Category Archives: ectopia lentis

All in the Family

A few weeks ago my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.  In keeping with how we do things around here, my brother treated us all to lunch on campus with his meal plan.  (They also went to dinner together the next day, don’t worry.)  Then we had a photoshoot on campus.

While I was home for Thanksgiving, we took a few more family pictures with the help of self-timer and a very flimsy tripod that had me fearing for Nikita’s safety.  But in the end, all was well and I got some pretty nice shots.

Finally, I took a few pictures of my brother on Saturday after we hacked around in the basement looking for Christmas decorations and instead found his prodigious collection of Legos.

My family has been really supportive throughout this whole job-jettison thing and are encouraging me by making me soup, buying me a full-spectrum lamp, taking me out to play, and pushing fish oil capsules at me.  After a few days of their company, though, I did find myself wishing they’d treat me less like a crazy/invalid/tiny person and more like a twenty-something adult making some changes, but I suppose I’d rather have “too” supportive than not at all.  As much as I complain about my family, I know they always have my back and that’s really important.  [Another sign that I’ve been through a seismic shift…I find it difficult, if not impossible, to write my customary mush.  Ha.]

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Stephen & Danielle “Engagement” Shoot

Last Sunday I shot my first portrait session with my friend Danielle and her husband Stephen.  I’ve known both individuals longer than either has known the other, and it is with just a hint of smugness that I say they would never have met were it not for me.  (Ignore kindly the fact that I initially chased Stephen away with a large metaphorical stick.)  Danielle and I were classmates in high school and college (a term used loosely at a school of 50,000, but we actually did have some of our introductory English classes together) and Stephen came to OSU as a missionary associate with Chi Alpha campus ministries.

I should probably admit that my initial reaction to their dating and subsequent engagement translates roughly to, “Zuh???”, indicative of my continual amazement at the attraction of opposites. (To quote one of Danielle’s friends, “You’re marrying a young-earth creationist???”)  Their wedding in March was small but fun and relatively drama-free, and represented Maid-of-Honor Round 3 for myself.  (It was shortly after this that I decided to work on official Wedding Planner certification.)  When I got my new camera a few months ago, I found out that Stephen and Danielle had never had engagement pictures taken, and so last week we decided to remedy that.

Our sites were the Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch and the adjoining Topiary Park, as well as Weinland Park in the inter-campus/Short North area, which is where they first met at an outreach event for our church.  (Again: credit, yours truly.)  The weather was beautiful, my subjects were great sports, and the only disappointment was that we couldn’t find the Kama Sutra to pose with in the library. (Although the religious section we ended up in was almost as entertaining.)

Apparently Stephen still has nightmares about this happening...

Creative Team

Creativity requires caffeine!

From the time I was a small child, my healthy imagination has met my constant need to make things: prose, poems, pictures, pages, paintings, pots,  and far too many things out of yarn.  It seems to be a healthy way for me to connect with my inner P–that is, to focus on process, since very many of these endeavors yield less than perfect products.

I’ve also learned, especially in the last few years, that creative freedom is something I look for and value in a work environment.  One of the teachers I observed and field-taught some lessons with was very by-the-book, here’s-what-I’ve-always-done, and wasn’t always open to trying new things.  I will be the first to admit, though, that my conflict with her originated in no small part with my own need to prove myself competent by refusing to use her materials.  And of course, once I became a teacher myself, I realized very quickly the value of using things others have developed–but it’s not often that I don’t add my own twist to things, if only because of the population of students we serve.  Maybe it’s the 7 in me that is always asking, “But can we do this differently…and better?”

When I returned to Columbus this summer, I was able to reconnect with my church and joined the newly-founded creative team.  The rationale was that we needed to balance the often cerebral tone of our Sunday discussions with emotional, artistic expressions of faith, whether through videos, music, imagery, or making prayer beads.  It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience so far, not only because it lets me flex my creative muscles, but also because it has helped me connect more deeply with the people at church.  (We are also extremely efficient during meetings, which pleases the J in me immensely.)

