Kansas City Zoo Photo Club Meeting Minutes
November 17, 2003

The meeting began with guest speaker Pat Whalen of the Missouri Department of Conservation talking about Kansas City Wildlands.

Pat explained that Kansas City has more trees now than it did 100 years ago. Back then, there was a lot of tall-grass prairie. Missouri was about one-third tall-grass prairie.

Pat showed slides that represented Kansas City and regional scenes throughout the calendar year, starting with January.

He talked about the Blue River Glade, which is off of Blue River Parkway. It is pretty unique, with some 350-year-old chinkapin oaks that are small and gnarly, due to the harsh conditions in the glade.

Pat said he shoots with a Pentax 6x7 medium-format camera, though the pictures he was showing tonight were shot with an old 35mm Nikon. The three lenses he usually used were a 200mm, a 105mm, and a 50mm. Everything you see in this series is shot on Fujichrome Velvia. He uses a Bogen tripod and carries a Lowepro Nature Trekker backpack. He does not use a lot of filters and accessories, preferring to shoot pretty simply.

He included shots of Taberville Prairie near Rich Hill, Missouri. The prairie was wet and saturated with low-level sunlight, making for good picture-taking. In March, youıll see the first of the spring wildflowers, such as bloodroot. At Isley Park Woods near Excelsior Springs, there are some beautiful displays of bloodroot. You donıt see it much in Kansas City, probably because of the deer population.

It is hard to shoot white flowers on sunny days. He uses clear plastic as a filter sometimes. You can hold it up to the sun and it softens the light.

He shared images of dogtooth violets or trout lilies shot on an overcast

day, a good time to shoot. You could see colonies of these in Swope Park.

Dutchmenıs breeches are found in early April, and ferns appear in mid-April. He went out on some frosty mornings in April and got some redbuds and chinkapin oaks at Lake Jacomo.

The state tree of Missouri is the dogwood, and the state tree of Kansas is the cottonwood, though in his opinion it should be the redbud.

He included shots of trees at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center, Swope Park on Blue River Road, and redbuds along I-470 before Longview Lake.

His images of late April in the glade showed a turkey vulture in a tree. Pat explained that the vultures used to circle the landfill across the road from the glade and roost in the sycamore trees. The landfill is closed now, but you still see a few vultures. In the glade, the bedrock is exposed at the surface. The glade faces south and is rocky, so it supports plants that are more suited to a dry, hot environment. The Blue River Glade is a limestone glade. Glades are distinguished by the type of rock they are made up of.

In a dolomite glade near the Lake of the Ozarks, you will see Indian paintbrush and birdsfoot violets.

In late April, you may see dwarf crested iris, though this is not native to Kansas City.

In May, you can find jack in the pulpit and bluebells. He showed a slide of a valley of bluebells; this was a two- to three-acre solid mass of flowers that smelled wonderful, but you had to hop a few fences in Jackson County to get to it.

Yellow lady slippers can be found in Kansas City, but they are hard to find.

In late May and June, many forest flowers are done blooming, since the sunlight is blocked once the leaves come out. Prairies and glades can extend their spring a little longer.

He shot prickly pear cactus and lots of purple coneflowers around Blue Springs Lake and Lake Jacomo.

Prairie State Park near Sedalia has three to four acres of coneflowers.

It is hard to shoot at slow speed on a windy day when the flowers are moving. You can shoot with Velvia 100 to double your speed. Supposedly this film is as sharp as or sharper than Provia.

Butterfly weed can be found around the first to the middle of June, at Jerry Smith Farm Park in south Kansas City at about 139th and Holmes. There are only about 30 acres of land around here that may have escaped the farmerıs plow, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, together with Kansas City Power and Light, is trying to remove trees and return an area at Jerry Smith to as natural a prairie as possible. This is the best remnant of a tall-grass prairie in Kansas City. It is a sliver of 5 acres that is all thatıs left.

In early to mid-July, you can see willowleaf sunflower, blazing star, and compass plant at Paintbrush Prairie.

