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.

What Has Changed in Health & Fitness Over the Last 30 Years?

There have been many changes in fitness over the past 30 years. It’s human nature to reminisce about times past. That’s great but lets not forget that things change as well. This is certainly true in the area of health and fitness. “If you do what you have always done, you will get the results you have always gotten” is true, but what if the situation changes? Then what used to work is no longer a viable and effect way to get the results that we want. In this article I will outline seven items that have changed over the past 30 or so years that affect the way we view health, fitness, exercise and what is considered “best”. Let’s look at some of these changes in Fitness.

1. Activity level

This change in fitness is pretty obvious. We just don’t move around as much as we used to 30 years ago.

Currently, the average sedentary person living in an urban setting takes 900-3000 steps a day. Uh… that’s a puny number! In the journal of sports medicine existing literature was pulled together to set a general guideline of what a good number of steps per day would be

The author Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke translated different physical activity into steps-per-day equivalents. A rate of fewer than 5,000 is classified as sedentary, 5,000 to 7,499 is low active, 7,500 to 9,999 is somewhat active 10,000 or more is active and 12,500 or more is very active. So what does 900 make us? Close to dead! But its not hard to imagine. Get up from, take elevator to car park, drive car, take elevator to office, sit down, order fast food, reverse the process to go home and go back to bed. Just to note, 1km is about 1300 steps.

Its gotten to the point where we have to purposely inconvenience ourselves to get our activity level up. Here are some suggestions (that actually show us how pathetic our average activity levels have become).

Park at the far end of the car park and walk to your building Instead of dropping the kids off in front of the school, park a couple of streets before it and walk them the rest of the way… 10,000 is actually considered a LOW estimate for children.

Go round the shopping centre or supermarket in a random. With today’s super malls, this is a big thing!

Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator (well if you work on the 50th floor, maybe climb halfway to start)

Give the dog an extra 5 minutes on his walk (we need it even more than him)

Stop emailing colleagues in the same office, instead go over and talk to them (shockingly effective considering how much email we send each day!… great for team building as well)

Go for a walk during your lunch break, walk to get your lunch or to find somewhere to eat your lunch

Get up and do something, run up and down the stairs for example during TV ads (no excuses here!)

Walk to the corner shop instead of driving or popping in on your way home

Walk to friends houses instead of driving

Take public transport and walk from the train station

Dr. David Bassett studied an Amish community to see what things were like in the past. These guys have no cars, no electricity and do hard manual labor to put food on the table. Its like time travel to the past. They eat 3 large meals a day with lots of meat, vegetables and natural starches like potatoes.

The 98 Amish adults Bassett surveyed wore pedometers for a week. The men averaged 18,000 steps a day. The women took an average of 14,000 steps.

The men spent about 10 hours a week doing heavy work like plowing, shoeing horses, tossing hay bales, and digging. The women spent about 3.5 hours a week at heavy chores. Men spent 55 hours a week in moderate activity; women reported 45 hours a week of moderate chores like gardening and doing laundry. Wow that’s a lot of manual labor. Get a pedometer (its only like 20 bucks) and see how you fare.

2. Fat Percentages and Obesity

Activity level leads us right on to this point about obesity. The scary obesity rate is one of the most obvious changes in fitness.

The obesity rate among the participants in the study of the Amish population was 4 percent, as determined by body mass index, or BMI. The current obesity rate among the urban populations is 30% or more. OK the obesity percentages are a scary thing because obesity is already in the “VERY high risk of a lot of bad ways to die” category. There is still the overweight category (obviously fat but not hitting the medically obese range) to consider. These people are at a high risk already!

The total percentages of overweight + obese are really wild… hitting close to 70% in some cities. Compare this to the average in the 1980s. 10-15% obesity in most cities. It rose to the mid 20% in 1995 and its now at an all time high.

3. Diet

OK linked to point no.2 is of course diet. This is another obvious change in fitness. Its very simple actually. We now eat more refined foods (white bread, sugar, rice, flour, noodles). In the body these give pretty much the same response – FAT storage. The only time we should eat these items is immediately after hard training. As we can tell from point no.1, not much of any training is going on. But lots of eating is!

