Monday, December 31, 2007



Saturday, December 29, 2007


Chosing one’s favorite pictures from a year’s work is a mental wrestling match. Ultimately the shots selected were chosen to represent a wide varitey of subjects from close-ups to a subject more than 225,000 miles away—the Moon.

They also were chosen to represent a variety of shooting styles from the slow shutter speed effort on the tubas in a parade to another slow shutter speed shot just to achieve an image at all—deep in the cave.

The pictures have one thing in common. All were shot with available light.

The exposure data I provide with the pictures is automatically recorded by the camera and I simply pluck it from the image file with Adobe Photoshop Elements v4; my photo processing software.

Early in the year I upgraded to a 10 mega pixel digital single lens reflex camera; a Canon Rebel 400 XTi and equipped it with a Canon 17-85mm image stabilized lens. In December Santa arrived early with a 70-200 L IS USM f2.8 lens. I suspect you will see some of its work this time next year.

Meanwhile, thanks for enjoying my work—in no particular order:

The four-tuba section of the Clear Fork High School marching band was done with a 1.6 second exposure at f 13 and an ISO setting of 1600 while I was walking backward in front of them during the town’s Halloween Parade. The school’s mascot is a Colt and the outline of a horse’s head in the upper left of the image was a pure accident of the creative process.

The near-quarter Moon was shot at 1/125 second at f 10 with an ISO setting of 800. The camera body was attached to my Meade ETX 90 EC telescope which has a focal length of 1,200 mm. It has incredibly sharp optics and, incidently, is the world’s best selling telescope.

From space we go underground on a boat ride through Penn’s Cave near State College, PA. This exposure was done at ¼ second at f 3.5 with an ISO setting of 400. I was sitting on the transom of the boat and balanced my elbows on my knees to steady the camera. The image stabilization technology used in these lenses is outstanding.

This picture assumes a near-spiritual quality with the sunlight peaking over the crest of Ash Cave in the Hocking Hills and sparkling through the morning dampness to illuminate the tree. God provided this picture. I simply was there to record it. Photo data: 1/60 second at f 4 exposure with an ISO setting of 400.

My daughter-in-law Kate Wolf is enjoying Mansfield’s Carousel. This exposure was made at 1/20 second at f 5.6 at ISO 200. I swiveled my body at precisely the speed Kate was passing by. That rendered her in sharp composition while the background was blurred by the camera’s motion. Several test shots were done to determine the correct exposure and a shutter speed that produced a pleasing result.

This picture was made just after a freezing rain event. The black background was achieved by composing the fairly bright, ice-clad branch against the relatively dark trunk of an adjacent tree. 1/60 second, f 4 at ISO 400. I carry the camera set at ISO 400 and stray from that setting as lighting and composition requires.

My late bride’s favorite flower. The subdued light after a rain shower helps render the plant in a rich and fresh softness. Being fairly close, using a relatively wide aperature and longer focal length all lessen the depth of field and throw the background nicely out of focus. 1/100 second, f 5.6, ISO 400.

Sometimes a simple subject produces arresting results. I saw this water bejeweled leaf lying beside a path in the northeast woods. The cloudy bright sky backlit the leaf enhancing its texture and sparkle. A very close composition confines the viewer’s attention by eliminating extraneous detail—a technique that can hardly ever be used to excess. Even though shot close-up, an aperature of f 14 allowed sufficient depth of field to keep the leaf in focus. 1/100 second at ISO 200.

An exposure of 3/10 second rendered the moving water a silky blur as it tumbles over Fleming Falls at Camp Mowana. I liked the geometry of the composition. I enjoyed contemplating the eon it took the water to construct its carvings. I took pleasure in Nature’s artistry of dappling the scene with colorful leaves and a gentle accent from the green moss. F 20 and ISO 400.

This image was one of those spontaneous events that reveals the magic of its moment—a little girl intensely involved with her own holiday emotions; obvious even in the position of her tiny feet. I was sitting about 50 feet away with the good fortune of having my new 70-200 mm F 2.8 lens attached to the camera. The picture was done at a 112 mm equivalent focal length, 1/1250 sec, f 2.8, ISO 400.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Please pardon the indulgence of yet another picture of my pal. This image jumped into my digimatic camera a few days ago while I was munching on a grilled ham and cheese lunch sandwich and Max was giving me his--You are going to save me a bite, aren’t you--look.

