Archive for January, 2010

Book Review: The Oral History Workshop by Cynthia Hart with Lisa Samson — Part II

January 29, 2010

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(This post follows Part I of the review of The Oral History Workshop by Cynthia Hart with Lisa Samson.)

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The back cover of The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and Friends * (Click photo to enlarge.)

Specific parts of the The Oral History Workshop that I think are especially interesting deal with: 1. how to handle secrets, 2. obtaining legal clearance from the interviewee before beginning the interview (done simply with a document template included in the book), 3. common interviewee anxieties and 4. third-party problems (where three people are involved and one of them becomes domineering).

Technological explanations and concerns are also addressed.

Although the book includes 180 pages, its format allows for quick access of whatever oral history-related information I desire. This includes a sprinkling of double-page spreads throughout the book listing key points related to the several pages preceding or following the spread.

Pages 56 and 57 include “The Terrific Twenty” for those wanting a shortcut for twenty great questions to ask. These are just two of the book’s seventy pages suggesting questions to ask during an interview.  These seventy pages of questions are grouped in sixty-three categories such as “First Job and Money in the Bank,” “Coincidences and Luck,” and “Turning Points.”

Of course, no matter how informative and moving an oral history how-to book is, it is of no value until you (yes, you!) muster the get-up-and-go to actually conduct and record an interview of someone you care about of any age. (It could even be a self-interview.) This book provides the tools (except for the hardware and interviewee) that you’ll need. Time is the other necessary ingredient. There will never be the “perfect” time to conduct interviews, so, if you haven’t already recorded the history of those you care about, don’t wait…only to find out you are too late.

* Published by Workman Publishing, New York, 2009.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


Book Review: The Oral History Workshop by Cynthia Hart with Lisa Samson — Part I

January 27, 2010

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The Oral History Workshop* by Cynthia Hart with Lisa Samson. (Click photo to enlarge.)

I haven’t posted for a few days but want you to know that I haven’t been slacking! I’ve been enjoying every minute of calling and writing to people about sponsoring the digitizing of the oral history recordings of their loved ones. The response to making those contacts has been so heart warming.

If you have no idea what I’m referring to, the first paragraph of this blog’s oral history article provides a link to an explanation. The second paragraph of that same article includes a link for a spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet indicates the names of all of the people who were interviewed through the Rolfe Public Library’s 1980-1981 oral history project.

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I’m excited about the book The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your family and Friends* by Cynthia Hart and Lisa Samson. With a cover price of $12.95, this book is well worth the expense. I picked it up at Barnes and Noble.  It is also available at and

Although this book mainly addresses interviews involving more than one person, this book includes helpful tips and questions applicable to self-interviews, as well.

The site says, “The Oral History Workshop breaks down what often feels like an overwhelming project into a series of easily manageable steps.” Those are my exact sentiments. The table of contents indicates five main areas covered over the course of the book. The first four of these areas include: preparing for the interview, recording and troubleshooting the interview, mapping out the interview, and preparing and preserving the interview. The fifth main area is writing, scrapbooking and archiving the interview. The first four parts, and the archiving section in the fifth part, are most relevant to me.

Of two books I’ve read about conducting interviews to capture oral histories, this one “wins” hands down. It offers a wealth of advice that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, and that isn’t necessarily common sense. Also, the advice is not with linear thinking. The authors realize there are many types of situations with a variety of dynamics.

I’ll post Part II on Friday, January 29th.

* Published by Workman Publishing, New York, 2009.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Iowa Winter with Wildflower “Sunshine”

January 22, 2010

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Next week I’ll post about an oral history book that I’ve found to be helpful. Within the next ten days I’ll post an image of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolor of which we’ve most recently had prints made.  The original and prints are g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.

On another note, fortunately, Bill and I lost power for only a few hours yesterday. Friends of ours from west central Iowa said this morning that for 1 1/2 miles in either direction of their rural home, there is not a single electrical pole standing. With weighty ice on the power lines, the poles going down is like a domino effect that continues until a line snaps or comes loose from a pole.

* * * * *

From our wildflower garden. September, 2009. (Click photo to enlarge.)

I’ve been wanting to post a few pre-rain-and-ice winter photos from my time at Gunderland (my dad’s farm) early this week. The wintery weather is getting quite old, especially for those without electricity. Because of that, along with the “gray” weather photos below, to pep things up I decided to throw in the above photo of last September’s “sunshine” and color.

