21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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I Have Resurfaced

December 27th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Holiday Insanity

I am certainly not an exception. Who am I to think I would escape the frenzied pace at this time of year? It was more frenzied than I could have ever imagined leading up to and through this 2008 holiday season. I alluded to some of this insanity in my last post. Now I’m going to blog about it.

Has it got any sports in it?

Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

Yes, it’s all true, except for the fencing, torture, and revenge.

I’ve Been Tagged Again

Down To Earth Mama has tagged me again, hoping to uncover more of what she calls an enigma. The last time she tagged me, I didn’t bite. This time, I must come through.

“Oh blogger, will you post a photo?”

As you wish.

The punk-ass that she is, she tagged me after I just spent 20 hours on a Greyhound bus!

No, this isn’t the first photo I took. Shooting into a mirror is tricky.  However, this photo is completely unedited except for resizing. I didn’t even fix the white balance or Photoshop out the convenient carrying handle attached to my head.

Here are the rules….

1) Take a picture of yourself right NOW!
2) DON’T change your clothes, DON’T fix your hair… Just take a picture.
3) Post that picture with NO editing.
4) Post these instruction with your picture.
5)Tag 10 8 people to do this..

I don’t want to tag 10 people either. That’s a LOT, unless you’re über-popular like Busy Dad. I see that he’s already been tagged by Joe.

Self Portrait

Dad of Divas

Building Camelot

Buddha Belle

Mom is Just a Nickname

Dad’s Workbench

Israeli Mom

Dad Thing

21st Century Parenting

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Take Better Photos of Your Children – Use Window Light

August 4th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

You can take great photos today, with the camera you own right now.

twilli piePhotography literally means, “writing with light.” The quality of the light dictates the quality of your photograph more than the camera you are using. Finding great light will improve the quality of your photographs more than buying a new camera.

Finding the Light

One of the best locations for a photograph is next to a window, preferably one facing the north. Professional photographers spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on specialized lighting equipment to duplicate this quality of light in the studio. You can have it for free.

I am a big fan of using flash creatively, but knowing how to find great light is just as important as knowing how to create it. Besides, if you know how to find good light, you can use any camera.

What Settings Do I Use?

The best part about using window light is, you can fire away in PhD Mode, or “Push Here Dummy.” Just be sure to turn off the flash. You’re trying to avoid the harsh, unflattering look of direct flash here. There may be enough ambient light for the camera to decide flash isn’t necessary. Consult your camera’s manual to find out how to turn it off.

Twilli by the window.During the day, the light outside your house is several times brighter than the light inside. Don’t put your subject between the window and the camera, unless of course, you want a silhouette. Your camera may also have a “backlight” setting that helps you out in a situation like this.

I used my point-and-shoot camera in auto mode to take the photos you see here. I did a little tweaking in Photoshop, but with a little practice, you can get great images right out of the camera. You don’t have to plant your child right in front of the window. Open up those drapes or blinds and let the light come in. You’ll end up with a large and directional source of light that gives shape and definition.

twilli by the window

A Few More Tips

Your toddler is a fast little bugger. How many times have you missed the shot due to that darn shutter lag that point-and-shoot cameras still have? It’s gotten better, but there’s still a little lag time. It feels even longer if you’ve ever had the pleasure of using a DSLR.

  • A tried-and-true method is to do a half-press of the shutter to let the camera’s auto-focus lock on. This will take a half a second or so. When your little one is in the frame, press the shutter all the way down. This should increase the number of keepers you get. Don’t worry about perfect focus. Your point-and-shoot camera has some fudge factor here.
  • You can Google “the rule of thirds,” for the long explanation. The short version goes like this: don’t put your subject dead-center in the frame. A slightly off-center composition makes for a more compelling photograph.
  • Get down on the floor! People and children look their best when the film plane (or sensor plane) is perpendicular to the floor. This works for pet pictures too. Standing up and shooting down distors perspective and makes heads loom large. Full body length portraits are actually taken with the camera at waist level.
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Has it Really Been 9 Months?

May 8th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Twilli - then and nowRenee posted about Twilli reaching the 9 month mark today. We acknowledge this milestone on the 7th of each month.

Every expectant couple hears, “it goes by so fast.” Sometimes it’s followed by, “take lots of pictures.”

To commemorate the milestone, I used to set up the whole Strobist rig and dress her in a nice outfit. I haven’t done that this month… or last month. The number of photos I take of Twilli is on a downward trend. Maybe I just get a higher percentage of “keepers.”

Our video coverage has been spotty. It will have to step up soon. Twilli is quickly approaching the day she will take her first real steps. Just like we were ready with the “baby bag” during the last month of pregnancy, we must keep a video camera in a high state of readiness.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve neglected my family duty by not taking more photos. I have more digital imaging horsepower at my disposal than most of my peers. Now I realize I’d rather have a few great photos of my children than a bunch of mediocre ones.

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How to Organize Your Digital Photos

March 24th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Digital Photography Has Revolutionized the Way We Preserve Family Memories

disorganized photos

Within a week of getting your first digital camera, you already know why it’s so awesome to have one. It takes a little longer to realize the bad that comes with the good. You have a hard drive full of photos and they’re all disorganized.

My method of organizing photos requires no special software and works on any operating system. What’s even more amazing is, my method is free and easy.
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Instant Rebates on Nikon Cameras

February 14th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Just caught wind of some great deals on Amazon. I normally pimp the ‘zon on Fridays, but this deal is too good to wait another day. Your tax refund is on its way, maybe it’s already here.

Amazon is giving $100 instant rebates if you buy any of the following cameras:

The savings are deducted separately during checkout so take a short hop of faith and add the items to your cart. You will need to do that to see the discount applied. Select Amazon as the seller (if the option is available) otherwise, you’ll miss out.

The instant rebate on the D40 will bring its price down to point and shoot territory. If you’ve been thinking about getting a DSLR, now is the time. After showing off the photos you take with your new Nikon DSLR, people will tell you “What kind of camera do you have? Your camera takes great pictures!” You can smile and say, “My children love Harry Potter, Ms. Rowling! What version of Microsoft Word do you use?”

But wait. There’s more! Amazon is also offering rebates on select lenses too! Extend your reach with some of these telephoto zooms:

The 55-200 paired with the kit lens will give you just about every focal length you’ll need for general shooting. I’d spring for the VR version. VR (“Vibration Reduction”) is Nikonese for image stabilization. You need faster shutter speeds at longer focal lengths. VR is like having a virtual tripod. My point-and-shoot has image stabilization and it’s addicting.

They’re not pro-grade lenses, but they are a HUGE step up from the mega-zoom point-and-shoot you were duped into buying. Those silly 10x zoom cameras are totally worthless for sports photography. As long as your kid’s soccer game is during daylight hours, these lenses will be fine.

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