Run to the ROM Contest

If the $20 off ROM coupon code (use the code: ‘HOLIDAY’ ) wasn’t enough in my last post. I’m currently running a Instagram contest to win a free ROM Family/Dual membership.

If you’re interested, hows you can below:

 

1) Follow me on Instagram @snappingus and ROM @romtoronto.

2) Leave a comment on this post by tagging one friend:

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve partnered up with @romtoronto to giveaway a Family/Dual Membership. Membership is valid for a year and here’s how you can enter to win: 1) Follow me on Instagram @snappingus and ROM @romtoronto. 2) Leave a comment on this post by tagging one friend. 3) Multiple entries ARE allowed as long as you tag a different friend in a SEPARATE comment. Contest closes on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2017 at 11:59PM EST. 1 Royal Ontario Museum Family/Dual membership (Approximate Market Value $149.00). This contest is open to legal residents of Canada only, excluding Quebec. Contacted Contest Prize Winners must answer a skill testing question in order to claim their prize. No purchase necessary. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associate with, Instagram, nor is Instagram liable for any actions of this contest. For full contest rules, please visit http://dadmodeon.com/index.php/rom-contest/

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

Note: Multiple entries ARE allowed as long as you tag a different friend in a SEPARATE comment.

Contest closes on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2017 at 11:59PM EST.

1 Royal Ontario Museum Family/Dual membership (Approximate Market Value $149.00). This contest is open to legal residents of Canada only, excluding Quebec. Contacted Contest Prize Winners must answer a skill testing question in order to claim their prize. No purchase necessary. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associate with, Instagram, nor is Instagram liable for any actions of this contest.

 

Full contest details can be found here: Run to the ROM – Contest Rules

The First Night From A Year Ago

With my daughter just turning one yesterday, I had some time to reflect back on what a crazy first night it was when she came into this world. Behind this confident looking dad constantly posting Instagram photos of how wonderful being a dad is – lies a memory of a traumatic, life changing first night at the hospital. A night that has forever shaped this dad, and is now in the back of his mind whenever the inkling of having a second child comes into conversation.

The dad is more impressed with the lights than the baby.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


You know when you buy Ikea furniture and before you build, you go through the instructions and feel a little overwhelmed? That’s kind of like becoming a parent. You know what the end product looks like, but the process of getting there is what’s confusing and intimidating.

Babies: Assembly Required

You realize that the end goal is you becoming a competent and loving parent, but in order to become that, you need to go through so many confusing and trying steps.

That is what I realized that first night when she arrived.

I remember that the first night after she came out, when her mom was recovering and I was lying with her skin to skin on a makeshift couch bed, she was so tiny and so delicate.

I thought to myself:

“Oh sh*t, I have a daughter. Oh sh*t, I’m a dad now.”


That moment, I felt like everything that I had prepared myself for was useless.

Skin to Skin and Sing to Sing

I envisioned how I would be as a dad, and I envisioned how it would be like to have a baby. But when it finally happened, I never actually thought about process of become a dad.

Basically, for those first early moments, I just did stuff I saw on TV and movies.

Seriously, at one point in my hysterical mindset I thought, “Oh I must sing this song to her so that she’ll have an emotional attachment to it and be calm in the future whenever I sing”

I talked to her and told her how everything was going to be fine and life is going fantastic.

That was all a lie of course.

I mean can you imagine sleeping peacefully in a warm toasty bed only to be forced out to the cold winter streets – wet and naked?

I’d be pissed and freaked out.

For the rest of the night I remember her waking up and crying every one and a half hours. And I remember getting up each interval changing her diaper and bringing her to mom for feeding.

After the feeding I would put her in a loose swaddle and rock her so that she would fall asleep.

It Ain’t 5:05 In The Afternoon

All that crying. 

It sounded like they cross-bred one of those rubber chickens with a pterodactyl.

What a truly terrible sound.

I felt bad that she was crying and disturbing her mom, so I just started walking around the maternity ward shoeless with a tiny baby in circles.

At one point I even thought, maybe if I walk her over to the nurses desk, they’ll see how distraught I look and help me hold her for a bit.

