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June 2018

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Remember, the frame refers to the edges of your photograph or the edges of the viewfinder of your camera when you are shooting. The advice to fill the frame means to get in close, to make your subject a significant portion of the final photograph. Fill the frame encourages you, as a photographer, to really spend some time thinking about your subject and how best to feature that subject in your photograph.

How can you bring forward the details or the patterns or the most critical element(s) of your subject? How does the background add to or take away from the story that you are trying to tell?

This advice is articulated in a lot of different ways such as “Get close. Then get closer.” Photographers tend to leave too much ‘stuff’ around their subject. The viewer gets lost in the chaos and doesn’t know where to look. Less is often more to put it simply.

Let’s look at a few more examples of filling the frame in photo composition ::

Magic is in the air with this clever image of the person levitating above the leaf covered ground. There are a few elements that make the photo work nicely with regard to composition. First, the frame is indeed filled as much as it can be given the person’s feet not touching the ground. Secondly, the line of the barren shrubs frames the person beautifully. Thirdly, the colours work together beautifully. The exposure could be improved, but we are discussing composition. The photographer succeeds in creating a strong composition.

Is this a friendly conversation over a cup of tea? The relaxed body language tells us this is so. We don’t need to see the faces of the tea drinkers to know there is little or no tension. Beyond this, we are left to tell the rest of the story.

Why do we know this about the photograph? We may have been in a similar situation and draw from our own experience. More than this the photographer has filled the frame in a way that our eyes are drawn to the relaxed nature of the subjects and the cups of tea.

The image is simple and not cluttered with unnecessary information. Strive for simplicity and filling your frame for a strong photo composition.

What elements make this photo composition effective? Yes, the frame is filled. You’re right.

Notice, too the background is used effectively, the bright colour of the flowers pop right out at you amongst the other muted colour and the young lady is slightly off- centre. We will discuss the importance of colour, avoiding the middle and backgrounds in future blog posts.

Even if you are anti-smoking, you must notice this image is strong with regard to composition on several levels.

Yes, the frame is filled beautifully. Do you also notice the young lady’s face is framed by the blue hoodie and her blond hair? That’s right. The photographer has achieved a frame within a frame giving this a nice composition.

Additionally, the background has been kept to a minimum so the viewer’s eye goes directly to the young woman’s face.

Take a closer look at this photo. The intense stare from her eyes to the left leaves us to wonder what is outside the image frame. What is she looking at or we might ask, “what is she thinking?” Remarkably, the photographer has left us to tell the rest of the story. The photo has a certain intensity that keeps us looking, thinking and wondering.

Take some time to study these two images.

Overall, the photographer has achieved a simple composition. In the first version of the photo are you certain there isn’t a bit of clutter that makes the eye wander? Indeed there is clutter and it is the silhouette of the building in the top right of the image. This silhouette is unnecessary.

Do you notice in the second version of the photo the building silhouette is gone? Do you also notice your eye goes where it should and that is the hands holding the sparklers against the muted sunset?

By eliminating that small bit of clutter, the frame is filled as it should be and our eyes are directed right where the photographer intended.

Do note, however, it is always best to crop while you are taking the photo. This means you are making the right decisions while composing your photograph so there is no need at all to edit in a photo editing program later.

Download a free PDF I prepared for you that shows additional examples of filling the frame in photo composition.

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Without a doubt, Battersea Power Station has been one of my favourite buildings in Central London.  I especially love how it sits and reflects in the moving night waters of the River Thames.  I’ve photographed this iconic building from almost every angle.

Battersea Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station located on the south bank of the River Thames, in Nine Elms, Battersea, an inner-city district of South West London. It comprises two individual power stations, built in two stages in the form of a single building. Battersea A Power Station was built in the 1930s, with Battersea B Power Station to the east in the 1950s. The two stations were built to a nearly identical design, providing the long-recognised four-chimney layout. The station ceased generating electricity in 1983, but over the past 50 years it has become one of the best-known landmarks in London and is Grade II* listed. The station’s celebrity owes much to numerous popular culture references, which include the cover art of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals and its appearance in the 1965 Beatles’ film Help!

