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Showing posts from February, 2013

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…

Adopting Rescue Dogs

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We currently have 3 dogs, all from local rescue sites and/or animal shelters: Leo the poodle mix, plus Stella & Peanut, our two yorkies. They are the stars of today's picture of the day.



We've had quite a few dogs over the past couple of years. My wife Ana had a habit of adopting dogs from the animal shelters, getting them all their shots, plus spaying/neutering; then at some point, for one reason or another they just weren't a good fit with our family, so she'd end up finding them a (usually better than ours) home via Craigslist. I used to joke that maybe we should declare ourselves a pet rescue so I could deduct some of the costs on our tax return.

Well for about the last year, we went from being a "pseudo" pet rescue, to actually working with a couple of them. For a while after I came home from Afghanistan last spring we actually didn't have any dogs in the house. But then our neighbor behind us decided to foster a couple of dogs from a Killee…

Replacing my MacBook Pro with a Chromebook

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Am I crazy?

It's getting to be about time to replace my 6+ year old MacBook Pro, especially since I appear to have dropped it (or dropped something on it) during my trip home from Arizona in December. I cracked part of the screen, and bent the DVD/CD slot so no disk can be loaded. Besides that, it's been heating up really bad lately, it doesn't like flash at all (I have to disable it in the browser anytime I'm not using it), and I've had two unsuccessful attempts at installing RAM over the past year ... worked for a month or two, then started causing Kernel errors.

Anyhow, it's time for something new.

My original thought was to get a Mac Mini. That way I could just transfer all of my programs and files over, hook it up to my monitor, and carry on without too much being different. I'm running TimeMachine backups to 1TB portable drive, so it really would be almost seamless. The major drawback would be price. Even though it's by far the least expensive Ma…

Why Do Little Kids Love Bandaids?

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The girls fall down pretty much every day walking home. Today was no different. They like like to pick flowers, pick up rocks, and chase butterflies as we walk across the big field near the school. Of course this means they're not always looking where they're going. Jaiden was the first to fall, but it was a minor spill, and she popped right up with barely a whimper.

Until we reached the other side of the field and crossed the road ...

Joey tripped on the curb and skinned her knee enough that there was a little drop of blood. Before she could start getting too upset, I offered that the cut looked bad enough to need a bandaid when we get home. The stopped the boo boo in it's tracks, she was happily down the sidewalk in search of more flowers.

Meanwhile ...

Jaiden now has a really hurt look on her face, and is closely examining her wrist to see if there's any blood ... and obviously disappointed that it appears to be a totally blood free scrape. Just before I'…

Making Our Own Valentine's Day Cards This Year

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This year, mommy is going to get an extra special Valentines Day card, that can't be bought in any store ...



Back in December, Joey and Jaiden decided to get dressed up in their colorful La La Loopsy duds and put on a mini fashion show for daddy. Of course I grabbed my camera and searched for spot in the house with some good light. They stood and sat on the stairs smiling and posing for a good 15-20 minutes. I got a lot of good pictures, but the consensus after I posted them on Facebook is that the one of above of two loving sisters having a kiss was by the far the best capture.

So when I started thinking about Valentine's day, it was almost required that I use that picture in some way or another. :-)

So I opened up my Pixingo studio, and searched for a card template. There was a whole section for Valentine's Day cards, and one above worked almost perfectly with the colors in the picture. I inserted the picture, and the front of the card is done!

LOL, now comes the real…