Knowledge & Great Photos

Enjoy gaining knowledge from informative articles & great photographs.

Thank you for visiting my Knowledge and Great Pictures blog.

I get to travel the country a little and capture what I think are some pretty good pictures. This blog is set up to devote a separate page to each topic. Some great local pictures will be included as you can see from the local pregnancy ultrasound pictures.

Some time ago, I purchased and listened to a self-help cassette tape series. The orator passed along tip after tip, but one that really stuck was his recommendation to TAKE PICTURES and take a lot of them. I have endorsed that philosophy.

Going through old picture albums or digital pictures on your computer with the family is a terrific way to reminisce. It serves to reinforce the wonderful times you have had together and draw you closer together. Try it instead of going to a movie once. You will see what I mean.

Another thought this small blog may give you an idea to do the same with your memorable photos. You might want to start your own photo blog, or find a different sharing medium. There are many sharing platforms for you to choose from.

Do not worry if you are not a traveler or a vacationer. There are so many opportunities for you to capture super pictures in your local area. You could take hundreds in your back yard alone. Try different times of the day, try different angles, document passage of time. Just start taking pictures. Fancy equipment is not necessary - your phone will do just fine for most shots.

Here is the deal: With digital cameras you can go wild. Take a bundle of pictures and trash them if you don't like them. I remember taking pictures with film and you had to exercise some restraint in order not to break the bank with film costs and processing. That is behind us and what remains is for us to capture the moment whenever we wish.

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning your vacation, wanting to get every last detail in place for a carefree vacation. Have you also thought about how to prepare your house for vacation? Sooner or later, often later, you do think about how your house will be unattended for an extended period. Then you frantically try to get this necessary task done at the last minute, causing a lot of unnecessary stress. Then while on vacation you fret over some possibly forgotten, essential preparation. Here's a basic list you can use to prepare your house for vacation time.

First, you'll want to line up a family member or neighbor who can stop by your house every couple of days to check for packages which might have been left at your door, or fliers which someone might have tucked in your front door handle. These give thieves indications that no one's home. If you have house plants, either put them on an automatic feeding system, or ask the family/neighbor to do this.

Notify the post office to hold your mail for the applicable dates. If you ask them to hold your mail beginning on the day before you, leave, you'll be assured there's no mix up. If you take a newspaper, notify them as well. With your email, if you don't expect to be checking your email, be sure to notify just those who need to know. You don't need to notify your entire list of contacts (some people do).

When you travel around any holiday, you must plan ahead for your pets. Cats can make due for small periods of time, but need tending to after a short time span. Cat kennels will give you kitten and cat information. Some people may like to take their dogs and cats with them. There are pet friendly rentals and some motels all over. Another option is to kennel your pets in the area you vacation. One that we have used over the years for our pet kennel needs is Featherman Kennels. Before you use dog and cat care facilities that you are not familiar with, check with your local veterianrian or look at boarding facility rankings.


When you prepare your house for vacation, all of your pets must be a priority. If you have a reliable neighbor who can take care of your pets while you're gone, make that arrangement. This requires some dedication, so paying a babysitter fee is a good idea. If not, be prepared to board your pets so they have proper care. Boarding is the best idea.

Here's one many people overlook. When you prepare your house for vacation, be sure to schedule payments of bills that will become due during the time you're gone. Those penalties can be tough!

If you live in a private home, install an auto timer for your porch lights. If you live in a condo or apartment complex, it's likely outside lights are already automatically timed. You might also put living room and bedroom lights on timers as an extra safety precaution.

Be sure to leave a copy of your itinerary, including hotel numbers, with a family member or whoever you want to be contacted by in the case of an emergency.

This an optional step, but it can be a good idea to give your local police or sheriff's office a call. They will often make a particular note to patrol your street during the period you'll be away.

So these are the basic guidelines to prepare your house for vacation. Go through this list and think of the odd situations which might also be issues for you. Then, go on your vacation, worry free and have a good one!

No go out there and save the memory of your life and family’s with your camera.

Landscapes are always a favorite of photographers. Many times you will see some beautiful trees, some of which were probably pruned or trimmed by a certified arborist. Other times you may see a grove of trees that needs tree service badly. Once we were driving through the Columbia and Lexington, SC area and saw a truck labled Tree Service, along with a crew, bucket truck, wood chipper, stump grinder, ladders, and ropes. The amount and complexity of the equipment of a professional tree removal company was amazing.

Fire Safety

Just a quick example of what could happen. Below is a picture of a six foot Christmas tree that I threw into a small fire. We bought the tree on 20 December and this picture was taken on 6 January.

This should give you an idea of how important fire safety is around a semi-dry Christmas tree in your house.

fire safety

Tips for Better Architectural Photography

Whether you're trying to capture the beauty of classical architecture or something more contemporary, architectural photography can be pretty challenging. If you really find the right way to go about it though, it can be a very rewarding area of photographic art. Here are a few little tips to help you find your architectural photography groove.

When you take pictures of buildings, you need to pay attention to how the texture of the building needs to come through. People don't usually think about textures when they think of buildings. Texture is a word they usually just associate with skin or fabric – not buildings.

