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Showing posts from 2013

What Does A Weatherman Do?

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Jaiden and Joey share their thoughts about what daddy does at work ...







How To Take Fireworks Pictures

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With the 4th of July Holiday coming up on Monday, I bet quite a few people are planning to go out and try to get some cool fireworks pictures ...


While I am by no means an "expert" on fireworks photography, I have captured a few nice images over the years (including the one above). As such, I feel I'm qualified to offer up a few ...

Tips for better fireworks photography this 4th of July
Use a tripod. Keeping your camera steady is especially important when shooting at night, or with a longer exposure. (If you have a dSLR, you might also consider locking the mirror up, and using a remote shutter release device)

Set your camera for a 1 to 5 second exposure. If your camera has the capability, you can use either "shutter priority", or manual mode. If you have a point and shoot camera, set it to the "night-time scenery mode". By using a longer exposure, not only will you avoid having to "guess" when the firework is going to explode in the sky…

Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful 2013

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I'm tempted to say I had fun this morning, but I don't know if I'd really call picking up trash along the side of the road "fun". But I did help clean up Copperas Cove .. our new home town.

I was browsing Facebook last night, and I saw that the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce page had posted a flyer inviting people out to the cleanup:


I figured there was a reasonable chance that I might be up by 9am, and we didn't have anything else planned until after lunch, so I told Ana I was going ... and about 8:30 this morning, I actually got up and got ready.

We all met up over at the GC Service parking lot, were they had coffee and doughnuts to eat, passed out t-shirts and safety vests, and explained how things were going to work.







I was selected to be part of the crew that would be cleaning up Ave D .. which is the road I drive down every day to and from work. We all drove over to the Sherman Williams parking lot for a second meet up. There I was given my t…

Copperas Cove Easter Egg Hunt 2013

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Taking Pictures of Lightning is Not That Hard

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So you'd really like to take cool pictures of lightning, but think it's probably beyond your capabilities ...



Well guess what?

It's really not that hard.

See that picture up above? I took it last night, and most of my Facebook friends really seem to like it. They are seriously impressed with my mad photography skills.

Funny thing ...

That picture was not planned. I'd hoped to get some thunderstorm pictures earlier in the evening, but after the sun went down I pretty much gave up and put the camera away ... until I heard the thunder.

I quickly grabbed my camera, and turned the dial to manual. I set it at F11 and a 15 second exposure. Changed the focus to manual, and attempted (in the dark) to focus on the distant horizon. I then looked around the yard for a place to put the camera down. I settled on the edge of the trampoline, with a hula hoop under the front of my lens to prop up the angle a bit.

I then sat down behind the camera and pressed the shutter rel…

Do You Have a Commissary Rewards Card?

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Coupons loaded digitally onto a card. Sounds like they did this for us guys. I'll be honest, when I go shopping, while I'm not opposed to using coupons, I'm normally not willing to go to any extra effort to collect them.

lol, I'm the dude who is proud about the $.75 I just saved on my $257 worth of groceries. :-)

Yesterday I stopped by the Fort Hood Army Wives expo, where my wife was volunteering. One of the tables was set up by DECA (Defense Commissary Agency). We were drawn by the offer of free candy for the kids, but while I was there they also gave me one of these Rewards cards.

It just so happens that I need to go food shopping today, so this morning I sat down and registered my card. It was pretty easy, I just entered my information and the number from the back of the card. After my account was set up, it brought me to a page full of e-coupons. I "clipped" the ones I was interested in, and apparently they've been loaded onto my card. I…

How to Justify Backyard Weeds

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So our back yard is not as nice as it probably could/should be. But hey, this is Texas, I seriously doubt we were ever going to have a lush green lawn, living in a place that seems to be in a state of perpetual drought. That said, I'd think I'd prefer that the weeds not take over either.

Except ...

The girls LOVE Flowers. Doesn't matter if they come from "acceptable" flowering plants, or just your average weed.





... and if they find em in the backyard, you better believe they're gonna pick em.

One of these days I'll get out there to kill all the "bad" flowers, and maybe even plant a real garden for them to admire (and let's be honest, probably destroy). But in the mean time, the girls are happy with the flowers we do have, and daddy gets to feel slightly justified in his laziness. lol, seriously, they Like the weeds ... as long as they have flowers. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]

How To Take A Picture Of The Moon

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We have a nice almost full moon out tonight, and just after sunset it was inviting me to take a picture of it from my front porch. I have to admit upfront, that I did almost no preparation. Simply grabbed my camera, which happend to have a 70-200 F4L lens attached, leaned against the pillar to steady myself, and snapped off a few frames.

When I ran inside and loaded them onto the computer, it was almost immediately obvious that I wouldn't be sharing any of those shots.

... they were all way overexposed, with no detail at all.

Crap, I forgot how to take a picture of the moon.

So if my problem is over exposure, I need a faster shutter speed, a smaller aperture, or both. Ok, let's try this again ...

I manually set my camera to ISO 100, F11, and 1/400 sec exposure, and when back out to lean against the pillar.