All of the images shown in this blog post are before the major redevelopment program began.  The verdict is out whether or not the future Battersea Power Station will be worthy of photography.  To be honest I’m not too keen on the new architecture being built around this iconic structure.

For the moment, however, Battersea Power Station and the nearby Chelsea Bridge remain on my list of the best places to photograph London.

Where is Battersea Power Station?  How Do I Get To Battersea Power Station?
Battersea Power Station Coordinates ::  51°28′54″N 0°8′41″W

Map Showing The Location of Battersea Power Station

 

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Flavoured butter, often called compound butter, can add the crowning touch to almost any dish. Here is a short video demonstration on making a compound butter. Realize that compound butter is easily made and can incorporate almost any flavours your heart and taste buds desire. Feel free to experiment and use almost anything from garlic to spices like ginger, or perhaps fruity elements like orange peel, and everything in-between. They can be made in very small amounts designed to accompany a specific meal or dish and can greatly enhance your culinary creation. Give it a try, experiment, get creative, and have fun.

Garlic, Sea Salt,  & Thyme Compound Butter

To accompany the above video, here’s the rundown on a garlic, sea salt and thyme compound butter.  First, let a stick of unsalted butter come to room temperature.  When somewhat soft, place the stick in a mixing bowl and a start adding finely minced garlic, sea salt, and thyme according to your taste preferences.  Take the back of a spoon and mash the ingredients together.  Continue to incorporate all the ingredients until well blended.

Take a sheet of wax paper, or parchment paper, and lay flat.  Spoon the mixture onto the paper and form a log roll or rectangle.  When you have the desired shape, roll or fold the paper around your newly made compound butter.  For a really good seal, wrap some Saran Wrap over the paper, the place back into the refrigerator to harden.  Serve with your meal when ready.  It’s that easy.

Travellers visit Nepal for their own reasons, tho’ all must begin in Kathmandu.  This city is chaos with its own unique charm.  Step away from the “tourist” areas and your senses will be overrun with a genuine and authentic view of life in Kathmandu.  Journey through the Thamel area of Kathmandu in this short video.

Top Things To Do In Kathmandu

Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and a big city with many historic temples and old buildings, several of which can be found on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

Swayambhunath Temple
A beautiful temple complex, also known as the “Monkey Temple,” since lots of monkeys live in the northwestern part of Swayambhunath Temple.  From here, you also get a great view of nearly the entire Kathmandu Valley.  The stupa is of great importance among the pilgrims, and the temple is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal.

Kopa Temple
Kopa temple is a gated community of Buddhist nuns and monks. In the morning you can watch the monks perform the sacred rituals of the morning.  It’s also a place where one can learn more about yoga and meditation.   If you’re interested in knowing more about their courses, you can visit their website –  Kopanmonastery.com

Trekking / Hiking
When you think about Nepal, one’s mind wanders rather quickly towards the Himalayas and Mount Everest. Kathmandu is for many the start of a long hike, and there are plenty of local travel agencies that organize hiking tours. One could also get some of the required certificates in Kathmandu.

Thamel
Thamel is the main tourist area in Kathmandu and according to many even the heart of the chaotic capital. There is always something to do in Thamel, and there are plenty of shops that stay open from early morning to late evening.

Boudhanath Stupa
The Boudhanath Stupa was considerably damaged during the great earthquake that occurred in May 2015. It is still a very sacred building in Buddhism and Buddhists from all over the world come here to pay homage. At the moment it’s being repaired and rebuilt to its former appearance. The stupa is best to visit during the morning when the monks and locals perform their morning prayers.

Overnight stay in Nagarkot
Nagarkot is a cosy little village where you can see the mountain range of the Himalayas in the distance.  At clear visibility, it’s even possible to see Mount Everest from here.  Nagarkot is most beautiful at sunrise and sunset, especially in summer when visibility is at its best.