Make sure that the texture of the materials of the building comes through, and pay a lot of attention to the direction the light comes from. Not only can this do a lot for the appearance of texture, it can do a lot for your contrast and reflections too.

Another thing you can do is to try multiple exposures. You can take bracketed shots, one each for the highlights, the shadows and the midtones. Later, you can go to Photomatix and merge them all.

Buildings are large (see, where else would you learn this valuable tip); anyway, what that means is, that if you really want to capture the textures, shadows and reflections, coming close enough that you'll be able to capture all of that will mean you only get a small part of the building in your frame. What is the way out of this?

The way is to use a wide-angle lens – even a fisheye lens. If your frame is such that even a wide-angle lens can't capture enough of the building at one go, using your camera's panoramic format can help. You even get this mode on small cameras these days. This is where you engage the mode and then move your camera across the entire scene. Your camera will stitch everything together into one seamless extra-long panoramic shot and software.

Architectural photography isn't merely about capturing the outside either. When you go indoors though, it can be difficult to really capture the natural color and form of the building without the use of artificial lighting. Apart from that little flash in your camera though, where are you going to find powerful enough lighting that can light up the entire building’s interior?

Well, you could go in a time when there is a degree of natural lighting coming in or when there is a certain amount of artificial lighting turned on as well. And then, for whatever is still left wanting in the lighting department, you could use the White Balance function. You could also use long exposure to make up for the lack of light. You especially need to do this in older buildings that have small windows and little natural light.

Dog Gift Baskets

I am one of those South Carolina people that think animals are just as important in the family as anyone else. Obviously they are not people, but I never like to leave them out when it comes time to buy gifts for the holidays. I have a few friends with dogs, and each year I get them small dog gift baskets. My friends always think this is funny, but they also love that I do it. I get something for my cats each year, so why should I leave the dogs out of the mix?

I try to get different things when I make up my canine baskets each year, and it is kind of hard. There are only so many things that dogs need and enjoy, so the variety of things to buy and put into the baskets is rather limited. I keep the dog baskets small, so that way I am not rerunning the same things each year. Granted, the dogs would never know, and really wouldn’t care, but that is just the way I am. They pretty much sniff it and walk away, but I do know they enjoy the goodies once their owners get them out and give them to them.

What is great about making gift baskets for dogs is that you can put whatever you want in them, and you don’t have to spend a lot to have them be appreciated. For the most part, you want to think about treats and special toys that you can fit in a small basket for the dog. You may be able to get things like collars and leashes, but the owners may not want to use things like that when they did not pick them out on their own. If it is a smaller dog, you may even want to get things like sweaters that might keep them warm in the winter.

Though you may find making your own dog gift baskets fun, you don’t have to if you don’t have the time or you think something else would be better. You can find already made pet specific baskets for gifts in many stores, and you can find some really great ones online you can order. You can have them sent to your home, or you can have them delivered to the recipient if you are not getting them for your own pets. Some companies will even put the pet’s name right on package, in care of the owners, of course, so it does not get lost.

Cats, Travel and Litter

We travel all the time for relaxation, fun and to see the USA. We love taking our pets. They need to use the bathroom. We plan for this and have researched as best we can how to deal with our dogs and cats. This is about travel with cats and their needs.

Having a pet can be a serious responsibility. Unfortunately many people overlook this prior to purchasing or adopting one. While I highly recommend that you put some thought into the long-time commitment before taking the big plunge, a pet can no doubt be oodles of fun. Some folks are typically cat people and others are dog people. Having had both over the years, I can certainly make some distinctions between the two. Cats are more independent and require less attention than dogs generally do. However, if you do choose a feline, you might as well get used to the notorious cat litter box. I say this with a snide tone because these waste traps can get rather ripe on occasion. It's time to get the scoop on what's out there. No pun intended.

There was a time when I considered a cat litter box simply to be exactly what it is; a place where your feline buddy uses the bathroom. However, I was sadly mistaken. In today's modern world, there are several options to consider when it comes to the cat litter box. First of all, where are you going to put it? In most cases, these kitty commodes end up inside your home. Therefore it's prudent to place them in a room or area where the smell doesn't raise as many issues. In other words, not in your bedroom or family room. Now, onto the upgrades. If you weren't already familiar with these nuances, let me fill you in on a few great ones. Number one; the self-automated cat litter box. These may cost you between 100-150 bucks, but they're well worth the cash. Basically after your cat goes, the futuristic litter box beeps to make sure he/she's not still inside. It then proceeds to automatically rake the dirty litter or stool into a compartment, which closes, hence trapping the foul odor. These wonderful litter boxes will cut down on the cat stench in your home.

I personally prefer the inexpensive sifting cat litter box. These are cool for a few different reasons. First of all, they're closed in with a swinging door. Therefore your feline can enter privately and take care of business. Whenever you feel it's needed, you can conveniently pull the sifter tray from the litter box and empty it into a garbage bag for disposal. Place the sifter back in the cat litter box and you're done until next time. Hey, just because you have a cat, doesn't mean you have to put up with any mess or foul stench!

Sunset on Burntside Lake Ely, Minnesota

Here is classic sunset photo taken in late June on the southern part of Burntside Lake:

burntside lake sunset