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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

10 Multi-Use Items You Should Consider Packing

Written by Rachel Turner

Next time you hit the road, pack these reusable, space-saving, and lightweight items.

It seems like airlines are placing new restrictions on luggage everyday. With bag space at a premium, consider packing items that have more than one use.

Reduce clutter and free up space with these 10 multipurpose items.

1) Shampoo

There is no reason to carry four or five bottles of cleansing liquids such as body wash or shampoo. When you get down to it, it’s all soap. So consolidate by choosing a mild shampoo for all your cleaning needs.

  • Body Soap - In addition to using shampoo to wash your hair, you can use it to wash your body and as a facial cleanser.
  • Laundry Detergent - Shampoo works just as well for washing clothes…and it smells better, too.
  • Dish Washing Liquid - Use it to clean dishes in poorly-stocked hostel kitchens.

2) Dental Floss

This waxy string is not only great for getting food out of your teeth, it also has other practical uses.

  • Clothesline - Double up a length of floss and string it across the room for a place to hang socks and undies.
  • Thread - You can use this super-durable string as thread for rips and tears.
  • Knife - Dental floss won’t cut through a steak, but it will nicely slice cheese and bread.

3) 5-in-1 Survival Tool

Weighing in at just 50 grams, this superlight tool is great in emergencies. Check out its multipurpose features below:

  • Waterproof Matchbox
  • Safety Whistle
  • Compass
  • Signal Mirror
  • Fire Starter Flint

4) Sarong

Sarongs are meant to be worn, but there is no limit to other ways this strip of fabric can be used.

  • Use it to towel off.
  • Hang it as a curtain for privacy.
  • Tie the ends to make a bag.
  • Use it as a beach mat or picnic blanket.
  • Never rent sheets at hostels again.

5) Swiss Army Knife

This go-go gadget is a must for travelers. Swiss Army makes pocket widgets that range from a simple knife to a 34-use mega tool.

Attachments for travelers include:

  • Corkscrew
  • Bottle opener
  • Thermometer
  • Compass
  • Scissors
  • Flashlight

Note that airlines will not allow you to carry on a knife so throw this gadget in your checked luggage.

6) Safety Pins

These little metal clasps are a lifesaver when it comes to holding fabric together. But they have a few other uses as well.

  • Clothespins - After stringing up your dental floss clothesline, hang your socks up to dry with a safety pin.
  • Backpack Security - A safety pin won’t replace a lock, but use one to connect a pack’s zippers for a little added security.
  • Needle - Turning a safety pin into a needle is tricky, but it can be done. Use smaller gauge pins to minimize the size of the holes you’ll leave in your clothes.

7) Trailguide Compass Watch

Do more than check the time with this handy gadget which provides additional features below:

  • Alarm - Leave your alarm clock at home and use the wake-up function on the watch instead.
  • Compass - The built-in compass will help keep you headed in the right direction.
  • Thermometer - Helps you monitor the temperature to help pick appropriate clothing.
  • Altimeter - Keep an eye on your altitude with the altimeter function.
  • Timer - Just in case you need one!

8 ) Rain Poncho

Unless you’re heading to a rainy destination, you might pass up the poncho while packing. However, before you do, check out other ways it can be used.

  • Tarp - Lay your poncho beneath your sleeping bag when bedding down underneath the stars.
  • Picnic Blanket - Lay out the picnic spread over your poncho which will keep things dry and is a breeze to clean.
  • Bag Liner - Empty your bag and line it with your poncho to keep wet clothes from seeping through.
  • Emergency Rain Shelter - String it up and use it as a shelter during rainstorms.

9) Waterproof Pelican Dry Case

Pelican makes a line of cases to keep your valuables from getting wet. Higher end cases are tailor-made for cameras and electronics. Smaller micro cases are great choices for backpackers.

  • Keep the Dry Things Dry - Put wet clothes or swimsuits in the case to separate them from dry clothes.
  • Lunchbox - Store leftovers and snacks in the case for long bus rides or picnics.
  • Organization - The boxes can also be used to organize things like socks and camera equipment in your pack.

10) Credit Card Survival Tool

The ultimate multipurpose tool, it is the size of a credit card, made of stainless steel, cheap as chips, and has 11 different uses listed below:

  • Can opener
  • Knife edge
  • Screwdriver
  • Ruler
  • 4 position wrench
  • Butterfly screw wrench
  • Saw blade
  • 2 postion wrench
  • Key chain hole
  • Bottle opener
  • Direction auxiliary indication

Whether you’re packing for a weekend getaway or a year-long venture, travel lighter and smarter by packing items that serve many functions without taking up a ton of space.

Original here

SO WHICH WOMAN HAS THE PERFECT BODY?


OK ladies, prepare to be amazed.

We asked thousands of you to tell us what you think about your body – which bits you like, which bits you don’t, and what you’d change if you could.

Just to make things fair, we asked the men too. And when the results came in, shock waves rippled through Fabulous HQ.

It seems men and women have very different ideas about the perfect female figure.

While women yearn for the waspish waist of a size 8 model, men hanker after a curvy size 12 with hips. Oh yes!

And that’s not all. It seems all that time spent staring at the mirror making mental checklists of everything we’d change is a waste of time.

When we asked men what they would alter about their partner’s appearance, the majority said they were perfectly happy, thank you very much.

