New Music – the Naked and Famous

The Naked And Famous - Sunseeker (Official Video) - YouTube

When I’m driving, I set my radio to scan because I’m not a “top 40” fanatic and I always like to hear new voices. On this particular day, I quickly stopped the scan when I hit on a local college station and heard the breathy, come hither voices in a song called The Sun. It had me twitching in my seat and getting those crazy looks from other drivers. (The whole town knows I’m crazy so it doesn’t bother me anymore.)

As soon as I was home, I logged onto the Internet to find out more about the music and the voices responsible for The Sun. Imagine my surprise when my search found the website and I realized that the band responsible for igniting my interest was another New Zealand offering. Those of you who regularly read my articles know that I am a fan of The Black Seeds, a New Zealand band I stumbled across on C-net. New Zealand has mothered yet another band that fate, in its unfathomable wisdom, has brought to my attention – The Naked and Famous.

In cruising around the Internet, I have found comments from others stating that The Naked and Famous sound is similar to Nine Inch Nails, Radio Head and The XX. I can’t say that I agree, but I’ve only had a small sampling. I find the sound of The Sun a bit techno trance, but that’s my opinion and nothing negative is meant by it because I like some techno trance. The Naked and Famous group’s lyrics and sound in The Sun are edgy and you might expect a rather ‘shocking’ appearance for the group. I was reminded that book covers are often deceiving when I saw their photos. They look like the kids down the street! But the photography and their poses did hint at something hidden–a dark side. I love a mystery.

According to the official The Naked and Famous website, only two songs,Young Blood and Punching in a Dream, are available in the United States on iTunes. I tried to find them on Rhapsody, but they were not there. I did find The Naked and Famous live performance of The Sun on posted by tnafofficial. If you just want to hear the song, I found it posted on Driftwood. You can find The Naked and Famous on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Tumblr. Check out the blub about them at Give The Naked and Famous a listen. You might be surprised.

(Also see my article The Black Seeds – Great Contemporary Reggae Music.)


Digital Photography Tips and Pointers for the Beginner

Click and destroy is a common theme with digital photography. Take a ton of shots and hope that at least one of them will jump off the screen and sing.

It's fun and easy to take digital photographs– there's an opinion for you. It is really easy to aim a camera or cell phone and shoot a picture worthy of posting somewhere online, but to do it in a way that makes someone else say, "wow, excellent shot, wish I could do that," is much harder. I have been taking pictures for a long time and I have learned a lot as I've gone along on this journey with my camera, yet I still manage to take nearly as many duds as delights. But that is what the delete button is for, to eliminate those horrible shots forever.

My secret to getting that interesting and beautiful shot? I place myself in the correct spot to get the angle I want and then I aim at my subject, focus, stop breathing to avoid shaking the camera and deliberately move the view-finder a bit to the right or left. This puts the subject slightly off-center and creates a new focal point.

The shakiness factor can be overcome by using a tripod, but I personally find this to be less spontaneous and much less convenient than carrying around just a camera. Besides, it can take several minutes to set up the tripod properly and adjust everything to the right height. By that time, your once-in-a-lifetime hummingbird closeup is long gone. Professional photographers tend to take a while to set up their photos. They set the tripod just so and wait for the perfect light, and perfect cloud formations. If a blue jay gets in the way of the shot, it's the red velvet on the cake, as long as it doesn't spoil the planned scene. I hold my breath while taking the shot for the simple reason that breathing creates movement and movement is fatal to capturing clear photos with a digital camera. For shots that aren't going anywhere, such as still lifes or portraits, the tripod is the way to go.

I'm here to say that sometimes it's the unplanned that adds to the amateur photographer's chances of creating that ideal shot.

I look around and see what is happening. If there is anything at all going on in view of my camera, there's a potential picture there. One prime example is the day that I walked outside without the camera and had to tip-toe back inside to get it when I discovered a winter tree covered with sparrows, looking for all the world like chirping leaves. Lucky for me, the birds stayed put while I did that and for several minutes thereafter while I clicked pictures. These things happen and the digital photographer needs to be prepared at all times.

To me, it's important to shoot the kinds of pictures that interest me the most.

If 5,000 pictures of Fluffy the cat in various appealing poses is what I'm into then so be it. Fluffy is what I'll focus on if it works for me and if it doesn't, then I'll find a new subject to shoot or choose a new angle on the old one. However, new angles should be kept as simple as possible just in case Fluffy doesn't like suddenly having a camera lens shoved up her nose and reacts with a clawed demonstration of her feelings. I find that it is easy to go too far with the dramatic "art" shots.

My rule is this: If I want a sideways picture, I turn the camera all the way on its side. If I want it horizontal rather than vertical, I leave the camera in its normal position. I don't go for halfway in between.

Overdoing the artsy angles can make it hard to tell what was supposed to be the theme of the picture. Was it the ocean or that half deflated beach ball on the shore? Was it the little girl in a sandy diaper wailing her eyes out because she has a sandy diaper or the big dog apparently trying to "water" the dogwood tree? It can be difficult to tell if the photographer was drunk and lying in a fetal position at the time the picture was taken or if he just likes photos that appear to be almost sideways and close to the horizon.

No fuss, no cuss is what I say.

To sum up, keep it simple and learn the basics of your camera, the ins and outs of digital photography and just have fun with it before you start getting overly creative. Just allow yourself the opportunity to be a poor photographer while you're learning the ropes. That's what the delete button is for and a good digital photographer is one who isn't afraid to use it. Have fun and click away.…

Three Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Many of my favorite childhood memories involve food. For example, I can always recall eating sweet potato soufflé for Thanksgiving or Christmas with my mother and sister. Those who have had this dish can understand why it was always one of my favorites growing up. Comprised primarily of mashed sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows on top, the treat had a unique and slightly tangy taste that I always enjoyed. Despite the fact that I enjoy this dish, however, I didn’t realize how nutritious sweet potatoes are until very recently. Here are three of their health benefits:

  1. Sweet Potatoes Contain Vitamin A.

In their discussion about the health benefits of sweet potatoes, WHFoods notes that the vegetable is a good source of vitamin A. This is important because vitamin A plays a role in maintaining good vision, developing a healthy immune system, and generating cell growth.

  1. Sweet Potatoes are Packed With Calcium.

In noting the health benefits of sweet potatoes, WebMD states that they are packed with calcium. This is important because calcium is used to build bones. Additionally, calcium is also important for muscle function and maintaining a regular heartbeat. Sweet potatoes contain about 68 mg of calcium. (Adults need about 1,000 mg per day.)

  1. Sweet Potatoes Contain Vitamin C.

In discussing the health benefits of sweet potatoes, LiveStrong writer Maria O’Brien notes that the vegetable contains about a third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. This is important, because the vitamin works to heal wounds and repair cartilage, bones, and teeth. Additionally, vitamin C plays an integral role in the maintenance and growth of tissues in the body. Finally, the vitamin is an antioxidant capable of fighting free radicals and their degenerative effects on the body.

As made plain by the information listed above, sweet potatoes are a nutritious food to eat. Additionally, they are very delicious! While the sweet potato soufflé I mentioned earlier is one great way to consume them, innumerable other recipes exist. Irrespective of the one you choose, your body will say thank you. Enjoy!…