None of these photos are edited, except for resizing (but not cropping) the image files. I thought about Photoshopping these winter photos before posting so they would more closely resemble the actual scenery. I decided against editing them because, for one, I can’t really remember what the actual scenery looked like as far as color and whiteness because it was so foggy that day (Tuesday, January 20th). Also, because the photo shoot that day was an exercise for me in adjusting camera settings, including exposure, I figure I’ll post the original images and learn from them.

Next time I take photos of this wintery nature, I’ll try to have a gray card handy. (I’ll post about the benefit of a gray card sometime, as well. I learned about gray cards in my OLLI Photography Field Trips class.)

The following images are of the same tree at my dad’s farm and from approximately the same direction. For those of you aware of where my dad lives, this tree is to the west of the driveway, close to the gravel road.

Shutter: 1/250; Aperture: f/6.3; Exposure Bias: 1.33; Exposure Program: Aperture Priority; FL: 30 mm; Metering: Pattern; ISO: 200. (Click photo for detail.)


Shutter: 1/160; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Bias: 1.00; Exposure Program: Normal; FL: 23 mm; Metering: Pattern; ISO: 200. (Click photo to enlarge.)


Shutter: 1/400; Aperture: f/5.0; Exposure Bias: 2.00; Exposure Program: Aperture Priority; FL: 36 mm; Metering: Pattern; ISO: 200. (Click photo to enlarge.)

When I took this photo (immediately above), I tried a variety of exposure settings.  If I reduced the exposure at all, the photo looked too dark for how bright the scene actually was. It was pretty bright, but not this chalky white.

UPDATE:  In response to Clara’s comment asking from which direction I took these photos, click here for a photo that includes more of the surroundings.  If you are familiar with the area, the photo should help give bearings.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Iowa Tree-Branch-Bending Ice

January 20, 2010

The near freezing temperatures and the rain made for an icy mess.

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These photos were taken today from either inside the house, or just one step out the front door. Due to the thick sheet of ice, it was too slick for me to feel brave enough to venture further.

We are fortunate to still have electricity. Hopefully the power lines and trees will weather the rain-turned-ice. more…

90 Days After a Fog…

January 20, 2010

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January 19, 2010, three miles southwest of Rolfe, Iowa.

Have you ever heard that 90 days after a fog it is supposed to storm (or rain or precipitate)?

Over the past two days we’ve had a doozy of a fog. I was in northwest Iowa both days. The fog yesterday was very dense until mid-afternoon letting up just briefly for a sunny period before setting in again. Today (January 19th) the fog wasn’t quite as dense, but it still had a definite presence. On both days, when stopping at an intersection, I had to “roll” the car windows down to listen for traffic before proceeding through the intersection.

Back to the 90 day thing…it seems like just about every time we get major precipitation, Bill reminds me that 90 days prior, we had a dense fog. Maybe it is an old wives’ tale. One TV news video * seems to report that there really isn’t any truth to the 90-day saying. However, it will be interesting to make note of the weather around Arpil 18 and 19 (90 days from yesterday and today) to see if the saying holds true.

* WFRV-TV, Green Bay, Wisconsin

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Reflective Thought about the Reflector

January 14, 2010

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My 91-year-old dad and his cat, Mouser. Fall, 2009. (Click photo to enlarge.)

This photo is an example of where I’m thinking using a reflector (mentioned in the previous post and also two posts ago) could have been helpful. Since I haven’t yet used the 5-in-1 reflector that my next-older-sister Peggy gave to me for Christmas, it could be that I’m way off base here.  But, I’m thinking that if the reflector would have been at my dad’s (Deane Gunderson) left side in this photo there wouldn’t be so much of his good friend, Mouser, shadowed.

I know that my dad’s face is shadowed some, as well. But, with my 22″ reflector, I’ll take one little step at a time.  Who knows if using a reflector for this photo would or wouldn’t have been advantageous.  I do know that the first time I saw this photo on my computer monitor, I just loved it.  I still do.

* * * * *

(This blog contains also includes 11 archived posts about my dad.)

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Reflectors and Photography (and Frank in video #3)

January 10, 2010

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As promised in my most recent post, here is the YouTube video link (actually three of them) explaining the use of a reflector in photography. My sister Peggy had my name for Christmas. I had a reflector on my wish-list and sent these three links to Peggy so she could better understand what I was referring to.