In fact, the only thing they’d wish for is that we’d all love our bodies as much as they do.

So, come on girls – what are you waiting for? Let’s hear it for love handles, muffin tops and big bottoms.

Let’s embrace our bodies and start loving what we’ve got.

And for an extra boost, read the rest of our body-inspiring results.

WHAT WOMEN SAY...

Hurrah for curves!

We asked whose body you admire most:

26%

voted for TV presenter Myleene Klass

22%

picked curvy Kelly Brook

15%

went for supermodel Gisele Bündchen

And what do they all have, girls? Yep, great boobs! PS: Nobody voted for skinny supermodel-of-the-moment Agyness Deyn, or curvy singer Beth Ditto.

56%

of women say their breasts are the most attractive part of their body

45%

say their stomach is the part of their body they like the least

21%

constantly worry about their weight

55%

worry their partner isn’t attracted to them because of their body

56%

would consider having cosmetic surgery – 41% want liposuction

32%

say their ideal dress size is an 8

Vital statistics

10st 1lb: the average weight of a Fabulous reader

79%

of you want to lose weight

37%

of you want to lose 1-7lb

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RESULTS

What do you think about the results of our survey? Do you agree with the women or the men? Were you surprised? Were you pleased with what the men said?
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Blood test could be cancer 'crystal ball'

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor



A simple blood test that could act as a "crystal ball" to detect early signs of cancer could be tested on patients within two years.
Scientists have shown the test works in picking up signs of prostate cancer and say it could potentially also be used for other cancers ranging from breast to lung.

Although a range of teams around the world are developing tests for proteins that signal cancer is developing, a new approach is outlined today by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Seattle.

They have found that scraps of genetic material - called microRNAs - that turn genes on and off are released by cancer cells to circulate in the blood, where they can be detected more easily than proteins.

The molecules have the potential to become a new class of "biomarkers" to reveal the presence of cancer at its earliest stages, which would make treatment more effective, reports the team led by Dr Muneesh Tewari in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Tewari tells the Telegraph that these new diagnostic tests could start being studied in large clinical trials for cancer detection in two years.

MicroRNAs have advantages over protein-based early-detection systems, including that they can be detected potentially in smaller quantities and that the technology exists to rapidly develop early-detection tests, said Dr Tewari, who has been studying how the scraps of genetic code sometimes fail to hold cell growth in check in prostate and ovarian cancers.

"Current technology for developing tests to measure microRNAs in clinical samples is quite advanced, whereas the bottleneck for developing protein-based biomarkers is the slow process of generating assays for measuring specific proteins," he said.

The next steps, now that a proof of principle has been established, are to identify specific microRNAs that can signal the presence of a variety of solid-tumour cancers - breast, lung, prostate, skin and so on - at an early stage, and to further develop the technology to detect minute quantities.

For the study, Dr Tewari and colleagues tested blood from mice and humans with advanced prostate cancers, as well as that from healthy controls, and could distinguish which individuals had cancer based on blood microRNA measurement.

"MicroRNAs, which weren't previously thought of as markers of cancer in the blood, are a worthwhile class of molecules to study for the purpose of early cancer detection," Dr Tewari said.

MicroRNAs play a key role in a wide range of normal cell processes, including embryonic development and cell differentiation, and are often misregulated in cancer. During the course of those experiments, the scientists found that microRNAs circulate in the blood outside of cells and are remarkably stable.

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Can changing your diet help you have a baby in your 40s?

By Fiona Macrae

Drastic changes in diet boost a woman's chances of giving birth into her 40s and 50s, it is claimed.

Alterations from cutting out alcohol and sugar to eating more organic foods allow women to hit the 'snooze button' on their biological clocks, maximising their chances of having a baby, says a new book on fertility.

Sarah Dobbyn, a nutritionist and author of The Fertility Diet, said the influence of diet on fertility is often overlooked in an age in which IVF often seems the only answer to pregnancy problems.

A new book claims drastic changes in diet can boost a woman's chances of giving birth into her 40s and 50s

She said: 'Huge amounts of money are being spent on assisted conception techniques by hopeful couples who do not know that alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are liquid contraceptives, sweeteners can prevent ovulation and seemingly innocent foods such as peas, rhubarb and soya all inhibit fertility.'

Aimed at those trying to conceive naturally, as well as those going through IVF, The Fertility Diet sets out a diet and lifestyle plan which should be followed by both partners.

The most comprehensive guide of its kind, it advises cutting out smoking, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine and soya in the first month. Peas and rhubarb are also banned, following studies linking them to infertility.

By month two, couples should have given up all meat and cut out sugar and dairy products.

Come the third month, consumption of eggs and fruit juices should be reduced.

However, it is not all about cutting back, with couples allowed unlimited quantities of beans, pulses, organic herbs, spices and nuts from day one.

Fruit and vegetables should be eaten raw wherever possible to help balance the body's hormones.

Would-be parents are also advised to lose weight if overweight, keep stress to a minimum, and try to get a good night's sleep.

Miss Dobbyn, who spent two-and-a-half years combing research papers and books on fertilty to write The Fertility Diet, believes the advice will help all older couples, bar those who need surgery or other medical treatment, to conceive.

The 43-year-old former barrister who is engaged and plans to start trying for a family soon, said: 'It is a pain to give up caffeine, it is a pain to give up wine, but won't it be worth it when you have your own baby?'

