How to Find Great Movies to Watch

Amazed couple watching movie sitting on a couch at home
Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

Movies are terrible these days, right? Just superhero films and sequels? Yeah, no. It’s never been easier to find great movies to watch, both in the cinema or at home. Let’s dig in.

Finding Great, New Movies in the Cinema

A movie theater is the best place to watch movies: the big screen, fresh popcorn, and an attentive audience. This is a hill I’ll die on.

The problem is a lot of great movies are only showing for a week or two, and if you miss them, you miss them. Here’s how to keep on top of the latest releases.

Check Out Smaller, Arthouse Cinemas

If you go to a huge, multiplex, pretty much every screen will be playing the latest big-budget Hollywood film. I’ll concede that point. Those, however, aren’t the only places showing movies. Arthouse and small cinemas tend to play smaller films that are less widely released. One of this year’s sleeper hits, Free Solo, was actually released in September, last year. It just ran in smaller cinemas. It’s only when it won an Oscar that it broke into public consciousness.

lighthouse cinema
My small local cinema plays a big mix of movies.

Many other films that later go on to become cult classics or are successful on streaming platforms start this way too. The best thing to do, then, is to keep an eye on the listings in your closest small cinema. Sign up for the newsletter if they have one. If you see a director or actor you like, Google the film and see if it looks good. That’s how I find many of the films I watch.

Keep an Eye on Film Reviews

Film critics often get a bad rap because their views can run counter to what “fans” believe. Just look at all the drama around big releases like Captain Marvel, Suicide Squad, Aquaman, and The Last Jedi. And while it’s true that big flashy movies that do badly with the critics can be fun to watch, critics often have a point: Captain Marvel is one of Marvels better recent offerings, Suicide Squad and Aquaman are absolute messes, and The Last Jedi was a welcome change for Star Wars.

Even if you disagree with critics about the big movies, odds are you’re likely to agree with them a lot more when it comes to smaller flicks in which you don’t have any emotional investment. Nearly everyone adored Get Out and A Quiet Place.

rotton tomatoes

Find a film publication or even just a critic whose tastes broadly line up with yours and keep an eye on what they’re rating highly. Especially with smaller movies, critics will view previews so the reviews will be out in time for you to see them and then catch the movie when it shows. You should also keep an eye on aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to see what smaller movies are generating some buzz.

Finding Great Movies to Watch at Home

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How Much Money Should You Spend on a Camera?

website selling Nikon camera

Cameras are expensive. New ones can cost anything from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars so how much should you spend? Let’s dig in.

Figure Out What Your Budget Is

Before looking to buy a camera, you should sit down and work out what your maximum possible budget is. Once you start looking, it’s very easy to let that number creep up, and soon you’re spending your emergency fund, college savings, or rent money on a shiny new Nikon.

There are great cameras available at pretty much every price point so before seriously starting your research, make sure you have a maximum ballpark amount you’re prepared to spend.

For this article, I’m going to use a few example budgets to suggest potential cameras:

  • Less than $300
  • Less than $1000
  • Less than $3000

You can obviously use your own budget numbers, but these ranges are a pretty good starting point.

What Photo Gear Do You Already Have?

RELATED: How to Get Started with Photography

A lot of people, when they first get started with photography, overlook an important point: the camera is only one piece of gear. The lenses you have are at least as important as the camera—I’d argue they’re more important. You also need SD cards. Different kinds of photography need other gear, for example, for landscape photography you also need a tripod, and potentially some filters.

If you’re buying your second camera, then you probably already have some lenses and other gear. If this is your first camera, then you’ll also need to factor into your budget the cost of buying everything else. You can’t just buy a camera in isolation.

polarizer
A polarizer is just one bit of gear that’s useful for landscape photography.

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How to Set Up Your Own Website the Easy Way

It’s never been easier to set up your own website—and you’ve never had more options. Here’s what you need to know to get that website up and running.

Decide What You Need a Website For

Before starting, you need to consider the type of website you want. There are plenty of great options for getting started with a website, but they all have different advantages. What you need for an online business card or resume is very different from what you need if you’re planning an online store or news publication.

