Friday, September 30, 2011

Fresco's "Big Top Opera"

I am performing an aerial dance piece in a production tonight and tomorrow at Overture Center, Madison's premier performance art space. The piece is a trio using a lyra with two other members of Cycropia, and we were asked to create a piece specifically for this show. And what a show it is. Fresco's Big Top Opera opens tonight.


It is a fusion of old school circus acts and opera. Most of the performers are regional singers who take various circus roles while singing classical opera bits. It is a bit like "What's Opera, Doc", and I mean that in the most flattering sense (heck, my formative knowledge of opera was inspired by Bugs Bunny). There is the strong man, the bearded lady, the conjoined twins, the tightrope walker, and more, with a few other related non-singing acts (like ours) added in as intersticia.


The show is suitable for all ages, and there is matinee pricing for the Saturday early show. Come on down and catch the show. The singing is good, the concept is amusing, and the transitional pieces are spectacular (wink!).


The photos are from last night's dress rehearsal, and there are a whole bunch more here in a SLIDE SHOW. Enjoy!

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Fun Toy

I have not been impressed with most of the (free) apps I have for my iPad. In particular, the Photoshop app is frustrating, crashing virtually every time I use it. So I was not expecting much when I downloaded the Pixlromatic app (stupid, unpronounceable name). Turns out it has some fun toys that actually make some photos more fun.

Magical Disa

The sparkly swirl is not manipulatable, so it was pure luck that this photo of a leaping dancer fit in it so delightfully. But that seems to be half the fun of the app: What can I do to *this* cool photo? Ultimately it is just a toy, but it is a fun toy.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bike Parking Displaces Car Parking?! Ride on!

After meeting a client for coffee this morning, I decided to mosey up King Street to see what was going on at the capitol. (Any 50,000+ protester rallies today? No? Dang. Oh well - Recall!) At the top of the street I spotted something I have never seen here before.


No, not a psychedelic bicyclist zooming down the street. The first parking spot had been bounded by posts and bumpers, and two bike racks were positioned within. A CAR parking space re-purposed for bikes. The meter was bagged, implying free parking. Wha..?

On-Street bike parking.  King St, Madison WI (DS3_7338)

The intent is clear: Make it desirable to bike downtown rather than driving your car. At the moment I spotted the rack, there were only two bikes in it, and one had a flat. The shopkeeper I spoke to outside of Tipsy Cow seemed thrilled because she likes to bike to work. +1, I guess.

Here is the skinny, straight from the city. [LINK] Basically it says,

The bicycle corral provides space for the parking of 10 bicycles in what had been one car parking space. This is a pilot project to see how well accepted the concept of on-street bicycle parking is in Madison. This approach is useful in areas of the city where there is not enough space to provide bicycle parking in the terraces and other off-street locations. Businesses in the area were consulted on this project and agreed to the trial. Saris Cycling Group donated the bicycle racks to the city for this project. The racks will be removed in November to allow for winter snow plowing.

So bike riders, I urge you to use these racks even if they are not the obvious choice for where you are going on a given trip. IF they get used, the city will do more of this, and if not, they will assume no interest and yank them for good.

Ride on!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ginger, or Maryann?

Very seldom do I revisit an older photo to "process" it differently. I have been thinking a lot lately about Ansel Adams and how much time and effort he put in to the darkroom end of photography. Not just choice of paper and supplies, but the dodging and burning to produce exactly the photograph he wanted to produce.

I shoot digital. I do not use a darkroom. I do use Photoshop. I use it quite sparingly.

And then one day I shot a circus, and the sky was crisp, deep blue, and the colors were all vivid. That photo seemed very manipulated to me despite that it was pretty much 'straight from camera'. I like it, and keep going back to it. It was the vividness of it that drew me. Then today a friend poked me with a question about some of his photos: Color, or B&W? I got to thinking about that photo again in this context. Would it be better in color or B&W?

