Afternoon Tea on a London Bus!

Hey Guys,

This month, I have been celebrating the lead-up to Afternoon Tea Week here in the UK. From climbing the highest mountain in England and tucking into High Tea at the peak, to a sweet afternoon tea on-board a traditional London Routemaster bus!

I remember hearing about B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus a little over a year ago, when a friend had visited and said it was great! I teamed up with Red Letter Days, who kindly gifted this experience to me. Here's what they say: 

"Experience one of the most unique afternoon teas on offer in the capital with a fantastic afternoon tea bus tour around central London. Board the B Bakery vintage 1960's Routemaster bus, sip on a freshly brewed cup of tea and sample exquisite treats as the driver takes you around the heart of the city, taking in historical sites including Big Ben and Nelson's column and experiencing the city's culture at Notting Hill, South Kensington and Trafalgar Square! The friendly staff will be on hand too, to answer any questions you might have, whilst they present you with an array of tasty sandwiches and savoury bites, decadent high tea pastries, crafted with French flavours like the trop chou and summer verrine, and of course, perhaps the staple of afternoon tea - scones topped with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry preserves. A bus tour is the perfect way to capture the heart of the city while you treat yourself!"

Sounds dreamy right?

The experience was as dreamy as it sounds. We were whisked around the capital, sipping tea and doing our best royal waves to everyone we passed! I fell in love with the small, pink cupcakes and we were even allowed to take any leftovers home. We also got to keep the hot drinks cup as an additional souvenir. 
Make sure when booking, to specify if you would like to be upstairs or downstairs. Unfortunately, I didn't do this and we were left downstairs, which I imagine was not as nice a view. However, the plus side, was that it was very quiet, with just myself and my partner and two other girls. Whilst upstairs was a lot louder and busier, with young children. Something to bare in mind. 
Overall, it was a fantastic couple of hours doing something I love, in a very unusual setting. Thank you so much to Red Letter Days for working with me on this post! You can book your own Afternoon Tea Bus experience here.

 Eb x

images by Eboni and Sean Joseph Young

My Top 5 Photography Tips for Bloggers

Hey Guys,

Last week, I was invited by HP, to attend a photography workshop led by the brilliant Adam Karnacz of First Man Photography. Adam is an extremely talented landscape photographer with his own YouTube channel. He spoke to us about the difference between “snapshots” and “photographs” and even lent his expertise to us with his own top tips for great photography. I used what I had learnt from the workshop and created my own tips, specific to bloggers. So I hope you find this useful!
HP were very generous and I was able to walk away with a HP Pavillion 15 to use for the week! I was excited to head to Kew Gardens, to create some amazing content that I could then edit on the Pavillion. I edited all the images for this blog post using Lightroom on the Pavillion 15. It was perfect for keeping up with the demanding tasks without slowing down and the picture quality was extremely high! This is down to it's graphic options (up to NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050Ti graphics.) HP says: "These high-end graphics give your biggest, graphically demanding projects and multimedia experiences a boost in detail with 1080p and game without experiencing any slowdowns, hiccups, or stuttering."

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with HP. All images were edited using Lightroom Classic on the HP Pavilion 15 – a laptop boasting state-of-the-art NVIDIA technology that allows creators to perform at their best.*

My Top 5 Photography Tips for Bloggers

1. Composing 
One of the most interesting lessons we learned from Adam was the “rule of thirds”. This is a common photography rule that uses science to create the perfect composition. You can read more about the rule of thirds here, but it is basically a method you can apply to photos to make them more pleasing to the eye. This can be done by the photographer, or your final image can be cropped in editing to abide by the rule. 

