Sunday, January 24, 2010

Capturing Folk Ball

I tried in the previous post to describe what the main dance party is like at Folk Ball. Words however, do not do the matter justice. Therefore in this picture I give you at least 1,000 words. Really it is best VIEWED LARGE.

Folk Ball Swirl
Folk Ball Maelstrom

More photos will follow!

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Folk Ball

Madison, WI, hosts an annual event focusing on folk music and dance. If it were merely a handful of people exploring obscure Macedonian or Transylvanian folk dances it would barely register on the fun-o-meter. However, Folk Ball has become an event where a LOT of people explore strange and wonderful ethnic dances and music for a day-and-a-half, and then they have a really big dance party to do all those dances!


It is something of a phenomenon. Tonight (Saturday) there will be 200+ people in Great Hall at the UW Memorial Union listening to quirky music performed by talented local bands, and doing odd line dances with the occasional polka and waltz thrown in. It is truly a sight to see so many people, many in some form of ethnic garb, with huge smiles on their faces as they dance merrily (if not always correctly).


It is an event for all ages. Today there are workshops all afternoon (donations requested) and tonight is the dance ball itself, with a great line up of bands. Take a workshop this afternoon and learn the dances or music that will be performed tonight! Then savor the visual and aural splendor of the ball.


Note that the link above seems to indicate that Reptile Palace Orchestra plays last, as has been common in years past. That is not correct. RPO plays third and Orkestar Sloboda plays last. See you there!

[Photos from Friday night while the Cajun Strangers played. There are more in a SLIDE SHOW at my Flickr site.]

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Ride of 2010

Temperature 32 degrees (F)? Check.

Sun shining? Check.

Roads clear? Ummm, define "clear". Sand, salt, and snow melt all present. No actual snow or ice on main streets though. Clear enough, then. Check!

Time for a motorcycle ride! It was my first for 2010 and all I can say is:

First 2010 Ride!


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Warm Blooms

After the frosty series in my last post, it seemed like a good idea to balance things out with a couple of warm flower pics.

Amaryllis Blooms

I always enjoy forcing an amaryllis in the winter. They are so satisfying. Unfortunately I am not so good at salvaging the bulb after mistreating it so. I only get to enjoy them for a few short weeks.

Amaryllis Blooms

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hoar-ific Day!

It is difficult to top that last post, so I will not try to compete directly. Today I woke up to find a lovely hoar covering all the trees and plants in the area. Reena was heading off for a day of errands, so I had her drop me off at Tenney Park. I worked my way the length of the Yahara River between Lakes Mendota and Menona, snapping away.


There was much at which to look. The coating of frost was pure eye-candy. It was tough to know whether to look macro or tele! I decided to limit myself to my 50 mm Nikon f/1.8 lens. It's a good lens and forced me to move around to get what I wanted.


I also was forced to do a lot with the camera. In order to shoot some images at very wide apertures (down to f/1.8) as well as very small (down to f/22) I was all overthe board with shutter speeds and ISO. Mostly I left ISO at 100 (or the L.03 equivilant) and maneuvered with the other settings. I got most of what I wanted. I did miss a pair of tundra swans that flew past, no more than thirty feet from me. Drat! Ah well, there were plenty of other things to draw my eye.


There are more images, best viewed in this larger format SLIDE SHOW. Enjoy!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Mmmm, Pie!

Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies performed last night at The Inferno. A great show, and delightful eye candy. Here are a couple of teasers from the set.




There is a large SLIDE SHOW with so much more!

UPDATE: The resolution of the slide show was terrible, so I am re-uploading the photos at full-resolution. It will take an hour or two! Resolved. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Coffee Project

I am working on a product shoot for a small coffee roaster business. It has been fun to do, and the coffee is delicious! When it is complete I will pass on the business info, but in the meantime, here is a peek at what I have for them.

Coffee Project

Coffee Project
Bountiful Goodness

Coffee Project

The best part of waking up is genuinely good coffee, lovingly roasted to perfection, ground moments before brewing, and served at a proper temperature!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Blooming Amaryllis

I missed a few days of the amaryllis, and it had bloomed wide open when I got home to it three days later.

Amaryllis Bloom 1
View LARGE On Black

Well, there is another bloom coming.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010


I just returned home from a 3-day contact improv retreat. After dancing, hard, for three days, my body is both juiced, and totally used up. It is a bit after 8 PM and I doubt I will be awake much longer. But I am satisfied, oh my.


Contact is an incredibly physical dance form, ranging from slow and gooey to fast and athletic, sharing weight and momentum with one's partner(s). As the name implies it is all improvisational and generally done without music. It is a dialog in movement between two or more bodies.


It is also highly egalitarian. There are no moves that are "men's" or "women's", rather each dancer performs techniques or follows movements according to his or her measure.


On Friday night - Day Two - we presented a free performance to the community. Much of the show was improvisational, but (strangely) only a small portion of it was actually contact improv. I find it frustrating that when it comes time to play show-and-tell so many are quick to set our practice aside, but it happens pretty frequently. To minimize that, partner Megan and I did a piece that featured CI and was titled "Mis-Interpretive Dance". We had fun and the audience was amused.


As is often the case, there is a SLIDE SHOW of the entire batch - some jam pictures and some from the show. Enjoy!

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Amazing Amaryllis

I started taking photos of the amaryllis that we are forcing. I will not be able to get daily shots of it, which is too bad really because they grow so darned fast, but I have the first three days as it started to open. Here it is this morning:

Amarylis-Thursday 1
View LARGE for the best view.