However IVF doctors questioned how effective the meat and dairy-free diet would be.

Professor Bill Ledger, a fertility expert from Sheffield University, said lifestyle did not have a major effect on fertility and he was unaware of any evidence that vegans go through menopause at a different time to other women.

He added: 'We tend to create a lot of guilt in people these days.

'The worry is that some gullible young woman will read this book and start living that life and miss out on a lot of fun and normality.'

Original here

Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic

The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) is a nonprofit organization that advocates in Washington D.C., for policies that protect global and individual health. Among the many valuable services they provide is a Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It is based on the results of nearly 43,000 pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies between 2000 and 2004. Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing.

Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories tested, the following twelve foods do not have to be organic. These had the lowest pesticide load, and consequently are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:

  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage
  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocado
  • Onion

Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood.

To this list, I would add one caveat: When it comes to pesticide use, there is more to consider than just the residues that are ingested by the consumer. Although peeled foods such as bananas, mangoes, avocadoes and kiwis may spare the consumer from significant pesticide exposure, it is possible that large amounts of pesticides and herbicides are used on the farms from which these originate, contaminating groundwater, promoting erosion and otherwise damaging local ecosystems. To help promote the health of the planet as well as your own health, it's best to buy organic whenever possible, including when you are purchasing the foods listed above.

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Seven Common Dreams and What They Mean

Dreams come to us in our most private moments: wrapped up in sheets, our public faces stored away for the night. The visions we see in sleep are supposed to be expressions of our individual psyches and imaginations, but most people’s dreams are based on themes that are very common. I thought my recurring dream of losing my teeth was scary and freakish until I went online to find thousands of others having the same dream, all trying to find out what the heck it could mean. Just because our dreams are shared, though, doesn’t mean they aren’t unique; the way we experience these common elements in dreaming life is what’s significant.

1. Being chased.
Candice Janco, author of the Bedside Dream Dictionary: 500 Dream Symbols and Their Meanings, describes this dream (the most common) as an indication of a felt threat in your waking life. This threat can take the form of a menacing person or a strong emotion with which you are having difficulty coping. Try to determine who or what is chasing you, where the dream takes place, and what your feelings are during the chase to understand what this dreams means to you.

2. Missing an important event because you are late.
This can indicate regret over a missed opportunity, inability to make a connection, or desire to pull oneself together. In Dream Power: How to Use Your Night Dreams to Change Your Life, Cynthia Richmond suggests asking questions of dreams in order to understand what this common symbol means to you. For example: What are you missing? Who is disappointed by the missed event? Is it only you or are there others involved?

3. Finding yourself at work or school naked.
Not surprisingly, Freud interpreted dreams about being naked as repressed sexual wishes. But the most important part of this dream is the feelings that are involved. You suddenly find yourself exposed, vulnerable, and awkward. What area of your life corresponds to that feeling? Figure this out by noting where you are, who notices you, what part of you is exposed, how people react to you, and how you yourself react to the situation.

4. Falling.
Falling indicates feelings of insecurity and lack of support. What situation have you “fallen into?” Who has “let you down?” Perhaps not surprisingly, this particular dream is most common among professional men and women. The Illustrated Dream Dictionary authors Russell Grant and Vicky Emptage note the close relationship between “falling” and “failing.” They also note that the dream’s meaning is probably not so clear-cut. Grant and Emptage ascribe dreams of falling to feelings of isolation, the sense of being without the support and affection that success cannot provide.

5. Flying.
Interestingly, Grant and Emptage interpret flying dreams as boasting about sexual powers. The important part of the dream is how you are flying; since the flying itself represents your ambitions, are you flying successfully, or trying and failing to fly as high as possible? From there, they make the leap to feelings of sexual inadequacy, but such feelings of low self-esteem could cover inadequacy of any kind, not just sexual.

6. Losing your teeth.
This theme has a number of potential meanings because of the very different significances teeth have to different people. Our teeth are representative of our appearance because our smiles are one of the first things people notice about us. Therefore, dreaming about losing your teeth can indicate insecurity about your appearance, or even fears of sexual impotence, as teeth are often used to flirt with a desired partner. We also use our teeth to bite, chew, and tear, so losing them can mean a loss of power or fear of getting old. Interestingly, this dream is most common among menopausal women, perhaps for all of the above reasons

7. Snakes.
Snakes have been a fear in dreams for quite some time. The ancient Egyptians used to make snakes out of clay and place them at the doors of their homes to frighten away nightmares, believing that snakes were bringers of bad dreams and that the clay snake would keep real ones away. Dreammoods, an online encyclopedia of dream meanings, reports that snakes signify some hidden threat. This makes sense, as most of us fear the “snake in the grass.” Like most other symbols, though, this one has many meanings that depend on context. Snakes shed their skin, so they may signify renewal and transformation. This may be a frightening experience, as most people are uncomfortable with change, or it may be very positive.

In all of our dreams, the true meanings emerge when we decide what they really mean to us. Though these dream symbols are shared among many, and we can determine general explanations for them, it is the context in which we place them that is significant. Read all you can about dream meanings to find information that may be relevant to you, but also ask questions about your dreams and how these symbols make you feel. Once you dig a little deeper, you may find answers and clarity.

