chantal stone photography: the blog

July 27, 2006

On the Road to the Ohio Governor’s House, 2006: A Look at the Candidates

Filed under: Articles — chantal @ 12:49 pm

The 2008 Presidential election will likely be the most intensely debated and closely watched election in our US history. All other elections, both federal and state, leading up to 2008 will help to determine the outcome. One of the states leading the pack of ‘most watched’ is Ohio.

The 2006 Gubernatorial election for the state of Ohio could easily be the most closely watched election of this year. With Republicans occupying the seat for the past sixteen years, and dominating both houses of the state legislature and all statewide executive offices, the Democrats are determined to reclaim their position in Ohio politics. It doesn’t seem to be such an uphill battle, though, with incumbent governor, in his final term, Bob Taft having a meager 6% approval rating and the Republican Party losing support due to a declining economy and job losses.

The major issues facing the election this year will be the economy, education, and the social issues that seem to dominate and overshadow many other issues, including gay marriage.

There are four candidates on the ballot this year: Ken Blackwell (R), Ted Strickland (D), Bob Fitrakis (Green), and Bill Pierce (Libertarian). With the two major party candidates leading in the polls so far, let’s take a look at who these men are, and what they stand for.

Ken Blackwell is a social conservative from Cincinnati, currently serving as the Secretary of State. No stranger to scandal, and with several pending lawsuits against him, Blackwell won his party’s nomination with 56% of the vote. Critics of Blackwell claimed a conflict of interest with his role in the ’04 Presidential election, where Blackwell served as Chief Elections Officer while also being one of President Bush’s strongest supporter, which appeared to be a conflict of interest.

Born in Cincinnati in 1948, Blackwell attended Xavier University. He has an impressive political resume, including serving as the mayor of Cincinnati from 1979-1980, the undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989 to 1990 under President George H.W. Bush, ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission from 1992 to 1993, and Ohio State Treasurer under Gov. George Voinovich in 1994.

Blackwell’s economic platform stands largely on the TEL (Tax and Expenditure Limitation) amendment, which proposes to limit increases in state spending to the inflation rate. He has been quoted saying that “state and local government in this state have been spending money like drunken sailors. And, the only difference between them and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money.” Blackwell insists that the implementation of TEL would help the state to operate on a balanced budget and would end the era of big government.

Critics of the TEL amendment believe it would place too heavy a burden on local governments and would limit and/or reduce funding for schools districts and libraries. Even the Republican Party of OH has tried to distance itself from the unpopular amendment, forcing Blackwell to assert that he would accept an equivalent proposal with less harsh effects to local economies.

With staunch support from religious leaders, Blackwell was the strongest Republican supporter of the proposed marriage amendment to the state’s constitution. Other Republican leaders, including Gov. Taft, have criticized the amendment for its vague language, fearing that it could possibly lead to a ban on all civil unions and domestic partnerships. Blackwell’s support of the amendment, however, has garnered him considerable support from evangelical African-Americans.

Blackwell’s education plan includes the proposed “65 Cent Solution” which requires that all Ohio school districts spend at least 65 cents of each education dollar on “in the classroom” instruction, subsequently increasing classroom spending, without raising taxes, by more than $1.2 billion statewide. The “65 Cent Solution” is a growing national movement with states such as Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas all adopting the legislation, and several other states, including Arizona, Washington, and Colorado considering the initiative on upcoming ballots.

Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate, has been consistently leading the race to the governor’s house. He currently serves as a U.S. Representative for the sixth congressional district of Ohio. The Lucasville, Ohio native received his BA from Asbury College, a master’s degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, a MA from the University of Kentucky, and a doctorate degree in psychology, also from the University of Kentucky in 1980. He worked as a clinical psychologist and was also a professor of psychology at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, OH.

Strickland’s political resume includes a run for the US House of Representatives in 1976, ’78, and ’80, all losses. He ran again, in the 6th district, in 1992, where he won, but lost his seat in ’94 to Frank Cremeans. He won back his seat in ’96, winning re-election in ‘98, ‘00, ‘02, and ’04.

Strickland’s congressional voting record indicates a moderate Democratic position on most major issues concerning voters. He is on record as pro-Life, although does deem abortion a viable option if the mother’s life is in danger. He has voted in favor of stem cell research, against a permanent Patriot Act, and supports a Constitutional Amendment for equal rights based on gender. His voting record indicates a pro-gun rights position, as well as a pro public-Health voting record including a vote against denying non-emergency treatment due to lack of a medicare

Congressman Strickland’s platform lies largely on his “Turnaround Ohio” plan which includes providing quality early child care for all children, increasing access to higher education, building the state’s regional economies and globally competitive industries, retaining and attracting better jobs for Ohio workers, and providing affordable, high quality health-care for all families.

