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Baby It’s Cold Outside

10th February 2021

Eating During Covid


For a year now, we’ve all been dealing with the Covid pandemic. This deadly virus has affected almost all of our activities – work, school, travel, shopping – just about everything.

To combat this disease, we’ve been asked to change our habits. As a result businesses had to drastically change their operations or close altogether to comply with government mandated health rules.

Being involved with restaurants, I’ve watched closely as the food service industry has responded to forced dining limits or closures. In many localities, on-premise dining was prohibited so many restaurants started or increased take-out and/or delivery service. Some places allowed outdoor patio dining as long as the establishment’s seating arrangement allowed for social distancing.

As the weather turned colder, the popularity of outdoor dining dropped so restauranteurs looked for other ways to keep customers coming back.

Below you can see some of the clever ways that are used to keep winter outdoor dining safe and warmer.

These transparent igloos are spaced about ten feet from one another. Seating capacity is limited by local rules. Each has its own lighting and space heaters to keep patrons comfortable.

This tent has a slightly higher profile. Again the seating capacity is determined by local rules.

This classic delivery truck has been converted into a luxury, private winter dining area. The inside was cheerfully decorated for the Christmas holiday.

With snow outdoors, the small space heater keeps the interior warm. Patrons continue to wear their outdoor clothing but are protected from the elements as they dine.

The greenhouse structure and the ice fishing tent are other ways that restaurants have tried to accommodate customers during the cold weather.

We’re hearing that this pandemic will most likely be with us until Fall 2021. But until the warmer months arrive, many restaurants will continue to look for innovative ways to keep customers coming back.






In Search of Nemo

11th June 2013

Underwater Photography – Blllllrrrrrpppp!

For those of us who spend their winters in the frigid cold, surrounded by ice and snow for months at a time, a visit to the tropics is a blessing. To me, the mention of the tropics brings warmth and water to mind. And that’s precisely what we were after when we booked a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii.

The weather there is predictably warm so it’s easy to pack: a couple of bathing suits, a few pairs of shorts and several shirts. And don’t forget the snorkeling equipment! As an avid picture-taker, my luggage also includes a camera or two so that I can record the events that we may encounter.

The least enjoyable part of the trip is getting there. It’s an all day affair starting with a short hop from our home in Grand Rapids to Chicago followed by a very long, 9-hour flight from Chicago to Honolulu.

Clouds covered most of the flight path to the islands. These sparkling beaches of Oahu (to the right) are about the only sites that we see along the way and this only upon leaving Honolulu on a 45 minute connecting flight to Kona.

And owing to a six hour time difference, we arrive in time for dinner.

Being in the middle of the Pacific, there’s water galore everywhere. The next morning, with our snorkeling gear in tow we head down to one of the local beaches.

For this trip, I’ve taken a camera that can be used underwater. I’ve never invested the thousands of dollars needed for a “real” underwater outfit, but this Olympus Tough 6000 will do the trick.

The Big Island is surrounded by shallow reefs lined with coral. Many of the popular beaches attract bathers for this exact reason. The coral is teeming with tropical fish and wildlife just a few feet below the water’s surface.

Without heavy scuba equipment and expensive deep water photo gear, my small, relatively inexpensive camera makes it possible for me to record these amazing wonders of the ocean. Here’s some of my “catch” made simply by gently kicking my flippers, goggles and snorkel facing downward and camera in hand.

Colorful sea anemone among the coral.

We even spotted this mermaid among the coral!

Big Island Turtle – my wife captured this short video of a turtle that was swimming nearby.

A lovely sunset on the Big Island

So I returned home with a slight tan, a relaxed body and a nice set of photos of some spectacularly colorful fish. Of course these photos aren’t of the same quality that you’d expect from a full-blown underwater outfit. But I’m happy just the same having recorded some of nature’s gorgeous water landscapes with a very affordable camera.
Written by Arnie Lee


Earth Day “it’s for the birds”… and us too

Today is Earth Day. I’m guessing that many of you haven’t a clue as to what it’s about. Maybe you can get a glint of Earth Day here.