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California weighs sweeping farm animal law that opponents say would mean end to egg industry

|Associated Press Writer

VACAVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ Kim Sturla began bringing goats, pigs, chickens and cows once slated for slaughter to her sanctuary 20 years ago, before supermarkets offered eggs from cage-free hens and beef was advertised on menus as being hormone free.

Two decades later, the treatment of farm animals is a national issue being debated in state Legislatures and put before voters. Footage circulated on the Internet of sick farm animals being kicked and beaten has intensified calls for reform.

"People want conditions to change," said Sturla, who co-founded the Animal Place sanctuary for abused and discarded farm animals in 1989. "On this issue, you don't have to give propaganda. In fact, you have to downplay the conditions or people will shut down. They'll think you're embellishing."

This fall, California voters will consider the most comprehensive farm animal rights law in the country, a measure that would ban cramped metal cages for egg-laying hens, metal gestation crates for pregnant sows and veal crates for calves — standard industry practices in which the animals are kept so confined that they can barely move.

The initiative follows more limited measures recently passed in several other states.

Earlier this year, the Colorado Legislature became the first in the nation to prohibit the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs and veal crates for calves. In the last three years, Florida and Oregon voters have banned gestation crates and Arizona voters banned both gestation crates and veal crates.

A showdown between proponents and opponents of the California measure, initiated by the Humane Society of the United States, looms. While California's pork and veal farming is small, the egg industry, the fifth largest in the country, is preparing an all-out campaign to defeat the measure.

The United Egg Producers and the Pacific Egg & Poultry Association say the measure would threaten the health of hens and eggs, since hens allowed to roam free might contract avian diseases from exposure to the outside or their own droppings. Moreover, the cost would be so prohibitive it would force an end to the egg industry in California as of 2015, when the initiative would go into effect, the group says.

"The measure jeopardizes our food safety and public health, putting us at greater risk for salmonella and avian flu outbreaks; cuts off consumer choice for safe, local, fresh and affordable California eggs; and drives up the cost of basic groceries at a time when Californians are already struggling with high gas, housing and other everyday living expenses," said Julie Buckner, a spokeswoman for Californians for SAFE Food, a group created by the egg industry to oppose the initiative.

But proponents of cage-free hens are banking on momentum. The initiative boasts a long list of endorsements, from the California Democratic Party to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Proponents also are bolstered by an independent report by The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. For humane reasons, the report recommended several changes in the way animals are raised for food in the United States, including the phasing out of so-called battery cages that keep the hens cramped.

The food industry, from markets to restaurants to food producers, is also moving towards cage-free eggs. Chains such as Whole Foods Market and Bon Appetit and food companies such as Wolfgang Puck are ending the use of eggs from caged hens. Other chains such as Safeway have issued purchasing preferences for cage-free eggs and urged their suppliers to move away from battery cages.

Not least, the public is more aware of the conditions surrounding so-called factory farming, advocates for the initiative say.

"Our society is more attentive to animals than ever before," said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States.

In recent months, the farm animal rights cause received a boost from two widely circulated undercover videos.

In February, an undercover video shot by investigators at a slaughterhouse in Chino showed cows too sick to walk or even stand being kicked, beaten, dragged and prodded with forklifts in order to force them to slaughter. The video led to the closure of the plant and, because of concerns of sick cows spreading disease, the largest beef recall in U.S. history.

In May, a Chicago-based animal protection group released undercover video it said was taken at an egg producer in California's San Joaquin Valley that showed close-ups of chickens with open, infected sores crowded into metal cages holding rotting bird corpses. It also showed a worker stomping on a sick hen as it flapped its wings to avoid being kicked in to a manure pit.

That video was damning, but unfair, said Ryan Armstrong, a third-generation egg farmer in San Diego. "I don't know what happened," Armstrong said, "but those aren't common farming practices. We don't promote what happened and we definitely don't condone it."

Various videos of hens packed into tiny cages are widely circulated on the Internet, including YouTube, fueling the cage-free movement.

"The Internet has been a very useful tool because people have been generally unaware of what happens to animals on farms," said Gene Baur, co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, the first haven for rescued farm animals in the country.

Original here

Subway Says Get Off Your Phone Or Go To The Back Of The Line

Sean says he approves of the this sign that he saw at an Idaho Subway location today, but his wife wasn't a fan...

My wife thought it was ridiculous, but I kind of like the idea of sending those annoying line-talkers to the back.

Well, you know us, we're always biased toward the consumer.... but those line-talkers are on their own this time.

Original here

Do you want to improve your portrait photography?

Today I spent time digging through the Digital Photography School archives (there are now over 600 tutorials and articles) and noticed that we’ve covered the topic of Portrait Photography from a large variety of angles. I thought it would be useful to list some of the more popular portrait photography tips all in the one place.

I’ve chosen 19 of our most popular portrait photography articles and have assembled them below.

So if you’re interested in improving your portrait photography - grab a cup of coffee, set aside a little time and enjoy. If you enjoy these make sure you subscribe to get more via email or RSS.

How to Take Portraits - 19 Portrait Photography Tutorials from Our Archives

Stunning-11. 10 Tips to Take Stunning Portraits

This recent post (one of the most popular that we’ve ever published on DPS) gives 10 fairly general tips on how to take portraits with the ‘wow factor’.

It’s all about adding variety to your portraits by doing things like altering your perspective, adding a prop, experimenting with eye contact and getting your subject out of their comfort zone (to name just a few).

