Would you be nicer to pigeons if they were green?

Artist Julian Charrière gave the despised pigeons of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square a flamboyant makeover in green, blue and red. Tourists went nuts for the pretty birds. What did the other birds think?

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Willdife photographer David FitzSimmons dances with frogs

gray tree frog

David FitzSimmons, author of Curious Critters  and photography instructor, dances with the creatures he photographs for a half hour or so to get to know them. “I try in images to convey some kind of personality,” he says.

The dance involves making his partner comfortable and getting into unusual positions himself. “I try to shoot on eye level. We sort of look down on them.” And, yeah, he knows that some people cringe at using the word personality with animals. Well, I cringe at their cringing. He’s not thinking the squirrel feels romantic love for its mate, but the attitude and emotion that becomes clear when you get to know any animal. “A snake could be timid or particularly aggressive,” he says. “The crawfish [in the book] has got his claws up and seems particularly aggressive. The gray tree frog seems spiritual and humble.” Aside from a few technical tips–like putting a snake over a hat to get them comfortable before a shoot–FitzSimmons loves getting students of his photography workshops excited about little and common creatures, knowing their enthusiasm will lead to conservation of their subjects. He’s one of four professional photographers that lens-makers Sigma agency sends out nationwide. He teaches literature at Ashland University. For his most recent book,  wrote Curious Critters, which we reviewed here, he photographed animals  against a pure white background. His choices were local–from his own backyard to some of Ohio’s animal tourist attractions. His daughter helped, spotting  the cover’s teeny

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30x Zoom Comes by March –Moore’s Law Strikes Digital Cameras

By next month two major camera makers plan to sell point and shoot digital cameras under $500 with 30x optical zoom.  These cameras by Olympus and Fujifilm mean that the average animal watcher can have the power of about an 800mm lens. To get that kind of power in an SLR lens, you’d pay around $7.000 – $10,000, and have to schlep around a 10-pound, 18-inch piece of delicate equipment.

These new products mean Moore’s Law, which said computing power doubles every two years, may now apply to optical zoom. 30x is nearly double the then-groundbreaking 18x Panasonic Lumix I got a couple years ago to take wildlife photos. A few years ago the New York Times applied the law to mega-pixels. If it works with optical zoom, we may be looking forward to a 100x zoom by 2012.

I haven’t tried either of the cameras yet, but here’s what we know:

The Olympus SP-800UZ offers 14 mega-pixels and the 35 mm equivalent of 28 – 840mm for $350.

The Fujifilm HS10 has 10 mega-pixels and the 35mm equivalent of a 24-720mm zoom range for $500.

How do two cameras both with 30x zoom have a difference in 15% difference in zoom?  The Fujifilm is a 24mm lens, which is smaller and can pull back further so you can get a much wider angle. So if you want the versatility, go for the Fujifilm. If you’re a zoom junkie, the Olympus is for you. (Also in the

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