Saturday night Scattergories

Good Neighbors Picnic

I am up past my bedtime and probably wreaking havoc on my melatonin production to bring you this post in a vain attempt to not fall hideously behind.  Weekends tend to be photo-ful occasions, but that gives me plenty of material to blog about throughout the week, right?  So I’ll be posting several photos but probably not 200 words for each of them because I really truly enjoy sleep.

On Saturday our church was once again in charge of clothing distribution at the Good Neighbors Picnic for the Homeless, though this was my first time actually volunteering.  It was monstrously cold and blustery, but that only underscored the importance of getting people the warm clothes they’ll need to make it through another winter.

Wendell frequently seems to be given the role of hostess

I spent a bit of time guarding the back gate with Arika and directing people toward the line (see above photo).  Arika has a gift for warmth and hospitality, which I encountered full force many moons ago when I first came to Chi Alpha and quickly learned the unique power of a Hawkins Hug.  She also majored in photography and is a licensed art teacher, so she is one of my favorite people.

My fellow Nikon-mommy.

(At one point it started drizzling so we both tucked our camera-babies under our coats and looked quite great with lumpy child.)

Clothes, clothes, clothes!

Beth then rotated us to shopping hostess, and we guided guests through the line and helped them find clothing in the desired sizes and styles.  As I was working the last shift, it was easy to see the area of greatest need:

From what I saw, the ratio was maybe 60:40 men to women, and the big sizes of clothing tended to go quickest.  As I was guiding a woman through the line and waiting for her to pick through the piles, I caught myself thinking at least once, “Beggars can’t be choosers…” a refrain echoing what I thought while volunteering at a food pantry several years ago.  But once again I remembered that no one should ever have choices taken away from them by circumstances.  No one likes cold pancakes.  No one likes wearing unflattering clothes.  A person’s a person, no matter how small…or XXL.

True Buckeye spirit

As things were winding down, we packed the remaining clothes into bags and boxes and into a truck for delivery back to the storage unit.  A few stragglers wandered by while we were cleaning up, and I overheard the guest on the left ask if there were any scarves left.  I turned around in time to see a volunteer (in the blue) take off her own OSU scarf and tie it around the woman’s neck in a gesture of profound compassion that really touched me.  There was an acute shortage of scarves this year, so I think I know what my next knitting mission is going to be.

There was also a volunteer group taking pictures of guests and printing them using mini photo-printers, which is very similar to what I was envisioning last week for some sort of holiday outreach.  I’m sure many of our guests as well as our friends in Weinland Park do not get family photos taken very often, or else those photos have been lost in multiple relocations.  How nice would it be to help them make and send Christmas cards or framed portraits?  (Paging Nicole Becker, call me re: Pearl House also, yes precious.)

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Big and Tall

My mom said that my dad likes this picture because it makes him look thinner, which made me laugh when she told me.  I was experimenting with forced perspective with the vague intent of making my parents look taller. I don’t remember when I first surpassed my mom in height, but I’m sure it was an occasion of both celebration and mild chagrin on her part.  (I am technically shorter than my dad but often look taller because of my build and penchant for wearing heels.)  They were certainly somewhat crestfallen when it appeared that my brother would not grow much more past his current height of 5’8″, and more than once lamented that all of his weight training in football had stunted his growth.  (My mother’s understanding of heredity seems to have fossilized at Lamarck.)

In my experience, immigrant Asian parents are almost as obsessed with height as they are about grades and college admissions. (Pandering slightly to stereotypes here, forgive me.)  I am quite average compared to the U.S. population, but in the more rarefied circles of Asian-American youth, I am positively Amazonian, in multiple dimensions.  This has…not always been a source of delight to me, and I think has a large part to do with why I will almost certainly never date anyone who is shorter or skinnier than me.  Which rules out many Asians and hipsters, but I’m going to say that I’m really…quite okay with that.  I’ve come to realize over the years that physical compatibility is rather important to me, but I suppose I need to figure out my own sense of space before I let anybody into that figurative and literal space again, and that’s a rather tall order at the moment.