Your call. I reprocessed the RAW image in Photoshop converting it to B&W with an infrared filter affect.

Infrared Circus Rides (DS3_9244)

Here is the original. I did have a circular polarizing filter on the camera.

Waiting For the Fair to Open (DS3_9244)

Which works better to YOUR eye?

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Friday, September 23, 2011

USB Keyboard Connected To My iPad

This post is a first. That I am writing it from my Apple iPad is not the news. Blooging with the iPad is a bit of a pain, especially if you want to attach photos (which is, of course, what this blog is al about). No, the first is that I am composing it via a mini USB keyboard. Yep, you read that correctly: I have a USB keyboard attached to my iPad. Impossible you say?

Mini USB Keyboard with iPad

Think again! Apple sells a "Camera Connection Kit" for the iPad that contains two dongles. One is an SD card reader for importing photos and video to the iPad. The other is a USB port for direct connection of cameras that do not use an SD card (like my dSLR that uses a CF card). While it is true that most USB keyboards draw waaaaay too much power for this connection (the iPad gives an error that the attached device draws too much power) there are a few no-frills keyboards that will work. The one I bought cost $15 at Office Depot. For the occasional use I think it will get, that is a perfect price!

Mini USB Keyboard works with iPad

The brand is "Gear Head" and it was the last one in stock at my nearby store. When I looked online, it seem like it was readily available at Walmart and other stores (probably Amazon). Look for the "Windows Mini USB Keyboard". If they make one for Mac, I did not see it.

The keyboard is cheap: The action is not great, and coupled to the iPad it is really only good for typing. You will still be doing your navigating and volume control sort of tasks on the iPad. It gives me an "Unsupported Device" error when I connect it. Just ignore it. That is OK with me. For this price I can live with that trade. The keyboard is small enough to get stashed in my always-with-me bag that contains my camera gear and iPad, so the whole coffee shop experience just got a tiny bit sweeter. This post was done in my favorite coffee spot: My kitchen, with a cuppa and a cookie while I listen to my own tunes.


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Monday, September 19, 2011

Eos Ushers In The Dawn

Eos, goddess of the dawn, renews herself and greets her brother Sol. Upon rising from her rest, Eos extends rosy fingers to the gates of heaven, opening them so that Sol, the god of the sun, can ride his chariot across the sky. From the Iliad, "Now Dawn rose from Her couch from beside lordly Tithonus to bring light to Immortals and to mortals." (Iliad XI.1)

Eos Greets Sol

Origins and Genealogy: Eos was daughter of the Titans Theia and Hyperion. She had two close siblings Sol/Helios (the sun) and Selene (the moon). With Aeolus the keeper of the winds, she bore four sons these became the winds of the cardinal directions. The dew was said to be her tears.

This Goddess is most noted for her insatiable appetite for young men. This desire is said to have been the result of a curse, placed upon her by Aphrodite , when she discovered her affair with Ares. She also kidnapped four lovers: Cephalus, Clitus, Ganymede and Tithonus. The later was a Trojan prince whom she begged Zeus to grant immortality. What she forgot to ask for was eternal youth. Eventually he shriveled up with old age and she turned him into a grasshopper. Her love for Orion was unrequited.

Strengths; Passion.
Weaknesses: Insatiable desire.
Sacred Plant: Saffron.
Roman Equivalent: Aurora.

This photograph was taken on the shore of an idyllic lake with a lovely dancer as the model. Keeping with my custom, the model fits Emerson's apt description: "The years teach much which the days never knew." This befits a Goddess who deserves a bit of gravitas. After all, Eos has borne four godlings, and made mistakes and suffered consequences at an epic scale.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
- Rumi

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Best One Of The Day

This weekend was the World Music Festival and Willy Street Fair here in Madison. The weather was cool yesterday, and rainy today, so attendance was not what it could have been. Nevertheless, there were people out and about, determined to enjoy the final festival of the summer. I take a lot of photos because it is a target-rich environment. Everywhere I look there is a photo to be taken. And, sometimes you simply KNOW that you took the best photo of the day. This one is that photo.


