Getting your pets holiday ready

The holidays are almost here and that means it’s nearly time for year-end parties, dinners, gift exchanges and get-togethers. Whether you’re hosting the festivities or packing up the family – pets included – for a beach holiday, there are a few things to consider beforehand to get your pets holiday ready. SECURE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE

If you have a Christmas tree, keep in mind that your dogs and cats can be drawn to the unusual smells and sights. That’s why it’s important to make sure it’s secure enough in its stand that your pets can’t accidentally push it over.

CHOOSE YOUR ORNAMENTS WISELY

Ornaments, tinsel and lights can be hazardous to your pets. Keep both breakable ornaments and small, stuffed ones out of reach as they can easily be mistaken for toys. Wires for lights also need to be hidden so your pets don’t chew on them and cause an electrical shock.

KEEP HARMFUL FOODS AWAY FROM YOUR PETS

Sweet, fatty and spicy foods that we commonly eat during the holidays are certainly not intended for pets. If you have these foods around your home, make sure they are securely put away and out of reach to avoid any emergencies.

GIVE YOUR GUEST A REMINDER

Consider leaving a cute, festive note on the food table to remind guests not to share holiday treats with your pets. It is also helpful to give your pets an early dinner so they are less tempted to beg for scraps.

CREATE A SAFE HAVEN

During parties, some pets can become stressed, so have a safe spot available for them. This location should be away from the festivities and should have fresh water, a couple of toys and a comfortable place to sleep.

USE A CRASH-TESTED CRATE

Your pets should never be allowed to roam freely in your car. A wandering dog or cat can find their way under the driver’s feet, obstructing their ability to use the clutch, brakes or accelerator. Crates are the best option to ensure your pet’s safety when travelling. Just remember to make sure to select the right size crate for your dog or cat. It’s also critical to choose safety-certified, crash-tested crates.

TAKE A BREAK

Even if you can push yourself to keep going for hours on end to arrive at your destination sooner, pets have different needs. Plan to stop every two or three hours to let them get out, stretch their legs and do their business.

HAVE A PET BUDDY

If at all possible, have a buddy for your pet on your journey. This is someone who will sit beside their crate, pet them, talk to them and comfort them in case of distress. Put your pet’s favourite blanket or toy in their crate with them for familiarity.

BRING WATER AND A BOWL

Dogs and cats need regular access to water and this is vital on a longer road trip. The best way to ensure that you always have water on hand is to store a bottle in the car as part of your emergency kit.LEAVE YOUR PETS AT HOME WITH A DOG SITTER

If there is someone that you trust to stay in your home, this is a great choice for your pets. Your pet’s routine will change very little and they’re more likely to receive top-notch, constant care. Having someone in your home while you’re away will also minimise security risks.

BRING YOUR PET TO THE SITTER’S HOME

Another great option is bringing your pet to the sitter, for care in their home. This allows your pet to experience the comfort of routine in a home environment. This option is also less expensive than paying someone to stay in your home.

BOARD YOUR PET AT A KENNEL

Kennel offerings are available for every type of pet at every price point. However, because every kennel is unique, it is important to do your research. References and reviews from people you trust will help you decide which kennel is right for your pet.Whether your dog is spending the week at home, at the beach or a modern dog boutique, a bit of research and advance planning will ensure that they’re safe and well cared for while you’re away. As an added bonus, you can look forward to lots of tail wagging when you return!

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Using Lens Flare Creatively

A recent trend among many professional photographers is the use of lens are. Fortunately, for those of you who want to use lens are creatively, it’s quite easy to do and it’s not so hard to add this technique to your list of photography tricks. Here are a few considerations that will help you achieve your best lens are capabilities without breaking a sweat.Lens flare happens when stray light reflects on some of the internal elements of your lens. This stray light can create light streaks, ‘sunbursts’ or reduction in contrast and saturation. Through most of the history of photography, lens flare has been a maligned anomaly. However, lens flare can be used as a creative tool to enhance an already good image.To enhance your images and to have lens flare to show up in your images, try these tricks:

Shoot into the sun

Lens flare is caused by strong rays of light hitting your lens directly and causing a slight sun burst. Capitalising on the direction of your light is the key to capturing lens flare.