Durbar Square
A classic square which is full of old buildings and a history that stretch far back in time. The hustle and bustle will continuously go on until darkness falls and there are plenty of shops and stalls selling everything from local food to clothes and handicrafts.
Durbar Square is a classic attraction in Kathmandu, which is also included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath temple is the most important Hindu temple in Nepal and an interesting attraction if you want to learn more about the religion and life as a Hindu.

Fly over the Himalayas and Mount Everest
From Kathmandu, it is possible to book flights that will fly you over the Himalayas and the different peaks, such as Mount Everest. One should have in mind that it’s a private aircraft, so it is relatively expensive; however, it is less expensive compared to western prices.  From the aircraft, you get a magical view of the majestic mountains that together form the Himalayas.

Kumari Chowk
The Nepalese themselves call her a living goddess. If you go on the guided tour, you will most likely visit the Kumari Chowk. Visiting is a cultural experience; it’s a little girl who has no choice and is trapped in a room, just because someone has decided that she’s a goddess.  She is considered to be a living goddess and must not do ordinary things. The locals worship her and visit whenever they want her to bless them.

White Monastery
Also known as Seto Gumba. A Buddhist temple is known for its five Buddha statues that look out over the valley.

Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is Lalitpur’s equivalent of Durbar Square in central Kathmandu. Here you will find several old temples and buildings. The square is a  UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Lalitpur is known for its handicrafts and artwork, which can be seen in all of the details available on the temples and buildings.

Hiranya Varna Mahabihar
This temple is situated at Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur and is also known as “the golden temple.” A beautiful temple where locals still today pay their homage.

Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is the third city in the Kathmandu Valley and just like the rest of them a historic city with several old temples and buildings. Bhaktapur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Destination:  Kathmandu Nepal

Station to station, platform to platform.  The Northern Line, Jubilee Line, District, and Bakerloo Lines on the London Underground condensed into sixty seconds in this fast-paced video…

What’s interesting are the deliberate lines within the designs of each station that lead commuters in the right direction.  Left, right, forward, don’t cross the line and mind the gap.  Stand on the left unless you’re at Holborn, never jump the queue except when rushing the train before passengers alight.  Herd-like sheep during rush hour, then stand nose to nose, eye to eye as the train burrows itself to the next platform.  Only six more stops to go.  A mad dash through a labyrinth of tunnels to escalator maintenance.  The London Underground is an engineering marvel with organised madness.

Engineering works, signal failures, strikes because no one can agree who opens the doors.  We release a huge sigh of relief departing a station only to return for a repeat the very next day.  We love to hate it.  We hate to love it.  Ultimately, the London Underground takes us where we want to go.

Many Underground stations are also a work of art.  The patterned and coloured tiles create interesting designs down below.  Baker Street features Sherlock Holmes.  Tottenham Court Road featured wild mosaics until a recent refurbishment.  One of my favourite stations is Hampstead where the design is simple, yet the large swirls and lines make you feel as if you’re on a roller coaster.   Piccadilly Circus reminds me of – well, a circus and Green Park has a great tunnel if you love vanishing points.

For many years I thought about going station to station and getting off the subway train at every stop.  My initial thought was to exit the station to see what was above ground.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see various London neighbourhoods from one end of an Underground line to another?  I have never ticked this idea off of my things to do in London list, though one day I shall.  What I did do, and is very evident in the London Underground video, I departed the train at each station.  I would then explore the platforms, the ways to exit the stations and the stations themselves.

The project took weeks to complete.  I avoided rush hour by riding the train during the week and mostly at night.  Often times I was the only one in a station so there were no issues being in the way of commuters.  The Underground staff didn’t bother me for the most part, though you know I was captured via CCTV everywhere I went.  Security was probably thinking – “there’s that guy again!”  It was only in larger stations, such as Waterloo, where the station manager hunted me down and called the police.  Thank goodness when I calmly volunteered to leave the station, nothing came of the drama.  Do be aware if you decide to take photos of any London Underground Station as you may run into a grumpy station manager like I did.

