Label: Seymour Photographs

January 14, 2011

       

 

 

What a great surprise arrived in the mail this week - three big envelopes full of thank you cards from every 3rd and 4th grader in San Antonio’s Highland Park School. I am absolutely delighted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was lots of excellent artwork, like this drawing by Ashley A. It pictures our entire Solar System, even the Asteroid Belt. This is a very accurate, detailed drawing.

 

 

Many writers asked about how I get the photographs that are in my book. Sarah wondered, "Were you nervous when you took pictures of volcanoes?" Alejandro (who drew the cover of my BIG BUGS book) and Wesley (who drew this scary black widow spider!) both wanted to know if I take all of my own photographs. In fact, Wesley asked, "How do you not die while taking these pictures?"

 

 

 Good questions. I take some of the photographs in my books, but not all of them. Great spider shots like these are taken by photographers who are also arachnologists (that’s what you call a scientist who specializes in spiders). They use a special lens on their camera that allows them to get a very close-up picture of a spider without getting bitten (and without scaring the spider away). I did take many of the volcano photographs myself, but only from safe spots that were nowhere near hot lava!

 

 

 

 

Look at this great drawing of a volcano and the hot lava by Jasmin.

 


And finally, some of you Highland Park writers wanted to know how I feel when I write all of these books. "Do you feel happy or excited?" Analisa sounds as though she worries that it might be a lot of work. "Do you enjoy writing all these books?"

 

The answer is: I LOVE writing my books! It is a lot of work, because I have to research each subject very carefully, be sure that I am getting all the facts right, find great photographs, and work with my editor, who corrects my work just as your teacher does with yours. But the subjects are so interesting that my work is fun every day. And yes, I do feel very happy and excited when a new book comes out, after all that work.

Thank you again to every student, teacher and librarian who took the time to send me all the beautiful cards. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

- Seymour Simon

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Seymour Photographs, Kids Write, Kids comments, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 8, 2011

           

We are snowed in today and the world is blanketed with heavy pillows of pristine snow. It makes me think of a poem by Elinor Wylie, called VELVET SHOES. It begins like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do you think she called the poem Velvet Shoes?

In the stanza above, she describes the snow as “veils of white lace.” What other images or metaphors can you come up with to describe the snow? If you want to write to me with your description of snow, or upload a photograph that you have taken of snow, you might be published in this blog for all the world to see!

You can read Elinor Wylie’s complete poem, Velvet Shoes, by clicking here, or you can find it in your library. Usually the name of the poem you’re looking for is not the name of the book that it is in, so ask your librarian if you’re not sure where to find it.

 

 

 If you’re lucky enough to be

snowed in today, settle in with

a good book and enjoy the

“soundless space” around you.

- Seymour 


 

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Photographs, Writing, Winter, Poetry   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 7, 2011

           

The forecast for today was for snow showers beginning in the morning and lasting through this evening into tomorrow. Sounded like ideal “walking in the country” weather to me, so we drove to a nearby place called Bash Bish Falls. I know the name sounds silly, but the actual place is quite wonderful.  It’s a waterfall in a park on the border of New York and Massachusetts. The river waters form on Mt. Washington in Massachusetts, wind their way into New York State and reach a rocky waterfall that plunges from a height of about 200 feet. The river then flows quickly along the bottom of a winding gorge. I’ve seen Bash Bish Falls a number of times in winter and it’s quite spectacular with frozen spray decorating the sides and lots of icy waters.

Unfortunately, the trail was full of slippery ice and it was too dangerous to try to make it all the way up from the parking lot.  So we decided to just drive along the narrow road which winds alongside the river. That’s where I started to take pictures of the icicles that cover the rocks along the road.

Icicles on the rocks form when water seeps through the soil and the cracks in rocks and then freezes as it drips down the rock side. These are just like the icicles that form from dripping roofs in winter. Icicles grow as water trickles down the spear of ice and freeze in successive layers. In other words the icicles don’t freeze all at once, but are built up of layer after layer of frozen water. That makes icicles quite different from snowflakes and much more like hail, which is formed by layer after layer of frozen water.

To me, a rock covered by layers of ice and icicles is the very picture of cold wintertime. What do you think? Do you have a different photo of winter that you like?  Send me an email (simon@seymoursimon.com) with your favorite winter photo attached. I’ll put your photo on my blog and we can compare!

Icicles anyone?

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Photographs, Winter   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 13, 2010

People often ask me if I personally shoot all the photographs in my photo-essay books, since both words and images are so important in telling the story. The answer is that although I use my own photographs whenever I can, often the subject matter demands photographs that can only be had from specialists. For example, books like PENGUINS or the forthcoming BUTTERFLIES include photos by professionals who have literally spent years observing and photographing these animals. Part of what I do when I’m writing a book is photo research - scouring the archives to find photographs that I believe will best illuminate and in many cases expand on the text. Sometimes, if I find a photograph that is interesting enough, I will even rewrite the page to go with the photograph. It is a fluid process, writing and doing photo research, and one that I really enjoy. 