For good prairie shooting, you need good light, peak bloom, and good sky. Wildlife shooting is a whole different sport, due to equipment needs. He finds it hard to have time for wildlife photography.

Shots of prairie grasses can be interesting, especially in August, when nothing is blooming. August is not as good for shooting because the prairie flowers are starting to burn up and the fall bloom is not out yet.

He showed slides of foxglove shot at Jerry Smith Farm in August. This is one of the rarest flowers in Kansas City. It is state-listed as an endangered plant. The biggest population is about 500-600 plants at Jerry Smith.

In mid-September, sumacs are the first sign of fall color. They make for a pretty standard roadside scene in Kansas City.

In late September, the prairie flowers make a comeback. You can see maximillian sunflowers on I-70 near Boonville. They now are mowing this patch.

Cemeteries are great places for fall color, especially for maple trees.

He showed a slide taken at the end of October of a crawdad sticking its claws out from under a sumac leaf. This is a good intimate landscape shot.

He had shots of the first snow and hawthorn trees out at Burr Oak Woods in November. Pat talked about composition and the rule of thirds.

After his entertaining slide show, Pat asked if there were any questions.

Linda Williams said she would like to go to Blue River Glade but had been a bit intimidated to go by herself. Pat said that Kansas City Wildlands has a hike in October. Look for information in the newsletter.

Jim Rendina asked if it was climate or soil that differentiated tall-grass prairie from wooded areas. Pat said it was both. Glaciers came down to Missouri in a line along I-70. The silt deposits left by the glaciers were conducive to grasses.

The other factor is fire. Native Americans would set fires, which influenced prairies. It was hotter on the ridge tops than in valleys, so you find more trees in the valleys.

Pat asked who in the club was shooting all digital versus scanning film to digital. He gets good scans of 6x7 images. He prints his images on an Epson 1280. It is a good printer, and now the 2200 printer is available, which has better archival capabilities (up to 60-70 years). The hardest thing is getting profiles set up in Photoshop. He finds it very satisfying, though.

All of the prairies Pat discussed are included in the Kansas City Wildlands book, with maps showing how to get there, plants and animals, and so on. Itıs a fairly unique book. Larry Rizzo wrote it, and Pat, Kevin Sink, and Jim Rathert took the pictures. It is for sale for $12 at the Discovery Center, Burr Oak Woods, or online.

Pat was asked about lenses for his 6x7. He uses a short telephoto. For 6x7, a 200 is like a 105mm. A 70 is similar to a 35 or 50mm. Pat said he likes the short telephoto. He said it is hard to do landscape photography in Kansas City. It is better if you go a bit west into the Flint Hills and surrounding areas. With the short telephoto, you can zoom in and cut out the telephone pole, the house, and so on.

Linda Hanley suggested organizing a photo trip and having Pat lead it. Pat said he could do this; we would just have to leave about 3 a.m. to get to some place like Paintbrush Prairie at sunrise. Some local Kansas City prairies are closer, but you need to get there a couple of hours ahead and scout around to plan your shots.

Pat closed by emphasizing that he works for us (Missouri citizens) at the Discovery Center at 4750 Troost. The Discovery Center is run by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

We took a five-minute break. Wayne Hickox brought refreshments.

The meeting reconvened at about 8:05 p.m.

Libby McCord gave the Treasurerıs report. We have about $1,600 in the treasury, and about 31 members have paid. Libby said we were missing a couple of members, but this is a good start. Bill Pasek passed out a tentative roster and said a more updated one would probably be available in January or February. Please pay your dues, or your photos will have to be removed from our and the zooıs Web sites.

Our guests at the meeting were Ron and Monica Johnston. They saw our flyer in the zoo gift shop. Bill welcomed them and suggested that they attend a couple of meetings to see if they are interested in joining.