The picture at the top of the page is what I got. It's not the greatest moon shot in the world, but for a spur of the moment, run outside and snap away, I'…

Weather Girls

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I'm such a responsible dad. At the first sign of an approaching thunderstorm, instead of telling my girls that they need to come inside, I simply grab my camera, and make them part of the shot. :-)



Reporting live from our backyard .. we expect rain & hail any minute now!

Rest assured though, they were (relatively) safe the whole time, and actually had fun trying to stand up in the wind gusts. At first I was just out in the backyard taking picture of sky. I was using a 17mm Tokina lens on my Canon 20D, so I could get some nice wide shots of approaching thunderstorms. But then when I saw the girls jumping on the trampoline, I decided to try to include them in the pictures. I really like the depth of the shot with the wide angle lens. lol, and my little models definitely made it more than just another ominous sky picture ... Joey my youngest looking like one of those crazy weather channel reporters, broadcasting from the teeth of the storm. :-)

I think for the rest of the spr…

New HEB Plus in Copperas Cove

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I finally made my first trip to the new HEB Plus in Copperas Cove ...



I'd been sent on a mission to retrive some chocolate covered strawberries.



That's quite the Valentine's day scam they've got going. $5.49 for five strawberries. lol, next year I'm just going to get a carton of strawberries and a bag of chocolate chips to melt so I can dip them myself. :-)

But back to the new HEB ...

In case you've never been to Texas, HEB is an acronym for Here Everything's Better. Judging by how packed the parking lot has been since the new store opened about 2 weeks ago, I think it's safe to say that this is many Texan's favorite store. And this one is apparently special since it's an "HEB Plus" .. which from what I can gather means that it's not only bigger than the old store, but it also carries some non-grocery items like t-shirts, electronics and small furniture pieces. To be honest, I didn't spend a lot of time exploring the sto…

The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You

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I almost didn't have time for a "picture of the day" yesterday. Fortunately, as I was driving Johnathan home from school, we got stopped at train crossing. Since I had my Nexus S smart phone in my pocket, I decided this was a good opportunity to get my daily picture.

This is the result ...



I kind of like it.

Possibly could have been better if I'd had my Canon in the car. But then, would I have had the right lens on it? If I have the opportunity to plan my picture taking, obviously I'm going to bring my "real" camera. But let's be honest, for the majority of good picture opportunities that I may randomly come across, my best chance of capturing them will be with my smart phone.

So, I'm glad it's at least "capable".

[todd-sig]

What camera do you take most of your pictures with?

Tissue Over The Flash For Soft Light

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I don't know about you, but I hate to use the pop-up flash on my camera. But sometimes you just have no choice, even shooting with wide open aperture and high ISO, it's just not light enough. I saw something on a youtube video a few weeks ago (and I wish I could remember when/where so I could give credit), about how in a pinch you could put a piece of this tissue in front of your flash to soften the light, and cut down on the harsh shadows.

Of course I had to try it ...



The subject was my sick daughter Jaiden, laying on the couch in our living room with the only light coming from the TV to my left, and the hallway behind me. I was probably about 10 feet away from her, using the pop-up flash, with a piece of tissue held out about an inch or two in front of the flash.

I think I need a little more practice with this technique. But for a first attempt, I was happy with the way it turned out. The shadows behind the bowl and the couch are from the TV light. I really should h…

Playing with the Kindle Fire HD

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Ana took the Kindle Fire HD with her to Washington. Jasmine is very happy that she's home .. the tablet that is ;-)



She kind of missed her mom too.

We got two Kindle Fire HDs for Christmas this year. One is shared between mommy and Jasmine, while daddy and Jaiden share the other. Mine and Jaiden's is full of books and videos, while the mommy/Jas tablet is mainly loaded up with games.

They really like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.

In our picture of the day, Jasmine was taking a break from the "fun" games to play something slightly more educational; hangman I believe.

I'm tempted to write a mini review about our experience with the Fire HD, but since it's only been about a month and a half, and since this is our first experience with any tablet (so I can't really compare it to anything), I think I'm going to hold off for a little while ... other than to say that we're generally happy, and feel like we're getting our $199 worth.

[todd-sig]

p.s. …

Could a Family Live Without Satellite or Cable TV?

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I know a lot of single people don't have cable or satellite; they watch all their tv on the Internet. I wonder if a family the size of mine could do the same?



For now it's just an academic question, as we got Directv when we moved into our new house in August of 2011 .. so there's still about 7 months left before we could even consider canceling without penalties. The TV is often on in our house, but the majority of the time it's tuned to Nick or Disney Jr, and the kids don't really seem to care whether the shows are new or repeats.

The truth is, most of what they watch thru the Directv box is also available from Netflix, Hulu Plus and/or Amazon Prime ... all of which we have. The same really holds true for me. I don't have many "must watch" shows, but of the ones I do enjoy, most if not all are available from one of the three services above. Even my wife Ana, who would be the hardest to convince that giving up TV is even possible, has been get…