Friday, July 15, 2016

July 2016 Meeting Notes

The July meeting was chaired by President Geri Fenton. 

Welcome to Patty who is just getting started in photography, Gary who enjoys wildlife photography, and Jim from Vancouver who likes to photograph the area around Lake Pepin.

Leon educated us on Motion in Photography – We can either freeze motion or embrace motion.  To freeze motion, use a fast shutter speed (1/500 or more).  Bright light and high ISO also helps get a faster shutter speed.  To embrace motion, use a slower shutter speed (generally 1/60 or slower).  Adding a ND (neutral density) filter or even a polarizing filter can help slow down the shutter speed.  Another way to embrace motion is to try panning, where you use a slow shutter speed and track a moving subject – the result being the moving subject that is in focus with a motion-blurred background.

MN State Parks license plate - The new license plate will be available from the DMV this fall as part of the ongoing celebration of the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails. The cost will start at $60, plus tax. The total includes a one-time $10 fee for the plate itself and a minimum $50 contribution (renewable annually).  Proceeds from license plate sales will help fund the operations and maintenance of Minnesota state parks and trails.  The plate includes park admission. See more details here.

Show-n-Tell

Mary reported there are 10 fawns on Picnic Island, but they are hard to see because the grass is so tall (and there are lots of bugs).

Sher reported there is an elusive Green Heron that has been visiting Snelling Lake.

John C shared more photos of the LiIlydale eaglets and also photos from his nephew’s glider taken over snow-capped mountains.

Chris was published in the Owatonna town booklet!  Chris says to hashtag your images when posting online – it will help to be found in online searches.

Sher was our July presenter.  She enjoys many types of photography, and chose to share some of her favorite photos and stories of birds, barns, and bugs.  Sher shoots with a Canon SX50 that has an incredible 1200mm equivalent zoom! 

For birds, Sher shoots out her windows at home and also makes her way around the Twin Cities.  She showed lovely captures of Eastern Bluebird, Blue Jay, Indigo Bunting (from Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden), a Robin bird nest, Northern Flicker, Baltimore Oriole, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpecker and more.  She always tries to incorporate an interesting background.  Her images from the Fergus Falls rookery were wonderful and a lot of the personality of the birds could be seen.  The Green Heron in all its comical poses was especially entertaining.  She had images of a Yellow- and Black-crowned night heron, and a particularly cool image of a Great Blue Heron after having caught a big northern!  My favorite was the lovely duckling on a lily pad leaf with a blooming white flower.  From Sherburne Wildlife Refuge, she captured a lovely silhouette of the eagle’s nest against a beautiful sunset.  And so many more…

Barns – Sher likes to capture barns in the winter and spends a lot of time working the scene, oftentimes going back at different times of the year or season.  She especially likes it when she can compose her images so there is some sort of shadow on one of the barn walls – like tree branches or a windmill.  She showed an amazing assortment of barns from right around the Twin Cities – off 55 near Rockford, Dearwood Apple Orchard, Rogers (round barn).  Sher invites anyone to just ask her for locations – she is happy to share.  Sher is also a watercolor artist and will sometimes paint her images to remove backgrounds and create even more works of art. So much talent!

You can tell Sher spends a lot of time with her photography because even her bug collection was full of great close-ups of bees, spiders, damselfly, dragonflies, turtles, moths – and an actual tagged monarch!

Many thanks to Sher for sharing her images!  She let us with some photo tips that we can all put into practice next time we are out shooting birds, barns, or bugs: 
  • Use spot metering when shooting white birds like great or snowy egrets
  • Work the image to find the darkest possible background, especially for flowers or bugs.  Can also use vignette and burning in Photoshop – if burning, do it in spots instead of all over so it will look more natural.  You can also use black velvet for a background, but only in shade or at an angle so as not to show the sheen.
  • You can put bugs in a jar in the refrigerator for 3 minutes to slow them down which makes them easier to work with – although be warned that this doesn’t work with frogs!


