28 September 2012

Photo Friday: Object Orientation


If you have large medallions and awards amongst your family treasures, you'll soon discover they actually can be difficult to photograph. I discovered how you present the heirloom to your camera will have a dramatic impact on the quality of the photos. 

Exposure: 1/20, aperture: f/3.2, focal length: 9.1 mm, ISO 80


My light box is set up on my ironing board on an early afternoon with natural light streaming in from the left side. On the right side of the light box, I have a work light. I am using the custom white balance feature on the interior of the box before I place my object. Then I place the object and continue shooting in the “P” mode on my Cannon Power Shot camera (someday I'll venture into Tv and Av, and maybe fully Manual). The flash is off.

Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This picture is completely distorted. The way I propped this object up using bean bags under a white cloth is not working with the angle I have my camera positioned on its tripod.   

Exposure: 1/8, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 11.5 mm, ISO 80

By raising the medal to a more vertical orientation, my camera/tripod orientation seemed to be more agreeable to taking a better picture of this medallion.

Exposure: 1/13, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 16.1 mm, ISO 80


Again, the angle I was shooting this object at, was not working. I was attempting to have the more vertical orientation. The medal just didn't stay in the position I placed it in. 

Exposure: 1/15, aperture: f/3.2, focal length: 9.1 mm, ISO 80

By switching the orientation of the piece, I have a much better picture. In this case, I eliminated the prop, and placed the piece flat on the light box bottom. I lowered the ironing board until it was at the right height for the camera (on it's tripod) to look directly down on the object. The medallion is actually towards the outer edge of the box, and not fully inside the box. I custom set the white balance and snapped a few pictures.

I hoped to get a clear reading on the letters, until I realized that the medal does not have crisp letters. It might have been painted in some fashion that isn't crisp like an etched medallion would be. Something to investigate if the artifact you want to photograph isn't coming in as clear as you hoped. Reexamine your piece and see if it's the piece and not the camera.

25 September 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Trouble with Bushes

I had a hard time with the stones for Catherine Williams (1835 - 1912) and Thomas L William (1835 - 1911). They are buried in Section 46 of Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. The trouble is there is a very large bush that was planted (or grew) between their stones. So much so, that now Thomas' stone is completely underneath this obstructing plant.

Catherine Williams, 1831 - 1912
Section 46, Green Lawn Cemetery

What is one to do? The best they can. For Catherine, I was able to move some branches away a bit. But I couldn't hold a reflector, the bush limbs, and depress the camera button all at the same time. So, I did the best I could and that's that.

Thomas L Williams, 1835 - 1911
Section 46, Green Lawn Cemetery

For Thomas, I was barely able to get my camera inside the bush let alone set up a decent shot. Sometimes, a photo like this is all you can do, short of cutting down the bush.

24 September 2012

Research Trail: Wasted effort or teachable moment?

The Franklin County, Ohio 1872 Historical  Atlas and Plat Maps 1842, 1856, 1883 reference book can be a great tool, if you know how to use it. For the most part, I used it really well. Here's a case where I didn't fully develop my research question, so I'm not sure if I had a teachable moment or wasted effort. You decide.

Samuel Curtis Brown is a bit of a brick wall to me. He was born on 3 Aug 1821 in Maryland1. Samuel married Martha Gordon on 15 Oct 1846 in Logan, Hocking, Ohio according to the family bible. In the 1860 US Census, Samuel and Martha Brown are living in Groveport, Franklin, Ohio2. For the balance of his life, he and his family lived in Franklin County, Ohio.  So naturally I figured that since Samuel (my 2nd great-grandfather) was from Franklin County, I should look up his property.

I used the index for the above listed record for the name of Samuel Brown. I know it's not an uncommon name, but I felt I was looking for clues. I found a listing for Franklin Township in 1856 for the name Sam Brown.

Published: Franklin County Genealogical Society., J.A. Caldwell (Joseph A.)
Sam Brown property circled in yellow

So, did I spend my time wisely looking at this map? I don't think I did, but I could be wrong.