We also eat less fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. We eat more snacks like chips and cookies (which are also refined despite what advertisers claim).

These changes in fitness are made more troubling because even natural foods today are not as good for us as they used to be. Current farming methods make vitamin and mineral content in fruits and vegetables drop about 10-40% depending on the mineral. Corn fed meats don’t give us as good an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio as we used to get from grass fed and free range animals. (that means not so many healthy fatty acids for us)

And of course, we are also simply consuming more calories. The Amish people in the study in point no.1 ate about 3600 calories/day for men and 2100 calories/day for women. Many sedentary people consume this much and more! How? Well a fully “featured” gourmet coffee from coffee bean or Starbucks can add up to 500 calories in an instant of caffeine folly.

That’s 2 hours of walking for an average sized lady.

Just remember, calorie quality counts as well. 2000 calories of vegetables, meat and healthy fats is infinitely better than 2000 calories from french fries. Its close to impossible to get fat on the first, and nearly impossible not to get fat with the second.

I like this car analogy. If you had a 2million dollar dream car, would you put low grade or high grade petrol into it? High grade of course! Then why do some people put low grade filth into their bodies which are so much more important than the car we drive?

4. Games children play

The average child who grows up in an urban environment is a motor-skill weakling. As a hobby, I coach youth basketball. In our talent scouting, I have kids do a very simple drill of dribbling in and out and around cones. There are so many kids who can’t do it and some who I think might fall down if asked to RUN around the cones without the ball! This is in contrast to the past where kids ran around, chased each other, played physical games and sports of all kinds, where the playground was the center of fun for young kids. This lack of activity not only causes a change in fitness for the child in his/her youth, but has a profound long term effect as well.

Of course this change in fitness is a result of a combination of possible factors.

Parents who only consider academic success to be worth striving for, who only give a child recognition and praise when they do well in academic subjects.

An education system who also values book knowledge above other things and takes away physical education classes to put more academic lessons in.

Poorly taught PE lessons that don’t help a child develop motor skills in the key early years Busy double-income families where fathers are not free to play with their children (or don’t care enough to… money isn’t everything dads)

The maddening computer game addiction situation where virtual life is more important than real life. I believe this is the reason for all the empty basketball courts in my neighbourhood. It used to be that teams lined up to play there. Now only people my age (late 20s to 30s) play. No young kids are there any more.

But actually, so what? The issue is that if kids stink at sport and physical activity, the well known psychological factor of “competence” comes is. Simply put, in general, we do what we are good at. If our next generation is poor at sport and physical activity, they are even less likely to do any of it! Which combined with items 1 to 3, make for a deadly health crisis for many countries. Obesity costs the UK 7.4 billion in national health care per year! If we don’t help our kids, that’s only going to grow to be a bigger and bigger burden for everybody.

5. Social Support

This is a more subtle change in fitness. People are communal animals. We stick with things because there is a supportive community behind us. Even drug and alcoholism rehab centers recognise this. We all need social support. But social links are getting weaker. And no, Friendster and MySpace links don’t make up for it.

In a more connected but less close world (I know so many people who are only comfortable behind a computer screen and not in front of a real person) there is less social support than in the past (extended families, communal living, strong friendships within a neighbourhood etc) and its hard to stick with something which requires dedication and sacrifice like an exercise program. I’m not a sociologist but I do believe there is a reason that exercise classes do better in terms of membership than individualized training. Most of them certainly are not as effective as great individual coaching. But the social factor does come in when sustaining a lifestyle change is involved.

6. Free Time

This subtle change in fitness is pretty clear. We just have less time that we “own”. Bosses, social, family and other commitments make free time a very precious commodity and it adds difficulty to the fact that time is our only non renewable resource. When we choose to exercise or spend time cooking to keep a healthy lifestyle, we are competing with movies, games, TV and other things for free time. We know that exercise is good for us, but it not only has to be good for us, it has to be BETTER in our minds than the latest episode of desperate housewives, or the latest computer game. That’s the issue. We need to prioritize long term health over temporary fun.