Adjust your subjects position

Place your subject in front of you, with their back to the sun. Your subject will be backlit as though you were capturing a silhouette. You can control your creative goals to some degree by moving your subject so that some (or all) of the light is behind him/her. Or you can simply adjust your own position so the sun is angled behind your subject.

Take multiple photos

Lens flare can be unpredictable so, set up your subject and shoot multiple images as you make slight adjustments to your camera’s angle. This will change the overall position and strength of the lens flare, which will give you multiple images to choose from.

Shoot at an angle

Because you want an image with lens flare you need to keep in mind your camera position to the sun as this will largely depend on what time of day you shoot. In the mornings or evenings, you will have an easier time of shooting directly into the sun. However, at midday this changes and you’ll need to position yourself fairly low to the ground in order to shoot into the sun.

Watch your focus

Your camera will typically focus on the object best lit in your frame. Shooting into the sun will make it more challenging for your camera to focus on your subject. You may need to switch from auto focus to manual focus.As great as lens flare can be under the right conditions, there are still cases where it will detract from your image rather than add to it. As such, you don’t want lens flare to cover your subject’s face, especially their eyes. Nor do you want your subject to be so washed out that they become unrecognisable. Although there’s a lot of creative choice involved in your decision to include lens flare, a great use of lens flare is going to come down to what looks right to you.

Getting great lens are can be a little tricky and take a bit of practice and tweaking. We hope that these tips will give you the best opportunities to get awesome are goodness in your photographs.

If you’d also like to take part in our monthly #CalendarPets competition, then be sure to visit our Facebook page here.

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Meet Mrs. Müller

More than just a pretty face, Adré Müller is a lifestyle blogger, the owner of GOSH (a non-profit organisation) and the owner of permanent makeup and paramedical aesthetics salon, Adré Müller Aesthetics (AMA).

And, as if her hands weren’t full enough, she’s also the Fashion and Animal Editor for BELLA Tydskrif, wife to Brett and fur mom to Jonty, their mixed Pomeranian. With all this under her belt, we thought we’d sit down with this dynamic South African blogger to find out more about her and her gorgeous pooch.

 

 

I’m a small-town girl, Mpumalanga born but I’ve been living in Pretoria for the past 12 years. I have a degree in BA Drama and a Postgrad in Early Childhood Development. In 2016, I had the opportunity to realise my dream of being a full time writer and today, I believe I can say that all my dreams have come true.

I believe we create our own happiness and I’ve always said: “Be the person your pet believes you are”. My dog, Jonty, thinks I’m pretty amazing. I also have a passion for improving other people’s lives and I think that’s a very good reason to get out of bed.

 

I honestly think it found me! On several occasions, I was asked by a number of brands to be their brand ambassador so I thought, “why not?” and decided to join social media. Having a strong presence on social media gave me a platform to give these brands exposure and showcase my own abilities. I also enjoy writing and I now have a platform for my opinions. I believe it’s better to give your opinion than to go with the flow.

 

I have a passion for enriching the lives of others and I love beautiful things. This inspired me to open my own salon. Enhancing the inner beauty of women has always encouraged me. Woman can be so mean to each other and we question ourselves daily. My salon is the one place where women can come to relax, recharge their batteries and have no sense of guilt or judgement. I believe in natural healing and using what you have while working with a woman’s strong features, I’m not fond of injections, fillers, Botox etc. and that is why skin needling offers a healthy and self-rejuvenation option to people like me.

 

 

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance sounds easier than it is. However, my husband, Brett and I don’t have children yet so I have some extra time. Brett is also an absolute gem around the house and we share the chores – he cooks and I do the dishes.