I did several quick exposures on manual; 1/40th second at F 5.6, ISO 400 with the focal length zoomed to 53 mm at approximately 8 feet with both the auto focus and image stabilization engaged. The exposure was done with the available light from the deck doors.

As you can plainly see the image is tack sharp—a testament to this stunning digital technology. Naturally, I also pushed the shutter button quite gently.

Let Max and I also use this opportunity to invite you to enjoy the selection of our year’s 10 favorite photos which will be featured Saturday along with a paragraph of technical explanation for each.

We hope you will be able to stop by.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I chose the plain oil lamp to suggest a humble basis for this composition and to represent the spirit and hope of the holiday season.

The color of the ornament intrudes just enough to represent the secular festivity, the enchantment, and, our warm and fuzzy memories from holidays past.

The background is unadorned and the lighting is unobtrusive while the low angle of view subordinates us to the holiday’s true Christian meaning.

May your holiday be as richly blessed as my composition seeks to be gentle.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Here’s a bit of a teaser for you blog shutterbugs. In this available light photo you will note the furniture and Christmas gifts are in sharp focus while, clearly, there has been some horizontal movement in the tree as evidenced by the highlight streaking.

This is 100% camera technique with zero software manipulation.

How was this done?

Give up?

Scroll down.

The camera was operated in the manual mode and the exposure was carefully hand-held at ¼ second, f 9 with an ISO setting of 1600. The image was composed and focused then the shutter was tripped and the camera was immediately swung on its horizontal axis.

Consequently, for the majority of the ¼ second exposure the camera recorded a sharp image of the furniture, gifts, etc., then, the late horizontal movement caused the camera to see only the bright lights; recording them as short streaks during that brief interval of movement

The lesson to be learned here is to experiment by pushing your camera to places you have never been, then enjoy the fascination of the unpredictable results of the creative process.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Santa Claus* keeps a very watchful eye this time of year for good little boys and girls. You have been good—haven’t you?

Evidently this youngster did not get the answer he was expecting from Santa during his recent visit to the Possum Run Greenhouse .

This young lass examined her grown-up counterpart very carefully as she awaited her turn to discuss her modest Christmas list.

A coy approach is often best when dealing with the issue of convincing Stanta you have been a good little girl.

My hearing isn’t what it once was but I think I heard this young mother say something about Santa telling a whopper—or something like that.

*Alias, Robert (Pat) Patterson, Bellville at his recent visit to the nearby Possum Run Greenhouse.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grandson Eli Carter-Wolf (6) executes a tactical retreat after a successful snowball attack on his moms, daughter TJ Wolf right rear and partner Wendy Carter-Wolf. They are visiting for Christmas from their home in Jacksonville, FL where opportunities for such frosty frolics are quite limited.

The Fight for English by David Crystal

A light but penetrating look at the history of the English language. “Crystal— ever scholarly yet entertaining—explains why we should say no to zero tolerance” regarding accepting change to the language. Yet, in his text he opines, “Left to themselves, people will descend into barbarism.” ‘Tis lots of lexicography with a hefty dose of philosophy.

The Berlin Wall by Frederick Taylor

The book’s flyleaf hype says, “...captivating....Gripping and authoritative....” I’ll give you ‘authoritative’. It is 449 pages of academic tome. It is about as “captivating” and “gripping” as the typically bland history textbooks I can remember from high school. I didn’t finish this one. Unless you are a serious scholar on the subject you do not even want to start it.

High Season by Jon Loomis

This book continues to convince me “first novels” are generally a good read. After all, the author has had lots of time to develop his idea before he finds a publisher. This story is set in seaside Provincetown, MA where a tired Baltimore detective hopes to ease toward quiet retirement. Naturally, that does not happen. The funky town delivers lots of plot (in spite of two glaring errors regarding handguns) and an otherwise entertaining read for the author, an award winning poet no less.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A haunting tale of two generations of Afghanistan families struggling to survive in their war-torn country from the Soviet invasion to the Taliban rein of terror and its current struggle to rebuild. There is heart-wrenching love and violent death in this marvelous story that leaves me wondering how any contemporary woman could ever freely choose to exist under Islamic law.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Now regarded as a classic, this futuristic tome, first published in 1932, envisions a population, 600 years hence, cloned into a caste system of hedonists who enjoy free sexuality without the nuisance of reproduction to perpetuate the species. Initial reviews of the book were “surprisingly negative”. One reviewer then wondered why Huxley, “…bothered to turn this essay in indignation into a novel,” describing it as “inert as a work of art.” I agree.