In the 1860 US Census, Samuel was listed as 39 years old had worked as a laborer. He had $40 worth of personal estate and no property value. He was also in Groveport.  Groveport is east of Franklin Township.


It seems to me that Samuel didn't have enough wealth to have property. And with this property west of where he's known to have lived, I doubt this was him. It's possible that Samuel was in transition, but how would I prove that?

(An interesting note... I can't find Samuel in the 1850 US Census. I found his wife Martha3 listed in the home of her parents. But Samuel and Martha should have had two children at this time. These children were not in the US Census either. Now, they might be in the US Census and I'm just looking in the wrong place. How to solve that, I have no idea).

I suppose to have spent my time more wisely with regards to Samuel Brown, I would have focused on him being in Groveport, not Franklin Township. I would have looked for him as a property owner starting in 18704 but not before that as he didn't have any real estate listed in the 1860 US Census.

I didn't mind looking at this map, just in case, it was my Samuel Brown. I'm not going to be near this record again any time soon. But, perhaps I could have used that time focusing on other records instead. It's a fuzzy area to determine, but at least I'm learning for this experience.

--------------
1. Emma Virginia Brown family bible.
2. U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1860 database, FamilySearch. Groveport, Franklin, Ohio, citing p. 13, family 101, Samuel Brown, Head of Household; NARA microfilm publication 803962.
3. U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1850 database, Ancestry.com; Census Place: Groveport, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M432_680; Page: 226A; Image: 468.
4. U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1870 database, FamilySearch. Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio, citing p. 6, family 38, Samuel Brown, Head of Household; NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 552699

Amanuensis Monday: Declaration of Intention, William Webb

Here is another 'non-family' transcriptions of naturalization records that I found while searching Franklin County, Ohio. Records. I hope someone might find their relative amongst my research.

William Webb is the father of my 2nd great-grandfather Andrew Nelson Smith's second wife Mary Etta Webb (1861 - 1939). I visit Mary Etta's gravestone whenever I visit my grandparents Lewis and Louise Brown in the Green Lawn Cemetery. I attempted to find William's gravestone in Green Lawn Cemetery but found no marker.

I love seeing the name of the actual ruler on this Declaration. Other records I've found just gave the title of the presiding ruler. On this one, it says Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and England. That's a wonderful piece of history.

Declaration of Intention.
Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County Ohio.
The State of Ohio, Franklin County, SS

Be it remembered that on the 11th day of April of the year eighteen hundred and fifty-six, PERSONALLY APPEARED before me ALBERT B BUTTLES, Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, within and for said County and State, William Webb an Alien, a native of England who being duly sworn according to law, on his oath doth declare and say that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State, or Sovereignty, whatever and more particularly all allegiance and fidelity to the Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and England whose subject he is.

Attest: A B Buttles, Clerk 

21 September 2012

Photo Friday: Something Shiny


Not everyone is blessed with a stash of pageant memorabilia in their personal effects, or that of their ancestors, but many people have something shiny. I'll attempt to share what I've learned about photographing my shiny, pageant crown.

I've set up my light box on an ironing board. Yep. An ironing board. When the tripod is maxed out for it's height, I can raise and lower the ironing board to compensate. Plus, it's more portable than a heavy desk, so I can place the light box where ever good lighting occurs in my home. It works for me.

I learned to lower the ISO setting as low as possible. The lower setting reduces grainy photographs and increases detail in the photos. I was previously using an 800 ISO setting. This setting is best for moving subjects. Since my jewelry should stay stationary and my set-up involves a tripod, I can lower the ISO down to 80 and take some fabulous pictures.

Exposure: 1/50, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 12.8 mm, ISO 80

My first attempt turned out nice. I placed my son's squishy football under a white cloth. I placed the crown on top of this pedestal. Again, all of this was inside my light box. I was taking this pictures in the early afternoon and utilized the soft light streaming in from the window on the left side of the photo set-up.

I attempted to place aim a light directly onto the crown to make the rhinestones sparkle. I don't like the effect that this light is having. I later discovered the light needed to be filtered in order to make the effect work. Regardless, I abandoned the light for now and tried something else. 

