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Dual Book Review :: The Wisdom of Moms & Amazing Dads

I‘m kind of addicted to National Geographic books. It’s probably partly due to my love of photography. National Geographic sure knows how to do photography. Today I have two gorgeous little gift books to share with you just in time to pay tribute to the moms and dads in your lives.

The Wisdom of Moms: Love and Lessons From the Animal Kingdom

First line: “Moms can be feathered or furry, they can live in the mountains, at the water’s edge, or in the desert.”

The Wisdom of MomsThis little gem is chock full of glorious, color images of mothers and their offspring in the animal kingdom, among them a flamingo, bulldog, owl, dolphin and one of my personal favorites, the meerkat. The images are accompanied by little facts about the species and their parenting practices as well as lovely quotes related to parenthood, motherhood, love and life. Spread out throughout the book are short sections on characteristics of mothers, such as loyalty, compassion and grit. The narrative tells how the corresponding animal displays that trait.

The images are awe-worthy and the quotes are well-chosen. The variety of animals gracing the pages is terrific fun. Some regulars we expect to see everywhere–the graceful giraffe–and some that aren’t so common–free-range pigs! The Wisdom of Moms is a treasure for any animal lover, but it’s certainly the perfect gift this Mother’s Day. I’m not sure I can part with my copy of this one, though, so I will have to go get another one for my mother.

One of my favorite quotes from the collection is from Barbara Schapiro, “Sometimes the laughter in mothering is the recognition of the ironies and absurdities. Sometimes, though, it’s just pure, unthinking delight.” The Wisdom of Moms is certainly pure delight, but instead of unthinking it’ll have you pondering your own mom, guaranteed.

Goodreads - Brown Dog Solutions

 

Amazing Dads: Love and Lessons From the Animal Kingdom

First line: “There is that one special person who is always your biggest fan, your most tireless coach, and your friend no matter what: your dad.”

Amazing DadsThe companion book to The Wisdom of Moms is Amazing Dads. Set up in the same format, the book is packed with beautiful, bold images of animals throughout the world. The jacana and its spindly little off-spring practically tweet from the page. Meanwhile, it’s hard not to conjure up memories of Nemo as the brilliantly orange clownfish pop in their sea of blue.  The quotes range from heartwarming to humorous. And the facts accompanying the images are fascinating. Did you know that a male Japanese puffer fish spends nine days drawing intricate sand patterns on the ocean floor? Then the female deposits her eggs in the center. From hedgehogs to eagles, parenting in the wild is stunning, entertaining and magical. Amazing Dads captures that beautifully.

Either book will make beautiful gifts, but the pair complement each other wonderfully. Anyone who loves one with cherish the other…take it from me, I’m not relinquishing mine. National Geographic knows how to engage an audience with sharp, striking pictures and both The Wisdom of Moms and Amazing Dads are well-endowed with those images. And you really can’t beat the price on these little beauties either. Be sure to check them out!

Goodreads - Brown Dog Solutions

My reviews of The Wisdom of Moms and Amazing Dads is the kick-off post of the TLC Book Tour these great gift books. You can find out what other bloggers think about them by following the tour, listed here.

Book Review :: Loyal

First line: “There are dozens of reasons to love dogs, but the paramount reason for my passion emerged while I was writing the prequel to this book, Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty and Life With Dogs.”

Loyal - Brown Dog Solutions

Journalist Rebecca Ascher-Walsh is a volunteer in a high-kill animal shelter. Because of her experiences in the shelter she helped found the Deja Foundation, which is devoted to funding the medical care and training costs of dogs rescued from high-kill shelters. This is a true animal lover, and she’s put together Loyal: 38 Inspiring Tales of Bravery, Heroism, and the Devotion of Dogs, a beautiful book celebrating dogs who contribute to the lives of humans in truly extraordinary ways.

If you’re a pet owner, you know how much your own furry friend(s) add to your existence.  So it won’t surprise you to hear the 38 heartwarming tales Ascher-Walsh has collected in this stunning little book. She found purebreds and mutts, old dogs and young. The common denominator is their pure, unselfish willingness to give of themselves. A Labrador who served in the military, a German Shepard trained as a seeing eye dog for a marathon runner, a German wirehaired pointed adopted from a shelter to improve community relations for a police department, a Spinone Italiano who comforted the children of Newtown following the Sandy Hook massacre. The stories are diverse and fun and inspiring. The full-color photographs in every chapter are top-notch, as you’d expect from a National Geographic publication.

