How to Stand Up Paddle Board for Beginners

stand up paddle boarding tips

Water activities are a great way to enjoy the warm summer months, and stand up paddle boarding is one of the best options available. This popular new sport can range from relaxing to exhilarating. However, if you’ve never tried it out before and you want to make sure that your first time stand up paddle boarding goes smoothly, then it never hurts to be informed.

We’ll go over everything that you’ll need to know so that you can get started with this activity, and you can feel free to jump to any of the sections which interest you. First, we’ll go over the necessary equipment for stand up paddle boarding, before discussing some of the fundamental techniques.


Equipment 

The first thing that you’ll need to ensure is that you have all of the necessary gear to go stand up paddle boarding. Keep in mind that you won’t always have to buy your own gear, especially if you’re trying stand up paddleboarding for the first time, as many venues offer all of the necessary gear for rental.

Board

The most crucial piece of gear is the board itself, and there are a few different types to choose from. You’ll have to determine whether you want a planing or displacing hull, whether you want a solid or inflatable stand up paddle board, and you’ll also have to determine the ideal size based on your weight.

Leash

While a leash isn’t the most obvious piece of equipment, it can help you from being separated from your board when you fall off of it. If you plan on buying your own stand up paddle board, don’t forget to buy a leash separately, as a lot of them don’t come with a leash included.

Paddle

Getting a paddle of the correct size will ensure that you can move around as efficiently as possible. If you want to check whether a paddle is the right length for you, raise your arm straight up and see whether or not the handle of the paddle reaches your wrist.

Lifejacket

As with any activity in relatively deep water, it's highly recommended that you wear a personal flotation device while you're stand up paddle boarding. Even if you're a proficient swimmer, you can end up dazed if you hit your head while falling into the water, and a lifejacket can keep you afloat.


What to Wear 

You'll also want to be sure to wear the right clothing when you go stand up paddle boarding. Take a close look at the predicted weather conditions and the temperature for the day before you head out. You should also take into account the water temperature. If it's going to be a hot summer day, you'll likely only need to wear a bathing suit and your lifejacket.

However, if you're going stand up paddle boarding in the cooler seasons, then you'll likely need to wear a wetsuit or a drysuit. The main difference between these suits is that the wetsuit keeps you warm but still eventually soaks through, while the drysuit can withstand colder temperatures and keeps your skin dry.


Getting on and Maintaining Your Balance 

The first thing you'll have to do is get on the paddle board. Bring it into the water until you're up to your waist, and maneuver yourself onto the center of the board. While you get on, keep a firm grip on both sides of the board to ensure that it doesn't flip into the water.

Take a moment to kneel down on the board and get balanced, this may take a few moments. 

While in a kneeling position, you can start to paddle gently while getting used to the feeling of being on the board.

Once you feel like you’re ready, firmly position your hands on the center of the board and smoothly rise to your feet, taking care to avoid any jerky movements that can unbalance you.

Holding Your Paddle

Once you have your balance, you’ll need to get accustomed to holding your means of locomotion: the paddle. First, make sure that you’re holding the paddle in the correct orientation. When moving forward, you’ll want the concave side of the paddle to face you so that it extends further away from you.

Take a moment to determine which side will be your dominant side while you paddle. When the paddle is on the left side, your right hand will be at the top grip, and the left will hold the shaft of the paddle. If you're paddling on the other side, just swap where your hands are placed.

The Basic Strokes

The last thing that you’ll need to know so that you can finally move around on your stand up paddle is the set of three basic strokes. This will allow you to move forward, backward, and rotate your paddle board on the spot.

Forward Stroke

This is the fundamental stroke and the one that everyone learns first. The forward stroke allows you to move the board along the water, and you can gradually turn by favoring one side when you forward stroke.

To get the most out of your forward stroke, you’ll want to exert more force on the top part of the handle, using it as a pivot point so that you can move more efficiently. End your stroke when it reaches your leg and then plant the paddle once again, repeating the motion.

