with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Newsletter: Weather or Not

Due to many recent changes in the Internet and our lives, we’ve discontinued our monthly newsletter.

Thanks to everyone who subscribed to our monthly newsletter. With the advent of feeds and feed readers, emailed newsletters are slowly becoming obsolete and redundant. To help readers keep up with the information on our site, we have dozens of feeds for readers to choose from, covering the whole site, site comments, and a variety of categories to narrow down your reading interests.

Thank you again to everyone who enjoys our site and our information and welcome to the future of the Internet: feeds!


Issue Date: December 1, 2002

Issue Number: 02

VanFossen Productions http://www.cameraontheroad.com

Editor/Publisher: Lorelle VanFossen lorelle@cameraontheroad.com


Welcome to the second issue of the VanFossen Productions Newsletter. This monthly newsletter
provides you with information on nature photography and editorial writing. It is ideal for the nature
photographer, nature writer, or someone with a foot in both camps. We cover environmental issues,
motivate and inspire your photography and writing, offer tips and advice, highlight others who are
doing great things, and help you keep focused and motivated to do your best work.

This issue is dedicated to the weather, since the Northern Hemisphere is about to enter into some
serious weather, even after many have barely finished drying out from the wet summer. Can you
believe the reports? Horrible flooding throughout Europe, Russia, India, Korea, Japan, China, with the
death toll continuing to rise as these communities fight with the disease and chaos left behind long
after the waters recede. So get ready for whatever winter will bring with this special weather issue.
Get out your jacket and umbrella!



@FEATURE ARTICLE – Cold Weather Chills & Thrills

@TAKE ACTION – Get Involved in Weather


@BE INSPIRED – Weather Quotes

@PERSONAL NOTE – If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

@NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS – Testing Exposure, Wet Tips

@WRITING ADVICE – Hard Cold Facts, Software Challengers Wanted

@NATURAL WANDERINGS – Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

@XTRA XSPECIAL TIPS – Help for Life Threatening Diseases



You never know from where you will get a new idea, some inspiration or motivation. We hope this
newsletter will provide some opportunities for you. If so, please share the wealth by encouraging
others to sign up. Just send an email to newsletter@cameraontheroad.com and we’ll add them to the list.
Word of mouth is a great thing.
Thanks for your support,
Lorelle and Brent




Snow. Ice. Zero temperatures. Wind chill. Runny noses. Frozen toes. Hats. Goggles. Gloves.
Boots….just the thought of going outside in the frigid weather can freeze all initiative. Face it, it’s really
cold outside. The last thing you want to do is go outside and stand still for hours taking pictures of
cold stuff. Yet winter offers a wonderful showcase for photographers.

After surviving the summer crowd crunches, the winter solitude is a reward. Avoid the tourists in the
most popular summer places by going there in the winter. Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, Mt.
Rainier National Park and even our personal favorite, the Olympic National Park, are free of the
masses during the cold months, as are most popular tourist locales in Europe. Even here in Israel the
boom box campers have gone home. No long lines and waiting for campsites. No crying babies, and
no hassles. What a delight!

With the cooler temperatures, trees drop their leaves revealing clear, clean lines and shapes. Fog and rainy mists act as natural diffusors, adding a dramatic or gentle quality to your images. Under a
blanket of snow, all distracting elements are buried. Lines, patterns and designs jump out of a typically
cluttered forest. The wind blows the snow like grains of sand in sweeping patterns of snow dunes and
frozen ripples. Winter can be a photographer’s dream for simple and creative images, concentrating
on the patterns and textures.

Cold Colored Film

Faced with so much monochrome white and grays, take care in choosing your film. Some film records
white differently. White, often considered the absence of color, is a color. Each film “pushes” a
particular color that can affect the color “white”. Fuji’s Sensia is good for capturing most of the whites
of winter, though Velvia film can make snow pink or almost violet. Agfa, Scotch, and Kodak’s
Ektachrome can give a blue hint to snow, though Kodak’s newest slide films report cleaner and
sharper white values. Film is changing and evolving all the time so if you are serious about your winter
whites, study how each film responds to the “color” white to get the best results.

