Wednesday, 30 September 2015

How I Take My Blog Photos

A while ago I shared with you how I edit my blog post photos, and since then I've had a couple of requests to share how I take my photos in the first place! Logically it would have made sense to write them the other way round, but it's good to be different - right? First of all, I use the Nikon D3100 with a standard 18-50mm lens. It's a fairly cheap camera and there are certainly better ones out there (at a much higher cost), but this has served me well and I'm extremely familiar with all the settings and features. I could probably take a photo with my eyes shut! Just so you know, it doesn't really matter which camera body you get as long as you get one with a standard size lens mount so you can get lots of different lenses to build up your camera kit. 

Timing. I tend to take my photos mid-morning or in the afternoon after the midday sun has started to lower in the sky. As I only use natural light for my photos, I've found that these are the best times to get well lit photos with minimal shadows. I never use flash and I urge you never to do so either. It creates glare and can ruin your photos! When taking my photos, I place whatever objects I'm taking in a well lit location onto of a self made backdrop (large sheets of thick paper) to keep my images looking bright and crisp. 

I shoot on manual. I always shoot on manual. I've shot like this for a while, as a professional photographer once advised me to do so and I've never looked back since! Shooting on manual allows you to adjust all of the settings on your camera to suit the lighting conditions at a time! I usually set my ISO to 100 and if the lighting isn't so great I go up to 200 - but never higher than that! If you shoot using high ISOs, you come out with a super grainy photo, so unless you're a concert photographer or are aiming for that effect - stick to a low setting! Shutter speed and aperture are probably the most important settings when it comes to taking any photo. You want to aim to have a shutter speed of around 1/125 to keep your photos completely in focus. This means that the shutter opened and closes pretty quickly, leaving you with lovely crisp images. Adjusting the aperture on your camera, adjusts how sensitive the sensor is to light. A low aperture, lets lots of light into the camera and a high aperture leaves out the light and gives you dark images. It helps to think about it as a 24 hour clock. At 9.00 (e.g low aperture of f/6.3), it is light and bright and at 21:00 (e.g hight aperture of f/22) it is pitch black dark! 

I take my images in a JPEG+Raw file format. Saving a 'Raw' file helps in that if you completely mess up with your camera settings, but have taken a well composed image - you can go into Photoshop (and some other editing programs) and change your camera settings HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! You can essentially go back in time and alter how you shot your photos! MAGIC! 

Manual focus. As well as shooting on a manual setting, it is also important to focus your DSLR manually. Although it takes more time and effort - the results can often be so much better! You can play around with the focus to add depth to your photos, it always looks nice to have some bits out of focus on purpose. 

I hope this post has helped some of you! If there's anything that you feel I haven't covered - please let me know and I'll get back to you or if there's a lot of topics to cover I'll include them in another blog post! Oh and if you have any tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments to help each other out!

Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Back To University Goals

Hello friends! I honestly can't believe that I start my second year of university tomorrow! Seems like only two minutes since I was lugging all my boxes and suitcases around halls of residence! How time flies ey! I'm currently running round like a headless chicken making sure I have everything ready for the new academic year. Pens. Check. Paper. Check. My mind. Not check! As I've been frantically running here there and everywhere, I've been reflecting on last year and I've decided that I really want to push myself over the next academic year. 

Be more organised
I know this is a bit cliche, but I really do want to up my organisational game. I wasn't too bad last year, but currently I seem to be busier than ever and I want to make sure that I can manage my time effectively. I bought a brilliant diary/planner from BusyB (via Amazon) that handily prints each week twice so you can have a separate planner for home/personal and one for work/school, college, uni! I was given a planner last year from my tutor, but I think the only time I opened it was to write my name in it!! It was so ugly which definitely didn't make me want to write in it!

Try and spend less of my student loan on ASOS
I dread to think how much money (and time!) I spent on ASOS last year. I just love shopping! I am trying to cut back on the spending a little bit though this year so I have plenty of money to travel around seeing my besties up and down the country! We really want to go away together in the summer too, so hopefully we have enough money to get that organised! 