I do, however, photograph nature and animals often….pretty much every week I find one day when I can get away from my desk and spend time in the outdoors with my camera. We recently visited an alpaca farm in Columbia County, NY, and I found these animals to be irresistibly photogenic. The bangs hanging over their eyes certainly enhance what are already quirky, expressive faces!  

Alpaca grimaces

 We often are tempted to assign human emotions to animals…..like thinking that this little guy is looking at me quizzically. The fact of the matter is, when you get close to an alpaca, it often summons up green liquid (from chewing its cud) to spit at you. Spitting is how they stake out their territory, as well as reinforce the pecking order in the herd. Unfortunately, when an alpaca is sucking on partially digested grass, he often gets a bad case of sour mouth.

So, although I’d like to tell you a lovely story about how this young cria (pronounced "cree-ah," the Spanish word for baby alpaca, commonly used among English-speaking breeders, too) and I established a wonderful relationship, the truth is he was just letting me know I was getting too close to his territory!

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Seymour Photographs, Cool Photo, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 9, 2010

Today is Seymour Simon’s birthday, and he is featured on the Happy Birthday Author blog. You must check it out for two reasons.

 

#1 - They are doing a giveaway. Enter to win a personally autographed, advance copy of Seymour’s upcoming Collins/Smithsonian book, Tropical Rainforests. Contest closes 8/15, and if you tweet the contest, you get three additional entries!

#2 - There is an absolutely adorable photograph of Seymour on his fifth birthday.

Happy Birthday, Seymour!!!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Photographs, Tropical Rainforests, Book Reports   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 23, 2010

We visited Cape May, New Jersey for a couple of days this week. I love to get out on the beach first thing in the morning, when it’s uncrowded and the marine life is feeding. We spotted a large pod of dolphins swimming less than 200 yards off shore both mornings.

 

Cape May - the southernmost tip of New Jersey - is a favorite destination not only for human tourists, but also for a pod of an estimated 2500 dolphins who summer there each year! You don’t need to book a "whale watch" tour. If you are vacationing at the ocean, just get out on the beach at dawn or dusk and watch the surf. You’ll be amazed at all the animal life  - birds, fish, mollusks, dolphins, seals - that you can see if you just take the time to look.

   

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Dolphins, Oceans, Summer Vacation Science, Seymour Photographs, whale watch   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 22, 2010

             

We recently completed the Teacher Guide to accompany Seymour’s enduring hit, THE PAPER AIRPLANE BOOK. First published nearly forty years ago, this book is now in its 28th printing and continues to delight kids and parents alike.

The Teacher Guides always include a reproducible activity page for kids, and for this one, we decided to include a pattern and special sheet of paper for kids to make a “Seymour Plane” – once they fold it, they have a paper airplane with his image on the wings! Hence this wacky photo.

Download the guide and try it yourself. Aerodynamics has never been this much fun!

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: Paper Airplanes, Seymour Photographs   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 16, 2010

         

No, it’s not the purple monster from the deep. Or maybe it is. The purple or ochre sea star is common on rock shores and rocks on beaches along the west coast including the Malibu, California coast where I took this photo earlier this morning. This purple sea star (pisaster ochraceus) is on a rock covered by mussels, which is a kind of unfortunate thing for the mussels. The purple sea star is a major predator of California coastal waters, eating all kinds of mussels, barnacles, limpets and snails. 

A sea star opens a mussel by latching on to the mussel’s shell with hundreds of tiny tube feet and then simply tugging with steady pressure until the mussel shell opens. Then the star extrudes its stomach into the opened shell and digests the mussel. A mature sea star will release dozens of millions of eggs when it spawns. The eggs turn into tiny larvae which became part of the sea plankton population as they grow into mature sea stars. Even though most of the larvae are eaten before they grow into mature stars, that still leaves a LOT of purple stars to feed on mussels.

Purple Sea stars are attractive animals (at least I think so), but they are a major pest to mussel and clam gatherers. I remember a story that I heard when I was a kid about how difficult it is to get rid of sea stars. The story goes that clam gatherers were collecting sea stars from the clam beds and trying to kill the stars by cutting them up into two or three pieces and then just throwing the pieces back into the ocean waters. The problem was that sea stars are able to regenerate a lost leg or two. So each piece of sea star thrown back into the waters regenerated into another whole sea star!

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Seymour Photographs, Marine Life   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 28, 2010

I came upon a lovely scene while driving on this pre-Memorial Day afternoon.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Seymour Photographs, Cool Photo, Horses   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 10, 2010

Sunday, Mother’s Day, was very windy with gusts reaching 40 miles per hour. It was sunny and there were many cumulus clouds in the blue skies. But there weren’t the usual puffy cumulus clouds that look like cotton balls.

 

Instead they were cumulus fractus (or fractocumulus) clouds, sometimes also called "scud"  by pilots. Fractus clouds are clouds that are torn by high winds and look very much like cotton balls that have been torn apart by fingers.   They change constantly and often move rapidly across the sky.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Photographs, Cool Photo, Weather, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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