Nature Photography – Five Tips For Great Rainforest Photos

Rainforest photography, like all good nature photography, is more about your sensitivity to nature than about expensive equipment. Of course you need a decent camera, and you must know how to use it. But the quality of your photos does not depend on the price tag on your camera. As long as you have a tripod, and a camera that allows you to adjust the aperture and shutter speed, you are set to go.

I make my living from nature photography, including a lot of rainforest photos, and I have never relied on the latest equipment for my work. Great rainforest photography is simply about finding an eye-catching subject, in good light, and having a creative eye for composition.

Note: The following tips are for photos of rainforest scenes, not for close-up photos of leaves, fungus etc.

Rainforest Photography Tip # 1: Choose a subject. As they say in the classics, "It's a jungle out there." In the rainforest, you are confronted with foliage, branches, roots, rocks, vines … in your face and all around you. A really good rainforest photo requires structure, to make some visual sense of all that clutter. Look for something that is immediately eye-catching – a big tree that dominates the trees around it; A root system that leads the eye; A waterfall or stream; In short, something that you can build a composition around.

Rainforest Photography Tip # 2: Use the best natural light. The mistake almost everyone makes at first is to take their rainforest photos on a bright sunny day when they are in the mood for a walk. Wrong! In full sunlight, the rainforest becomes a patchwork of light and shade that is impossible to expose properly. What you need is a cloudy day, when the light is much more even. Misty weather adds even more atmosphere to the rainforest, and can add a mysterious character to your rainforest photo.

Do not use a flash. The flash illuminated the scene with flat, white light, eliminating the gentle play of natural light and shade that gives the rainforest its character. Always use the natural light.

Rainforest Photography Tip # 3: Carry a tripod. Taking your rainforest photo under a heavy tree canopy, on a cloudy day (see rainforest photography tip # 2), means the level of light will be very low. You may be shooting at shutter speeds as slow as one or two seconds. You will always need your tripod, and it is best to avoid windy days so that the scene is as still as possible.

Rainforest Photography Tip # 4: Use a wide-angle lens (or a zoom lens, zoomed back to its widest angle). The wide angle lens has several advantages for rainforest photography. Firstly, it exaggerates the sense of perspective in a photo, creating a sense of three dimensional depth. Viewers of your photo will feel like they are looking not just at a rainforest, but into it. Secondly, the wide-angle lens has a naturally wide depth of field. With so much detail all around you, it is important that you can keep both the foreground and the background in focus.

Rainforest Photography Tip # 5: Stay on the path. There are some practical reasons for staying on the path when bushwalking. You minimize the possibility of getting lost, injured, or fined by some over-officious park ranger. The people who run the national parks are not stupid. They know what you want to see, and design their trails accordingly. Sticking to the path will not rob you of any great photo opportunities.

In terms of rainforest photography, you are able to create some distance between you and the foliage around you. It is much easier to photograph a tree when you do not have the branch of another tree in your face. By staying on the path, you can get a clear view of your subject, without interference. You can even use the path as part of the composition in your rainforest photo. It is an excellent way of inviting the viewer to join you on your walk in the rainforest.

So there you have my five rainforest photography tips. Notice they concentrate on light and creativity, not on fancy techniques or equipment. You can make great improvements in all your nature photography this way, regardless of what type of camera you have.

10 Office Products That Need to Be Replenished Frequently

Some office products can be bought once and last many years until they’re damaged, lost or become outdated. Others will require regular replenishment to maintain your stocks and ensure your office can function professionally and efficiently. Here are 10 such items that you may wish to include when placing your next office products order.

1. Sellotape may not be used that frequently in offices, but when it is required it tends to be with some urgency – such as reinforcing packaging that needs to be sent to a customer. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to keep a regular check to make sure somebody hasn’t used up the last reel.

2. Post it notes also tend to run out quickly, largely due to their overwhelming popularity amongst office staff. They’re great for messages, reminders and other notes, so make sure your staff have access to them as and when they’re needed.

3. A stapler may last a lifetime, but the staples won’t. They’re used for keeping important files together, both for internal and external use. If it’s been a while since you last checked your staples stock, do so before placing your next order.

