Weekly photo challenge: arranged —or the effect of f-stop

I’m trying to jump back into the weekly photo challenge. I enjoyed doing it for a while and then I fell out of sync. Here are a few photos from the archives of my Photography I class. Even though the arrangement of Disney character toys on my porch railing looks like something a 5-year-old child might do, it wasn’t. I did it for a class to show the effect of the f-stop, or aperture, of a camera on the photograph.

Depth of field - f/22

When you snap a photo the lens opens up a certain amount (aperture, lens opening, or f-stop) for a period of time (shutter speed). If you have a fancy camera, you can adjust one or both of these variables. Some of the simpler automatic point and shoot cameras will allow you to adjust these settings in a manual mode of operation.

The size of the lens opening and the amount of time it is open determine the amount of light that contacts the film, or more likely today, the digital receptor (probably has a name that I can’t recall at the moment). The amount of light determines the exposure or whether your photograph will come out too dark, light, or just right. With the automatics we have now, the photographer doesn’t usually have to worry about exposure. But if you’re like me and grew up with a film camera, you’ve probably seen your fair share of under or over exposed prints.

The second lesson we had in my Photography I class was experimenting with the f-stop to see the effect on a photo.  The f-stop is actually expressed as a fraction: f/4, f/8, f/22, etc. The smaller the f-stop numeral, the wider the lens opening (1/4 of a pie is bigger than 1/8). The size of the opening determines not only how much light gets in, it also effects how much of the image will be sharply in focus, known as the depth of field. As the opening gets smaller (f/22 for example), the more of the scene from near to far gets into focus. In the above photo, all the Disney characters are in focus. Mostly. (I think the lack of crystal sharpness was due to the photographer and not the f-stop. But it was only my second week in class, so I think I deserve a break.) You might also notice that the trees and the house in the background are clearly in focus.

Depth of field - f/4

In this photo, with a larger aperture, f/4, only a select portion of the photograph is in focus. The above characters in line are out of focus until you get past Esmeralda. Then Captain Phoebus and Mulan are sharply in focus. Beyond them, things start blurring again. I must have focused my camera on Captain Phoebus or Mulan (I think I was probably trying to get Esmeralda and just missed). You can also see that the background trees and house are blurry.

Opening the aperture, or setting the camera to a lower f-stop number, is one method to get a better picture in a low-light situation, if you are primarily concerned with a single focus area. I use it all the time.

Sometimes I use a larger aperture, (low f-stop number like 4 or 5.6)  just because I like the effect.

Weekly photo challenge: Regret

Honey was our first family dog and only dog besides Arthur, if you can fully consider Arthur a dog. Honey was beautiful. People complimented her everywhere we took her.

In the spring of 2001 we finally broke down and decided to get a dog when the kids were getting older, I was busy running them around, and our youngest son was going to be left home alone more and more. We thought a dog would add a sense of security and companionship to our home.

When I called a local vet about dog breeds, the receptionist said, “You might want to come in and look at a rescue puppy we have here.”  So we went. Anna had always been intimidated by dogs since she had an unfortunate incident when she was young. But we thought a puppy wouldn’t be threatening. When we got to the vet’s and they took us to the outdoor run to show us Honey, Anna took a step back. And I was surprised myself. I was expecting a puppy. Honey, the name the staff had given her, looked like a full-grown dog to me. And she really was full-grown in size by then, but the vet estimated she was only about nine months old. One of their clients had found her lurking around the back of their yard by their shed. Later we found a couple of beebees imbedded in her back legs.

We were told Honey was given the name not only because of her color, but because of her disposition. With that kind of recommendation from experts, we knew we would be getting a sweet dog. We were right.

When she died eight years later, in the spring of 2009, from a spinal disc problem we were trying to treat, we were all devastated.

I regret she wasn’t able to be here with us in our new home where she would have had a large yard to roam, deer to watch, and plenty of squirrels to chase.