There are three rough kinds of websites you’re probably considering building.

  • A Simple Personal Website: If you just want a simple online presence that has links to your contact details and social media accounts, then you really don’t need a lot of website features. Many tools will be way more powerful than you need—and probably more expensive. A single page site that has your bio, a photo, and links will probably suffice.
  • A Full, Traditional Website or Blog: The next level up is what you most likely think of as a traditional website: Multiple pages for different things or a regularly updated blog. Small businesses or people trying to build their online reputation run these kinds of websites.
  • An Online Store: If you want to sell things through a website, you need a whole host of extra features that people running a simpler website don’t. This includes a shopping cart, the ability to manage stock, a way to process payments, and something to track orders and handle notifications. There are services that manage everything, but they’re more expensive and require more effort to set up.

Once you’ve assessed your needs and decided what you’re going to build, you can then move on to looking at how you’re actually going to run your website.

Decide How You’re Going to Run It

The days of hand coding your website from scratch are pretty much done—unless you need some incredible custom solution, which is way beyond what this article is about. There are easy to use services for whatever kind of website you need.

Carrd: Simple One Page Websites

carrd

For simple, one-page websites, Carrd is incredible. It’s free to get started, and the good looking, responsive themes cover pretty much any use case. I use Carrd whenever I need to set up a basic site quickly.

For $9/year, you can use a custom domain, add contact or signup forms, take payments using PayPal or Stripe, and remove the “Made with Carrd” branding. If you want something professional, fast, it’s the way to go.

Wix: Big Websites, No Coding

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What Is Post-Production or Post-Processing in Photography and Videography?

You’ve probably heard the terms “post-production,” “post-processing,” or simply “post” about movies but they also apply—and are equally important—to photography. Let’s break down what they mean.

The three terms—post-production, post-processing, and post—are, short of Hollywood movies, basically interchangeable. The “production” is what happens on set or location; it’s what you’re doing when you’re wandering around with your camera in your hand shooting photos or video. “Post-production,” then, is everything that happens after you’ve finished shooting, “post-processing” is all the processing that’s done after you’ve finished shooting, and “post” is an abbreviation for the two.

What Is Post?

So, we’ve established above that post is everything that happens after a shoot, but what does that entail? In most cases, it involves some (or all) of the following:

How much post-processing is involved and how long it takes utterly depends on the project. A professionally shot short film will spend months in post-production with each step being done multiple times, on the other hand, I can process a few dozen photos in an hour—as long as I’m not doing any major retouching.

Here’s an example of an image I’ve taken through the steps above in about 20 minutes. Here’s what it looked like straight out of the camera (I also had another few similar photos that I rejected in post).

And here’s what it looks like after.

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How to Take Better Photos With Live View on Your Camera

One camera feature a lot of photographers underuse is the Live View screen on the back. While it’s slower to line up a shot with Live View rather than just looking through the viewfinder, there are a few advantages. Let’s look at how you can use the Live View screen to take better photos.

See the Whole Image

Have you ever taken a photo looking through the viewfinder where you carefully cropped out some distraction on the very edge of the frame then, when you looked at the photo later, whatever that distraction was is still on the edge of the image? The reason for that is your camera’s viewfinder only shows most of the image. Generally, it’s about 95% (or 98% on better cameras). Here’s what that looks like.

While it’s not normally a huge deal, it does mean that you’ll sometimes need to crop away otherwise good pixels to get rid of a distraction you didn’t see in the viewfinder. With the live view screen, you see the whole image all the time.

See How Things Will Really Look

Not only do you see the whole image, but you also better see things how they’ll look in the final image. The viewfinder shows you the light that’s entering your camera and bouncing straight off the mirror to your eye. So that enough light gets through, the aperture is kept wide open. You won’t see if your image is correctly exposed or how the depth of field looks—at least until you press the DOF Preview button.

RELATED: How to Nail Exposure on Location When You Take Photographs

With the live view screen, your camera displays how the photo will actually look—or at least, a very good approximation of it. With longer shutter speeds, the live view screen won’t show any of the motion blur.

Zoom in to Get Focus

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