I believe the key to balance is communication. Keeping things to yourself makes you burn out but when everything’s out in the open, there can only be balance.

 

Never give up on your dreams, it took me 10 years to get to where I am but there’s still have so much I want to achieve. Be humble in everything you do, thank God always because your greatness comes from his grace and never burn your bridges because you don’t know who you might need along the way.

 

 

I’ve always dreamt of becoming a vet, but working with blood was a little too much for me. I do a lot of charity work for shelters and I am also the very proud brand ambassador for non-profit organisation, All Hearts Foundation. The All Hearts Foundation Founder, Lexi Austen, has fostered a pack of wolves and now we are in desperate need of donations and sponsorship for food and safety for these beautiful creatures.

Through my charity work, I feel that I can live out my animal dreams. I want to be a voice for animals and I still dream of working at a sanctuary one day, or being a humanitarian like Leonardo Dicaprio (I have so much adoration and respect for the awareness he is creating and that he is using his platform to better the lives of others).

 

 

Jonty found me when I lost someone very dear to me and filled every piece of sunshine in my heart that I lost. Jonty catches all my silent tears, he brightens up every gloomy day, he is my running partner, my blogger pal and my bodyguard.

His mom (me), then his Dad (Brett) and his two soft toys that he sucks on while sleeping – a habit he’s had since a puppy.

 

 

Jonty sleeps in bed with us so, he has a bath and shave once a month. Jonty is also a very fussy eater so, in addition to his regular meals packed with protein and calcium, we give him Montego Karoo small breed puppy as well as Bags O’ Wags Crunchies in Sweetie flavour or Bags O’ Wags Chicky Chewies as a treat for good behaviour.

 

 

Jonty has his own account on Instagram (@jontyislove) and the social media community just love him. Jonty loves the camera and I enjoy putting videos of him on social media as well as his cute photos. A year ago, he had a very big operation and I had to create groups to keep his followers updated on his progress as well. He is a very loved little man.

 

 

Book: Always the Bible and BELLA Tydskrif. Food: Sushi. Music: P!nk’s latest album, Beautiful Trauma. Pastime: Braai with my husband, series and Instagram. TV programme: Master Chef, American Housewife, America’s Got Talent, The Fixer and Prison Break (I’m addicted to my series).

 

 

I wish I could say: “Swimming with Dolphins in Dubai, discovering a cure for an incurable disease, saving Rhino’s, opening a shelter and funding All Hearts Foundation”. But for now, I just want people to see me like Jonty sees me, tomorrow I want to be a better person than I was today, I want God and my family to be proud of me and I want to be the reason someone says: “Because of you I did not give up”.

If you’d like to keep up with Adré, then follow her on Instagram @meetmrsmuller or read her blog here: http://meetmrsmuller.wixsite.com/meetmrsmuller

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52 Happy Mondays returns

Our 52 Happy Mondays competition is so nice, we had to do it twice! Back in 2015, one lucky Montego customer won R1000 a week, deposited into their bank account, for a full 52 weeks. This year we’re going even bigger with three lucky winners and each of them will win R1000 every Monday for 52 weeks!

To enter, all you’ll need to do is find at least 1 of 52 Smiley Tokens hidden randomly in specially-labelled bags of Montego dry food (Monty & Me, Karoo and/or Classic Dog/Cat – all dry food variants and sizes), follow the token instructions and enter the draw.

