30 December 2012

What Makes Up A Good Photo?

Well, what is it?  A lot of people assume that to take good photos, you have to be a professional photographer. Or take a photography class. The answer is that you need neither. To take a good "people" photo, all you need is knowledge of the four traits that make up a fantastic photo.

Expression is so important in every photo. The scene could be fantastic, but without expression your photo lacks reality. It isn't interesting without expression.

Color is pleasing to the eye. When anyone sees something colorful, they are attracted to it.

Motion captures the moment. You should be able to hear the froth of the waves, see them crashing onto shore.

A noisy photo is never a good one. Where is the subject? The background? The subject of your photo deserves attention, and the only way they'll get it is if the photo is simple and powerful.

What are your tips for taking good photos?

29 December 2012


Skiing is such a weird word. Skiing skiing skiing. Anyhow, I went skiing for a couple of days. Yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, to be precise. I've been skiing once before, at Massanutten Resort, where there was a green slope called "Nutten to It" (haha, get it?). It was reasonably fun, except for the fact that last year's winter was pretty terrible, with literally no snow and warm temperatures. So the snow was basically two inches off the ground.

This year, I skied at The Wisp. We planned to leave early an maybe arrive at 12-12:30 so that we'd have time for some activities. The day we began to drive to the resort, it started snowing. Awesome, right? NOPE. We got STUCK on the road, because it was too slippery. Every time my dad tried to rev up the car, there was this weird whirring noise and the smell of burning rubber. Well, we somehow got past that obstacle and by that time, we were glad to even arrive there.

We got there around, what, 7 pm. At first, we planned to just hit the sack, but then it turned out the Mountain Coaster, what we'd been looking forward to, was open until 9. The Mountain Coaster allowed the user to control the speed. We walked to the start of the coaster. It was fantastic. Anyone going to The Wisp: don't miss the coaster! The car went unbelievably fast, and to top it all off, all that secured me to the car was a puny seat belt. I could see my life flash before my eyes at every breakneck turn.

After walking back from the coaster, we stopped at the food court to get some dinner. There weren't any healthy vegetarian options (have I mentioned I'm vegetarian? My friend +Neyha Bhatia likes to call me a "Veg Head"), so we asked the chef to make us a couple of wraps. My brother had pizza, of course, just cheese, Costco size, two slices. I'm surprised he didn't gain a couple of pounds, then again, he's 9+. The wraps were ok, my mom makes better ones.

The next day, when we went down for breakfast, I had French toast with syrup. I was originally gonna order a veggie omelette, but the lady told me that they grill the omelettes on the same things as the meat. Which sucked, because I need my salt in the morning! Salt's what gives me my daily boost! Well, I had to go with the French toast. I was waiting patiently for my toast, and then my heart nearly stopped. The lady just tossed the toast onto the same grill, the very grill that was used for both omelettes and meat! Well then, my friends, why couldn't I have had the omelette? I felt like kicking myself for forgetting that no one else uses toasters for French toast. To top it all off, the toast wasn't even sweet or cinnamony! It tasted like a very bland omelette. I felt like throwing up, until I added the syrup. Nothing like sugar for taste, huh? Also for calories.

Then I went to the ski camp, because I'm no expert at skiing. I was the oldest kid in my group! Everyone else ranged from 7-10 years old, and I'm already tall for my age. I just kind of skulked around awkwardly, towering over the puny little midgets. So the skiing group I was in was level 2, which meant they'd supposedly done green slopes, and knew the basics. Well, all but three of those annoying little ants DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PUT ON THEIR FREAKING SKIS! My brother, this other girl and I had to wait at the bottom of the hill while the others tried to figure out how to jam their feet into the skis. One girl could barely ski while standing up! I'm not blaming her, but why the heck would she be in level 2 instead of Willy Wisp (beginners)?

To add insult to injury, or perhaps the other way around, the snow making machines were on for the entire 7 hours. Imagine a hundred icy knives poking into your face over and over again. Now multiply that by a thousand, that's how that felt. It was so cold, the tips of my fingers froze painfully inside my gloves. I skied fine, but everything else was torture.

