Why A Travel Agent is A MUST

If ever you were wondering what the value of using a travel agent is versus booking your own travel – you MUST read this.

Many people, (in the past, myself included), think it unnecessary booking travel through an agent when there is “google”.  After all, all the information you need is available at your fingertips and there’s even sites where you can compare prices and get the best deal.

All true.

But, and this is the big BUT. I like many other used to always book my own travel.  To be honest, if I’m just after a quick domestic flight, I still go online and book it myself.  However, years ago, I was booking an overseas holiday for the family.  I needed international flights, domestic flights in the country we were visiting, car hire, travel insurance, hotels, tour bookings plus plus plus.  It was all a bit overwhelming, particularly as I had never been to that particular country before.

So, I picked up the phone and arranged the booking through Orbit World Travel.  From that first trip, I have never looked back and whenever I am booking travel that involves multiple bookings, like flights plus hotels etc, I ALWAYS use Orbit World.

Why?

Of course, I could still do all the bookings myself.  And as I said above, there is so much information online, but, these guys are travel professionals and have knowledge about many of the locations, and usually someone with first hand experience of a destination to give clients useful hints and tips.

Plus, it doesn’t cost any extra, but the “extras” are invaluable.  Pretty much every trip I have booked through Orbit, I have been upgraded in my room, or received a “special deal” through their relationships with hotels around the world.

More importantly,  when something goes wrong, you have a trusted company that you know and are familiar with that you can call on 24 hours a day, no matter where you are in the world to help you sort out whatever issue it is you may have.

The peace of mind that this gives when travelling is priceless.  Being in a strange country, sometimes not knowing how to speak the language and have any sort of problem can very quickly ruin a great adventure.

Whenever I have experienced any sort of issue, Orbit have sorted it out without me having to worry or get involved.  If you think travel is always smooth sailing, particularly overseas, you either don’t travel much or have been super duper lucky.

  • On a trip to the US when our girls were both quite young, despite have confirmed pre booked seats, about a week before I noticed that my husband and I and our two girls were all seated separately on a 14 hour flight. Our girls both next to random strangers!  I spent hours on the phone with the airline trying to sort with absolutely no luck at all.  I was in such a panic thinking about our little girls sitting far away from us, with strangers, particularly when it was an overnight flight and we would be sleeping.  Apparently, there was some computer issue with the seating, but the airline told us we would just have to try and sort at the airport and get people to move seats after check in, they couldn’t do anything other than that.  The flights had been booked through Orbit, and I have no idea why I didn’t just call them immediately when I discovered the problem, but when I did, they escalated the issue and had us all seated together and everything sorted well before our date of departure.

  • We booked a stay in Hawaii with our two girls and were upgraded to a better room as well as getting access to a “Club” within the hotel FOC that offered breakfast, evening cocktails, all day snack and exclusive access, all complementary thanks to Orbit with no charge to us.

  • Finally, and the reason that prompted me to write this, I take out an annual travel insurance policy every year to cover myself and my family for travel, both domestic and international. This year, due to Covid 19, obviously all our travel plans have been cancelled and as well as being unlikely to return to travel at least for the remainder of the year.  The policy is $1,500 a year, so very reasonable if you travel a lot, and particularly if you have any issues when traveling, but it’s a lot of money to pay out for nothing.  As in, I can’t travel so the policy is effectively a total waste this year.  I contacted Covermore who the policy is with and basically had no luck at all.  I was so frustrated.  However, once again, as the policy had been purchased via Orbit World, I contacted them to see if they would have any better luck.  Can you believe I received a full refund on the policy thanks to Orbit World Travel and their contacts within the industry.  This was a massive win for me and confirmed once and for all, I will NEVER travel without going via a reputable travel agent.

Finally, can I say that this is not a paid blog and Orbit World did not request or know about me writing it.  But credit where credit is due.  This is me passing on what I feel is valuable information to others who may travel and run into some of the issues I have in the past.

 

The service from a travel agent is why they are professionals and I could give another dozen examples of the value add I have received over the years.

 

Definitely check them out if you are after travel assistance, both business or leisure.  They have offices all around Australia so will certainly be able to give you the same sort of great service that I have always experience with them.

 

Now if they can just sort out opening up the borders and letting us actually being able to travel again, I will continue to support them in the future.  😜

What Inspires You?

There is usually something from way back to leads you to the career path you take. Someone or something that inspires you. For me, it was Formula 1 Driver Ayrton Senna.

1 May this year marked the 26th year anniversary of his death. I was lucky enough to meet him once in 1993 but I didn’t “know” him personally yet he was probably one of the biggest influences in my life. He was the most dedicated, focussed and passionate man and his will to succeed was inspiring.