Reverse Stroke

If you want to get yourself out of tough situations, then you'll need to know the backward stroke. You'll mostly have to reverse the motion of the forward stroke, placing the paddle near the back of the board and pushing towards the front. Reset the motion when you reach your leg.

Sweep Stroke

The sweep stroke will let you turn in place or when moving at a slower speed. Position your paddle near the front of your board, at a slight inward angle. You will then want to sweep the paddle along the side of your board in a semi-circular motion which looks like a “C”, with the inside of the curve facing the board.


Conclusion

Stand up paddle boarding is a lot less intimidating when you have an idea of what to do and how to do it. We hope that this guide has been able to prepare you for your next attempt. Good luck, and be sure to have fun!

A Basic Guide to Photography for Beginners

basic photography lessons

Author: Jessica Palmer - Professional Photographer

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more here.


There are many different types of photography genres, but regardless of your interests, there are some basic concepts that need to be understood that apply to all types of photography.

Wondering where to start? 

It’s hard to know where to begin when taking those first steps away from your camera’s automatic mode.

Fortunately, we’ve created this basic guide to photography for beginners to get you started!

We discuss how to expose your images properly, some key terms to know, suggested cameras for beginners and a basic composition tip for instantly improving your photos.


Key Terms

EXPOSURE

Exposure occurs when the image sensor is exposed to light to capture your image.  The correct exposure is achieved by adjusting the three elements of aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  

Understanding these three elements and getting them working together is the secret to moving from automatic to manual mode.

The best way to ensure you have correct exposure is by using your camera’s exposure indicator.

It usually looks something like this:  

If the marker is in the middle, the exposure is correct!  If it’s to the left, the image will be underexposed and dark.  If it’s to the right, the image will be overexposed and too bright.

APERTURE

The aperture is the hole inside the lens which the light passes through. The easiest way to think of it is like the pupil of an eye.  The wider it’s open, the more light can get in!

The aperture is referred to as the f-stop and is written like this: f/number.  The lower your f-stop number, the wider the hole is open. 

This is one of the coolest things to learn as using a wide aperture is how the beautiful effect of a blurred background is achieved.  

Background blur looks great for portraits and creative photographs!

When your camera’s exposure indicator shows the image is underexposed, increase the aperture (lower f/stop number) to allow more light in. Decrease the aperture (higher f/stop number) to reduce the light if your image is overexposed.

The major downside to adjusting aperture is that it directly affects your depth of field, which is the range in front or behind the point you are focusing on that remains sharp and in focus. 

This means that a wide aperture is terrible for landscapes where you want the majority of the scene in focus, but it’s great for creative images.  

Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense now.  Just go out and experiment!  

The best way to experiment with aperture is to switch your camera from Auto to Mode A or Aperture – Priority Auto.  When the camera is in this mode, the photographer chooses the aperture and the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed. 

Grab a friend or place some small objects on the table and take the same shot adjusting only the aperture. 

Below is an example of an image taken with a wide aperture, in this case f/2.8.  The shallow depth of field keeps the lizard mostly in focus but the background is nicely blurred.

SHUTTER SPEED

The shutter speed is the measurement of time the shutter is open and allowing light onto the camera’s sensor.  It’s shown in seconds and fractions of a second.

1/1600 is a fast shutter speed and 4 (seconds) is a slow shutter speed. Anything below 1/80 usually required a tripod.

Shutter speed is fun to play around with! 

Using a fast shutter speed means you can ‘freeze’ fast moving objects, thus avoiding motion blur. This makes it ideal for sports photography, wildlife or active kids.  

Here is an example of a fast shutter speed that froze the action:

The image above was taken using a shutter speed of 1/1600, effectively freezing the puddle splash. 

On the other hand, a slow shutter speed allows you to capture images in low light conditions or create that whispy look in flowing water. You can delve into astrophotography using a slow shutter speed. 