Weekly Photo Challenge — Waiting

Niagra Falls wax museum, summer of 1998.

Yesterday was a day of waiting for me, although it had nothing to do with this picture. I waited to be able to take a drink of water in the morning as I waited to leave for the hospital. Then I waited to be called back to register for surgery. Then I waited to be called back for surgery prep. Then I waited for surgery. I think waiting for surgery is the worse part. I had laproscopic surgery to remove my gall bladder. It was a bit more complicated than normal and so Mark had to wait 2-1/2 hours instead of the expected 1 hour to hear I survived. 🙂

Now I’m waiting to get the drugs out of my system and become clear-headed again. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you’ll know why.

Wish List – Upgraded Wheelchair would make life easier for 13-year-old boy

Ian Hatfield from the Cincinnati Enquirer - December 6, 2011

Every year our local newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, generates a wish list and prints a daily story about an individual who needs something to better their lives. The campaign is sponsored by the Enquirer and administered by United Way. Thirteen-year-old Ian Hatfield was featured on today’s wish list.

Like my sister Annie, Ian has cerebral palsy. Also like my sister Annie, according to John Johnston who wrote the story, Ian “can’t walk or talk, but his smile speaks volumes.” When Ian was 10 months old, he was diagnosed with schizencephaly, a rare brain disorder, and cerebral palsy. My parents were first alerted that there was something wrong with Annie when she was 9 months old. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 14 months.

Ian’s mother is quoted as saying, “The way the doctors describe it, he’s trapped in a body he can’t use.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 6, 2011)

Because of modern technology, unlike my sister, Ian is able to communicate with a device that “speaks his thoughts when he pushes buttons on a screen.” Also unlike Annie, he was likely trained from an early age to use a power wheelchair for mobility.

Ian has outgrown his power wheelchair, and his insurance is expected to only cover a portion of the cost. His parents have limited financial resources because of his mother’s time off work from serious medical issues and his father’s loss of a job due to the recession.

I have no way to know, but sometimes I wonder how different life might possibly have been for Annie had she been born in 1998 instead of 1958. When I see someone like Ian it warms my heart and makes me want to cheer out loud. Sometimes I criticize all the things we’ve lost in this age of technology. But when I see a 13-year-old boy who is able to go to school, and communicate because of the devices technology has provided, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of our society’s achievements.

Go Ian.

If you would like to help, print the coupon below and mail it with a donation to

Wish List
P.O. Box 6207
Cincinnati, OH 45206

(Click to enlarge).

Boys in the tree

Cory Lemmon wasn’t entirely named after his father, Cory Oscar Lemmon.

“When they had me,” Cory said, “well, the old man said he wanted me to be named after him. My mother said, ‘I’ll never do it.’

“He said, ‘I want him to be named after me,’ and he just really bellered on and she said, ‘All right. But the name’s Cory Lemmon and nothin’ else.’

“He said, ‘Well, how ’bout the middle name?’

“‘No middle name. Cory Lemmon and nothin’ else.'”

“He drank and ran around with other women,” Cory said. Other people thought he was the “best guy that ever lived, but he’d go out and get drunk and his mind would just go. I can remember another thing when I was real small. Dad came home one night, drunk, and had a buggy whip, that would sting and cut. He was gonna whip us all. My brother Freeman was big enough; he run up and grabbed him and took it away from him, and run. He knew the old man couldn’t catch him.”

Cory’s mother, Mary Etta Conner, met Cory Oscar somewhere in Ohio near Perrysville, north of Columbus and just a little east of Mansfield. When she was young, Mary Etta’s family lived in a one-room log cabin. There was a ladder to a loft upstairs and that’s where she slept. It was cold up there and sometimes she’d wake in the morning and there would be snow on her bed that had drifted in through the cracks as she slept.

