Blog The Story of the Fox 6/21/2012 7:57:40 PM Earlier this week I posted some photos of a fox that were taken last weekend.  The story behind those photos is one of coincidence and pleasant surprises along with some earlier disappointment.  Personal issues have made me stay close to St. Louis this year so I have concentrated my photography efforts in a small number of locations.  One of my favorites is Lone Elk Park where the county has free roaming herds of elk and bison along with a number of whitetail deer.

On Sunday I got off to a late start and decided to see what photo opportunities Lone Elk Park offered.  While there I was able to get a good photo of this wild turkey (one of three that I saw)

and some photos of this years bison calves like the one below.

Even so, the visit was something of a disappointment because of the limited number of animals seen.

As I started home, I decided to visit another park area, the Powder Valley Nature Preserve.  This is an area where I enjoy hiking in the winter and early spring.  I've seen a number of whitetail deer in the area and the Conservation Department also has feeding stations set up for the native birds.  Shortly after my arrival I was walking to the viewing blind near the feeding stations when I came across this doe at a salt lick about ten feet from the trail.

By moving slowly I was able to observe her for several minutes until she walked away undisturbed.  After looking for any feeding birds I decided to walk around one of the hiking trails.  Surprisingly, she came along the same trail and started feeding within three or four feet of where I was standing.  Had I seen nothing else, this would have made the visit a success.

I then moved back up around the visitor's center where I captured several shots of bees on the flowers in bloom like this one.

I also managed to get a couple of photos of this hummingbird on their feeders.

After this I decided to head home.  I was in my truck, leaving the parking area, when this guy jumped out of the bushes along the road and then jumped right back out of sight.  I paused for a moment and he suddenly jumped out again a short distance away.  Grabbing my camera I snapped off this shot thinking it would be my only opportunity.

Much to my surprise, instead of running away again, he decided to sit down and scratch. 

Each time my shutter snapped, his ears would perk up and he would look toward my truck but he seemed more curious than nervous.  He sat for two or three minutes offering several photo opportunities and then, shortly after the final photo below, bounded back into the woods not to be seen again.

I've never had the opportunity to photograph one of these guys in the wild before and doubt that it will happen again.  Even so, it motivates one to keep trying because you never know when a bad day will turn out to be really good.

I Hate Spammers 6/7/2012 10:22:49 AM I enjoy posting an occasional item to my blog here and really appreciate comments from those who read the posts.  Unfortunately the world is full of people who want to spoil things for the rest of us.  The target of my comments are the "spammers" who have nothing better to do than to clutter our blogs, email, and web sites with trivial, worthless, and sometimes harmful posts.

For those who view my blog, please be assured that I do not use it for commercial purposes.  I don't support the supposed online sales of products from Caroline Herrera, Boss, or any other manufacturer.  I won't ask you to share any personal information nor will I ask you to click on a link to any other site without a clear and full explanation.

I have been trying to delete spam comments from my blog on a daily basis but the garbage continues to show up there each morning so I suspect it gets added throughout the day.  My apologies to anyone who finds the spam offensive as I do.

Thoughts on the Lantern Festival 6/3/2012 10:47:30 AM

For the last several weeks, the Missouri Botanical Garden has been preparing for their big event of the summer, the Lantern Festival.  A number of Chinese craftspeople, both men and women, came to St. Louis to build a number of large displays from steel, silk, and a variety of other materials.  While these displays can be visited during the day, the real beauty comes out when darkness falls and the lanterns are lit to show their full colors.

Much of the construction took place in the Garden parking lot while some also occurred in place.  I've taken a few photos as progress was made and shared them on my SmugMug site ( and my Facebook site and other photos can be seen on the Garden's web and Facebook sites.

The Lantern Festival itself opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend.  I decided early that I wouldn't go to opening weekend because of the expected crowds and associated problems with parking and other things.  While I missed some of the extra events, I still believe that was a good decision.  Instead, I made my first evening visit on June 2.  There was still a large crowd but the Garden was well organized and prepared to support everyone.

