Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Swan-y Lake

I took the bus downtown with Reena today, she to work and me to the studio then for coffee with my nephew's sweetie. We were on a bus I generally do not ride since it leaves me further from my destination than other routes, but it is fine for her. I got off near James Madison Park and started to hike the 6-7 blocks to the studio. Glancing at the lake I noticed a pair of swans with a pair of cygnets.


What a pleasant surprise!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Bodies In Motion

Supposedly working on grabbing a series of photos for possible sale, I got side-tracked looking at pictures of dancers. I realized that over the years I have accumulated rather a lot of them, as well as other shots that spoke to me of the delight of moving.

Carnival Crowd

As a dancer, former martial artist, and general play-baby myself, I find myself drawn routinely to the subject.

Cycropia: Rehearsal at Orton

Not only dancers, but people involved in all sorts of physical activities like running, biking, skating, skateboarding, anything really that engages the body for the sheer delight of it. I suppose that I have limited myself to activities that do not involve winning or losing.


After gathering them all into a set, I make them available to you as a slide show titled appropriately enough, BODIES IN MOTION. The images are in random sequence with no regard to date or activity. Enjoy!

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Friday, December 18, 2009


I am sitting here in my house with a long-sleeved shirt and a fleece jacket on, and wearing down booties on my cold feet. As I pause in typing I am sitting on my hands to warm them. Clearly I have been sitting too long in my 65 degree (F) house! In an effort to warm myself up, and perhaps you as well, I dredged through my archives and found a few forgotten photos from warmer times. Enjoy!






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Thursday, December 17, 2009

When the light gets interesting...

...the interested grab their camera! I popped downstairs yesterday to grab a nut and bolt to fix the door on the mailbox. There was a thin shaft of light coming in one of the small windows and just about the only thing it was hitting was an empty Gatorade powder jar (very useful for storage). When viewed from the side it was lit as though it was glowing from the inside. Knowing I had just moments I ran back upstairs for the camera and returned to capture this.

Gatorade Jar

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Additional blogging

Readers here at eyeDance may be interested to know that I have begun a new blog (in addition to, not replacing eyeDance). The new one, "Pitchforks and Torches", is all about the loss of Middle Class power, analyzing how and by whom we are getting fleeced.

Nothing about eyeDance will change, and it will continue to bring me pleasure with its lighthearted tone and topics.

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The Dilemma of Two Knives

Last week I acquired a pair of Calphalon "everyday" Santoku knives. I do much of our cooking, and I wanted a good knife to supplement a functional-but-not-great Cavalier set we got as a wedding present 22 years ago. I had seen the santoku variety of knives and was curious to try one. I was shopping for a gift for a holiday party and found a tremendous deal on the Calphalon set. It is clearly an entry level knife from them, and not part of their "Katana" series. Nevertheless, my initial uses of them tell me I will enjoy using them.

But I created a problem. Worse, I created the sort of problem that ripples and creates a whole bunch of other little problems, sort of like cleaning one spot and having a noticeably clean spot in a larger are a that now clearly needs cleaning. My dilemma was that the knives I already had were neatly stored in a block. So where do I put two new knives that are sharp and have no sheaths? I pondered a half a dozen ideas, and all of them pointed out that where we kept the knife block, and two small cutting boards, and a marble holder for ladles and such, was on the back half of a great butcher-block work surface. We had over the years reduced our best work surface by more than 50 percent. I got rid of the marble holder and rearranged a few drawers to put those things away (not completely satisfactorily, mind you). I got rid of the stuff that had collected there over the years. All that was well and good, but I still did not have any place for the new knives!

I explored those magnetic holders, but I did not have wall space upon which to mount one. It would have been cool to have a double-sided magnetic holder that would stick to the side of the fridge right above the butcher block work area, but there really is no such thing and people look at you funny when you describe what you want.

At last I settled on shoving the 'fridge to the side (Oooooh! Cleanup in Aisle 2!) and screwed a board to the side of the butcher block surface with some 1/8" spacers. Now I had a very flexible knife block that held ALL of my knives right next to the optimal work surface which is now 95 percent available space. And I cleaned up and organized things that had not been cleaned and organized in far too long.