4. Running out of paper when you need to print an important document, such as for a proposal or internal memo, could lead to an embarrassing situation. Ensuring you have plenty of printer paper is therefore very important. You may want to order more than just your standard A4 paper, too. Important documents that are going to clients and suppliers may need to be printed on high quality printer paper.

5. You’ll also need to make sure your printers have enough ink in them. This one can strike unexpectedly if regular checks do not take place, so it pays to have quite a few spares in the office products cupboard. However, make sure you’re keeping a close eye on what you have in reserve.

6. Printers aren’t the only machines that require ink. You should also check your photocopier to ensure that you have enough cartridges for it. Needing to run off several copies of important documents when the copier is out of ink can cause problems on a number of levels.

7. If your office sends a lot of postal correspondence, such as for posting out cheques or invoices, it will need a good supply of envelopes in order to make sure the finance and admin departments function properly.

8. Run out of office coffee and you’ll know about it soon enough. Staff will require the kitchen to be well-stocked with teas, coffee and milk, so when anything like this runs out, placing an order for replacements will be a top priority. Ideally, you’ll want to place your order when stocks are running low, rather than leaving it until your staff complain.

9. Pens go missing. A lot. And you never want to be in the embarrassing position of not having anything to write with. It’s a good idea to order lots of blue or black ink pens, as well as a few reds (as they always come in handy).

10. You’ll also need to make sure your staff have access to fresh writing pads for taking notes, brainstorming ideas and storing important information.

Earn Cash Back When You Shop Online

Cashback shopping is a growing Internet shopping experience, you not only get all the online discounts, promotional giveaways, free trials & special offers that the company you are buying from normally offer, but you also earn money back, for things that you would be buying anyway!

Cashback websites pay the money earned to members via various payment options (BACS, PayPal or cheque) within a stated time period and this is in cash, not points, so the member can use the money to buy anything they like, not just what a particular retailer wants to offer them, such as you would get with a Nectar Card or Clubcard, or a site that offers you points towards items in their “gift catalogue”.

Cashback shopping in the UK is relatively new, but it is growing, with more sites appearing every week. As 1 in every 10 retail purchases in the UK is now made over the internet (according to figures published by the Interactive Media in Retail Group), there are certainly good sums of cashback available to claim by clued up consumers.

Cashback sites have clickable links to online retailers that are provided by the retailers through companies called affiliate networks. Many cashback sites have over 1000 links, meaning there’s a great choice of retailers, in many different categories, for you to get cashback from. Many of the well known high street brands are available on cashback websites.

Merchants advertise their products on websites & when a surfer clicks on the ad & then buys the product or service, the retailer pays a fee (commission) to the website owner. You will see these ads all over most of the websites you browse everyday. Cashback Shopping sites act as an interface in between retailers and online shoppers, offering to share that payment with their members. Once an online shopper clicks on the links of the retailers listed on these portals he is redirected to the retailer’s website as normal and upon buying the product, gets the cashback percentage, or flat rate payment promised by the portal for that particular retailer.

You register with your chosen cashback site; the registration allows the website to know which member made which purchase & match the cashback paid from the retailer (via the affiliate network) to their account. You will need to be logged in to the cashback site & choose a retailer you want to buy from. The cashback offer for the retailer will be displayed against the link & will generally be a percentage of your purchase total, (e.g. 5%) or a set amount, (e.g. £30) for a contract mobile phone, or for opening a bank account.

When you click the link to a retailer, you are taken to their site and you make your purchase in the normal way. From the moment you click, the affiliate network will be tracking the transaction using (cookies stored on your PC), which identifies that you clicked on a link from a particular website (i.e. the cashback site). Commissions paid to other websites such as MSN, Yahoo etc. are tracked in exactly the same way, so don’t be wary of the tracking cookie.

Usually within a day or two, the affiliate network reports the transaction back to the cashback site and states how much commission is due to be paid to them. The cash back site then credits your account with a share of this commission (see the site for exactly how much – some sites pay around 50% of the commission earnt, whereas others pay 100% of the commission, but charge an administration fee).

The money becomes payable to you when the commission has been received by the cashback site from the retailer via the affiliate network, but only when you have reached the minimum payout level for the cashback site (again, this varies from site to site). Once both these things happen you can claim your money from the cashback site.

Typically your cash-back from purchases will become confirmed/payable about 2-3 months after the transaction. This is to allow for return of goods etc so that retailers don’t get stung. Uncleared payments usually show as “pending”.