To practice with shutter speed, set your camera to Mode S or Shutter-Priority Auto.  In this mode, the photographer chooses the shutter speed and the camera automatically adjust the aperture. 

Get out there and try to freeze a fast-moving object!

ISO

The ISO is the measure of the camera’s ability to capture light. The higher the number, the more light is captured.  This is usually only adjusted when the correct exposure is difficult using only the other two elements.

A great example is if you wish to freeze the action in low light conditions, but can’t get the correct exposure using a high shutter speed (which you need to freeze the action). In this case you would increase the ISO.

It’s important to remember that although raising the ISO sensitivity allows you to use faster shutter speeds and/or a smaller aperture, it creates a kind of visual noise that doesn’t look that great. 

Basically, the higher the ISO, the grainier your photograph will appear.  This can be adjusted a bit when editing with software but the grainiest of images cannot be fixed.

GETTING IT RIGHT

The only way to really understand the above is to go out and experiment.  Throw the ball for the dog and attempt to freeze the action with a fast shutter speed.  Try it again with a slow shutter speed. 

Experiment with aperture and selective focus, grab some Lego or jewelry and place them on the table.  Select a wide aperture and experiment focusing on particular items.


Great Cameras for Beginners 

Most entry level DSLR cameras come with a standard zoom lens and this is all you need to start with.  Whilst there are a few different brands to choose from, Canon and Nikon are the most popular with plenty of options for lenses when you want to add to your kit later. Examples of lenses you many want to add down the line include landscape lenses and macro lenses.

These are our two top picks for beginner entry DSLR cameras for both Nikon and Canon:

This 24.1MP camera is marketed toward beginners with options to take full control or keep it easy with scene modes and creative filters.  There is even a built-in guide that teaches you as you shoot.

This 24.2MP camera is a great starting point for beginners, offering fully automatic, semi-automatic and manual modes.  Perfect for transitioning to full manual!

We would also recommend checking out mirrorless cameras, which offer many of the same features as a DSLR, but in a smaller, more lightweight package.


Basic Composition Tip 

Composition is one of the key components of taking great photos and most photographers spend their entire career learning and improving on their composition.

However, there is one basic composition tip that will instantly improve your photographs.

It’s the rule of thirds!

You will find the rule of thirds used not just in photography, but artwork, picture books, advertising and anything else with a visual element.

The basic idea is that you divide what you see into thirds and place your subject or key object on the lines. 

In the example above you can see I have placed the tree in the foreground on one of my imaginary lines, and the horizon also sits roughly on another.


Conclusion 

Now that you have read about the basics, it’s time to get out there with your camera and experiment!

Don’t be afraid to switch to manual, the worst that can happen is you end up deleting some photos that aren’t so great.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jessica Palmer

Photographer and Writer


A photographer and writer who has a somewhat constant urge to escape the mundane, Jessica travels regularly overseas and within Australia.

As a writer, Jessica writes for a variety of sites and magazines and is also the founder of www.familyholidaydestinations.com, a site dedicated to family travel.

5 Tips for Low Light Photography

low light photography settings

Finding yourself in a situation where there is not enough light for a decent exposure could be a little intimidating at first. Compared to real life it’s much like stepping out of your comfort zone. 

Fear not, there are a number of simple ways to create great photos in low light environments. Once you have these techniques in your tool belt it will open up a whole new world of shooting opportunities.

Without further delay, let's have a look at five tips that could really help you handle such situations as a photographer.


1. Use the ISO noise in a creative way 

ISO noise is very often considered to be a flaw, but that’s not necessarily always the case. It could also be a great creative decision and a smart way to take advantage of a low light scene you're trying to capture. 

So how to turn the high ISO into a valuable asset? Think about the message you're trying to get across with your photography and whether it adds up to your main idea. 