Solving my knife problem

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great Tree Hunt of '09

One of my traditions is to stalk the perfect holiday tree with my sister. I use the term "holiday tree" not to be politically correct, but because we celebrate different holidays. She is a Christian of the Unitarian Universalist variety, and so puts up and decorates a "Christmas" tree. I on the other hand, am a neo-Pagan, and the tree I opt to erect has ties to old traditions celebrating the solstice and so is referred to as a "Solstice" or "Yule" tree. Same custom, different religions, with one having borrowed from the other.

Sis prefers to stomp around in the snow and chop down(*) her own tree. Since that seems like fun, I go along with the idea. The tree farm we have been going to is getting picked over, and many of the trees are barely waist high.

Great Tree Hunt '09

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This year sis was looking for a fir tree rather than a pine. The "perfect tree" takes many forms, and sometimes that is a decision that is made entirely in the moment. Did she want a "Charlie Brown" tree, small and scraggly, and needing of tender loving care?

Great Tree Hunt '09


After some searching, she found a likely candidate. She and Reena had to dig down a foot or so to get a look at the base. Since there was no shovel, that meant a lot of kicking at the snow.

Great Tree Hunt '09

After considerable review, it was deemed satisfactory. There was much rejoicing.

Great Tree Hunt '09

Next came my favorite part. Remember that I said sis wants to chop down her own tree? Apparently that is only a conceptual idea. Actually laying down in the cold, wet snow is not really on her agenda at all. That is why she has her baby brother - me - come along. Wise to the game, I now make her grovel and beg before I do the deed.

Great Tree Hunt '09

It should be noted that I come prepared for this wearing nylon waterproof jacket and pants. It is really no hardship, and it is great sport to make her beg, so we both play our roles and everyone wins. I do make her work though. I made no effort to help her haul the tree back to the car.

Great Tree Hunt '09

She made it perhaps fifty feet before she was huffing and puffing. I took over and dragged the tree the rest of the way.

We were done rather quickly, and so had time to stop at a convenient coffee shop and have a cup of java and some sort of pastry treat. It was a fun time, and I look forward to carrying on our Yuletide traditions.

Happy holidays!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Tale of Two Shots

Well really, it is the tale of two versions of one shot. The first is pretty much straight from camera, just after sunset but before twilight. It is an OK photo.


The second shot is less a photograph, and more of a photo illustration. I suppose it is possible to do what I did with processing in a darkroom, though in this case I used the digital darkroom, Photoshop.

Gazebo winter night

Most obviously I darkened the image using a layer to introduce a uniform blue-violet transparent shade. There is also a less obvious gradient layer darkening the sky a bit more. I also selected and brightened each of the Christmas-y lights in the gazebo. Next I added a yellowy-orange luminescence in the gazebo and around the light in the background to the right. Finally, I significantly tidied up the foreground by removing many of the leaves. What I was attempting to achieve was a version of the photo that I thought to describe as "Currier and Ives", but I do not believe that is the artist I am thinking of. Well, when I find my example, I will update this post.

Your thoughts?

UPDATE: A reader suggested the artist Thomas Kincaid as my inspiration. His work is definitely a source! Thank's Minnesotastan!

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The Aftermath (When The Sun Came Out)

Here are a couple of follow-up photos of the blizzard and the ensuing temperature plunge. There is a SLIDE SHOW of the entire set as well.

Olbrich with Steaming Lake Monona

Burroughs Park Shelter

Enjoy the slide show!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9th Blizzard

Well Mother Nature pounded us pretty thoroughly last night. I do not have an official measurement, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 inches of snow fell. The city is snarled, buses are not running, and many businesses are closed. Schools closed too, which meant big fun for the kids at the sledding hill.


The landscape was truly gorgeous if you could ignore all the snapped off trees and downed power and telephone lines, and cars buried to their windows. People were taking it all in stride, shoveling or snow-blowing themselves and their neighbors out. We did not encounter any grumpy folk at all while we were out stomping around.


There are more photos in a SLIDE SHOW at my Flickr site. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Post-camera Play

I took some images from a recent shoot and tweaked them a bit with software. The changes are not radical in this one, but it radically changed the impact of the photo.