Nope.

They just politely smiled and gave me a “your-wife-just-went-through-labour-and-you-better-hold-on-to-that-newborn-look.

Fair enough.

Basically I was so tired and overwhelmed, and I thought:

Shhhhhhh*t I have a daughter now, and thiiiis is how it’s going to be?


I really didn’t think it would be that hard.

But it was.

And it’s something that I’ll never forget.

Ever.

Of course things got better little by little as each day passed. And when we finally were discharged from the hospital, we felt relatively confident that we were able to do this.

And we were right.

As the weeks turned into months, and the months now became a year life is pretty sweet.

“Don’t drop baby, don’t drop baby.” ??

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


As I write this, my daughter is quietly taking a morning nap, and last night I even slept for 7 hours!

Life is good right now.

Really good.

Yes, there still are tough days and tough nights. But nothing can measure up to that first night.

I think the experience I gained on that first night was exactly what I needed to prepare me as a dad.

And that’s the thing about becoming a parent, you can read all the books, go to the pre-natal classes, or talk to seasoned parents about their experiences. But when the moment comes and a life is gifted to you, you forget everything just learn on the fly.

And you’ll never forget. Ever.

Once assembled, babies are great.

 

A Dad’s Review of the FujiFilm X-T2: Great Camera, Also Great with Kids

Last month, I mentioned on my Instagram feed that I had a new toy to play around with.


Since then I wanted to take as much time as possible before writing this review.  Between the nighttime feeds, and the daytime emergency baths due to explosive poopy diapers, I’ve snuck in some hands on time with the new FujiFilm X-T2.

I’ve basically taken this camera with me wherever my daughter and I go – restaurants, supermarkets, walks, malls, you name it – it’s with me. To the annoyance of my wife, carrying it wherever we go meant stuffing an already overfilled diaper bag.

I’m also a very forgetful person, so to add insult to injury, there were some multiple times where we were all strapped in ready to go in the car, only to have me say…

“Hun, can you go in the house and get the camera??”

It’s not that I forced myself to take this camera out for this review or anything, I genuinely want to bring it out because it’s so fun to shoot with. Plus the fact that when you’re a parent, you need to multitask as much as possible; I learned that time is no longer on your side and you must combine leisure and work as much as possible.

I don’t think you realize how much free time you had prior to being a parent until you have kids. Thank goodness I can combine my photo taking hobby with my journey as a dad.

There just aren’t too many hobbies that are conducive to raising a baby…like say…..skydiving, or drag racing, or knife juggling, or watermelon tossing. 

Watermelon Tossing is pretty similar.

Actually…watermelon tossing might work…I mean they are roughly the same size and weight. Hmmmmm…

Before I digress any further, some of you may be wondering: “How did this guy get a chance to test out such a rad camera?”

Well, FujiFilm Canada stumbled upon my previous x100T review, reached out to me, and asked if I wanted to test drive their flagship mirrorless camera.

They saw that I was less that satisfied with the X100t’s autofocus. So they offered to let me test the new X-T2’s capabilities.

You see? If you work hard enough and complain about stuff objectively, sometimes the right people will listen.

(Dreams do come true kids!)

If you’re reading this you probably have your mind set on purchasing this camera anyways, but why not get a little more insight, perhaps a different perspective.

A Dad’s Perspective

 

Yep, we have a security system.

Unlike the other reviews that you’ve already read around the internet, this review is solely from the perspective of a parent who wants to use the X-T2 to take pictures of his kid. You probably do not need to be convinced that the X-T2 is a fantastic camera.

But the question here that I’ll try to answer is, “Is the FujiFilm XT2 good camera for kids?”

Let me start off by saying that I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review. I do not gain or lose anything from either praising or critiquing the FujiFilm X-T2.

As always for those who don’t like to read  essays, here’s the TL:DR version of this review:

If you have the money, get the camera and pick up a fast prime lens. The kit lens is a little slow in terms of focusing, but a fast prime lens would do you wonders when capturing your kid….and beyond.

For those who wants a little bit more detail, let me continue with talking about the autofocus.

