​How I Edit My Travel Photos With VSCO 

To have a spectacular feed on Instagram, you definitely need spectacular photos. And, for that, you don’t have to necessarily have high-end equipment or software. A good photo is only a great edit away from becoming Instagram worthy.
This is how I edit my travel photos on my phone using VSCO. Used is a picture I had clicked from a moving bus while I was travelling in Switzerland. It was clicked using a Samsung Galaxy A7.

1. Exposure

First up, let’s be careful about the exposure. I usually play in the range of 0.5 to 1.5. But, it totally depends on the picture and the kind of mood you want to create.

2. Colors / Saturation 

Most pictures that I click using my phone have a decent color tone. However, I often experiment with saturation to see if it can get any better. Here, as you can see, the color is still dull. So, I’m going to increase it a bit.

You can definitely see the difference. The picture looks much more alive than before.

3. Sharpening

Since this picture was taken while I was in a moving bus, it is not completely sharp. So, I’m going to make it sharper using the sharpening tool. Do not sharpen it too much since that will make your picture look too artificial. Here, I’m making it somewhere around 2.5.

4. Filters

I absolutely love most of the filters on VSCO and they do a great job in creating the right mood. I usually use HB1, HB2, KK1 or M3.

Here, for this picture, I am going to use HB2.

You can also decide how strong you want the filter to be. I almost always reduce it a bit to make sure it still looks natural.

5. Fade

Fade is one of my most used tools because it gives the picture a very tumblr-ish look. But, you can skip this if you want the colors to look rich.

I’m going for a 7.6 for this picture. As you can see the colors are still looking rich and it has changed the mood of the picture to a great extent.

That’s pretty much it. I don’t use a lot of tools because it makes the picture look artificial. Another tool that I didn’t use here but I often do is the Crop tool. I use it when the picture is not symmetrical enough. But, again, it is totally subjective.

Here’s a before and after picture for you to see the changes.

All you need is a decent picture, a phone and VSCO!

Comment below if you like these tips and definitely share your methods.

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​5 Practices That Will Help Your Writing

So, I get this a lot – How do you write so well? Though I often don’t have a structured answer to offer, I can’t say that I have no clue about how I improved my writing skills.
Honestly, it does take a lot of while and hence you have to be patient. It isn’t something that will make you go “VOILA! I DID IT.” Writing is never going to be a destination, it will always be something that you’ll keep getting better at.

So, in case you want to sharpen your writing skills or you want to probably just start writing, here are a few things you must do –

1. Up Your Grammar Game

You might or might not be a native English speaker. And, grammar has nothing to do with it. Until last year, I was pretty sure that my grammar skills were good. It was only after I took advanced grammar lessons that I realized I still had a long way to go. So, if you think your grammar is in a good state, I would suggest you to still brush up on it.

2. Write On Different Subjects 

Writing on various subjects could be difficult but trust me it really helps in the long run. If you love a certain subject, do not stick to it forever. Take a random subject and start writing on it. You don’t necessarily have to be acquainted with everything about it. Just write whatever you know, whatever you feel. Apart from that, writing based on different emotions is also a good exercise.

3. Study Writing Styles 

To do this, you should totally be random. Pick up literary classics, comics or contemporary fictions. Additionally, you could read articles on science, history or probably politics. This way you’ll learn about different writing techniques and that will help you to incorporate some of them in your writing. But, you gotta be an observer when you do this. Read like a writer.

4. Seek Feedback

A great way to know where you’re going wrong is to take feedback. Make someone read your words. I would suggest asking someone who is very straightforward with their feedback. Criticism definitely hurts. But, it helps you by great means to discard all your common writing errors.

5. Do Not Settle

You will always have a chance to improve your writing. So, if you are feeling too complacent right now, you’re not in a good position. Writing is something that needs a lot of time and it will probably never be perfect.

And, that’s okay! That’s how it works. Keep brushing up on your skills and I’m sure you will improve your writing skills soon.

We are done with words

There’s a letter for you that sits in my cupboard 

I wrote it the same night you said, “I guess there is nothing left to say.” That night, 

I rummaged through our memories to find all the things 

I could have said because I knew words could save us if nothing else. 

I remember, 

I wrote too much but it never felt enough. Words after words. Sentences after sentences. 

I wanted to tell you about the day you looked at my palms and said that they reminded you of someone. I asked you, “Who?” and you just smiled. 

I wanted to ask you what it meant when you said that you didn’t know what a safe place felt like. You said you did not know a place that isn’t dangerous. I was right there in front of you but you never noticed how determined I was to keep you safe. 
I wanted to ask you if you ever noticed how I always parted my hair to the right.