To add even MORE insult, the lunch was a meager portion of mac and cheese, minus the chicken tenders for me. I don't mind mac and cheese. But I am one hungry girl. Five of the kids in my batch ate just their tenders, and didn't touch their mac and cheese. "Ew, how can you eat that?" they asked me. "Ew, mac and cheese is just so gross!" SERIOUSLY. If I am hungry, I will eat just about anything. 10 minutes after devouring the mac and cheese, I asked my instructor if there were seconds. I knew it was rude, but damn, I was starving! Can you guess what the instructor said? He said "No." I wanted to scream, because 5 kids still had their full portions of mac and cheese, and weren't planning on eating it, and here I was, so hungry I could probably eat 3 more plates full of the stuff. I almost cried as I watched each kid throw their untouched mac and cheese in the trash.

Hearing about my incessant hunger may cause you to think that I am a fat, greedy girl. No. That is not it at all. I just have a rather speedy metabolism, and any kind of activity will make me hungry hungry hungry!

That night, we went to a bar/restaurant for dinner. BAD IDEA. The veggie food a) took like 3 hours to prepare and b) tasted like rat barf. And inevitably, my head started hurting a lot. I pigged out on the desert, lemon meringue, then felt terrible about eating so much tart and walked up four flights of stairs to make up for it.

I will now take a brief intermission from complaining and smile to myself while I remember the snow tubing the next morning. Other than my headache continuation from the previous night and dehydration, the cold air whipping against my face was refreshing.

I said it was brief.

Yeah, the cold air was refreshing, but cold is never good. 6 hours later, in the car, driving back home, my throat started to kill me. By the time we got home, I could barely talk for pain. My mom made this awesome Indian herbal thing, and the pain went away so I could rest in peace. Except not in peace. I had the weirdest dream that my dad was telling me to be careful of people trying to kidnap me, and the rest of the night I was lapsing into 2 minute snoozes, then waking up and looking around in paranoia. I could not sleep. I just could not. So I woke up earlier than 7, which is my usual, I woke up around 6:42 and went downstairs.

My headache and sore throat are gone now, thank god, and I feel much better.

What's your most miserable vacation?

24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Well, it's that time of the year again. That time where carols and remixes are drilled into our head. That time when we are already tired of decorations before the whole thing is over. Yeah, it's Christmas again.

My parents have this weird way of telling us that they forgot to get us presents ("Oh, Aditi, we didn't have time to go out and buy presents this time."), and then acting all surprised when the presents magically turn up on Christmas morning ("I wonder how that got there!"). Really? REALLY? Well, I still love 'em for it.

I always break out in pimples around Christmas because of all those candy canes. Geez. My sugar addiction is gonna be the death of me someday. The days right before winter break, I probably eat about 3-4 candy canes a day. What is with the addiction of those things? Maybe I shouldn't have moved to America. I mean, the chances of overeating and getting fat and all that are so high! Plus, we use all these crappy measurement systems that make no sense and that no other country uses. I mean, a measurement system based on Queen Victoria's elbow? You know, a NASA project failed because the US used yards and the other party used meters. Anyways, this has virtually nothing to do with Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, most schools give us students a winter break. Also schools are not allowed to give us homework over winter break. Well, if there's plain holiday and no homework, then what are those of us who aren't on vacation supposed to freaking do? When we were in elementary school, any break from school was a welcome relief. Now? There's nothing to do! When I'm not practicing piano or dance or working on projects, what am I supposed to do? Mess around on the computer like I'm doing now? Actually, there are quite a few ideas.

