Sunday, June 1, 2014

City Escapes Nature Photography Newsletter - May / June 2014

 

CITY ESCAPES

Nature Photography, LLC 

 

Newsletter

May / June, 2014

 

 

Tying It All Together: Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO

 

Now that we have covered the three basic elements of exposure individually (ISO - November, 2012 newsletter; shutter speed – March, 2014 newsletter; and aperture – April, 2014 newsletter), let's look at how they work in combination to give a properly exposed image.

 

All three control how much light hits your camera's sensor (or film), and each has its own function.  But how do they affect each other?  To explain it, let's once again go back to our window analogy, but this time, we need to add an additional element.  Instead of simply trying to get a certain amount of air into a room, let's put a tabletop windmill in front of the window.  Our goal: to make the windmill complete a set number of revolutions (let's say 10) -- a proper exposure.  We know that aperture is the equivalent of how far we open the window, while shutter speed is how long we leave it open.  We can throw the window wide open, let in a lot of air all at once and reach those 10 revolutions quickly.  This also requires that we close the window quickly, before we reach 11 revolutions (or the windmill gets overexposed).  This scenario is the equivalent of a large aperture and a fast shutter speed.  Conversely, we can open the window only a little, which requires that we leave it open longer to reach the same 10 revolutions.  If we close the window too soon, we will not have reached the magic number of 10 (the windmill will be underexposed).  This is the small aperture, long shutter speed scenario.  But wait, you say, doesn't the speed of the air moving through the window also help determine how fast the windmill reaches 10 revolutions?  Excellent catch!  Indeed it does, and this is where aperture comes in.

 

In this analogy, the strength or speed of the air moving through the window is the equivalent of the strength, or brightness, of the light hitting the camera sensor.  The ISO would be the equivalent of the resistance, or sensitivity, setting of the windmill.  If there is a very strong wind (a very bright light), you would likely want the windmill's sensitivity to the air current to be low so that the windmill does not spin way too fast (again, an overexposure).  But if the air current is weaker (the light is dimmer), you would want the windmill to be more sensitive to what little air movement there is, so that you can actually complete the 10 revolutions (otherwise, you end up with another underexposure).  Thus, for a brighter light, you want a lower ISO number, meaning a lower sensitivity to light.  For a dimmer light, a higher ISO with its greater sensitivity to light is generally required. 

 

How do all of these pieces fit together?  To maintain an equivalent exposure, if you manipulate one setting, you must manipulate another, though which one is up to you.  Say your window is open halfway for ten seconds, with a given windmill sensitivity.  You want to open the window all the way, doubling the amount of air coming in at once.  To maintain a 10 revolution "proper exposure," you can cut the time the window is open in half, to five seconds, while maintaining the same windmill sensitivity.  Or you can leave the time the window is open the same and reduce the windmill sensitivity by half.  (You can also reduce the strength of the air current coming through the window, i.e. dim the light source, but that is a topic for another day.)  As long as the overall total amount of light hitting the sensor is the same, the exposure will be equivalent.  The images may be very different, with vastly different depths of field, etc., but the exposures will be the same.  Just remember that to get a proper exposure, you need to hit ten revolutions of the windmill.  How you do that is entirely up to you.

 

Does this mean that you will always want a perfectly exposed image, that exact series of ten revolutions, no more, no less?  Not by a long shot.  But once you understand how the elements of a proper exposure work, you can then work creatively to craft stunning images that do not fit the strict definition of being "properly exposed."  Should you decide that any particular image would have a greater impact by being underexposed, you will understand how to manipulate the elements of our window to stop the windmill after only eight or nine revolutions.  Similarly, if an overexposure would give your image that pop you are looking for, you will know how to make that windmill keep spinning right on past ten, not stopping until it reaches eleven or twelve (or seventeen…) revolutions.  Mastering these three elements, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, is truly the key to mastering exposure.  And once you master exposure, those creative doors fly wide open.  Suddenly you are able to construct amazing images intentionally, and not just chance upon them by accident with no hope of recreating them.