Peppered throughout the book are small call-out sections with special facts or breed background. And the variety of organizations that come to light is astounding. For example, the Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri (PHARM Dog USA) that trains and places service dogs with disabled farmers or Canine CellMates in Atlanta that rescues dogs on the euthanasia list at shelters and matches them with jail inmates to be trained.

Through all of the stories and dogs and individuals, Ascher-Walsh illustrates how the loyalty of dogs can bring out the best in their human friends. Loyal is a perfect book for the bedside table or coffee table. Readers can pick it up for one story at a time, a couple stories or an uplifting hour or two of all the stories. After having read it the first time, I found myself flipping through to look at the pictures again and wanting to re-read the tales as the pictures reminded me of the smiles and warm feelings those words elicited the first time around.

Loyal is an ideal book for any dog lover. It’s a great gift book as well, but if you buy it as a gift, you may very well find parting with it a great challenge.

I’m kicking off the TLC blog tour for Loyal. You can check out the full schedule of bloggers and find out what others are saying about Ascher-Walsh’s tribute to furry heros. You can find purchasing information at the National Geographic site or at Amazon. And as always, below you’ll find the Goodreads link if you want to add it to your reading list.

Goodreads - Brown Dog Solutions

New Photo Friday - Pets

New Photo Friday

Good gracious is this ever overdue. Again, I apologize for the long silence there. Today I have a new photo to share with you and some fun news about Fredrik Backman. Those who know me and my book review history know I adore Fredrik Backman’s work. He’s absolutely astounding. Anyone who asks me for book recommendations can be fairly certain I’ll mention his name. So of course, I’m delighted that his next book, BEARTOWN, is coming out at the end of April. In addition to that, the film version of A MAN CALLED OVE has been chosen by Sweden to compete in the foreign language Oscar category. I saw this film and just adored it—it’s true to the essence of Ove and the man Backman created. Of course, I would have liked for it to be about three hours longer so they could have flushed out more of the delightful supporting characters from the plot, but it’s a film. What can ya do?

On to New Photo Friday. Last weekend Rufus and I went to a dog fair in the area, so today’s photo comes from that trip. I was quite smitten with this St. Bernard puppy. She was a bit resistant to having her picture taken, so I was delighted to catch this shot.

New Photo Friday - Pet photography

I’ve started setting up a mini studio with some new-to-me equipment I was fortunate to acquire. So you’ll probably see some pictures from that new set-up in the near future.

One last little book tidbit—o.k., really it’s a big, honkin’ bite—for those in the Northeast Ohio area. Another author I recommend regularly and obsessively is Craig Johnson. Hopefully you already know he writes the Walt Longmire mystery series…which the TV series LONGMIRE is based on. He’ll be at the Strongsville Public Library on Wednesday, May 24th. Save this date and register NOW. It’s free, but I’m fairly certain the event will fill fast, so make sure you get your spot. I’m just thrilled he’ll be here in the area. Hope to see you there.

Happy Friday, friends. Have a great weekend!

New Photo Friday - Depth of Field

New Photo Friday: Week 17

jennifer forbus - new photo friday

Happy Friday! I hope your first week of 2017 was wonderful. Mine has included snow, so I’m not sure if we’re at the wonderful level, but I did have the opportunity to do a fun photo shoot on Monday, and I’m headed to the West Side Market with the Erie Shores Photography Club tomorrow for a day of shooting there. So, besides the snow, it’s been a pretty decent start to the year.

On Wednesday the photography club did a workshop with depth of field and focus. I played with some crayons, so my photo this week is one of those from my workshop. I shot this with my new-to-me Canon 85mm lens using an ISO of 200, an aperture of 1.8 and a shutter speed of 1/80 of a second.

New Photo Friday - Depth of Field

Depth of field is one of my favorite aspects of photography. And I’m having a blast with some of my newer lenses that are allowing me to get apertures in the 1.8-3.2 range. The effects you can create are fun, sometimes dramatic. What are some fun ways you’ve used depth of field or seen others use it?

I’ll try to make good use of it this weekend at the West Side Market. Hope your weekend is enjoyable, whether you’re doing something exciting or relaxing from the week. And if you’re in weather similar to mine, stay warm!

New Photo Friday – Week 16

jennifer forbus - new photo friday

Happy Friday! If you’re observing Christmas this weekend, I hope you’re ready for the festivities. I’m not really, but it’s going to happen one way or the other. 😉

I mentioned in last week’s post that I would be doing a Santa Claus shoot last weekend and that’s where my picture today comes from, although probably not what you’d expect.