As a child growing up, watching Formula 1 racing with my big brother, we would argue about who was the best. For me, it was a no brainer. Anyone willing to sacrifice everything to achieve his dream, thats the sort of person I wanted to be like. It was his passion that motivated my photography ambitions and I started my career as a motorsport photographer – way back in the day of pre-digital and slides.

I was living in the UK when he was tragically killed at the Imola F1 Grand Prix and I, like many people around the world, was devastated.

These are some of the images I was lucky enough to snap of him both at the Adelaide and Silverstone Grand Prix.

RIP to a great man.

Thinking Outside the Square

Isolating at home has been difficult for so many, including me. As a photographer, my passion is getting out and shooting models/fashion and content for brands and companies so being confined at home is like tying my hands behind my back.

But now is not the time to wallow in the struggle of it all. I have set up a studio at home, and shooting for local Australian Brands encouraging people to “BUY LOCAL” with creative images from innovative companies. At the same time, I’m perfecting my photography skills, I’m learning new skills about lighting, styling and being creative in a confined, limited space.

Times are tough, and for some, it’s just too much, but if you can, try and find a positive. Anything. Learn to cook something new, spend time with family or help others. It’s a great way of coping and keeping yourself happy in these difficult times.

Stay safe everyone and if you want any more information of shooting from your own home studio, or need images, contact me julesingall1@gmail.com

Below are samples of images created at home in my makeshift studio.

Why Photographers Don’t Share their RAW Images?

A very common question from clients to photographers is “Can I have the RAW Images from a shoot”. The answer will mostly be “no” and here’s why in simple terms.


A RAW file is a format that most professional photographers shoot in as it gives more editing capability.    Basically it is the unprocessed data of the image information from camera, without processing and compressing.  It allows the Photographer to be able to correct slight flaws in the image such as exposure, texture, contrast, colour etc without diminishing the quality of the image. Usually when a photographer shoots an image, they already have in their mind the editing that will take place in Photoshop post shoot.  For this reason, to an inexperienced eye, a Raw image may look less attractive.  Raw format images need to be converted to JPEG and other image formats prior to printing and sharing as these formats are more convenient and user friendly, plus the fact that many devices to not have the capability to read a RAW file without specific software.  The quality of a JPEG file generated from RAW format is much better than the one directly shot in JPEG.  Generally Photographers do not share their RAW images.  It would be like asking an artist to give away an unfinished piece of work.

In any case, you can edit the JPEG files, but just be aware it is not going to be as good as an edit on the RAW so I suggest if there is something specific, you are better off going back to the photographer and asking them to complete the edit for you.  I would’t recommend converting the Jpeg images back to photoshop images as they have already been compressed, so you cannot “uncompress”.

Following are some examples of the RAW image straight out of the camera on the left, with the edited image on the right. Obviously, a photographer will try and get as much “right” in camera, but there are always slight tweaks that you can make to further improve an image to your liking post shoot in Photoshop or Lightroom

The first image is an indoor studio shoot.

As you can see, there are only slight differences between the two images, however there was a bit of time taken to complete the edit. The background colour was corrected, the hair was brightened, the whites in the eyes enhanced as well as the teeth, lips, and eye colour. Finally the skin tone was softened.

The following image was shot about 30 minutes prior to sunset at the beach with soft, low light.

Again, very similar edit to the image above. It took probably 10-15 minutes on the edit, and even though only slight, it does brighten up the image

Finally, a much faster edit is landscape photography, but as you will see in the following example, the differences are a lot more dramatic. I have overdone the edit on the colour balance in the sky just to demonstrate the difference that it can make. At the end of the day, it is the personal preference of the photographer as to what temperature to set the colour and how far to push the edit. This is also another reason that a Photographer will not share their RAW images. The edit styles on an image can be quite varying and dramatic, depending on the Photographer’s personal style. Therefore, if a Photographer shares their RAW image and it is edited in a way that does not reflect the Photographers brand, it can be damaging to the Photographer as the image is still technically theirs.

In this image, I have obviously changed the temperature to a warmer colour to bring out the oranges and yellow. Using a graduated filter have corrected the sky. Also I have adjusted highlights, colour, shadows, texture and saturation on the image.

Tricks to Taking the Perfect Reflection Photo

I am often asked my favourite style of photography, and it’s a hard questions, because I love taking photos of anything, anywhere. Capturing a moment in time through my eyes and my perception. It gives me a little thrill!