Each Thursday - Sunday this summer (through August 19), the Garden will light all of the lanterns beginning at 8 PM and will be open for visitors until 10 PM.  As could be expected, when the lights first come on at eight, the effect is minimal because of the remaining daylight.  As it gets darker, the true colors and lighting affects really come into play.  I posted a set of photos from last night's display for all to view at .

I've really enjoyed taking photos of both the festival preparations and the lit lanterns and will probably continue to take photos of some of the displays throughout the summer.  At the same time, last night's efforts reminded me of some challenges associated with photographing events like this.

I made two trips to the Garden yesterday - first from seven to nine in the morning for early walking hours and then from six to nine in the evening.  The morning hours are some of the best for taking photos of the flora and fauna in the Garden because most people there are either walkers or other photographers.  Most visitors don't arrive until regular hours.  The evening visit was dictated by when the lanterns would be lit.   The two visits made for a long and tiring day (but I slept well last night :-)).

For me, an event like this really calls for the use of available light.  Few, if any, portable flash systems can provide enought light for large displays like those at the Lantern Festival and using artificial light could actually take away from the impact of the lantern lighting.  While there were lots of people using the flash in their smart phones or on their cameras, this probably added little to their photos.  Of course, available light means long exposures.  And this, in turn, means that some sort of camera support is needed to minimize (eliminate) camera movement.

I used a monopod for camera support.  While the monopod is better than hand holding the camera, it still isn't as stable as a good tripod.  The result was a number of images that were tossed because they were blurred.  Even so, the monopod was a good idea because the crowds would have made it difficult to use a tripod.  I saw several other photographers trying with mixed results.  If I go to another evening event I'm not sure if I will stick with the monopod or try to use a tripod even though it is less convenient.

The other problem with the crowd was finding good viewpoints to take photos where people would not block the shot or bump you while the camera lens was open.  Luckily my visit in the morning gave me some ideas for places where I could take photos that were a little out of the flow of most walking traffic.  Even so, I missed a few shots that I really wanted because the displays were blocked.

Although there were a number of challenges, I feel like the results outweigh any problems encountered and may do this again before the Lantern Festival closes.

2012, A Spring & Summer of Change 5/9/2012 10:10:12 PM As I sit here writing this post in mid-May, I can only say that 2012 has presented some of the biggest changes for me personally and professionally since my arrival in St. Louis in 1988.  Perhaps the only larger change occurred in 1993 when I retired from the Army and had to get a "real job" :^).  This year has presented changes in family life, work life, and even in the things I do to relax.

On the work front, we are seeing major personnel changes at the office.  The Dean of our libraries, along with two of her Associate Deans, is retiring this summer.  Over the next several weeks we will be assisting them wherever we can in their departures while at the same time getting ready for her replacement to arrive, complete with a new job title.  As might be expected, there is some concern about what the new person's expectations and goals will be yet we cannot stop our day-to-day work awaiting new guidance.  In addition to the senior management changes, we are losing a key person in our office this summer who will be very difficult to replace.  We aren't sure how soon we will be able to recruit for this position (because of the senior management changes) so everyone is having to pick up new tasks and pick her brain on how best to accomplish these things.  We are also seeing the departure of another person whose job was indirectly related to our office and seeing many of her tasks transferred to us, some temporarily and some permanently.

On the family side, unfortunately this will be the first full summer that my wife will be in a long term care facility.  This presents all sorts of new challenges and reduces the opportunity to do things that had become habit in the past like long trips around the US.  We also lost a couple of close family members earlier this year who will be missed greatly.

Obviously, the limitations on travel have affected my photography.  In the past, I concentrated on photography associated with the vacation trips and really didn't place a lot of emphasis on things that are available locally.  This year that has been reversed and, strangely, the total number of photographs taken within about 50 miles from home has outpaced the total number of photos taken by this time each of the last seven years (the time my photography has been fully digital).