Dress less like a homeless person to lectures
This one actually made me laugh when I thought about it. If I look back at any photos from last year, I literally looked like I had walked straight out of bed and into a lecture theatre. Considering the (probably) substantial amount of money I spent on ASOS last year, I think I could maybe look a bit more put together during my second year! 

Prepare for assignments better
Don't mistake me for one of those people that starting writing their assignments and essays the night before. NEVER WOULD I DO THAT. And no that isn't sarcasm. I was pretty good with it last year and always made sure I had everything submitted at least a couple of days before the due date. But this year I want to make sure that I plan and structure my work better in order to help me gain extra marks. I found that the work that I planned out and understood better always got Firsts, SO I MUST ACHIEVE THIS ALL THE TIME!

Try and go out more
Last year I was about as sociable as…. well a very unsociable person. I've been getting a lot better of the last couple of months. Pushing myself to go places I wouldn't usually give a second thought about. Like I don't tend to go in bars and clubs. But I went to Revolution the other week for their relaunch party. I was soooo surprised at myself! 

Actually revise for my exams
Last year, dare I say it, I started revising for my exams the night before. What was wrong with me? I've never been that sort of person!! I just had so many assignments due in at the same time and I even had one that was due whilst I was sat in the exam hall!! I think I figured that I could always resit the exams, which isn't the best mindset at all! 

Are any of you lovely lot heading back to university? Or even starting your first year? What do you hope to accomplish? 

Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

An Updated Reading List

It's been a while since I shared my last reading list. Infact, I believe I last posted one in December last year? Well… now I have a few different books lined up on my bedside table. I've been really into inspirational reads a lot recently. I've read pretty much every blog post on offer, so I decided to switch over onto books! I know I'm pretty late to the game but I finally picked up Amy Poehler's 'Yes Please'. It seemed like nearly every blogger in existence owned a copy of this book - you couldn't look at an Instagram post without it being featured or used as a background prop. But when browsing the 3 books for £10 offer section on Amazon, I decided to pick it up and see what all the hype was about! I've only had a brief flick through, and there are some adorable photos of Amy as a child in it - I can't wait to read it! 

Alongside 'Yes Please', I picked up 'Not That Kind Of Girl' by Lena Dunham. I'm pretty certain that I haven't heard or seen this mentioned anywhere. But I loved the cover and it sounded like it was going to be an interesting, easy read (I'm not going to lie, I mainly bought it for the cover). It is described as being a collection of autobiographical essays and stories written by Lena, mentioning her experiences with dieting, fashion, friendship and existential crises. I think it will be a must-have read for all young women, but I will try and keep you posted with how I get on with reading it! I have currently read the first few chapters and it is sheer comic brilliance! It certainly put my life into perspective! I will say that it isn't for the 'prudes' *checks Google to see actual definition, finds definition perfect, inserts word into post* out there as it is a little graphic at times - but it certainly is a nice easy read!

My sister recently bought an 'adult' colouring book and it has some really beautiful designs in it. I bought this one of the 3 for £10 offer along with the last two. When I ordered it, I didn't realise it was going to be so small. I was actually shocked when it arrived. I thought it was going to be about A4 size like I know the majority of colouring books to be. But In fact it's about half the size. Which is certainly handing for taking with you on the go! It may help keep me entertained on my commutes to university this year! Although it technically isn't a reading book, it is still a book so you can see why I've included it in this list! 

I've heard great things about Rainbow Rowell, but again, I simply chose this book based on the beautiful cover. I'm not really a fan of hardback books, but when they are miles cheaper than the paperback editions you can't really complain. Landline is supposed to be a tale about a couple in their thirties who get the chance to look back in time with the help of a magic phone. A. Magic. Phone. This sounds like its going to be a super easy and interesting read so I can't wait to get into it!

Finally, the one I'm most excited to start reading! I first read To Kill A Mockingbird in 2013 and fell completely in love with it! So when I heard that Harper Lee was writing a follow up, I was like a child on Christmas Day! As soon as it went up for pre-order I was right on the bandwagon - ordering it within minutes of it becoming available on Amazon. In preparation for it arriving I even re-read To Kill A Mocking Bird, so when it landed on my doorstep I was over the moon! I got about 10 pages in before life got in the way. But will certainly be reading it first out of this lot!

