture and art of Florence or stay in a charming seaside village. 

So Many Amazing Places to Get Married

There are almost as many places to get married as there are places in the world! It’s not easy choosing wedding and reception venues.

Your personal preference, budget, and number of guests set the tone for the type of wedding that works best for you. Whatever you decide, it’s one of the most memorable days of your life – enjoy it!

Looking for ways to save money in your new married life? Find lots of great tips on the blog!




A Handy Guide for Moving From England to Wales

For those looking for a new adventure, affordability, and a place not too far from home – Wales could be the place for you! Towns in Wales consistently rank in the top 10 most affordable places to live in the UK. 

But there’s a lot more to consider for your next big move than just the journey from England to Wales. Moving to Wales involves searching, finding, and general legal hassle. Don’t worry!

This guide will take you through all the things you need to keep in mind. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about your move to Wales!

Where to Live in Wales 

There are tons of great options for places to live, and of course, the biggest part of your move is choosing where to live! Let’s go over just a few of the nicest places to visit before deciding where you want to settle down. 


While Cardiff might be the first place you think of, there are tons of places to consider in Wales. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider this hugely influential city as your next home. 

Cardiff is a beautiful city with many different options for housing. Something by the sea in the Cardiff Bay Area, or somewhere in a town surrounded by culinary innovation? The choice is yours! 

The Facts 

In general, Wales enjoys warmer weather than Northern Ireland and Scotland and milder winters than England. Cardiff experiences a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year and has an average annual temperature of 10.4 C.

Of course, Cardiff is one of the more expensive places to live in Wales, with an average home cost of £204,000. Cardiff is generally rated as a safe city to live in. 


This stunning town is a highlight for those who love to go out on the town for delicious eats. In fact, every autumn they host a food festival! Quaint history and a bustling town center contrast with a peaceful setting. 

It is a very small town compared to what you might be used to, but with good public transport, you will never be far from fun. 

The Facts

Abergavenny, like the majority of Wales, experiences significant levels of rainfall throughout the year. On average, you can expect 942 mm of rainfall annually. The average annual temperature is a little cooler, at 9.4 C. 

Abergavenny is a popular relocation spot but only has a population of around 12,500. As a result, expect an average home cost of £292,000. 


A little bigger than Abergavenny, but perhaps better located, Penarth is perched on an estuary near Cardiff Bay. As a resort town, there is no lack of luxury and enjoyment to be had by the water. 

Excellent public transport means you aren’t far from things to do if watching the sunset isn’t enough. 

The Facts

Penarth, being so close to Cardiff, has much the same climate as its bigger friend. Expect regular rainfall, averaging out annually to 1070 mm, with the same annual temperature of 10.4 C. 

If you’re looking to escape the bustle of Cardiff, the lower population of around 27,000 will suit you just fine. Being so close to Cardiff and in the resort area of town, you can expect average home costs to be somewhat inflated, around £375,000. 


Swansea finds itself on the Gower Peninsula, or the first area to ever be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. And Swansea is at the center of it all as a place for history, literature, and adventure. The Paviland cave is not far away for those who like a little excitement. 

It’s hard to beat this area for the enjoyment of nature. The best part is, you don’t have to worry about a lack of amenities as it’s the second-largest city in Wales! 

The Facts 

This beautiful area comes with much the same climate as the rest of Wales with lots of rain to keep things green (around 1300 mm per year!). The average temperature annually is 10.1 C. 

Swansea has a population of around 245,000 which is sure to keep you occupied. It’s also one of the cheaper areas to live in Wales, coming in at £189,000 for your average property price. 

How to Find the Perfect Property 

Now that you have an idea of where you would like to live, it’s a good idea to start looking for your perfect property. Let’s go over the steps it takes to find your new home. 

1. Create a Budget 

Saying “create a budget” is more easily said than done. You have to consider far more than property cost when looking at new homes. Compile a list of your expected legal fees, lender fees, and any broker or removal fees on top of your property cost. Factoring in various insurance costs is also a good idea. 

If you know you will need to borrow it’s a good idea to make an appointment to find out what kind of mortgage you can get, and factor that into your budget. Once you have everything in place and know how much you can spend, it’s time for the exciting part. 

2. Start Searching

 As soon as you have established your budget you should start looking. While not as many people are moving to Wales, the housing market can always be competitive. At this point, you should determine the main cities or areas you wish to live in. 

Estate agents or websites can help you find options within your budget. Estate agents will be able to offer you more specialized advice, such as whether there is good public transportation, whether living just outside of town can save you money, how fast the market moves, and crime rates for different areas of cities. 

You can book viewings of homes either in-person or virtually in most cases. It’s a good idea if you don’t live nearby to arrange a virtual viewing first before committing to an in-person journey. 

3. Seal the Deal 

When you have found the property of your dreams you can make an offer. Sometimes your first offer may not be accepted, but this does not mean you have lost out on the property in all cases. If you’re still interested, you can offer a higher price. 

Once the price is agreed upon you will receive a Memorandum of Sale to confirm the sale is agreed to subject to contract. At this point, you will need to find a solicitor to help you with the process of conveyancing – or the process of making everything official. 

At this point, finish your mortgage application and mortgage valuation (a confirmation that the property is worth the price they’re paying) if it applies to you. Then, move on to the legal process that the solicitor can help you with. 

4. All the Legal Nitty-Gritty 

This is why you hired the solicitor, so they can collect the title deeds and the contract that the seller has drawn up. The solicitor will be able to confirm everything that the sale includes, like boundaries. At this time they will be able to solve any disputes or alternations that might need to be made. 

The solicitor will also perform searches of the Land Registry and Local Authority to discover the planning history. At this stage, they will also discover and inform you of any nearby potential developments that could occur such as roads, drainage, or mining. 

When everything is ready, you will sign the contract and agree to the moving dates. The contracts will be exchanged and at this point, you are now legally bound to the purchase of your new property! If you haven’t already asked around for removals quotes, now is a good time to start. 

Now that the most stressful portion of the move is over, it’s time to get into the physical moving process. 

The Moving Process From England to Wales 

The process of moving from England to Wales is much more simple than if you were moving overseas. There are many moving companies that are happy to help make the process as simple as possible for you. 

At this point, you should start informing all relevant people of your change of address. Don’t forget to update any banking or financial areas of your life of your new move. If you have children, you can also start the process of enrolling them in their new school. 

It might seem stressful, but you don’t have to worry about at least one part of the process – the house removal. Britannia Cestrian is a family-owned house removals company full of experts ready to help you on your next big journey!  

What Else Should You Know? 

Did you find this article helpful for your move from England to Wales? If so, make sure to read more from our Family Life section!