Is the London Underground an easy way to travel London?  The answer is yes.  London’s subway system is easy to navigate even for a beginner.  If you really want to learn London, however, I suggest walking and getting lost on the streets.

It’s not easy to be a gentleman on the London Underground during rush hour.  A true test for a well-mannered gentleman.

The video runs rather fast, so included below are a few of my favourite London Underground photos ::

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Sinatra was one of the greatest entertainers in history.  He was a ladies’ man and a man’s man. Ladies wanted to be with him, and guys wanted to be him.  He was and still is the essence of cool.  We need another Frank Sinatra in today’s world.

What’s amazing about Frank Sinatra is how he sang with such bravado, yet his music also conveyed deep feeling and tenderness. When you listen to Frank sing, you believe him.  Go ahead, put on “In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning” then tell me you doubt Frank.  On top of that, he had a great sense of humour.

Like any other guy, Frank had his faults, but the passion that comes through in his songs is still as fresh and powerful as ever.  He’s one of a kind, just like Judy.   When you listen to his voice, you can’t help but be struck by how he appears so casual and relaxed yet able to achieve such amazing control.

Sinatra’s music calls to mind smoky rooms and a world where booze flowed freely and times were simpler.

Having a drink and listening to Sinatra is like a meditation in gentlemanliness.  And, it transports you to an era when the world seemed to make a lot more sense.

He always said that at heart he was just a “glorified saloon singer.”  And his music calls to mind smoky rooms and a world where the cocktails ran freely and times were simpler.  A time when we didn’t know about terrorism, when “social networks” were barbershops, bars and churches, and when energy drinks and tofurkey didn’t exist.

As you drink, you’ll experience notes in Sinatra’s voice in the libations: bitterness, sweetness, starkness.

Suggested Frank Sinatra Songs For Your Moment

A few Sinatra songs, like:

•  Come Fly with Me
•  I’ve Got You Under My Skin
•  My Way
•  The Way You Look Tonight
•  Satisfy Me One More Time
•  Maybe This Time
•  Witchcraft
•  Very Good Year
•  My Kind Of Town
•  Mack The Knife
•  Bewitched
•  Summer Wind
•  Nice N’ Easy

◆  Make yourself a nice cocktail : Some sort of whiskey on the rocks. Frank’s drink was reportedly Jack Daniels on the rocks, but if you want to have single malt scotch instead, that works fine.   I’ll take the Dean Martin route with a martini, straight up.

How To Have An Evening With Frank Sinatra

◆  Make yourself a drink and put on some Sinatra songs.
◆  It’s important that your drink is on the rocks with no mixer. There’s something holy about drinking hard liquor on the rocks while
listening to Sinatra—like a perfect wine pairing.

Enjoy The Evening.

Satisfy Me One More Time Lyrics
(As Frank Sinatra Sings Them)

Don’t deny me, satisfy me one more time,
Barricade me and invade me, one more time.
Sacrifice me, don’t be nice, be wild and free.
Make a sex-pot symbol out of little old me,
Caress me, molest me, one more time,
Misuse me and abuse me one more time.
Excite me and ignite me with your sweet torso.
Use your muscles, my corpuscles, wanna grow.
Assault me, attack me, lose control.
Let’s smother each other in a good old strangle-hold.
There’s nothing but loving on my mind.
Don’t deny me, satisfy me one more time.
Compromise me, vandalize me, have a ball,
Destroy me and enjoy me through it all.
Demolish, disassemble and dismantle my apparel,
If my birthday suit ain’t cute, I’ll wear a barrel.
Bite my ears, baby, nibble on my nose
Let your dimples put goose pimples on my toes.
There’s sugar oozing over from my elbows to my knees,
So cover me with kisses, get yourself some calories,
If you don’t want me climbing up the wall,
Don’t fool around my fertile ground at all.
While the Cold Duck’s getting colder, just be sure,
Everything’s we got is body temperature, warm it up.
They’re still a lot of groovy goodies left,
When you reach the cookie jar, just help yourself,
There ain’t nothin’, but lovin’ on my mind.
Don’t deny me, satisfy me one more time.
Encore, encore, encore.