Two very different candidates, both Ken Blackwell and Ted Strickland share a vision for a better, stronger Ohio. Although the polls show the Strickland ticket in the lead, it’s still anyones game this early in the campaign. As the summer continues to heat up, so will the road to the Ohio Governor’s house.

An edited version of this article appears here, on BlogCritics.org.

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July 15, 2006

The Message in Dreams

Filed under: News — chantal @ 11:42 am

I had a dream last night, that could very well have been something more. I dreamt that my father, who has been dead for nearly six years now, made contact with me. It wasn’t anything supernatural. What he had done, was to arrange for a card and a gift to be delivered to me, my mother and sisters, after he was already gone.

The thing about it that strikes me now, is the timing and how I felt in the dream. I remember deeply sobbing in the dream, and I can remember sleeping restlessly in real life. The feeling of trying to catch my breath was real, a reaction to the sobbing in the dream. I seem to process grief and loss a bit differently than other members in my family, and I’m not sure I’ve completely processed the loss of my father yet.

I still have some unresolved issues with my father, but frankly, who among us doesn’t? The fact remains, that even with all of his faults as a parent, I know my father loved me and I know he was proud of me and that he would be very proud of me today.

And maybe that is where the dream originated. I was offered representation by an art gallery on Thursday….a lifelong dream of mine. So maybe the dream was my subconscious reminding me that my father would be so proud, for he was one of the few people who truly knows me, and knows how much my photography means to me.

Or maybe it was my father, reaching out from beyond, telling me himself.

Either way, I got the message.
But I still wish he was here to tell me himself.

July 12, 2006

Don’t Exhale Yet

Filed under: News — chantal @ 1:04 pm

What do you do when it seems the cards are beginning to stack in your favor?
Hold your breath and try not to tip them in the wrong direction?

Is there truth in the saying “don’t count your chickens before they hatch?”

Isn’t it okay to get excited about something that could happen?

When I was a little girl I was always afraid of getting too excited and of thinking too much about the possibilities of something great happening, for fear of jinxing myself. There can’t possibly be any logic to that. Was my husband right when he said I act like I don’t deserve success?

I’m still holding my breath.

July 11, 2006

Clouds & Elephants

Filed under: News — chantal @ 12:22 am

This wonderful little story came from a photoblog that I visit daily. The photographer is the very talented Pete Morgan.

‘Every cloud is made up of moisture, of course … a single fluffy cloud contains about 550 tons of water. Your average elephant weighs about six tons, so that means that those happy spring clouds are equivalent to around 100 elephants.

A bigger storm cloud … is more like 200,000 elephants in terms of weight. That’s quite a jump, and it’s kind of humbling, funny, and awesome to think of 200,000 elephants stampeding across the sky.

No such emotions attach to the numbers associated with a hurricane, however. Instead of awe or humor, now we’re talking absolute terror. Instead of 100 elephants, or even 200,000 elephants, the water in a hurricane is equivalent to 40,000,000 – yes, forty million – elephants. Forty million elephants in the sky, bringing destruction and fear. Forty million elephants.

Next time you look at a cloud, think about how many elephants are in it. You had no idea that a cloud was so massive, and no idea that a creature so huge and seemingly earth-bound can be used to understand something so apparently light and ephemeral, did you?’

Pete posted a very beautiful photo of clouds, along with the story. Both can be found here.

Thanks for sharing this, Pete!

July 7, 2006

The Great In-Between….

Filed under: News — chantal @ 10:30 am

I just found this, and it’s so incredibly TRUE, I had to put it here.
(Daniel I hope you don’t mind!)

This is from the blog of an AMAZING photographer, Daniel Seguin……
Please check out his site after you read this!

An excerpt from JPG Magazine

A Letter from the [JPG Magazine] Editors– Heather & Derek

There are photographers, and then there are photographers, and then there’s us.

There are photographers who know their apertures from their f-stops, and which combinations of the two will result in a shallow depth of field. And, of course, they know why that’s a good idea, and even what all those words mean. These are photographers who use the word “glass” when they mean “lens” and spend thousands of dollars on equipment to prove it. And why not? These are the photographers who make a living capturing moments with cameras.

Then there are photographers who point and shoot on the default setting. They take snapshots on vacation and at family reunions. They develop their photos at the supermarket. These photographers might not even call themselves photographers. They’re everyday folks, shooting the things they want to remember.

