Monday, November 30, 2009

Studio Reptiles

I was looking through some studio shots and realized I had a few that had never seen the light of day, and I thought I would rectify that. First up: Reptile Palace Orchestra.


The Reptiles are one of my favorite local bands. Their music ranges from high-energy Eastern European folk tunes to classic blues covers, with plenty of original material. You sort of have to hear them to understand (I recommend listening to Gankino Horo", or scroll down the Music section to "Kochari"). Here are a couple of members of the band in shots from the same session as the above group shot.




There will be more to come over the next day or two!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sweetwater Farms Soap

A fun little project shooting soap for a small business.


This soap has a slice of loofah in it.

Soap on a raft!


Hopefully this will lead to more such work.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

N 44° 14.634' W -90° 43.932

Over the weekend the missus, her sister, and I drove from Madison to Eau Claire, WI. When we left Madison the weather was glorious - sunny and clear, approaching 60 degrees (F). We had a plan to stop at a rest area sis knew about so we could hike the short trail there to the scenic overlook. As we passed Black River Falls, the weather got overcast and very hazy, and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees as well.

We stopped as planned, and did the short hike out across a 550' boardwalk that crosses a small ravine. The haze made photos there pretty ho-hum. Taking the other fork, we walked to the top of the nearby Bell Mound peak, the trail following right up the ridge line. The views were a bit better along this part of the trail.

Rest Area South of Eau Claire, WI

Rest Area South of Eau Claire, WI

The walk was steep, but made relatively easy by steps that must have been a challenge to build:

Rest Area South of Eau Claire, WI

Once at the top the view was much grander. The haze still made the horizon a dull blob, but it made the contrast between the pines and the naked birches all the more interesting.

WI Fall Forest 1

This is worth viewing LARGE.

All in all a pretty good little hike with some nice views. I wonder if it is as interesting when the sun is shining? In case you are curious, the rest area is on westbound I-94, milepost 121, near Black River Falls in Jackson County.

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Strangely, it is still legitimate motorcycle weather here in Wisconsin. Naturally I am still thinking about riding, and looking at perfect roads.



I just might get a ride in today around my errands. Sweet!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Timeless Contact Improv

One of my great pleasures in life is photographing dancers. Since the styles of dance I pursue are contact improv and aerial, I get interesting photos that often confuse my viewers. This image from a recent shoot is ordinary enough to be viewed on its own, and sufficiently illustrative of contact improv to be recognizable to practitioners of the form.

Timeless CI

The sense of when the image was made is obscured with the vintage furnishings and architecture. Only her clothes give away the contemporary time frame and even that is not too much of a distraction from the feel. I like it.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


A couple of weeks ago a pregnant acquaintance let me take a photo or six of her during her pregnancy. She got a handful of images to celebrate her condition, and I got what is becoming one of my most compelling photographs.

The Shape of Beauty
The Beauty of Her Body

I would love to hear your reaction to this photograph. Please leave a comment.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

End of Riding Season, Start of Dreaming Season - 1

Motorcycle riding season is drawing to a close here in Wisconsin as typical daytime temperatures struggle to exceed the low 50's (F). It is time for me to prep the bikes for their long winter hibernation. Of course, being deprived means I scramble to get in just one more ride at every opportunity, returning with frozen hands and a runny nose, grateful for a hot cuppa coffee or tea to bring my core temperature back to human-normal.

This is also the time when my daydreaming starts. If I bought a new bike in the spring, what would it be? The internal Pro/Con table pops up ready for sifting and winnowing. I have a predilection for single and twin-cylinder engines, and my tastes run to either a roadster or so-called adventure bike look, thus ruling out most inline-four sport bikes and cruisers, be they Harley-Davidsons or similar offerings from the Asian marques. I have no budget in my dreams, so money is no object.

Here is today's dreamy bike, the French Wakan 100 Roadster Strada.

The Roadster 100 is fitted with the same 1,640cc, 45-degree v-twin as all other Wakan machines, and it makes 115bhp at 6,250rpm and 115lb/ft of torque at 4,250rpm. Tasty!

The bike weighs 390lb dry and claimed top speed is 155mph. Plenty of goodness there!

I can gleefully imagine barreling around southwestern Wisconsin on such a bike. Mmmm!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

End of Daze

I went down to the UW Memorial Union a couple of days ago. As anticipated, it was mostly deserted.


Mostly. This diehard realy wanted to sit on the terrace and look at the lake.


And this poor fellow looked absolutely despondent.


The onset of winter is a sobering time here. Many get sort of a bunker mentality and talks about feeling tired and ready for bed at 7:30 PM. Of course, that is two and a half hours after sunset, and for a mind still on summertime, that translates to around 11:30 PM.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

HDR Experimentation

I have been experimenting lately with High Dynamic Range photography. This definition from Wikipedia is as good as any:

"In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminances between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to represent more accurately the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight.

The two main sources of HDR imagery are computer renderings and merging of multiple photographs, which in turn are known as low dynamic range (LDR) or standard dynamic range (SDR) images. Tone mapping techniques, which reduce overall contrast to facilitate display of HDR images on devices with lower dynamic range, can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect."