What books have you been reading lately? I'm hoping to get through at least one a week on my commutes! Leave me your recommendations! Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x

Sunday, 20 September 2015

New In: Orelia Jewellery

When it comes to jewellery, Orelia are a brand that just do everything right. Their simplistic designs, the extremely high quality and the sheer wearability of their pieces. Known for their detailed and delicate jewellery, they have some incredibly beautiful silver, gold and rose gold accessories in for the new season! If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that they sent me some of their new pieces last season. So you can imagine how excited I was when this popped through my letterbox!
First of all, how cute is the packaging! Someone took the time to lovingly tie the most beautiful bow! It made it so exciting to open - it felt like Christmas! When I opened up the box, I was surprised to see three lovely new pieces in there from their new collection! They sent me two drop dead gorgeous pairs of stud earrings and a lovely ring necklace. 
This necklace immediately caught my eye when I opened up the little parcel. It is a gorgeous textured ring like circle on a short gold chain. I absolutely love it! Because the chain is so short (40cm in length), it is perfect for layering which is making a comeback for Autumn/Winter 2015. I'm sure it will be a bestseller! 
These semi-precious pyramid studs remind me so much of the art deco style. It was one of my first thoughts after opening them up. The lapis stone in the centre is a beautiful shade of blue and the gold setting matches it perfectly. I can see these fast becoming one of my favourite pieces of jewellery! They aren't the cheapest of studs at £15, but they are gold plated so they would be a little more expensive than your usual pair from Primarni (Primark for you behind with the times). 
Just for your info, these earrings are both gold. The lighting made one look black!
I think the mini heart shaped stud earrings have to be my favourites of the lot! They are such a classic and I actually think I own/use to own a similar pair somewhere in my collection! The best thing about these earrings is that they can be worn with just about anything. Whether they are paired with a tracksuit or a ball gown. They just go! 

Have a lovely Sunday and thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x
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All the jewellery featured in this post was kindly sent to me my Orelia for the purpose of a review. All comments are my own. Check out my disclaimer for full details. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

My Makeup Collection: Eyeshadow

I feel like I have been neglecting the beauty aspect of my 'beauty and lifestyle' blog recently. The majority of my posts have been gravitating towards lifestyle and I'm starting to miss photographing gorgeous products and their equally gorgeous packaging. So I thought I'd introduce a few new series on the blog and even start a few back up again (*cough* Skincare Sunday *cough*).

As you can tell from the post title, in this new series I am going to be showing you my makeup collection - which isn't huge, but it is certainly bigger than the average makeup collection. But I can use being a blogger as an excuse to buy more right? First things first, just to get it out of the way - some of the products photographed in the series may have been gifted to me by brands, but as always I'll make sure I highlight which ones and you can read my disclaimer comes under the FAQ drop down menu underneath my blog title if you wish.

As you can kinda see from the photo, I have quite a few - ranging from a couple of quid, to insane prices that I try and forget about. So there's something for every budget! Most of my collection are fairly neutral shades as I like to play it fairly safe and you can never have too many neutral eyeshadows. I prefer to buy palettes with multiple shades in as opposed to single eyeshadow pans as I just find them more luxurious, easier to travel with, and I can mix and match looks from complimentary shades.

So I'll start off with the premium eyeshadow palettes. I have three in total - the NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow Palette, the Charlotte Tilbury Colour Coded Eyeshadow Quad in Dolce Vita, and the Bobbie Brown Warm Eye Palette. Charlotte Tilbury and NARS have to be two of my all time favourite premium brands. They offer such high quality and luxury products. I have quite a large collection of NARS products and I am poised and ready, waiting for student loan to come in so I can get my hands on some more Charlotte Tilbury! ;) The three palettes have such buttery shadows that are extremely easy to blend. The NARS palette especially has brilliant pigmentation, although the other two aren't that far behind. Unlike all my other eyeshadow palettes, you can also use it (the NARS) with a wet brush to give an intenser look to your makeup. 