There were also a couple of changes to the way I process photos, one expected and the other less expected.  The expected change was the upgrade of PhotoShop Lightroom to version 4.  The change was relatively seamless although using the beta version before the final release presented a few challenges.  The unexpected change was the upgrade of PhotoShop to CS6.  I had expected at least one more year before this upgrade.  As a result, I had just purchased Scott Kelby's extensive reference on PhotoShop CS5 just a few weeks before the new release was announced (there went a few dollars down the drain).  I really like both of the new software releases and am starting to expand the number of features that I use but I expect the learning curve will be longer than I like.

I also started an Image of the Day page, elsewhere on this site, to share some of my favorite photos.  Some of the photos there were taken as recently as a few days before they are displayed while some are scans of slides, negatives, and photos dating back to 1974.  I hope those who view these photos enjoy them as much as I enjoy selecting them.

Hopefully the number of changes will slow for the rest of the year -- I could really use a break :^).

Adobe Creative Cloud 5/3/2012 10:02:23 AM Along with the recent release, or planned release, of their new Creative Suite 6 applications and PhotoShop Lightroom 4 Adobe also announced a new product called Creative Cloud.  As the name implies, this product offering is different to Adobe’s traditional software distribution method where users purchase individual products or suites of products as either Option 1 -- boxed software or Option 2 -- a download.
At the same time, Creative Cloud doesn’t fall into the category of most “cloud” applications that are seen in the business world where the software runs on a remote computer with your local desktop only serving as an entry device. Instead, Creative Cloud is a subscription service that allows you to download selected software to your computer and run the application on your computer (doesn’t sound that different from option 2, above, so far).
What does Creative Cloud include?  All of the applications in Creative Suite CS6 (PhotoShop 6 Extended, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, DreamWeaver, Premiere, Flash Pro, In Design and others), connectivity to Adobe TouchApps, and, in the future, PhotoShop Lightroom.
There are, however, some major differences. First, Creative Cloud includes 20 GB of storage that can be used to connect your traditional desktop applications like PhotoShop with Adobe’s touchpad applications like PhotoShop Touch. Second, while individuals who purchase traditional products typically wait about two years for major software upgrades or improvements, Adobe plans to release these upgrades to Creative Cloud users on an ongoing basis. The third big difference is the potential for long-term cost savings for some users.
Let’s assume that the first two differences described above are of minimal interest to you. The question then becomes can I save money by using Creative Cloud? And the answer is, “It depends.” For illustration purposes, I’m going to use the one year subscription price of $49.99 per month for Creative Cloud (if you choose a monthly subscription, you will have different results). Here are some examples:
Scenario 1 -- I only use PhotoShop CS6. I purchased PhotoShop several years ago and now I upgrade with each new version. I don’t us Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, or any other Adobe application. A subscription to Creative Cloud would cost $599.88 for one year or $1,199.76 for two years. Upgrading your current version of PhotoShop would cost $199.00 every two years. Even if you were using PhotoShop CS6 Extended, the upgrade cost would only be $399.00 every two years. So, in this case, it’s unlikely that you would have any savings.
Scenario 2 -- I plan to purchase PhotoShop CS6 and upgrade with each new version. I don’t us Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, or any other Adobe application. A subscription to Creative Cloud would cost you $599.88 for one year or $1,199.76 for two years. Purchasing the full version of PhotoShop will cost $699.00 and each upgrade will cost about $199.00. If you were purchase PhotoShop CS6 Extended, the initial cost will be $999.00 and each upgrade will be $399.00. In either case, some savings in year one but these savings do not extend into later years.
Scenario 3 – I use a number of different Adobe products regularly. I purchase and upgrade each of them individually. The two products I use most often are PhotoShop CS6 Extended and Illustrator. I would also like to use other products occasionally like DreamWeaver and Actobat Pro but have not purchased them. In this scenario, you could purchase PhotoShop CS6 Extended ($999) and Illustrator ($599) separately and upgrade them about every two years (PhotoShop $399; Illustrator $249) or you could purchase them as part of a suite (initial cost $1,899 or more, upgrade $375). Either way, you will save money immediately by subscribing to Creative Cloud. While the savings drop in subsequent years, you still get a good deal. What makes this even better is that you can now also use other products like DreamWeaver (purchase price $399; upgrade $125) and Acrobat Pro (purchase price $449; upgrade $199) at no added cost.
So the bottom line is the more Adobe products you use, the more attractive Creative Cloud becomes plus you get the benefits of more frequent upgrades, remote storage, and the flexibility to add more applications when you need them.