Monday, December 17, 2007


This aerobatic version of Ohio’s state bird did an explosive departure from the platform feeder when the Blue Jay arrived for lunch Saturday. Heavy snow had begun falling about an hour earlier during the backyard feeder, Christmas Bird Count for our Gorman Nature Center.

I recorded 15 species of birds at my feeders during the day-long count. The greatest quantity of a single species at one time was the Junco with 33. Second place went to Cardinals with 16 while 9 Goldfinches took third.

I also recorded Mourning Doves, Red Breasted and White Breasted Nuthatches, Downy, Hairy and Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Song, White Throated and Tree Sparrows, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays and two Mallard ducks.

The ducks, naturally, are not regarded as feeder birds but I have a hopper feeder near the edge of the pond and the ducks like to come and tidy up the droppings of seed from the birds with messy table manners.

We are on the border of the ranges of the Black Capped and Carolina Chickadees and they are very difficult to tell apart. Local birding experts believe the Chickadees we see are the Black Capped variety

The snowfall diminished and temperatures warmed overnight to 36 degrees at dawn Sunday and left us with about an inch of slush. Then, the low pressure moved east of us which brought us north winds, plummeting temperatures and about two more inches of snow.

It’s December in Ohio--and the birds rarely seem to mind.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Bellville village children frolic around the bandstand on the village green at the conclusion of the annual burning of the Yule Log. The opening of the holiday season also was celebrated by caroling, the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree and a visit by St. Nick while Wassail was warmed in a large cast iron kettle over the fire.

A new holiday decoration was installed on the village green south of Church St., this year. It will highlight the town skating rink usually set-up on the lawn in front of the town hall when winter’s grip of frigid temperatures finally arrives.

This tastefully decorated home is in a new development on the south edge of the village. Holiday lights from the very modest to absolutely dazzling are visible throughout our Norman Rockwellesque town in the Clear Fork Valley.

Feeling frazzled with the bustle of the season? I try to avoid such silliness and did that this year by doing most of my Christmas shopping before Easter. * Sigh *
Next week we feature a photo spread on Santa’s recent visit to our area.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The ice storm that recently pummeled the midwest has been very kind to Ohio. This modest overnight ice build-up is melting slowly in light rain with our temperature hovering at 33 degrees and forecast to warm through the day.

And, we have abundant water. This latest rain has pushed the pond to about 10 inches above its normal full level. I cannot measure the rain quantity. The rain gauge is put away for the winter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


No Enthusiasm for Organized Religion

After a childhood which included baptism and confirmation as a Lutheran in the Christian faith I slowly drifted away from the church.

Along with that choice, though, I remember keeping a careful eye on the potential consequences of such an heretic decision.

Will such a choice really condem me to an eternity of damnation? Would I face purgatory after death until I came to my senses?

Serious questions indeed. But, does it make sense, then, that believers of other faiths would automatically face such tribulations simply because they do not march to the doctrinal tunes of Christianity?

What about Hindus or Jews, or Yezidis for that matter? What about countless populations who lived and died before Christianity even arrived on this Earth? How could they be penalized for failing to believe what I was taught?

I have long noticed the organized religions tend to advocate a generally similar path through life; one of peace and hope and love and goodwill to fellow man or comforting words of similar effect.

I also have noticed a common thread of hypocrisy among those religions.

For example, while preaching “Peace” and “Love” at home, the Crusades were actually wars based on the prevalent Church of the time seeking to expand its area throughout what is now generally known as the Middle-East.

Christianity arrived in the US colonies because of religious persecution on the European continent. Simply being a "heretic" there was a capital offense through those early ages.

Muslims and Jews have been fighting over Palestine since Biblical times.

In a more contemporary setting, Protestants and Catholics have tended to kill each other in Northern Ireland.

Even more recently, how about the sordid affairs common in TV evangelism or the aberrant sexual behavior that appears to be prevalent in the Catholic priesthood?

Not to mention today’s radical Muslims and their jihad; a homicidal holy war against the rest of us human infidels.

Then, an odd thing happened to me recently. While doing the blog piece on the local Unitarian Universalist Church I began to feel a warm tinge of Christian curiosity.

But that door promptly slammed closed.