Bill called for old business. Jim gave an update on the display board at Deramus. The board was put up on Friday afternoon. He and Sarah OıBryan coordinated it. It is outside of the ticket booth for the IMAX. Weıll get more exposure by putting it there for now. We may move it later. It looks good, though Jim said he wished we had gotten a little better response on the request for photos. We had 12 slots to fill, but only seven members sent images, so some have more than one image on the board.

We can change it out in mid-December if we get enough images. Jim said he would probably change out some of the photos.

He said he was short on portrait shots. Many times a portrait is a better shot of an animal. Jim had to convert some of the landscape shots to portrait to fill the board. Jerilyn Jones and Conrad Schmitt both commented on how good the display looks.

Jim also said he is working on some tips for shooting animals at the zoo.

Carla had volunteered to make up a brochure for the camera club. She showed the group a proposed draft of the brochure. This could be trifold or not. It was discussed whether we would print these at Kinkoıs or by some other means. Kinkoıs would be cheaper. The members were instructed to give input on the brochure by the end of the meeting.

Marie Bohndorf was asked if we could invite the new zoo director to the January meeting. Marie said we already have a person from Photographix coming in January, so perhaps the new director could come in February or March.

Members were asked to get with Jim if they need an official name tag.

The informal meeting name tags were discussed. Bill said his daughter helped create the tags. He passed around a sheet where people could note changes or additions for the name tags. Remember to turn your name tag in at the end of the meeting by placing it in the container on your way out.

Sarah said a few people had asked about photos for the zoo calendar. She informed us that the zoo will not be doing the calendar this year after all, due to monetary issues. She always needs photos for the zoo, however, although there are no special needs right now. Upcoming changes for winter and spring at the zoo include a new lorikeet exhibit where visitors can feed the birds nectar, plus a reptile exhibit that will be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. She will make sure that we get out to take pictures of these exhibits in the spring.

Jungle Bells will be going on at the zoo on Saturdays in December, instead of Wildlights. It will be during regular zoo hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some new IMAX movies are opening for the holidays as well, including Santa Versus the Snowman. The prices will be slightly discounted $5, or $10 when combined with an IMAX movie. There will be some light displays, you can ride the train free with zoo admission, and Santaıs workshop will be in Australia. There will be crafts in the Red Barn and treats to eat. Matrix Revolutions will start at the IMAX on Thanksgiving day, with Santa Versus the Snowman opening the day after. Disneyıs Young Black Stallion will open on January 1.

Steve was asked about the Web site. He said he had the best of intentions to update it but hasnıt yet. Jim gave him two more CDs of images tonight. Tomorrow he will be working on the Web site!

Peggy Lawrey talked about the photo displays at the Deja Zoo gift shop. She said we have hardly any unmatted photos in the rack; there are only about three. This is a slow time of year for sales, so unmatted pictures may sell better. She encouraged members to bring her more unmatted prints.

A discussion ensued as to how many pictures one person could have on display. Peggy received a couple of bags of pictures from someone who has some up on display already. We need to rotate old pictures off display if new ones are turned in, so that one person does not dominate the display.

The rack will hold at least two dozen unmatted prints. The wall display goes along the back wall of the gift shop. There is another, shorter wall that connects to that one that also can be used, but we havenıt been using it because it was thought that prints on that wall wouldnıt be very visible. The group talked about it and decided that those seated in the dining area would see that wall, so we should use it too. Perhaps we can move older pictures to that wall.

Bill asked club members how they wanted to manage having pictures taken down do you want to be called to come pick up your picture(s), have them brought to the meeting, or arrange to meet Peggy? Jim said that bringing them to each meeting can be a burden. Also, there should be a time limit for pictures if they havenıt sold. Two months on display seems like a reasonable amount of time. Peggy could e-mail or call when she is ready to take your pictures down, and you could make arrangements with her to get them back. It was discussed whether people could take a box over and remove their own pictures, but the zoo doesnıt seem to want to have to deal with many members coming in and doing that. We could meet on a designated Saturday every month to trade out pictures, but again, no one was sure if the gift shop staff would want that. Peggy said she would talk to them and report back.