To watch all three videos takes a total of nine minutes. Although watching all three gives a more rounded explanation of reflectors, if you have time for only one and are looking for entertainment…..hands down, go for video #3.

VIDEO #1: This link is for a 2:36-minute video sub-titled Using Reflector in Photography. It is about bouncing light onto a subject.

VIDEO #2: This link is for a 1:31-minute video titled Outdoor Photography: Reflectors in Outdoor Photography.

VIDEO #3: Below is a 4:50-minute video titled Model Photography Lighting 101 — Reflector. It includes a demonstration of how to use (sort of) a reflector when photographing models. If you aren’t in the mood to kick back and watch a video that is off-the-wall (maybe even warped) then maybe come back to this video later. On the other hand, if you are up for educational/that-was-so-stupid entertainment…..enjoy!

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

A 22″ 5-in-1 Reflector Disc … Will it warm up the Midwest?!

January 7, 2010

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The 5-in-1 reflector disc is folded up inside this 9"-diameter zip bag. (Click photo to enlarge.)

It’s sort of ridiculous that I’m writing about this photography accessory because, although it was on my Christmas wish-list, I have never used one. Since my sister Peggy gave me this accessory for Christmas, and since it is blizzarding outside, I figured why not take this snow-day opportunity to procrastinate on other things by writing this post! (Really, the reason I am most excited about posting is because on Saturday or Sunday I plan to include a link to a hilarious…maybe?…depending upon how you look at it?… video demonstrating how to use this accessory.)

First things first.  The accessory that Peggy gave to me is one I learned about from Sam Wormley in my OLLI Photography Field Trip Class. It is a 22″ Impact [brand] 5-in-1 collapsible circular reflector disc.

The 22" translucent disc with collapsible outer rim. This may be used by itself, or in combination with the gold, silver, silver-gold, or white slipcover reflectors. The disc and slipcovers are packaged together in a zip bag as one item/purchase for about $25. (See the zip bag in the first photo. See the slipcovers below.)

These slipcover reflectors may be used in combination with the translucent disc shown in the previous photo. (Click photo to enlarge.)

According to the “Features” section in the description of this accessory at, this disc:

  • “…is versatile in … providing shadow-lightening detail in your subject, using available, or studio lighting. It starts out as a translucent white disc — perfect for softening direct sun, or lights without diffusion. Use the removable, reversible zippered slipcover to reflect light into shadow areas of your subject. Your choice of color — silver, gold, white, gold/silver mix — will be determined by the lighting conditions, and your personal preference.”
  • “This 22″ disc is suitable for head-shots, and small still-life setups. It folds down to 1/3 its open size, and comes with a storage sleeve. We suggest the purchase of a pivoting arm and stand, to hold the disc where needed — especially if you are working without an assistant.”

The description continues with this when-to-use-which-slipcover information:

  1. Soft Gold combines gold and silver, creating a warm, summery feel that works great with skin tones.
  2. Silver increases the specular highlights and yields a high-contrast image. It’s perfect for video, product shots and B&W photography.
  3. Gold produces a natural, golden fill that is great for sunsets, jewelry, and indoor portraits.
  4. White produces an even, neutral-colored bounce light that works beautifully as a fill light source for both product shots and indoor/outdoor portraits.
  5. Translucent fabric is used to diffuse light, producing a broad light source and a soft, wraparound effect that’s perfect for outdoor portraits or whenever a softer light is needed.

Until I actually use the 5-in-1 reflector disc, I think I’ll still be a little confused. If you feel that way, never fear!  The video that I will link to will explain everything! If you care nothing about the reflector, but are game to be entertained, please stay tuned for this weekend’s video link.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

New Images/OLLI/What Santa Brought

January 4, 2010

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Within the next month, I hope to post a new image/print of another of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) original watercolors. We are so close to having it profiled and ready for printing. However, the weather is wreaking havoc on different factors affecting the process.

In addition, I have a second original of Mother’s watercolors at Wild Faces Gallery in Rolfe (Iowa) awaiting the beginning of its profiling process. The prints of both of these originals will be the result of people seeing the originals at the November open house and asking if prints could be made of them.

(If you haven’t seen what prints of Mother’s watercolors are available so far and would like to do so, click on the “View and Order Prints” link on this blog’s home page.)

