Organize Your Photos Easily With A SmugMug Subscription

Just the other day I was telling my kids about how careful you had to be when taking photos back in the day, since there were only so many stills in each roll of film. Nowadays things are so different. Whether you’re using a digital camera or your smartphone of choice, there’s no limit to the number of photographs you can capture on any given day. Ah, the artistic freedom that comes with taking photos. On the other hand, the feeling you get when you realize there’s a pileup of images you now have to edit and organize can be rather overwhelming. Why not let SmugMug take over the organization so that you get your freedom back? Find out more on the new version of Dad’s Pixels.

OMG! I’ve raised a bunch of entitled little brats!

Not really. The Fantastic Four are well-behaved, polite and mild-mannered, generally speaking but today I got home from work to some sort of Armageddon with Wifey on one side against the two boys on the other. The girls acted as simple spectators.

The kids want some of this. We can’t afford any of that.

It all came down to a now several-month-old craving for a PlayStation (3 or 4?) which due to our family’s finances has not been able to materialize yet. The yelling and finger-pointing escalated to the point where I had to intervene and make sure the boys understood, in no unclear terms, how things work in our family. Yes, I played the “We’re putting a roof over your heads, we’re clothing and feeding you; other kids out there aren’t that lucky” card but only because I knew darn well they were comparing themselves with their smartphone-toting, foreign-vacations-enjoying, semi-rich friends and I assumed it would be healthy for them to know there was another end of that spectrum; one where no one ever hopes to find themselves in; a spectrum we probably fit right smack in the middle of.   

In any case, I guess the old saying “all’s well that ends well” applies here, since following our conversation tempers cooled off and we actually had a very pleasant dinner together, exchanging jokes and anecdotes from everyone’s day.

Have you ever felt you’ve done it all wrong and raised nothing but spoiled brats? How have you handled similar situations at home? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Something great just happened… You just weren’t paying attention

Inspired by Carter Gaddis and something he wrote on his blog DadScribe, about people needing to hear something good every once in a while, I thought I’d contribute with a minor occurrence that recently took place in my neighborhood that made me realize not all is lost and we can still have faith in mankind.

First of all, a little bit of background. Venezuela, in case you didn’t know, is a pretty lawless place. You’re expected to routinely run traffic lights. At parties people blast music as loud as their stereo systems will let them with complete disregard for how late at night it might be or how early their neighbors might have to get up the following morning. If you don’t cut in line while trying to buy milk (yes, that’s something we do in Venezuela. We stand in line for hours when we need to buy milk) you’re thought of as a dumb asshole instead of a law-abiding citizen. 

In any case, try to keep this in mind when you hear what I saw take place the other day from my bedroom window.  You’re not gonna believe this – at least not if you’re a Venezuelan or have lived in the country for a number of years: This dude was walking his 2 dogs and guess what he was holding in one hand?! That’s right: a dog poop bag. Unbelievable! To give you an idea or try to put things in perspective you should take a walk on a public sidewalk or park and go through the experience of stepping around a minefield of dog turd left behind by their irresponsible owners. That’s how bad things are down here and that’s what made this individual’s act stand out and shine like a beacon in a sea of… well, yes. In a sea of crap.   

Our dog-walking, poop-collecting hero

It just goes to show that if you look hard enough you’ll be able to come across daily acts of kindness and decency that will make you realize it’s not all about Iraq, Ferguson or Venezuela. There’s good stuff happening all around us. Sometimes we just don’t notice.   

As added bonus here’s this gorgeous feel-good short film that’ll help you put things in perspective and perhaps see that not everything surrounding your life is as terrible as you once thought it was. Be advised: You’ll want to watch it with plenty of tissues or a large handkerchief by your side. Tears-a-plenty guaranteed. 

Afterlight finally available on Google Play

Following the pattern of so many apps that first come out on Apple’s App Store and then make their way to Google Play, Afterlight, yet another mobile photo editing tool, is finally available for Android fans at your friendly neighborhood Google Play store. 