For example, imagine you're shooting street photography. You're past the golden hour, but there's still some light left in the sky - use it to build visual tension, the high ISO will make your images look authentic and it will bring a little bit of the sweet


2. Try shooting In black-and-white 

Speaking of high ISO and low light conditions, there's another thing you could try in order to turn the defect into a treasure: try shooting in black-and-white. If the light is not really sufficient where you are now - then take advantage of the lines, shapes and textures that surround you. 

Making those elements stand out is really easy when you lack colour and other distractions. In low light conditions it's also easy to notice abstract subjects, silhouettes or repeating patterns - go look for those!


3. Play with long exposure 

Long Exposure can really make your images look other-worldly and add a bit of a mystical feel. It's especially suitable for landscapes - in scenes where you have moving water, a patch of evening sky with stars or even moving human figures.

Long exposure is considered any shutter speed between a few seconds up to 30 minutes or even more. If you're willing to try this it's necessary to have a tripod so that you can ensure that your camera will remain stable while creating the image.


4. Let the light come in - Open your aperture 

When light is not abundant, it's important to make sure that your camera will be able to let as much of it in as possible. You can achieve this through using wide aperture.

The problem is that not all of the lenses out there are able to accommodate a low f-number. For example my kit lenses for Sony Alpha 7 only have a maximum aperture of f/3.5 which is really not sufficient when you're shooting in low light conditions. 


5. Bring a tripod with you 

A tripod could surely turn out to be one of your best friends when it comes down to challenging lightning scenarios. 

The tripod will help you eliminate the shake of the camera which is typically caused by slower shutter speeds. If you're aiming at non-dynamic scenes this will save your photo from blurriness. 

It can be a very handy piece of gear, especially if you're shooting architecture, interior and landscapes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Polina Raynova

Professional Photographer


Polina is a freelance photographer, always on the lookout for creating simple images with deep impact.

She loves observing the details around her and giving everyday scenes and objects a touch of cinematic feel.

Check out her work at www.polinaraynova.com.

How to use selective focus in photography

selective focus photography examples

What does selective focus mean?

Selective focus is a very popular technique in the photography world nowadays. It’s basically a way of drawing the viewer’s attention to the most important part of your photograph by blurring the rest of the elements in the particular scene.

Through this technique you’ll be able to put focus on the main subject and guide the viewer’s eyes to the point that you wish to be observed.

Keep reading to learn how to use selective focus and which genres are most suitable for applying it!

How to use selective focus 

Selective focus requires setting your camera on low f-stops or in other words: choosing a large aperture. 

This will cause the separation of the subject from the background become more visible. A low f-stop is typically considered to be f/2.8, as well as numbers much lower than this e.g f/1.8 or even f/1.4.

A word of caution here: shallow depth of field can be a great idea if you intend to use it for taking portraits for example, but it may also turn out to be a bit of a tricky venture. F-stops which are lower than f/2.8 will place the focus only on certain parts of the model’s face - the eyes, the nose, the lips, depending on what you’re aiming at. In some situations this could be a creative resolution, but it could also look like an unintentional mistake on the photographer’s end if you haven’t given it some thought beforehand.

When to use selective focus? 

Selective focus is undoubtedly great to use in some genres of photography. Let’s have a look at a few of them and see what advantages it has to offer and how it can create mood in the image.


1. Product photography  

Selective focus in product photography can really add a premium look and emphasize details. When used properly it can make the product pop and focus the attention of the viewer on the right place.


2. Portrait photo​​​​graphy 

By using selective focus in portrait photography you have the chance to convey your message in a powerful way. You may place the focus on the eyes or even on the hand of your model, while creating mood through the defocused elements in the background


3. Macro photography 

Macro photography is the genre we most often see shallow depth of field used. If you’re taking a picture of a flower or an insect, you’ll want to get rid of the distractions that lay in the background area and to show colour and texture in their full magnificence – selective focus is the best technique to go for in this case!