Exposure: 1/15, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 10.3 mm, ISO 80

Eliminating the front light instantly improved the color quality of the photos. I decided I didn't like the orientation of the crown and decided to rotate it. 

Exposure: 1/60, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 10.3 mm, ISO 80

This time, I added a light through the light box on the right of the photo, with the natural light on the left side. I reset the custom white balance before I placed the crown in the light box. The resulting picture seemed to have more sparkle on the crown. Sparkle is good on some shiny things. To me, this crown orientation looks better, but that's just my opinion. 

Exposure: 1/60, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 10.3 mm, ISO 80



I left everything the same as far as the set-up and settings go but rotated the crown a touch more. There was a pleasing balance of sparkle and softness to the photo. In a photo editing software, I might lighten the overall photo, but I think this looks wonderful. 

Exposure: 1/50, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 16.1 mm, ISO 80


When I zoomed in closer, I eliminated some of the distracting background at the bottom of the photo. However, perhaps I zoomed in too much. There are times I really like this close up. There are times when I like the one proceeding this picture better. In any case, I'm very pleased with these results. I can now include this picture on scrapbook pages about my pageant experiences.

Some other post-photo shoot analysis. I see the reflection of my clothing in the bottom rim of the crown. Perhaps next time I take photos of something so reflective, I'll remember to hold up a white cloth in front of myself so that I can keep the overall environment neutral. One website suggested using a higher aperture (f/5.6 for jewelry, I'm assuming for small items) for greater depth of field. Perhaps that is what would have downplayed the background in these pictures. I'll have to try it next time around.

18 September 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Who is Frank D?

I came across this stone for Frank D 1837 - 1865 in the Green Lawn Cemetery. Unfortunately, I have no clues from the surrounding stones to identify who this is. Anyone have any ideas?



Tombstone Tuesday: Another Square On Point Stone

I seem to like the square on point stones. I found another one going through the Green Lawn Cemetery. This one is a little more fancy, but still has a simple elegance to it.

Photo by Devon Lee
J W Lingo
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #69295193

17 September 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Declaration of Naturalization for George Gessler

Here is another 'non-family' transcriptions of naturalization records that I found while searching Franklin County, Ohio. Records. I hope someone might find their relative amongst my research.

I don't know who George Gessler is. I have been searching for clues to when my 3rd great-grandfather Joseph Geisßer came to America. Gessler looks a lot like Geißler. More so than last week's Gessener. George is also from Baden, Joseph is from. Is this Joseph? Is this a relative of Joseph's. I don't know but I hope to find out so I can add George to my family or rule the theory as invalid.

Declaration of Intention.
Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County Ohio.





The State of Ohio, Franklin County, SS

Be it remembered that on the 8th day of May of the year eighteen hundred and fifty-five, PERSONALLY APPEARED before me ALBERT B BUTTLES, Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, within and for said County and State, George Gessler an Alien, a native of Baden who being duly sworn according to law, on his oath doth declare and say that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State, or Sovereignty, whatever and more particularly all allegiance and fidelity to the Grand Duke of Baden whose subject he is.

Attest: A B Buttles, Clerk

(I also like how Bavaria is also crossed out. I find that interesting.)

15 September 2012

Book Release- Power Scrapbooking: Get Caught Up, No Matter Your Scrapbooking Style

"How do you have time to scrapbook? How do you have time to maintain 6 scrapbooks and do genealogy?"

If I've heard that question once, I've heard it a thousand times. I believe it is partly meant as a compliment. But, enough people have also asked me for 'how to' information, that I'm confident people really want to know how I do it.

Power Scrapbooking is the answer. Power Scrapbooking is rapidly assembling scrapbook pages in a short amount of time. It gives you a major sense of accomplishment to see at the end of an evening 10, 20, 30 or even 100 pages completed rather than just 2 or 3.

Power Scrapbooking helps me have more time for genealogy.
Power Scrapbooking takes the reader through the process of gathering photos and memorabilia, preserving them, and turning them into a completed scrapbook. The Power Scrapbooking process is covered for paper scrapbooking, hybrid scrapbooking, and digital scrapbooking. Learn how you can efficiently put together scrapbooks that your family and friends will love to look through!