Challenge topic for July was “Flowers”.  Several people commented that we had an unusually high number of very fine images this time around.  (Our photography skills must be getting better!)

Please use our blog!  If you weren’t aware, FSSPCC has a blog – see it here and take a look at some of the recent posts.  You are invited to post photos or stories, especially flora or fauna from the park, park events, club events, travelogues, or just nature in general.  The blog is easy to use, you just need to be granted access by emailing the club (email address below).  You can set it so you automatically get notified whenever there is a new posting.  Meeting notes are posted on the blog, too.

UPCOMING EVENTS
This week - Tall Ships are in Hudson, Wisconsin.  More info at http://thenina.com.

Saturday, July 16 - If you have some extra time this weekend, the National Park Service would not mind having some photographers following them around to document the BioBlitz.  Here is what Ranger Gordon had to say:  “The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (National Park Service) is holding our annual BioBlitz at Coldwater Spring starting at 5:00 pm, Friday, July 15 and running through 5:00 pm, Saturday, July 16. Photographers are always welcome to tag along with rangers and other staff to photograph the proceedings. We'll be using the iNaturalist app to upload species found to a national database. You can help by downloading app and help to catalog what we find. See https://www.nps.gov/miss/planyourvisit/2016-bioblitz.htm for more information.”

Thursday, July 21 – Canterbury Downs Buck Night - Thursdays are Buck Night at the races.  It costs a dollar to get in and there are some deals on food. Here is the link that tells you about Buck Night:  http://www.canterburypark.com/LiveRacing/Promotions/Thursday/tabid/229/Default.aspx.  We will meet at the paddock which is right inside the main gate at 6pm.  The first race is at 6:30pm.  The gates open at 5:15 and the horses at the paddock about 6:10 for the first race.  Photos are allowed at all public places.

Saturday, August 6 – Next Club Meeting.  The August Challenge is “non-human critters”.

TBD? - Leon suggested the club might want to look into a mini train trip between Osceola, WI and William O’Brien State Park area.  Cost is $17 for a senior (no food) and we would get to practice taking photos of a moving train.  This would also be a good chance to practice riding a train for those going to Glacier! J

September 7-12 Train Trip to Glacier National Park – Planning meetings continue.  Please contact John Plut at the club email if you are interested in going or have any questions.  

Saturday, September 24 - The St. Croix Valley Camera Club will be hosting their own PIP (photos in the park).  Word has it they are patterning it after our PIP - watch for details!

November TBD – FSSP Camera Club Annual Photo Contest – The committee this year will be Rose, Deb, and Judy.  Watch for more information.

TBD July 2017 – Lake Shetek State Park.  See Geri’s review of the park on our blog.


PICASA ALBUM HOW-TO
To ensure easy uploading to Picasa, re-size files to 500kb or smaller, and keep the long edge to 2048 or less so the photos don’t count against our storage limit.  In order to upload photos to the Picasa albums, you must be signed into your Google account otherwise it seems you may not be able to upload.  You can also email your photo to the club email and we will upload it for you.

Always include at least your name in the caption area – here’s how: 
  1. After uploading your photo, view the entire album
  2. Click on your photo
  3. Click “add caption” shown at the bottom of your photo
  4. Type in your name and location of photo
  5. Click “save caption”
To delete a photo
  1. View the entire album
  2. Click on your photo
  3. Click “Actions” which will be shown above your photo
  4. Click  “Delete this photo” 
-----
-Submitted by Patti Deters, FSSP Camera Club 2016 Secretary
----- 
2016 Executive Committee
-Geri Fenton – President
-Endel Kallas – Vice President
-Judy Collopy – Treasurer
-Rose Shea – Twin Cities Area Council of Camera Clubs (TCACCC) Representative
-Patti Deters – Secretary
-John Plut – Event Planner
-Deb Johnson – Webmaster
-János McGhie – IT Guru / Help Desk




Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Quick Trip to Southwest State Parks

First the bad news

We decided to make a quick trip to Blue Mound State Park but since it was so hot and humid we tried to get a camper cabin in the area.  There were a couple available in Lake Shetek State Park.