A Home


When I left the house one morning last week, this is what I saw.  I immediately ran back inside to get my camera because the fog effects were too cool not to photograph.  I’m quite happy with where I’m living now.  After living on/near campus, I graduated to a big-girl duplex last year that turned out to be a little less than idyllic.  The former-smoker smell permeated everything I owned, various parts of the house fell to pieces throughout the year, our landlords were mostly unresponsive, and our neighbors had frequent loud and profane arguments.

Now I live in what amounts to a suburb.  The neighborhood kids go to school at the Wonder Bread Factory and sell coupon books for fundraisers.  The parking lot is full of American cars made after 2000, and there are at least 6 grocery stores within five miles.  I commute 14 miles each way to work now, and part of me feels vaguely guilty not living in the community where I work.  But I think being physically away from school has helped me maintain the work-home boundary better, which is also due in no small part to once more having places to go and people to see when I leave work.  I used to think that if I were happy at work, I wouldn’t need anything else, but in fact it is the time I spend with friend or my creative pursuits outside of school that is significantly strengthening my soul.

 

A busy day

Today after school, I:

  • played “Zip Zap Zop” with the school’s brand-spanking new theater club
  • got my flu shot
  • returned my library books
  • mailed a letter and present to a friend
  • deposited checks at the bank
  • bought groceries
  • visited the yarn store and bought completely impractical hot pink yarn
  • did yoga for 75 minutes
  • had dinner at my parents’ house
  • managed to retrieve every item that I needed to get from home

All with the help of Google calendar and one epically long event description for 3:30-5:30 today.  I don’t know how anyone can live without some sort of planner system, though I know somewhere out there are people who do.  (They’re called Perceptives in Myers-Briggs theory.  I just call them insane.)

But I also paused on my way out of my doctor’s office at a rather abandoned-looking stretch of train tracks that were labeled Ohio Railway Museum.  I was somewhat afraid that I was trespassing, and not really into the whole mildly-cliched industrial decay aesthetic, so I just grabbed a few shots before speeding on to my next mission.  I was going to write something profound and allegorical about how we are surrounded by life unnoticed…but I decided that would be too pretentious.  So I’ll just end with the stats of this shot:

  • Focal Length: 42mm
  • Exposure Time: 1/80
  • F-stop: 7.1
  • Aperture priority
  • Matrix metering
  • Autofocus because I’m lazy

 

 

At the Zoo

Lion of a Man

Last weekend I went to the zoo with my friend Vex and her son Malik.  Malik was born premature and spent three months in NICU before finally coming home, and we prayed for them constantly in church those three months.  At his dedication, Adam explained the meaning of his name, Malik Leander.  Malik means “king” and Leander means “lion of a man,” so this child probably has the most epic name since, say, Gilgamesh.  Maybe because our church is small, and we spent so long praying this boy to life, but he really does seem like everyone’s child.  Biased as I am, I have to say I think it would be pretty excellent growing up in a church like Continuum.

Our little lion enjoyed several hours of pushing his own stroller, putting on his hat, taking off his hat, and communicating with other tiny humans in their unique and unknowable way.  I enjoyed being surrounded by my two favorite subjects: children and animals.  I also came to the same conclusion as Vex’s advice at the end of the excursion: “Wait to have kids, Jenn.”  As much as I enjoy tiny humans, I am certainly not ready to be completely responsible for the well-being of one.  I am too selfish, too insecure, too unsure of my significance to have someone completely dependent on me, but I’d like to think that I am on my way.