For those of you with a more limited budget, Soap and Glory offer shadows that are very similar to those in my Bobbie Brown Palette. I have two of the limited edition palettes from Soap and Glory, and they are regularly bringing out more and more. When they don't have any limited edition palettes on the shelves, they offer some beautiful quads with complimentary shades similarly to the Charlotte Tilbury quad. They have such a large range of shades too, varying from my sacred neutrals to earth greens and blues. I also have a couple of the No7 loose shadows and a little Stay Perfect trio in the shade 'Good Earth' that I use to fill in and highlight my brows. 

And thats pretty much my entire collection! What is your favourite eyeshadow in your makeup bag at the moment?
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x


Sunday, 13 September 2015

My Blogging Game and How I'm Upping It

Hi Friends! Until the start of August, I was having a little bit of a blogging slump. We all have them from time to time. We just fall out of love with blogging and it often feels like we are never going to enjoy it again. Now I am by no means an expert, or a 'professional' blogger, but I'd thought I'd share with you the things I'm trying to do to up my blogging game. 

I have been making quite a few changes to how I run my blog and during August, my stats were through the roof! The thing that I feel has helped the most is that I have started to follow a proper blogging schedule. For the last year or so, I have published once or twice a week but with no set days or times. Since coming up with a schedule and actually sticking to it, people know when to expect new content and will head over when the have a spare moment. Before I didn't see how this would make a difference to my stats, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much it did! 

I'm very much a visual person, so photography is one of the most important things. One of the main reasons I click on a blog post is because of its photography. I've always received such lovely feedback from you all when it comes to my photography. But I was beginning to feel a bit bored of my usual flat lays. So I've been mixing it up lately and varying my shots with different angles and compositions. And as far as I can tell you're liking it!

Social media
Over the last month, I have been spending a lot more time promoting my blog posts on social media. When I first starting blogging I was terrified of sharing my blog posts incase friends found out and made fun of me. But, now I've got to the point where don't care who knows! I've recently made a Facebook page and I've got into sharing my blogs images on Pinterest. This has really helped me share my posts with so many more people and another thing that I think has had a big impact on my stats. 

Forward planning
I'm a big one for planning and organisation. And when it comes to my blog I am no different. I like to plan my blog posts well in advance. The lovely Rhianna of Robowecop recently shared how she keeps organised with blogging and she noted that she uses a spreadsheet to keep track of her posts. I'd never thought of doing this and since starting, I have found it so much easier to know what I have to do to get a post out. 

Using my stats
Using my stats to find which posts work best has helped me understand which of my posts are most popular with my readers. Since doing this I have had 4 (I know, I can't believe it either!) consecutive posts on the Bloglovin popular page under the beauty category and they were all up their for over a week!

Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Cocktails and Canapés: Revolution Relaunch Party