  • Start a blog. Sound familiar?
  • Visit a museum. You could learn quite a lot about something you thought you already knew.
  • Draw comics. I did this once when I was bored. My friend nearly peed his pants laughing. 
  • Write a short story. Nothing like writing stories to improve your skill.
  • Write a poem. The same can be said for poetry.
  • Teach yourself something new. There are so many tutorials out there on the web. Learn how to cook. Learn how to make a friendship bracelet. Learn a magic trick.
  • Look at old photos, old notebooks, old papers. You'll be surprised how entertaining it can be to see a younger version of yourself. Thoughts include, but are not limited to: 
    • "Man, I was so stupid in 5th grade!"
    • "Was that me? Seriously?"
    • "I hope no one decides to show this to my future spouse."
  • Get outside your comfort zone. Go hiking. Listen to new music. 
  • Set small challenges. Today, I am not going to check my Google+.
  • Make a list (or two). Lists are fantastically fun! Make a list of things you hate, of things you love, or things that annoy the hell out of you. Anything.
Of course, if all else fails, sleep! Nothing like a little extra sleep. God knows I need it. Once again, I have gotten completely off topic. Or maybe this was my intention. I'll never know. Frankly, my brain works in a weird way. 

What do you like to do when you're bored?

Things That Annoy Me (more than they should)

I am a very negative person. I am annoyed by a lot of things, including but not limited to:
  • when people are obsessed with a boy singer/boy band just cause they're hot
  • when people bother me when I'm reading
  • when people call me girly because I wear a dress or a skirt sometimes
  • when people try anything to get attention
  • when people post statuses every minutes about their doings, as if we care
  • when people waste the teacher's time on purpose by asking retarded questions
  • when people try to force their opinions on others (yeah, I know I'm being hypocritical)
  • when girls keep combing through their hair with their fingers--are you itchy or what?
  • when guys flip their hair like Justin Bieber
  • when people put down their parents in public (and additionally, expect us to be sympathetic)
What do YOU hate?

13 December 2012

Maintaining A Healthy Weight (and Skin)

This is NOT a post for those who want to lose a drastic amount of weight. Sorry, I can't help you there. But for those of you who fear that you're going to start gaining weight, or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, here are a few important tips. Note that most of these tips actually work for maintaining clear skin as well.

  • Drink water. Water has zero calories. It speeds up your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns fat). It's a great way to curb cravings. It flushes out toxins in your skin. Feeling hungry? Drink a glass of water. At any point in time, any transition, any pause, drink a glass of water. 
  • Don't skip meals. Many people skip breakfast or other meals in order to lose weight. Well, erratic mealtimes have precisely the opposite effect. Our bodies, while they have adapted to today's world, they are always prepared for the worst. In fact (mini geek diversion here) when we store fat, it is in case we don't see another meal. So by not establishing a proper schedule for eating, we are telling our bodies that we don't know when we'll next eat. This prompts our bodies to store more fat in case we have to go a long time without food. Another bad effect of skipping meals is that we are so hungry by the time it's time to eat that we overeat. 
  • Get 10 hours of sleep each night. While this can be hard to achieve, getting lots of sleep actually speeds up our metabolism. It keeps us alert and energized. Also, feeling tired can lead to feeling stressed, which can lead to acne.
  • Satisfy cravings. Just because a food is bad for you doesn't mean you should totally stop eating it. In fact, if you do this, one day you might just crack and eat way more than is necessary. I know this from experience. Set a strict rule for yourself: one small portion of this food each day, and no more than that! That way, you'll get your fill of this food while still eating healthy.
  • Exercise. This doesn't necessarily mean do a workout every day (though that would definitely help). Do it in small ways. Take the stairs whenever possible. If you can walk, avoid driving. Exercise before eating. It's said that you burn more calories if you exercise before eating as opposed to after.
Of course, you won't start to see results immediately. Sometimes weight-gain (or acne) happens because of hormones, and this is something you can't control. It's ok. Do your best, and everything will even out in the end.

11 December 2012

Facial Yoga

So I was browsing around, wasting time as usual (wink, wink) and guess what I found?

There's body yoga.

There's breathing yoga.

And there's...facial yoga?

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as facial yoga, and it is supposed to be the "new Botox". Regularly practicing this type of yoga correctly is said to keep your face as healthy and youthful as does a face-lift. Interesting, eh? The best part is that you don't even need any materials or stuff like that: all you need is your face. You can do it anytime, any place--although I would discourage you from pulling these faces in public.

Here are a couple of my favourites.

This exercise keeps your forehead smooth by working the muscles around your eyes and forehead. Simply widen your eyes and stare at a point until your eyes start to water. Longer, if possible. Repeat.