 

Test yourself.  Play with the elements of our window and windmill and try to get equivalent exposures with different settings.  Then see if you can create intentional under- and overexposures with multiple settings.  Finally, and most importantly, have fun!

 

 

 

May / June Specials

 

Get 10% off of unframed, 8x12 prints of "Grace in Retreat – Mute Swans" and / or 10x20 prints of "Subtlety of a Sunset – St. Mary Lake" when you order from our specials page. As with all of our unframed prints, these prints are eligible for our No Hassle Returns. 

 

 

 

Fun Facts

 

First, the serious side: we are approaching that time of year when nature, when angry, shifts her focus from blizzards and mudslides to violent winds, drenching rains, and unbelievable flooding: hurricane season.  Without fail, some of the most arresting photographs to be produced each summer and fall come from areas affected by hurricanes.  While we cannot prevent hurricanes, we can prepare for them.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has designated May 25th through May 31st as National Hurricane Preparedness Week.  Go to http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare for some great information on hurricanes and cyclones and how to prepare for them.  (Perhaps their most poignant advice, especially for photographers, is simple: "The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense."  Sometimes we photographers let our common sense go out the window in our quest for great images.  Remember, be safe.  You can only create great images if you are alive and well.)

 

 

Now the fun side: ever wondered how tropical storms get their names?

 

* The practice of giving tropical storms women's names began in the late 19th century, became commonplace during World War II, and was made official in 1953.

* It was not until 1978 that men's names were included in the rotation.

* There are three major storm-naming regions in the U.S.: the Atlantic, the Eastern North Pacific, and the Central North Pacific.  On the U.S. mainland, we are most familiar with the Atlantic region.

* You may know that a list is prepared prior to each storm season with names in alphabetical order, and as storms appear, they are given names in that order.  Did you know, however, that the list is different for each region, that there are only six lists per region (or four, in the case of the Central North Pacific region), and that they are rotated through?  In the Atlantic region, for example, the first named storm of 2016 will be "Alex."  "Alex" was also the first storm of 2010, and assuming the 2016 version isn't damaging enough to have the name retired, "Alex" will also be the first storm of 2022.

* If a storm causes significant damage to life or property, its name can be retired, to be replaced by another beginning with the same letter.  The most names retired in a single year: five, in 2005.  Those names?  Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma.  The following year, no names were retired.

 

Our schedule is changing

As you may have noticed, we are switching our newsletter schedule to 6 times per year instead of 12.

 

 

 

If you have any questions, or suggestions for future newsletters, please email us at: relationships@cityescapesphotography.com

 

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CITY ESCAPES Nature Photography, LLC

www.cityescapesphotography.com

774-277-9682

Sunday, April 6, 2014

City Escapes Nature Photography Newsletter - April 2014

CITY ESCAPES

Nature Photography, LLC

 

 

Newsletter

April, 2014

 

 

 

Aperture Basics

 

Ever wondered how a photographer managed to get her subject in sharp focus, while everything behind and in front of the subject is blurred?  Or why everything from the very front of the image to the furthest back is clear and sharp?  It is all because of my personal favorite control on a camera: the aperture, also known as the f-stop.  This delightful feature controls how much of an image (properly focused) is in sharp focus.  This is known as the image’s depth of field.  The landscape in which you can see all the way to the furthest feature has a large depth of field, while the sharp-subject, blurry-background image has a shallow depth of field.  As an example, this month’s featured image, “Buzzed! – Black Bear” has a shallow depth of field: the bear is in focus, but the grasses directly behind it are blurry.

 

A camera’s aperture works by controlling how far the shutter opens.  Think of the shutter as a window: last month’s discussion of shutter speed dealt with how long the window stayed open; aperture describes how far open the window is.  If the window is open just a tiny bit, denoted rather counter-intuitively by higher numbers, the depth of field will be great.  If the window is thrown wide open, denoted by small numbers, only the subject will be in focus while all else blurs.  The “plane of focus” can be quite small; it is not difficult with the right lens to get someone’s eyes in sharp focus while their nose is blurred.