7. Training methods

OK here is where we are doing well. 30 years ago the aerobics craze took the western world by storm. Its not a very good training method both in terms of results, and in terms of results per unit of time. Add that to the fact that we have such minimal time to train, we can’t afford to train in a sub-optimal way. We know a lot more now. Fortunately for us, there are good methods that smart coaches use to improve training efficiency and get RESULTS even with less training time. Some of these include smartly designed resistance training programs, interval training and good assessment techniques to determine individual needs. If you have a coach like that in your corner, you can turn back the clock and avoid becoming one of the ever growing statistic of people who’s health is headed in the wrong direction. Stay fit and strong and good luck!

Restaurant Training – Waitress & Waiter Training Role Play Tips For Hospitality Education & Learning

Lights, Camera, Action!

Incorporate Role Play for a Winning Training Program

Take one…take two…take three…ready on the set?

Are your teams providing their best performance with every guest that walks through your doors? Incorporating role play into your training programs will help your guests receive an encore performance every time.

Role play is one of the most effective tools in the trainer’s toolbox where participants can experience real life situations and “learn by doing”. Role play can be used to train any level of company personnel including staff, managers, and even company executives.

Role play allows teams to experience real life situations in a simulated and controlled environment. With participants playing the roles of guests, employees, and managers, they can be better equipped to handle situations.

Because of the controlled environment, role play allows the trainer to assess an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and devise an action plan for growth and development. When used to master a skill, role play builds confidence as the skill is practiced and coaching is administered by a trainer. Since the trainer is side by side with the learner, they can easily determine whether the learner has mastered the newfound technique and is ready to work their position solo. When role play is used to emphasize with another person’s feelings, it allows the teams to recognize those feelings and understand the effect of their or other’s behaviors. For example, role playing a guest situation will allow teams to better understand how a guest feels. As a result, they will learn the level of service that should be provided to deliver a quality experience. Another benefit from role play is helping team members understand the consequences of breaking policies, such as, arriving late to work and the stressful impact it may have on the entire team. As a result, they will learn the importance of arriving on time.

How to get started

Prior to the scheduled training date, company assessments should be performed to determine the specific areas of performance/improvement to be addressed. Then, the company facilitator should determine the overall results to be accomplished and how the issues will be best addressed. For instance, the trainer should determine if the issues are related more to emphasizing feelings or strengthening a skill.

Next, the company facilitator should determine the specific characters associated with the issue and the particular roles they will play. There are many roles that can be played such as a guest and service representative, a manager and team member, a service representative and kitchen team member or similar combinations.

Finally, the company facilitator, armed with the necessary scripts and scenarios, can then develop training aids and other training tools to address the overall goals of the program.

As a head start, we have listed some suggested scenarios that will help you role play with your teams. Before starting the role play, always ask for volunteers so the shy or less experienced teams can watch others first to help build their confidence.

Suggested Scenarios

1. Cashier talking on the phone and not acknowledging a walk-in guest

2. Server being abrupt and rushing a guest while taking an order (asks questions in a curt, quick manner and displays rushed body language)

3. Server being overly friendly and talking too much with a group of business guests having a meeting

4. Server scolding a kitchen worker about an order made incorrectly

5. Host/Hostess being sarcastic and short tempered when a guest is asking for menu information

6. Host/Hostess defensively telling a guest “I told you the wait was 20-25 minutes and you only waited 10 minutes”

7. Bartender being cold and unfriendly while a sole diner is looking for attention and conversation

8. Bartender chatting with some regulars and ignoring a guest who obviously needs something (beverage refill, a napkin, condiments etc.)

9. Two bus persons talking about personal issues while ignoring a guest’s signal for service

10. Kitchen team member loudly demanding a server to pick up an order

11. Dishwasher being disrespected as servers throw dirty dishes without scraping them first

12. A problem team member causing coworkers to do extra work; creating disagreements among the staff; undermining management; constantly being late; and similar situations.

