Friday, August 27, 2010

Aerial Dance at Orton Park Festival

It has been an extremely busy week getting ready for the aerial dance performance in the tree at the Orton Park Festival. We started Saturday by thoroughly raking the 'stage' area under the tree, getting up as much of the tree debris - acorns and sticks - as possible to protect our bare feet. We also rigged the tree so that we could hang all the various apparatus: Trapeze, rope ladders, silks, lyra, and steel bars, both horizontal and vertical. Then we rehearsed in the tree on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Tuesday night I helped load various trucks with lighting equipment, backstage tents and fabric "walls" erected with rebar, posts, cable, and time.

Wednesday we rigged all the lights, in trees and on posts, and set up the sound and lighting control tent and equipment. Additionally we set up the backstage changing tent and 90' long back fabric wall. It's all very complicated and only done once a year, so everyone's knowledge and experience becomes invaluable. It is documented, but that only goes so far. Wednesday night we had our dress rehearsal and tech run. It went so well! We were out of the park well before our 'optimistic' end time. All signs were that it was going to be a great show.

Last night, Thursday was the first run. Of course since I am in the show I have no photos of that, but I was backstage doing makeup with everyone else, so I offer a few photos of that. The final performance is tonight, Friday 8/27, at 8:45. Come see it, but arrive early!


For a show like this, at night under spotlights, eyes become all-important. They have to be B I G .


If you would like to see more, including some shots of rehearsals in the tree, you can view this SLIDE SHOW. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quick Trip to Ableman's Gorge

As part of my ongoing birthday celebration, yesterday Reena and I rode with a friend to check out a Wisconsin Natural Area that we had never heard about. It is called Ableman's Gorge, and it is about 8 miles west of Baraboo. I stumbled upon it while I was writing up my recent post about Durward's Glen.

We took the scenic route via the Merrimac ferry across the Wisconsin River and through Devil's Lake State Park. From there it was no more than 20 miles to the hamlet of Rock Springs, population 425. The trail for the gorge is right along the highway and the southern parking area also has a delicious tapped spring where numerous cars and trucks pulled up and filled water bottles while we were there.

The rock wall is interesting enough by itself, but there is interesting geology at play here.


Here in a little spot called Dott’s Detour at the beginning of a short hiking trail, you can see a rippled vertical wall that used to be the bottom of a shallow sea. In spots you can see the older layers with their more vertical lines rising up to meet the younger and still horizontal layers near the top of the cliffs. It really plays with your mind to see the rippled rock that was so clearly a sea bed, rising vertically, nearly straight up. This photos is taken along one tapered edge of the cliff, though the ripples are visible (but less clearly photographed) in other places.

Vertical Ancient Sea Bed

While we enjoyed the short hike, our time was limited by a late start, and a commitment back in Madison. It was clear that we missed some things to see, and so another trip is called for. I suspect it would be an interesting place to photograph in the late fall, or even in mid-winter. We shall see. There are more photos in a short SLIDE SHOW where you can see the images in larger size.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Visitor Map

Every so often I like to check my Site Meter and see where my traffic is coming from on this blog.  It delights me to see this map:

Thanks to all of you visitors.  It is gratifying to see that some of my images have such broad appeal.  It is often surprising to see which image or search string brings visitors here.  I do consider that when I write or choose which images to include.  

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Body Cartography

As my 48th birthday looms I have increasingly found myself celebrating the things my body is capable of. I am rehearsing for an upcoming aerial dance performance and pushing my body hard to get set for the two pieces I am in.

Body Cartography 21

For the better part of 20 years I trained in various martial arts: Tae kwon do, Muay Thai kickboxing, Aikido, Capoeira, and Northern Shaolin kung fu. All of those schools had some conditioning that accompanied the teaching of technique, and a couple were pretty diligent about it. All of that conditioning pales in comparison to what 6 months of pole dancing has done for me. Once upon a time I thought I had core strength. Now I really do.

Body Cartography 15

To mark this intriguing point in my life I spent an hour or so in the studio today making a map of my body. This cartographic exposition is pure celebration. Some day I will be infirm, my body less spry or even differently-abled in some significant way. That may be next year should illness or accident befall me, or it could be twenty or more years from now if all goes well. And I will be able to reflect back and celebrate this moment in time.

There are more images in my Body Cartography SLIDE SHOW. Namasté.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Riding Buddy in Training

I had the pleasure of assisting a friend in buying her first motorcycle. Having taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider training class through Madison Area Technical College and subsequently passing the DOT written exam, she was licensed and ready to shop. She had already spent a lot of time thinking about riding and how she wanted to ride, and settled on a cruiser as her first bike. A couple of months of used bike searching let her know what was out there, and we agreed to meet at Motorcycle Performance to kick some tires. In a boldly decisive stroke, she bought a bike that very day. Now that is my kind of impulsive!

Since her riding skills were minimal, and already a couple of months rusty, I agreed to ride her bike to a large parking lot where she could refresh her training.


It was hot - 90 degrees (F) or so - but she still had her protective gear on (ATGATT!). We started with the real basics, including me stunning her with this question: You are riding and the bike seems to be running out of gas. What do you do? She knew the words of the answer, switch to reserve, but she had not yet attempted the physical action needed to do so. After a brief moment of WTF, she reached down and fiddled with the petcock until she had some familiarity with the motion. Basics indeed!