Autofocus

Okay, so let me just start by saying when I was sent the camera I was provided not only the X-T2 camera and XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM kit lens, but I was also sent the (35mm equivalent) XF23mm F/1.4 prime lens.

I have to say, that I was not too impressed with the kit lens, in terms of capturing my moving blob of a daughter. I initially thought that I had it in the wrong lens settings or profile, but after checking all possible areas, I came to the conclusion that the kit lens was not providing what I needed for what I wanted to shoot.

I don’t want to discredit the lens, as it does work wonderfully for wide and landscape shots. It is a very capable lens for other tasks, but if you’re chasing a baby around with this camera, I would highly recommend shelling out the cash for a prime.

The Fuji colours straight out of the camera

Actually, I think you absolutely should pair this camera with a decent prime.

As I mentioned above, upon request FujiFilm sent me the XF23mm F/1.4 along with the X-T2. Most of my time with the camera had this lens mounted on it.

The combination of this lens and the X-T2 body is simply perfect. I won’t bore you with the specs and details, but what I will say is the image quality that this lens produces is simply fantastic. Combining that with the way the body processes the images, you get a wonderful combination.

Okay, enough gushing, how was the autofocusing?

I can happily say that it was on point, and accurate almost 90% of the time. As I also shoot with a Canon DSLR and their 50mm and 85mm prime lenses, I have a pretty good sense of how it feels to shoot with a camera that is able to autofocus properly. I am happy to say that the AF on the X-T2 felt just as good.

The sharpness of the XF23mm Lens

The X-T2 with the XF23mm lens is one incredible combination and is an exceptional pairing to take in focus shots of your constantly moving child.

Size and Handling

I think I have pretty average sized hands. While this camera is not as small as the Fuji X100T, it is still manageable when trying to shoot with one hand and strap. This is where we get into the Mirror vs. Mirrorless camera territory, and what I can say is, size and handling is really where a mirrorless camera shines over their mirrored counterpart.

Comparing it to my Canon 6D, when you think in terms of image quality per handling, the X-T2 is easier and smaller to handle.

Sizing up the two Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF23mm

With that in mind, (and with chasing around a kid), the smaller body size is certainly helpful. As parents, we really do need to grow another hand and arm, but until we’ve mastered appendage cloning, we need our tech devices to be as easy to handle as possible.

The FujiFilm X-T2 isn’t without it’s faults of course. At the end of the day, packing it away in a diaper bag can take up quite a bit of room. At least the x100T was fairly flat and rectangular going into a bag. With the X-T2, especially with a lens mounted presented some difficulty when we tried to close the bag.

Image Quality

As I already gushed about in the earlier parts of this review. The images this camera produces is simply incredible.

As a parent and photography fanatic, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to shoot with this camera. Some of the photos that I took with it will be future “keepers.”

At the end of the day, this is all that really matters: The photos.

I can go on about colours and megapixels, but simply as a dad I am so happy that I was able to capture great candid moments of my daughter that will now last a lifetime.

But I can happily say, as an Instagram user, not having to dump your photo through Snapseed and posting directly straight out of the camera is a time saver. And even when I process a photo, they are minor touch ups.

Video Capabilities

This is kind of a new area for me. But I was able to test of some of the 4K capabilities of the FujiFilm X-T2 and I must say that with the XF23mm F/1.4 lens mounted, I shot some pretty sweet footage. Again, with a quality lens you’ll get quality shots, and this is no different when shooting video.

Here’s a short clip I made of my kid sitting at a restaurant:

Conclusion

Okay I know what you’re thinking: for $3000 worth of camera gear, you better get everything you need in a camera and lens. The thing is the FujiFilm X-T2 with the XF23mm F/1.4 prime lens will fulfill most of your child taking photography needs. Having this camera to chase around my almost one year old daughter was an absolute pleasure.

The gripes that I had with the autofocus on the the x100T do not apply to the X-T2, but then again this combination of body and lens is twice the price of that camera. I had very little issues capturing my daughter as she was either crawling towards or away from me.