Exposing for White

Working with the whites of winter, exposure is a challenge. Camera meters read a scene and average
it, often underexposing snow scenes so they look muddy and gray. There are a lot of metering tricks to
estimate the “right” exposure, like metering off your hand and opening up one stop or using a gray
card. We discovered an easier way: Add light to light, add dark to dark.

Imagine a scene of pristine snow with a lovely tree, all covered with the white stuff. Your camera’s
meter will average the bright white snow down to gray snow. The whiteness is too bright, so the
camera compensates by recommending a “darker” exposure. Mary Ellen Schultz, a renowned nature
photographer who specialized in close-up photography, had a wonderful phrase for figuring proper
exposure: Add light to light, add dark to dark. By adding light, or overexposing a bit, you make what is
light lighter. Try it. Take a picture at your meter’s reading of a snowy scene and then another with a
third or half stop over-exposed and another with one stop over-exposed. Bracket across and see
which one you like better (best done with slide film).

If you are photographing only the tree in the picture, the dark wet bark against the bright white snow
will turn black if you meter off the snow. Meter off the bark and follow the chart by adding dark to dark,
or underexposing, to keep the tree bark dark. Here is a general breakdown of the adjustments to
make to your exposure to compensate for the averaging action of the camera’s meter when using
slide film:

Bright white subject – Add 1 1/2 to 2 stops

Light Gray Subject – Add 1 stop

Average Toned Subject – Normal metering

Grey Subject – Subtract 1/2 stop

Dark Black – Subject Subtract 1 stops

Try this technique on other things besides snow. How do you expose for a light yellow flower or a dark
red rose? At your meter reading or do you need to adjust it? Slide film has a very limited range of
tones, from black to white, about five to seven stops from washed out white to solid black.

Winter Subjects

Here is a sampling of some of our “winter” inventory of images to help you create your own list.

  • Snow on trees
  • Animals in snow
  • Frost patterns on the ground
  • Frost patterns on plants
  • Frost patterns on animals
  • Fog
  • Snow scenics and landscapes
  • Snow and wind patterns
  • Snow and its effect on trees and plants
  • Frozen creeks and streams
  • Snow and its effect on animals (struggle to survive)
  • Bare tree patterns and silhouettes

For more information on photographing in the cold and dealing with the limitations of equipment and
your body in the cold, check out the following articles on our web site:

Winter Whites

Cold Weather Blues (Equipment)

For articles about other weather conditions and photography, check out:

Follow the Rainbow – Planning for Weather

Splish, Splash – Rain

Hot Tips for Hot Shots


As one of the first nature photographers with a column in a webzine (now called “e-zines”), Lorelle
VanFossen has long been a popular writer, speaker and presenter online and in the real world. Along
with her husband, Brent, the two shed their urban skin to live on the road, cris-crossing North America for several years living in a trailer and now living in Israel. Their work has been regularly featured in many magazines and online sites such as Outdoor and Nature Photography, Shutterbug, Mountaineer, PSA, Compuserve, and more. For more information on their amazing life and work, visit their page talking about What are they doing?.



Give a thought this month to taking some “weather” action. Getting involved in the weather can mean
volunteering for weather-related organizations like weather watchers or storm chasers. Or it can
mean volunteering your weather images and weather-related expertise to non-profit organizations.
Consider sharing your stories and images with a local school to help children understand how the
weather works and how to live with it, no matter what it is. Or take an even bigger step and speak out
about how pollution is affecting the global climate and lend your support. Check out our Resource and
Links section in this newsletter for more information about all the weather possibilities.