After an hour or so of parking lot drills: left and right hand turns, accelerate-shift-decelerate-and-stop, figure eight's and such it seemed she had her memory refreshed and had confidence. The only thing that threw her for a loop was the "pretend you are on a steep uphill at a stop do you get underway again" drill. After a few laughing stalls, she got it and will likely never have trouble with that again.

This effort on my part is completely self-serving you understand. With some up front effort on my part, I get a new riding buddy. Welcome to the club, Aitch! Let's go riding this fall.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Rocker Box Motorcycle Rally

On Saturday I was helping a friend by riding her new motorcycle home for her. The guys at the shop asked me if I was going to Rocker Box. "Huh?", says I, brilliantly. They explained that it was a big rally event in Milwaukee, WI. Supposedly cafe bikes and other customs were the focus, and people brought their cool bikes out to see and be seen.


I'm glad I made the 150-mile round trip. There were, in fact, quite a few cool bikes to look at, as well as a swap meet tailored to cafe bikes and bobbers rather than the usual Harley scene. To be sure, there were H-D's in attendance, but if there was any bike that stood out, was ubiquitous, it was the Honda CB four-cylinder in all it's displacement variations: 350, 400, 550, and 750. Cafe treatment, or bobber, but seldom stock. This lovely Honda 350 Four cafe racer was my favorite of the day I think.


There were hundreds to look at, and I shot maybe twenty. There is a SLIDE SHOW if you care to look at more. All the crops are tight because there were a lot of bikes and a lot of people. A fun day!

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Durward's Glen

Durward's Glen, located in the Baraboo hills, is a retreat and education center owned by the Magdalen College. The site has been a family destination my entire life; a relatively close by place for a picnic. Getting there was half the fun because it meant taking the car across the Wisconsin River on the Col-Sac ferry.


Yesterday I repeated the journey, as I do once or twice a year, on my motorcycle with the intent to take photographs. It is an interesting place much like nearby Parfrey's Glen (which is closed again due to flooding) and Pewit's Nest, a small slot canyon carved by a millennium of spring-fed stream flow. Like Parfrey's, Durward's Glen shows signs of the flooding that occurs and wreaks havoc on the valley. A side note: We've had 5 or 6 of these so-called 100-year floods in the past 15 years. Call it what you like, but our weather patterns are decidedly different than they have been for the prior hundred years.

From the parking area, the walk up the stream is initially easy. Evidence of the recent flooding is abundant and the high-water mark is a bit alarming. Our family had contributed the funds to rebuild the bridge here after the ancient one was washed out about 15 years ago. "Our" bridge was destroyed only a few years later in a flood, and was replaced again. To my amazement, THAT bridge had also been washed away and there was another new bridge! That makes this the fourth bridge in 15 years. (It reminds me a bit of the tale of "Swamp Castle" in Monty Python and the Quest For the Holy Grail..."But the fourth one stayed!") Here is a gentle view of the stream close to the parking area.


The real magic of the place begins just upstream of the bridge. The glen narrows to a tight slot about 20 or 25 feet wide and perhaps 30 feet deep. The temperature drops as the moist rock shares its mini-climate. Springs feeding into the creek are everywhere. Your brain and body relax almost immediately. It is truly a place of tranquility.


"We shall make our home on that shady slope, and I shall bridge the stream so our children may play in the valley. With the tranquility of solitude and the sweetness of growing life, we shall breathe the pure air of the hills, drink the fresh water of the stream, eat the fruits of the valley and rejoice in the presence of God."
~Bernard Durward

There are more images to see, presented in a SLIDE SHOW that better showcases their saturated yumminess. Enjoy!

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Bonus Results

Sometimes when I'm working in the studio to capture a specific image or set, an opportunity for something completely different, and wonderful, presents itself. Such was the case yesterday. Reena and I were in the studio to take a series of "us" pictures. We wanted a new portrait to give to family and for our own use, and I wanted a photo for my biography page at that showed both of us. Since I am doing more intimate photos, it seemed like a good idea to have a photo that included Reena, who functions as my assistant when possible, to portray a less threatening, more safely-partnered guy to reduce potential concerns a prospective client might have about hiring a stranger to do boudoir photos.

That led to some workable images like this one.


Then as I was powering down the lights, I ended up with Reena lounging on the bench we had been using as a prop with only a single spotlight on her in the dark room. I loved what I saw and asked her to stay put. I had a devil of a time, but got a couple of images I really like.


Reen reclining 1 BW

There was a small, low-powered strobe providing some fill from the right side of the camera, and a snoot-covered strobe high and slightly behind her on the left side of the camera (from my point of view). ISO 200, f/8.0, shutter at 1/160.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lily Faery Scattering Color Dust

While I was walking home from the Atwood Neighborhood Festival yesterday, a bit of movement caught my eye in the garden I was passing. At first I couldn't locate whatever had caught my attention and I was just about to move along when I spotted her! I am pretty certain it was a female, but I know that some males also dress this way which makes positive identification difficult. I did not want to approach too close and scare her off, so I was glad to have along my 28-200 zoom. I tele'd out to maximum zoom and got just this one photo:

Lily Fairy Scattering Color Dust

Click on the link to see it larger. She was racing from petal to petal scattering color essence. I believe that essence is what makes these lilies so saturated with color. It was really amazing to watch and I cannot believe I actually got to see her in action. I think she hit every bloom in under a minute! What a treat.

For those who care about such things: Shutter 1/640, ISO 250, f/9.0. If I had time I could have bumped the ISO to 1000 or so to get my shutter speed up and stop her motion a bit more. *shrug* I am happy to have gotten what I did.

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