If you’re a parent who is solely using this camera and lens to take photos of your kid you will certainly not be disappointed.

With that said, only if you have the budget for it, I highly recommend getting the FujiFilm X-T2 and XF23mm F/1.4 prime lens as you will certainly not be disappointed.

 


I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos in this post. If you are interested in seeing more XT-2 photos or my other photos (I also shoot with a Canon 6D and FujiFilm X100T), do check out my Instagram feed where I post daily.

If you really liked this review and are already considering purchasing an XT-2 please consider purchasing through my affiliate link. Since I do not run any ads on this site this is the only way for me to pay for my web hosting. Of course there’s zero obligation to do this, but if you want to help me out, this would be the best way to do so!

Fujifilm XT-2 Amazon Link Here! 

Thanks again for reading this review, now if you excuse me I have to toddler to chase. 🙂

Why Every Parent Needs a GoPro

This is not an endorsement, I have not been provided any product or monetary incentive to write this. This is simply a dad having an epiphany on the value of recording video of his ever growing baby, and I just so happen to use a GoPro Hero.

 

I suppose the title of this post should be “Why Every Parent Needs to Video Record their Kid”, but that for some reason sounds a little pervy – so here’s Why Every Parent Needs a GoPro.

Front ShotSince the start of summer, I have ventured into the world of video making. No, I have not become a vlogger – my life is far too uninteresting and I do not have the charisma and youthful energy for it. But instead I have made an effort in recording and editing home videos of my family.

I already capture my day-to-day life as a new dad through my instagram feed and this blog. But I discovered recently the wonders of recording video – and that got me realizing that this is something all new moms and dads should do. I don’t intend to make this post a GoPro Hero review, but because it’s been what I’ve been using – so I’ll throw in some thoughts about it.

I purchased the base model GoPro Hero for my recordings and obviously it doesn’t have to be the GoPro brand. In fact it can be of any action-cam variety like Sony’s FDR line or the Xiaomi Yi cameras. It really doesn’t matter the brand, and  I think  most parents who are looking into buy a camera would do enough homework ahead of time.

For instance, my three major criteria for buying an action camera in general are simplicity, affordability, and durability. The GoPro Hero that I purchased just so happened to fit these requirements.

Simplicity

I would say I’m pretty tech savvy. But if I wasn’t, I would still be able to figure out how to use this camera. 

Some would say missing LCD, I would say calculated simplicity
Some would say missing LCD, I would say Calculated Simplicity

And I think that’s the whole point of these action camera, they want to be as user-friendly as possible so that you can focus on shooting.

Although for the uninitiated, I did find for some people (hi wife!) that they pointed the camera the wrong way the first time they used it- which naturally lead to some hilarious close up videos. But truthfully, it would take a regular person maybe 10 minutes to figure out how to turn it on, record, and turn off.

Straight off the bat, you’ll notice that the GoPro Hero does not have a LCD display to view your videos. At first I thought would be disappointed without this feature, but I quickly realized that by not having a display, it allowed me to focus on recording my baby while keeping the camera steady.

With an ultra wide-angle lens shooting at 170 degrees, all I really need to do is to ensure the camera is centred. I simply learned to trust that the camera would capture what I want it to capture – and for the most part it does it’s job.

More importantly, by a simple press of a button, I am able to quickly record whatever is happening.  This has been especially useful, as I been capturing all of those “first-time” moments with my daughter.

Durability and Handling

I’ve taken the GoPro underwater in a lake, let the sun and wind blow at it while driving 100 km/hour, I’ve dropped, slammed, and kicked the device and it’s still going strong. In a bigger endurance test, the GoPro has even been pitted against my 10 month old’s mouth.

The Ultimate Endurance Test
The Ultimate Endurance Test: A 10 Month Old

This speaks to the purpose of this device. In contrast, I have an enormous Galaxy Note 5 as a phone, and to add to my struggle: I have butter fingers. Pulling out my phone with one hand and recording a video sideways is pretty difficult, and often times I risk dropping the phone. With having a dedicated device to record videos while I’m chasing a baby around, I can afford to fumble and drop the GoPro without worrying about a cracked screen.