It picks up ideas found in many of the following tutorials and would make a great place to start if you’re looking for an introduction to the topic.

Stunning-22. 10 More Tips for Stunning Portrait Photography

In this followup to the last tutorial we extend the idea of adding variety to your shots.

It explores framing, wide angle lenses, backgrounds and experimenting with focusing.

All in all this post takes this mini series to 20 portrait photography techniques that have been read by hundreds of thousands.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you’d have on other techniques that you use to add variety to portraits in the comments on this post.

Space-To-Look-Into3. Give Your Subject Space to Look Into

This technique is basic but can have a real impact upon your shots.

Framing your portraits so that your subject has room to look into gives a shot balance and helps draw the eye of those viewing the image into the image.

Try it for yourself - but don’t forget, sometimes ‘rules’ like this one can be broken with great effect also - so experiment with that too!

Quick-Tips4. 4 Quick Tips for Portraits

I Love picking the brains of professional photographers and this is what I did in this post in which a portrait photographer shared with me four parts of his shooting workflow.

The tips are simple yet effective - I particularly like the way that he shoots from slightly under the eye line of your subject - a technique that causes a little interesting debate in the comments of this post.

Drop by and tell us what you think!

Children5. Photographing Children - Composition

This is a topic we have always been asked a lot about and so it was one of the earliest tutorials that we included on DPS (it’s one that we are planning to update in the coming month). Photographing children can be a lot of fun although is also challenging (if only they’d sit still).

We look at photographing babies and older children - but if you’re looking for more tips on photographing babies you should check out this more extensive photographing babies tutorial. Also on a related note - check out How to Photograph a Children’s birthday party.

Travel-Photography6. How to Photograph People When Traveling

Travel photography is something of a passion for me and I find that filling my travel albums with pictures of local people adds a lot of interest to those I show my shots to.

However photographing people in a foreign land can be challenging - there’s language issues, cultural challenges and more.

In this tutorial I share 8 tips that I’ve found helpful in getting great travel portraits.

Permission7. Asking Permission to Photograph People

This tutorial came out of questions people asked in response to the last one on travel portrait photography.

There’s different schools of thought on how to approach photographing strangers - some just take shots of people without asking - but in this tutorial I talk about how I’d much rather get permission first.

I find that in most cases people are willing to pose if you’re polite and friendly.

Environmental-Portraits8. How to Take Environmental Portraits

Environmental Portraits are those where you take the portrait of a subject within the context that they live in (work, rest or play).

I love this type of portrait because it gives you subject context, adds interest to your shot and can give some sort of insight to your subject. I also find subjects tend to relax more when you photograph them there.

Take some environmental portraits and then drop by our forum’s portrait area to share them with us.

Mona-Portraits9. What the Mona Lisa Can Teach You about Portraits

This post arose out of a visit of mine to Paris where I saw the Mona Lisa.

This little painting by Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most famous portraits in history - but why is it so famous and can we as portrait photographers today learn something from it?

In this tutorial I’ve pulled out a number of things that I think Leonardo does with the Mona Lisa that could inform our own portrait photography.

Depth-Of-Field-210. A Fresh Look at Depth of Field

Depth of Field is something that applies to all types of photography but it’s something that can have quite a profound impact upon a portrait if you know how to us it.

In this tutorial Natalie shares a range of ways that Depth of Field can be used to add variety, create interest (or remove distractions) in your portrait work.

Also on a similar topic - Overcoming Depth of Field Problems in Portraits.

Posing-Shoulders-Portraits11. Posing Tips - Shoulders

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that have the biggest impact upon a photograph.

When I was compiling this list I almost left this one out as at a first glance it can seem a little trivial - however it is something that I’ve used again and again when posing portraits.

It’s also something that I noticed a pro photographer doing with me when I was sitting for a portrait session recently. If it’s good enough for the Pros - it’s good enough for me!

Thighs- Bustline12. Posing - Waistlines, Thighs and Bustlines

While we’re on the topic of posing for portraits - here’s another group of quick posing tips - this time taken from the posing that we see on the ‘red carpet’ of any event with celebrities.

These tips are all about getting the most flattering looks for different parts of the body (waistlines, thighs and bust lines)

Try them - they really do work!

Looking-Portraits13. Where is Your Subject Looking & Why it Matters

When it comes to where to ask your subject to look there are a number of options open to portrait photographers.

You can have them look directly at you, you can ask them to look at something outside the frame of your shot or you could have them look at something (or someone) within the frame.

Each of these options can work well - but each will have a different impact upon your shots.

Hands-Portraits14. How to Pose Hands in Portraits

I was chatting with a portrait painter recently and he told me that for many painters ‘hands’ are the most challenging part of the body to paint.

As photographers we might look at hands as something we have little control over - however the way they appear in shots can reveal a lot about our subject (and how they are feeling). As a result it’s worth paying at least a little attention to the hands of our subject when doing portrait work.

This tutorial gives a few hints as to how to work with hands.

Clothes-Portraits15. What Clothes to Wear in Portraits

What Should I wear?

It’s a question that most portrait photographers get asked a lot by clients and in this tutorial I give a number of tips from my own approach (my approach is to keep clothes relatively plain and allow the focus to remain upon the subject themselves) and then invite readers to share theirs.

Read this tutorial on clothing in portraits here.