Simplicity is the name of the game here, although the app does come packed with an impressive amount of tools, filters, and textures. There are 15 tools to adjust your images and as far as filters go, Afterlight has 59 of them, with some borrowed from other platforms and of course, the possibility of adding more though in-app purchases. Also, there are 66 textures to keep things different. As usual, once you’ve edited an image, you’ll be able to share it with other apps – Instagram, for instance; which Afterlight’s been seemingly built around. The app is $0.99 and the amount of features really justifies its small price. You can grab it here and please make sure you come back and leave a comment letting me know what you think once you’ve played with it for a while. 

August, a photo sharing website where you probably don’t belong

Yesterday I stumbled upon this post at Petapixel.com where they discussed the arrival of yet another player in the ultra saturated game of online photo sharing.

But these guys are different. First of all they’ve named their app after a month. August. How  cool is that, huh? (Yeah, I know; not very). Then, you’ll  only have access to the app once you’ve demonstrated you’re the real deal when it comes to the quality of your portfolio. I guess they’re trying really hard to keep your crappy photos elsewhere (read Instagram, Flickr and the likes).

Right, like this is the type of photo I’d be posting to August on a regular basis

So say they don’t let you in as a photographer. Don’t fret. You might still be considered worthy enough to join their artists’ community as a consumer. It’s not quite clear to me what a consumer’s supposed to do in August other than curate and perhaps help expose great work you find there through your different social media channels.  I’ve submitted my email to get in as a consumer/curator and once they let me in (or not) I’ll make sure I let you know what it’s like.

So will you try to join this rather snobbish photo sharing site? Is your photography that great? If you’d like to give it a try, here‘s where you can apply and hope the powers that be at August deem you worth letting in their precious little community. For the rest of you, fine photographers, there’ll always be SmugMug. Oh and remember you can subscribe to Dad’s Pixels and get semi-daily updates in your inbox about family, photography and the web.

How old were you when you died?

Alright folks. Time for me to get all philosophical on you. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re alive. At least physically alive. Chances are also, that your soul died several years ago. You’ve experienced death, you just didn’t know it.

During last Sunday’s mass I heard our priest say something that really got my attention: He said (quoting someone; I can’t remember who exactly) that some folks die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 70 or 80. He went on to explain that in everyone’s life there’s a defining moment; an event (or series of events) that causes you such trauma that from that moment on your soul is dead and only your body goes on living til it’s time to be put to rest. I know this all sounds very dramatic and yes, even downright depressing but I’m convinced that for you to experience the salvation Jesus Christ can bring into your life it is extremely necessary to remove the veil that has been cast upon us and turned us blind to our own suffering, so we can then identify what it is exactly that killed us all those years ago.

Coming clean

For me it was a couple of events that together ended my innocence; oh, I don’t know, some 35 years ago. I was probably ten and I had just gotten this super cool skateboard as a gift from my parents. I can clearly remember the wooden board with some sort of green anti-slippery material on its surface and its bright orange rubber wheels. I was going to have so much fun with that skateboard. But the first afternoon I took it out for a spin, a white Volkswagen Beetle pulled up next to me as a 20-something-year old girl sitting on the passenger’s seat asked nicely if she could take a look at my skateboard. I was naive enough to hand it to her, and just as I did she smiled, turned to the driver and softly said “let’s go”. Away they sped with my precious skateboard as I ran behind them, crying; begging for them to return what was mine. End of my innocence part I.

The other cause of my spiritual death happened right around that time but it left much deeper, hurtful scars. One fine afternoon I happened to be reading right outside my parents’ room when I clearly heard my dad talking on the phone to someone with whom he wanted to meet; this time in a different hotel. The rest of the conversation only confirmed my suspicions. My dad was cheating on my mom. My dad was having an affair with some woman. To this day there’s been only one person I’ve shared this with and that person is of course, my dear Wifey.

Our darkest hour is right before the sun comes up, they say

Time, and my Savior Jesus Christ have done all the healing. It’s all forgiven, I would like to think, so now I only hope and pray that I don’t turn out to be the reason my own kids experience some sort of ontological death later on in their lives, although chances are I will.

I guess that’s enough ‘fessing up for one day. It’s your turn. How old were you when you died? Do you admit that something in your life has killed you and that you’re in bad need of redemption? In bad need of resurrection?

Image: Light after Darkness by Jhong Dizon on a Creative Commons license.