I have fond memories of Smokey the Bear when I was young and his forest fire prevention techniques. He was campy.......get it.....but the message got through. However, as time passes marketing gets better and Smokey is no exception. Smokey the Bear is still helping to prevent forest fires, but now he has a whole fun experience that comes along with his message. If you get a chance to stop at the Museum of York County in Rock Hill with your kids, do it! They have a new exhibit that will only be there for a limited time. It is all about camping, forests, and fun! My kids are 3 and 5, but I think older kids will enjoy it too.
One of my favorite parts of the new exhibit is the camping area with a tent, pretend campfire with bucket of water, and stars in the dark sky (ceiling) above. They even have the classic marshmallows on sticks (again, these are not real). Since I am not brave enough to take my 3 year old boy, who refuses to listen to me, on a trip to a real camp with a real campfire this is a good alternative.
Photography Tip: When shooting is dark areas you should boost your ISO. My ISO was up to 5000 in the picture above of my kids in the tent near a lantern. This will increase "noise" in the picture, but I'd rather have that than a blurry picture. I also shoot in RAW so I have more details to allow for a better edit in post processing. It looked like a very dark picture at first and I brightened it with Lightroom.
Since I am a science teacher as well as a photographer you know I was loving the "meet the scientist" and species identification area. I thought the picture of my son with the snake identification chart behind him was pretty funny. I'm not a fan of snakes, so his face reminds me of my own when talking about snakes. It would have been a worse face for spiders though!
My son was obsessed with the part of the exhibit where he could take golf balls and put them through a track system where they would eventually make lots of noise by hitting cymbals at the end. My daughter enjoyed building the outside parts of a house and fishing from a cute little boat.
If you have never been to this museum they have much more than just the new exhibit. They have an impressive amount of specimens (taxidermy animals) in the Naturalist Center, a play area (Tot Town) for kids 6 and under, a planetarium with daily "shows", and a nature trail behind the building with a picnic area.
If you are coming from Charlotte, the museum is not too far from route 77. There is a ton of parking and don't forget to take a book from the little library box outside. Find out more about the museum: http://chmuseums.org/myco/
Photography Tip: When taking picture of your kids at a museum remember to get different perspectives. Try some shots from above, below, details, and far away. Some shots you might want them to smile, but others you want to capture them engaged and not even noticing that you are taking pictures. These are usually my favorite because they are being their genuine selves in these moments.
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Only You Can Capture the Moments!