Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus (Take 2)


In September, our community hosts the annual Southwest Iowa Professional Hot Air Balloon Festival. Weather conditions permitting, balloonists launch at least four times to test their piloting skills. A parade, flea market, YMCA 5K Balloon Chase, night glow and other fun activities surround the event.

Last year, I heard the nearby “whoosh” of the burners filling a balloon envelope with hot air. To my surprise, the competition target to which pilots toss weighted bags from their baskets was placed just a few blocks from my home. That meant that all 50-plus balloons would be close and low! I hurried to find my post and reveled in the multi-colored, sky parade floating effortlessly through my neighborhood.

I took this series of shots of one balloonist’s pass of the target, intentionally getting some shallow and greater depth of field focus shots (the first is my favorite). Here are the results:

Out of focus balloon

Balloon is piloted just above tree level as it approaches target to drop weighted marker.


Balloon ascends from the target.


Street signs are of no value to balloonists.


“Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon”

Thanks to Southern Sea Muse’s Photo Challenge post that jogged my memory of these pictures! Here are a few more close and overhead shots:

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Hot Air Balloon Days is September 20 – 22, 2013, Creston, Iowa, USA.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus by Cheri Lucas Rowlands on August 23, 2013

For this challenge, get out there and take a picture demonstrating the concept of focus. 

  • Snap a photo of something or someone in focus, against a blurred background.
  • Share a panorama or landscape in sharp focus, in which you can see details far away.

Shallow depth of field – corn stalks in the foreground

I live in an agricultural area with corn and soybean fields almost within a stones throw of my home. One of my church members, who sells crop insurance, recently asked me to take a few pictures of corn for his website. The scene, just down the road from my church featured a seed company’s test plots with the local grain elevator in the background.


Greater depth of field – Grain Elevator in focus

Thanks for coming by to see my photographic take on “focus.”

Now let me give a spiritual take on the topic. As harvest is just around the corner, and the grain elevators will have semi-trucks lined up to store the farmers’ bounty, I think of Jesus’ parable (Luke 12:13-21) of a rich farmer who had a great harvest. He decided to build bigger barns and to selfishly live off of the fruits of his labor “for many years” with no concern for God and others (the repeated use of the pronouns “I” and “my” give evidence of his self-ward focus). The Father’s response was:

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’ 21 “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:20-21 (HCSB)

At times, it is difficult for us to have anything other than a self-ward focus – a shallow depth of field – especially in the midst of life’s difficulties. However, we must remember the temporary nature of this life and focus on the greater depth of field – the eternal.

These green fields will soon be reduced to the rubble of decaying stalks – in the same way we see our earthly bodies deteriorate over time. However, if our focus is toward God’s call and obedience to His purposes, we will be accumulating treasure in heaven.

16 Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

So, is your life focus on a shallow depth of field (selfish) or a greater depth of field (eternal)?