Friday, May 18, 2012

Ten great homemade Green Cleaning solutions

We just switched the very last of our not-so-clean cleaning products (the wet swiffer's hardwood floor spray with water, vinegar and lemon essential oil), and it prompted me to share this. These solutions have been used for centuries until the last fifty years, and they do a better job, keep our lungs, minds, and skin happy and healthy, and well, are just plain cheaper!  Make the switch...

Here are "The Basic Ten" products you can use to clean just about anything, courtesy of
1) White vinegar: An antifungal that also kills germs and bacteria.
2) Baking soda: Eliminates odors and works as a gentle scouring powder.
3) Borax: The common name for the natural mineral compound sodium borate, eliminates odors, removes dirt, and acts as an antifungal and possible disinfectant. Use with care around children and pets, as it can be toxic if swallowed.
4) Hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration): A great nontoxic bleach and stain remover, as well as a proven disinfectant.
5) Club soda (fresh): A stain remover and polisher.
6) Lemon juice: A pleasant-smelling nontoxic bleach, grease-cutter, and stain remover.
7) Liquid castile soap: An all-purpose cleaner, grease-cutter, and disinfectant. “Castile” means the soap is vegetable-based, not animal-fat-based.
8) Corn meal: Great at picking up carpet spills.
9) Olive oil: Makes a wonderful furniture polish.
10) Pure essential oils: Adding all-natural, organic essential oils to your cleaning concoctions can add wonderful scents to your housekeeping endeavors. Some—such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils—also may have antibacterial, antifungal, or insect-repelling properties.

Make the switch for spring cleaning and your home, pets, kids and body will thank you!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Shooting the Moon [repost]

In preparation for the SuperMoon out this weekend, I thought it apt to share the post I read last year by Peter West Carey from the DPS!  Use low ISOs, long exposures, and definitely a tripod to capture that beauty tomorrow night (or tonight, or Sunday night!)

First, remember the moon has its own Golden (or Magical) Hour for optimal effect. The Golden Hour for moon photography has a twist though. Because the moon’s rise and setting each night varies by nearly an hour each day, unlike the suns, you have to do a lot of planning ahead. Or just have dumb luck, look to the East and notice the moon is rising. If you prefer the planning route, this site from the US Navy provides both moon and sun rise and set times for any day or location you’d like, both US and International. And then using the graphical information at Full Moon, it’s easy to calculate the best time for shooting. A full moon rising usually gives the most dramatic shots as the moon is coming up just as the sun is setting (within about 20 minutes, give or take). So using either of the resources mentioned here will get you in the right ball park. And don’t forget to check your local weather forecast for rain.

Moon Next, you’ll need a setting. While a picture of the moon by itself is always nice, placing something else in the frame will give a point of reference and bring quality to the moon. Catching it right as it comes over a mountain or desert or even the ocean. Place it between some trees, buildings or with action in the foreground. Anything that catches your fancy will do. But make sure the object is distant enough to help emphasize the moon. If you aren’t zoomed in enough, the moon will appear as a mere bright speck in the sky. So grab at least a 200mm zoom lens before you head out for best results. The longer the lens, the better (all images in this post were shot around 400mm). Renting a lens for a few great moon shots is another option that won’t break the bank and allow you to experiment.

Another reason the Golden Hour is so important is contrast. The ideal time to capture the moon near the horizon is when you can still see the horizon. If you were to capture the moon long afterPhotographing Moon the sun has set, say 3 hours, the foreground subject matter will not be illuminated and may not show well in the image. Or if the sky is already black, the moon will show as just a white blur if you attempt to brighten foreground objects. The image at left was taken in Utah just 20 minutes after the sun had set over the mountains to the West. If much more time had gone by, the clouds and hillside would be much less illuminated and the moon would have been less ‘oranged’. This time right around sunset can bring some interesting colors to the moon and is often referred to in the Autumn as the harvest moon.

While the Golden Hour for the moon is great for full or near full moon shots, you can still use the traditional Golden Hour around sunrise and sunset to capture half or crescent moons. This will take a little more work as the moon will be further off the horizon and thus subject matter will need a little more work in framing, but it can be done with great affect.

Spot metering will be your friend in shooting the moon. If your camera has it, use it while metering off the moon. Experiment with bracketing to bring out other objects in the frame. If your camera doesn’t have spot mode, it may still have a bracketing feature. Moon Photography Tips Use this along with biasing the exposure to underexpose everything. It’s better to have the foreground a little dark than the moon be completely blown out with no detail.

Lastly, give yourself time. Time to scout out a good location. Time to understand that unlike the sun, the moon’s rise and set move North and South by quite a bit each night. So take the time for a month or two to get to know the moon and its habits. You’ll be better set to capture a beautiful image with just a little effort.

More comments from pros are below his post here
And other cool posts on the subject:

And how to shoot a lunar eclipse!