For my historical ephemera project, I decided to pull out a box of Easter baskets from the attic. The box contains seven baskets, one for each year since my daughter, Katy, was born. The baskets’ historic value is very personal. My wife creates a special Easter basket each year for Katy. The baskets are filled with all sorts of goodies: chocolate bunnies, peeps, chocolate Easter eggs, and more! We celebrate Easter, both the religious and secular elements. For my wife’s family, Easter is the most significant holiday. My wife’s mother died early, and Katy did not get to meet her grandmother. By making and giving Easter Baskets it continues my wife’s family Easter traditions and gives Katy a connection to her grandmother.
Creative and Technical Specifications: I took the images below at the same time and in the same conditions. So, I will provide the technical and creative details in one section to save time and space. I used a iPhone 5S set on High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR in essence blends three exposures of a single photo: one overexposed, one proper, and one underexposed. It is similar to using exposure bracketing. This will produce a digital rendering that better represents the darks and the lights in the digital image. The iPhone camera uses an auto-area focus setting. The images have the following common elements:
- Dimension: 3264 x 2448
- Resolution: 72 dpi
- Megapixels: 8 (max for the iPhone 5S)
- Aperture: f2.2 (good for close image; narrow depth of field)
- Focal Length: 4mm (standard for 5S, converts to 30mm at 35mm equivalent; not the best for close images)
- ISO: 120-125 (good for well lighted areas)
- Exposure time: 1/30 second (good balance with the focal length)
- Format: jpeg
- Size: 1.1 to 1.27 mb
- Color Model: sRGB
In setting up the images, I used two desks with black tops. I placed one desk on top of the other to create a black backdrop. The dark backdrop is great taking images of colorful objects, such as the Easter baskets. It makes the colorful object the central focus of a viewer. I tried to angle the baskets with ends of the handle setting a bit forward and back in order to give a better sense of depth. I also shot the image at a 45 degree angle, looking down to accentuate the sense of depth and dimension. I set the tables fairly close to a window which provided a great ambient light source. I didn’t need to turn on the lights in the room or use the camera flash. The ambient light gives the objects a warmer, softer appearance, but still allows for proper shading to give the images a crispness. It also brings out the natural colors. To give the images some interest, I messed up the paper filler to hang over a bit. I think the filler actually becomes the focal point when viewing the pictures. It provides a good color contrast to the baskets.
My historical ephemera collection consists of seven Easter Baskets. Each basket represents a year in the life of my daughter, Katy. Each year my wife carefully puts together a basket for Katy. It is loaded with all the usual goodies, but always contains a special gift for Katy to keep as a memory. The baskets wind up in a box in the attic. The historic implications of the baskets, to me, are threefold. Having Lutheran and Orthodox Christian backgrounds, Easter is our family’s most significant religious celebration. It is a time of reflection and remembrance. Like most holidays, Easter involves secular traditions, with baskets and bunnies. It mirrors the celebration of Christmas. The giving of baskets gives both parents and kids a sense of joy Easter morning. Personally, the baskets create a connection between my daughter, my wife and my wife’s mother. My wife’s mother died early, just after my wife graduated from college. Katy never met her grandmother. Creating and giving Easter baskets builds that connection between Katy and her grandmother. So, these seven Easter baskets pull together three elements, religious, secular and familial, which add to our family history.
Religion is a very difficult topic to address in schools and the classroom. The tradition of separation of church and state, and the polarization of our society led many schools and teachers to avoid the topic as much as possible. However, in today’s world, a student (or any person for that matter) cannot fully understand the events unfolding around us without addressing religion. Religion is woven inseparably into recent history. Wars, public policies and social upheavals have resulted from religious differences. So, religion should be a part of any history curriculum. I believe that the historic ephemera I chose provides a perfect segue to a discussion of religion. It is a personal tradition that is based on secular elements of a religious holiday. It may help temper any deep discussion of the part that religion plays in current events or the past.