I will get more shots as I can and add them to my Flickr stream.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blue Light, Red Hot Music

Hard working musicians have one thing in common: They play. If their need is not satisfied with one band, they will join or create a second. And so it is with the Samba Novistas. Not content to only play music with the local bands Fantasy, Not Fiction and the now defunct Pagee Go Go, guitarist Jeff Alexander hooked up with the tireless Graham Thorbrogger (Handphibians, Patchwork Monkey, WADOMA, Grupo Balanca) and Brasilian chanteuse Anapaula Venancio Schroeder (The Handphibians, Pagee Go Go) to form the Samba Novistas.


They began playing out just a few months ago and have landed a couple of regular gigs at the Mediterranean Hookah Lounge once a month, and The Frequency every Monday night (no cover, 8:30-9:30) opening for Clyde Stubblefield.


They play Brasilian-based music, primarily Samba and Bossa Nova. Though sparse, the solid instrumentation from Alexander and Thorbrogger never leave you wishing for more. Singing mostly in Portuguese, A.P. does a fine job with the vocals. They are worth catching if you are looking for an early show any Monday.

My only complaint from the show last night was that the lights were ... absent. I think there was one bank of six lights, and they aimed mostly at the center of the stage. A.P. got the spotlight and the dudes were pretty much in the dark. Neither one of them minds that too much, but it makes it harder for me to take photos (and it is all about me, right?).

Back of the Stage

There is a small SLIDE SHOW of pictures. As I shoot more of the Samba Novistas I will add to it. Check them out!

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Saturday, January 2, 2010


One of the gifts I received as a solstice present was Joe McNally's book, "Hot Shoe Diaries" (thanks darling!). The book is chock full of tips and suggestions for how one might use speed lights for lighting rather than big, clunky studio lights, an idea that is especially interesting for working in remote locations where hauling a big heavy battery pack may not be ideal. There is much about working that way that I simply do not know, and the book sets my head a-buzzing.

We were at my mother-in-law's house, and while my wife was involved with a project with mom that did not involve me, I read, and decided to try some things.


First thing that caught my eye was a tip for holding the camera, particularly when also holding a speed light. Leaving the flash on the camera itself often makes for a terrible photo (unless you are actually trying to make the picture look like a mug shot) and moving the flash even a foot or so out of line can make a huge difference. So without having to drag along a stand, or wrangle an assistant who can be relied upon to actually stay attentive and point the light correctly, this side-firing method of bracing the camera on the off-shoulder can provide a bunch of stability. I aimed the speed light up and away for illustrative purposes. The on-camera flash optically triggers the remote light. In this shot, the on-camera flash is set to too high a power and would have been too strong for a real portrait. I can dial that flash down to 1/128 power and still trip the other flashes.

McNally's book talks about using one, two, up to nine or a dozen speed lights to get the desired photo. I have two lights that will flash off-camera (three as of today - thanks again darling!) so I found a handy subject and took some test pictures.


Not a particularly good photo, but it was what was available in the moment. One of my speed lights is hand-held left of camera and up about a foot. The other was parked on the back of a chair right of camera. Both were dialed down to minimum power. The light is pretty harsh, and there is a lot of it blowing past the poinsettia and making strong shadows in undesirable places. There are ways to tame that (diffusers, snoots, or even bouncing the light off a wall or white card rather than aiming it at the subject) but without a lot of rearranging of furniture and having to explain to my mother in law just what the heck I was doing, I just banged away and took the less-than-optimal images. They were primarily for me to experiment in the moment anyway.

So now with three speed lights I can be a bit more creative. A backlight on the plant would have helped, and I could even have bounced that off the ceiling to provide some extra fill light too. I have all sorts of things to try!

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Friday, January 1, 2010

A Little Bragging

I forgot to post this here! *slaps forehead*

At the end of December, local newspaper the Capitol Times put out a special year-end section titled "Simply The Best of 2009". About me, they has this to say:

The recent blizzard gave us more than a few flurries, icy streets and a snow day. Several local photographers used the white blanket as artistic inspiration. Nataraj Hauser’s “Dec. 9th Blizzard” set on Flickr is one of the best of these. With powder-dusted sledders in snowsuits, glimpses of a snowball fight and one adventurous biker, Hauser’s photostream captures the joy of the snowfall as well as its beauty, with images of a silent river and ice floes near the lake. Visit his blog for more pics.
As another small treat, two events in which I participated were listed as "bests": The Cycropia Aerial Dance performance at the Orton Park Festival, and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (I was a performer at the opening).

Well, how 'bout that?

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Happy New Year

Sometimes New Year's Eve is a blow-out drinking event. Other times it seems to be a time to remain home-bound, savoring in the company of just a few friends, or even just one. This year was neither of those, and it was most excellent.

Late afternoon was filled with a 2-hour contact improv dance jam. I am sometimes at the New Year's Jam at Earthdance, and this year I was not, and was missing it. After yesterday, I am sated and no longer jonesing for that larger event.


We had a rare music jam, with half a dozen talented players providing genuine improv music for our group of 24 or so dancers - a real crowd for our space. The interplay between the musicians and dancers was pretty amazing, and each fed off the other in a way that so seldom happens. It was nothing short of magical.


I was not too interested in taking photos - way more interested in dancing - and so I parked the camera on a stand and left it on 10-second timer, tripping it whenever I found myself near it. I had the shutter set to longish exposures to capture the bubbly nature of the dancers. Only at the very end of the jam did I pick up the camera and shoot, and even then it was no more than half a dozen. The long exposure photos are interesting to me, and perhaps to you. Here is a link to a SLIDE SHOW where you can see all dozen-and-a-half of them.

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