Then there’s us. People who, for one reason or another, have a camera on us most of the time. We learn what we can about technique when it suits us, and skip the rest. We put up websites to share our photos with the world.

We’re the great in between: not quite amateur, not quite professional. Some do it for art, some as a kind of visual journal, some because they want to become a professional one day, and some just because we have to. It’s just what we do.

There have always been magazines for the amateurs and the pros. They’ll compare every last new camera, give you handy top-ten lists for better snapshots, and tempt you with half-naked models on the cover. (”Really, honey, just look at the lighting on her! Wonder what glass he used.”) But they almost never take the time to get at that rare thing that makes us want to capture these moments in the first place. And there’s never really been a magazine for us – the in-between folks who shoot for love, not money.

Well said!

July 6, 2006

Product Review: I Love My Lensbaby 2.0!

Filed under: News — chantal @ 12:12 pm

Photographers, both digital and traditional, are always looking for innovative ways to capture that perfect image. With all the different types of cameras, lenses and computer programs on the market, it seems the possibilities are endless. One of the many creative effects photographers sometimes like to create is to have certain area of an image in sharp focus, while other areas are softly blurred. This effect can be created with the use of shallow depth of field, with a diffusion filter, and with the lens called Lensbaby 2.0.

The Lensbaby 2.0, is a selective focus lens that allows for a sharp area of focus, or ‘sweet spot’, surrounded by a graduated blur. The lens is adjusted with a bellows-collar that manually moves in and out to focus in on the subject, while at the same time creates the soft blurred effect in the surrounding areas.

Photographer Craig Strong, creator of the Lensbaby, and updated Lensbaby 2.0, was looking for a digital replacement for his beloved Holga camera. The clever combination of an old-fashioned bellows camera and a tilt-shift lens, this incarnation can create images that were once thought to be only made through the use of Photoshop. Compatible with most film SLR and DSLR Nikon F-mount or Canon EF-mount cameras, even older model 35mm SLRs with screw mount, the Lensbaby 2.0 is available for everyone.

What sets this lens apart is it gives the photographer greater control over creativity. The same scene can be shot many times, all with different effects. Just a simple tilt of the bellows with the tip of the finger, and the sweet spot can be altered, the blur can be increased, or decreased, highlights can be created, or a simple, subtle glow can enhance a scene.

The distorted effects of your images can also be controlled by varying the use of the aperture disks that come with both the Lensbaby and Lensbaby 2.0. The improved Lensbaby 2.0 when used with no aperture disk shoots at f/2.0, while the other disks range from f/2.8 up to f/8.0. The larger the disk, the more diffused the image will be; the smaller the disk, the sharper the image becomes.

I shoot primarily with a Nikon N90, and found the Lensbaby 2.0 to be a wonderful addition to my camera bag. I sometimes shoot with a Holga camera, and I love the soft focus and vignetting that a Holga camera can create. The Lensbaby 2.0 can create the same effect, but with more control. I can put the sweet spot exactly where I want it, and also control how distorted and blurred the surrounding areas are.

I’ve been shooting for years, and shallow depth of field and creative focusing have always fascinated me. Now, with my Lensbaby 2.0, I find myself thinking differently, more creatively, and always looking for the next Lensbaby shot to add to my portfolio. The addictive Lensbaby 2.0 adds a whole new dimension to photography by allowing the photographer to “paint” and picture and create an image that is truly unique.

Accessories can be used to enrich the use of the Lensbaby 2.0. Availble at the Lensbabies website is a Macro kit, including +4 and +10 lenses which screw on to the ens of your Lensbaby. There is also a Digital Optics .45X conversion lens, which converts the Lensbaby into approximately a 22mm true focal length and includes a macro focus mode It can increase the amount of blurring around the sweet spot, while decreasing the sharply focused area. Modestly priced, and easy to use, these accessories can add to the fun and enjoyment of shooting with the Lensbaby 2.0.

Whether you shoot film or digital, the Lensbaby 2.0 is a must-have addition to every photographer’s camera bag. It was specifically created with the artist in mind, the photographer who desires to create an image in the camera, and who can not be restrained by the limits of traditional lenses.

Specifications:

• Focus Type: Manual
• Focal Length: approximately 50 mm
• Aperture Type: interchangeable aperture disks
• Aperture: f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8
• Minimum Focus: about 12”
• Maximum Focus: infinity
• Size/Weight: 2.25″ high x 2.5″ wide / 3.7 oz.
• Coated Optical Glass Doublet
• Note: a Lensbaby does not communicate electronically with your camera body
(for AF cameras, it’s recommended to shoot in Aperture priority mode)

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