The ability to start recording with a press of a button is refreshingly simple, and in my dad realm, I need all the simplicity in life, with how complicated life can be as a new dad.

I Got Butter Fingers
I Got Butter Fingers

Affordability

Yes, this is was an older model, and but I still think I got a pretty good deal for it at under $150 CAD. For it’s price, if I ever did break it, or lose it, I won’t be losing too much sleep over it – compared to say losing my X100T, or my Canon DSLR.

These kids are expensive – and we parents need to be fiscally responsible, I simply can’t afford to spend too much on a video camera, and the price point actually fits my needs. In other words: I’m a cheap dad.

By nature of this camera being a base model, it actually works to my advantage, as when it’s time to edit these videos, my three year old computer has enough resources to actually edit the videos at a decent pace.

The newer models record in 4K with image stabilization etc…but if I were to realistically edit those type of videos, I would immediately need a computer upgrade to keep up with the specs. Right now, my videos are recorded at 720P 60FPS and my system handles it just fine.

In an ideal world I would love to record and capture at the highest resolution – but again, I’m trying to be a fiscally responsible parent here. Plus, I don’t think my wife would appreciate me falling down the gear and gadget rabbit hole of… “well now that I have this, I need that to work with it… then I’ll need to buy that!

She ain’t buying it, and therefore neither will I.  ?

Learning Stuff: Video Editing 

The superwide lens means, distorted but unique captures.
The super-wide lens means, distorted but unique captures.

Another totally unexpected thing with recording home videos was the amount of knowledge I gained from trying to figure how to edit the footage. If you were to tell me a year ago that I would know how to produce a short movie with video effects, text, and music synced along the way, I would not have believed you. The fact that I was able to learn and develop video editing skills was pretty awesome. In a generation dominated by YouTube and Snapchat – videos are here to stay. So why not pick up on these skills, so that you can at least try to help your kids when they eventually try to create something with videos down the line?

Granted my baby is only 10 months old, by the time she’s old enough to do this kind of stuff, I’m pretty sure she’ll be doing holodeck-like VR stuff. And I’ll be the cranky old man saying stuff like, “Back in my day,  we recorded in 4K!!”

Conclusion

I honestly did not think I would ever become a “video” person. Whenever I watched videos of people I thought, “Who the heck cares about this bozo in front of the camera?” But you know what? Now I care about the bozo and the baby bozo in front of the camera, and videos have become a thing when it comes to family outings and excursions. I love the ability of reliving the day, or better yet compare my baby’s cheek sizes from one movie to another.

I also get the added bonus of having the future of option comparing my receding hairline from year-to-year. The way I see it is, I might as well put in some work now, so that I won’t regret not doing it.

Hairline aside, I feel very fortunate to realize the benefits of video recording these little and big moments, cause even now I get to compare how fast my daughter is growing up.

So if you’re a parent who is on the fence about whether or not you should do home videos of your kids, there’s no better time to start now. Pick up a camera and start making movies, cause before you know it your kids will grow up faster than your hairline recedes.

Work Sample:

I guess it wouldn’t be a post about a video camera, without video. Here’s proof of the video editing stuff that I was talking about:

 

Feeding time is extra cool when she busts out these moves. ?

A video posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

 


I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos in this post. If you are interested in seeing my other photos (I also shoot with a Canon 6D and FujiFilm X100T), do check out my Instagram feed where I post daily.

Thanks again for reading this review, now if you excuse me I have to toddler to chase. ?

building instagram account for dad bloggers

Building a Successful Instagram Account As A Dad Blogger

I’ve been using Instagram for over three years now. I started off posting silly photos of my dog; later I tried to show off my worldly mileage by becoming a wannabe travel photographer; then to a street photographer creeping at strangers; then to foodie who only ate at the same places; and now to guy who posts photos of his baby.

Suffice to say, Instagram has been the manicured and groomed mascot to my online life. So when I finally decided to transform my Instagram persona to a dad blogger, I tried to gather all my years of experience to figure out if there is a secret formula to building a healthy and engaging account.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post, you probably had the same question as me in thinking, “How does a dad blogger like me get more followers on Instagram?” If you’re not a dad blogger, don’t worry, these points are very valid as it can be used for anyone who wants to increase their Instagram engagement.

