instructional, random thought

STAYING HEALTHY, CHANGING HABITS

As we all face the unknown prospects of a COVID-19 global pandemic, rather than panic, we can see this as an opportunity to disconnect a little, and reorient our priorities. Changing some unhealthy habits, into healthy ones.

Health is much bigger than simply washing our hands properly and social distancing. Our bodies are incredible machines, and what we chose to put in them makes a big difference in their performance. But overall health is even bigger than this… we must focus on our mental health too, if we want to make it through a crisis such as this.

Just before this crisis began, through the help of Ellen, a close friend, and a book I read, Atomic Habits by James Clear, I began making some health and lifestyle changes in my life for the better. It has been hugely helpful to my mental and physical health, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned. I am by no means an expert, I’m simply along for the ride just like you. But I have acquired some helpful tips that think worth sharing.

I want to list out a few points and explain a little here. Some of this will seem quite obvious to many of you, but I hope that all can glean something.

First, we should definitely do what’s right. And what’s right is to follow the advice of medical professionals for simple ways to “flatten the curve.”

  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Practice basic good hygiene.
  • Stay home as much as possible, distancing ourselves from others.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough.
  • Avoid contact with high risk individuals, for their safety.
  • Think of others when you have to go out.

These are the CDC recommendations. They are certainly a great place to start. But by no means should we end there.

For general good mental and physical health, might as well start some excellent habits now, when we need them to potentially survive, like:

  • Eat foods rich in vitamin c and iron, like spinach every day.
  • Exercise. It helps activate and strengthen your immune system.
  • Spend time in nature daily. It’s really good for your mental health.
  • Practice deep breathing. This will relieve the stress and anxiety, as well as boost your immune system.
  • Call your friends and family. Make it a point to call a different person you care about daily to check on them. Especially while we are in the self-quarantining phase of this epidemic. Loneliness and isolation can be hugely detrimental to mental health.
  • Unplug. Don’t simply use this time to binge watch show after show or play video games for hours on end. Try simply reading or playing a broad game with a partner.
  • If you are religious, pick up your bible. Pray. Feeling connected to God actually affects your brain chemistry, not just your spirituality.

Now, this all sounds great, but how do we turn these into habits that we take with us long after this pandemic (hopefully) slows down and cools off? This is where the advice of my wife, my friend, and the book come in handy. Because let’s face it, all of these things are good for us to implement into daily life, except of course the extreme social distancing.

First, we need to identify what we want to accomplish by implementing these new habits. You can also look at it like this… what negative aspect of your life do you want/ need to change? I find either way works. So for example, I realized that I had gained weight and didn’t like how I felt. I was also struggling through depression, and not seeing any progress. So I began to list good daily habits that I could employ for my life to change this.

  1. Exercise
  2. Eat healthier
  3. Pray
  4. Read
  5. Sobriety

Simple, right? Well now we will dive into one example, and how to make it into a habit. You can apply it to all the new habits you want to create.

Let’s start with exercise. It wasn’t that I didn’t exercise. Or even that I didn’t exercise often. I needed to make it a daily habit, so it was almost automatic, and so my body would crave it. So first I identified what exercise specifically I could do anywhere, anytime. Take away all barriers. Don’t say, “Go to the gym everyday” if that’s unrealistic for you. Pick an activity that you have no excuses not to do. And then if you want to go to the gym on top of the other activity, great. Bonus.

Next, plan out your week on Sunday afternoon, and put your exercise on the calendar for each day that week at the optimal time. That time can even change from day to day, depending upon your schedule. Just make sure you PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR. Say out loud, “I will [behavior] at [time] in [location]. It really is important to be specific and to speak it. Studies show that you are much more likely to do something if you say it aloud and it is on your calendar.

This is making your new habit obvious. In Atomic Habits, the next steps are to make it attractive, easy, and satisfying. I highly recommend the book so you can get repetition, and deeper insights into each of these. For my purposes here, I will make things simple.

So how do you make it attractive? I’ll just use one example here that I find helpful, but there are several others in the book. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do. As most of you know, I have two Australian shepherds. They need a TON of exercise. So I have paired their exercise, which is an action I need to do, with my exercise, the action I want to make into a new habit. They begin to crave that certain time of day when we go for a run, and I am starting to as well.

Next, make sure you make it easy for yourself to accomplish this daily goal. Simply remove the roadblocks that may get in the way. Get the right equipment, make that time sacred, reduce the friction.