That’s Life Lyrics

That’s life (that’s life) that’s what people say
You’re riding high in April
Shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top, back on top in June
I said, that’s life (that’s life) and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks
Stompin’ on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down
‘Cause this fine old world it keeps spinnin’ around
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate
A poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race
That’s life (that’s life) I tell ya, I can’t deny it
I thought of quitting, baby
But my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try
I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate
A poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself layin’ flat on my face
I just pick myself up and get back in the race
That’s life (that’s life) that’s life
And I can’t deny it
Many times I thought of cuttin’ out but my heart won’t buy it
But if there’s nothing shakin’ come here this July
I’m gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
My, my

A flashback of old Las Vegas,

The Barrymore, tucked away on a side street off the strip, brings a taste of the glamour days ( not the glitz ) that used to be. You will immediately think…this is what Las Vegas should be.

Check out the unique ceiling made of movie reels and visualize a star or two sitting in a nearby booth.

A continental cuisine (American and French) featuring great steaks, duck, escargot, and foie gras ( pictured below ), complete with a great wine cellar. They have a very professional and knowledgeable staff that will make sure your evening is flawless…and an extensive wine cellar. To top it off, very reasonable prices, which all makes for a great dining experience.

And Las Vegas legend Joe Vento ( pictured below ) greets you at the entrance. Ask nicely and he’ll play a song for you, maybe a Frank Sinatra standard to set the perfect mood. What more could you ask for in Las Vegas?

 

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One of the most widespread mistakes photographers make is including too much space in the image frame. Amateur and Professional photographers alike make this mistake.

When too much empty space included, the viewer is left to decide where to look. And, the viewer might decide to look elsewhere. We don’t want that, do we?

Let’s have a look at a few examples so you can understand a bit better what I’m saying.

This photo could be very nice but there are two problems. First, my eye goes directly to the blue sky instead of the man jumping high above the hill. Big mistake on the part of the photographer who captured this. The eye goes to the wrong place. Additionally, the perspective is entirely wrong. For this image to be stronger, the photographer should have zoomed in or moved closer to the jumping man. It could help also if the photographer had gotten lower to give a sense of how high the jumper is jumping.

There is one other slight problem, which as a professional I see right away and that is – there are spots or smudges that are visible. If ever you plan to show your photos to other people be sure there are no spots visible on your image.

Nice silhouette, but this image is sort of boring. There is too much space and little feeling when looking at this image. Again, moving closer or zooming in could have made this photo powerful. This is a missed opportunity.

Lastly, this photo is a wee bit dark and I have to ask – Am I supposed to be looking at the mountains, the foreground or the lady walking directly in the middle? Two rules are broken here. The person in the middle – which is a no-no and far too much space around her. The result is an uninteresting photo.

Filling the frame is an effective technique for strong photo composition. When you fill the frame and leave little empty space, what you are doing is creating a definite focal point. When a viewer looks at your image their eye goes directly to where you want the eye to go.

There are three elements in this photo that make it beautiful. First, the frame is filled with the men’s legs. They are sort of skinny legs but they do fill the frame and this is a good thing. The second element is the dust floating and reflecting in the air. This helps tell a story of sorts or at least makes you wonder what else is happening. There is some sort of mystery and that is a good thing. Finally, the ray of golden light is stunning. Overall, this is a brilliant example of strong composition.

Where does your eye go first in this image? The tattooed hands and the rings on the hands. This is remarkable, isn’t it? The frame is filled effectively and the implied lines just by the way the hands are positioned lead the eye directly where the photographer wants you to look. This is great.

While a bit dark there is enough light in the background and on the man’s back to make this image quite beautiful. What’s more is the frame is filled and the clever use of light leads your eye directly to the man’s back. Obviously, the photographer wants us to look there. I can’t imagine how long it took for the tattoo to be created but it is a beautiful piece of work and the photographer wants us to look right there. Simply stunning this photo is.

