Label: Photography

February 21, 2014

Earlier this week I posted a photograph of a blade of grass as seen under an electron microscope. The structure of the cells looks like smiley faces. This prompted a number of my readers to wonder how this could be. Or as Josephine from Shanghai put it:

 

I wanted to ask you that why are there smiley faces on the blade of grass and how?

 

It’s simple, Josephine. I told a joke to the blade of grass just before it went under the microscope.

Kidding! 

They really aren’t smiley faces, of course. This is just how a the cellular structure of a blade of grass looks under a microscope. But when we humans see it, based on our own experiences and what we know, we see a smiley face. 

 

I wrote a book called OUT OF SIGHT that is all about amazing things that are too small to be seen by the human eye. The photographs are quite extraordinary and you can see them because the eBook is a free sample book on StarWalk Kids Media - that’s the website for my eBook company. You can try out the book and see lots of these kinds of fascinating microscopic photographs at this link:  Out of Sight. I think you’ll be amazed by what you see!

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Photography, Photomicrography, Plants   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 8, 2014

What does it mean to "think like an eagle"? Author Kathryn Lasky’s book is a vivid portrayal of the life of a nature photographer and the many strategies (including patience!) that he uses to capture photos of wild animals’ lives.

To become a wildlife photographer, Jack Swedberg spent many years studying animal behavior so he could figure out how to be at the right place at the right time without disturbing the animals. For today’s Writing Wednesday project, read the section of the book below in which Swedberg is preparing to photograph a bald eagle.

After you have read it, think about the language author Kathryn Lasky uses to bring the scene to life, and write about the words that she chooses. How does a sentence like "The big talons extend and appear like splayed stars as the wings scoop the air in front of them" both accurately describe and help the reader to feel the power of the eagle as it comes in to feed? What other powerful language does she use and what is she describing?

Once you are finished writing, you can click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post to share you writing with others. Have fun thinking like an eagle! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Note for Educators: Kathryn Lasky’s book is part of the streaming digital collection from StarWalk Kids Media. Click here if you would like to learn more about subscribing to this high quality, affordable collection of Common Core mentor texts.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(51) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, birds, Conservation, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 5, 2012

Today’s "Cool Video of the Week" is an animation that puts me in a holiday mood. Just looking at it makes me feel like I can smell chocolate!

The video below is an example of what is called "Stop Motion" animation. Do you see the black camera on the right hand side of the photograph? It is mounted on a stand, and the animator take a photograph, then moves the pieces of chocolate on the cake slightly, takes another photograph, moves the pieces a little further, and so on. When you put all the photographs together, it seems as though everything is moving. It takes a lot of patience to make this kind of animation, but it certainly pays off.

Press "Play" (below) to see it - just for fun.  And best wishes to all my readers for a Happy Easter and Chag Same’ach (Happy Passover)! 


Be part of Seymour Simon’s celebration of Earth Day 2012 by commenting on blog stories like this one, and telling Seymour about YOUR Earth Day Promises! How are you going to make a difference for the Earth? What will you do to make it be Earth Day / every day? Each time you leave a comment between today and April 22, you will be entered into a drawing to win a free, personally autographed book from Seymour Simon. So get started by clicking "comments" below, and tell us about Your Earth Day Promises!

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Video, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2012

Students in Springfield, Illinois and their teachers are preparing for my visit next week. They sent me a number of questions which I decided to answer here, so that everyone can read.

Tommy W. asked: Have you ever been diving before?

(SS) Yes, I used to love scuba diving, seeing the fish and collecting shells. It is an amazing world under the sea! In fact, my next book, which is coming out this summer, is about CORAL REEFS. 

Izzy wants to know: How many dolphins are there in the world?

(SS) This is a hard question to answer, since there are at least 45 different dolphin species, and they live all over the world. Some species are declining or endangered, other species are growing and doing well. Scientists estimate that there are about 170-million dolphins currently living on Earth. You can learn a lot more about dolphins in my book about these magnificent creatures.

Tyler C’s question: How long have you been a discovering all this knowledge? (SS) I have loved nature since I was a little kid. Although I grew up in the Bronx - a very crowded part of New York City - the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. In fact, when I grew up one of the first books I wrote was called SCIENCE IN A VACANT LOT.

Maddie R.: How do you get all of the pictures in your books? Have you ever
been bitten?
 Sydnee wondered much the same thing: How do you take pictures of sharks without getting bitten?

 

(SS) I am asked this a lot because photographs are such a big part of telling the stories in my books. Sometimes I travel to places myself and take the photographs. I have photographed glaciers in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawaii and wildfires in California. Other times, I arrange to use other people’s photographs. 

Often these kinds of photographs are taken by the biologists who study the animals because they are with them so often, and have many opportunities to catch just the "right moment" on film. 

These photographers also use very specialized camera equipment, so that they can photograph a dangerous animal from a safe distance, even though the photograph looks as though they are very close by. This distance keeps them from startling the animal, provoking an attack or scaring it away.

Thanks for writing everybody. Although I am happy to answer your questions, I am really more interested in hearing your thoughts about science, nature and fascinating animals. Please come on my Seymour Science blog regularly and use "comments" to tell me what you are discovering as you are reading here.

I am looking forward to meeting you all very soon!