There is one thing to note for those of you that want to do same day reservation on line or by phone, it is not possible for camper cabins.  Being retired and attempting to spend my money wisely I waited until Tuesday morning to reserve for that night.  Logged on to the site and guess what!?!? You can't do same day reservations for camper cabins.  No where on the website does it say this.  I called the reservation line and was again told I couldn't reserve.  I filed a calm complaint with the nice person that was helping me and asked to talked to the supervisor.

My job BR (before retirement) was customer service it's always better to take a complaint up a level. Supervisors seem to note and maybe act on a complaint more than when you pass it on to them.

If you get to your destination and the park office is open you can get a camper cabin.  Since there were 3 available at Lake Shetek we were fairly sure there would be one open by the time we got there. And there was!

Now the good news and it's all good

I fell in love with another park!  What a beautiful park in the middle of the prairie. It's parks like this that make me so proud of Minnesota's park system.


This a a large park on Lake Shetek.  Shetek is the Ojibwe word for pelican.  Around the lake it is wooded and of course Oak savannas.  I could spend a day doing nothing but look at oak trees.  I love the designs and shapes of a single tree or an entire grove.  July is good month to visit the prairie since it is awash with color!

There was a severe weather watch out for the area so we decided to stay in the area and not travel down to Blue Mound SP until the next day.  We lucked out with only a 10 minute downpour and tiny hail.  When it passed we decided to do a drive through of the park.  The camping area on the lake is shaded but they do have the Sunrise campground and there you can get all the sun you would desire.


We ran across this deer which I have taken the liberty of naming this deer Long Neck.  She was very friendly and we thought she was going to come up to the car but she decided to stay away.  I wondered if Mary and Dan make regular trips down to this park.


What better photo to take on a prairie but a panorama.  I took this one because in the far distance you can see the Buffalo Ridge.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Ridge

The Prairie has such interesting weather. After the short storm it basically clear out maybe about 30 - 40 minutes after the above shot I took this one. These clouds never made it to where we were.  They disappeared as fast as they appeared.



On the way down we saw numerous dead raccoons on the highway.  Doug commented that if they weren't careful they may become an endangered species.  We saw this live family in a soy bean field near the park.  There were actually 4 young ones.  The 2 in the photo are waiting for them to catch up before they really took off.


I would say that this park is a 5 star park.  Go if you get a chance.  We will be going back when we can stay longer.

Blue Mounds State Park

In the morning we went to Blue Mound State Park.  We went to see the bison and some of the blooming cactus. We were incredibly lucky here too, the bison were at the viewing stand.  Right at the stand they put out some sort of powder that the Bison like to roll in so these are not white bison but bison all powdered up.  We were able to watch them for about 30 minutes before they all wandered off.
Admiration

Heads or Tails

The Big Guy



Unfortunately, Doug found no blooming cactus. There seemed to be fewer cacti than Doug remembers.

I had to keep telling myself that this is a rocky prairie but if it weren't for this bison it is not a park I want to go back to.  The park currently has an ecoli issue with the water so there is no water available for the campers.  The DNR recently decided not a replace a dam that formed the only lake in Rock County.

 I'll rate this one 2-1/2 stars out of five. *

Split Rock Creek State Park

This is a small park between Pipestone and Blue Mounds.  It is a quiet park and the campground is fairly shaded.   Not much to do but relax.  Who doesn't need a get away just to relax.

I'm rating this a 3.*

Camden State Park

Because of a detour we took a different way home and found Camden State Park near Marshall, MN.
We did a quick drive through and would  diffidently go back to the lower campground.  I think this would be a good place to go for fall colors.  We saw a couple more baby raccoons in a tree.  I doubt if they will be on the endangered list any time soon!




Since I haven't stayed there I can only rate this one a 4.*

* These are just my opinions and they may change if I actually camped at the park.