The prices you get via cashback site links are the same prices that everyone else gets. The only difference is that you are getting money back on top & as well as this, you’re usually able to use retailers’ online discount codes in conjunction with cashback offers, making for even greater savings! Most sites will display lists of the special offers & codes that each retailer is offering, without you having to go hunting through the site.

Most of the UK cashback sites are free to join and even give you a sign-up bonus to get you started! They may also pay you an additional bonus if you get friends and family to join up, using a referral link that they give you. There are some sites that don’t do this, but they do claim to pay 100% of the commission they receive from the retailers!

The only restrictions are those the cashback sites set in terms of minimum payout levels, but with just one big-ish purchase (e.g. insurance policy or mobile phone contract) you may exceed this in one go.

Why else might you shop online, other than just for cash back? Well, the top reasons for shopping online include avoiding crowded stores, the availability of lower prices and the wide selection of goods and services available. Basically, you can sit at home, not get stressed by the crowds, still buy what you want, but get it cheaper and choose from a wider selection, not to mention if you use a cashback site, get some of your money back too!

Finally, there’s no limits on the amount of cashback you can earn with cashback sites and with 98% of retailers you can make repeat purchases and get cashback every time!

You can literally start saving money right now, in the next couple of minutes. It won’t cost you anything at all. And you just go on saving year after year. Just think how much money you are going to get back over the next year, the next 5 years, the next 10 years, just for using a cashback site to buy what you were going to buy anyway!!!

We would suggest that you register with at least one cashback site & then use a comparison site like Kelkoo or Price Runner to find the lowest price, or in the case of insurance confused.com, comparethmarket.com or moneysupermarket.com, but then return to the cashback site to click through to the retailer; that way, you are getting the best price & cashback too!:o)

Beware! As mentioned earlier, the cashback site relies on a tracking code (also sometimes known as a cookie) to record which site you came from & who is entitled to receive their cashback. If you initially visit a retailer through one site & then return to it through the cashback site, you may not get the cashback you expect, because the first cookie is the one used by the affiliate network.

Therefore, before using your cashback site, we recommend removing cookies from your browser, using the tools already built in to your browser, or by using an excellent free piece of software: CCleaner! This ensures that the “click” through the cashback site is the one registered by the affiliate network, not one from a comparison site, who would then get the money & not share it with you!!

Career Tips in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

The commercial real estate sales industry can be very rewarding to brokers and agents. That being said it requires focus and consistent effort if you are to reap real rewards and become a top agent.

Many salespeople join the industry with the hope that ‘things just start to happen’ as part of working for an agency or brokerage; unfortunately those salespeople do not last very long at all. After 6 months or so the reality of the market ‘kicks in’ with few if any commissions coming in.

It takes about 3 months of real effort to change your personal market conditions and your income. It is not a stop and start process. Things should happen to a plan and that will be a plan that you implement every day.

The agency or brokerage that you work for has little to do with the listings and clients that you create or serve. When you start working in the industry, start working hard on your commitment to personal success and progress. You will need a business plan or something similar that keeps you on task.

So what do you need to make the industry work for you? Try these for starters:

  • A good database that you keep up to date in all respects
  • A list of prospects and clients in your database that you can talk to in a continual way
  • Market knowledge and skills relating to your specialist property type
  • Sound and established negotiation skills for listing, inspections, marketing and negotiation
  • Excellent documentation skills relating to your property type, contracts, leases, and any other supplementary documentation
  • Personal drive and a passion for prospecting and selling
  • Excellent marketing skills in both direct, and indirect marketing
  • Communication skills that are advanced for the complexities of property sale, leasing, negotiating and closing.
  • Good time management and documentation processes that allow you to start the day early with momentum and results.
  • Targets and goals that you can track.
  • Exclusive listings that you control for your clients.
  • Referral opportunities with established clients and prospects.
  • Clients that trust you and your skills to help them resolve property problems.

To give momentum to these things it requires deliberate effort. Every agent or broker has plenty of opportunity to rise up in the ranks of the market. The key to making it happen is ‘personal activity and planning’.

It should always be remembered that the commercial real estate industry and market is under change. As brokers and agents we should adjust to market conditions and not wait for the market to come to us.