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Not the most exciting photo, but the classes are the cat's meow.

On my Christmas wish list, I included a few items related to photography. I’m a novice-of-a-novice as far as photography goes, but am enjoying learning more about it via OLLI classes at Iowa State University.

OLLI classes were formerly known as College for Seniors, with the main requirement being that participants needed to be at least 50 years old. These classes are the cat’s meow for anyone 50-and-above who wants to continue learning…perhaps after retirement…but without a huge time or monetary commitment. (We’re talking in the ballpark of a total of ten hours — sometimes fewer — and, depending upon the specific course, around $50 for most of the offerings.)

Last spring I took an OLLI digital SLR photography class. This fall I took an OLLI photography field trip class. (The field trips were on or near campus.) Several of us in the class have continued meeting on an informal basis with the instructor, Sam Wormley. Sam seems to know the answer to any photography-related question. He also answers with kindness, great patience and individualization.

Through the OLLI classes and informal meetings it seems that every time I come home, there’s a new photography “toy” that I’m excited about. Getting realistic about what I might actually use as an amateur, and what might fit in Santa’s budget, on my “wish list” I included three specific items. I was fortunate to receive all three items and am looking forward to learning how to use them. Sam is nice enough to continue helping me with my learning curve via emails, informal field trips, and another four-session photography field trip class. (That class will meet on Wednesday afternoons from April 21st through May 12th.)

Soon, I plan to include a post about one of the items I received for Christmas, thanks to learning about it via the OLLI classes. For an experienced photographer, the item won’t be any revelation. But, for me it is. (I’ll also post a link for a video about the item that is hilarious, even if you don’t care anything about photography!)

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog.)

Yes, Virginia, there is a Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!

January 1, 2010

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Today has been a two-post day. If you didn’t see today’s earlier post yet, I hope you’ll scroll down to it. If you do, I think you’ll enjoy the video.

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Inquiring minds have asked for an explanation of “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.” Here it is…

Last night, after Iowa State won its bowl game, I sent this RRR photo to my extended family. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Ever since I can recall, members of the Gunderson family (I should say those who are in the spirit of participating) have indulged in the practice of saying “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” as their first words after midnight the first day of every month. It can be said immediately at the stroke of midnight, or when awakening in the morning. Anyone successful in saying “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” in this manner is due good luck for the rest of the month.

Now, I tell you…this is tried and true. After all, in December of 1987, Abby, Katie, Bill and I all said “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first day of that month before saying anything else. It turned out that that very same month the negotiation process for purchasing our Perry home was complete. I’m sure that anyone who might have been skeptical of the good fortune following the saying of “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” can see that no more proof is needed than our December of 1987 example.

Mother (Marion Gunderson) was the first person in the Gunderson family to be aware of this practice. I’ve asked four members of my Gunderson family if anyone knows who made Mother aware of it. No one does; however, Daddy (Deane Gunderson) thinks that she was aware of it since she was a little girl.


Today I googled “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” to learn of its origin. Most sites make reference to “Rabbit, Rabbit” (saying the word twice, but not three times). “White Rabbit” is referred to most frequently. But, very few make reference to, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.” One site said that one of these variations when translated involving Hebrew, means “Month abundant.” Wikipedia says that it is an “Old childhood invocation of hope for a lucky month.”


Grace periods can come in so handy. Every once in awhile, it is just beyond a person’s control to say, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” before other words come spewing out of one’s mouth on the first day of a month. Because of this, there are proclaimed (by moi) grace periods. There are all kinds of grace periods that fit different criteria for why a person might not have been able to say RRR in time. However, these are not meant to be taken lightly. If they are, or if they are used too often, they become as ineffective as the cries by the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf.


Around midnight just before the first day of each month, between three of my sisters and myself, one of us always sends to the others and extended family an email that includes a photo of three rabbits. We sort of take turns, altbough I think I have only twice been the sender. Last night, when I sent the above photo after Iowa State won its bowl game, was one of those two times. The four of us, as well as nieces and nephews, have fun with RRR, with fond thoughts of Mother/Nanna as we do so.

(Who has time to write posts like these? Someone who is procrastinating on finishing her S.M.A.R.T. goals and writing her thank-you notes. I’ll get in gear on those and see you in three or four days…or sooner.)

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog.)