PhotoShop and Filters 4/10/2012 9:51:44 PM I've been spending some time recently with the pre-release (beta) version of Adobe's PhotoShop CS6.  So far I really like this new release of the software although I will be the first to admit that I am not a PhotoShop expert.  One of the changes in the new version is the addition of an Oil Paint filter.  Using this filter, a photographer can modify the appearance of a photo so that it almost looks like a painting.  Of course there is a little more to it than a single mouse click but it is a relatively simple process.  While I really like this filter, it is important to remember that it doesn't work well with all images.

I've included two examples here.  In my view, the first photo was improved by applying the Oil Paint filter.  I felt like the original image (on the left) was a bit soft and that the lighting wasn't quite what I expected (this was an early morning photo, about thirty minutes after sunrise).  By adding the filter (on the right), many of the problems seemed to be less prominent so I was pleased with the result.  I used this photo as my Image of the Day on April 9.  I used another filtered image on April 10 that I also thought worked reasonably well.


I was much less satisfied with the result of adding the filter to this second image.  While I wasn't totally satisfied with the original image, when I added the filter, there was a clear loss of detail with no offsetting gain in overall aesthetics. In addition, the filter appeared to actually change the content of the photo - for example the gravel bar now more closely looks like a pile of tree limbs or something unidentifiable.  The original is on the left and the filtered photo on the right.


Bottom line, filters are great in some situations, not so good in others.  While they offer benefits, they can also be overused if care is not exercised.


Photo Critiques 4/5/2012 8:43:10 AM A few days ago I viewed an on-line photo critique.  While many of the comments by the reviewers were relevant and constructive, I found the overall critique somewhat offensive.  This was not because of the comments made about the photos that were reviewed but instead because many photos were simply discarded without comment other than "Don't take photos of this" or something similar.  As a result, no really useful information was provided.  I did take the time to send in a comment on the critique session (I critiqued their critique :-)) expressing my concerns.

Apparently many others expressed similar views including one person who accused the reviewers of being "mean".  These comments must have hit home because a subsequent critique used a different approach which I found much more positive.

At the same time, the reviewers pointed out something that was also a factor.  When we, as photographers, share photos on Facebook, Google+, or on most other sites we get little useful feedback.  Instead we have friends, family, and others who "Like" our photos or tell us how great the photos are or other really positive things.  While I like to have my ego stroked as much as the next guy, I also realize that not all of my photos are perfect.  Sometimes it would probably do me some good to be told I over exposed a shot or I cropped it wrong or something else to help me improve my photography.  Not something mean or derogatory, but something constructive.

There are some web sites focused on photography where you can get this type of constructive criticism.  You can also get it from a local camera club or photo group.  Unfortunately, if you post to those places most of your friends and relatives won't see the photos or the comments.

I will say that after seeing the most recent online critique session that I vowed to do two things:

- First, I will go back and take a more critical look at my work to see where I can improve (I did this with a small number of photos last night and there is a lot of room for improvement.).
- Second, even when I post a photo to Facebook or other social media, I will strive to make it a photo that would be worthy of a positive review in a photo critique session.

So the bottom line is that even though I didn't like the first photo critique, it made me think and will hopefully result in better photos in the future.

Foggy Morning at Botanical Garden 3/17/2012 7:54:32 PM Earlier this week the Missouri Botanical Garden had sent an update to members talking about what was now in bloom.  These are really some of the first flowers of spring in St. Louis so I decided to spend part of my Saturday at the Garden.  Saturday's are especially nice since the Garden opens at 7:00 AM which provides better opportunities for good light and smaller crowds (although there are lots of photographers :-)).  Today had an added bonus because it was a foggy morning which gives a totally different view of the Garden's many photo opportunities other than the flowers which are always nice.  This is one of my favorite captures from this morning and others can be found in my SmugMug library.