Can you imagine being caught up for all of your children from the time they were born until the previous year? Can you imagine having your personal life's memories scrapbooked as well? Believe it. It's possible. Power Scrapbooking can show you how.

By being efficient, I had more time to be creative. My system has amazed my friends and fellow scrapbookers. Several close friends have seen me work an 80 page scrapbook from start to finish in a few short months. I completed this project working primarily one night a week, and socializing at the same time.

With the freed up time, you're only question is what to do with it. Personally, I use the extra time I would have spent scrapbooking to create wonderful Family History Albums which I never would have gotten to before. Who knows what you'll do?

I'm pleased to announce the release of my book Power Scrapbooking: Get Caught Up, No Matter Your Scrapbooking Style. It is available for Kindle readers at Amazon. It is also available for other e-readers through Smashwords.

14 September 2012

Photo Friday: Photographing Trophies (Part 2)

Calling in Reinforcements

 

exposure 1/60, aperture f/3.2, focal length: 6mm, ISO 800,
vivid color setting, spot focus, custom white balance

So, I'm back to square one on how to photograph a trophy for incorporation in my written personal history or in a heritage scrapbook. This picture is okay, but I want higher quality. Could it be done?

I knew the scope of this artifact was beyond my knowledge base. I didn't feel I was understanding what was available on the internet or in books. I have a friend who loves photography and let's me pester him with a billion questions. So, I offered to feed him dinner if he'd come over for a tutoring session with the object in question.He agreed!

After dinner and showing off my husband's backdrop solutions, which my friend loved, the tutorial began. I don't remember exactly everything he tried. But honestly, he taught me to just play.

When you're learning photography, try nearly every setting imaginable. If it improves the picture, keep heading in that direction. If it makes the picture worse, go in the opposite direction. Keep playing around and see if you can get the type of picture you want. So, for those of you who still can't understand what someone means by playing, I thought I'd show you in the following pictures what my friend did to 'play' with the trophy until we came up with a picture that would work well.

I'm going to take you along the journey of 'playing' with your camera settings. By the way, the first thing was to NOT use the backdrop as a drape. The first thing we did was set the backdrop. Created a prop using books and such to elevate the trophy to a comfortable height for shooting. Then we covered the prop with additional white muslin.

Starting point: exposure 1/20, aperture f/2.8,
focal length: 6mm, ISO 800, vivid color setting, spot focus

 As a skillful teacher, my friend began with simple overhead lighting and the settings I was already using on my camera. Notice how the exposure and the aperture changed dramatically within the “P” mode by only using overhead light?


What happens when we add top mounted flash?
The camera mounted atop a traditional point-and-shoot camera washes everything out. Not good.
(Still using the settings as original picture, only adds flash)

What happens if we diffuse the flash?
By placing a sheet of paper in front of flash, we can see how the picture improves. Diffusing a flash helps maintain detail in a picture. You can do it with a top mounted flash, you just have to learn some tricks.
(Still using the settings as original picture, only adds flash)

Thus far, my mentor has taught me how to diffuse flash lighting on my camera. I don not have a flash that can be pointed at the ceiling to diffuse the light. Instead, a folded piece of white paper was placed in front of the flash and the flash becomes less harsh on the trophy.

exposure 1/60, aperture f/2.8, focal length: 6mm, ISO 800,
vivid color setting, spot
focus, Tungsten color balance, diffused flash

 After playing with the thickness of a folded sheet of white paper, the trophy detail was improving, but the nameplate still had too much glare. The next step was to add a light to the set up. Remember, thus far, I only had my tungsten overhead light on and the camera's flash as my light source. There is a reddish haze around the photograph as well.

If you play and the photos don't improve, try something different.
Adding an additional light reduced the reddish haze, but the photograph still wasn't stellar quality. It was time to try something else.

I had read somewhere that placing a dark color behind a reflective object might help the quality of the photographs. We left the trophy in the vertical position but slipped a piece of black cardboard over and behind the trophy. We could see the quality would probably improve if we could solve one problem.


With the flash diffused through a piece of white paper and overhead light,
the detail of the trophy was vastly improving, the backdrop wasn't cooperating.