However, if you look at my social media, where the pics are more what I like to photograph, rather than what I am paid to photograph, I tend to favour reflection type shots. Ok, I’ll admit, I am a self obsessed reflection junkie. And judging by the reaction when I post one, many other people are too.

You may think that they are difficult, but honestly, it’s not rocket science. But there are a few tips and tricks.

It’s all about the light the winds – and if you are shooting for a water reflection at the beach, it’s also about the tides.

Firstly, the light. The best reflection shot is in low light and usually with a bit of cloud around to add to the reflection, but as you can see from my examples, it’s not imperative.

The weather must be calm. You are never going to get a good reflection shot in strong winds. Basically, the reflection is in the water, and so the water must be calm, which means the wind must be calm to allow this – simple right. Get a good app and check the conditions before you head out.

If you’re shooting at the beach, you want the refection from the the water in the sand. This is best on an incoming tide where you will get the water streaming up the beach and leaving a nice glossy reflection in the sand for a few seconds as it recedes back.

Once you have your perfect shot you’re happy with, there’s a couple of editing tips for reflections too. Firstly, play with the highlights. I usually bring them down a fair way. And the new texture tool on Lightroom will give you good detail in your shot, just don’t push it too far. I sometimes pull the clarity down just a touch to offset the texture so it’s a softer image, but have a play and see what you think.

Finally, be prepared that you may not get your shot the first time. I post a pic and its easy to think I just dashed out, took a quick snap and presto, its a perfect reflection. Sometimes it will take me 5, 10 even 20 trips out to get the shot (and more importantly the conditions) right so don’t give up, it’s definitely worth it once you nail that perfect reflection shot.

For more ideas, go to either my Instagram or Facebook pages @Jules Ingall and of course, as always feel free to comment or DM me with any questions at all.

Happy Shooting

Most Insta-grammable Spots In Lithuania

When I travel somewhere new, I do always want to shoot my first impression images – what stands out and “gets” me in new surroundings.  But saying that, I also don’t want to miss out on anything so I do my research prior to visiting.  And that’s what I’m sharing here with you.  This was my first visit to Lithuania and wow, I was totally blow away. From the history, to the gorgeous laneways to the old town.  It’s incredible.  If you’re going for the first time, these are some of the places that I would suggest you don’t miss out.  Oh and a little tip, the “old town” is not too large to be seen on foot, where you see the best of hidden laneways, derelict buildings and hidden gems.  

Start in the Town Square, day or night there’s lots of activity and beautiful buildings

Town Square at night

The Vilnius University has a great old chapel as well as beautiful buildings and corridors to explore

Vilnius University Grounds

The corridors of Lithuania University

The laneways of Vilnius are some of my favourite in the whole Baltic region.  Lots of colourful old doors, cobble stone streets and interesting windows.

Back street laneway in Old Town Vilnius
Cobble Stone Streets in Old Town Vilnius
Interesting Wall Art in the Back Streets
Old Town Vilnius

There are actually 40 churches in the old town of Vilnius. What is interesting though is, as you visit them, they are more of a tourist attraction than a place of worship so don’t worry if you’re not religious.  A guide is always a good idea as there are some really interesting historical stories

One of the many churches
More Churches

Vilnius Cathedral

Vilnius Cathedral
Inside Vilnius Cathedral

Vilnius Library founded in 1570 it is the oldest library in the Baltic States with with over 5 million documents. Relocated to a modern new building in 2013 which is well worth the wander through

The Library
Interesting art display in the library

Cant miss the bohemian district of Uzupis – just outside the Old Town. They have their own tongue in cheek “constitution” and if you can talk with the locals, a great historical story. 

Uzupis District
Bohemian Streets of Uzupis

Trakai is a famous town about 20 minutes drive from Vilnius with the legendary Trakai Castle, originally built in 1408 and then rebuilt in the 20thcentury. It’s a weekend escape for Vilnius locals with plenty of lakes for locals to swim in.  Also great local Kibinai traditional foods to try at local eating houses.

Trakai Castle
Exploring the old Walls of Trakai Castle

If you’re on a driving tour of Lithuania, the resort town of Anykscia is recommend on a lot of tourist websites.  To be honest, I could take it or leave it.  It was a nice relaxing rest after all the walking and tourist activities of the few days before, so I’ll leave it up to you.  There is the Laju Takas park with tree top walk.

Tree top walk
Tree Top walk

We stayed at the Spa Vilnius Anyksciai which did have a lovely day spa, indoor pool and plenty of forest area to relax and explore around it.