Bypass-Portrait-Mode16. How to bypass the Portrait Mode

Many digital camera owners rarely switch their camera out of one of Auto mode and when they do it’s usually to one of the other semi-automatic modes (like portraits, sports, landscapes etc).

While there’s nothing wrong with these semi-automatic modes - there’s a real satisfaction in venturing into manual mode where YOU call the shots rather than your camera. In this tutorial I share a few starting points if you’re up for the challenge of getting out of Portrait Mode.

Natural-Looking-Portraits17. 4 Tips for Natural Looking Portraits

In this tutorial one of our regular contributors (Natalie, a great portrait photographer) shares some great tips on getting your subjects to relax and look comfortable in their environment.

She talks ‘hands’, ’stools’, ‘distractions’ and ‘respect’.

I think you’ll agree that the images she shares in the tutorial are pretty special too and show just how well the tips she shares work.

Catchlights-218. An Introduction to Catchlights

A “catchlight” is simply the highlight of a light source reflected off the surface of the eye.

This highlight adds depth and dimension to the eye, and gives the eyes life in a portrait or snapshot.

But how do you get them?

In this tutorial one of our forum members puts together a great tutorial on the topic of catchlights - enjoy.

Candid-119. 11 Tips for Better Candid Photography

Sometimes the best portrait is one where your subject has no (or little) idea that you’ve taken the shot at all - because you’re shooting candidly.

The 11 tips for candid photos in this tutorial range from the obvious (long zooms and shooting lots) through to tips on framing images and shooting ‘people with people’.

A quick note - I find that often shooting candidly works well before or after a more formal portrait shoot.

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Some Hummer lovers ignore rising fuel costs

John Andres drives his H1 Hummer over rocks at the Hummer Club's Straight Up or On The Rocks gathering at the Rausch Creek Off-Road Park in Tremont, Pa.
By Carolyn Kaster, AP
John Andres drives his H1 Hummer over rocks at the Hummer Club's Straight Up or On The Rocks gathering at the Rausch Creek Off-Road Park in Tremont, Pa.

PINE GROVE, Pa. (AP) — They rumble in on treads called Super Swampers, wearing their hearts on their license plates.

"PLAYDRTY," declares one behemoth from New York. "HUM THIS," dares another, from Ohio.

The digital board fronting the Shell station at Exit 100 winks back: "Welcome Hummers!"

In the fading light, though, it's impossible to ignore the sign at the Sunoco across the road: Diesel, $4.97 9/10 a gallon.

You've got to be tough to love a Hummer. The soaring cost of feeding a vehicle that swallows a gallon every dozen miles is only part of it. Environmentalists, who've always had it in for you, are winning mainstream converts. General Motors, which presided over Hummer's transition from a badge of military bravado into a symbol of driveway excess, is looking to sell.

But tonight there's no apologizing or self-pity in the ranks of Hummer die-hards. They're here to goad machines that can top 5 tons over boulders the size of Smart cars, through stewpots of mud obscuring who-knows-what and across obstacle courses of stumps, logs and stones — it's "like riding a slow-motion rollercoaster," one says.

Maybe mega-SUVs are going the way of dinosaurs. Hummer sales have dropped 40% this year. But these beasts and the men and women who love them certainly don't behave like endangered species.

"I told my wife when we bought this, 'Honey, we're investing in steel and rubber,' says William Welch, a Philadelphia surgeon who, cigar clenched between his teeth, offers a guided tour of his lovingly tended jet-black H1.

"If it was $10 a gallon," he says, "we'd still be out there."

Cars are much more than transportation to Americans. In a country where life revolves around the car, you are what you drive.

"We eat 20% of our meals in cars. We spend hour and hours every week (in cars)," says Leon James, a University of Hawaii professor and expert in the psychology of driving. "We see other cars as extensions of the people who drive them and we identify the character of the car with the character of the driver. There is this automatic connection that we make."

But even in American car culture, the Hummer is an outlier, provoking both love and hatred so intense they can be hard to figure.

That makes it easy to forget the basic scrappiness and necessity that gave birth to the vehicle in the first place. The Hummer traces its DNA to the Jeep, produced for the Army in large numbers during World War II.

"It was something that could go to places other vehicles could not go, yet it was reasonably priced," says Patrick Foster, author of books on Jeep and the company that built the Hummer.

Americans, watching newsreel war coverage, were captivated by the cars, boxy because they were stamped by equipment previously used to make washing machines. Farmers, service station owners and foresters snapped them up long before ordinary consumers dreamed of pulling a vehicle built to go off-road in to their driveways.

But by the late 1970s, the jeep had outlived its military usefulness. The Army invited companies to devise a new kind of vehicle.

A team led by an engineer named George Scharbach set to work in the Warren, Mich. shop of AM General, a spinoff of Jeep. Scharbach wore his lucky suit on the day the Defense Department announced the new contract. Maybe it worked. But the winning proposal was one strange automotive creature.

Its hulking body — more than 7 feet wide without mirrors — sat way up off the ground while simultaneously hunkered down in a low crouch, like an overgrown teenager trying to slip into a movie at kid's admission. Its wheels were pushed out past its corners and its drivetrain was yanked up into the middle of the interior, putting a huge hump between driver and passenger.

"It has no aesthetics," AM General spokesman Craig Mac Nab says. "It screams at you from across the street: I look this way because I need to."