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Spectator Sport

I recently read some maudlin little blurb I-can’t-remember-where about wanting to be the person in the photos instead of just someone looking at others’ photos, and my first thought was, “What about being the person who takes the photos?”  Ever since Nikita’s arrival, I have often said to myself, “Hey, I need to go hang out with people/explore places/do things so that I can take pictures!”  (Not, it should be noted, do people, hang out with places, and explore things…)

While my photography bug generally gets me out and about in a healthy way, I’ve also found a curious detachment that comes with being behind the shutter.  As the photographer, I’m neither participant nor spectator…but I am also both.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to set the camera aside and just be there, but having the camera with me also helps me tap into my Sensing function when I am looking for new angles and details.  (I think field–depth, width, angle, framing–is my primary photographic element.)

All of this is to preface my new experiment.  A colleague last year posited that one can only do about 3 things well at a time, 4 if you’re superhuman.  He gave the example of a period in life when his three things were work, school, and fishing; I decided that I wanted my three to be work, church life, and writing.  The first two are coming along quite swimmingly, but I’ve found myself neglecting the third.  What I have done, however, is take a tremendous amount of photos in the last few weeks, and so I thought about using that as a catalyst for my writing.  A picture is worth a thousand words, after all, right?  So my goal is to post a photo with 200 words 5 times a week, for a total of 1000 words a week.  (Or maybe 100 words 10 times a week?)  Part of the reason I don’t post more often is because once I get started writing, I know it will take me a while to finish, so I tend to not start in the first place.  My pictures tend to be of loved ones and places, so there should be plenty of material to reflect on, because of course that is what I do most often in my writing.

Everything is an experiment, so here we go!

Fun with Skye and the sky

I got my new camera on Friday, and I am absolutely enchanted.  The Olympus I requisitioned from my dad had only one working lens which was a telephoto, so it is quite magical for me to have an angle of view greater than 2 degrees.  (I exaggerate…slightly.)  It is also extremely nice to be able to hold the camera in my natural grip and not worry about mashing the white balance button by accident and having to toggle out of a mess of menus.  I ended up getting a Nikon because it’s the only brand of decent DSLR with which I have spent any significant amount of time, so getting reaccustomed to the layout of the camera body wasn’t too hard.  My high school photography class helped a lot too by laying a foundational understanding of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.

I’d been wanting to go to one of the two airports that surround my life to shoot the airplanes, and this being Sunday, I trundled over to the OSU Airport to take Nikita for a spin, having never been there before.  I half expected someone to swoop over and tell me to stop taking pictures, but apparently the university airport is not a sufficient national security concern to warrant an orange alert.  Oh wait, neither is Port Columbus.  But tell that to TSA.

It was a pretty slow day at Don Scott, so I only got to see one plane land, but there were some extremely impressive cumulonimbus calvi on the western horizon.

At the first drop of rain, I hustled back inside just in time to avoid being drenched by the excrement of said cumulonimbi.  LPIE and I then went to meet up with my friend Skye at Union in the Short North, where the ratio of people sexually oriented toward me rather than Skye was approximately 99 to 1.  Of course I had to be obnoxious and snap pictures of strangers, but fortunately, Nikita is very quiet and ninja-like.  Unlike the Olympus, which sounds approximately like a guillotine cutting through a pumpkin.

And speaking of ninjas, we realized that the vacant lot behind which we parked is actually home to some extremely plump wooden ninja figures.  Someday I will come back during the day and photograph them in all their rotund glory, but here is an extremely grainy shot of these delightful beings.

I also learned this weekend that I will probably be the worst day-care/pre-school mother of all time.  When I’m apart from Nikita for more than a few hours, I get separation anxiety and immediately upon returning have to rush  to the camera case and make sure she is real and that everything is still intact. [sigh] I really wish I didn’t have allergies so I could expend my considerable nurturing energies on something animate.  But instead I am a teacher, so I can expend my considerable nurturing energies on coaxing my recalcitrant tiny humans to act like something resembling a young adult.  First day with my classes tomorrow…finally!  Still mildly terrified that I will somehow screw up royally, but I think that will disappear when I step into my classroom.

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