Kansas City Zoo Photo Club Meeting Minutes

October 21, 2002

Dan Paulsen called the meeting to order around 7:10 p.m.

Dan said we have two guests tonight and asked them to introduce themselves.  Christy Lonergan said she is dabbling in photography and loves photographing animals.  She found our Web site on the Internet and was interested.  Barbara Thurnall said she is a friend of Christy’s who enjoys the zoo and was clued in about the club from Christy.  Welcome!  Dan explained our policy with respect to guests and invited the two to check the club out with a couple more visits.

Dan said our presentation tonight is by Bob Nederman, Chris’ husband.  His talk will be on astronomy and photography.  But first Dan asked if there was any new business.

Marie Bohndorf explained that the zoo photo club will have a display at the Wyandotte West Library from December 2 to 30.  She asked that we bring photographs for the display to the next meeting if we want to show something, because they want all photos by the end of November.  We need about 30 pictures, and they prefer that the subjects be from our zoo.

The library also will give a two-hour reception for the exhibit and we need to discuss when to have it.  It was suggested that the reception would be on Saturday, December 7, from 2 to 4 p.m.  Tracy Goodrich moved and Libby McCord seconded that the reception be at that time.  The motion passed unanimously.

The requirements for the photos will be that they be matted and framed photos from our zoo, with a wire hanger on the back.  If you want to sell the picture, include a price.  The library has a big display area with spotlights.  Pictures of the display area are on the Web site:  www.kckpl.lib.ks.us.

Wyandotte West Library is open from 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday, 9 to 5 Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 5 on Sunday.  It is at 1737 North 82nd Street in Kansas City, Kansas.  Marie said her prints are on display there through the 30th of November.

You can deliver your prints to Sarah Bohndorf at the library or to Marie at the next meeting.

Marie gave directions to the library:  from I-70, take the 78th Street exit.  Turn right (North); go to State.  Turn left.  Go to 82nd and turn right.  Or if you are coming from I-435, take the Parallel East exit and go to 82nd, and then turn left.

Marie said there is some film left over from the photo shoot we had at the zoo recently.

Dan pointed out to the group that the Great Plains Nature Photographers semiannual meeting is coming up.  It will be here in Kansas City on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  It is well worth the $15 fee to attend.  It will be at the Missouri Department of Conservation Discovery Center.  Carol Mitchell asked if they needed any help setting up for the event, since she lives nearby.  She was told to contact Linda Williams if she wanted to volunteer; the Northland Camera Club is helping with GPNP this year.  GPNP has a Web site at http://groups.msn.com, if you want more information.

Tracy Goodrich said that a friend she works with is putting together some “mosaic pictures” as gifts for his family for Christmas.  These involve using hundreds of small pictures in various color schemes to create a large picture.  He is taking portraits of his family and re-creating them with the small images.  He needs as many good-quality nature-type pictures of flowers, scenery, animals, etc. as he can get for this project.  Tracy promised him she would make a pitch for him at the club.  She said she understood that there might be concerns about giving out copies of your material from a copyright standpoint, but she felt confident that her friend didn’t intend to do anything with these pictures other than what she has described.  He has searched Web sites and found hundreds of images, but needs hundreds or thousands more.  If you care to donate some copies of images, bring them on a CD to the next meeting and she will get them to her friend.  [Note:  Or you can e-mail them to me at tgoodrich1@kc.rr.com.  Thanks!]

Carol asked if people had trouble opening the latest newsletter.  Marie and Dan said theirs was okay.  Others said they could open one document but the other was encrypted.  This was Barbara Chase’ first time putting out the newsletter online and she’s still working out the bugs!  We do need pictures for the newsletter!  These also could be put on the Web site.

Someone asked about the Web site – what is the status?  Jim Rendina said it was updated in July but nothing more has been done.  Jim and Stuart Riley were going to work on it but haven’t done that yet, and Malinda Welte is busy with her new baby.  Stephen Brewer said maintaining the site is simple to do – and he was “volunteered” for the project!

Steve also asked about the possibility that the zoo could cover FOTZ memberships for members of the camera club.  He had to pay to get in to shoot some pictures recently and thought it would be nice if that was one of the benefits of membership.  Dan said he would check on this, and Marie offered to check with Ollie in the zoo education department about it.

It was asked whether the zoo wants slides or digital images?  It they took digital, we could make duplicates before giving the images to the zoo.  The education department in the past has wanted slides for training, but they have at least one notebook PC now.  Dan said he could check further into this.