Hello everyone! Last week I was invited down to sample the new food and drink menu at Revolution in the Electric Press, Leeds. They have just reopened with a brand new look and a revamped food and drink menu. I like to drag my friend Fern (Hi Fern!) along as my plus one to these events as (honestly we just like the free cocktails) we use them to catch up with each other! 
When we arrived, it was absolutely chaos! Aswell as it being a press/blogger evening, it was also open to the general public. They had what I understood to be a designated area for those, like me, sampling the new menu - but were so many people crammed into this area that it soon became difficult to move around. It was also a Friday night, so everyone (and I mean everyone) was out! Once staff had realised, they began asking people to leave their tables so they could be packed away. Meaning there were no seats for anyone. Fern and I eventually found a table with a lovely couple sat at it, and they offered us the spare seats. Once we had found somewhere to sit, we began sampling some of the delicious cocktails on offer. 
As soon as we walked though the front door, we were given the choice of two different cocktails (sorry, they were inhaled before I had the chance to take a photo). I opted for one with strawberries and gin (GIN ALL THE WAY, AM I RIGHT?), which I believe was called 'Gin N Juice'. We decided to buy a cocktail each as it was the end of happy hour with two-for-one cocktails. We both got a 'Bramble' (see first picture), which I ended up drinking both of because Fern gave up! We were then brought a shot glass sampler of the 'Caribbean Passion', which again, I drank both of. That was it really for cocktails, we had both had enough, especially considering that we had taken up on the two-for-one offer at Slug and Lettuce on the walk up from the train station! #cocktailaddict
 The food was absolutely delicious! I didn't realise that Revolution did food, but I will certainly be popping back after sampling some delicious items of the menu! One of the first things we tried, were these little goats cheese balls with red chilli and cucumber. We had quite a few of these as they were so yummy! I wish I had caught my reaction of eating the chill, I really didn't expect it to be so spicy! I believe they are a side to some of the new main dishes on the menu, but I'm not entirely sure!
Mini hotdogs on sticks!
The mini hot-dogs (I think they actually called them dough-dogs), were my favourite! At first I thought it was a spring roll (stupid Charlotte), so when I bit into it I was both pleasantly surprised and disappointed at the same time. All of the things we tried we part of some new sharing platters, the 'Deli Crate' and the 'Street Food Crate', so I know what I'll be ordering next time! Whilst we were eating, a lovely gentleman came round and asked if he would be able to draw us. My first reaction was 'Oh God, how much is this going to cost' but to my surprise it was free! He was so lovely and we noticed a couple of people going round with rolled up drawings. I thought this was a lovely touch, and a bit different from the usual nightclub photographer. I'm not sure if he goes regularly, of if he was just there as a one off. But his drawings were hilarious! I loved them!
Also! I attempted to vlog the evening! So if you fancy watching it….

Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A Few Recent Buys

Hi Friends! Before anyone says anything, I know I've had a few haul style posts up recently, but I've been spending the last of my birthday money. SO WHAT? And a girl needs to treat herself now and then! Plus half you request posts of my shopping binges when I post on Twitter, so you can't blame me!

First up is this absolutely beaaaaautiful phone case from That Lame Company (run by the lovely people that are Chloe from Mojichlo and Charlie from Philoslothical). Towards the end of the month, I will be (finally) getting a new phone in the form of an iPhone 6. And after deciding that my phone desperately needed an upgrade, I immediately began on the hunt for a phone case to go with it and make it look all pretty. With a little help from Charlie and Chloe, I finally decided on the 'Watercolour Flowers' phone case in the premium finish. For those of you that don't have an iPhone 6, or any iPhone at all - they stock each design for a long long long list of devices! ALL of their products are absolutely gorgeous, and when student loan comes in I will most likely spend a good chunk of it over at their lovely shop! I am so excited to get my phone so I can make use my phone case!!

If you didn't know, last weekend I took a trip down to Gloucester! Today's post was actually meant to be a little photo diary of my trip, but I only went and lost my SD card didn't I!! Stupid Charlotte. But whilst down in Gloucester, we visited Bourton-On-The-Water (GOOGLE IT IMMEDIATELY!!) which is absolutely beautiful! It's sort of like the UK's answer to Amsterdam.  Although it rained 99.9% of the day (wearing flip-flops was a mistake. A big mistake), we had a lovely day. Anyway I digress! Whilst mooching round the little independent shops, we popped into a candle makers and watched a man make candles. It was so interesting! A couple of shops down was a little homeware shop and I immediately walked over to the Yankee Candle stand and began sniffing. I picked up the Pink Grapefruit candle, and words cannot describe how good it smells! 

As I'm heading back to university soon, I thought I'd buy myself a watch to make sure I'm organised and able to catch my trains on time. If I had a pound for every day that I dreamt about owning a Daniel Wellington watch, I'd be able to buy at least two Daniel Wellington watches. Whilst browsing ASOS at the start of the week, I came across this beautiful navy and rose gold watch. It was only about £20(?) so it was an absolute bargain! I opted for a navy strap rather than black, as I just felt it look classier. As it is quite dark navy, it could easily be passed of as black on first glances - so it goes perfectly with most of my wardrobe!

And finally! I repurchased the Benefit Porefessional primer in the full size version! My little sample size seemed to last forever and it was by far THE best primer I have ever used! Ever! It makes everything last so much longer which is what a proper primer should do. I have talked about it multiple times before so I'm not going to drone on about how amazing it is! 

Have you been buying anything recently?
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x

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