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The “52 Happy Mondays” competition runs till 11 December 2017.
  2. The winners of the competition will be selected by means of random draw on 18 December 2017 and announced by no later than 20 December 2017.
  3. Three random winners will be selected. The draw is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  4. 52 x Happy Monday Smiley items/tokens will be available to find during the campaign dates. Entrants who find said tokens and submit their entry on or before 11 December 2017 will be entered into the random draw. No late entries will be valid.
  5. The Smiley tokens will be available to find in any of the Montego Pet Nutrition dry pet food ranges including Monty & Me, Classic dry dog food, Classic dry cat food and Karoo products.
  6. Only bags labeled with 52 Happy Mondays stickers could potentially contain Smiley tokens.
  7. To enter for the random draw, customers need to find a Smiley token in their purchased product/s, follow the instructions on the token which are to email a photo of the token, the validation code on the token as well as their names and contact details to competitions@montego.co.za – Montego Head Office will then contact the entrants to validate their entry.
  8. Should a customer be lucky enough to find 2 or more tokens he/she may enter that amount of times.
  9. Each token will have a specific validation code which must be submitted upon entry. Customers also need to retain their proof of purchase as this could be required upon submitting tokens.
  10. This promotion/competition is only open to South African ID/Passport holders.
  11. No employees, directors, agents, distributors or consultants and their immediate family members or anyone directly connected to or in the employment of Montego Pet Nutrition, its subsidiaries and business partners, associates, advertising and promotional agencies and staff members of the participating stores may take part in the competition.
  12. The competition applies to purchases of Montego Pet Nutrition products in South Africa only.
  13. Only three winners will be chosen in the 52 Happy Mondays promotion and will win R52 000 – Paid in R1000 installments, each Monday for 52 weeks (one year), directly deposited into their bank account.
  14. Payment of the prize money will commence on Monday 8 January 2018 and end 52 weeks later on Monday 31 December 2018. Whenever reference is made to “a whole year” within this competition, this period entails 52 weeks.
  15. Although Montego Pet Nutrition will do anything in its power never to delay payment, should an unfortunate circumstance arise in which a payment is missed or late, Montego will not be held accountable and the payment will be made as soon as possible thereafter.
  16. The means of payment (of the prize) is not to be negotiated.
  17. The winners will need to supply official proof of their bank account (cancelled check, bank letter or statement) by no later than 21 December in order to start their prize money deposits in time.
  18. It is the responsibility of the winner to inform Montego Pet Nutrition of any change in information throughout the 52 weeks of installments.
  19. Montego Pet Nutrition reserves the right to amend the terms and conditions of the promotion/competition at any time without prior notice.
  20. By entering the competition, the winner automatically agrees to allow Montego Pet Nutrition to contact them or to use their full names for marketing purposes – the winner will be required to allow a Montego representative to take photos of them for the Montego Facebook page and other social media platforms.

Should you have any queries or questions, kindly e-mail us on competitions@montego.co.za or call us on 049 891 0825.

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Win Big In Mozambique

Termos e Condições:

  1. A promoção “Ganhe em Grande em Moçambique” é válida de 25 de Setembro de 2017 até 22 de Outubro de 2017.
  2. Esta promoção/competição é para todos aqueles que sejam portadores de bilhete de identificação/passaporte Moçambicano. Se for considerado necessário, os vencedores serão obrigados a apresentar uma prova de cidadania para reivindicar seu prémio.
  3. Para ganhar na promoção “Ganhe em Grande em Moçambique” basta encontrar uma “Senha de Osso” vencedora num saco de Classic, Karoo ou Monty & Me, deve reter o seu recibo e ligar para Agrovet marcando o número 058 8489 56698 para reivindicar seu prémio.
  4. Somente as “Senhas de Osso” Montego vencedora serão aceites como participação válida na promoção “Ganhe em Grande em Moçambique” e devem ser retidas para reivindicar os prémios.
  5. As cores dos Ossos Vencedores dão direito aos vencedores aos seguintes prémios:

Amarelo – 5 X Sacos de Caixas de O ‘Wags Crunchies.

Vermelho – 6 X Sacos de Pacotes de O ‘Wags Chewies.