One of our “take action” friends is Arthur Morris. Working as an elementary school teacher for 23
years, he got turned onto birds and photography and was soon selling his images to bird magazines.
With little or no experience, Art took his dedication to the birds to new heights, determined to share his
passion with others. He began writing books and when publishers turned him down, he self-published
them. Over and over again, Art has turned obstacles into successes, totally committed to the birds.
Rarely have we met someone so passionate about our feathered friends. His outstanding work was
recognized recently by Polkonline.com, a webzine guide to Polk County, Florida. His work not only brings attention to a
popular nature subject, he speaks out for the protection of the birds and their habitat by making you
care about the birds. You can find out more about Arthur Morris at http://www.birdsasart.com.

If you hear of a “take action” nature photographer and writer, please email us with the details so we
can share their inspiration with others at newsletter@cameraontheroad.com.




Weather affects the nature photographer by either offering dramatic weather situations and light to
photograph in, or by hampering the excursion. Either way, you need to get out in the weather if
outdoor and nature photography is your passion. Here are some sites to help you weather the storm…









Need a constant reminder of the weather? WeatherBug at www.weatherbug.com offers
shareware that puts the temperature on your taskbar. As long as you are connected to the Internet,
the program will report the current temperature, winds, barometric pressure and other weather details.
They also provide weather forecasts, warnings and alerts, and radar images with a click of the button.
It includes temperatures for many countries and cities worldwide. The shareware is FREE with
adverts, USD$19.95 without Ads.

WetSock 4.6a

Given top ratings by tucows.com, this shareware program is free for the trying, USD$12.00 for the
buying, and provides detailed weather forecasting from aviation reports at local airports with
hour-by-hour forecasts. It is capable of providing information on over 4,000 cities around the world,
viewing up to 10 cities at a time in your system tray. The program runs in the background of Windows,
updating you when you are online. Check it out at www.tucows.com.



All of us could take a lesson from the weather – it pays no attention to criticism.

-North Dekalb Kiwanis Club Beacon


Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you get rained out.

Satchel Paige


Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Susan Ertz


The Eskimo has 52 names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for

-Margaret Atwood



Attend just about any nature photography course and you should be told that bad weather is good
weather. It is true. Bright sunny days send Brent and me running for cover, but days with “weather”
get our hearts racing and our bodies moving, dragging the camera along with us. While our friends
pray for sun, we pray for clouds.

Storms bring ever changing light, clouds soften or remove shadows, and rain and snow bring a misty
quality to our images. Mountains often feature weather that changes every few minutes, so they are
our favorite locale for photography. Living in Israel, we’ve had to learn to live without weather. On
average, not a drop of liquid comes from the sky from April through October. That is a long time to
live without weather, just endless sunshine. While most of the Northern Hemisphere is out enjoying
“summer”, we hibernate, closing up windows and shades, and getting a lot of work done. If you want
to see the most activity on our web site, check it out during the summer and late fall.

This summer was no exception. In many respects, locking myself away from the heat opens up the
creative tidal forces and I become a writing maniac. Brent could hardly keep up with the editing.

Among the exciting additions to our web site is our study book, “How To? What For? Basics of Nature
, featuring over 90 physical printed pages of information, tips and techniques for basic nature photography. We’ve
included black and white photos for easy and quick printing, so print and read it at your leisure without
eating up all the colored ink in your printer.

People ask me where the ideas come from for writing and photography. Honestly, ideas can be found
everywhere. Sometimes I swear I fall over two or three just getting out of bed in the morning. Yet, it
helps to put some effort into finding those ideas, too. Taking time to go through your inventory is a
great way to get new ideas. Bringing back images from the US that we hadn’t seen for three years
opened up many creative ideas. Going through our basic photography class images, I took a fun
section on identifying photographic mishaps and turned it into an article called “The Photographic
Sherlock Holmes” on how to become your own photographic detective. From the same workshop, I turned a section on
photographing a subject into an extensive how-to article called “Putting It Together: The Photographic
. Along the same lines, we analyzed
some of the reasons behind choosing vertical or horizontal formats in “Horizontal vs. Vertical Images”.

