Creating a Mood Board with Milanote

Recently, I came across milanote.com which seemed to be a good tool for creating a mood board or style guide.

When planning a website, or other creative project, it can be really helpful to build a mood board so that you can visualise how certain colours, fonts, images etc might work together. A style guide can act as a useful reference to ensure that you, and others involved in the project, are consistent in your use of various design elements.

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Flexible, Customisable WordPress Themes

There are a couple of different approaches to choosing a WordPress theme:
1. Try to find a theme that looks just how you want it straight out of the box (or with a few small tweaks). Then just add your own text and images
2. Choose a plain looking, but flexible, theme as a starting point and customise it to look just as you want it to.

I favour the 2nd approach, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

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Self-hosted WordPress Versus the Rest

WordPress have an old article (The $64,000 Question: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?) with an analogy that I’m going to borrow. The original article was written in 2013, although I see that it has been updated to mention the WordPress.com Business Plan (more on that below). I’ll extend the analogy a bit and throw in some things that weren’t mentioned.

The idea is that self-hosted WordPress versus WordPress.com is a bit like buying a house versus renting one.  I like this comparision and would extend it to include other platforms such as Squarespace, Weebly and Wix.

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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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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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