 

Just as shutter speed is a means of controlling the amount of light that hits the camera’s sensor (or film), so too is aperture.  When you change one, you necessarily change the other to get an equivalent exposure.  Using our window analogy again, if the window is wide open, it takes less time to get a certain amount of air in than it would to get the same amount of air in with the window less open.  Thus, for a given exposure, if you widen the aperture, you should use a shorter shutter speed, while if you close down (or “stop down”) the aperture, you need to use a longer exposure.  Clear as mud?  Just remember: a wide-open window should be left open for a short time, while a less-open window should be left open longer.

 

As with everything on cameras, to really get a feel for how aperture works, you should play with it.  Most cameras these days, even point-and-shoots, have an aperture-priority mode.  This allows you to choose the aperture while the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed for a proper exposure.  Being a wildlife and landscape photographer, this is my default camera setting: it is important for me to be able to isolate my subjects at will, or to show them in their deepest glory.

 

Once you get a basic understanding of how to manipulate depth of field with the aperture settings, put your camera on manual mode and start experimenting with different combinations of shutter speed and aperture.  Getting away from what the camera deems a proper exposure, you can create some very interesting and artistic images, manipulate mood, and capture light in ways that your eyes cannot see – all in-camera, no computer needed.  This means more time with your camera and less at a desk.  What photographer doesn’t like that?

 

 

April Specials

 

Get 10% off of unframed, 8x10 prints of “Buzzed! -- Black Bear” and / or 8x12 prints of “Renewal by Fire --  Fireweedwhen you order from our specials page. As with all of our unframed prints, these prints are eligible for our No Hassle Returns. 

 

 

Fun Facts

 

Oh, April, how we enjoy your second half so much more than your first – because, of course, the deadline for filing our Federal Tax Returns falls on April 15th.  As you and thousands of others rush toward the post office (or your computer’s “send” button) as midnight draws near, here are a few interesting facts to keep you amused.

 

·         Moses instituted a tax of sorts on, among other things, domesticated animal herds and flocks.  Every tenth animal was to be tithed to the Tabernacle. (Leviticus 27:30-33) 

 

·         Your service animal (guide dog, mobility assistance monkey, etc.) is completely tax-deductible, while the expenses related to your company’s (alas, not your home’s) guard dog are also deductible – just not the cost of the dog itself.

 

·         Not only is it good for you, it’s tax deductible! Most of the costs of “wilderness therapy,” used by some medical practitioners in the mental-health field to treat their patients, are tax-deductible as medical expenses.

·         Many states offer tax breaks for land owners who maintain their land as “open space.”  Good for wildlife AND for your bank account?  It doesn’t get much better than that.

·         And of course, donations to environmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy are tax deductible!  For more information, see “IRS Topic 506 - Charitable Contributions” at http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506.html

 

Disclaimer: we are nature photographers, not tax attorneys or accountants. The above is not tax advice, but rather items of general interest which may or may not be applicable to your situation. You should obtain your tax advice only from trained professionals with appropriate certifications who understand your specific circumstances.

 

 

If you have any questions, or suggestions for future newsletters, please email us at: relationships@cityescapesphotography.com

 

Become a fan on Facebook at

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CITY ESCAPES Nature Photography, LLC

www.cityescapesphotography.com

774-277-9682

Saturday, March 8, 2014

City Escapes Photography Newsletter - Mar 2014

CITY ESCAPES

Nature Photography, LLC

 

 

Newsletter

March, 2014

 

 

 

What a Compliment!

Let’s say that you really, really like a particular photograph.  For some reason, it just speaks to you in a way that others don’t.  You could buy a copy of the image and hang it on your wall -- always a good option.  This allows you to see and enjoy it everyday, plus it supports the photographer who made the image.  But what if that just isn’t enough?  What if it is THE photograph that really captures the essence of something you’ve been looking for?  Then, perhaps, a form of appreciation that is a bit more permanent might be what you are looking for.  Something like a tattoo.  This is precisely what Amanda Abbott had done when she came across our image “Casual Approach – Lioness.”  Ms. Abbott honored us immensely when she chose to have our image permanently inked in a prominent position on her right arm.  What a way to share your love of our work!  Thank you for sharing this with us, Ms. Abbott.  We love it!