Elk Collage 3/13/2012 8:07:00 PM Elk (wapiti) from across the U.S.

Top row:  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Middle row:  Lone Elk Park, Valley Park, Missouri
Bottom row:  Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2 3/13/2012 12:48:15 PM
The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2/Scott Kelby, Berkeley: Peachpit Press, 2007 (223 p.)

To quote Scott Kelby from Chapter 1, “This is volume 2 of The Digital Photography Book and it picks up where the last book left off (so it’s not an update of that book, it’s new stuff …” In the same manner as volume 1, Kelby approaches this volume as though he and the reader were out together on a photo shoot and the reader asked how to do a particular task. The result is an easy to read volume, not overloaded with technical details but instead filled with useful information. At 223 pages, you get another 200 or so helpful hints or ideas on how to make your photography better.
Volume 1 provided broad coverage of almost every photographic subject. While volume 2 continues this coverage of multiple areas, the emphasis leans strongly toward “people photography” with longer chapters on lighting, building a studio, portraiture, and wedding photography. It also includes shorter chapters on landscape, travel, and macro photography but these are clearly not the emphasis of this volume.
Like volume 1, volume 2 closes with two chapters covering pro tips and photo recipes, or techniques used to capture selected sample images. In both volumes, these two chapters provide some of the most useful and easiest to read information. As is the case with the rest of volume 2, the emphasis of these two chapters is people photography. Kelby’s dry humor remains, primarily on the introductory pages of each chapter, and can be read or ignored as the reader prefers. As a tease, I found his story of his recent contract with National Geographic to be particularly humorous.
Peachpit rates this book as a Beginner Level volume but unless you are a true expert, any reader may find helpful information included. This is particularly true for photograhers who, like me, prefer areas other than photographing people.
Another good volume that is well worth the investment (by the way, you can get volumes 1, 2, and 3 as a boxed set at considerable savings). 

Lighthouse Collage 3/12/2012 8:29:03 PM A few days ago I saw a post from another photographer who had battled icy roads and cold conditions to get a great photo of one of Minnesota's lighthouses on Lake Superior.  I thought I would share a collage of lighthouse photos from Minnesota and Wisconsin from a warmer season for your enjoyment.

Top row (left to right):  Duluth North Pier Light, MN; Eagle Bluff Light, WI; Duluth South Breakwater Outer Light, MN
Middle row:  Split Rock Light, MN; Kewaunee Pierhead Light, WI; Cana Island Light, WI
Bottom row:  Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light, WI; Two Harbors Light, MN; Duluth South Breakwater Inner Light, MN


Bird Eyes 3/11/2012 9:48:40 PM I spent a few hours yesterday morning with my son and grandson at the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, MO.  The birds at the Sanctuary are rescued or injured birds there for rehabilitation, injured birds that cannot be released back into the wild, and captive birds, often trained, that are used for educational purposes.   Many of the birds, but not all, are birds of prey.  The photo below shows close up views of the eyes of nine birds.  Eight are birds of prey, one is not although even this bird shares a fish diet with many of the birds of prey.  Can you pick the eye of the bird that is not considered a bird of prey?  (The answer is below the picture).

Answer:  The center eye on the top row is an American White Pelican which is not considered a bird of prey.