Jim said that two weeks ago, he was at Circuit City and found a DVD player that plays JPEGs.  There were probably 20 different models of DVD players there, and three of the latest played JPEGs—the brands were Sony, RCA, and one other brand.  He paid about $120 for it.  He put a disk with photos on it into the player, and on a 32-inch screen, the pictures were as good a resolution as on the PC.  You can jump from the DVD to your VCR and make a tape of the slide show.  This is a DVD player only, not a burner.

Linda said that at the last Northland Camera Club she attended, they discussed organizing all the various photography clubs around town and doing a project together, such as selling photos at a photography festival, mall, or gallery space.  She said they are gathering contact information on all the clubs.

Dan asked if there was any old business.

Libby was asked about yearly dues.  She is still getting up-to-speed as treasurer, but said that most people have paid their dues.  Annual dues are $20 for a single membership.  Dues are payable every August.  Dan explained that for new members, the dues are prorated based on when you join.

Chris asked how the auction went for the Wyandotte County Parks Administration.  Did they raise lots of money?  Yes, and Marie said it was fun.  She passed out a list about auctioned items and what they brought in.

Dan then presented our speaker, Bob Nederman.  Bob knows all about astronomy and is going to tell us about it.

Bob said that most people take terrestrial photos, but he takes celestial ones.  He explained that he was into “astrophotography”.  It has been many years since he played with it using film cameras – that method is pretty outdated, as the field has gone digital.  Most people use a PC connected to a scope to take pictures in a matter of seconds compared to the long timeframes required with film photography.  But it is still possible to take interesting celestial photos with a film camera.  You can do “piggymount” photography, which is mounting the camera to a telescope device.  You can get pictures of the sun, the moon, and comets.  With a drive system, you can take pictures with a shutter speed from ¼ second to 4-5 minutes.

If you don’t have a drive system or a telescope, it can be trickier.  The Earth is rotating at about 1,000 miles an hour.  The sun doesn’t move.  If you point the camera at the sky and open the lens for 30-50 seconds, the image will have moved.  This can be tricky, but there are some things you can do that are fun without spending lots of money.

Bob gave some background into how he got started with astrophotography.  He grew up in Tucson, where there are several observatories.  He was always fascinated and wanted to see and photograph a solar eclipse.  There was an eclipse in February of 1979 that would be a total eclipse in North Dakota.  He and his brother made the trek to Minot, North Dakota, to see it in minus-20-degree weather.  This was also his first real experience using a camera.  He only had two rolls of film, and he ruined one of the two by exposing it.  He then had trouble finding film, so he was reduced to capturing the eclipse with only one roll of film.

Bob showed some slides of the eclipse that he took.  He learned from this that slides in a plastic container can get damaged over the years!  A few of the slides had streaks and odd effects, but many of them were fine.

Bob explained that you can’t look directly at the sun for any length of time.  You can use Mylar, which is similar to tin foil, to look through; it blocks out 99.999% of the light.  You can use a glass version of Mylar with your camera.  This is the only way to look at the sun directly for more than a second or so without burning your eyes and possibly doing permanent damage.  The Mylar blocks out a lot of the light.

His slides showed the stages of the eclipse as it progressed.  One slide showed “first touch”, which is the point where the eclipse is just starting to happen.

When the eclipse reaches totality and the moon is completely covering the sun, you can take the Mylar off and look at the sun directly.  On the edges of the eclipse, you can see solar prominences.  These are shooting off the edge of the sun at a 90–degree angle to our view.  If you looked at these head-on, you would see them as sunspots.  They are flares coming off the surface of the sun.  These were shot on a tripod at 1/150th of a second.

Any time you are shooting a bright object like this, you want to use slower, finer-grain film.  Bob was using Kodak ASA 64 film.  If you compare the black of the sky to the black of the moon, you can see a difference.

If he had stayed in Kansas City for the eclipse, he would have seen more of a crescent shape to the eclipse and there would still be a lot of light, even though half of the sun would be blocked.

The eclipse lasted about 2 minutes and 40 seconds.  Bob showed a slide of the “diamond ring effect”, when the moon is starting to move away from in front of the sun enough that the edge of the sunlight comes through.  This is the last shoot you can take before using the Mylar again.  It was so dark in the sky that it looked like 30 minutes after sunset, but it was during daylight.

