Kansas City Zoo Photo Club Meeting Minutes

August 18, 2003



Dan Paulsen called the meeting to order around 7:15 p.m.


Dan said we would have our program first and conduct the business portion of the meeting later.He introduced Scott Smith and his wife, who are from Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.


Scott said he likes to talk to photo clubs; they are fun for him and for the cats of Turpentine Creek.The refuge sponsors a photography program that raises money to support the large, natural enclosures at the refuge.The refuge has 119 cats, ranging from lions, leopards, and panthers to servals and bobcats.One cat is from Kansas City.


The refuge obtains cats from all over the country, often from private owners who no longer can keep the animals.Zoos will rarely take these animals in, but the refuge is one of about half a dozen sites across the country that will.It is licensed by the USDA to take in big cats.Even so, Scott said they canít take them all Ė they had to turn down about 50 cats this summer due to lack of facilities.The refuge has limited funds, so it can take in only extreme cases right now.


For example, a white Bengal tiger at a circus had four babies; three were stillborn and one had a birth defect.The refuge took in the baby.Scott said he has seen cats that were kept in all kinds of conditions Ė some were in small cages where they couldnít even stand up.The refuge took in 21 cats all at once last September from a man in Arkansas.Four of the manís lions got loose and had to be shot.They take care of these animals at the refuge on a shoestring budget.


Scott explained how they happened to start doing photography sessions at Turpentine Creek.A photographer from Harrison, Arkansas, asked to come take some shots.Scott was not sure what to charge at first, but he enjoyed the shoot.Others in the local region called after seeing the photographerís pictures, and things evolved from there.Scott has learned a lot about photography and when photographers like to shoot (early in the morning and later in the afternoon/evening).They see a whole range of equipment Ė some come with small box cameras and others bring fancy gear.Some want to bring in equipment like fog machines, but they usually see the natural beauty of the Ozarks and end up leaving that gear behind.


Scott passed out a handout on the photography sessions at Turpentine Creek.They do both open and closed sessions there.The open ones are awesome, and the closed sessions are getting better and becoming popular.You can call ahead to see what is available when you want to come, and he can e-mail you with the information.Only those cats that are leash-trained can be used for the open sessions.There are five to six areas to pick from, plus you pick a cat to work with, and then go and shoot the pictures.He recommends bringing 25 to 30 rolls of film and extra batteries.Digital photography is becoming more popular and the cameras have gotten faster.


The refuge has 500 acres from which to work . . . you can go into the woods or by one of the ponds.Last summer they did some sessions at Kingís River.One of Scottís favorite areas is a creek on the property.They like you to schedule two weeks in advance and you pay one half of the fee upfront.


For the closed session, you often can call that day and get in, but he advises calling as much in advance as possible, since he needs a couple of people on hand to help.The animals for the closed sessions are in cages, but the cages are large and often on a slope, so you can still get great, natural-looking shots inside the enclosure.You can shoot a full-grown Siberian tiger or a male lion.


They are a nonprofit organization, so donations are tax-deductible.


The open session lasts for 1to 2 hours and costs $250.The closed session costs $100 per hour.If a photo club organizes a trip, he charges each second person half-price.


They did their first workshop recently and plan to do another one this fall.It will probably be on a weekend in October or November, when there is nice foliage.


Scott showed some slides typical of the kind of shots you can get at Turpentine Creek.Some of the shots were taken as much as five years ago.Scott said there is a creek at the refuge on the back side of the property where you can get some great shots of a tiger in the water.You can get pictures of the tiger running left, right, or straight toward the camera.The cats are pretty lazy; it may take as much as ten minutes to get them running.


Scott showed some shots taken at Kingís River.He said they always take some staff members out to act as ďbaitĒ for the cats.If you turn your back on some of the cats and crouch down, the cat will run at you.Someone else has to be there to tell the staff person when to stand up!The staff is there to guard and protect you.


Some of Scottís slides were of BamBam, a beautiful tiger who is now about 700 pounds and doesnít go out on a leash any more.


If you shoot at Kingís River, wear some shoes that you donít mind getting wet, since it is best to get in the water to get some of the shots.There is a ledge there that they can pose a cat on, and if you wade in, you can get a good perspective and the animal looks even bigger.Or a mirror reflection shot is nice if the water is shallow.Cats love regal poses; you donít have to coax them to get them to assume such positions.


They also have a big 25-acre pasture that is good for action shots with the cats.


The refuge doesnít have cubs because they donít breed the animals.The animals stay at the refuge until they become old and die.They have other animals there, such as bears and monkeys, but not for the photo shoot.


Female cougars stay in heat until they are bred, and they sound like a human woman screaming during this time!They had a bunch carrying on in this way at one point and took them in to get them spayed.A cat may weigh 700 to 900 pounds but its heart is only the size of a manís, so they can run fast for 30 yards but then must stop and rest.


One of their tigers, Spike, was featured on top of every Exxon gas pump in America a year or so ago and was on ESPN.Also, Turpentine Creek was in Canonís Photo Safari #14.


Scott showed some pictures from closed sessions in the enclosures, and you often canít tell they are in an enclosure.


They have more tigers than any other cats, about 60, and fewer than 20 lions.


They can use meat to get the cats to run or turn their heads a certain way.


A pond on the property is popular in summer.If you have your shoot there, you wonít get wet.The cats and staff will get muddy, but you wonít!