Top row (Left to right):  Red-tailed hawk, American White Pelican, Andean Condor
Middle row:  Bateleur Eagle, Bald Eagle, American Kestrel
Bottom row:  Eurasian Eagle Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Long Crested Eagle

The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1 3/9/2012 3:26:29 PM

The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1
/Scott Kelby, Berkeley: Peachpit Press, 2006 (218 p.)
The first volume of a series of four (as of March 2012) books written by Scott Kelby on digital photography techniques, this book quickly departs from the typical reference volume filled with both comments on how and reasons why a photographer should do anything. Instead, Kelby approaches this as though he and the reader were out together on a photo shoot and the reader asked how to do a particular task. The result is a 218 page book that contains about 200 one-page hints on how to make your photography better.
While you can read the book cover to cover as I did, you can just as easily pick it up and read a chapter or even a page or two on a specific topic of interest. Each chapter is devoted to a general area of photography like flowers, weddings, landscapes, and sports and most can easily be read in a single sitting.
For those who have not read other books by Kelby it may take a little time to appreciate the humor that he injects throughout the book. Although this is primarily limited to the introduction and first page of each chapter, it occasionally sneaks into other locations. If the humor bothers the reader, they can skip the introductory pages with no loss of content. For the rest of us, it offers a nice break as you are going through the book.
I will be reading the other four volumes of this series over the next few weeks and add comments on them as they are completed.  Peachpit rates this book as a Beginner Level volume but unless you are a true expert, any reader may find helpful information included. Chapter 11 may be of particular interest to more advanced photographers. In this Chapter, Kelby discusses techniques for taking specific photos which can be useful when trying to capture a certain mood or appearance.
Overall, a good book that can be read by photographers at all levels regardless of the type of digital camera they use (even those who use their smart phone as their only camera may find some of these tips valuable).

I Have a Smart Phone -Do I Need a Camera? 3/9/2012 11:37:56 AM I’m sometimes asked the question, “I have a (insert smart phone name here), why do I need a camera?” There really is no easy answer to that question. For some, the smart phone with its built in camera may be all you ever need. For others, the limitations of the smart phone may make it impractical for most or all of their photography needs. (A brief apology here for the length of this post.)
When I was growing up, almost everyone had a camera in their home. Probably the most common type was the Kodak box camera that used rolls of 620 film and, as often as not, it was loaded with a consumer grade black-and-white film. “Real photographers” (those who were making money in photography) were typically equipped with a large format camera on a heavy wooden tripod or, for field use, some type of medium format camera, possibly a Hasselblad or some type of twin lens reflex camera.
As time moved forward, the Kodak box camera was replaced by smaller, lighter cameras like the Instamatic line that used a smaller film format that was in a cartridge making loading much simpler. At the same time, the 35mm single lens reflex became more popular for professional photographers although the studio cameras and medium format cameras remained.
Today, many photographers have moved to a totally digital environment, a process that may gain even more momentum with Kodak’s recent discontinuation of even more film options. In the digital world, the type of camera used seems less important while emphasis has been placed on the number of megapixels (millions of tiny dots) that can be captured on a camera’s digital sensor and transferred to the digital storage media. We still see cameras that sort of look like evolutionary descendants of Instamatics (point-and-shoot cameras) as well as those that have camera bodies and lenses like their 35mm and medium format predecessors. As the initial question points out, we also have cameras built into our smart phones.
So how do you know whether you need a camera or if your smart phone is all you need?
The first question you need to ask is “What will I do with my photos?” If you will only display your photos in relatively small sizes on the web (places like FaceBook and Flickr) or print standard size photos (3” X 5”; 4” X 6”, maybe 6” X 9”), then the camera in your smart phone may be all you need. A five or six megapixel camera can easily fill these requirements. (The iPhone 4s has an 8 megapixel camera.)
Will you be taking photos where you are close to your subject or far away? In most cases, if we are taking photos of our children we can get fairly close. In this case, the smart phone camera may be okay (see the next question). If, on the other hand, you are taking pictures of birds or dangerous wildlife where you can’t get close, then you may need a separate camera with either a built in zoom lens or interchangeable lenses.
How active is your subject? One of the problems with photographing children is that they don’t seem to be still for very long. If your smart phone introduces any delays between when you push the button and when the photo is taken then action shots are going to be much more difficult. A separate camera virtually eliminates this as a problem.
There are probably other questions that you need to ask as well but these are some basics that everyone should consider. More importantly, take those photos and preserve the memories.

