Kansas City Zoo Photo Club Meeting Minutes

January 21, 2002


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

Dan said our speaker tonight is Tim Janicke of the Kansas City Star.  We will have our program first and discuss business after the presentation.

Tim works at the Star Magazine, the Sunday magazine of the Kansas City Star.  He is the photo editor and takes most of the pictures as well as writes many of the stories.  He has brought a computer slideshow based on the story that was done in August on the "dysfunctional" chimps here at the Kansas City Zoo.  Marie asked if he also could speak briefly on shooting through glass.

Tim said he was going to show the pictures he included in the article, plus he brought all the other ones he took that didn't get used.  He took about 494 pictures all together but doesn't plan to get through every one tonight!  He will explain why they picked the pictures they did for the article and would like to answer questions as he goes along.

Tonight's presentation is all digital. He explained that the Star switched to digital cameras about two years ago.  The costs are nominal; if you don't like a picture, you can erase it.  You can burn a CD of pictures for about 75 cents and get 600-700 pictures on one CD.

Tim said the idea for the story came from Matt Campbell.  Matt is a reporter at the Star who knew about the chimps.  He asked Tim if he would be interested in running a story on them and Tim said yes.

Tim explained that Jimmy, the dominant male chimp, had become weak and was no longer as dominant.  The younger males had gotten a bit unruly.  A couple of the females on birth control had become pregnant and had babies, and the zoo staff was not sure who the father was.  The zoo suspects that they must have had some bad Norplant.

Bondo, a young adult male chimp, wanted to be dominant, but was turning out to be a bully who was beating up the other chimps.  Joshua wasn't working out either.  So the zoo took a chance and brought in Julian to introduce to the group and see if he would become the dominant male, but he got beat up by the other chimps.  The first time he was beat up was not too serious, but the second time he was hurt very badly.  At that point, Tim decided that the pictures they used for the story wouldn't show any violence or aggression.

Tim was asked how much time he spent at the zoo taking pictures of the chimps.  He said he came out with Matt the first time to meet Diane, the head keeper, and see how the exhibit was laid out.  He then came out two more times to get pictures.  He spent about an hour or two on each visit.  After he had collected all the pictures, he came back later to get help identifying the chimps in the pictures.

Tim passed out copies of the Star Magazine that had the chimp article in it.  He started his slide presentation.  The first shots he showed us were of the chimps coming out to the exhibit first thing in the morning.  He had decided one of these would be a good opening picture for the article.  It helped establish or introduce the idea of the article.

He showed several pictures of the mom Crazy with the younger chimps Halla and Daphina.  He had to decide which one of these pictures was best to use.  The image with one of the younger chimps peeking over the back of the other two was kind of cute, so it was chosen.

What did he need to get into the exhibit and take pictures?  You have to have the permission of the zoo and a TB skin test.  Tim took some of the pictures from the roof of the observation building, which was a great location.  You can only get a couple of people up there at a time to shoot pictures, though.

Tim also took some of the pictures through the glass from inside the observation building.  He said some of the shots were backlit, so he overexposed one or two stops.  He used a Nikon D1.  How did he get rid of reflections?  Tim said he expected problems with that but didn't really have any, perhaps because of the time of day or the angle of light coming toward the windows.

Tim showed a picture of Jimmy looking at two young children through the glass.  This was a great shot and he just happened to get it the first day he went to see the exhibit.  He figured he would get other pictures similar to this on his other trips back to the zoo, but as it turned out, this was the only time he was able to capture that type of image.  Tim explained that he always keeps his camera with him for times like this, because you never know if you'll get the same opportunity again and in this case, it was a good thing he did.

He showed a series of slides of a couple of chimps engaged in some rough-and-tumble play.  He fired off lots of shots as this was happening, hoping to get one or two good pictures, rather than waiting to shoot until he could clearly see a face.  This was happening too fast to wait for the right image, so he took lots of pictures and sorted them out later to find the best ones.

Tim was asked what type of lenses he usually uses.  He has a 17- to 35mm wide-angle zoom lens that he uses a lot, though he's not sure he used it on this assignment.  He mentioned lens sizes from 60 to 300mm.  Tim explained that with digital photography, the lens lengths are not the same.  The length is increased by about 1.4 over a regular lens so a 300mm digital lens is roughly equivalent to a 400mm regular lens.