It appears they relish their freedom to practice the religious style of their choice under the First Ammendment of our Constitution, but, with no respect whatsoever for our Constitutional protections under the Second one.

Bricks and mortar churches? No thanks.

A walk in the woods with my dog while pondering the cosmos remains more than ample balm for my wayward spirituality.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Barbara Piatt (above), docent at Mansfield’s Oak Hill Cottage, played the Grand Orchestral pump organ at Oak Hill’s opening of the holiday season one recent Sunday.


“One of the most perfect Gothic houses in the US”

The cottage was built in 1847 by John R. Robinson, a local railroad tycoon. It has seven gables, five double chimneys and seven Italian marble fireplaces. Later that century it was acquired by Dr. Johannes A. Jones and remained in his family for 101 years.

Mansfield native and Pulitizer Prize winning author, Louis Bromfield, played at Oak Hill as a child. His memories of the home were the basis for his first published novel “The Green Bay Tree” in 1924.

The house was acquired by the Richland County Historical Society in 1965, is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of the Libraries USA in 2000.

Anka Hall, a volunteer in the Oak Hill Cottage Guild has given tours there since it opened to the public in 1983. “The house is fully restored with the original furnishings, not simply collected pieces from the period,” she amplified.

Seldom does a house with all the furnishings and artifacts of one family’s life come down to the present intact. This one has!

In the library you will see Dr. Jones’ medical tools and a very early inhaling appliance. Over on the hearth of the room’s fireplace are musical instruments of the period favored by the Jones’ daughters.

Tour guides smile when they point out initials carved in some room’s window glass by Dr. Jones’ bride with her new diamond ring; a demonstration of the relative hardness of those elements that has survived through the past centuries.

Resplendent in its holiday attire, the cottage will be open Sundays, 2 to 5 p.m. through the end of December. Admission is $3.




In the news recently after a typhoon hit the country, Bangladesh is located in South Asia surrounded on three sides by India except for a small stretch of border shared with Myanmar. The Bay of Bengal is on its south border.

These borders were established in the 1947 partition of India when the region became the eastern wing of the newly formed Pakistan. They declared their independence and became Bangladesh in 1971.

The Islamic country has been mired in political turmoil ever since with 14 different heads of government and at least four military coups.

The recent cyclone (known as a hurricane in the northern hemisphere) claimed a reported 3,167 lives with 1,724 people missing. Officials there feared the toll could go much higher.

Three similar storms have hit the country in the past 40 years. One in 1970 killed 300,000 people and another in 1991 left 140,000 dead. Advances in disaster preparedness are credited with the lower casualty figures from this storm.

It is among the most densely populated countries in the world and officials there predict 50 per cent of the country would flood with a mere three foot rise in sea level; a scenario sometimes predicted to result from global warming.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


A cookout today would require shoveling some 5” of fresh snow off the picnic table on the lower deck; our first significant snow of the season. Actually, a picnic is not a very good idea—for humans. The birds, however, are delighted; particularly after I freshened up the feeders a bit during a slight lee in the storm. Those are American Goldfinches and Dark-eyed Juncos flitting about the thistle feeder.

The goldfinches are with us the entire year and the males, commonly known as wild canaries when in their bright yellow breeding plumage, are now the same drab olive color as the females.

The juncos spend their breeding season as far north as Alaska and winter with us in large numbers.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Bellville’s version of the Grand Ole Opry happens the fourth Sunday of each month in Gary Mishey’s backyard garage. Sounds of clanking tools are replaced by the rhythms of banjos and guitars and mandolins strumming mostly country music as it should be played.

Dean of the Jam is Bill Wise, 81, framed behind his son Chip’s stringed instrument in the above photo. Both play lead guitars. Counting Logan below, Bill is now playing for the fifth generation in the Mishey family.

Gary Mishey, bass guitar
Logan Scott Mishey, 14 mos.

We’re in “G” de facto leader Jim Blackstone says and toes get to tappin’ and fingers get to pluckin’ and music rolls through the wrenches like a melodic tsunami.

June Wenger, rhythm guitar

Larry Hammond, rhythm guitar

An average of 10 to 12 musicians from a regular pool of 30 or so do this each month because music is in their collective blood. It wants to come alive as audiences wish it would. And, with this group it always does!

Jammin’ in the Garage…

Folsom Prison Blues, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Foggy Mountain Breakdown,
Ruby, The Tennessee Waltz…

…Grand Ole Opry Bellville Style.