The inspiration didn’t stop there. Several comments from our web page viewers (please keep sending
your comments, we really appreciate them) and from our local students said they wanted to know how
to take the next step. Questioning them further, I realized that they didn’t necessarily want to turn their
photo hobby into a business but wanted to get out of the same old artistic rut. With their inspiration, I
created “Hire Yourself”, an article about motivating yourself creatively as well as professionally.

Breaking out of my own artistic rut and taking my own advice, I started creating PhotoQuilts. Using some of our nature and travel images, I put my graphic software to the test to create quilts or mosaic effects. You can see the results at http://www.cameraontheroad.com/doing/photoquilts.html and read an article about how I create PhotoQuilts on our web site.

Brent and I added a lot more images to the site and did some behind the scenes rearranging and
fixing to make the site even more accessible and solid. It was a lot of work, especially while working on two books at the same time. There is still more to do, but as the colder temperatures (around 50-70F/15-25C) arrive here in Israel, we are spending more time out camping and photographing,
enjoying our “summer”, and leaving the computer behind.

So what did you do over the summer? If your “weather” permitted you outside excursions with lovely
light conditions, great for you. If it didn’t, or if you have been slacking, what is getting in the way of your creativity and abilities? Whatever it is, get past them and get out there, especially this winter. There is weather to be enjoyed and new ideas to be found everywhere!

Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Tel Aviv, Israel




In preparation for your adventures out in the cold snow, start testing your understanding of the
exposure value system mentioned in the featured article. This is also a good way to test your meter to see if it is working right.

Take a white piece of paper and a black piece of paper and go outside, preferably to your backyard or a nearby park. Place the white paper onto the grass and take a picture of it, with some of the grass and ground cover visible in the frame. Meter off the paper and take five pictures with slide film, starting with one picture at what your meter recommends. Take two photographs over-exposing by
one and then two stops. Repeat this process by taking two more photographs under-exposing by one
stop and then two. Take notes. Do the same with the white paper in the same spot. If you started
with a fresh roll of 36 exposure film, you should have 26 frames left. Within those remaining frames,
keep your notebook handy for notes, and look around for a medium-toned subject, a very light-colored
subject, and a very dark-colored subject. Starting with the medium or neutral-toned subject, using
manual metering, meter off the subject and photograph it at the recommended exposure. Then under
expose by one half to one stop and take another over exposed by one half to one stop. Do the same
with your dark and light subjects. When your film is processed, compare it with notes and check the
end results.

Did the black piece of paper turn out lighter, almost grey at average exposure? Which exposure
resulted in the “appropriate” color rendition? Over or under? Check against the white paper. Then
compare the results of your medium-toned subject and your dark and light-toned subjects. Which
exposure adjustment resulted in the most “realistic” color results? Keep this test film in a place where
you can reference it once in a while to keep yourself familiar with the process, helping you improve the
quality of your photography by being smarter than your camera’s meter.



Growing up in Washington State, where it rains most of the year and is overcast the rest of the time,
I’ve learned a few tricks about working in wet weather. Here are some good ones to add to your wet
weather work:

Shower Caps: Plastic shower caps come in different sizes, colors, shapes, and durability and they
compress down for stuffing into your camera bag or pocket. Put one over your camera and lens when
the drips drop out of the sky. Cover additional lenses and equipment when you need a little protection,
padding or insulation. Keep one on your tripod head when you remove the camera to protect it from
the wet. With a rubber band you can also put them on your tripod legs to protect them from the mud.
By stretching a shower cap over the prism head of the 35mm camera and pulling back with one hand
or your teeth, you can create an umbrella to shield your film and the inside of your camera from the
weather when you are changing film. Shower caps protect your camera not only in the wet but also in
the desert, helping to keep blowing sand and dust away from your camera and shielding it a bit from
the heat of the sun. Don’t leave home without one.