Roxo – 12 X Garrafas de 500 ml de Sauce for Dogs

Branco – 6 X Garaffas de 500 ml Sauce Plus for Dogs

Core de Laranja – 12 X Classic para Cais Adultos ou Puppy Wet Food “Comida Enlatada para Cachorros”

Castanha – 1 Saco de 1.75kg Karoo para Adulto de 1.75kg ou 1 saco de 8kg comida seca

Verde – 1 saco de 1.75 Karoo Puppy ou 1 saco de 8kg de comida seca

  1. A Montego Pet Nutrition não será responsável por quaisquer possíveis defeitos/danos aos prémios.
  2. Os prémios não podem ser resgatados em dinheiro.
  3. A Montego Pet Nutrition reserva-se o direito de alterar os termos e condições da competição a qualquer momento sem aviso prévio.
  4. Ao participar na competição, os vencedores concordam automaticamente em permitir que a Montego Pet Nutrition entre em contato com eles ou use os seus nomes completos para fins de marketing – os vencedores podem ser exigidos que um representante da Montego tire fotografias deles e/ou realize uma entrevista para qualquer evento meios de comunicação social e / ou páginas de média impressa/publicações.
  5. Nenhuns funcionários, diretores, agentes, distribuidores ou consultores e seus familiares imediatos ou qualquer pessoa diretamente ligada ou no emprego da Montego Pet Nutrition, as suas subsidiárias e parceiros comerciais, associados, agências de publicidade e promoção e os membros da equipa das lojas participantes podem participar na competição.

Se você tiver dúvidas ou perguntas, por favor, envie um e-mail para competitions@montego.co.za ou ligue para + 27 49 891 0825 ou Também pode telefonar para o Agrovet no 058 8489 56698.

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Perspective in Photography

One of the key components of photography is understanding how perspective affects your shots and how to use it to make your images more expressive and more appealing to the viewer. But what does that mean? What is perspective and how can we use it to improve the composition of our photographs? Read on to find out! Perspective is the way our eye relates to space and the size of objects within that space. Basically, objects seem smaller when further away and larger when closer (relative to their size). For example, the sun and the moon both appear to be similar sizes in the sky yet the sun is much bigger but further away.Photographers often fall into the bad habit of photographing everything they see from eye-level. If you want to spice up your photography, you need to get out of your eye-level habit and change your perspective.

Sure, you can change your composition by zooming in or out with your lens, but if you want to change your perspective, you are going to need to move. So, get ready for some bending, turning, walking, and climbing.Learning how to use perspective in photography is one of those things that will come with experience. But first you’ll need to practice and here are some handy tips to do just that:

GET LOW

Lowering your perspective is a great way to change the scene entirely. You might want to try to recreate the perspective your fur family might see by getting closer to the ground. It keeps the scene the same as it would have been from a normal shooting position, but makes your subject appear larger and more imposing.

SHOOT FROM ABOVE

Shooting a scene from above can make your subject appear smaller compared to its surroundings. Try climb a ladder to shoot portraits from above to give your shots some added punch.

LOOK FOR CONVERGING LINES

In photography, we judge distance by the way that lines converge in a scene. Using converging lines to show a sense of distance is a common technique in photography. The converging lines help to draw your viewer into a scene and are a great way to convey depth and distance.

THINK ABSTRACT

Instead of focusing on trying to literally capture the scene at hand, look beyond the obvious and think abstract. When contemplating a composition, try to think about what potential the scene holds. Instead of just capturing your pet, your goal is to capture the essence of the moment and to show what drew you to it in the first place.

FORCED PERSPECTIVE

Forced perspective is where you make objects in the distance seem larger, smaller, closer or further away than they are, relative to your foreground subject. It’s a fun way of creating trick images that, for example show people holding up a building that appears to be the same size as them.

Altering your perspective is not only one of the most effective tools you have to create an interesting photograph, it’s also one of the simplest to use. Photography isn’t about copying what everyone else is doing. It’s about capturing a moment in time the way you see it and conveying the emotions you feel when capturing it. If you want to set yourself apart, change things up a bit by doing something different. Don’t be afraid to try new angles, lenses, and techniques.