Bill asked about the size of prints to be displayed at the gift shop. The smallest is 8x10 framed or matted. Pictures can be 5x7, framed or matted to 8x10. The largest is 16x20 framed.

Bill said he wanted to have our first "tech talk" session tonight, where we spend some time sharing technical aspects of photography. He said that Jim would moderate a discussion for the next few minutes on how everyone organizes their photos.

Jim suggested starting at one end of the room and having each person share their technique. He said he is at the point now where all he is categorizing are digital images.

He created a file folder called Images and specified subfolders such as Animals, Family, Flowers, and Landscape. When he first adds images, he puts them in a folder called Temp until he figures out what to do with them. He said he had about 2,600 photos in 40 different folders. Sometimes he groups them by trip, birthdays, etc. until he can categorize them. He sometimes includes the year at the end of the name.

Peggy said she used to do it that way but now stores them by date and the key subject in the picture. She burns them on CDs and puts the folder name and key subject on the label. That way she can go back and find images easily.

Software called IMatch was mentioned. It costs $50 and reads folders, creates thumbnails, and can categorize images.

Sarah uses ImageViewer, which takes all the pictures and creates thumbnails from them.

Steve said for dates, he names items by four-digit year, then month, and then day, so one yearıs worth of images is all together and in chronological order.

Jim said he got in trouble when first receiving images from us, because he found he might have several called the same thing, for example, "lion.jpg", from different people, and he couldnıt tell who sent what. He now has created a separate folder for each memberıs photos.

Marie said Adobe Photoshop Album just came out and costs $50. You can edit, file, and then sort your images any way you want, and it puts up thumbnails as well. She also said she has her slides processed at Image Point, and they put the name and date on them as a free service. They come in a plastic box and cost $9 for 36 slides. The store is at 15th and Grand.

Some members discussed using a database to keep track of images.

Stuart Riley said he knew a professor at the New York Institute of Photography who taught him to think in terms of events. Filing images based on significant events seems to work well for him.

Wayne said he had a good system for prints. He assigned numbers and created a table of contents and an index. For a bird image, he would specify the order and family, the date, and the location, and give it a number. He could go to a notebook and pull the print out based on the index.

Linda Hanley said she assigns a letter to a roll of film, puts the letter on an index card, and keeps the negatives with that card. If things get mixed up, she can put them back together later.

Linda Williams said she designed a darkroom with custom-built drawers. She cuts her medium-format negatives into three strips and stores them with the photos in chronological order. She goes for the cheapest processing and reprints her images herself. She puts a star next to subjects she thinks are good. Sheets of slides are stored in file drawers, and digital images are stored on computer.

Bill asked if anyone would be willing to moderate a subject at the January meeting. Linda Williams volunteered to lead one on filters.

Bill called for any new business.

Linda Hanley said about 500,000 snow geese are at Squaw Creek right now, if anyone is interested. Also, about 20 eagles have been sighted there.

It was asked if we could get together for an outdoor shoot sometime. A trip to the Blue River Glade in the spring as a group would be neat.

Linda Williams reminded everyone that the Great Plains Nature Photographers meeting is this Saturday. Members were encouraged to attend. It will be in Wichita, and the guest speaker is from National Geographic.

Donıt forget to pick up a membership list tonight.

Next we viewed membersı slides.

Shari had images of flowers and butterflies at Powell Gardens from last August. She was using a 50mm macro lens.

Carol Mitchell had slides from the last walk-through, including zebra, red river hog, elephants, scimitar-horned oryx, tortoise, servals, and meerkats.

Bill said he would like to have a buy-sell-trade session at each meeting. If you have anything to sell or are looking for anything, this would be a good opportunity. Stuart said he had one fanny pack-type camera bag left that will hold two large lenses and a camera for $45 if anyone is interested.

The meeting adjourned. The next meeting is on January 19 at 7 p.m.

-- Tracy Goodrich