Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Traditions

Over the course of the weekend I took time to reflect a bit about various holiday traditions that I have. I tend to have a pretty improvisational approach to life, and over the recent years I have developed a bit of an anti-rut mindset. I do not gather or hold traditions simple for the sake of tradition. If something feeds my spirit, makes me especially happy or some such, then it is something I am likely to keep. If it is tedious or pointless or gives me a headache, then it is likely to be discarded.


Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving is a tradition I intend to keep. I don't make them during the year very often. I might make one at the winter solstice, but other than that, pretty seldom. This year we were gathering with Reena's mother and brother and his wife, and our friend H. was a new-to-town orphan so she joined us as well. I was on the hook to bring pie, so I made a couple of pumpkin pies from scratch. I reduced the sugar and increased the ginger because that is my preference. Turned out pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

Reena's family now has a holiday tradition of getting the entire family together between Thanksgiving and Christmas for one, big event. We used to rent a house or block of rooms somewhere and make a long weekend out of it, but as my Mother-in-Law becomes less able, we shorten it down and make it closer to her home, or now, at her home. Since Christmas is therefore celebrated early, it means that the weekend of Thanksgiving becomes the time to take down the fall decorations and get the winter holiday stuff out. Which starts with making sure the strings of lights still work.


So immediately after finishing dining on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (including that awful canned cranberry abomination) we set about making the house ready for Christmas. For simplicity she now uses an artificial tree, and in short order it was set up, fluffed, positioned, be-lighted, and decorated. It is all ready for Santa Claus to show up a couple of weeks early by special invitation.

Among the things I am most thankful for is a family-in-law that is so great. They like each other, behave well, are reasonable even in their differences, and they make me feel welcome. Really, what more could a son/brother-in-law ask for?

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Friday, November 26, 2010

You cannot resist!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am something of a junkie when it comes to cats. And in contrast to the incessant jokes of late-night comedians (and erstwhile friends) I am quite the social butterfly with actual friends and I do not spend all my time obsessing about my cat and watching television shows about people who have friends.

Well, maybe I obsess about my cat. But only because I freed up time by not watching television. I would like to say that my cat rewards this behavior by slavishly smothering me in feline amoré, but that would be an outright lie - at least so far. The newish kitty (2 months now) is settling in, and her skittishness diminishes daily. Now when she runs to hide, she runs to the low table that we covered with a cloth and "hides" there, 5 feet away rather than in some dank corner of the basement. We have taken to playing with her while she is "hiding" with a now-demolished peacock feather so her retreat space is also a play space. In no way can she be described as a "lap cat", which is what we were REALLY wanting. Heh!

Still, she is undeniably beautiful and photogenic, so while she abides, we do too. Time will tell...

Upside Down Nala

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And now for something completely different.

I don't do a lot of post processing of my images as a general rule. However, it's a good skill set to have, and so I sometimes take play days and wallow around in Photoshop to see what I can do. Some days are more successful than others.

Reflection 1
Reflection 1

This was a pretty stiff challenge for me. The original image was shot indoors with bad light and a cluttered sort of background that made it hard to separate the subject from the background. That, of course, is why I chose it.


The sky background is a stock photo I took once upon a time. The clouds are fake. The moon is real. The ripples were kind of a bitch.

Looked at in detail it's not going to win me any awards or fame, though it is a reasonable effort for where I am with the tool. I think I spent 4 hours on it in total. If it were a homework assignment in a beginning Photoshop class, I think I would get a "B" grade. Since I am doing it without the benefit of either a teacher or an assignment, I think I will give myself a "B+".

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Saturday, November 20, 2010


These two photographs - featured on my new Maternity page at my business site - were simply begging to be displayed together.

Alabaster Silhouette

The juxtaposition between the alabaster white and the jet black is delightful to my eye. The first was taken against a brightly lit background with the mother-to-be also brightly lit, while the second, the silhouette, was taken by having the black-clad m-t-b stand in directly front of a large soft box flash. If you visit the maternity site linked above, you will notice that I flipped the alabaster image here for effect.

