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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).
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