Face it – as dad bloggers, we’re hardly ever stand a chance when it comes to having a strong Instagram following. Most of us are regular Joes, who do not have nearly as much to offer to the Instagram crowd as the youthful and energetic teens. (Man I sound like an old man.)

In a crowd of dad bloggers, there’s probably only a handful of Instagram Dad bloggers who are the true superstars. But you know what? That’s totally fine, cause what we lack in numbers, we can make up in quality interactions.

I hate to talk about numbers, as my numbers are embarrassingly low still. In fact, I have yet to hit the 1000 followers mark, which in today’s age is pretty basic. However, within the past three months I noticed that my follower count has dramatically improved from 200 followers to now close to 500.

What’s the secret?

Well, for the past few months I’ve employed the following three rules:

  1. Creating a consistent gallery style

  2. Posting genuine comments to similar accounts

  3. Liking and following similar niche accounts

Okay, I’d admit, this is nothing new and I’m sure many of you have already tried this strategy. But if you tried and stick with these rules, I guarantee you that your engagement and follower count will improve dramatically.

 

1. Creating a consistent gallery style

Early on with my Instagram account, I would basically upload a photo I considered “nice.” Here’s how my gallery looked like a few years ago:

screenshot_20160822-003830.png

As you can see, there are some pretty interesting shots, but none of them really follow a consistent theme. You see some photos with borders and some without; some shots with colour, and some without. It’s basically a metaphor of how messy I am as a person.

Visually, this is not appealing, and for a prospective new follower, this is something that they don’t want to see. They’re thinking, “I liked this photo of Red Pandas, but why are there now photos of school buses?”

The main thing here is to post consistent pictures, and more importantly, use a consistent visual style. Fast forward to my gallery now:

screenshot_20160822-002752.png

 

Visually, it looks more consistent. While I still have the occasional shot of food (a dad’s still gotta eat), or a shot of some awesome trees, the style and colour of the photo is still consistent throughout.

The takeaway here is that for new follower’s you want them to know what to expect from your feed, and what they’ll get is a visually consistent gallery.

 

2. Posting genuine comments to similar accounts 

I think our brains now automatically filter out Instagram comments like, “Nice!”, “Cute!”, “Great shot!”, etc. It’s simply not genuine. If you want to get strong engagement for your photos, then you need to do the same for others.

How to take a candid and intimate shot like this one in three easy steps. 1) Pre-make that candid happy dad facial expression. 2) Hold baby high up to your cheek. If your baby likes savoury salty foods use your face sweat to your advantage. 3) Take 30 shots until you get it right. Simple right? ?

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀Ingus (@snappingus) on

If you want to have quality and meaningful followers, then you need to attract them with quality and meaningful comments. Unless you’re The Rock, or David Beckham, you won’t have a hoard of followers liking your photos and following your account. So put in the time and the results will pay off.

Most of the comments I get are from people whom I have developed a rapport with. If someone comments or likes your posts, be sure to take some time to look at their account and comment back.

So instead of using generic comment, really talk about what you liked about their photo, as well as how it relates back to your kid. You’ll find that if you comment thoughtfully, the engagement and following will come naturally.  If you want quality, you have to put in quality. There’s no other way.

 

 

3. Liking and following similar niche accounts

There’s no faster way to attract the people that you want to attract that to like your niche group. So in this case this will be other dad bloggers. This ties in to the previous point of putting in quality, well it certainly applies to liking other people’s content. The more you like, the better you increase your reach.

If your feed and account comprises of people within your niche, you’re more than likely to have your posted shared or commented on, so try to like what aligns with your brand, and you as a daddy blogger.

So there you have it, if you try and employ these three strategies for the next little while, I assure you that you will not only increase your Instagram engagement, but you will also enjoy using Instagram a whole lot more.

Good luck and let me know if it’s worked for you.

 

And also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram as well. 🙂