AM General called it the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. Soldiers dubbed it the Humvee. It saw limited action in Panama. But in the Gulf War in 1991, the Humvee bulled its way into the public consciousness.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, then a muscle-bound movie star a long way from being the Governator, was driving along a highway in Oregon, on his way to the film set for "Kindergarten Cop." Heading the other direction, an Army convoy packed with Humvees, rumbled past.

"I put the brakes on," Schwarzenegger told reporters at the 1992 ceremony that AM General, besieged by requests, held to start production of civilian Hummers. "Someone smashed into the back of me, but I just stared. 'Oh my God, there is the vehicle,' I said. And from then on, I was possessed."

He was far from the only one.

There are Hummers and then there are HUMMERS. It's that way with their owners, too.

The Hummer pilots flocking to the parking lot of a Hampton Inn tonight are clearly the latter. Hummering is not some two-minute fad. "It's a lifestyle," they say repeatedly.

They're well aware of the many other Hummer owners, who use their vehicles for little more than dropping the kids at baseball and supermarket trips.

"Street queens," the serious crowd calls them. "Pavement princesses."

But you don't have to be a tough guy to be here.

When GM bought Hummer and began selling the H2 (huge, but medium-sized as Hummers go) and the H3 (still pretty big) a few years ago, owners of H1s — the prettied up version of the Army's vehicle — were worried suburbanized Hummers would dilute the experience. But when they voted, the big boys chose to let the newbies join in.

So Brandie Lopes, a silkscreen printer, is here from Winterport, Maine, a 600-mile haul that would've been cheaper to fly than to drive in her polished new H2.

She's joined by Howard and Vickie Schultheiss, up from Maryland in a nearly 11,000 pound H1 that bears the scratches and scars of off-road battles. The steel roofrack above the windshield is carved with letters spelling out "D-Man," the nickname of a highly trained German Shepherd, now lost to cancer, whose fierce spirit the couple says lives on the rig.

Nearly all come with a story about how they were smitten.

For John Andres, a software writer from New Albany, Ohio, it goes back to 1991, when he was scrimping for a Range Rover. He turned on the TV one January night and was transfixed by a report of two dozen U.S. Marines pinned down behind a wall in the Saudi Arabian town of Khafji. With Saudi tanks providing cover, the soldiers packed into Humvees and barreled through Iraqi lines.

"I saw that. I thought, 'forget the Range Rover,"' says Andres, whose sand-colored Hummer jokingly sports silhouettes of the compact sedans he's knocked off, a la the Red Baron. "Humvee is the way to go. These things are just bad."

Dan LaForgia's story is more elemental.

"My mom says my first word was 'truck,"' LaForgia says. In the mid-'90s, LaForgia persuaded his father to drive him to the Hummer dealership near his home on New York's Long Island so they could take one out for a test drive. He was 12 — and hooked.

"Some people say its the ugliest thing on the road," LaForgia says. "I love it."

This weekend is a big deal for LaForgia. In three years of Hummer ownership, he's never taken his off-road. He cringes noticeably as others trade stories of broken axles, smashed windows, and the deep scratches and gashes their vehicles have endured in previous adventures.

At 8:45 a.m., though, he joins the other owners under a tent, ready to embark in groups dispatched by levels of skills and experience.

They head a few exits up to a former strip-mine turned off-road haven. Members of the extreme group — four of the most gung-ho H1 owners — trade jokes over the radio as they part the treeline.

But inside the rig the Schultheiss' have dedicated to their dog, the mood is reverential.

"Cue it up," Vickie says to Howard, her husband.

"All right. Here we go."

The low rumble of timpani drums stir from the Hummer's speakers. French horns join in, rising above the engine's growl. The solemn notes are unmistakable: Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."

Vickie reaches for D-Man's collar, which hangs down from the rearview mirror. She tugs the chains twice, rubs the gray links between her fingers.

"It's his truck," she says softly. Howard Schultheiss reaches across from the passenger seat and takes her hand.

Threading through branches and over stumps, the group reaches a winding river of boulders. They're not going to cross it. They're going to try and drive it's full third-of-a-mile length. A Prius would've been long gone by now.

Even in a vehicle marketed as the automotive equivalent of Godzilla, this takes nerve — and a durable wallet.

"I've come down on a rock so hard that my windshield cracked across the middle," says Jason Oplinger, an electrical contractor. When he and wife, Steph, married two years ago, guests were ferried to the mid-trail ceremony in a procession of 40 Hummer H1s.

Today has its own drama. Before it's over, the Schultheiss' truck will break in three places and have to be yanked off the rocks by winch. In one of the intermediate caravans, drivers will plunge through a mud pool with the color of cement and the odor of a pigsty. Two will dive so hard that water licks at the engines' air intakes before they make it across.

By evening, back at the hotel, there are new stories to trade over barbecue.

"I'm going to get out while I'm ahead," says LaForgia, whose street-pretty Hummer bears its first scar.

"I always say another scratch means another story, or adds some character," counsels a fellow owner, Mike Schoch.

Hummer stories echo each other after a while. Tales of the way a Hummer draws a crowd in a parking lot, or swallows ground in a snowstorm. Stories of beers shared around the tailgate, spare parts shared on the trail, and friendships built to last.

But the gut-level lure of the machine itself isn't easy to quantify.

Maybe the most powerful comparison is the one Vickie Schultheiss draws between her Hummer and the German Shepherd whose memory it honors.

