Review of Design Cuts’ Totally Diverse Vectors Collection

Design Cuts have provided me with a free copy of their current deal, The Totally Diverse Vectors Collection, in exchange for a review of this bundle.

The collection costs $29 (or around £28 including VAT) and it will be available until 10th April 2017.

[UPDATE: This deal has expired – but some of the resources may be available separately in the Design Cuts marketplace.]

What are Vectors?

Vector graphics are made up of paths (lines, curves, angles and shapes) rather than pixels. This means that, unlike a jpg or png image, a vector graphic can be reduced or increased in size without becoming jagged and pixelated. Vector files have a number of different file extensions including ai and eps.

Here’s one of the birds from the Pretty Peonies Botanical Collection by Feanne, which is included in the Design Cuts deal. As you can see, the image is made up of numerous nodes which are joined up to form curves. This means that, not only will the graphic remain smooth when it’s enlarged, but also the individual parts of the picture can be manipulated.

 

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Photography Basics: Shutter Speed

waterwheel toy shot with fast and slow shutter speed

This article looks at how to:

  • either avoid, or purposefully include, blur due to camera shake or movement of the subject, camera or lens
  • freeze motion.

Slow Shutter Speeds

For this exercise I used shutter priority mode (something I don’t normally do) which means that I set the shutter speed and chose the ISO, and the camera chose the aperture needed to properly expose the photograph.

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Review of Design Cuts’ Inspiring Artistic Design Collection

Design Cuts is an online market place for downloadable design resources. They gave me the opportunity of receiving a free copy of their current deal, The Inspiring Artistic Design Collection, in exchange for a review of this bundle. [UPDATE: This deal has expired – but some of the resources may be available separately in the Design Cuts marketplace.]

The collection costs $29 (or around £28 including VAT) which Design Cuts say is 99% off the full price of thousands of best selling design assets. Of course, a typical small business owner or blogger will have a particular style for their brand, so you may wonder whether the bundle is still good value for money even if you would only use a fraction of the resources.

I decided to see how someone might use assets from the collection if they had one of a couple of styles for their website. If your brand does not fall into one of these categories, then you’d need to look at the other items to see whether you feel that this bundle could be useful for you.

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A Note About WordPress Backups

If self-hosted WordPress was both inexpensive and maintenance free, then I doubt I would even consider the alternatives.

What’s most likely to scare people away from using WordPress is the fear that they will lose their website if it is hacked, they make a mistake or something breaks. This is why it’s important to have a contingency plan.

You can minimise the danger of your site being hacked by keeping your plugins up to date. The WordFence plugin has a number of security features which include emails to tell you when an update is required. When you log into your WordPress dashboard you’ll be prompted to carry out the update, which is easy to do.

dashboard with update showing

wordpress dashboard listing updates required

However,  it’s impossible to 100% guarantee that your website will be safe.

Many hosts keep backups so, if something did go wrong, then your host may be able to simply replace your site with a copy taken before the problem occurred.

However, you should also be keeping your own backups in case this isn’t possible.

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Photography Basics: Aperture

Whenever a photograph is taken, a decision has to be made about how much light is needed to achieve an acceptable exposure. Often the camera will automatically select a shutter speed, aperture and ISO to control this. However, the photographer may decide to select one or more of these variables themselves.

The aperture of a lens refers to the size of the opening through which light passes. A certain lens will have a maximum aperture (the size when it is as wide open as possible) but can be set to close down to a narrower size.

If two photographs are taken under the same conditions,  using the same shutter speed and ISO but with different apertures, then the photograph with the smaller aperture will appear darker. A small aperture lets in less light than a large aperture.

The progression of apertures (in “stops”) is as follows: f1.4, f2, f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f11, f16, f22, f32… Closing down the aperture by one stop halves the amount of light reaching the sensor, so the shutter has to stay open for twice as long to let in the same amount of light.

(diagram from Wikimedia Commons)

The photographs below demonstrate the effects of changing the aperture. Not all lenses can achieve every possible f stop. For the experiments shown below, I used a lens whose widest aperture was f2.8.

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Squarespace Pick & Mix Websites

Squarespace has become a popular choice for people who want to build their own website. If this platform appeals to you, then I could help you set up a website using my Pick & Mix styles as a starting point.

Here are a couple of slideshows to illustrate how this might look. As always, the layout of your website would be tailored to your own requirements.

 

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