I wanted to ask you if you ever wanted to know what love meant to me. 
I wanted to ask you if ever felt “this is it.” Because, I did. So many times that it almost felt ridiculous. 

That night, with the letter, was a difficult pursuit. I was trying to deposit my emotions into the paper. So, I didn’t have to carry them once you were gone. 

IF you were gone. 

And, you were gone. And, I was left with paper cuts and half-cooked metaphors.

I’m still here with the letter and the loneliness these words feel has ruffled me for too long.

Long enough to make me wonder if you ever wanted to listen to what I had to say in the first place. 

The letter has always been incomplete because I have always had so much to tell you. 

But, today, as I stare at my palms something feels wrong. I think of you and it doesn’t feel like it. Today, for the first time, I feel we are done with words.

Empowerment: The Voice We Need

Recently, I became a part of an online community for women. A group where women share their travel stories and inspire each other. There’s no community rule that tells women to encourage each other. But, women do it with all their hearts and the returns are truly beautiful. The community made me realize the worth of having an encouraging voice in your life. A voice that simply says: “you can do it.”

Read the full blog post on School of Shine – http://www.schoolofshine.com/single-post/2017/03/20/Empowerment-The-Voice-We-Need

Dear Sarah and Phil 

Dear Sarah and Phil, 

A few years ago, I watched a video of a young girl giving a powerful TED talk. It happened to be my first encounter with spoken word poetry and also with you, Sarah. 

It was my brother who made me watch the Ted talk. Hesitant about it at first, I somehow sat patiently to watch you speak and lost the track of time altogether. I was in love with you, your voice and of course your words. I must have watched ‘If I should have a daughter’ a number of times since then. I don’t know if it is love, admiration or merely fandom but I’m sure learning about you was a beginning of self discovery. Your words stirred something inside me and I realised the need of poetry in my life all because of you.

Another summer, I watched ‘When Love Arrives’ and a wide grin found a place on my face. Amazed by the chemistry you two shared on the stage, I was curious to know more about Phil and Project Voice. Phil’s poetry ‘Repetition’ was on repeat for months. Ironically, it never lost its meaning. It went on to find a place in my playlist and replaced all my favorite songs when I was in college.

I have been awe of you two for a long time now. I draw inspiration from what you two do. On days, when my words refuse to slip out of my fingers, I read your words. Oftentimes, I forget that I have to write too because I get carried away by the sheer brilliance of your work. 

Sarah, your voice is a spring of water and I always find rainbows of hope in it. Phil, the way your words reach out to people suggest that they come from a very special place. You both together are nothing less than magic. 

I just want to thank you for giving poetry the life it deserves. Thank you for taking it out of paper and giving it to the world to see, to feel and to witness its soul. Thank you for being the wonder you are.

27th February, 2017 – The day when love arrived. 

It’s okay to be alone

The world undervalues the joy of being by yourself. During the month of February, the internet explodes with memes that ridicule the miseries of being single. However, in reality, there is nothing wrong with enjoying your own company as you can make this precious time work in your favor.

We tend to concentrate on seeking love outside of ourselves without realizing that love actually begins within. Our bodies are often scratched with self-doubts and we keep looking for someone to get these scars off our bodies. Does that work? Maybe, or maybe not, but before we get someone to accept or embrace our flaws, we must face and accept them ourselves.

Read the whole article I wrote for the School of Shine here – http://www.schoolofshine.com/single-post/2017/02/25/Its-Okay-to-be-Alone

Creativity and What Ignites It

A lot of people ask me this question, “So, how do you create something that’s so unique? How do you write?” Well, it is difficult to give an answer that truly satisfies these questions. Probably because there is no fixed process that leads to creation. I draw inspiration from a range of things and creativity happens to be a result of them. I think it exists in all of us in varied quantities. It is how we harness it or how we amplify it that makes all the difference.

A few days ago, I wondered if it is the same for people who belong to the creative spectrum. So, out of sheer curiosity, I asked them their take on creativity and the place where they find the creative fuel. Here’s what they had to say –

Creative.jpg

Maybe, it just happens. (Sourced image)

(Only first names for privacy purposes)

  1. Lucy, College Graduate, Australia

“Creativity for me means expressing oneself in a variety of ways. For different people that may mean different things; for one person it might be photography, another it might be a dance; the list goes on. It means having an outlet to communicate your feelings, experiences or views and putting that out into the world and contributing to creativity around you. There isn’t a set thing that makes me want to create something, but ultimately whatever it is it has to speak to me. With that being said, I would say visual things make me want to create as I can tangibly see what is front of me and then use that to describe or portray feelings. I also find that experiences in life that impact me profoundly can also ignite the desire to create.”