Plastic Bags: Like shower caps, your basic plastic grocery bag or garbage bag can do wonders to
keep you dry. You can also use them to keep your pants dry when sitting in a wet area. Larger bags
will even cover backpacks and protect them from getting soaked. With a long lens, drape a large
plastic bag over the lens and secure it with rubber bands. When you enter a building or car that is
warmer than the outside (or vise versa), your camera and lenses can form condensation on the inside
and outside as they adjust to the temperature. This moisture can attract bacteria and fungus. By
sealing your equipment in a plastic bag first before entering a warm room or vehicle, the condensation
will form on the outside, keeping the equipment dry. Do not remove them from the bag until they have
reached room temperature.

Always Carry a Towel: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” recommends that you never leave home
without your towel. Right-oh! A towel, no matter what shape, size or condition, is a great thing to have
with you to help you through all your weather adventures, from drying off your camera to drying off
yourself. Try the high tech super absorbent “chamois” found in most sporting goods and auto parts
stores. These small rubbery towels absorb large quantities of water and wring out almost dry. They
take up little space and are very lightweight. Keep them damp and sealed in a plastic zip lock bag in
your case, ready to use.




Describing the weather is a hard cold fact for any writer, no matter what genre they work in. No matter
where you are, inside or out, you are affected by the weather, as are the people and places you write
about. Finding the words to describe the temperature, weather, and impact of the two upon the
human body, can often leave the writer finger-tied. After all, the thesaurus has dozens of words just
for “cold” such as chilly, cool, freezing, raw, icy, frigid, frosty, arctic, glacial, polar, brumal, and nippy.
So let’s do a brainstorming assignment to come up with words describing the different references to
the weather, specifically cold weather.

Make a category list of the common cold weather elements. Begin with rain, snow, hail, and wind.
Then create subcategories under each. Under wind you might have tornado, hurricane, wind storm, or
sea breeze. Under each category and subcategory, write down words and phrases to describe them.
Trying to describe the summer heat of Israel, here are a few I up with for “hot”.

Heat, hot as hell, interminable, cooking, inflamed, flame, fiery, suffocating warmth, melting, sweaty,
perspiration, angry, red hot, hot to trot, torrid, swelter, sultry, high temperature, temperatures rising,
heat wave, boiling, piping hot, right out of the oven, out of the frying pan and into the fire, scalding,
baking, blistering, sizzling, scorching, roasting, spicy, peppery, blazing hot, stuck in an oven, toasted,
burned to a crisp, sunburn, fever, flushed, beaten down with the heat, air conditioning (a blessing!).

When you’ve filled out your list, take a break and look out your window or step outside the door. Close
your eyes and feel the weather. Think of a situation where you might be under such weather
conditions. Visualize the location in your imagination, the activity, and all the elements around that
situation. Now, return to your writing pad and describe that moment, focusing on the weather. How
does it impact or affect the situation? Is it really an important part of the story or is it just filler? Do
your words really describe the weather at that moment? Can the reader “feel” the weather through
your words?

Considering all the ways writers deal with weather, you now have a new collection of resources to
draw upon to add some more color to your weather talk.



 Are you one of those who like to test yourself and your computer? You might want to keep busy
during the long winter nights by signing up to be a beta tester for computer software manufacturers.
They are looking for a few good testers to put their software through its paces. They don’t take
everyone, but you might be a lucky tester. It will give you a chance to help make the software more
user friendly and bug-free for future buyers, and you might get a chance to play with the latest and
hottest. Who knows what story opportunities may lie within these challenges, too. If you have a
favorite software, contact the manufacturer directly to find out how you can become a beta tester.