Of course, these are the close-cropped arty examples of my maternity work. They are easy to display because the subject is anonymous. Should you or someone you know decide to have maternity photos taken, your head will be included at no extra charge. *grin* In all seriousness, what better way to celebrate your pregnancy than by having beautiful photographs taken to capture your radiance forever?

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Inspirational Book

Inspirational Book

I found this book last week while I was at the Chazen Museum of Art here in Madison. I glanced through the demo copy and liked what I saw. I had recently ben dead certain that I was going to buy the new Herb Ritt's book, "The Golden Hour", until I got to look at it. It was not at all what I hoped it was - a book of Ritt's best work with descriptions and interviews. Instead it was a bunch of snapshots of Ritts. Dang. This book, by less-skilled photographers nevertheless presents a wide body of work from which to draw inspiration. I'm still flipping through its 700 pages, most of which are full page photographs. Frankly, the text is moronic, supposedly the deep soul-searching thoughts of the man responsible for the book.

I found it to be. Shallow and meandering like a scintillating stream of consciousness playing across my mind?

Yes, those last two "sentences" are intended to convey the style of writing in the book that is mercifully scarce. There are also a surprising number of photos of an out of focus hotel hallway. Hmm? One might have been interesting, but 4 or 5 is more like someone on a bender thought that he was photographing the kids on big wheels in The Shining.

So that's the negatives. The positives are that the book is chock full of photographs that one can peruse and dissect. Judgment of their actual worth is up to the viewer, and I suspect many of these photographers are young and not professional. That's OK with me. When I look at the pro shots in Vogue I often find myself bored or even annoyed, so looking at fresh work by naive photographers is ... inspirational.

The book is cheaper at Amazon.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shameless Promotion

I seldom point from this blog to my business page, but in this case I make an exception. Today two new features debuted on Here is the announcement:


The eyeDance web page has been enhanced to include two important new links: Prints For Sale (just in time for the holidays), and Maternity portraits.

The new Prints For Sale page contains images that are available for purchase. Affordable prices and spectacular photographs make these easy gifts for friends and family. The first set is "Scenes" - primarily natural places - that will appeal to a wide audience. The second set is "Seasonal" featuring late fall and winter scenes. That set will change with the seasons. A third set of images "Plants-Objects-Food" will be added in the next day or so. Here is the direct link:

The second new page on the site showcases Nataraj's maternity photography services. Both in the studio and out in nature, there is nothing like the glow of a pregnant woman. Almost due, or have a friend who is? Call and arrange to have YOUR beautiful baby bump portrait taken. Take a look at the images, read the stories, and imagine capturing the radiance of your pregnancy. Here is the direct link:

Testimonials about eyeDance and Nataraj keep coming in, letting you know that eyeDance customers are thrilled with their results. Read them for yourself:

While you are at the website, remember to follow the link to the blog. That is where Nataraj posts his just-for-fun photographs. It is there that you will truly get some insight into the creative force behind eyeDance Photography.

Thank you for your support of Nataraj and eyeDance Studio Photography. Your patronage is truly appreciated. eyeDance exists to serve you!



End of shameless self-promotion!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Nala Abides

It has been days and days since I posted a gratuitous photo of our still new-to-us cat, Nala. And so...

Nala abides

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Of Barns and Bovines

I realized I had not shared any of the farm pictures I shot last week.


The light was really nice - truly the Golden Hour - and these were taken just before the skate boarder pics. A bit of haze kept the sky from being blue, but I guess I couldn't have everything that day.


Moo! Talk about urban encroachment...

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Sculptural Detail

Sculptural Detail

I was downtown with the lovely Reena a few days ago and we stopped in at the Chazen Museum of Art. There was a fun Andy Warhol exhibit of figure studies, primarily Polaroids. Since that is a temporary exhibit, one cannot take photographs. (I should add that if one has a large, high-quality camera that would do the subject justice, then one cannot take photographs. However if one has a crappy cell phone camera that the guards don't think exist, then one can snap merrily away. Just sayin' it's stupid.) In the main lobby is a sizable sculpture that looks vaguely like a child's jacks. Made out of carbon fiber. With a large spiky tip pointing up and out. With the skylight filled ceiling above, I had to plop onto my back and take that shot.