13. Manager telling the guest “no” or “we can’t do that” without apologizing, adding an explanation, and offering options

14. Manager pointing his/her finger and arguing with a guest when handling a complaint

15. Manager threatening a team member’s job

Alkis Crassas, President of EVOS USA, Inc., a healthier fast food chain, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, routinely uses role play and says, “Although role playing pushes the envelope by placing participants in the limelight, after the butterflies disappear, it will smooth out and your team will begin to see the big picture goals of your restaurant”.

If role play is designed properly and effectively executed, it can be very valuable to the success of any company. Most important, when role play is interactive and fun, your training goals will be retained and result in a high return on your investment. Role play adds to the life experience of each participant and when people experience something, they will take that away with them more so than any book, video or lecture could ever replicate.

Advertising As A Tool Of Communication

Advertising is a form of mass communication with the public. It is usually one sided i.e. from the company to the buyer/potential user of the product. It is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade the potential customers to purchase or consume more of a particular brand of product/services. As rightly defined by Bovee, “Advertising is the non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.”

Advertising an important tool of communication is use to promote commercial goods and services, it can also be used to inform, educate and motivate the public about non-commercial issues such as AIDS, Don’t drink and drive, Polio, Save water, electricity, animals and trees etc. “Advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest – it is much too powerful tool to use solely for commercial purposes.” – Attributed to Howard Gossage by David Ogilvy.

Advertising is most effective with products that can be differentiated from similar products based on consumer accepted quality difference. Tom Egelhoff has classified advertising in 6 types, i.e. for company image, name brands, advertising service instead of a product, business-to-business advertising, co-op advertising and public service advertising. Television, Radio, Cinema, Magazine, Journal, Newspaper, Video Game, Internet, Billboard, Transit Cards, Sandwich Board, Skywriting are the different mediums used to deliver the message. The companies choose the method according to the cost, budget, target audiences and their response. However, word of mouth advertising/ personal recommendations is an unpaid form of advertising which can provide good exposure at minimum cost.

Various new forms of advertising are growing rapidly. One of them is Social Networking Advertising. It’s an online advertising with a focus on social networking sites and use of the internet/ World Wide Web in order to deliver marketing messages and attract customers. The other is E-Mail advertising; E-Mail Marketing is often known as “opt-in-email advertising” to distinguish it from spam. “I believe ‘credibility’ is one of the biggest issues yet to be addressed by Internet advertisers. Everyone has their eye on ‘privacy’ as a critical concern, but credibility will be far more enabling or disabling to website profitability. A company can have a web presence and, unless the brand name is familiar, consumers have no way of knowing whether it’s a big company, a small company, an honest company, or a single scoundrel. I may be worried about my personal data being disclosed in violation of my privacy, but I’m far more concerned about whether or not the person or company with whom I’m dealing is reputable. Can I believe their claims? Will I have a recourse if something is wrong with the merchandise? Credibility no longer is strictly a brick-and-morter issue. I can’t judge someone by their place of business, when I conduct that business on the Internet. I can’t grasp a hand and look into their eyes to judge their veracity. Credibility is a huge issue.” – Jef Richard.

For a message to be effective keep it short, simple, crisp and easy to absorb. It is essential to translate the products/services offer into meaningful customer benefit by advertising and to build awareness and generate response. REMEMBER: – THE AIDA MODEL -ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE AND ACTION.

In the modern scenario, most of the companies outsource their advertising activities to an advertising/ad agency which is a service business dedicated to creating, planning and handling advertising and sometimes also performs other forms of promotion like public relations, publicity and sales promotion for its client. Departments of the advertising agency includes: – The Creative Department (who creates an actual advertisement), Account Service (who is responsible for co-ordinating the creative team, the client, media and the production staff), Creative Service Production (here the employees are the people who have contacts with the suppliers of various creative media), Other department and Personnel. (like public relations). As said by David Ogilvy once that the relationship between a manufacturer and his advertising agency is almost as intimate as the relationship between a patient and his doctor. Make sure that you can life happily with your prospective client before you accept his account.

Thus, I would conclude by the famous words of Bruce Barton (1955), “Advertising is of the very essence of democracy. An election goes on every minute of the business day across the counters of hundreds of thousands of stores and shops where the customers state their preferences and determine which manufacturer and which product shall be the leader today, and which shall lead tomorrow.”