Now you can make it satisfying. Exercise in itself ends up being satisfying if you stick with it. You feel better and look better. But early on, you may have to entice yourself with other “treats” to get to that point. I am a list maker. I get supreme satisfaction from crossing something off my to-dos. So that’s one way I gain satisfaction. I also have an insatiable sweet tooth. So I allow myself a small treat of four peanut m&m’s when I’m done with my run. Even a small treat like this can really help motivate you and make your new habit satisfying in the beginning, when it kinda sucks.

Let this whet your appetite to begin making some changes. While we’re all stuck inside, away from others, let’s make positive changes for ourselves. We can chose to see this trial as a catalyst for change. An excuse to come out better than we were before.

— Andrew


N O M A D  Magazine // Issue 1
Order your copy today and receive this 100 page full color travelgasm at your door!
Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
INTO THE WINDS // BACKPACKING + PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE
GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
I’m excited to announce The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
Andrew Slaton // Limited Edition Prints
Andrew Slaton // Canvas + Metal Prints
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew Slaton 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2020
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beginner, education, instructional, national parks, photography, travel, workshop

10 Comp Tips For Better Photos

As photographers, there is much that is out of our control; weather, wildlife, seasonal changes, road/ trail conditions, etc.

But one thing that we always have ultimate control over is our compositions. Just like a composer of music has the ability to manage the notes, tones, and rests of his/ her musical compositions, photographers have the responsibility of choosing what to include, what to leave out, and how the viewer will ultimately see and feel the final image.

Here are 10 major composition techniques that, if used properly, will make your photos drastically better, immediately.

1. THE RULE OF THIRDS

Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The rule of thirds says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.

Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen, making it even easier to use.

2. BALANCING ELEMENTS

Placing your main subject off-center, as with the rule of thirds, creates a more in- teresting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the “weight” of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.

3. LEADING LINES

When we look at an image, our eye is naturally drawn along lines. Being thoughtful and intentional about how you place lines in your composition can dramatically affect the way the viewer sees the image. It can pull the viewer into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey through the scene. There are many different types of leading lines – straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc – and each can be used to enhance our photo’s composition.

4. SYMETRY + PATTERNS

We are surrounded by symmetry and patterns, both natural and man-made. They can make for very eye-catching compositions, particularly in situations where they are not expected. Another great way to use them is to break the sym- metry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.

5. VIEWPOINT/ PERSPECTIVE

Before photographing your subject, take time to think about from where you will shoot. Our viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of our photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on.

6. BACKGROUND

How many times have you taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into a busy background? The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo. Thankfully this problem is usually easy to overcome at the time of shooting – look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn’t distract or detract from the subject. Silhouettes can be an incredibly valuable and striking way to do this well.

7. DEPTH

Because photography is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to conveys the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. The human eye naturally recognizes these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.

8. FRAMING

The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.

9. CROPPING

Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background “noise”, ensuring the subject gets the viewer’s undivided attention.

10. EXPERIMENTATION

Composition in photography is far from a science, and as a result all of the “rules” above should be taken with a grain of salt. If they don’t work in your scene, ignore them; if you find a great composition that contradicts them, then go ahead and shoot it anyway. But they usually prove to be spot on, and are worth at least considering whenever you are out and about with your camera.

— Andrew


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE


Check out our new show, ONE WILD LIFE, and subscribe to our YouTube Channel! 


Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
REMOTE WYOMING // ADVENTURE + LANDSCAPE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLORS + LANDSCAPE
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2018
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beginner, instructional, national parks, photography, travel, workshop

LIGHTROOM // BASIC WORKFLOW

Are you brand new to LightRoom Classic CC? Do you need some tips on how to create a more efficient workflow? Are you overwhelmed by your massive backlog of images?

Whether you are brand new to Adobe LightRoom, or you’re an old pro, my workflow tutorial will give you the basics and more so you can create your own efficient workflow.

Learn how to organize your images, create presets, cull, edit, and process in this 20 minute video.

For a limited time, I will have it on sale for only $9.99!

Click the image below for more info.

— Andrew


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE


Check out our new show, ONE WILD LIFE, and subscribe to our YouTube Channel! 


Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
REMOTE WYOMING // ADVENTURE + LANDSCAPE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLORS + LANDSCAPE
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2018
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education, instructional, photography, travel

Photographing // Waterfalls

Creating stunning waterfall and river shots is not always as simple as finding a compelling composition and just pointing your camera. There are some basic, and even advanced techniques that you need to consider.

I just returned from a three week road trip through Washington state, Oregon, and Northern California; one of the regions of the world with the most abundant waterfalls and cascades, thanks to the very high annual rainfall of the area.

Punchbowl Falls

Toketee Falls

Wahkeena Falls

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

I’ve shot waterfalls from Arizona to Scotland and beyond over the years, but none compared to the concentration and variety I visited recently… I was just blown away by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  The forests are lush with vegetation and the rivers run crystal clear and some even take on a deep blue hue.

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

The first concept you want to think about when photographing moving water is whether you want the water to blur or whether you want to stop the action. 9 times out of 10, your image will be more compelling and interesting with blurred water, so that means you will want a shutter speed of at least 1/2 a sec.  I prefer around 2.5 to 10 seconds to achieve the look I like.

But if you have an element of action in your image that needs to be stopped, you will want a faster shutter speed. Consider the image below. Although I would’ve liked the water cascade to be blurred and smooth, I knew it was more important that I stop the action of the cliff jumper… so I made a split second decision to change to a 1/125 sec shutter speed.

Cliff jumping at Punchbowl Falls

So, you might be asking, “What if it’s the middle of the day? How can you achieve such a slow shutter speed?” Well, that’s a great question.  I would refer you to an earlier post on neutral density filters.  But if you don’t have a solid or variable ND, you can often get close enough to the speed you need with your circular polarizer… Which brings me the next consideration to make; to polarize or not.

Proxy Falls

This series of images, shot at Proxy, Toketee, and Punchbowl Falls in Oregon are good examples how of using a circular polarizer can enhance your waterfall photographs. First, the polarizer will give you at least 2-3 extra stops, allowing you to utilize slower shutter speeds. But it will also cut the glare from the water, allowing the colorful water to take shape in your image. But perhaps my favorite reason for using the polarizer is because it will also cut the glare from the surrounding vegetation and make the greens pop like never before.

Proxy Falls

Toketee Falls

Punchbowl Falls

Two men wade to get a closer look at Punchbowl Falls

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

The next thing to consider, as I’m sure you’ve butted heads against already, is camera stabilization.  All these long shutter speeds do not work unless you have a very sturdy tripod. I have three tripods that I cycle between that are all great for different reasons and applications.  The best for waterfalls, is my Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod with 410 Junior Geared Tripod Head. It is heavy duty though, and if I’m flying to a location or backpacking in, I use my lighter Gitzo GT2340L Series 2 Aluminum 4 Section Tripod, with the same sturdy, geared head.

A good tripod will save you from many headaches in the field and heartaches when you get your images on your computer (or get your film back) and see that none or very few are even sharp.

Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls

But even with a hefty tripod, you will need one more piece of equipment… a remote shutter release. Canon makes two different kinds; the Canon RS-80N3  & the Canon TC-80N3.  I have both and like them, but they are pricey for what they are.

I recently stumbled upon the Polaroid Wireless Camera Shutter Remote.  It is wireless, which is fantastic for so many reasons (including the fact that I can shoot star pictures without leaving the comfort of my tent!), it is an intervalometer (so I can time-lapse, and shoot really long exposures with precision), and the price is right.

There is one way around the shutter release, but you have to set your timer delay every time you want to do a long exposure.  I would recommend investing the money in a decent shutter release, and I would even go with the wireless, intervalometer.

Having a good tripod and shutter release, whether wired or wireless, will ensure no camera shake, giving you the sharpest images possible.

Toketee Falls

The trail to Wahclella Falls follow the beautiful and serene Tanner Creek

The trail to Wahclella Falls follow the beautiful and serene Tanner Creek

Now that we’re done with the technical side of things, I’d like mention something more on the subjective/ artistic side.

Only in recent years have I begun to add people to my landscape images.  And it’s become a bit addicting. It’s a whole different mindset in many ways. But in practice, I simply compose the landscape image I want first, and then I look for the perfect (and most interesting) location within the composition to place the human element.

People admiring the majesty of Wahclella Falls

You may be like me and vehemently resistant to such an idea initially, but I would encourage you to round out your portfolio with interesting “people in nature” images. Unless you exclusively make your living from fine art print sales, you stand to make some decent coin from shots like this.  Both advertisers and editorial producers alike love this type of image.