I also find that experiences in life that impact me profoundly can also ignite the desire to create.

2. Aisha, Writer, Michigan

“Creativity means a sense of liveliness and childhood to me. I feel like adults, we lose creativity and become too constructed. I create things, such as poetry and art, when I want to feel alive again and do something different to keep life interesting day-to-day.”

3. Taniya, Student of English Literature, Delhi, India

“For me, creativity is a way of expressing things that I am incapable of, otherwise. It is like a window into one’s soul. I often land up in a position where I become incapable of conveying my innermost feelings. Feelings which might not be acceptable or are too crucial to be spoken of. Such thoughts, over a period of time, become a burden that is needed to be lifted off the shoulders. This is the safest way to do it, create something that helps you out your thoughts across.”

4. Alen, Student, Kerala, India

“It is like catching a cold during a trip. Destroys your trip until you are healed. Most of the times, I stumble into it. Unknowingly, just like catching a cold.”

5. Orenda, Writer and Communications Officer, Canada

“Creativity is the embodiment of who I am as a human being – my likes and dislikes, who I care about, my experiences and in turn, how I see the world. I think it only takes any kind of inspiration, whether it be from watching a movie or a random thought in my head, to make me want to create something. We live in such an expansive universe, it’d be almost a shame to not create something because of it.”

We live in such an expansive universe, it’d be almost a shame to not create something because of it.

6. Sneha, Writer, India

“Creativity for me means freedom. I’m not confined to a box, I have an entire universe to create with.”

7. Fauziya, Writer and Aspiring Vocalist, Mumbai, India

“Creativity to me is like the smoke that has escaped into thin air. You wouldn’t know where it came from and where it went to, but it did have its effect on you. That profound effect that shakes you to the marrow of your bones. I never set out in search of a poem. I just sit back and let it come to me. Like a patient spectator, I watch my poems unfold in a haze of trance. And that’s the thing about creativity, it gives me the patience I never can practice otherwise.

Like a patient spectator, I watch my poems unfold in a haze of trance. And that’s the thing about creativity, it gives me the patience I never can practice otherwise.

Creativity, it is like a loyal dog who wanders the world, prances in the wild, barks at the edges of the mountains and then comes to me at the end of the day with a bagful of magical stories.”

8. Karishma, Writer, Mumbai, India

“I wish I could define creativity for you, but that’s the beauty of it. It can’t be arranged into perfect words that can cover all the corners it stretches to or sources from. For me, it only takes curiosity, experiences, and endless questions to create something. Maybe creativity lies in the constant quest of figuring things out. And expressing that same curiosity which moves people to reflect or ponder upon. At its core, my best guess to creativity is that it lies in the effort to establish a connection, and to communicate that connection furthermore.”

9. Savira, Student, Indonesia

“For me, creativity means showing your true colours without being afraid of being different or without trying to be like others. What makes me want to create something is anything that makes me feel, anything that makes me emotional.”

10. Carolyn, Student, Monmouth, United States

“Creativity for me is the byproduct of my passion and drive.”

11. Parth, Graphic Designer, Mumbai, India

“Creativity to me is liberation. Liberation of your thoughts caged inside your body for so long. Negative and positive thoughts both. Creative things can’t be discriminated as right or wrong. They’re just to be looked through some perspective. Good art doesn’t need to be liked or disliked. It has to be felt. Good art speaks for itself. Fear makes me create. The fear of being unproductive. The fear of achieving nothing. The fear of not expressing. The fear of wasting life on nothingness.”

12. Shreya, Account Head in an Advertising Agency, Surat, India

“Creativity is not restricting your colour only to the palette. Not limiting to dictionaries, when you are short of wordplay. Not setting benchmarks to your endless imagination.
Not obeying rules of ‘what has been going on’ and’ this has to be done this way’ Not seeing outside the box, but building shapes inside it. Not reading between the lines, but living through it. Not being a perfectionist, but doing things your own way. Not being someone else, but leaving parts of you in everything you do. The major impetus for me, for creating something, is to leave an imprint. That lets people connect, believe and question the obvious.  I want to let them introspect, I want to let them wander, I want them to be lost and then find themselves again.  In a new light, in a better version, every day.”

Indeed, the definition varies for everyone. But, there’s one thing that is similar; all of us have creativity in us in some way or the other. It is only about the fuel that inspires us to create something the world has never seen before.

Find your fuel. Create something.

(I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this, even the ones who are not on the list! Unfortunately, because of the word limit, I could feature only 12 people!)