Robert: Almighty Tamborine
The Mighty Tamborine

Modifying the light to accent the pose makes a rather hum-drum photo have some real *POW*.

In addition, I took a handful of shots and combined them into a montage that I liked. Again, this is no dramatic manipulation or alteration of the images, just applying them in an interesting and useful way.

Robert Montage


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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dance Fabulous' Hafla

Last night I enjoyed watching a dozen or so belly dance performances, punctuated with a performance of the Arabic band with which my wife plays. This was not a "performance" as such, rather it is what is called a hafla - a party. As I told a friend who accompanied us, the primary goal of the hafla is for the dancers to have fun. If we, the "audience" also have fun, then that is a bonus. Everyone is encouraged to participate, cheering the dancers on by yelling encouragement and clapping with the music. After the "show" portion, the band kept playing and everyone was encouraged to get up and dance, and many did.


As is typical, I had a camera along. So you get to enjoy the show too, vicariously, through this SLIDE SHOW. See what you missed?

Note that the light was a bit dicey, so all of these were shot at ISO 1600 at f/1.8 or so in order to maintain an aperture priority of 1/100th second. With my 50 mm lens I found myself a bit too close to the action, and alas, I did not have along my 30 mm f/1.4. Who knew that I would want less reach?

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Boudoir Beauty

eyeDance Studio ~ the business arm of this blogger ~ has branched into boudoir photography. I had a young woman desiring to give her pending marriage partner an intimate portrait as a gift. The process, and the solution, was a consensus effort and pretty fun for both of us.

Some of my thoughts on boudoir photography are on the web page, but this seems to sum it up. "There are many ways to have a portrait made of yourself. Sometimes the perfect choice is more private, more intimate. These boudoir portraits hang in a bedroom, away from the eyes of those who may not share your comfort with and celebration of the nude or partially nude body of your love. Boudoir (French for bedroom) portraits range from romantic and soft to bold and flirtatious. Attitude is most important in this style of portrait. Since the typical recipient is a loved one, the message needs to clearly convey romance, affection, and love. This style of portrait is a very personal gift, not to be taken lightly. Boudoir portraits are not always nudes. In fact, it is often more desirable to be partially covered, suggestive rather than flagrant. Capturing the relationship between the subject and the not-present partner is the goal, be it playful or discrete."

A sample of the results are HERE, and it is Not Safe For Work. If you have ever considered such a portrait for yourself or a loved one, contact eyeDance Studio today and let's talk about your intimate portrait.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Another Fall Walk

Reena and I were able to enjoy another walk yesterday, this time in a part of the UW Arboretum that I have never been to. We were south of the Beltline in the Evjue Woods.


It was around 40 degrees (F), so it was nice in the sun, but chilly in the shade. We made a nice loop that covered just about the entire section. Walking sort of slowly we spent perhaps 45 minutes. The first part of the stroll was all quiet woods leading into a small oak savanna.


The sun was bright and getting towards late afternoon, and everything was very pretty. A really lovely mid-autumn day. Even though we could just barely hear nearby traffic most of the time, we were surprised to see only squirrels, but no birds or other creatures. No sooner had Reena commented on this than we look uphill on as side path and see...


...a small flock of turkeys. They weren't going to let me get any closer, so I had to let my telephoto lens provide the reach. Five or seven minutes later, after a pair of joggers (not runners) stomped past making all sorts of racket, I was pleased to spot a white-tail deer, then two more. They were already on to us and spooked. I got one good shot of a doe before she bolted.


The light was fading in the woods, and my lens is none too fast. If anyone wants to send me $2,400 for Nikon's f/2.8 7-200 lens, I'll be happy to take it. That way I would not have to have my ISO at 1250 because my current lens is at f/6.3 at 200 mm. Ah well, what I shot is about exactly what I was seeing anyway. The photo of her butt bounding away was just a blur. As we were just about to arrive back at the car, I heard an owl hoo-hoot hoot hoooting from a distance. I hooted back and forth a few times with it. I may try to make it back to that savanna today right around 4:15 to catch the nicest yellow-orange sun.

There are a handful more, so if you want to experience our walk as a slide show with much larger images, CLICK HERE.

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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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