Sculptural Detail

The carbon fiber and ceiling made for great interaction, so rather than shoot the whole, I shot the detail. Like the story of the blind men and the elephant, what is the real shape?

Sculptural Detail

Since you will not find out here, you will just have to go see it for yourself!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Interplay of Light and Shadow

The advent of fall brings mixed feelings for me. I enjoy winter and the things that come with it like snow and ice. I have a harder tie with the long hours of darkness. What has been catching my eye - and photographic interest - when I am out and about lately is the interplay of light and shadow. It started with this post from mid-October, and continues. These are from the past week:

Ahh, why didn't I have a stepladder with me on the motorcycle?


Both of the above were taken in the same Middleton, WI, park just a few minutes apart. I was taking a roundabout way home on the motorcycle because I knew the light would be good. This is the sort of thing I was seeking, though I also found other good shots (like the sk8ters in the prior post).

This next was taken yesterday on Bascom Hill on the UW Madison campus looking east towards the state capitol. We were there to participate in the "Stop The Silence" rally aimed at reducing bullying and other harassment of LGBT members of our family and society.

Bascom Hill Shadow and Light

The day was a little hazy and the light not quite as dramatic (it was earlier in the day than the others) but my eye still wanted to get that interplay.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Meet The Nicest People on a Skateboard

While out on the motorcycle running errands in town yesterday, I realized that it was getting to be late in the afternoon. That means the Golden Hour was approaching and it would be a shame to miss it. Rather than head home through town, I headed for the outskirts thinking to get some farm shots. I did, and will post those later. But I found myself on the edge of Waunakee where there is a small skate park. Who knew? It was pretty late in the day and the temp was starting to drop, so 3-4 kids were leaving just as I pulled in. The two remaining skaters were hardly spring chickens.


They did not mind if I took photos, and were curious if I was going to "do something" with them. I mentioned my blog, though they were hoping I worked for a magazine or something.


They skated. I shot. And we had a pretty good conversation about life (nomadic traveling, the journey being the point, working to live rather than living to work, and bikes) and music. I had a great time and enjoyed meeting them. It is a small world, and I wonder if our paths will cross again?


Thanks Quincy and John. Skate on!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

With an Eye Towards Beauty

I was on an event shoot last weekend and was mostly shooting the space and the occupants - both the patrons and the inventory - with no eye towards shooting individual people. There were a few exceptions; children using the space and the proprietor, but mostly I was after the rooms and the event. And then I saw this:

Beauty in Orange

It was a totally pedestrian moment, yet removed from other context the portrait is quite beautiful. It is a little soft and a little grainy due to high ISO and long shutter and that just seems to heighten the quietness of the image. Unusual for me, I was using a 12-20 wide angle which was not at all optimal for this shot, but I worked with what I had. And I am glad I did! [That reminds me of a Chuck Norris film, An Eye For An Eye, in which actor Mako clobbers an adversary with an old bake-lite telephone and utters the line, "The true warrior uses what is at hand."]

This portrait is even nicer in a larger size.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

My First Cover Photo

The first magazine cover photograph I shot is now published. I can tell you with certainty that this is a thrill for me. I have shot images used inside other magazines, but never before made it to the cover.

My First Cover!
Image LINK

The magazine is BBI Media's "witches and pagans" (sic) and is available at Borders or by subscription. Other booksellers may have it as well, and subscriptions can be had from BBI Media's website or from Amazon.

There may be another image shot by me used inside as well. I never did hear for certain, though our contract was for two images. Taken in mid-summer, the photo of Ms. Fox nicely captures her vitality and ready smile.

Yea me!

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sneaking a Fun One

Sometimes when I am shooting a project or an event, I get to color outside the lines a little and take some shots purely for myself. This morning I was shooting an opening of a new pottery project space and before the doors were opened I noticed the light hitting a plate full of grapes in a desirable way.

Backlit Grapes
Backlit Grapes

It's even better Viewed Large On Black

Shooting this required just a hint of additional light, so I bounced a bit of flash on the front from the top. Not much, just enough to illuminate the details on this side, otherwise they would have been silhouetted on the bottom with only the top ones seeming lit. It worked nicely, I think.

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