 

 

Shutter Speed Basics

 

We have all seen those amazing photographs of the football receivers frozen in mid-leap, high in the air, one arm outstretched to grab the slightly-off-target throw.  We have also seen the beautiful images of waterfalls pouring down a rock face in a lovely cascade, the motion of the water caught in a still frame.  When we try to capture those same images using our cameras’ automatic settings, our results are often less than satisfactory.  How do we fix this?  Be brave – take your camera off of automatic, and learn how to use shutter speed to create the images you want.

 

“Shutter speed” is the term used to describe how long the film or digital sensor is exposed to light.  There is a diaphragm, or shutter, inside the camera that opens when you depress the “take this picture” button (called the shutter release button), stays open the designated amount of time, then closes again to stop the influx of light onto the film or sensor.  Normally this all happens very quickly, literally within a fraction of a second.  That is why shutter speeds are often fractions: 1/60 means that the diaphragm is open for one 60th of a second.  A shutter speed of 1 means that the diaphragm is open for a full second, etc.  The smaller the number, then, the faster the shutter opens and closes, resulting in a shorter time frame for light to hit the sensor or film.

 

Why on earth does this matter, you ask?  It is this variance that allows you to freeze – or capture the sense of – motion.  To get a crisp, sharp image of that football receiver mid-leap, you need to use a very short shutter speed, perhaps as low as 1/3200.  (Using a flash can allow for much higher shutter speeds, but that is outside the purview of this article.)  At the other end of the spectrum, to capture the sense of motion in that waterfall, you may need a shutter speed of several seconds (and a tripod).

 

Other factors besides freezing / capturing motion also come into play when deciding upon shutter speeds, most notably how brightly illuminated the subject is.  The brighter the subject, the lower the shutter speed can be, because it does not take as much time for the appropriate amount of light to hit the sensor.  Think of it as pouring water into a bucket.  If you are using a ¼” hose, it will take longer to fill the bucket than if you are using a 3” hose.  Dim light (the ¼” hose) will take longer to get the necessary amount of light onto the sensor, while very bright light (the 3” hose), does not take as long.  This means that the shutter speeds necessary to freeze the football player in mid-leap may vary from 1/500 in a stadium at night to 1/3200 in bright daylight.  Similarly, the waterfall may require a shutter speed of 1/30 in bright daylight to 3 seconds in tree-cover.  Night photography can range from 3 seconds to several hours for star trails.  One of our featured images this month, “Blue Dusk – Acacias,” had an exposure of about 20 seconds.  It was dark enough that my eyes could not pick out the trees, but by allowing the shutter to remain open for an extended amount of time, my camera was able to gather enough light to create a beautiful image.

 

One note regarding slow shutter speeds: it is generally agreed that we shaky humans can only hand-hold a camera down to 1/60 second and still get a sharp image.  If you want to use a slower shutter speed than 1/60, use a tripod.  Or brace your camera on a bean bag.  Or put it down entirely and use the self-timer.  There are many options, but the basic idea is to get your camera out of your hands and onto something much more stable.  (And resting it on your buddy’s shoulder is not more stable.)

 

As you begin to play with shutter speed, take an initial photograph on the automatic setting and pay attention to the shutter speed setting the camera chooses.  (It will be the one given as a fraction, not the decimal.  We’ll deal with the decimal next month.)  Most cameras these days have an option that lets you choose the shutter speed while the camera chooses the appropriate aperture to give a proper exposure.  Usually called shutter-priority mode, this is a great place to start, because it allows you to manipulate only this one factor and see how it affects your photographs.  As you then manipulate the shutter speed settings, as long as your camera does not say HIGH or LOW where that decimal usually is, you should be able to get a properly exposed image -- which removes your subject’s brightness from the equation, making it even easier to understand shutter speed. 

 

Your particular camera may not have the range of shutter speeds mentioned here, and that’s okay.  You will still have enough of a range to give you significantly different images of the same subject, with various gradations in-between.  So find that shutter-priority mode and a moving target, and go play.  Find out what your camera can do, and more importantly, how to bring the images you want to life.