Geri and Doug

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Meeting Notes from June 2016

The June meeting was chaired by President Geri Fenton. 

We extend a hearty FSSPCC welcome to special guest, Gordon, from the National Park Service.  The National Parks will team up with FSSP to celebrate jointly the 100thanniversary of the national parks and the 125th anniversary of the state parks.

Kao update – 125th anniversary of Minnesota State Parks (based on the date Itasca State Park was established).  There will be a celebration on June 11 at the beach, which has been open and closed as needed because of bacteria in the water.  Check out the Naturalist Programs and Activities webpage for upcoming naturalist events at FSSP. 

Additional information from the Fort Snelling State Park website:
·       Highway 5 Bridge Deck Reconstruction:  Traffic on the Hwy 5 bridge remains single lane for both directions. There will continue to be occasional ramp closures that may impact your visit to the park. For current information about this project: mndot.gov/metro/projects/hwy5/
·       The Parks and Trails division of the Minnesota DNR is looking for input from both current and potential visitors to help shape the future of the state park and trail system. Share your feedback and ideas by visiting our website: mndnr.gov/patfeedback

Show-n-Tell
Kipp showed photographs of orbs, aka ghosts/spirits, which he found when photographing the upper fort clock tower.  At first glance they appear to be sun flare, but Kipp couldn’t identify anything at the time that would cause reflections or sun flare.  One of the orbs even appeared to have faces in it - eerie!

Baby owls have left the nests but can still be found in the same area, maybe also across the road toward the backwaters. (I missed who shared this tidbit, but thank you for sharing!)

Patti reported there is an accessible Great Egret rookery in Fergus Fall.  Some of the babies have hatched already with prime time possibly in the next couple of weeks.

Doug brought along a480GB SSD, a portable hard drive that connects to your laptop or computer with a standard USB port.  These are on sale at B&H for $150.  Smaller drives also available.  The drive was about the size of a square deck of playing cards and half as thin – very convenient for travelers (like maybe anyone going on a long train ride J) or even great for saving space at home.

John shared a great sale item – MicroCenter has the Canon EOS Rebel T5 on sale for $300 with a free bag and two lenses.  This normally sells for $750.

Owl update from Dan - All 4 of the owls have been on the ground at dusk looking for night crawlers.  The owls have split up, but start screeching/screaming around dusk time which is how you can find them.  Bring a flash for your camera as it gets very dark in the woods at dusk.

John C shared photos of the Lillydale eaglets – it is amazing how quickly they grow!

The Afton bison are back!  More info here.

Harlan – continuing to work on the Dakota language project.  He has also created a game, similar to concentration, where students pick cards with animal photos and say the Dakota words that describe the photos. 

Krista reported that Keller Lake in Maplewood is home to an accessible eagle’s nest.

Dan and Mary shared elk photos from their recent visit to Clam Lake. They saw bulls, cows, and yearlings – everything one could hope for!

Please use our blog!  If you weren’t aware, FSSPCC has a blog – see it here and take a look at some of the recent posts.  You are invited to post interesting photos or stories, especially flora or fauna from the park, park events, club events, travelogues, or just nature in general.  The blog is easy to use, you just need to be granted permission by emailing the club (email address below).  You can set it so you automatically get notified whenever there is a new posting.  We will start posting meeting notes on the blog, too.

The St. Croix Valley Camera Club will be hosting their own PIP (photos in the park) on Saturday, September 24th.  Word has it they are patterning it after our PIP!  Watch for details.

John Plut was our June speaker and shared information about the off-set printing world.  John’s dad owned The Leader, the newspaper for the town of Le Center in Le Sueur County - and John’s first job was working at the paper.  Ever since he has been in the printing business – going on 30 years and he still finds it interesting and engaging.  John especially enjoys the work when he gets to print art.