If you are already having fun experimenting with ways to add a sense of perspective to your images then head on over to our Facebook page to enter our latest #CalendarPets competition.

 

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Is your dog spring-ready?

Spring is here and although we’re all looking forward to the warmer weather, it is important to remember that seasonal change can contribute to creating a risky environment for your dog.

As temperatures rise, we open our doors and windows and spend more time outside with friends, family and our pets. As a responsible pet owner, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your dog healthy and happy.

It’s important to wash your dog and its bed regularly, as well as treat your dog for ticks and fleas as these parasites love warmer weather. Now is also a good time to replace those well-chewed toys, grubby collars and leads. If there’s a new puppy in the house, it’s important to ensure your pets’ vaccinations are up to date.

If your dog gets itchy during Spring, Summer or Autumn, it is likely a reaction to seasonal allergens. Unlike humans, dog allergies are more likely to manifest as skin irritation. To help your dog with seasonal allergies, you’ll need to reduce exposure to allergens with frequent baths and foot soaks. In addition, keep the areas where your pet spends most of its time as allergen-free as possible by vacuuming/cleaning floors and washing their bedding frequently.Dry skin is often accompanied by flaky skin (dandruff) and a dull coat as it lacks the proper balance of moisture and natural oils to remain soft, strong, flexible and healthy. In colder weather, the lack of humidity and the frequent temperature changes, will wreak havoc on your dogs’ skin. To overcome this, brush your dog regularly as this will encourage the shedding of any flaky skin and it will also stimulate the production of your dogs’ natural oils, helping distribute it throughout their coat.Soon after Spring comes Summer and to prevent your dog from overheating and dehydrating during the long, hot, sunny days it’s important to give them plenty of fresh, clean water. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot. Never leave your pets alone in a parked vehicle as it can lead to fatal heat stroke. Don’t over-exercise them, consider early morning or evening walks and watch out for hot pavements as heat rises from the ground. Your dog absorbs and releases heat through their feet and walking on hot pavement can be dangerous for your dog.With the weather warming up, your pet will be eager to get outside and start exploring. And while there is nothing wrong with letting your pet roam, your pet is part of your family and deserves to be cared for and protected. So, remember these general pet safety tips and your dog will breeze through spring and summer without a hitch.

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Reducing camera shake

Blurry photos due to camera shake is something we’ve all encountered before and it’s especially common for those of us with unsteady hands. To lend a steady hand, we’re giving you a few techniques to reduce camera shake and ensure that your photos are always crisp and clear.

Camera shake is one of the biggest bugbears for photographers and occurs when the camera moves during the exposure.

When pressing your camera’s shutter release button, while mostly imperceptible, you will move the camera. That seemingly insignificant movement is referred to as camera shake and can result in a blurred photograph.

Camera shake can also happen when using the slow shutter speeds required when taking photos in low light conditions – the slower the shutter speed, the greater the danger of shake.

While the results are similar, do not mistake blurriness of camera shake for the term ‘out of focus’, as the focus of the camera is related to this common error.

There are three main things to look for regarding camera shake:

FULL IMAGE BLUR

If you are suffering from camera shake you will find that all your images are blurred, whether it is the main subject, your background or your foreground. Look closely and you’ll see that there are no sharp points in the image at all.

DOUBLE IMAGE

Another indication that you probably have camera shake is when you see two exposures of the same image. Particularly pay close attention to the edges of objects where you might see them twice.

MOTION BLUR

Camera shake happens when your camera is moving during the time of exposure. As a result, you’ll often see a blur that looks like your subject is moving – even when it might be a still life subject. Look for light streaks or lines when examining your image closely.