 

 

March Specials

 

Get 10% off of unframed, 8x12 prints of “Casual Approach -- Lioness” (of course!) and / or “Blue Dusk -- Acacias” when you order from our specials page. As with all of our unframed prints, these prints are eligible for our No Hassle Returns. 

 

 

Fun Facts

 

Spring is coming!  March 20th marks the Vernal Equinox, or the first day of spring.  Unless, of course, you are in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case March 20th is the Autumnal Equinox, or the first day of autumn.  Here are a few other odd-ball facts about the equinoxes.

 

·         Even though we think of the equinox as the 24-hour period when day and night are equal, that day actually comes several days closer to the winter side of each equinox.  Why? The equinox is marked by the day when the center of the sun’s disk is above the horizon for the same amount of time as it is below the horizon.  But because we count the first visible top edge of the sun’s disk as “sunrise” and the last visible bottom edge of its disk as “sunset,” the actual length of “day” is longer than “night” by a few minutes on the equinox.

·         The earth’s atmosphere makes a difference, too.  Our atmosphere bends light, resulting not only in very cool phenomena such as phantom ships and mirages (see our August, 2010, newsletter), but also in the appearance of the sun being higher in the sky than it really is at sunrise.  Thus, the sun appears to be above the horizon, when it isn’t actually there yet.

·         The equinoxes are the only times that the sun rises due east and sets due west. 

·         Both the north and south poles will see the sun barely skim over the horizon on March 20th.  This begins the period of six months of light at the north pole and six months of darkness at the south pole.

·         Ever wondered how the date for Easter is determined each year?  It is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the (Northern Hemisphere’s) vernal equinox.

 

 

 

 

 

If you have any questions, or suggestions for future newsletters, please email us at: relationships@cityescapesphotography.com

 

Become a fan on Facebook at

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CITY ESCAPES Nature Photography, LLC

www.cityescapesphotography.com

774-277-9682

Sunday, February 2, 2014

City Escapes Nature Photography Newsletter - Jan 2014

CITY ESCAPES

Nature Photography, LLC

 

 

Newsletter

February, 2014

 

 

Your Support Helps More Than Our Bottom Line

 

As many of you know, every January since our inception we have given 1% of our gross sales to organizations such as the Nature Conservancy that work to protect the landscapes and creatures that make our fantastic jobs possible.  We get so much joy from the natural world that we feel it is our corporate obligation –- and our honor –- to help protect it.  Money isn’t the complete answer, of course, but it certainly helps.  It is with the utmost gratitude to all of you that we are able to report that this year, we were able to make the biggest donation we have yet made.  As long as we are around, we will be happily writing this check every January, and with your continued support, it will grow steadily larger each year.  We hope that you get additional satisfaction in knowing that not only do you get a fantastic image when you purchase from us, you are also helping to provide critical funding that helps these treasured areas survive.  We truly, deeply thank you for your support of us -- and the beautiful places of the earth. 

 

 

 

Overexpose for Perfect Snow Shots

 

With the northeast and the southeast taking turns getting blasted by nasty snow storms, and even parts of the country that rarely see snow getting bits of the white stuff, I know that some of you intrepid photographers out there will be venturing out to get that perfect, rare shot of your kids playing in the snow, the car buried up to its windows, etc.  Trusting that all of you will put personal safety and the safety of others above all else, I want to remind you that your camera will want to turn all of that beautiful whiteness into a dull gray.  (For an explanation of why, and more in-depth tips on how to correct this problem, see our January, 2012 newsletter: “Exposure Compensation.”)  Meter off of something in the middle-color range, such as a blue jacket, a brown tree trunk, etc.  If that is not possible, or it doesn’t give you satisfactory results, set your camera to overexpose by about 2/3 of a stop.  This will allow more light to hit the sensor, brightening up that snow to the white that you see instead of the gray that the camera sees.  Just leave the idiotic, likely-to-break-a-bone- (or worse) if-something-goes-wrong stuff to us professionals.  We aren’t any more graceful than anyone else, but it’s somehow less tragic if we get hurt.  And it will give you something to laugh at as you are nestled all warm and cozy inside by the fire.