Composing blog photos can be tricky and entirely dependant on your personal style and what you are trying to feature. For example, a fashion blogger may want to feature an object like a bag. If it is a bag you are featuring, you may want to draw attention away from your face and onto the bag. You can do this with angles and a good blurry background, or also by placing the bag onto one of the “rule of thirds” lines. This could also apply to product photography too. For example, beauty bloggers who would like to feature a few products. I find that in my personal experience, odd numbers of products always work better in images.  
2. Background 
The background of your images is really important. It can make or break a good photo, so it is definitely worth paying attention to. Clean, plain coloured backgrounds are simple and easy. Phone pictures are usually great on plain wall backdrops. In this case, camera angles are fun to play around with if you want to add an interesting element to your photo. I would suggest the photographer getting nice and low to create angles. 

I personally prefer a busier backdrop. For example, a lovely building or floral archway. When using a lens such as the 50mm or 35mm, you can really play with depth of field and creating great “bokeh”. I love a good blurry background! In contrast, should you wish to take in an entire building alongside your model/blogger, fixed, or “prime” lenses aren’t usually too great and you’d be better off with your kit lens, a wide lens or a phone. This type of image can be seen a lot in travel blogger’s content, where they have managed to fit themselves in alongside a wonderful, wide view of a lake or sea or historical building or landmark!

3. Lighting 
My favourite styles of photography use natural lighting. This can be outdoors or indoors; you can’t beat the sun’s natural rays to light a photo! With changing lighting comes changes in camera settings and it may take a little time getting used to when finding the correct settings for your lighting. You can read more about how to set up your camera for different settings here.
Ideally, you would have a mildly sunny day with plenty of clouds. Some people may assume that bright, direct sun would be perfect for taking photos, but actually what you end up with are harsh shadows. My top tip for shooting on a sunny day would be to find buildings that create shadows to hide behind. 
Depending on where in the world you are, you might also find that the weather can be unpredictable and if it is likely to rain, having a backup plan is perfect. In London, the weather can be very unpredictable, so I tend to shoot in locations that have nearby photogenic indoor locations. For example, where this blog post’s images were taken in Kew Gardens, there are some beautiful outdoor grounds, along with a few large, indoor greenhouses and a couple of cafés. I know this isn’t always possible (eg. Visiting a lavender field or beach) so in those cases, it is worth checking the weather ahead and allowing for a change of date where necessary! 

4. Editing
Editing isn't always necessary, however, If you are wanting to make the most of your images, I would suggest investing some time into tweaking and pulling a little here and there. How to edit is a whole other blog post of its own, but it can be pretty easy (and cheap) with the right apps and programmes. Lightroom Classic is what I used to edit the images in this post. It is not to be confused with Photoshop. Lightroom is just for tweaking minor details and changing colours and brightness etc. There is Lightroom for your computer, which I purchase for £9.98 per month, or you can download it for free onto your phone and use that version. 

Editing allows you to not only transform your photography into the best it can be, but it also allows you to develop a personal style that people will be able to associate with you and your blog. 

5. Getting Attention
Once you have had your blog shoot and edited your images, it is time to post! Adam, of First Man Photography, suggests paying attention to your audience and thinking about the value of your content. I, admittedly, find that I tend to think more about what I like to post, rather than what my audience would like to see. A successful blogger probably thinks about both! Who is your audience and what value are you bringing to them? Time is the most precious thing people have, what about your content is going to make someone want to stop scrolling and read? 

My Instagram tips would be to think about your grid as a whole. You can plan it ahead using apps such as UNUM. Is it clear what your blog is about? Is it aesthetically pleasing or interesting? Do you have a distinct style that sets you apart? It is also important to engage. I reply to 99% of the comments left on my blog, YouTube channel and Instagram. Engaging with your audience is a great way to build a genuine, virtual relationship. Lastly, use relevant hashtags! Some of my most successful posts have been due to my use of hashtags. Keep them relevant and specific. Steer clear of generic ones such as “food” and “London”. They will have millions of posts and yours will get lost! Find hashtags relevant to you or even create your own. I use #eboniivorytravels whenever I post travel content.

I hope you found at least one, if not all, tips useful. Please let me know if you think there are any other useful photography tips that I didn't mention? And a huge thank you, again to HP for sponsoring this blog post and for use of the fantastic HP Pavillion 15. 

Eb x

All images by Sean Joseph Young