I recently completed writing what has become an annual article about Earth Day. Yesterday morning as I was having coffee and reading the Sunday NY Times, I was quite surprised that I didn’t find a single mention of Earth Day throughout the entire newspaper. But I did run across an interesting article that has a similar theme.

As a lover of the outdoors, I’m an avid participant in nature photography. Having spent more than five decades with camera-in-hand, I’ve collected my share of wildlife images. Along the way, I’ve found that the most challenging parts of this favorite activity is capturing the varying graceful, delicate or powerful movements of birds in flight.

Yes, I like birds but I don’t consider myself a bird-watcher. Yet according to Brian Kimberling[1], there are some 5.8 million bird-watchers in the US. I’m not sure where he derives this number but his mention of The Audubon Society most likely accounts for a good share of them.

Last December amid our holiday festivities, I recall hearing about the start of Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count. During a two week period, participants take a census of birds in their geographic area with a main goal of studying how bird populations have changed in time and space. After reading Kimberling’s article, I have a better understanding of what these studies are telling us about the environment of all the non-bird species, i.e. us humans.

According the Audubon Society’s report, there has been a noticeable change in bird migration in recent years. The report says: we were able to look at the winter distribution of 305 species to see if their winter range had shifted over the last 40 years. We discovered that 177 of these species showed a significant shift north and this northward shift was correlated with an increase in mean January temperatures in the contiguous 48 states of almost 5 degrees during that time. You can find more details on the Audubon’s website.

Five degrees in 40 years. This is a pretty large increase within the lifetime of many of us. Obviously it’s a big deal to the habits of the birds.

Shouldn’t we be concerned? What do you think? I’d like to hear from you.

Written by Arnie Lee

[1]”What Do Birders Know”, NY Times Sunday Review Section, April 21, 2013





Winter Care For Your Camera

27th November 2010

The cold weather of winter is now upon us here in the upper midwest, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of opportunities for wonderful photographs. What it does mean, however, is that you’ll need to take extra care of your camera when you’re out in the cold. This is true for both digital SLRs and point-and-shoots.

Snow scenes require special care for your camera

You can help your camera stay warm as possible by keeping it under your coat. This will not only help it keep warm but will also protect it from the elements. The same is true for an external flash unit if you’re using one.

Another precaution against the cold is to bring spare batteries with you when you go outside. The batteries in your camera are likely to lose power faster at lower temperatures even if you’re not using the camera. Therefore, carry at least one extra set of batteries in your coat pocket where your body heat will keep them warm. Then, if your camera or flash batteries begin to fail, you can insert warm fresh batteries.

Condensation may be a problem you’ll have when you come inside from the winter cold. You’ve probably seen condensation on a glass of icy lemonade on a hot summer day. Your camera, especially the lens, is affected the same way when you bring it inside from the cold. The moisture from the warm air inside condenses on the cold surfaces of not only the lens, which can become completely covered, but also on the camera.

You can prevent condensation by wrapping the camera in a plastic bag or newspaper until it slowly reaches room temperature. The moisture will settle on the outside of the newspaper or bag and not on the camera. An even better idea is to place the bag on the camera while you’re still outside before you bring the camera inside.

Don’t use the camera if you notice that condensation has occurred. Instead, remove batteries and memory card and leave the compartments open until everything dries out. Don’t use the camera or take it back out in the cold until the condensation has disappeared.

So by dressing appropriately and properly caring for your camera, you’ll be taking great photographs in the cold of winter.

Dress appropriately and enjoy the fun of winter photography

Written by Scott Slaughter

Portrait Tip #2

02nd September 2010

Portraits are one the most common type of photographs. We’d like to share some tips for taking better people pictures.

Direction of the Light

Shooting people outdoors offers a wide variety of lighting. Observe and take advantage of the direction from which it is falling on your subject.

Here the lighting originates predominantly from behind the subject. This backlighting produces shadows on much of the girl’s face.

For this shot, we turned the subject slightly so that the light is coming from the side. By doing this, we have added a more “rounded” and fuller look to the facial features.