Built to Last 3/5/2012 1:38:36 AM Recently I posted some photos of the remaining buildings of the Pevely Dairy complex in St. Louis that is currently being demolished.  The image that originally captured my attention was two of these "milk bottles" that were built into the walls near the entrance to the corporate headquarters.

This triggered some thoughts about how businesses in the early to mid-1900's took pride in their buildings and planned to use them indefinitely.  As a result, they made their identity part of the building.  A few more from around the St. Louis area are shown here.

This building is on Kingshighway Boulevard near "The Hill" and "Shaw" neighborhoods.  The company was apparently founded in the early 1900's and bottled beverages, possibly seltzer water, for the local area.  As far as I can determine, the company is no longer in business.

The Wallace Pencil Company was headquartered in Maplewood, MO.  While it was purchased by Dixon Ticonderoga in the 1980's, the headquarters building remains (used by other businesses) and still displays the original logo.

The Scullin Steel Company went out of business in the 1980's.  The corporate headquarters building remains on the west side of the city and is now used as offices for Copying Concepts, a supplier of copiers, printers, and office equipment.

American Pulverizer is the only company of this group remaining in their original building.  The company which manufactures industrial equipment like metal shredders continues to use this building on the west side of the city.

And Yet Another New Product 3/2/2012 7:26:07 AM As my previous post noted, this has been a busy week for technology and photography manufacturers.  This morning I awoke to read, both online and in USA Today, than Canon has announced the release of the new Canon 5D Mark III.  Preorders are now being accepted at some, if not all, Canon resellers.

The new 5D Mark III features:

  • A 22.3 megapixel sensor
  • 61 focus points
  • 6 frames per second
  • Dual memory card slots that allow both CF and SD cards
  • Video clips up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds in length
Of course, all these new features don't come cheap -- price according to USA Today is $3,499.00.  The USA Today story can be found at

Canon also announced a new Speedlite 600EX-RT flash, Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT, GP-E2 GPS Receiver and the WFT-E7A Wireless File Transmitter. Canon's press release can be found at

Lots of New Stuff 3/1/2012 7:27:18 PM The last week or so has been interesting to those of us who are involved with computers and photography.  I thought some of these points were worth sharing again here for those who may not have seen these things elsewhere.

The first item is actually a couple of weeks old.  On February 16, Apple announced their latest operating system for the Mac, OSX Mountain Lion.  Mountain Lion brings the Mac OS closer to the iOS used on other Apple products like the iPAD.  More information on Mountain Lion can be found at

On the 26th, Adobe announced the release of the PhotoShop Touch app for the iPad2.  While not a full featured version of PhotoShop, Touch includes many of the key features of the full program and the price is right at $9.99.  The product can be downloaded now from the Apple Store.  More details are available from and several other sources (do a search in Google or Bing).

A third Apple related story is that Apple has scheduled a major press event for next week.  While the subject has not been announced, early indications are that Apple will officially announce the release of the iPad3.  Rumor also has it that for the first time the iPad will be available in two sizes.

There was also action in the Windows world with the availability of the Consumer Preview (think beta version) of the Windows 8 desktop operating system,  In addition, for data center managers, Microsoft also released the beta version of the Windows 8 Server operating system.  To try the new OS, start at  Be sure to keep in mind that this is not the final release so it may have bugs or be incompatible with your computer or software.

And, finally, Wacom released the Intuos 5 tablet earlier today.  The new tablet is a significant improvement over the Intuos 4 tablet.  It also offers a wireless option for all models which was only available on select models in the past.  The new tablet comes in at least three sizes:  small, medium, and large (no kidding) ranging in price from $229 to $469 (without the wireless option) from B & H Photo-Video.  Details at,