 With the step up we hand, we had trouble keeping the seamless backdrop without a pair of hands appearing in the photo. So, we thought why don't we just lay the trophy down on the ground and shoot from above. Again, play. If something isn't working, play around until it does.

exposure 1/60, aperture f/2.8, focal length: 6mm, ISO 800,
vivid color setting, spot focus, Tungsten color balance,
diffused flash with a +2/3 exposure bias


This photo was itself a vast improvement over previous photos. The camera is still pretty much in the same settings it originally started with. Now we knew we were on to something. Thanks to a few handy pieces of black bean bags in my friends bag of tricks, we propped the trophy off the flat surface just a bit. Then it was time to fine tune the photos.

exposure 1/60, aperture f/2.8, focal length: 6mm, ISO 800,
vivid color setting, spot focus, Tungsten color balance,
diffused flash with a +2/3 exposure bias

The first step was to continue playing with the white paper held in front of the flash. We determined that the paper, folded about 4 times, was the best thickness for these types of results. I could stop now and have a wonderful picture. I just need to edit the angle of the photo, but I'm so happy with all that I've learned.

After this final photo was taken, my friend explained about changing the exposure bias to lighten or darken the photos, and changing the ISO. We also tried a few shots of the same set up with the Custom White Balance.

In the end, we only played with lighting and angle and achieved amazing results with my compact system camera and a top mounted flash. In the future, I'll take more 'risks' as I know how to have fun playing around with my camera's settings.

Here are a few more tips I either learned or read about on-line for trophy photography:

  • if you use the built in flash on top of the camera, diffuse the light
  • external flashes, sunlight, or continuous lighting would work better
  • use a dark background or an 'outdoor' setting such as a golf course for golf trophies (I like this idea)
  • Use a large aperture to reduce the depth of field so only the trophy will stay in focus and the background will be blurred (I'll check this out next time around)
  • Lower the ISO value

11 September 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Square On Point Stone of William Holzbach

Photo by Devon Lee
William Holzbach
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #70576348
I love stones that are unique in an understate way. This stone with an square on point to become a diamond was fascinating. And better still, it's not gawdy. That's why it's one of my favorites. Sure I like some more ornate ones, but this particular one was simple and intriguing.

There were no other stones like this around William Holbach's stone. Besides just being a memorable stone, I wonder again if it has any particular significance. Do unique designs have significance?

Tombstone Tuesday: What I did to take myself out of a grave marker

When I was taking photos of gravestones, I took a lot of photos. I didn't have a great system for checking the photos on my camera while at a cemetery. (Okay, so I was a bit lazy). When I sat down with my computer to review some photos, I found myself in the monument.

I might want to use this photo as a cover photo for my blog,
but I'm not sure that this family would appreciate it.

Now as cool as it is to have a photo of myself discovering my new passion, I don't think the O'Gorman family really wants to see me reflecting back at them. And I'll admit that if I had checked this photo on my camera before moving on to the next one, I wouldn't have to use any post shoot processes. But, if you have any photos with yourself in the photo, then a little time in a photo editor will work wonders.

 I use Corel Paint Shop Pro. I used a combination of the clone tool and their touch up tool to take me out of the gravestone. I could write a post about step by steps how to, but quiet honestly, just play with the tools until have the look you seek. Some stones are easier to work with than others. But take a look at my improved photo.


 Here's another mistake. I think the post work is a little better than the O'Gorman marker, but again, you just have to play around.

Original Photo
Photo without myself in the image.

 So, if you have a photo with you in the grave marker and are a little creeped out by that, or what a photo without your distracting the viewer, then you can work some photo editing magic.

Happy Blooper Fixing!!!


10 September 2012

Amanuensis Monday: William Gessner

Here is another 'non-family' transcriptions of naturalization records that I found while searching Franklin County, Ohio. Records. I hope someone might find their relative amongst my research.

I don't know who William Gessener is. I have been searching for clues to when my 3rd great-grandfather Joseph Geisßer came to America. Gessener looks similar to Geißler so I saved the record. I could lead to something, but probably not as my ancestor calmed to be from Baden not Prussia. But are Prussia and Baden the same place? This is worth saving and possibly investigating. But it might be a wrong turn.