Bob shared other interesting celestial shots.  He showed a shot of the moon taken through a telescope.  This was not perfectly in focus, because the Earth is moving and so is the moon, so this was challenging.

Bob explained that a slide of the Milky Way required a five- to six-minute exposure, in order to pick up the stars and the color of the Milky Way.  You need a moving platform to do this.

He said his picture of the moon with Jupiter is overexposed so that Jupiter will show up.  This was exposed for 8 to 10 seconds.

The Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters, will be visible about 11 p.m. tonight.  Using a 50-85mm lens on a tripod, a cable release, and fast film (400 ASA and up), you can shoot a star cluster like the Seven Sisters with about a 30-second exposure.

He shared slides of the Milky Way with the North America Nebula and of Andromeda, the sister galaxy of the Milky Way.  This takes about 20-30 minutes and you need a guided platform.

Regarding his image of the moon in front of the Pleiades, he said he had to overexpose the moon to get the stars to show up.  You can double-expose these images to get the exposure right.

Bob was asked if you have to go out to the country to get good images?  He said that was best because of light pollution.  There’s a big difference in shooting 70 miles south of here versus in your backyard in Overland Park.

He had an image of solar prominences from March 1989 that showed the largest sunspot ever seen or photographed.  You could fit eight or nine Earths in a sunspot.  This sunspot caused some brownouts in New England at the time.  The picture made the front page of the Kansas City Star.  He used a ten-inch telescope and shot it quickly – at 1/250th or 1/125th of a second.  Sunspots are predictable in about an 11-year cycle.  The latest peak was in 2000, so we are on the downside right now.

You can buy Mylar, which is relatively inexpensive, or the glass version that screws on to your telephoto lens for about $70 or $80.  With that, you can safely look through the viewfinder.  Bob passed around some Mylar so we could see it up close.  Astronomy magazine is a good place to buy Mylar and other equipment; it’s a good magazine.

Planets are hard to shoot because of the movement and the long time it takes to get the image.  He showed an image of Mars through a telescope where you can see the polar caps, but not a lot of detail.

If you use a platform, you can get into some pretty stuff—beautiful nebulae, the Milky Way.  You can get up close to the moon, but you’ll lose a lot of light.

Star trails are the easiest thing to shoot and they are fun.  You point the camera at the North Star (Polaris).  It is the pole star.  We are rotating around that point, so if you leave the lens open for 60 or 70 minutes, you get a center point for Polaris and circular trails around it for the other stars.

You can add an object like a barn to the foreground at the end of the shot if you want.  He showed an image of a barn’s roofline in red light under the stars.

Bob talked a bit more about equipment.  He noted that with an automatic camera, the battery can run down after one to two hours, so manual cameras are good for these long exposures.

Sherry said she had gotten a great shot of the moon with her camera on a telescope shooting 100-speed Fuji film and using mirror lock-up, leaving the lens open for a few seconds.

Bob said you can get some interesting images by shooting into Baby Moon hubcaps.

He was asking about shooting in the summer versus winter.  Humidity is a factor in the summertime; you get what they call a “thick sky”.  He said if you shoot toward the horizon, you are shooting through 45 miles of atmosphere.  If you shoot straight above you, you are shooting through only ten miles of atmosphere.

Bob was asked about his T-shirt.  He explained that there is a star party every year about 30 miles southwest of Osawatomie, Kansas, and they create a different T-shirt each year for the party.  It’s a great, quick way to get an education about astrophotography.  It typically runs from Tuesday through Saturday.  Next year, it starts on September 24, 2003.

After Bob’s interesting presentation, the group took a break and enjoyed treats provided by both Sheila Rohrer and Chris Nederman.  Yum!

We then showed slides.  Terry Fretz had some great shots, as usual, of a rhino, an insect with a flower, the warthog, an orange bishop, and Jill the orangutan and her baby!  Shari had some nice shots of Beaver Lake and the surrounding Ozark area, plus a lighthouse off the coast of Georgia and zoo animals.  Linda Hanley had pictures of a sand cave in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia.  Her picture of the Red-Tailed Tropic Bird was great.  She also had images of terns and eggs in the sand.

Next month, our topic will be Alaska.  Everyone who has been and has slides or prints to share is asked to bring them for this meeting!  Chris moved and Libby seconded that the meeting be adjourned; the motion passed.  The meeting adjourned around 9:10 p.m.  The next meeting is on November 18 at 7 p.m.

                            -- Tracy Goodrich