Because we were setting up the facility before sunrise, I was able to snap this shot outside in the parking lot at Lakeview Park where they have a lovely light display all over. I was tickled by this beach volleyball scene with gingerbread people. The volleyballs blink on and off so it appears as though they are going over the net. I shot this, obviously, with a long exposure so all of the volleyballs appear lit in the image except for the fourth, which was burned out.

This is a crop of the original image and I realized when I cropped it that my focus was in the center of the picture, so gingerbread man is sharp but gingerbread girl is slightly blurry. That’s my biggest regret on this image. The beach scene to the right of ginger-boy is sharp, but I removed that to declutter the image.

What I really liked about it: I got the long exposure and the volleyballs all came out lit. I love the reflection in the puddles on the asphalt. And it’s whimsical and fun. Festive for the season. I hope you enjoy it too.

The technical details: I obviously shot this on a tripod. The shutter speed was 4 seconds, ISO 100 and aperture 5.0. I should have used a larger aperture setting and a slower shutter speed to get little miss ginger-girl sharper. I may go back another night or morning and try again. I’ll also frame the picture to only include the volleyball part of the scene.

New Photo Friday - long exposure

Next week I’ll have my end of the year lists for reading and a final new photo for the year. I hope you’ll stop by and check everything out. In the mean time, happiest of holidays to you one and all.

New photo Friday - lighting

New Photo Friday – Week 15

jennifer forbus - new photo friday

Once again, I have to apologize for the delay since my last post. I am well-meaning, but somehow the days just get away from me. I have a number of odds and ends to share with you before I share my photo for this week.

The first is the December Nerdy Special List. Those of you who have been following from the old blog know that I contribute to Pop Culture Nerd’s monthly Nerdy Special List. The end of year list for 2016 is rather nice, especially if you might be looking for a last-minute gift idea. There are some great titles over there.

Shelf Awareness had their favorite books of 2016 issue and I have two non-fiction reviews included in that list. And today is the last day to enter AudioFile’s contest to win 6 months of free audiobooks in conjunction with their editors’ favorites of 2016. I have three reviews in various categories for that issue. Check it out…and enter to win!

I’m into my 2017 books now, so I’ll be posting my favorites lists soon. Be on the lookout.

O.k. so that brings me to this week’s new photo. It comes from my photography class on Sunday where I was again working on lighting. I’ve been using the Cactus RF60 Wireless flash. In my set-up for this shoot I was using two flashes and the V6 transceiver. I have been quite impressed with the Cactus products. They’ve been easy to use and make the shoot go smoother, which is a plus for a photographer who’s still mastering all this lighting business!

In addition to the flashes I used a Godox softbox on one flash. I need to get a grid to go with my softbox, but for what I paid for it, it’s a good, portable, easy-to-use diffuser. The kit I bought comes with the S-type bracket, but you can buy kits without that and pay a little less.

My photo was taken with my Tamron 17-50mm lens at an aperture of 8.0. My shutter speed was 1/100 and my ISO was 100.

New photo Friday - lighting

So what’s your favorite equipment that you use for lighting? Do you have any tips or tricks that you like to follow for lighting? Feel free to share with us. And share a photo if you have one today. I’d love to stop by and see it.

Hope you have a great weekend. I’m going to help out with a Santa photo shoot. I’m sure I’ll have fun stories and pictures to share after. Stay warm. Happy reading and shooting!

New Photo Friday - Rufus

New Photo Friday – Week 14

jennifer forbus - new photo friday

Happy Friday and beginning of December everyone. How in the world is this year almost over already? Yikes! This week I’m cheating on my new photo and using one from a week ago. It isn’t because I wasn’t taking pictures this week; in fact, just the opposite. But I can’t share those with the world, yet. I will when I can.

So the picture I’m going to share with you is my greatest passion–photographing animals. My dog Rufus and I took advantage of a bizarre 70 degree day in November and played a little hooky in the park. This picture is from our romp through the woods.

I took this one with my Tamron 17-50mm lens with an aperture of 2.8, a shutter speed of 1/320 and an ISO of 100. I like the texture in Ru’s fur. He tends to blend in with the fall browns and reds, but his pose was fun and every chance I get to practice with animals, I’m thrilled.

New Photo Friday - Rufus

This weekend we’re headed to a dog walk sponsored by the local metro parks. It’s in the evening, but if I can get some good pictures of that there may be more dogs next week for New Photo Friday as well.

In the mean time, if you’re a photography enthusiast, you may want to check out this free ebook. I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to be free, so I’d go quickly. But working effectively with reflectors is one of my goals for the near future, so I want to check this one out.