Collecting pine cones in the forest

Gold Coast’s Most Instagramable Locations

It’s the new trend. We are all travelling more and with this, comes sharing our adventures on Social Media.  Often, a great “Instagramable” location can determine our destination choice.  In fact, many people travel to a location purely with the aim of getting that perfect “Instagram shot”.

Continue reading “Gold Coast’s Most Instagramable Locations”

Luxury Noosa Escape

I’ve been visiting Noosa since I was a Melbourne schoolgirl escaping the cold in the September holidays with my family. I’ve lost count of how many times I have been here, but one thing is for sure, I never tire of coming back. I have been so lucky to have travelled a lot in my life, all around the world and the more I travel, the more I want to explore new places. There are many places I have been where I consider it a tick off the bucket list, “been there, done that”, never to return. Noosa is most definitely NOT one of those places. Noosa is somewhere I am constantly drawn back to. But why? I hear you asking. What is it about Noosa specifically?

If you have never been (honestly, why on earth not), Noosa Heads is a little seaside cove, only accessible by one road in with the Noosa National park at the end of the main street. It has the feel of being on the French Riviera or Italian coast. There is a poise and class about this location that makes you feel special when you visit.

Hastings Street and Noosa Heads has an elegant little village feel with everything you need. Once you arrive and park the car, you can forget driving for the rest of your stay. I think that’s one of the things I love. Sure there are plenty of things to see and do in the surrounding area (and that is another complete story), but with life so busy, when I’m on holidays, sometimes its nice to just park the car and park yourself.

Where to stay for me is anywhere on Hasting Street or between Hastings Street and the National Park. This is the prime location and worth treating yourself. It also means that everywhere you want to go is within walking distance. You can really splash out and go for 5 star luxury on the beachfront. I’ve stayed in quite a few and they are all good, but my absolute favorite is Seahaven located on one side of Hastings Street and backing on to Noosa Main Beach. It’s up one end of the street so a little out of the hustle and bustle (which can get crazy in peak season) and the same for the beach, you are a little removed from the “day trippers” and the crowds. It’s a bit more exclusive although only a short walk down towards the Surf Club if you have young ones and want to swim between the Flags.

Seahaven is modern, large style apartments with plenty of space and 3 swimming pools ideal for an afternoon dip after a day at the gorgeous Noosa beach or a lazy day under one of the umbrellas with a book.   Yes it is pricey, but well worth treating yourself and if you aren’t restricted to peak times (like the school holidays with children), there are great deals available. If your budget wont stretch to the beachfront the other side of the street is still prime location wise, just without the beach view, and often half the price. A great family location is the Mantra French Quarter, which is on the corner of Hastings Street and Noosa Drive with a newly refurbished pool area it’s great value.

Eating while in Noosa is another delightful treat. You can go full budget cheap eats and have takeaway pizza or fish & chips sitting on the beach or enjoy your balcony views from your hotel. Lots of people seem to do this and hey, why not when the beach is so gorgeous, particularly at sunset. It is also a great idea when you are in Noosa for a period of time and don’t want to sit down for a restaurant meal every night. Some of my favorite places to eat in Noosa are Nosh, about half way down Hastings Street tucked in next to the Supermarket. Really great fish and chips but also a huge selection of really delicious and fresh salads – kinda like a bit of naughty and nice together. The Bakery in this same location does great bread, cakes and pies etc. so perfect for a quick snack. Blended a little further up on the other side of the street makes the most amazing Acai Bowls. What sets them apart from a standard Acai is their huge selection of “Blended bowls”. Anything from dragon fruit (my star pick), Green, Choc dream and heaps more. Also great for coffee and smoothies, protein balls etc. Staying on the healthy theme, Coconut Head down near the National Park next to Café Le Monde looks like a pop up store but having opened in December 2016 this place is most definitely here to stay. The most delicious vegan food and specializing in smoothies, wraps and an in-house made fermented drink ideal for cleansing called “Juno”.

Once you have all this clean healthy food in your system, head across the road to Providore, a modern style café with excellent coffee, snacks and great gourmet groceries such as olives and even meats for the barbeque (every hotel I have stayed in either had a barbeque on my balcony or within the hotel grounds). Providore is perfect for an early morning “Made in Noosa” coffee blend or they are also licensed so you can enjoy an afternoon wine with some of their delicious cheeses and snacks.

If you are looking for something a bit more special, my number one favorite restaurant in Noosa Heads is Seasons (under the Tingerana Hotel on the beach). It boast modern, local seafood and it certainly delivers. Located right on the beach, it is the perfect place to enjoy a 5 star meal with a 5 star view. My particular favorite is the seafood antipasto. This is a selection for two (although I did eat it on my own as a main) with a selection of warmed seafood of tempura oysters, crisp skinned salmon, prawns and salt and pepper squid, all with the most amazing sauces to accompany. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. I have tried many other things on the menu, but as a seafood LOVER, this really is to die for. You must drive to Noosa just to taste this dish!

