Use contrast, exposure, highlights, etc. with intention. And learn the difference between an alpaca and a llama.

All photo editing programs have basic tools like contrast, brightness, exposure, etc. But if you’re like me, you don’t really know how to use them. You just move the levels sliders back and forth until the image looks good.

I wrote this post to finally teach myself (and you) how to edit with intention. To illustrate the differences in the before and after photos, I overadjusted the levels (using Photoshop and Lightroom).

I used pictures of alpacas and llamas to make the process…

Plan your shots with these compositional tools in mind, and watch your pics go from snapshots to photographs worthy of social media.

Photo by KM Sarver.

When I first started snapping pictures, I didn’t understand composition. Years later, I discovered that my photos could be vastly improved by using the rule of thirds, diagonal, triangle, golden ratio, and golden spiral grid guides in Photoshop’s crop tool (shown below). Other editing programs, and most cameras, have the grids too (check your manual).

(If you don’t know how to use Photoshop’s crop tool, click here.)

When children wrote to author EB White asking if his stories were true, he said they were not, but that, “Real life is only one kind of life. There is also the life of the imagination.”

Oxford Christ Church Garden Gare. Photo by Marco Manenti.

Sometimes the two commingle: a riverside estate is reimagined as a pirate ship, a common cowpath leads to a lovers’ lane, and an evanescent cat grins from the branch of a chestnut tree. Here are ten classic children’s books, set in places that exist not only in the writer’s imagination but in real life too:

Charlotte’s Web

On an autumn morning in 1949, EB White noticed…

The Mackenzie Poltergeist is the most well-documented paranormal phenomenon in the world.

A Young Bloody Mackenzie. Photo courtesy of The Commons.

Hundreds of people have reported being attacked by ghosts at Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland. The most sinister of these specters is Sir George MacKenzie, a 17th-century Scottish lawyer and legal writer. Sir George is also known as Bluidy Mackenzie, the Mackenzie Poltergeist, and the Persecutor of the Covenanters.

Do you believe in ghosts? More than 4 in 10 Americans do. But what exactly is a ghost? They’re not all Casper, Slimer, or Moaning Myrtle. According to ghost experts, apparitions vary widely and can be classified into the following groups:

Harry Price’s Ghost Hunting Kit, 1936. Photo in Public Domain.

Residual Haunting Ghosts

A residual haunting ghost is an entity created by a psychic imprint. A psychic imprint is the result of repetitious behaviors performed by a person during their lifetime. (However, an imprint can develop instantly following a traumatic event.) The reiterative entity is incognizant and doesn't interact with the living. It’s like a recording that plays over and over again…

(De)compositions wants nonfiction published/unpublished stories about cemeteries, ghosts, the paranormal, supernatural, and all things spooky. No fiction or true crime stories involving people or animals, please. Think Halloween, the holiday, not Halloween the movie. Email us with a link to your story at

The oldest existing photos of (mostly)living animals.

Photo by Sheldon K. Nichols, 1852–53.

In 2015 there were about 6.5 billion cat pictures online. But cat photos are nothing new. We have been photographing our cats, dogs, chickens, and other animals since the introduction of the camera in 1839.

As any pet lover with a camera knows, animals don’t tolerate lengthy photo sessions. During the 1840s and ’50s, the daguerreotype photographic process required at least a few seconds of exposure to develop an image—and up to 10 seconds if the photo wasn’t taken in bright sunlight. …

Hint: She eats tuna casserole from your plate without permission — or a fork.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

You prefer to think of your cat as your somewhat aloof best friend. She seems to like (or, at least, tolerate) you, too. No need to sleep with one eye open. Right? Well, before you strap on your Garfield sleep mask, read these eight signs that your kitty-witty could be cwazy-wazy:

1. She can’t distinguish between right and wrong.

She eats tuna casserole from your plate without permission — or a fork.

If a flavor is disagreeable to her palate, she will leave the food on the floor for you to step in.

She doesn’t know the difference between a litter box and a pile of laundry; a…

The U.S. has more than 144,000 graveyards — far too many for any tombstone tourist to explore in a lifetime. But here are 7 cemeteries that are of grave importance (sorry), and should definitely be on your bucket list:

1. Calvary Cemetery — Queens, New York

Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel

The first body laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery was that of 29-year-old Esther Ennis, who was said to have died of a broken heart. She was buried on July 31, 1848. Over time, about 3 million more burials followed Esther’s, making Calvary the cemetery with the most internments in the United States. …

A frustrated troop leader’s motivational speech on the eve of yet another cookie season.

Photo by Dennis Magati from Pexels

Girls, as you know last year the Badgertown Troop sold 537 boxes of cookies. We were only 3,643 boxes short of winning the trip to the Kenosha Cheese Kastle: Home of hard-to-find cheddar wheels and wedges, off Interstate 95, half a mile from the Sock Barn. Honestly, wouldn’t cheese curds be a better prize than the Tagalong Toilet Kit?

So what went wrong? Most of you wore your uniforms right side out. Remember, the badges go on the outside, Mackenzie. Our booth was tastefully glittered and blinged before we got hit with the — what did the meteorologist call them…

Chelle Chevelle

Not Chevy Chase. BA in Theatre from ASU. Film and photography enthusiast. See her photos at

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