Saturday, March 23, 2013

Copperas Cove Easter Egg Hunt 2013


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Taking Pictures of Lightning is Not That Hard

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 release every 15 seconds for about 5 minutes or so.

Out of the 18 pictures I took, this bolt just happened to show up in one of the frames.

I downloaded it to my computer, and spent literally about 8 minutes in Aperture "cleaning it up" (changed the white balance, sharpened, added some contrast and viginette, and cloned out some of the dust spots that inevitably show up when I shoot the sky at F11 with my 8 year old camera).

As is wont to happen with many photographers, I'm not nearly as impressed with this particular image as some of my friends are.

If I wanted to capture a really "good" lightning pictures, I would have planned a little better:

  • Dragged out my tripod and remote shutter release

  • Scouted out a location with something more interesting in the foreground than my neighbor's houses

  • Focused the lens to infinity before it got dark

  • Done some test shots to try to figure out exactly which aperture/shutter speed settings would really work best

  • Stayed outside a lot longer than 5 minutes ... even if I already had some "good" captures

  • Spent a LOT more time doing post processing.

But you know what? None of that was really my point. I'm of the opinion that provided you have a camera with manual setting, and you've read enough of the instruction book to be able to change the aperture and shutter speed, there's no reason YOU shouldn't be able to capture a picture at least as good as the one in this post the next time a thunderstorm rolls through your neck of the woods.

Keep havin FuN!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Do You Have a Commissary Rewards Card?

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 guess we'll find out in an hour or two how well it worked.

I will warn you, there wasn't a really big selection of coupons. I only found two that I wanted to use. Buy hey, it's $1.60 that I'm going to save, while only expending a couple of minutes of my time ... worthwhile enough that I'll plan to log onto the from now on before I head to the store.

If you have a military ID card, and don't have one of these Rewards cards yet, Todd's Tip would be to get on before your next commissary trip. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

How to Justify Backyard Weeds

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.

yellow flowers

look at my flowers

... 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!

Friday, March 1, 2013

How to Send a Totally Unique Birthday Card .. for Less than the Priceof a Store Bought one

It's my daughter Haley's 18th birthday in less than a week. According to her mom, she's really into Zebras lately. So I made her a card ...

Now I could have run down to the store, searched to find a birthday card with some sort of a zebra theme .. paid $3-$5 (if I actually found one) .. then hope I remember to get to the post office before her actual birthday. (I'm getting old, I forget to run those sort of errands sometimes).

But I didn't do that.

Instead, I simply sat down at the computer, opened up my Pixingo studio, uploaded the zebra picture (which I took during one of my trips to the zoo), and created a totally custom card .. including the inside (which I won't show you, 'cause it's private ;-)).

It cost me 75 cents ($1.50 for retail customers) + .46 postage for an 8.5 in x 5.5 in glossy flat card. It was printed in Arizona the same day I hit submit on the design, and is already in the mail on it's way to Virginia, where Haley lives.

Quicker, easier, more convenient, and less expensive than doing it the "old fashioned way".

I can't imagine ever buying a card at the store again.

... lol, unless of course I pull a "dumb Todd" trick, and just forget to make one until it's too late to mail. :-D

Keep havin Fun!

p.s. I also made a card for my friend Cille (who's birthday is the same day as Haley's), but she reads this blog, so I won't post a picture of that one.