 

 

February Specials

 

Get 10% off of unframed, 8x12 prints of “Waiting Out the Storm – Moose” and / or “Alien Landscape – Palette Springs in Winterwhen you order from our specials page. As with all of our unframed prints, these prints are eligible for our No Hassle Returns. 

 

 

Fun Facts

 

The Olympics are coming!  In the spirit of all things Olympia, how much do you know about Mount Olympus?

 

·         Mount Olympus is in Greece, in the Olympus Range.  It’s not the only one, though.  There is also a Mount Olympus in Turkey, Cyprus, Utah, and Washington State, among others (the latter in the Olympic Range).

·         The Greek Mount Olympus has 52 peaks (!).

·         Zeus and eleven other gods were believed to live on Mount Olympus, and to have meetings on its highest peak, Mytikas.

·         The Olympic Games, held since 776 B.C. in the southern part of what is now Greece, reached the foot of the northerly Mount Olympus at the end of the 5th century B.C.  A nine day festival to honor Zeus was initiated in the town of Dion.

·         A full 25 percent of all plant species in Greece are found on Mount Olympus.

 

 

 

If you have any questions, or suggestions for future newsletters, please email us at: relationships@cityescapesphotography.com

 

Become a fan on Facebook at

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CITY ESCAPES Nature Photography, LLC

www.cityescapesphotography.com

774-277-9682

Saturday, December 7, 2013

City Escapes Nature Photography Newsletter - Dec 2013

CITY ESCAPES

Nature Photography, LLC

 

 

Newsletter

December, 2013

 

 

 

Thinking of Updating Your Gear?  Try Renting First

 

I have a confession to make: I am not a gear head.  I use my car, camera, computer, etc. until they die, unless I have a VERY compelling reason to upgrade them (and “ooh, it’s the latest version!” is not a compelling reason. Sorry.).  I don’t know much about the details of cameras that I have not personally used, and I don’t read articles on the latest and greatest new gadgets out there.  At shows, guests visiting my booth frequently tell me which camera they shoot with and expect that I will automatically know something useful about it.  I almost never do, although if they have it with them, I can often help them figure it out. 

 

By some schools of thought, I am severely handicapping myself by not upgrading my equipment every year 1.5 to 2 years.  That line of thought holds that technology is improving at such speeds that by not taking advantage of the latest and greatest, I will lose out on the full potential of what cameras can do.  To a certain extent, that is true.  I counter that once my gear and my photography goals are more or less in line, it is better to spend my time and money improving and expanding my skills, feeding my passion, and directing my funds into other areas (such as photography trips) than to constantly be learning new equipment.  Anyone who has had to deal with a software upgrade knows what I mean: unless it was genuinely necessary, an “upgrade” is usually just a euphemism for lost productivity while you try to learn the new system.

 

There does come a time, though, when that upgrade is indeed genuinely necessary.  What do you do then?  This question is often most difficult for the amateur photographer who is ready to step into the world of dSLRs (digital single-lens-reflex cameras, which account for the majority of digital cameras today that have interchangeable lenses).  Why is this a particularly vexing problem for this category of photographer?  Generally, amateurs do not really know enough about cameras or photography to ensure that they make the absolute right choice.  This causes a fair number of would-be intermediate photographers to either go into a paralysis of in- or under-action, or convinces them that they need a very expensive, professional-grade camera that they are still a long way from being ready for.  The first option keeps them from being able to stretch and grow as a photographer; the second is a colossal waste of money (by the time they are ready for a professional-grade camera, the technology will almost certainly be significantly improved, and the prices much lower), and might even end up intimidating them into not using their gear.  The other difficulty that amateurs often face is that they don’t necessarily know what kind of photography they want to do.  For example, buying the right gear to become a sports photographer takes a significant investment of funds.  Discovering two months later that what you really like is landscape photography could only make your pocketbook, and perhaps your spouse, violently ill.

