We Saw a Lady Walking a Cheetah

Of all the things I imagined seeing this weekend, a   cheetah on a leash taking a leisurely stroll through the Houston Zoo was NOT on the list. But that’s the kind of thing that happens during Photo Day at the Houston Zoo.

Photo Day is a series of 6 outings during which photographers and photography enthusiasts can visit the Houston Zoo and take pictures of the animals. Fellow Schipulite Derek Key (@dereskey) and I had the opportunity to attend Saturday’s photo day…and that’s how we saw the cheetah.

Our Day…in Photos

The animals are likely to be active during the earliest part of the day, especially in the summer…in Houston. So for Photo Day, the zoo opens two hours early (at 7am) and lets photo enthusiasts catch the early risers. I’ve been to the Houston   Zoo countless times, but this is the first time I saw so many of the big cats and rare birds.

The lions roamed their pen long enough for photo ops…

We watched the reptiles have breakfast, which is creepy and AWESOME

We found out what a Cassowary is…

and finally, we discovered that the meerkats draw quite a crowd!

Have an Awesome Time AND Help the Zoo

Since the Houston Zoo is a non-profit organization it relies heavily on membership and attendance for support. While Photo Day is open to both the public and zoo membership holders, the   zoo features   special events   just for members, including Zoobilee and special Member Mornings.

In addition to cool member activities, the zoo is also involved in conservation efforts like the Lone Star State Projects and fundraising to for treatments that help prevent elephant herpes.

Be sure to check out the Houston Zoo’s Flickr photo stream, and upload photos of your zoo visits!

Thirty Days of Thanks – Photo + camera geek love galore

photographer mitra

One of the greatest things about working for a company like Schipul is the emphasis on growing our professional and personal selves by pursuing our passions.   For many of us, geeking out over photography makes us passionate in a big-big way and I am incredibly thankful for such an outlet and a team that inspires me daily through it.

The great thing about the magical world of the Internet is that even if you don’t work for a company that pushes you to pursue your creative outlets, you still reap the benefits of fantastic photo-focused communities, online tools and inspirational resources.

Here are a few of my personal favorite online spots for tapping into new photographic trends and skills.   So yeah… let’s get our photo geek on, folks:

Flickr (www.flickr.com)
Certainly a photo online Community standard at this point, Flickr provides a great space to share your photos (with handy privacy features to define exactly who you want your audience to be), join groups of like minded photo nerds and do fun things like geotag your images, create slideshows to embed online and even print images.

Flickr is a free and super way to build Community, search for jaw droppingly beautiful imagery (looking for a great Creative Commons search resource?   www.compfight.com will rock your little world) and keep you inspired day in and day out.

On Flickr already?   Hook up with a few of these Schipulite Flickr nerds (just to name a handful):

  1. Schipulites Flickr account
  2. Ed Schipul
  3. Katie Laird (hey, that’s me!!)
  4. Kim Hodgson
  5. JJ Lassberg

Many photographers have experimented in the world of Lomo with vintage cameras, funky fish eye lenses, playful color and light dispersion – it’s a great (and sometimes kitschy) way to get the childlike photographer in you out and about!

The Lomography.com site is a haven for folks that like the quirky world of twin-lens reflex cameras, go wild and crazy over Holgas, Dianas, pinhole cameras and medium format film.   Beyond a fantastic shop chalk full of equipment and goodies you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere, you can set up a cozy ‘Lomo Home’ to store / share your photos and enter contests and giveaways.   Lomo me this, Batman.

Photojojo (www.photojojo.com)
Most of us will never be professional grade photographers, but darnit we still want to be clued in on the cool stuff too!!   Photojojo is the perfect solution for passionate snappers that just plain like to know neat tricks, tips and cool happenings in the photography kingdom.

Sign up for their newsletter (which is one of those newsletters you actually look forward to seeing in your inbox), shop for cool gadgets in the store and use their cool Time Capsule tool to get photos sent to you from 1 year back.   I’m a Photojojo addict and I know you will be too.

Picnik (www.picnik.com)
Sometimes you would rather stab yourself in the eye with a blunt object than open up Photoshop or some other uber-clunky and expensive piece of software to edit your photos.   Picnik is the remedy to all of those memory hogging photo editing woes.

It’s a free online tool (with a snazzy well-priced paid version as well if you wanna’ be all ‘PRO’ like and whatnot) that makes it beyond easy to do your basic photo crops and edits, as well as have a little fun with your images (case in point:   my “classy” and “mature” Halloween portrait – all thanks to Picnik).

I feel so fortunate and so thankful for the technology that exists to enable us to teach each other, grow our craft and connect on very personal level.   Whether photography, skateboarding, graffiti, cupcakes or knitting is ‘your thing’ chances are there is an online community for you to engage and grow in.   What a wonderful world we live in…

Photo thanks to Flickr user Mitra Mirshahidi