There are lots of natural bluffs in the area, and cats like to climb.


Scott said they can travel with certain cats, if you get the proper permits.They took one of the cats to Utah, for instance, just north of the Arizona border.


You will see other animals while you are there Ė deer, birds, and so on.They have two peacocks that are easy to coax into fanning in the spring, when they want to mate.


In the winter, snow can make it difficult to navigate, but if you have four-wheel-drive, you can get some good pictures of cats in the snow.


Scott passed out a brochure and said their Web page address was at the bottom of the sheet.He invited us all to come out to Turpentine Creek.


Scott was asked about whether there was a bed-and-breakfast in the area.He said they have lodging at Turpentine Creek, but it doesnít include breakfast.They have two rooms that sleep four to a room for $75 a night.You can often see lions and tigers from the windows.


Someone asked about the nature of the workshops.Scott said the first workshop they just did was for two full days, and it really wore the participants out.He has decided he wants to change how they do the workshop based on this.They will change to having a p.m. and a morning shoot, and will enjoy drinks and go to closed sessions when they are between open sessions.The workshop is $600.Having a one-day workshop might be better.He hasnít nailed down the program yet but will in a week or ten days.It will be on the Website.They can take only ten people.

Scott passed out a wish list, showing items the refuge could use.More information is on the Website.


The Kansas City chapter of the Friends of Turpentine Creek is forming, and those folks go down to the refuge quite often.Scott introduced John Boren, who is on the board of directors for the refuge and lives here in Kansas City.John said if he can help with anything in town, let him know.


After the interesting presentation by Scott, the group took a break around 8 p.m.


At 8:20 p.m., we reconvened.Dan asked Jim Rendina about the idea we had discussed of repainting the wall that we project slides onto.Jim said a maintenance person was going to check into it and get back to him, but never did.Jim still has his card and will call him again.We could buy the paint, which is a reflective paint for that purpose.The zoo has strict requirements about this sort of thing, so we will need to get the zooís okay.


Carol Mitchell said the trip to Savanahland is back on again.We are scheduled to go on September 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.We must have 20 people attend at a minimum, so Carol said she would pass around a sign-up sheet to determine interest.We will either have to cancel or pay more if we donít get 20 people.They can take the chimp out in the pavilion.Even if it rains, the show will go on.Last time Sheila went out and took pictures.Dan asked if anyone had trouble finding it.It was observed that it isnít hard to find but itís a long way coming in.There are directions on the Website, but Sherry Leonardo said one of the turns is wrong.It is near Pleasant Hill.Dan and his wife went out there but had to ask for directions.


Marie Bohndorf wasnít at the meeting tonight but she asked that we be told about the Art for the Parks auction going on again this year.You can donate a print and they will sell it at the auction.The auction is October 24.You can donate at the West Wyandotte Library or at the Schlagle Library.If you take a print to the meeting next month or in October, Marie will pick it up and deliver it for you.This is a worthy cause; it supports the parks.


Dues are payable this month.Make your check out to KC Zoo Photo Club.Libby McCord was not present but asked that dues be given to Tracy Goodrich, who will get them to Libby.


Terry Fretz took the grand prize in the Johnson County Fairís contest for his gorilla portrait.Congratulations, Terry!


Shari took third place in the Missouri Department of Tourism contest.Way to go!


The Website was discussed briefly.Mickey Norton said some of the file sizes of the images are huge, like 0.5 MB.The dimensions are right.Steve Brewer and Jim will check; some old pictures may still be coming up.Linda Hanley said some of the thumbnails are a bit pixilated.


If you send too many large pictures via e-mail, it will crash even Roadrunner.Sending about 1,000 pixels is ideal; if bigger, it is best to send as a CD.You can get slides put on CD at Wolf Photo, or at Costco, for about 29 cents each.


We are supposed to elect officers soon.Letís do it next month.We need a committee to identify candidates.Tracy Goodrich was asked to stay as secretary and she agreed.Barb and Carol said they would stay on as editors of the newsletter.Marie will continue as vice president, but Dan said he would like to step down as president.Do we have volunteers for the committee?If you are on the committee, you canít be nominated for a position!Jim, Dan, and Steve agreed to be on the committee.


It was pointed out that Steve did a great job with the Website!He put lots of extra bells and whistles on the site.Steve said if you have any ideas of things to add, let him know.The site is two months old already and needs updated.


Bill Pasek said that he and Jim are working on the display for Deramus for the photo club.They asked for ideas on where to find materials for the base of the stand.Steve and others had some good suggestions that Bill said he would investigate.Jim asked if someone at the zoo could do graphics for the display, and it was felt that this was possible.


Sherry said the butterfly festival at Powell Gardens has the best background and colors theyíve ever had.She shot six rolls of film there.They had lots of butterflies, dragonflies, bumblebee moths, and hummingbird moths.You canít use a tripod inside, though you can use flash.


At the end of the meeting, we viewed membersí slides.Shari had a great one of five of the lions playing!She also had a peacock shot from the Omaha zoo, the cheetah, and a Canada goose with goslings near her home.Finally, she had some of Avalanche Creek in Glacier National Park, and a beautiful lake in Montana.


Tracy shared some of her slides from the walk-through in June.


Terry had a great shot of a scorpion with a drop of venom on its stinger, plus a bee on a flower covered with pollen in his backyard.


The meeting adjourned around 8:50 p.m.The next meeting is on September 15 at 7 p.m.


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