 

How, then, does one figure out what to buy?  First of all, if you are not sure about what kinds of photography float your boat, pay attention to the work of other photographers: what images draw you in?  Talk to someone in the photography world.  Let them help you figure out what moves you, what it is that you want to capture or create.  They should be able to give you at least a generalized guideline of what gear to look for to create your vision, if not necessarily specific cameras.  Finally, before making a purchase, consider renting the gear you are considering. 

 

What?  Rent?  That’s right, you can rent cameras.  And lenses.  And tripods, flashes, studio lights, light stands… The list of available items is pretty long.  You can rent them by the hour, the day, or the week.  This means that if you just need a specific piece of equipment for a single special event, you don’t have to fork out the money to buy it outright.  It also means that you can test out and play with your potential new gear to see how you actually like it, instead of just guessing.  Think of it as test driving the gear, just like you would a car.  This has great benefits, as there are often small things that one doesn’t think to consider when evaluating the equipment that reveal themselves during the actual use of the item.  Sometimes these small things turn out to be a great asset; other times, they are enough to make you want to toss the item out the nearest twelfth-storey window.  Either way, you have the opportunity to discover them prior to plopping down a bunch of money.

 

If you do not have a camera shop in your area that leases out good quality gear, fear not.  There are many companies that will mail the gear to you (for a fee, of course).  When you are done, you simply mail the equipment back to them.  While shipping costs can make this option significantly more expensive than picking items up in-store, it may still be cheaper than spending a good deal of money on a piece of gear you quickly realize you will not use.

 

Finally, if you do decide to go ahead and purchase instead of rent, ensure that you are allowed to return the gear within a certain, specified amount of time.  Use that time to really put your new gear through its paces (without scratching or denting it, of course).  That way, if you end up not being happy with it, you can still exchange it for something that is more to your liking.

 

Now then, it’s the holidays.  Get out there and capture the magic of it all!

 

 

 

Thanks to All Who Came to Our Last Show of 2013

 

We’re done with shows for the year, but fear not!  We’ll be back in 2014 with more images to make you laugh, sigh, and “wish you were there.”  And remember that you don’t have to wait for a show to get your favorite image.  Our website is open 24/7 and contains our complete current inventory.

 

 

December Specials

 

Share your love of nature with your friends and family!  Get 10% off of boxed sets of Christmas cards when you order from our specials page.  Each box contains two each of five different images, with a holiday greeting inside.

 

 

Fun Facts

 

In 2002, Congress declared December 12th to be Poinsettia Day.  Here are a few tidbits to help you appreciate this holiday staple a little more this year.

 

·         Poinsettias were named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in 1825, who brought the colorful plant back to his South Carolina greenhouse.

·         Despite a long-lived rumor, poinsettias are not poisonous.  The story originated in 1919, when a two-year-old child’s death was blamed on the ingestion of a poinsettia leaf.  Multiple exhaustive tests of every part of the plant have proven the rumor false many times over, but the myth has been very slow to be overturned.  This is not helped by the fact that eating the leaves may cause stomach aches.

·         The myth of the poisonous poinsettia even led to a petition being submitted to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1975 to require warning labels be put on the plants.  The request was denied.

·         How did poinsettias become associated with Christmas?  The tradition dates back to a Mexican legend that tells the story of a poor girl on her way to church on Christmas Eve.  Though the details of the story vary by the teller, the basic premise is that the girl was in tears on her journey, saddened that she had no gift to present to the Baby Jesus.  She was then told that anything she brought, if truly given with love, would be the perfect gift for the Holy Child.  She picked a bunch of weeds that grew beside the road, arranged them into a bouquet, and entered the church, embarrassed and ashamed by her paltry gift.  As soon as she laid the bouquet on the altar, however, the ends of the leaves burst into brilliant red flowers, and everyone present knew they had seen a miracle of faith.

·         The red leaves of poinsettias are thought to represent the blood of Christ, the white leaves his purity, while the shape of the leaves and flowers as a whole are thought to resemble the Star of Bethlehem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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