"To me it had to be just as capable and just as brute as Dikas," she says.

In the woods, she narrows her eyes, studying the terrain ahead, then climbs the Hummer bearing D-Man's name over a mammoth boulder. The truck slams down, bashing steel against stone. Schultheiss swings out of the driver's seat to check out the wheel hanging in mid air.

Her forehead is fringed with sweat. She's beaming.

"Welcome to D-Man's world," she says.

Schwarzenegger got his first Hummer just as consumers were falling for SUVs.

When the Jeep went civilian, so-called light trucks were a fraction of the U.S. car market, bought mostly by businesses who needed their power and capacity. When Congress set strict fuel economy requirements on carmakers in the 1970s, lawmakers went easy on trucks, allowing regulators to set less stringent rules.

Detroit responded with vehicles classified as trucks but designed to win over car buyers. By 2004, light trucks claimed 55% of the market.

Regulators exempted trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or more from any fuel economy requirements, a loophole that critics say encouraged manufacturers to build mega-SUVs.

The first Hummers "raised people's eyebrows," says Tom Libby, an analyst with J.D. Power & Associates. Their in-your-face image appealed to buyers seeking pure utility. Libby cites his cousin, an avowed truck buyer, who declared SUVs "fake."

"He said the only one he'd ever consider would be the H1. For him, that was a true truck," Libby says.

Others aren't fans.

"It gave a lot of people a sense of vain superiority, that you're way up there above everybody else, and I think it gave a lot of people a sense of power," says Mark S. Foster, author of A Nation on Wheels: The Automobile Culture in America Since 1945.

Hummers and other big SUVs appealed to what Foster calls Americans' "sense of entitlement," accustomed to seemingly boundless land and cheap energy.

Hummers became icons, starring in rap videos and in movies like "Three Kings," alongside George Clooney. Marketers unleashed Hummer-branded mountain bikes and laptops.

"Let Hummer, the fragrance, take you on an adventure, an adventure like no other ..." a cologne promised.

But GM's 2002 introduction of the H2 — mammoth, but much more polished and sold in considerably larger numbers — netted enemies.

The Sierra Club took it on with a website, Hummerdinger. That was mild compared to FUH2.com, a hate site that drew hundreds of photos from people saluting the Hummer with their middle fingers.

Soaring gas prices made outright Hummer hate socially acceptable. The stepped up culture war found its way to a leafy Washington, D.C. neighborhood last July, when two masked men attacked a parked Hummer with a machete and a baseball bat.

Hummer owners from around the country called Gareth Groves, the owner of the vandalized vehicle, to offer help, even garage space. But they were outnumbered by people who sent hate mail, including threatening e-mails and MySpace postings.

Within two blocks, a Cadillac Escalade, a Ford Excursion and a Chevrolet Suburban went untouched. But what surprised Groves wasn't that people hated his Hummer. It was how much they seemed to hate him, lambasting everything from his bleached hair to the fact that he lived with his mother.

"It definitely sparks some intense reaction from people on both sides," Groves says.

So what did Groves do? He submitted a $25,000 insurance claim and had the truck repaired. High gas prices and the house payments made him briefly think about selling, but he quickly dismissed the idea.

"I love this car," he says.

Even a few hardcore Hummer owners are rethinking.

"It's not a very practical truck," says LaForgia, who sometimes finds critical notes on the windshield. He plans to sell his H1 to save for a down payment on a house.

Others are adjusting to new realities. There's a small crowd of Hummer enthusiasts out there running on biodiesel. Welch, the surgeon, is leaning toward buying a hybrid for commutes to a hospital parking garage with ceilings too low for his truck.

"I want to save my carbon footprint, not blow it on my way to work," he says.

But Hummer owners see such decisions as personal choices, not bows to external pressure.

"It's easier to ask for forgiveness then permission," Andres says. "I've always found that to be true."

He's describing only the fess-up-later approach he takes in explaining the money he lavishes on the Hummer to his wife. For all those folks waiting for Hummer owners to cry uncle, well, don't hold your breath.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Interactive Map Shows Deadliest U.S. Roads

By LiveScience Staff

Rural highways are some of the deadliest in the country, studies have shown, so some researchers have created a new interactive map that drivers can use to see exactly how safe — or fatal — the roads are where they live.

Driving is one of the most dangerous activities people engage in; the lifetime risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident for U.S residents is 1-in-100. About 57 percent of highway deaths happen on rural roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

To help educate drivers on the hazards they might face on the road, researchers at the University of Minnesota's Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS) have mapped out every fatality in the nation at www.saferoadmaps.org.

The researchers plan to unveil the new Web site Monday at an annual conference on rural safety in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Drivers can enter their address and are then shown a map or satellite image of all the road fatalities in their area.

"When drivers type in their most common routes, they're shocked how much blood is being shed on it," said Tom Horan, research director for CERS.

Web site users can narrow down the search to see the age of the driver, whether speeding or drinking was a factor in the accident, and if the driver was wearing a seatbelt.

"When it's a route you or your loved ones use, the need to buckle up, slow down and avoid distractions and drinking suddenly becomes much more personal and urgent," Horan said.

The new tool also lets users know what policies, such as strong seatbelt laws, are in place in the area.

Last year, CERS researchers tabulated the 10 states that have the highest proportion of accidents occurring on rural roads.

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