4. Food photography 

In food photography selective focus can be very beneficial. In this genre it’s important for the photographer to translate the perception of taste and the scent of the meal into a two-dimensional image. In some situations this could be quite challenging, but the use of selective focus can be of significant help!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Polina Raynova

Professional Photographer


Polina is a freelance photographer, always on the lookout for creating simple images with deep impact.

She loves observing the details around her and giving everyday scenes and objects a touch of cinematic feel.

Check out her work at www.polinaraynova.com.

The Basic Rules of Golf – A Guide for Beginners

how to swing a golf club left handed

If you have never played golf before, it can be a little overwhelming. It may seem like a game with a lot of complicated, hard to follow rules. In reality, golf is just as easy to understand as any other sport.

This post will give you an overview of the rules of golf, to give you a better idea of what to expect when you step out onto the green. 


Teeing Off

Golf rules and ettiquite

Let’s start with the very beginning. There are 18 holes in a round of golf – the aim of the game is to make it into each hole with as few shots as possible.

At every hole, you will start by teeing off. That means placing your ball on a tee at a certain point, before you take your first swing. You will see two tee markers at the teeing off point, forming an invisible line between them. You must tee your golf ball behind that line. It can be anywhere between the two markers, and as far back as double the length of your driver from the line. 

In other words, if you have a 45 inch driver, you can place your tee anywhere within 90 inches behind the tee markers.

Once your ball is teed, you can take your first shot. There are a few simple rules here – every swing counts as a shot. So, if you swing and miss, that counts as one shot, and you will have a “one” on your score. 

On the other hand, if your ball falls off the tee but you have not swung your driver, it doesn’t count as a shot – you can replace the ball and try again. 

Related:


Playing a Hole

Man swinging a golf club on the golf course

Once all the players have teed off, the hole is in play. There are a few crucial rules to stick by during the play of a hole. The first, and possibly most important, is that you must play the ball as it lies. You cannot pick it up and move it, kick it, or even nudge it with your toe – you have to take the shot wherever the ball lies.

Additionally, you cannot improve the conditions where the ball is lying. That means you can’t press it down to harden the sand, or move away any sticks or twigs around it. This can be a tricky rule to enforce – your best bet is just to stay away from the area until you swing.

The second important rule to remember is the order of play. After the initial swing, the order of play starts with the player whose ball is farthest from the hole. That order holds until everyone has sunk their ball.

Some people, in casual play, may have different order rules – always make sure you are aware of the order of play, for your own safety.

Hitting any ball on the course that is not your own will result in a 2 stroke penalty – always make sure you know which ball is yours before you swing. When you take your shot, you have to hit the ball in a single stroke – that means no pushing or hockey-like nudges. It has to be a direct hit.

Some players will use a distance measuring device like a Golf GPS. There are very  strict rules regarding the use of these devices so be sure to check the local rules, especially if you plan to use them in any kind of tournament play.

Related:


On the Green

Putting on a golf green

At the end of each hole, you will find your ball on the putting green – this is when it becomes a short game, as opposed to a long game. If your ball is on the green – even if only partly – you are allowed to pick it up to clean it, placing a marker in the spot so that you can return it to the exact same place.

Always make sure, if you pick your ball up on the green, that you replace it in the exact same spot, or as near as possible. Moving it closer to the hole, even by an inch or two, can result in your disqualification from the game.

While you are putting, if your ball is right on the edge of the hole, you are allowed to wait ten seconds before finishing the shot. If your ball does not fall into the hole within those ten seconds, it has to count as another stroke on your score.

As of January 2019, you do not have to remove the flag from the hole while you are putting – it is okay if your ball hits the flag stick.

Related:


Scoring

With the right gear and enough practice, anyone can perfect their golf swing. Remember, it all starts with the perfect stance and a good grip. Now that you have a basic idea of how to get started, grab your driver and start practicing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steve Mitchell

Golf Subject Matter Expert


Steve is currently a scratch handicapper and has been playing golf since he was a child.