One of my attempts:

Madison Observatory

I think back to my few hours in the darkroom developing film, and consider this a digital version of dodging and burning. To get the shot above (and let me say that it is pretty likely that I could have gotten closer to this finished image with film and/or filters) I would have exposed the images as correctly as I could, though having the sun high behind the dome would have made that challenging. Then in the darkroom I would have masked the sky portion (dodging it from the light as the print is made) to let it remain less-exposed while allowing the building and the foreground to be more-exposed. Instead, I shot three images at high speed, letting the camera expose correctly (as determined by me), then a stop underexposed and a stop overexposed. These three images were then merged using Photoshop - the digital darkroom - to get the resulting image.

I have nearly no experience at HDR, neither as a technique nor in terms of knowing what subject will look good with this treatment. My experiments so far have given me three-and-a-half successes and three losers. Here is a link to a SLIDE SHOW to show you my successes. On my list to do next is a Madison skyline at night image, taken from somewhere over by Olin-Turville park, maybe along the John Nolen Drive causeway. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Farmer's Market Beauty

Last Saturday was the final farmer's market of the year. The weather was spectacular - short sleeved shirts were common - and people were out in droves. I didn't find much interest in taking people pictures, but the produce itself was deliciously attractive.


I walked all the way around, assuming that in one of the eight blocks I would find some coffee or a bakery item to tempt me. I was surprised to find myself back at my starting point with no food or java in my belly.


I did not mind a bit. The booths were staffed with happy, smiling farmers and friends of farmers, and the people shopping and browsing were delighted to be there. It was the sort of environment that creates a feel-good vibe simply by being present.


I will fondly remember this day in a few weeks when the snow starts flying and the bitter wind is howling. But for now, I will simply revel in it.

I revel in it!
Clear blue skies, toasty sunshine,
Autumn's last hurrah.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Photographer versus the Wacky Wheeler

I had a fun series of photos from the Willy Street Fair that I had intended to post a while back. I waited because there was another photo taken by a local photographer that was used in the "Scenes" feature in Isthmus, and I had written to her to ask if I could link to that photo, or if she would let me post it here with credit to her. It would have been a perfect image to complete the series. Alas, she never responded to my request. Deciding that the series was fun enough on its own, here it is.

The scene: The Willy Street Fair Parade
The players: Rob Summerbell, aka the Wacky Wheeler (using a very special German Wheel), and Nataraj Hauser, intrepid photographer lacking both fear and common sense.

We open the scene near the mid-point of the parade. Rob is approaching on his German wheel when he spies Hauser's long, curly blond hair cascading from behind a still camera. Pointing imperiously, Summerbell directs Hauser to lay down in the street in his path. Clearly he intends to overrun Hauser and thinks it will be amusing to see what happens to the camera. True to his impetuous nature (and lack of common sense), Hauser complies.

Willy Street Fair
Hauser on deck, SummerBell poised for over-run

Beginning his maniacal charge, Summerbell cackles with glee at the impending mayhem.

Willy Street Fair

Realizing that the steel wheel was going to miss crushing both Hauser and his camera, Summerbell aims a kick. Alas, he is a moment too slow and misses.

Willy Street Fair

Continuing on his way, Summerbell the Wacky Wheeler look for fresh mischief, while Hauser, still laying in the street, captures one last image from over his head.

Willy Street Fair

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Restaurant Product Shoot

I was part of a food shoot for one of Madison's finest restaurants, L'Etoile. These are among the shots that I included for their use. Thanks to Lili for the opportunity, and to chef Tory Miller for preparing the dishes. This was a great experience for me.

L'Etoile Food Shoot

I was not the only photographer on site, and despite the lighting being mine, it was a sharing time. Because we were not working with a food stylist, we had to work quickly to capture the food while it looked great. This often meant a bit of jockeying for position. It also meant the food looked just like it would be served to the customer - no fakery involved.

L'Etoile Food Shoot

The dishes came to us in 15 minute increments, so we had a pretty good handle on time management. There was enough time to arrange, shoot, re-arrange, shoot, and then EAT THE DISH! Mmmm.

L'Etoile Food Shoot

Hungry yet? Well get to L'Etoile and sample their excellent food! In the meantime, here is a link to a SLIDE SHOW where you can see the entire batch in larger size. Mmmm!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall Day at the Zoo

Some more pics from my outing to the zoo yesterday, with a link to the rest.

Preening Flamingo

Peeking Frog

Ally Gator

The rest are viewable in a large-format SLIDE SHOW. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Giraffe Triptych

I thought these three shots needed to be together. There is something about giraffes that never ceases to amuse me.

Giraffe Triptych
Giraffe Triptych

View LARGE On White

There will be more shots from today as time permits, though I have some things I want to try that may take a day or two.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

The Samba Singer

Every once in a while I snap one that just feels right.

Anapaula BW

A little different than THIS ONE of the same singer from 2007.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bee-guiling Halloween

Just a few more photos of Reena in her bee-themed costume that I liked...

Beetie Page 2
Beetie Page



...and a few of friend Tom that worked out well. He came in to the studio to assist as a bouncer in case anyone got too rowdy. No one did, fortunately.



Happy New Year to all the Pagan folk out there!

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