Adobe Creative Cloud

Two Sessions at NSTA 2013

I’ve been hard at work on the work-in-progress. And, the work is hard. I’m wrestling text and images and graphics into place, staring down a deadline. In the last two days, I’ve made really good progress. There’s nothing like having Richard available to produce the graphics I need when I need them. I wish he were my full-time office companion.

After two long days, I need to let some things settle a bit so I have time for a quick blog post. I was in San Antonio last weekend for the National Science Teachers Association annual convention.

Sarah at NSTA13

I was one of nine authors (Terry Jennings (Gopher to the Rescue), Darcy Pattison (Desert Baths), Elizabeth Rusch (The Mighty Mars Rover), Melissa Stewart (Under the Snow), Catherine Thimmesh (Team Moon), Peggy Thomas (Farmer George Plants a Nation), and Sallie Wolf (The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound) who participated in a workshop titled: “Integrating Science and Literacy: A Journey, Not a Destination.” Each of us was paired with a professor of education. My partner was Dr. Amy Broemmel from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She helped me share the educational materials I’ve developed for Wolfsnail and Growing Patterns with four groups of teachers who rotated through our table. She took these photographs.

the backstoriesIn my second session, “The Power of Scientists’ Stories in Teaching NGSS Methods and Practices,” I teamed up with Dr. Kristin Rearden, who also teachers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Andy Boyles, science editor at Highlights.

Once again, it was my job to share ideas with teachers for using my books in classrooms to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

teaching looking at snail on move book

I led the group in making a Fibonacci Folding Book, and talked about the Fibonacci Puzzle, the Wolfsnail On The Move book, and the instant book.

Kristin Rearden

Here is Kristin talking about bringing pinecones into the classroom to have students look for the Fibonacci sequence in the spirals on the bottom.

three presentersWe had lunch after our session to talk about what we might do for future conferences. Presenting at national conferences is always a wonderful experience because it brings me into dialogue with the people who use my books in classrooms and libraries with kids. I always learn things, and I always have fun.

Check out a new blog called Perfect Pairings: Linking Science and Literacy written by Kristin and Amy. You’ll find great trade picture books to use in your classrooms.

Learning New Photoshop Skills

For my new book, I need to illustrate a concept that involves a head of broccoli. I thought I had a good way to do it, but it wasn’t working as well as it needed to. So, I decided to go after a slightly different way of showing. It meant using Adobe Photoshop to “cut out” the broccoli head from its background, and then “cutting out” smaller sections of the head.

While I’ve always relied on Richard in the past to do most of the post-production, I had several reasons for diving into this job myself. First, I love learning new things. Second, he was wanting to watch a ballgame (Liverpool v. Tottenham). Third, I wasn’t sure my idea would work and didn’t want to put him through all the pain if it wasn’t going to prove out. So, I took up the pen.

Sarah using wacom

closer sarah learnsAfter I created the image I wanted in Photoshop, I imported it into Adobe InDesign. One of the great things about Photoshop is that you can create different layers in an image that show different things.

In this case, the final file included more than 5 layers. Instead of saving each of the versions as its own file, I was able use a tool called Layer Comps. I read up on the tool using Adobe’s help page, and was able to import the file into my InDesign document six different ways. I love my Adobe Creative Suite products and the way they work together.

Studio Tour

I am the featured artist today on the Southern Breeze Illustrators’ Corner blog. Richard and I produced a studio tour. Take a look and let me know what you think.

The Art of Low Level Vegetative Photography


Watch how Richard captured the broccoli photograph. I took the video with my iPhone.

The Art of Low-Level Vegetative Photography from richard campbell on Vimeo.

Fractal Trees

Richard and I got up early this morning to photograph trees with fractal branching patterns. We drove up the Natchez Trace Parkway a few miles north of Jackson. Here’s some of what we found.

fractal tree 1

fractal tree 2

fractal tree 3


fractal tree 5
Since we were in fractal mode, and since we had all the gear, we decided to visit the Jesse Gates Edible Forest at Wells Church to photograph some broccoli.
fractal broc

More Family Photos from the Archives

Mom and I have been looking through the books of negatives, again, because we’re doing another Christmas present photo panel. (I’m not saying who will get it and I’m not saying what the theme is. And, no, you can’t guess by looking at these photographs.)

sarah at mirror

This one of me at the mirror jumped out at me. And then, I saw the one below. Yikes! What is that growing out of my head?

em bday cake with sarah big hair

I have no idea what possessed me to do that particular style with my hair. (Mom thinks I was doing something celebratory for my sister Emilye’s 13th birthday.) Joining us that summer (1978) — as he did for many years — was Tarik Higgins. Our honorary brother.

The negatives show that we also lit fireworks that day and played a pretty fierce game of basketball. By the time of the basketball game, I had shed the apron. There wasn’t much bun left either.

playing bball

Look at Emilye using her left hand. And, yes, we did live in the middle of the woods!

For those of you who are interested in these kinds of things, I am scanning black and white negatives using an Epson V600, importing into Adobe Lightroom, and editing (cropping and using a healing brush to remove dirt and scratches) in Adobe Photoshop. I love having a darkroom on my desk!!


I’ve been away from blogging for a while. My computer stopped working so I’ve been cobbling together various work-arounds to get my work done (using Richard’s desktop when he’s not home and using my laptop, iPad, and phone), but none of those situations is amenable to my workflow for blogging. My “new” computer (actually Richard’s old tower attached to my peripherals) is up and running so I’m back in business.


Here is the turkey we roasted through the night into Thanksgiving. It was delicious, with all the sides.

anadama bread

Here is the anadama bread.

cornbread dressingAnd the Chef Red cornbread dressing (gluten free).

my three sonsMy three boys. (The eldest is minus his wisdom teeth.)

I’ve also been away from blogging because I’ve been working on a video project for HOPE Credit Union. Richard is an executive with HOPE, and we’ve taken this on together. Our videographer is Roderick Red, the production manager of Red Squared Productions.

roderick red

I’ve been conducting interviews and learning how to write for, and edit, video. Well, actually, I haven’t done much editing, just logging and clipping. I’ve learned a little about using Adobe Story (for scriptwriting) and Adobe Prelude (for ingesting and clipping video). Since we already use Adobe’s Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, and Premiere, and we became Adobe Creative Cloud users earlier this year, we figured we might as well learn more.

I’ll happily share the video once we’ve got a finished version.

For my interviews, I’ve been reading background material, including a few memoirs. I love reading memoirs. And, I know that soon I’ll get back to working on my two “life-based” stories. For this week’s interview, I’ll be heading home to Alcorn State University.