In contrast to seeing a completely blurry image, you will know your image is out of focus when the wrong part of it is in focus. Also, with poor focusing you will often find that the blur is smoother or softer whereas with camera shake the blur will have a more jagged or harsh look.HOLD YOUR PHONE STEADY

To minimise shake and eliminate the blur hold your phone steady with two hands, bring your elbow to your side and hold your breath.

PROP YOUR PHONE

Another way to reduce camera shake is to prop your phone on a steady base for extra stability. This could be a table, a wall, the ground or a tripod.

TAP THE SHUTTER RELEASE BUTTON GENTLY 

Even if you have a steady grip or are using a tripod, often when you press the shutter release button, the camera moves slightly. So, if you tap the button lightly, you can avoid potential blurriness.

DON’T USE THE DIGITAL ZOOM

Unfortunately, using the digital zoom will result in a pixelated image and will make the camera shake even more pronounced. If you want to get a close-up, either get close or take the photo without the zoom and crop it later.

GET ENOUGH LIGHT

When taking pictures in low light situations, like at night or in a dark place, your photo is prone to blurriness. To avoid this, try to take the photo closer to the strongest light source.ELBOWS IN

As often as possible pull your elbows in to your body and exhale completely before pressing the shutter button. Pulling your elbows tight to your body can really help keep you steady. You can also press your elbows firmly into your chest for even greater stability.

RAISE YOUR LEFT SHOULDER

For stability, raise your left shoulder, brace your left elbow into your rib-cage and pull your right elbow in to your chest. Again, exhale completely before depressing the shutter button to avoid introducing shake.

PRACTICE BETTER SHUTER BUTTON TECHNIQUE

Always try to press the shutter button half-way first, then gently press the button with no more pressure/speed than necessary.

TAKE THREE SHOTS IN SERIES

Often the very act of knowing you’ll have to hold your hands steady can make it more difficult to do so. But when taking three images in a row, you’ll find that there’s a big difference in sharpness between each image, in part because you’re less concerned about the individual shots.Well there you have it! You now know a few techniques to reduce camera shake. Practice them and after a while, they’ll become automatic and you won’t even think as you use them in your daily photography. Don’t forget to enter our #CalendarPets competition by sharing your sharp and clear images with us on our Facebook page here. Happy shooting!

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How to clean your dog’s ears

Ear cleaning is an essential part of your dog’s basic grooming routine. All dogs should have their ears cleaned from time to time, and some dogs will require more frequent and thorough cleaning than others – especially those prone to ear infections. Here’s what you need to know about cleaning your dog’s ears.Whether they’re long and floppy or stick straight up, dog ears are clearly very different from our own. Ranging from 5 to 10cm, dogs have quite deep ear canals that have a right-angled, L-shape bend. This makes it easy for dirt to get into their ears and almost impossible for them to remove it on their own.

A dog’s ear canal is also warm, dark and moist, the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so debris in the ear often causes ear infections and your dog may injure itself trying to deal with the irritation.The best way to tell if your dog needs a good ear scrubbing is to smell it.

Healthy dog ears don’t have much of an odour beyond their normal dog smell. Dirty dog ears can smell anywhere from vaguely yeasty to decidedly smelly – these bad odours are a sign that your dog’s ears need a cleaning.

When inspecting your dog’s ears, it should be clean and pink, with a light coating of wax. The wax should be a pale, yellowish colour. If your dog’s ears are red or if there is a layer of black or brown waxy discharge, it is time to grab the cleanser.