The Digital SLR Expert: Landscapes 2/28/2012 9:03:40 PM

The Digital SLR Expert: Landscapes
/Tom Mackie, William Neill, David Noton, Darwin Wiggett, and Tony Worobiec, Cincinnati: David and Charles, 2008 (144 p.)
This is the fourth photography book that I have reviewed as part of the Missouri Book Challenge. When I read the introduction my initial thought was “Finally, a book by Canon shooters,” since the other three books were by Nikon shooters. I also thought that this book should be a fairly quick read since it was only 144 pages and about 2/3 of the book was taken up by photographs.
I was somewhat disappointed on both counts. First, once I had read the introductory materials, there was little reference to photography gear other than in the technical notes accompanying each of the photos. Second, while the material presented in the book was fairly complete, each set of two-three pages addressed an individual topic or technique and there was little or no segue between these groupings. As a result, I found it difficult to read more than five or six pages at any one sitting. This was further complicated by the extremely small font used throughout the book (younger readers may not find this problematic but my eyes just aren’t what they used to be J).
While I found the overall body of the book difficult to follow, there were small hint blocks scattered throughout the text which many will find helpful. The book itself is divided into five chapters with one chapter written by each of the authors so you do get different perspectives as you move from chapter to chapter but it might have been more useful had the views of two authors been shared in each of the chapters.
Many of the sections include tips on how to use PhotoShop. The unfortunate thing is that because the book was published in 2008 these techniques are geared toward PhotoShop 3. The same techniques are possible in PhotoShop CS5, and presumably in 4, it may take some searching to locate the specific tools or techniques referenced.
After struggling through this book, I would probably give it 2½ to 3 stars of 5. It is definitely not a book for a beginning landscape photographer.

UPDATES - Railroad Bridge and Small Stone Church 2/26/2012 2:53:21 PM On the 19th I posted two pictures of a railroad bridge near Labadie, MO, along with comments about why one of the photos didn't work for me at all and the other, while acceptable, didn't capture my original vision of the bridge.  This morning I was able to go back to Labadie and was much more successful in capturing what I originally wanted - a side view of the bridge that captured many of the details of the bridge, especially the multiple angles.

This was very close to what I originally found appealing in the bridge and today's image uses the road as a leading line which was unexpected.

The second update today is a follow-up from my post on the 24th about preserving history through photographs.  In that post I mentioned a small stone church that may be razed in the near future to make way for commercial development.  I was also able to get some photos of the church early this morning.  One is included here and others are in the St. Louis Architecture section of my Gallery.

For the story of the church, check

Preserving Our Past 2/24/2012 7:05:36 PM A few days ago I posted these three photos (slightly larger) in the St. Louis Architecture section of my Gallery.  At that time, the large World War II era smoke stacks in the left photo were being razed for safety reasons (pieces were falling off and endangering workers on the ground) while the building with the embedded milk bottle art work had been protected by the local preservation subcommittee.


The smoke stacks are now gone and yesterday's headline indicated that the preservation subcommittee's recommendation had been overridden and demotion of the dairy building had been approved.  Demolition of the building along with another large smoke stack on the property is expected to occur early this summer.

While I have mixed feelings about the need to physically preserve all older buildings, particularly where safety or environmental issues are involved, the loss of these structures made me ask, "What role do we have as photographers in creating and preserving a record of our architectural history?"

In the time I have lived in St. Louis, I've seen several historic or semi-historic architectural features pass into oblivion including at least two large drive-in theaters, a "no-tell motel" on old Route 66, and a historic house on the campus of a local high school.  There have probably been others that I am unaware of and there will be more in the future like the dairy complex and an old stone church that may soon be facing the wrecker's ball.

Do we, as photographers, have an obligation to record images of these structures before they are gone?  If we do, should these images be more in the photojournalism, recording exact details, or can they use a more artistic approach highlighting significant portions of the structures and their use while ignoring other parts of the structure?  How can we make these images available to future generations?

I'm not sure I have the answers to these questions, or even strong opinions one way or the other, but weather permitting I'm going to try to get out this weekend to take photos of the little church and the smokestack at the dairy.

UPDATE 2/25/2012 -- After a false start this morning (dead camera batteries), I was able to get out and take some photos of the smokestack at the Dairy complex (posted in the St. Louis Architecture area of my Gallery).  The demolition company already has signs up at the complex -- just two days after demolition was approved.  I'm going to try to get photos of the stone church tomorrow.