To get more information on becoming a tester visit:



The tropics in Brazil host the record for lightning strikes in the world. A researcher with the
Atmospheric Electricity Group with the Brazilian Institute for Space Studies, Osmar Pinto, mapped the
incidence of lighting using satellites and found that the country was struck by 70 million lightning bolts
a year. This comes to two to three strikes a second. WOW! Unfortunately, this record comes with a
high price. About 100 people die annually after being hit by lightning which makes up 10% of the
lightning-related deaths world-wide. Damage from lightning averages USD $200 million annually.
Pinto and his group are trying to create a mapping system based upon his research to help protect the people and property in areas with the highest incidences.

We have all kinds of information for you in our newsletters and on our web site. Visit
http://www.cameraontheroad.com for more articles on the weather, nature, and the business and artistry of
nature photography and writing. We’d like to especially recommend you check out our articles on:



~^~ J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge ~^~

Need an escape from the chills of winter? Join the millions of humans who migrate to Florida for the
warmer temperatures – and for the birds. Home to 238 different bird species, 51 types of reptiles and
amphibians, and 32 species of mammals, along with flocks of visitors, Ding Darling National Wildlife
Refuge is a top spot for bird and nature photographers from around the world. From fall through
spring, birds migrate through and nest in this swampy waterway on Sanibel Island. The birds and
most of the animals are accustomed to people, so fairly close access can be had. The colors and
varieties of birds are amazing with ibis, woodpeckers, hawks, osprey, eagles, pelicans, cormorants,
egrets, herons, grebes, warblers, and the odd looking pink Roseate Spoonbills.

Due to the popularity of the refuge, plan your trip and lodging in advance to insure a reservation. A car
is best, though there are shuttles that will take the visitor throughout the park, dropping them off along
the way.

You can find the full article about Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on our web site.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

1 Wildlife Drive

Sanibel, FL 33957

Phone: 941-472-1100

Fax: 941-472-4061

  • How to get there: Drive approximately 15 miles southwest of Ft. Myers, FL, following the signs onto Sanibel Island.
  • Hours: Wildlife Drive open 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM every day except Fridays.
  • Best Time: Fall through Spring are excellent times for birds. Low tides are best for viewing shore
    and wading birds. Dawn and dusk are best times to view wildlife.
  • Famous for: Named after the cartoonist, environmentalist and father of the Duck Stamp, J.N.
    “Ding” Darling, the refuge is a diverse salt and fresh water habitat excellent for attracting waterfowl
    and wading birds, especially during the winter.
  • How to visit: Drive the 5 mile auto tour route, stopping to explore hiking trails throughout the
    waterways. Birds are accustomed to people. There is a tram service during peak visitation. Wear
    mosquito repellent and protective clothing. Stop in the Visitor’s Center for more information and
    extensive natural history displays.
  • Wildlife: Several threatened and endangered species benefit from the diverse habitats such as
    eastern indigo snakes, American alligators, American crocodiles, bald eagles, wood storks, peregrine
    falcons, west Indian manatees, and Atlantic loggerhead turtles.
  • Habitat: The refuge habitat is diverse. Salt water areas feature sea grass beds, mud flats and
    mangrove islands. Interior freshwater habitats offer open water ponds, Spartina swales, and west
    Indian hardwood hammocks. Two brackish water impoundments totaling 800 acres are managed for
    mosquito control and are used extensively by waterfowl and wading birds.




Every once in a while we find a little tidbit worth sharing, just for you.


When faced with a chronic or life-threatening disease, and you feel like you are running out of hope
and confidence in your medical staff, you might have another option. You could be a candidate for
clinical trials involving advanced treatments for your problem. ClinicalTrials, developed by the National
Library of Medicine, lists more than 5,800 clinical studies being done worldwide, though most are in
the United States and Canada. The site offers lots of information about the trials including the
protections for the volunteers. To find out more, visit http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/



*|* Copyright 2002, VanFossen Productions and Lorelle and Brent VanFossen. All rights reserved.
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