Declaration of Intention.
Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County Ohio.


The State of Ohio, Franklin County, SS

Be it remembered that on the 9th day of April of the year eighteen hundred and fifty-five, PERSONALLY APPEARED before me ALBERT B BUTTLES, Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, within and for said County and State, William Gessener an Alien, a native of Prussia who being duly sworn according to law, on his oath doth declare and say that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State, or Sovereignty, whatever and more particularly all allegiance and fidelity to the King of Prussia whose subject he is.

Attest: A B Buttles, Clerk


08 September 2012

Surname Saturday: Moore / Patterson Brick Wall in 1840


I'd love to figure out more about my 3rd great-grandmother Hannah Patterson Moore. Her mother is supposed to be from County Down, Ireland according to family legend. But the thing that stands in my way, or at least that's what I think, is the 1840 US Census.

This is what I know about great-grandmother:

Hannah Patterson Moore
Birth 4 Aug 1814 in Clearfield, Clearfield, Pennsylvania, United States
Death 14 Jun 1897 in New Haven, Huron, Ohio, United States 
Her mother's name is supposed to be Jeannie Patterson. Father's last name is Moore but first name unknown. 
She married John W Long in 1845 and appears as Hannah Long in Lawrence, Clearfield, Pennsylvania in the 1850 US Census. I found other evidence of her until her death in 1897. 

No father's name has ever turned up. And I know very little of her mother, such as age or number of children she has. So, that also means I don't know who Hannah's siblings are.

When I attempted to go back to the 1840 US Census, I remembered it was going to be tough. I found a Jane Moore in Lawrence, Clearfield, Pennsylvania. That's where Hannah appeared with her husband in 1850.

"United States Census, 1840," Jane Moore, Lawrence, Clearfield, Pennsylvania

I noticed there were four people in this home. A male between 15 and 20, another male aged 20-30, a female aged 20-30 and another female aged 60-70. Hannah would have fit as the younger female, but I have only a theory to work with. I have no idea how to prove or disprove this information. I'd love ideas.

In the 1850 US Census, I found a Jane Moore with two sons living in Ferguson, Clearfield, Pennslyvania. I believe this is the same person as the one I found in the 1840 US Census above. The reason I believe that is because the names of people before or after Jane's name in the 1850 US Census match well with those found in the 1840 US Census. The ages of the family members also line up nicely between the two.

"United States Census, 1850," Jane Moore in household of Jane Moore,
Ferguson, Clearfield, Pennsylvania, United States
I'm not sure where Ferguson or Lawrence are and why the location changed (or if a name changed but not the location). That would have to been researched at some point.

I noticed something else. In the 1840 US Census, there were only five Moore families listed in Lawrence, Clearfield, Pennsylvania. I don't know if this is an interesting factoid or pertinent.

Search for Moores in Clearfield County Pennsylvania in 1840
Family Search

Perhaps this is my Jeannie, also known as Jane. I can't find any birth certificates online for Clearfield, PA at this time. I'd love to know if Hannah has a birth or baptism record and find more evidence of who might have been her parents.

It's just frustrating that when I get to the 1840 US Census, I don't know how to get around that brick wall. It doesn't have the names of children in a home to coincide with the parent's names. And there are no spouse names or marital status. So, how am I going to shatter the brick wall of my 3rd great-grandmother? I would love suggestions.

07 September 2012

Photo Friday: Photographing Trophies (Part 1)


In this series of post, trust me it's long. I'll show you just how hard photographing trophies can be if you don't have a clue what to do. Thankfully, somewhere along my journey I had a wonderful friend come to my house for a tutoring session in photography. In return I fed him and gave him a potential solution for one of his challenges. Let's get started with the story.

As many of you have, I have a few trophies of the activities I've participated in. The trophies can range from a few inches tall to several feet. Once the trophies exceed the size of your light box, it becomes time to try a different approach for photographing the family heirlooms. You'll need a location in which to take pictures of these objects that has a clutter free background and good lighting. According to many photography blogs, one of the easiest ways to do this is to use a seamless backdrop and set up a few lights.