Be careful though, there is such a thing as too much cleaning. Over-cleaning your dog’s ears strips away the natural wax, which can also lead to problems, so only clean your dog’s ears on an as-needed basis.Remember, that unless your dog has been trained as a puppy, they generally don’t like having their ears cleaned. Practice holding and handling your dog’s ears before you plan to clean them to help your dog get used to the idea of their ears being handled. You can enlist the help of a partner to give treats and additional comfort while you focus on the cleaning. It’s important to condition your dog slowly and associate ear-cleaning with something positive –  if your dog seems stressed or upset, wait a few minutes or even hours before trying again.Just like with human ears, you never want to use cotton swabs because they can hurt your dog’s ears. Instead, have a bag of cotton balls ready, or wrap your finger in gauze and use it. You might want to use gloves for the cleaning, but it’s also okay to just wash your hands if no gloves are available. Perhaps the most important tool, though, is the ear rinse. You want one that’s completely safe for your dog, yet still able to get the job done. Look for a product which contains no antibiotics, steroids, alcohol, or toxic materials of any kind.Firstly, if your dog has very red, itchy, inflamed and painful ears, consult your vet before you start cleaning. It is quite likely your dog has an ear infection, so ear cleaning will not do much good at this point. If your dog has an infection severe enough to damage the ear drum, some ear cleaners can damage the ear further so, please be careful.

Ear cleaning can be a messy job, so find somewhere in the house that is easy to clean and avoid wearing your best Prada for an ear clean.Cleaning your dog’s ear is pretty straight forward and with a little patience and training, it can be an enjoyable experience for your dog. Learning how to clean your dog’s ears properly at home will help your dog stay healthy and happy, saving you a lot of stressful (and expensive) trips to the vet. So, we hope that you find these tips helpful when cleaning and caring for your pet’s ears.

 

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The Rule of Thirds

Earlier this year, we began diving into composition as part of our Calendar Pets series, starting with a few pointers. Today, we’re taking a look at the rule of thirds — a helpful rule to abide by when setting up your shots. The rule of thirds is a basic rule of composition which in a nutshell, divides your frame into thirds, positioning your subject where the lines intersect. These ‘sweet spots’ allow the eye to take in the entire scene.

All good photographs should have at least one main subject (point of interest), which should be placed off-centre. Most beginners are tempted to place their subject in the middle. Applying the rule of thirds is a good way to overcome this.

Studies have proven that when viewing images, our eyes naturally go to one of the intersection points rather than the centre of the photograph. Applying the rule of thirds works with our natural inclinations rather than working against them.

The rule of thirds satisfies our sense of visual proportion, so that photos structured in this way appear balanced. Many seasoned photographers have a natural sense of visual balance. They take their photos according to the rule of thirds without being aware of it. They may simply shoot the picture that ‘looks right’ or ‘feels right’, unconsciously applying the rule as they go. In time and with experience, new photographers will develop their own ‘feel’ for composition.

If you subdivide your photo into thirds both vertically and horizontally, you will have three columns and three rows – or nine equal sections. The sections where lines cross are points of interest. These points are where you want to place your subject – parts of the image where you want attention to be drawn or show points of activity.

According to the rule of thirds, the lines that divide the picture are the most effective places to position objects in your photo. For example, the horizon should be positioned on or near the line a third from the top, or a third from the bottom of the picture. Vertical objects like trees should be placed on or near the lines, a third from the left or right of the picture.

Rarely will you use all four points – many times one or two – but this is what creates balance in your composition.

Remembering the rule of thirds may be hard to apply when you’re in the middle of capturing that perfect moment, but no worries. With a little assistance you can add a grid to your DSLR in your camera settings or by using an app on your phone.

When using your iPhone’s native camera, you can enable grid lines by going to Settings, then Photos and Camera – enabling the grid toggle under the Camera section. There are several other camera replacement apps that also let you use grid lines on the screen as a guide. We recommend: VSCO, Camera+ or ProCamera.

For Android, we recommend the following apps to help you master the rule of thirds in composition: Camera For Rule Of Thirds or Sensor Camera.

You may be using the rule of thirds in your own photography already, without even noticing. If not, try imagining the tic tac toe grid superimposed the next time you’re shooting as this will help you achieve better composed photographs. We’d love to see the photos you take for our #calendarpets competition, so share them with us on our Facebook page here.

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