The food on offer in Hastings Street offers so many places to eat of varying budgets from great pizza at El Capitano pizza above Café Le Monde, casual café style food at Providore (and my favorite place for coffee) and European style eating at Aromas, a French inspired café with all the chairs facing the street so diners can watch the passers by. There are so many other places to eat and I am still finding new ones every time I visit, so I urge you to try as many as you can as there are the institutions that have been around for years, but also new eateries popping up all the time. One thing is for certain though, there are plenty of very expensive, trendy hard to get into restaurants, but these are not necessarily the best. You can find some great value meals without always paying top shelf prices.

Once you have found a comfortable lounge by the pool, eaten your way through the cute little cafes and eateries, its time to work off some of that indulgence. You cannot visit Noosa without a trip to the National Park. Take the time to walk as far around the headland as you can because it is truly one of the most picturesque views. The National Park walk starts just past Little Cove, (a perfect place for a dip while your there) and takes you along a cliff walk around the coast line to the headlands all the way to sunshine beach which is around 7 km round trip. The first few kilometers are wheelchair and pram friendly but after that you need to take care, particularly close to the edges if you have children as there can be quite steep drops.

A bit tricky to find, but well worth the effort, as well as a very popular tourist spot, is the Fairy Pools in the National Park. They are down past Granite Bay and before Alexandria Bay roughly a 20 minute walk from the entry to the park. There is no sign, however you often see people from the path sitting on the rocks up high. You pretty much will find a bench seat on the outside of the path on a bend between the two bays and from here, you can see a path way down. You have to climb down around the rocks as you can’t actually see the pools from the path. I warn you now, the fairy pools can be a bit tricky to find (or maybe that was just me) but once you know where they are, you will return time and again. If you go to Noosa, it is pretty much a given that you get a selfie from the fairy pools. I remember the first time I even heard of them was from a local and I was texting and calling at regular intervals navigating my way through the park trying to find them, but I guess half the fun of an adventure is in the journey, right?

After a visit to the National Park, a quick dip at Little Cove on the way back and maybe some relaxing time in the sun, it’s time to hit the shops. The great thing about shopping in Noosa is that there are many boutiques that are unique to this place. You can wander up and down Hastings Street, stopping for the obligatory coffee or smoothie along the way, and weave in and out of the various shops. Of course there are your regular staples like Gazman, Tigerlilly, Peter Alexander, Witchery and more, but my favorites are some of the long standing boutiques. For home wears, Signature has been in business for 26 years and holds a treasure trove of magnificent items for your home, anything from candles and knick knacks, to throws, towels and blankets. Owned by Gail Hinkley she is renowned for her unique coastal style. Every visit I manage to pick up a something new for home.

For other home wears you will enjoy Hearts and Minds gallery, even just for a wander. Original jewelry and home wears mostly locally handcrafted so its great to find a little gem you can take home with you.

Being on the beach, of course there is Longboards and Sea Element for casual beachwear. I found some gorgeous clothes in Bow and Arrow with brands such as Alice McCall, Nobody Denim and Karen Walker. Finally, one “must stop” shop is most certainly Eliza’s boutique. The first time I saw this shop I passed it by as its tucked away and tiny little store, but make sure you stop in, and allow plenty of time because Eliza herself is likely to greet you and each time I go in, I usually let the time pass as I chat for ages letting Eliza and her wonderful staff of stylists help me find treasures that will become favorites in my wardrobe. Many of their labels are the latest fashions from Europe, only available in this quaint store in a corner of Queensland.   Ladies come from all over Australia to shop here so I promise you, a visit to this store and you will not walk out empty handed.

I know by now you must feel exhausted from all the eating, shopping, walking and talking, and this is without even getting in the car! This however was all stretched out over a leisurely few days. The thing that keeps me coming back to Noosa is that I can completely stop, relax and take things at my own pace. Whether you choose to just lay on a lounge chair by the pool and not move for the day, or venture out on a unhurried walk in the lazy Queensland sunshine, you leave Noosa feeling like you have travelled to Europe and back without the jetlag. Yes, it does get busy in the peak holiday months, but Noosa is perfect all year round and somewhere that even as I am driving out of Hastings Street and up the hill, I am already planning when I am going to visit next. It’s my little pocket of pampering and recharging my batteries that just seems to send me into relax mode from the minute I drive over that hill and see the beach in front of me.