A man is drawrfed by Elowah Falls

Another prime example of why I would go with the Polaroid Wireless Camera Shutter Remote… Sometimes you will be the only person available to place in your image. The wireless remote makes being your own model a real breeze.  Trust me, I have to do it all the time :)

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

Man hiking Proxy Falls

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

People admiring the majesty of Wahclella Falls

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

One of the trickiest things about photographing waterfalls is the spray. Powerful waterfalls will produce a spray or mist within a certain distance, and sometimes the shot you want is going to fall within that wet perimeter.  It is very difficult to keep your lens dry.  So what I found is you have to stand in front of the lens until the very last moment, wait for the wind to die down or shift, and then wipe the lens with your lens cloth, all the while jumping out of the way as you press the shutter on your wireless shutter release.  Needless to say, It’s not easy.

A man admiring Wahkeena Falls

So sometimes, you just have to roll with it.  The image above is after I got one good frame, I gave up trying to keep the mist from the front element of my lens, and a very impressionistic image was the result.  I ended up really liking the look and feel. I’m glad I experimented with a non-traditional shot.

Ferns and vegetation detail near Wahclella Falls in Tanner Creek

Along these lines, the last thing I think is important to mention (and this applies to any nature photography you might be in to); don’t forget see the beautiful details.  They are easy to miss sometimes, but when we are able to slow down, tune in to them, and notice the quiet shots, we are rewarded with unique images.

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
 
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instructional, photography, travel

Neutral Density Filter Basics

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
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instructional, photography

The Budgeting Photographer’s Best Friend

I don’t care if you’re an amateur or professional… photography is expensive.

That’s why I rarely buy brand new.

Canon has a refurbished section now that is full of basically brand new equipment, with the one-year warranty, leaving the budgeting photographer like me to save hundreds, or even thousands.

But over the years, another shop that has earned my trust is KEH.com.  No, they’re not paying me to do this.  I just recently had such an amazing experience, I wanted to finally give them some formal love.

I’ve been in the market for a 5D MK III for a LONG time.  Plus, an ever-growing long list of lenses of course.  So this month, the time came to pull the trigger on a new 70-200/ 2.8 and a MK III.

I researched the best deals for weeks.  This is my full time job, and I have to support my family, so the best deal (without going grey market) is what I need.

I was moments away from just purchasing both refurbished from Canon.  My budget was $4000, give or take a few.  The Mark III was running just over $2700, and the lens was about $1300.  Well, fortunately for me, Canon didn’t have either available at the time.  So I had to go looking elsewhere.

And I remembered my old friends at KEH.

They’ve been around a long time.  In fact, they perfected the industry standard for accurately rating used equipment.  I’ve bought lenses in the past from them and been very happy with what I got… but a camera body?

I don’t buy used cameras.  Factory refurbished maybe, but not used!

So KEH had an EX+ (the highest rated, just below NEW) Canon 5D MK III for $2802.  But here’s where it gets good.

Two days prior, I received an email from KEH saying they miss me, and want to extend a 10% coupon!  So let me make this long story a little shorter…

I ended up getting a nearly brand new (only 2500 shutter accusations) Canon 5D Mark III and a beautiful 70-200 F/2.8L IS together for only $3400.

And here’s the kicker.  They pay top dollar for used equipment, and I ended up selling my oldest MK II (well used) and a questionable 70-200/2.8 (that they’ll of course fix up to be gorgeous), for $1300.  So in effect, I came in at almost $2000 under budget!

That made for a VERY happy day.

And then I got the equipment in the mail the next day, and it may have been even happier.

The lens was better than described and the camera just as they said… basically brand new.

Looking forward to making some beautiful images with my equipment for years to come, and sharing them all with you…

Cheers!

— andrew


 
Come learn light with me… check out my new workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2014
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2014
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014

 

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digital darkroom, instructional, photography, workshop

Remastering An Old Favorite // Lightroom Tutorial

I’d like to think my style has changed… become more refined over the years.  So I wanted to show how I process my images now.

And what better way than working with an old favorite that needed a little “remastering”?

I hope this Adobe Lightroom 5 tutorial is helpful… please feel free to let me know in the comments, and tell me what else you’d like to see.

~ andrew


 
Take your photography to a new level… check out my new workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2014
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2014
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014
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