Tim takes his digital photographs, scans them in, and processes them in Photoshop.  You can do dodging and burning, where you lighten and darken selected areas, in Photoshop.  The program allows a lot of versatility.

Tim did bring a tripod with him, but there was enough light that he didn't feel like he had to use it.  In many of the pictures, he felt he ended up with something cute but not really meaningful.  So you then have to do the work to sort out the meaningful images from the others.

As for getting a good, balanced shot, the viewing window on the back of the digital camera helps, but it's not always right on.  If the exposure or color balance is way off, you can tell, but otherwise you can't always detect it.

Tim was asked if a polarizer was used to cut the glare on the window. He said he has a polarizer lens but doesn't use it much.  It's better to use it outside when shooting towards a window you can polarize away some of the glare, but not all of it in his experience.  When shooting inside a building, he said he was not sure you could polarize away glare.

The D1 is a very quick-focusing camera.  It takes nearly any lens if you focus manually.  Tim said he almost always uses autofocus he's found that if the camera says it's in focus, it always is.

He does all the Photoshop editing of his images.  All the other photographers at the Star work in the photography department, and most of them do the preliminary photography and let others do the editing/processing.  A typical photographer has three or four assignments a day to shoot.  Tim is in a unique situation he also writes and edits, since he works for the magazine.  He is probably out making pictures two to three days a week, and in house doing other things two to three days a week.  He likes it that way and enjoys the variety.

Another question that came up was whether Tim had to get model releases when including people in his shots, such as the kids at the glass looking at Jimmy.  He said the newspaper doesn't have to.  He might if the person is handicapped or if there is some other sensitivity around the image.  The Kansas City Star is a newspaper and so is covered by the first amendment.  If you are using your images for promotion or advertising, you have to have a release.  Gary Gingrich pointed out that if the person is not recognizable in the picture, you don't need a release.  Also it was pointed out that on the back of the zoo admission ticket is some language saying you agree to release your image if taken at the zoo.  The zoo is a public institution so it probably doesn't need releases anyway.  Tim said he is doing a story soon on heart surgery at Children's Mercy Hospital, and for that he will get releases from all involved.

Tim entertained the group with the story of when the Star decided to switch to digital cameras.  They sold about 50 Nikon F5s in one day, for $600-700.  It would make you cry!  One guy bought five, sold three to IPAS for a good profit and paid that way for the other two that he kept.  Tim said he's had his digital camera for two years.  It will shoot 21 frames at 5 per second.  The new ones shoot 40 frames before they stop.  Also, one of the new cameras has higher resolution than the cameras they are currently using.  Tim thinks that in the next year, the Star will probably replace the camera bodies with new ones.  The Star photography department replaces camera bodies about every four or five years, and lenses every eight to ten years.  The Star is using all Nikons now, though they could as easily be using Canons.  They went with Nikons because they wanted to replace all with the same cameras and they had more Nikon lenses than Canon ones.

What file size is he using?  Tim said images come out of the camera at 1.1 MB as compressed jpeg files.  Full size is about 7.1 MB when uncompressed.  This is a large enough resolution for the newspaper, but is a little small for the magazine.  He can size it up in Photoshop, but the resolution is not as good as film would be, for the magazine.  It's almost as good, but not quite he can sometimes tell a difference.  The new cameras will be better, however.

The program he is using to show the slides is called ACDC.  It lets him go through 300 pictures, blow them up to full screen size, and copy them to another location if he's editing them.  It is not as fast on a network but is okay on a laptop.  It can be used with scanned photos as well as digital photos.  It takes several minutes to build thumbnails.

Jim said he'd been using I32 Viewer, which is free on the Internet.  Just click on Slide Show and you can build a show easily.

We took a break and had treats at about 8:15 p.m., after Tim's excellent presentation.  We reconvened at around 8:35 p.m.

Dan asked if there was any old business.

Marie said about 15 people went to Cedar Cove Feline Conservancy in December.  The weather was wonderful.  The guy that runs the Conservancy wants us to write an article about it and send it to the Kansas City Star.  Marie said it would be considered a conflict if she mentioned the zoo, so she will have to do this from the standpoint of the Great Plains Nature Photographers.  It was a little challenging to get good pictures because of the bars on the enclosures, but the animals looked very well cared for.