READERS: Are you wondering how to add your own "comment" to this blog? Click here for exact directions on how to add a comment so you can become one of our Seymour Science writers! We also want you to be safe and not share too much information when you write on this blog, so please take a minute to read about how to stay safe on the Internet. We love to hear from you, so give "comments" a try! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: Sharks, School Visits, Dolphins, Author Study, Seymour Simon, Kids Write, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 27, 2012

This morning, Seymour Simon posted a blog entry in which a student asked: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? 

Seymour’s Answer: Since I was a kid I have had two favorite colors, and they are both the colors of nature. One is almost indescribable - the warm, pumpkin-like, mix of orange colors that you see in autumn. My other favorite color is the deep purple that you sometimes see in sunset clouds. 

Tonight, we had a spectacular sunset, which featured exactly the two colors he had in mind.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: Photography, Sunset   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 23, 2011

Look at this amazing photograph of the volcanic eruption in Iceland over the weekend. The plume of ash when the Grimsvotn volcano erupted on Saturday shot 12 miles into the air! (Photo: Egill Adalsteinsson / EPA).

Iceland is one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, because it Is located on both the Iceland hotspot and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs right through it. This location means that the island is highly geologically active with many volcanoes, and eruptions occurring on average roughly every three years. For example, in the 1900s there were 39 volcanic eruptions on and around Iceland.

The Grimsvotn volcano lies under the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier. It began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004. This is a different volcano than Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull, which erupted in April 2010. When that happened last year, large parts of Europe’s air space were closed for five days, because of the danger that the volcanic ash could harm jet engines. Some 10 million travelers were stranded.

This one doesn’t seem quite as disruptive. So far, airports are closed in Iceland, and they are keeping a close watch on the ash in nearby Great Britain.

Eruptions often cause local flooding from melting glacier ice, but rarely cause deaths. Police closed a main road near the volcano Sunday as heavy ash fell.

 

There have been some amazing photographs taken of volcanic eruptions in Iceland over the years.

You can see photos like this one and read about some of the earlier eruptions in my book VOLCANOES.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Volcanoes, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 15, 2011

I had a great "double Skype" session today with third and fourth graders in two schools in Durham and Middlefield, Connecticut. They have been studying my books and skyping with each other, and today all three of us did a Skype session together.

  The students were very well-prepared with questions about my books. They particularly love the very close up photographs in books like ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, and wondered: how does the cameraperson get so close to a dangerous animal without getting hurt?

This is a very good question, and one that I am asked quite often. For a shot like this one, of a rattlesnake’s mouth and fangs, the photographer uses a bit of trickery called a "telephoto lens." That lens takes a picture that seems as though you are very, very close, when in fact, you are safely far away. Nobody is going to get THAT close to a poisonous snake!

 

The round area with a dark slit (at the bottom of the rattlesnake’s mouth) is a duct for releasing the venom. You can learn more about that and see a diagram at this link

Thanks to Mrs. Kohs and everyone who helped to organize today’s Skype session. I really enjoyed talking with you all!

 

Photograph by Anup Shah/Dembinsky Photo Associates

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Animal Books, School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, snakes, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 22, 2011

       

Have you ever heard of a fog bow? A fog bow is similar to a rainbow, but it happens on foggy days. Like a rainbow, the fog bow is caused by sun passing through water, but the water droplets that cause fog are so small (less than 2/100 inch), the fog bow has very little color. Fog bows are sometimes called "white rainbows" or "cloudbows". Sailors call them "sea-dogs."

Check here every Tuesday for Seymour Simon’s "Cool Photo of the Week"!

 

Photo Credit: Mila Zinkova

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Weather, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 8, 2011

 

This week’s Cool Photo is of human beings who are acting like sky-diving frogs!  These U.S. Air Force Airmen are practicing their water rescue skills, so they are wearing flippers as they jump out of an airplane straight into the water.

Can you think of animals with webbed feet that act as paddles in the water? Pond and underwater frogs have them; so do ducks and other waterfowl. How about dogs? Dogs that are bred to work in the water - such as Newfoundland, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Portuguese Water Dog, Field Spaniel, and German Wirehaired Pointer - all have webbed feet.  Little known fact, but absolutely true.

 

Photo: Senior Airman Julianne Showalter

 

           

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Dogs, Cool Photo, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 25, 2011

       

Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is actually a microphotograph (photographs of very tiny things that can only be seen through a microscrope).

You are looking directly into the face of a Southern Hawker dragonfly (Aeshna cyanea). These large (up to 3-inchs long), brightly colored dragonflies are often found near ponds or rivers, where they breed. They also travel quite widely - you may see one in your garden - and they seem to be curious, often flying close to you and hovering.

Can you spot the dragonfly’s eyes are in this picture? The eyes are actually the two biggest things in this photograph - the two large, grayish ovals below the yellow are the dragonfly’s compound eyes. These two main eyes actually contain up to 30,000 (that’s right, thirty-thousand!) tinier eyes, which turn the dragonfly into a born predator. These eyes are like balls, and allow the dragonfly to spot movement all around it, so much so that it has 360-degree vision! This helps the dragonfly sense even the tiniest movement, so that it can feed on insects in the air all around it.

 

Photo Credit: André Karwath/Wikimedia

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, Insects, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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