Baby Bird
This exercise prevents jowl formation (otherwise known as the loose skin that hangs down from your jaw) by keeping those muscles firm. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, look up, smile, and swallow. It's going to feel as if your skin is splitting, but that's ok. Just don't overdo it.

This exercise keeps your cheeks firm and toned by keeping cheek muscles perky. Puff out your cheeks as much as possible and hold for as long as possible.

Buddha Face
This is a relaxing exercise that basically smooths out all of your face. Close your eyes, imagine a point between the brows, and smile very slightly.

Those are just a few of my favourites. While it looks silly, yoga actually does work. Try it sometime. What works for you?

Live Like There's No Tomorrow

09 December 2012

Life of Pi: Movie Review

I am astounded. In less than two hours, I have learned that there is still such a thing as a good movie. There is still such a thing as a movie that doesn't need romance to live. There is still such a thing as a movie that can make you thankful that you have what you have, and that you are loved. Life of Pi took me through the unbelievable voyage of one boy and his courage, his faith in God, and his will to live.

The majority of the movie is a flashback, beginning with an adult Pi conversing with a writer. Pi begins his story from the very beginning, starting with the reason behind his unusual name and continuing with his unusual religious beliefs. He provides us with a synopsis of his life that had me rolling in my seat with laughter.

Soon enough, it comes time to move, and Pi's family is going to move to Canada via ship. In a fist-clenchingly scary scene, the ship is caught in a fierce yet fantastic storm that completely submerges it in water. Everyone drowns. Nobody survives.

Except for Pi.

And his tiger, Richard Parker.

Thus begins Pi's true tale, of how he fought against all odds to stay alive in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He is forced to watch as three animals somehow eat each other up. He marks each day on the side of the lifeboat. His nature is such that he provides for his tiger as well as himself. His strength is derived from love for the tiger. And everything in the movie is so realistic that you have to blink to remind yourself it's not real.

He makes mistakes, learns from them, and has us all in gut-wrenching sobs. Pi is as human as the rest of us. He is no superhero; he is no genius. At moments, he wants to die, wants to give up. The one thing that keeps him going is the companionship of his tiger and his faith in God. He has everyone rooting for him the whole way.

This movie is a must-see for everyone. It has nothing inappropriate. It will leave no one scarred for life (except maybe Pi himself). I would recommend it to those of all ages. Like they say in the movie, "It is up to you which story you want to believe."

03 December 2012

The Graveyard Ghost

Inspiration strikes at the oddest times. I had a sudden inspiration to write while doing my Geometry homework. What can I say? Poetry is so much more interesting than proofs.

The Graveyard Ghost

Have you heard of the graveyard ghost?
Alone and brooding, he haunts the tombstones,
Waiting. Waiting and watching,
Wondering. Wondering who will venture first,
Scorning the rumors and abandoning sense,
Driven merely by foolish pride.

Have you heard of the graveyard ghost?
Stormy and insane, he has no mercy,
Killing. Killing and enjoying,
Smiling. Smiling his manic smile,
Delighting in the intruder’s scream,
Savoring every moment.

Have you heard of the graveyard ghost?
Scarred and terrified, he is not happy,
Thinking. Thinking and wandering,
Remembering. Remembering times long ago,
When he was a boy, and she was a girl,
Head-over-heels in love.

Have you heard of the graveyard ghost?
Jumpy and frightened, he is cautious,
Staring. Staring through everything,
Regretting. Regretting a crime he once committed,
Horrified at the sight of her blood,
Stained across her chest.

Have you heard of the graveyard ghost?

What's the weirdest time inspiration has struck YOU?

02 December 2012

On Cutting Off Hair

Sometimes I feel like the littlest things, the littlest changes, have great significance. For instance, I cut off a lot of my hair yesterday. Many girls don't like cutting off their hair, because they feel hair is a sign of beauty, etc. 

SO WHAT? Hair can still be pretty if it's short! I find it significant because...well, for me, it signified freedom. Sort of. See, I was studying like mad for the TJ test until yesterday, so I cut it off as a sign of change and...well, you know...freedom from studying! I never study otherwise. (Shh, don't tell anyone.)