Filling the frame of your photograph is easy to do. Simply move closer to your subject or zoom in with your camera lens. My best advice is always to move around. By moving around, you explore various angles and perspectives. You’re sure to capture the best image possible by not being stationary.

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The London Peace Pagoda has been a landmark along the Thames for over 30 years.

At a time when the cold war and the fear of nuclear attack appeared to be escalating the offer of a Peace Pagoda to promote world peace and harmony certainly seemed appropriate.

It was offered to the people of London by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order as part of the 1984 Greater London Council (GLC) Peace Year.  The pagoda in Battersea was built by monks, nuns and followers of Nipponzan Myōhōji at the behest of The Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii (1885–1985), founder of the organisation.

The London Peace Pagoda (Battersea Park) is located between Chelsea Bridge and Albert Bridge.  I include this as one of the best places to photograph London for a number of reasons.  Both Chelsea Bridge and Albert Bridge are incredible architectural structures and worthy of photography.  Additionally, if you spend time on and around Chelsea Bridge, you’ll have marvellous views of Battersea Power Station.  Lastly, a walk along Chelsea Embankment and the River Thames allows you to enjoy a less hectic Central London.  I’m often in this area at night and always feel as if I have London all to myself; there are no people around, and explore at my leisure.

Facts
:: The second floor of the pagoda is an area forbidden to the public.:: The Duke of Edinburgh met Reverend Nagase in 2004 when Battersea Park re-opened after a £11m makeover.
:: The Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii met with Mahatma Gandhi in 1933 and greatly inspired each other.
:: In 1947, he began constructing Peace Pagodas as shrines to World Peace.
:: A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa, stupa meaning ‘heap’ in Indian, which contains Buddha’s relics, the shape being that of Buddha’s folded robes as a base upon which his upturned begging bowl and stick have been placed.
:: Buddhism is the label given to the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha who was born as Siddhartha Gautama and who lived in or around the fifth century BCE in the northeastern region of ancient India.
:: The London Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park is one of 2 in the UK, the other being at Milton Keynes.
:: Permission to build it was the last legislative act of the Greater London Council.
:: Battersea Park is a large (83 hectares/200 acres) Victorian park that formally opened in 1858.

Where is Battersea Park Peace Pagoda?  How do I get to Battersea Park Peace Pagoda?
Battersea Park Peace Pagoda GPS Coordinates ::  51.4820173, -0.1612148 

MAP SHOWING THE LOCATION OF THE LONDON PEACE PAGODA

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Above is a discussion on how to avoid burning the butter, particularly when making sauces or searing. The taste of burnt butter can ruin an otherwise wonderful dish, so you have to take some caution when using butter at higher temperatures. There are several ways to accomplish this without compromising taste.

I’ll briefly summarize the video above. All oils or fats that are used in cooking will burn at certain temperatures.  That burning point is called the “smoke point.  Once the burning begins to take place, the flavour drastically changes. And that you don’t want.

When sautéing or searing, butter is what is most often used because of the flavour, which of course, is the main goal in cooking. However, butter starts to burn at relatively low temperature, at about 350 degrees. So when you need to use higher heat, add some oil to the butter to raise that burning point.

The most common oils to add ( all refined  ) are canola oil ( 470 degrees ), safflower oil ( 510 degrees), or corn oil ( 450 degrees ).  You can also use olive oil; however, there are two points to consider. The first is that olive oil’s smoke point is only slightly higher than butter: extra virgin, which you should use, is 375 degrees, while virgin olive oil is 420 degrees.  This only raises the burning point slightly.  The second point is that olive oil has a very distinct taste, so be very sure this is the flavour you want to add.

Margarine can also be used, but like olive oil, it only raises the smoke point slightly, by maybe 20-25 degrees. This requires that you be careful and pay close attention to your level of heat.  Enjoy sautéing, but don’t burn the butter.