He is dedicated to bringing and teaching golf to those who have never played the game. His goal is to simplify and demystify a sport that some may find intimidating.

How to Swing a Golf Club

It’s never too late to learn to play golf like a pro. Whether you are just starting out, or want to improve your swing, we’ve got you covered. Here are the 3 basic steps of how to swing a golf club – give this post a read through, then get out there and try it out!


Step #1: The Posture 

Golf rules and ettiquite

The perfect swing starts with the stance. A lot of beginners don’t bother with trying to perfect their stance before they swing, which is a huge mistake. If you don’t work on your posture at the outset, you won’t be satisfied with your progress. To really improve the distance of your shot, you have to start by improving the way you stand. 

Here is a quick step-by-step for setting up your posture: 

First, start with your feet. Your stance should be just a little wider than your shoulders, to give you the best stability. If you have good quality golf shoes, you shouldn’t have to worry about slipping – so don’t be afraid to spread those feet apart to a comfortable width. Your front foot should be placed just in front of the ball, so that the club sits comfortably in the middle of your body. 

Once your feet are positioned, you will want to bend your knees into an athletic stance. You don’t want to be squatting down, but you don’t want your knees to be locked either – find a comfortable point that gives you a springy range of motion. It’s important that you are bending at the knees and not at the hips when you swing. 


Step #2: The Grip 

If you feel good about your initial stance, you can move on to the grip. There are a few different types of grips people use – feel free to test them all out and settle on what you are most comfortable with. 

One of the most common grips, and the one most recommended for beginners, is the baseball grip. Like the name suggests, with this grip you will hold your club a little like you might hold a baseball bat. Hold your club or driver upright (pointing upwards), and grip it with your left hand below your right. The index finger of your right hand should be touching, but not overlapping, the pinky finger of your left hand. 

If you want to try out a slightly more advanced grip, you can give the overlapping grip a shot. In this case, you will hold your hands the same way on the club, but let your left pinky rest over your right index finger. The overlapping grip lets your hands get closer together on the handle, and can give you a more precise, accurate shot with a little practice. 

Feel like you have the hang of those two? The most intricate grip, which a lot of the pros use, is called the interlocking grip. In this grip, your left index finger and right pinky will actually interlock so that they form an X shape on the club. Using this grip can give you a ton of stability and precision, but be careful – if your hands slip on the club, you could risk hurting those interlocked fingers. 

If you are a beginner, we definitely recommend starting out with the classic baseball grip, and working your way up to more advanced styles.

Most players, including beginners, opt to wear a glove when they play golf, which is worn on the top hand (the left hand for right-handed golfers). Golf gloves can add much needed extra grip, which are particularly helpful if your hand is sweaty or the grip on the club starts to wear.


Step #3: The Swing 

Your feet are placed, knees bent in a nice athletic stance, and you have a secure grip on the club – now it’s time for the fun part! There are four stages to your swing: the backswing, the downswing, the impact and the follow through. 

Start your backswing by shifting your weight to your rear foot. Keep your knees in that loose athletic stance and cleanly lift the club backwards, getting ready to swing it back down. 

The downswing begins in your shoulders and finishes in your wrist. As you swing the club down, keep your arms extended from your core – but without locking your elbows. It should finish with a clean wrist snap, driving the club all the way through the ball. 

There should be no break in motion from the downswing to the impact to the follow through – it is all one clean swing. It is important to swing through the ball, not at it. If you swing to hit the ball, you may end up slicing too hard. Your eyes should follow the ball all the way through your swing.


Final Thoughts 

With the right gear and enough practice, anyone can perfect their golf swing. Remember, it all starts with the perfect stance and a good grip. Now that you have a basic idea of how to get started, grab your driver and start practicing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steve Mitchell

Golf Subject Matter Expert


Steve is currently a scratch handicapper and has been playing golf since he was a child.

He is dedicated to bringing and teaching golf to those who have never played the game. His goal is to simplify and demystify a sport that some may find intimidating.