Wayne Hickox is out of town this month and possibly next month as well, so there was no Treasurer's report tonight.

Dan then called for new business.

Carol Mitchell asked who was familiar with the Backyard Bird Count sponsored by Cornell University.  Linda Williams said she knew about it.  There is information about this on Cornell's Web site (www.cornell.edu).  In a 15-minute period, you count the birds you see in your yard.  It goes on for an extended weekend four days.  Do a search on "backyard bird count" to find information on it on the Web.  You can mail your results in or submit them online.

Some people said they needed name tags.  Jim Rendina said he'd get those done.

Stewart Riley was a guest tonight.  He lives in Gardner and is employed by Sprint.  He's a software developer who started with Apple, then worked for Adobe (they make Photoshop!).  He is interested in photography and has been since he was 15 and shot the Eisenhower funeral procession, which he sold to the local paper.  Welcome, Stewart!

Some photo seminars are coming up.  The Rocky Mountain School of Photography is having a seminar in Overland Park on March 23 and 24.  The Web site is www.rmsp.com.  Crystal Nederman made and passed out copies of the application form and information.  If we can get a group of five or more to go, we will get a discount!

Also, Saturday, March 9, at the Little Theater at Johnson County Community College, Linda's friend Bill Chapman will give a photo seminar for $90.  He was in Nepal and China with her on a recent trip.  Flyers on that seminar were available also.

Finally, John and Barbara Gerlach are having a seminar here in Kansas City on April 14 for $75.  This appears to be similar to the Rod Planck seminar of a few years back.

Another trip to Wolf Park in Indiana was mentioned.  Dan asked if anyone was interested in going again.  It was a great trip.

Jim said the Digital Camera Club didn't meet in November or December.  They are meeting tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in the public library at 75th and Oak in the Waldo area.  Carol said it was a good group of people and most of them use regular cameras as well.  They currently meet on the fourth Tuesday of the month.

Future activities for the group were discussed.  It was asked if there was interest in everyone bringing four or five pictures each of wild animals or something else in their backyards or a local park as a project for a future meeting.  Everyone seemed to agree this would be a good idea.  Let's plan on this for the April meeting.

Jim said that he and Malinda Welte had changed out every picture on the Web site that they can, but we have had some of those on the site for six months.  We need new photos so we can swap these old ones out for new ones.  Jim opens these in Photoshop and gets them to the right size, and then Malinda posts them.  Jim said it would be good to e-mail the biggest file you can, and he'll downsize it.  Lately folks have been sending in files that are too small.  You don't have to keep them to 400 pixels, though they will end up that size after Jim manipulates them.

Marie said that the Great Plains Nature Photographers meeting would be in April at McPherson, Kansas.  This is near the Quivira Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms.  It will be on the Saturday after tax day, April 20.  The guest speaker is not known at this time.

Gary said that he had communicated with Mark Mayfield recently.  Mark has moved to San Antonio and his business is going great he sold his first print job!  Gary also had good news Mark recommended Gary to his employer and Gary was hired to take Mark's old job!  Congratulations, Gary!  Gary said the Web site for his employer is www.dddkc.com (for Direct Digital Design) about 12 or so of Mark's images are on the site under Wildlife.  Mark says hi and Happy New Year!

After the discussion, we viewed members' slides.  Terry Fretz had several slides to show, including some of the cats at Cedar Cove.  He had nice shots of the puma and Siberian tiger.  Only problem was the bars on the cages.  The center faces west, so go in the afternoon if you go.  He also had an image of a spider in his backyard, using 100-400 zoom, a 1.4 converter plus extension tube, and an off-camera flash.  He had images of flowers to share as well.  Some of these were 1:1 (life size).  He used a ring flash in some of the shots.  He had a close-up of a holly flower with a green and scarlet leafhopper on it the leafhopper was only 3/8 of an inch long.  That image was 3x life size.  Terry said he handheld the camera for these shots.

Bill Pasek moved and Tracy Goodrich seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The next meeting will be on February 18 at 7 p.m.

                            -- Tracy Goodrich