New Photo Friday – Week 13

jennifer forbus - new photo friday

Happy Friday everyone! We’re supposed to have a little spurt of warmish weather today in Northeast Ohio, so I’m in a stellar mood. This week has been rather crazy busy but sunshine and warm temps are the perfect remedy for almost anything in my sphere. I hope you’re able to enjoy today as well.

I’m going to share a photo today from my photography class last night. My group was working on low-key lighting, which I LOVE. The dramatic effect of this lighting approach definitely grabs the eye and it’s a fairly easy technique with little equipment needed. We used two off-camera flashes on this shot, one with a shoot-through umbrella and one with a softbox. For this shot, I used an ISO of 100, an aperture of 4.0 and a shutter speed of 1/125.

New Photo Friday - Low Key Lighting

Let me know what you think. Have you ever tried this technique?

And if you have a photo to share this week, let us know where to find it. I’d love to take a look. Thanks for stopping by. I’m hoping to get some bookish posts up next week as well as my new photo, so do keep an eye out. And have a wonderful weekend!

New Photo Friday - Maddee James

New Photo Friday – Week 12

Happy Friday everyone! And I apologize for no photo last week. I just ran out of time before I had to set off for Milwaukee, which is where this week’s photo comes from. In our workshop for the Erie Shores Photography Club we worked on family portraits using flash photography, which was a great exercise. And in my class this week, we photographed a dancer. I’m also entering photos in our club’s competition for the first time this month. Cross your fingers for me. So a lot of fun photography stuff going on.

Jen

The picture I’m sharing this week I took when I went out for a little stroll in Milwaukee. I just did a little jaunt around the immediate neighborhood of the Irish Cultural Center. This little weed caught my attention so I played with some depth of field on it. I shot this at an aperture of 2.8 and 1/160 second shutter speed (ISO 100). I don’t have a macro lens, so it lacks a lot of the great detail a macro would have brought in, but it still tickled my fancy.

New Photo Friday - weed

Maddee J.

Maddee is infusing this week’s post with some color! Here’s what she has to say about her photo this week:

“I know I seem to be rose-obsessed but I’m really not at all… in fact I just removed a bunch from my yard! BUT — I love taking photos of them because they’re so luscious and layered! This is taken with my iPhone early one morning and the cool thing is that I wasn’t wearing my close-up glasses so actually had NO idea that morning frost lined these petals. It was a beautiful surprise when I got home and downloaded them to my computer where I could really see! Anyway, the colors of this rose are like orange-strawberry sherbet! One of my favorite flower shots I’ve ever taken. :)”

New Photo Friday - Maddee James

I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos week. Be sure to let us know if you have one you’d like us to check out. I hope your weekend is filled with great books and photograph-worthy moments!

New Photo Friday - long exposure

New Photo Friday – Week 11

jennifer forbus - new photo friday

Happy Friday friends! I hope you had a great week. Mine was a whirlwind it feels like. How is it the last Friday of October already? As I mentioned last week, I went to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park last Saturday with my photography club–Erie Shores Photography Club–and shot beautiful nature. We saw three different falls and a nature trail. It was such a wonderful–and exhausting–day.

This weekend is going to be a little mundane as I have a lot of work to catch up on, but next weekend is Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee. Are you planning to attend? I’m looking forward to a fun bookish weekend since I had to miss the last two M&Ms.

So let’s move on to this week’s photos!

Jen

I had a hard time picking which photo to use today. We had such great content to shoot. I have a few heron images that came out nice from the nature trail, but I opted for a water image because I used long exposure for these and I really haven’t done that technique in the past. And I was like a fascinated little kid. I’d adjust my settings to use the fastest shutter speed I could and then I’d go to the slowest, and then I’d play with the ones in between. So I ended up with a slew of the same shots, just different water effects. (It really doesn’t take much to amuse me!)

This one ended up being one of my favorites. The leaves aren’t spectacular, we’re having an overall disappointing color change this year–maybe due to the strange weather–but there’s still some color. The shot was taken with an ISO of 100, an aperture of 18 and a 20 second shutter speed. Obviously I took this on a tripod at that shutter speed. 😉

New Photo Friday - long exposure

Maddee J.

Maddee is sharing some faith with us this week. She has a lovely church, and this is what she shared about it:

“I took this in San Miguel de Allende, like last week’s photo.  It’s this amazing church in the main square.  Taken with my iPhone in the evening so the edges aren’t sharp… but the lighting was so pretty, and I adore palm trees so the lone one there next to the church made me happy!”

New Photo Friday - San Miguel de Allende

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our photos this week. Definitely let us know if you have pictures we can come check out. And have a wonderful last weekend of October!