There are so many ways you can create a seamless backdrop. I enlisted the aid of my engineering husband for this project. He came up with a system that would allow me to have any size backdrop I want. I just change the configuration of several pieces of PVC pipe and I can have a medium sized backdrop, or I can extend it full length and have a 90” backdrop. I purchased 5 yards of 90” white muslin and I'm not ready to learn how to take pictures of objects that don't fit inside my light box.

Unfortunately, for the first object of choice, I chose my color guard trophy.
exposure 1/60, aperture f/3.2, focal length: 6mm, ISO 800,
vivid color setting, spot focus, custom white balance


Now, at first glance, that's a fairly decent picture. However, the shadows are odd, the angle of my camera to the trophy seems odd, and there is a lot of glare. Now, I'll admit that many amateur photographers would take this picture and be happy. I'm not satisfied with this. I want something better.

I tried a few more pictures

Shifted the light position

Another light position

Changed my settings
exposure 1/100, aperture f/4, focal length: 6mm, ISO 800, vivid color setting, spot focus, custom white balance, macro setting, used flash with + 2/3
Flash does not work!
exposure 1/200, aperture f/4, focal length: 7.3 mm, ISO 800, vivid color setting, center weight average focus, custom white balance, macro setting

Tried flash again.

exposure 1/60, aperture f/3.5, focal length: 6 mm, ISO 800, vivid color setting, spot focus, custom white balance, macro setting, flash

Color adjustment with flash

exposure 1/60, aperture f/4, focal length: 6 mm, ISO 800, vivid color setting, spot focus, Tungsten color balance, used flash with + 2/3

Repositioned the lights

exposure 1/60, aperture f/3.2, focal length: 6 mm, ISO 800, vivid color setting, spot focus, Tungsten color balance, used flash with + 2/3




I was frustrated. I just couldn't take the kind of picture I wanted of the trophy. I was 'playing' but not getting  any better than the first picture. Plus, the seamless backdrop wasn't looking it's best.

I decided to search the internet and I learned that trophies are tough. They have highly reflective areas which can, among other problems, capture the background (you in a red shirt) or it bounces light back.

I also decided that covering a chair with my backdrop wasn't going to work. I thought elevating the trophy off the ground and using the backdrop as the cover would make the object easier to work with. Nope. My backdrop was no longer seamless. So, I would be trying a different approach to improve that quality.

My first attempts with a seamless backdrop was not what I had hoped. I'm still very much an amateur and it's time to consult a mentor.

04 September 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Remember to Move the Grass

Hugh C Dorr
St. Joseph Cemetery
Lockbourne, Ohio

I understand that any photo is better than no photo of a gravestone. However, with a little effort and planning, you can have a great photo rather than 'just a photo' of a gravestone.

I took this photo while in the St. Joseph's Cemetery in Lockbourne, Ohio. At the time I was on a research trip with the intent of visiting as many cemeteries as possible of my ancestors as I live 10 hours away from Franklin County, Ohio. While I was at the cemeteries, I decided to take additional photographs of the tombstones around my ancestors.

On this particular occasion, I was in a hurry and didn't want to use a soft bristle brush or even my garden glove covered hands to remove the grass from this stone. The grass around the edges piles up on the stone as it's recessed into the ground and mowing crews just go over the top. Grass clippings are not sucked up and so they pile up.

Though a family member who is trying to find Hugh C Dorr (1912 - 1970) would be happy to even see this photo. There is more to the stone as well as more information to be see. A little extra effort spent culling out the distracting elements would make this photo even better.

Happy Grave Hopping!

Tombstone Tuesday: Is this a grave marker or a cemetery reference point?

Marker I found in Green Lawn Cemetery


I came across this marker while snapping photos in Green Lawn Cemetery. I was in Section 46. I can't decide if this is someone's small burial marker or if this is a marker in the section to tell the cemetery care takers some special meaning. I've seen stones similar to this with a section number on it. So why would one say "Foreman?"