Mary Etta only went to school until the third grade. Times were hard and I suspect she was needed at home. She met and married Cory Oscar Lemmon in 1896 when she was 16 years old. He was 28. “In those days, it wasn’t too much to get married early like that because they didn’t have nothin’ to look forward to,” Cory’s wife, Anna Adams Lemmon, later said. “And if they got married, the parents didn’t have to worry about ’em.”

Cory was the youngest of the eight children that Cory Oscar and Mary Etta had. Cory was just a young boy when Cory Oscar ran off and started another family with another woman. So Cory pretty much grew up in a single-parent home, but his mother was a strong, capable, and determined woman.

“I went to school through the eighth grade,” Cory said, “and then I had to quit and get a job and help Mom. I only made $3.00 a week during the Depression. The worst part about it was, my mother and I had to live and pay rent all winter on that $3.00. She worked at the mill, but she didn’t make any more than enough to get us some beans and gravy.”

Despite the poor example set by his father, Cory grew up to be a responsible family man and father. He worked as a milkman and then as a used-car salesman.

My mother was his oldest daughter of three children. My father was in the army and stationed overseas when my mother was due to deliver my oldest sister. When the time came to go to the hospital,  my grandfather took her, and then sent a telegram to my father  in Germany.

He and my grandmother held a Christmas party every year for their three children, grandchildren, and eventually great-grandchildren. During these events, my grandfather wandered around the room snapping photographs with his latest toy, a Polaroid camera. He loved auctions and had a garage full of trinkets and boxes of stuff he had bought. Neighbors used to come to him if they needed a cork, or some little random thing. He gave me a brass floor lamp one time after I was rattling around in the garage with him. In later years, when he played checkers with my little boys, he refused to just let them win. He said when they won, they would know they deserved to win.

In 1992 we celebrated Thanksgiving at the home of one of my cousins in Piqua, Ohio. I had all four of our children by then. Our youngest was one year old. So I might have been distracted and my memories aren’t very clear. I remember only a few things from that Thanksgiving. I remember sitting on a sofa in a small, dim room, so characteristic of many of the homes in that small town. I remember somebody brought oyster dressing for the meal, because I’d never had it before. And I remember as we were leaving, watching my grandfather, wearing his overcoat and  dress hat with my grandmother holding on to his arm, shuffling slowly down the steps, and across the sidewalk to his car.

I never saw him again.

Today I am thankful for all the men and women who came before me, who sometimes persevered in less than the best of circumstances, and who had perhaps a large, or even only a small part in making me who I am.

I am thankful for all the men and women who will come after me, and in whom some small part of me may live on.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Circa late 1880s —Boys in the tree: Cory is at the bottom. His brother William Alvey is at the top.

Something to Celebrate – a guest post at The Idiot Speaketh

Today it is my great honor to be a guest blogger at The Idiot Speaketh (otherwise known as Mark). When I first started reading Mark’s blog, he was in the middle of his virtual trip across the US and Canada on his stationary bike. I was enthralled by his energy, commitment, and creativity. His humorous blogs, admittedly 90% fiction at times, keep me smiling at the Idiot’s antics. What kind of a warped mind would think of doing that? I often wonder. Mark also blogs about entertainment in the 70’s and 80’s and has refreshed my memory on many of my favorite musicians, movies, and television shows. Mark also blogs about his disability due to a spinal surgery gone terribly wrong, and the resulting law suit. Well-worth reading. As I’ve gotten to know him better through his blogs and comments, I realize that even though at times I shake my head at the antics of the Idiot, there is a kind, gentle, and very support man behind the curtain.

I hope you’ll take a minute to read my guest post, Something to Celebrate, at The Idiot Speaketh. Then I hope you’ll click around a bit on Mark’s blog where he says, “I do this blog because I like to hopefully make people smile or laugh a little bit each day in these otherwise tough and depressing times.”

Thank you Mark.

The Idiot Speaketh (Mark) in front of the Empire State Building with his stationary bike.