John’s print process is called “off-set” because the plate cylinders spread ink to the blanket cylinders which then spread it to the paper.  John can control the color of a photo while it’s being printed.  He showed samples of how the different colors of ink look when printed by themselves, and then how they look with all the colors together.  As you can imagine, color can really affect the final look of an image so it is very important to get it right.  John brought along a line tester which magnifies the ink so you can actually see the individual ink dots – very cool.  John prints mostly in CMYK – yellow, magenta, cyan, blue and black – and the inks must be printed in that exact order.  The sheet feeders that John works on can process can run 9-10,000 sheets/hour! 

Plates are 100% aluminum with a chemical coating.  Water is spread on the aluminum plates and everywhere the water goes, ink won’t go (ink and water don’t mix, kind of like oil and vinegar).  To adjust color, John adjusts how much ink is laid down during the printing process.  All the printings are in dots and the density of dots determines the color.  Ink is always laid down in the same order – see above.  Skin tones and gray are the hardest to print because they contain just a tiny bit of all the colors.  Then there is a very fine almost invisible spray powder that goes on each printed sheet to allow the ink to dry without sticking or smearing.

John showed us photos of his work space and workbench.  Nowadays, the inks and chemicals are hazard-free and John’s shop is a non-hazardous shop, but when he first started in the industry there were quite a few nasty chemicals on his workbench.  John’s shop generates a lot of waste; paper, ink, aluminum, chemicals - all of which is recycled. 

But the biggest change has been in technology with the adoption of computers and Photoshop.  John now gets print jobs on a computer and he has to match final colors to a customer-approved proof sheet.  For single colors, sometimes John will have to mix his own colors and do what is called spot printing, or sometimes he has to purchase a ready-mixed color (mainly used for logos or copyrighted colors like John Deere green or Target red).

35 people work at John’s shop, located in Eagan.  John showed some marketing videos from his shop where we could see the presses in action – they sure are fast!  John’s presentation was an interesting peak into the complex world of off-set printing – so much detail and precision goes into every little dot to get the perfect print (who knew?!)  Many thanks to John for sharing. 

John offered to set up a tour of his workspace and will let us know more details.  A copy of his photo-packed presentation will be posted on the FSSP Camera Club Blog.

Challenge topic for June was “Building Art”.  Surprisingly (to me), many of the photos were local buildings with amazing and creative artist paintings.


UPCOMING EVENTS / DUE DATES

July meeting moved to the 9th – Moved from the first Saturday because of the July 4th holiday weekend.  Sher Freebird will be sharing some of her favorite photos.  July Challenge is flowers/flora.  This is also our summer potluck meeting - please bring your own drink and eating utensils and of course your favorite potluck dish!  (Paper plates will be provided.)

September 7-12 Train Trip to Glacier National Park – Planning meetings continue.  Please contact John Plut at the club email if you are interested in going or have any questions.  

PICASA ALBUM HOW-TO
To ensure easy uploading to Picasa, re-size files to 500kb or smaller, and keep the long edge to 2048 or less so the photos don’t count against our storage limit.  In order to upload photos to the Picasa albums, you must be signed into your Google account otherwise it seems you may not be able to upload.  You can also email your photo to the club email and we will upload it for you.

Always include at least your name in the caption area – here’s how: 
  1. After uploading your photo, view the entire album
  2. Click on your photo
  3. Click “add caption” shown at the bottom of your photo
  4. Type in your name and location of photo
  5. Click “save caption”
To delete a photo
  1. View the entire album
  2. Click on your photo
  3. Click “Actions” which will be shown above your photo
  4. Click  “Delete this photo” 
-----
-Submitted by Patti Deters, FSSP Camera Club 2016 Secretary
----- 
2016 Executive Committee
-Geri Fenton – President
-Endel Kallas – Vice President
-Judy Collopy – Treasurer
-Rose Shea – Twin Cities Area Council of Camera Clubs (TCACCC) Representative
-Patti Deters – Secretary
-John Plut – Event Planner
-Deb Johnson – Webmaster
-János McGhie – IT Guru / Help Desk