03 September 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Declration of Naturalization for Adam Schimpf

Here is another 'non-family' transcriptions of naturalization records that I found while searching Franklin County, Ohio. Records. I hope someone might find their relative amongst my research.

Adam Schimpf is a forebearer of Marie A Schimpf (1880 - 1949) who married the son (Spencer Columbus Ranck) of my great-grand aunt Eliza Jane Brown Ranck (1850 - 1900).

Declaration of Intention.
Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County Ohio.

The State of Ohio, Franklin County, SS

Be it remembered that on the 14th day of February of the year eighteen hundred and ____, PERSONALLY APPEARED before me ALBERT B BUTTLES, Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, within and for said County and State, Adam Schimpf an Alien, a native of Heissen-Darmstadt who being duly sworn according to law, on his oath doth declare and say that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State, or Sovereignty, whatever and more particularly all allegiance and fidelity to the Grand Duke of Heissen Darmstadt whose subject he is.

Attest: A B Buttles, Clerk


01 September 2012

Surname Saturday: Nathaniel Charles Gordon is not Charles' Father

Today, I'm sharing information that proves a relationship to be false. Sadly, I don't know how the connection came to be in my research. I'm diligently trying to document everything. It's tough when I'm compiling information from so many different sources. In any case, I found a relationship error. I need to remember the error so that I don't repeat it again. (And hopefully others won't either.)

My proven 2nd great grandfather is Charles Gordon:
          Birth: Oct 1801 in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, United States
          Death: 22 Mar 1873 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States

Charles married Jane Fickle:
          Birth: 6 Dec 1803 in Monogalia, Virginia, United States
          Death: 3 Jun 1865 in Worthington, Franklin, Ohio, United States

At some point in my research, Charles was linked as the son of:
Nathaniel Charles Gordon
    Birth 1755 in Virginia, USA
    Death September 12 1809 in Wilkes County, Georgia, USA

and

Nancy Gordon
    Birth 1759 in Spotsylvania, Spotsylvania, Virginia, United States
    Death 7 Oct 1835 in Jones County, Georgia, USA

Two things finally jumped out at me as to the fact that this might not be a correct relationship and I should investigate further. The first was that Charles was born in Pennsylvania. Now, it's possible that Nathaniel and Nancy could have been in Pennsylvania in 1801, but as they moved further south (to Georgia), I think that's not likely.

The second thing was that Nancy would have been 42 years-old when she gave birth to Charles. Although it's entirely possible to have babies that late in a woman's life, when the birth year is 1801, it's a red flag to me to investigate.

So, I decided to look through my source information. I had source information for Charles' marriage to Jane Fickle. No parents are listed. I noticed that the remaining sources were census records back to 1850 and the cemetery record which listed no parents other than "Gordon". So, I personally had no information saying who Charles' parents were. And, I have no idea how I incorporated Nathaniel Charles and his family into my tree. Note to self, don't do this again.

So then I decided to work 'backwards' if you will. I decided to investigate Nathaniel Charles Gordon's source information. I checked Ancestry.com first to see what citations people used for him. I found several references to Nathaniel being a Revolutionary War soldier. That's cool.

Then I discovered a story about Nathaniel. Now I don't mean to be rude, but it was hard to read. Someone copied an email into the story field and didn't adjust any paragraph spaces or line breaks. Just thought I'd remind others to add spaces for easier reading. In any case, in this story there was information about the children of Nathaniel Charles. I did not find 'my' Charles among them. At the end of the page was a link to further information.

On David S Payne's Genealogy page at RootsWeb, he indentifies the children of Nathaniel Charles and Nancy Gordon. He provides some source information. He also lists when and where the children were born. The family was in North Carolina by 1794. Could they have gone to Pennsylvania in 1801? It's possible. But not probable. Additionally, I kept finding no documented (or attempted document) that links Charles Gordon (1801, Pennsylvania) to Nathaniel Charles.

Now that I'm sure I have the wrong relative linked in Roots Magic, It's time to take them out.

I think I'm safe to say that my 2nd great grandfather is not the son of Nathaniel Charles and Nancy Gordon. So, it's back to the drawing board. And that's okay. Now to amend my records.

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