How do you top that?

I will have more later, with a slide show.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Disappointments and a Bike Pic

I had some free time yesterday so I thought I would go check out - and photograph two State Natural Areas I had never been to. I loaded up the trusty Honda 919 and set off for points north near the Wisconsin Dells. The first was Lemonweir Bottomland Hardwood Forest State Natural Area. It looked interesting from Google Earth. In real life, not so much. This time of year it was all dried up (except the river itself) so it was really nothing more than a hardwood meadow. *shrug* On to Hulbert Creek Woods State Natural Area. Another bust. There is a road indicated on the map, but if it is there it is totally overgrown. So at that point I did the only obvious thing: Take a photo of the bike!

My Honda 919 (DS3_6898)

I took a break, drank some cold coffee and munched a Snickers, then headed for home. Traffic was really boogying on the Interstate: Posted 65, and at 80 I was being passed by almost everything.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Great Night Thoroughly Seized

I went to a pretty fine party last night. Hosted on a farm just outside of Madison, in a small valley, there was plenty of room for tents and a small stage. I think a total of five bands played, with Reena's band, Al Khemia, opening. The setting was really beautiful, and as Al Khemia finished the sun was just setting behind the homestead farm.


It was a potluck meal, so there was a mixed bag of food to be had. We chose to eat en route so we did not partake except for a few chips. There was beer on tap, and we had our own selection along, so it was a party. The bands were set up on a flatbed trailer with power running from a nearby house. As the full moon rose over the valley, it made for an awesome setting.


About the time the second band finished, and Madison's popular Handphibians were about to play, the bonfire was lit. I have been at a lot of bonfires, and I am quite certain that this was the largest I have ever witnessed. Amazing.


Note the person in the foreground. That is a BIG fire!

We camped next to friend, and had numerous other friends and acquaintances around, so the evening was quite enjoyable. We spent the night in the tent, and this morning had some coffee, a couple of hard-boiled eggs (prepared ahead) and headed for home. Another great night thoroughly seized!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

A Little Bug on Bug Action (2)

Quite literally, the very first thing I did upon getting out of bed this morning, was grab my camera and go shoot a bug. On a bug. Or more to the point, on a Bug. Reena noticed this guy on the roof of our VW Beetle and pointed him out.


It is a katydid, a species more closely related to crickets than grasshoppers.


They are a familiar sound around here in the late summer, along with the cicadas. They are part of the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.


The second thing I did this morning was make and drink a cup of coffee!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lake Superior Overnight

After a fun-filled holiday weekend party with a bunch of friends in da north woods, Reena and I opted to take an extra day and head over to Lake Superior on the Minnesota North Shore. We were already camping, so setting up another night was a snap. We stayed at Split Rock Lighthouse campground. The temperature was pretty chilly, only fifty-six degrees (F) when we arrived late in the afternoon. After rapidly setting camp, we hiked down to the water to catch the evening sun on the small island (accessible on foot at low tide) and the lighthouse.


Since Lake Superior is one of our favorite spots, we had Mr. Camera take our photo with the assistance of Mr. Tripod. As we explored the small island and shore line, the light faded into that glorious 'Golden Hour' and I got shots of the lighthouse that made me smile.


The following morning I got up just a bit after sunrise (bad photographer! No pink sunrise photos for you!) and dashed off to the water once again. This time the light position made the shot I wanted a bit harder. My final result is a composite image of three different exposures layered together in Photoshop. By the time I was done with those early shots and got back to camp, Reena was up and had some of the re-packing done. Sweet! I made coffee and we dined on a gourmet breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and pretzels (sort of like toast, right..?). Piling into the car, we visited the lighthouse (too early to be open, so we only looked around outside) then headed south to Gooseberry Falls. Apparently we were still ahead of the other tourists because we had the place to ourselves long enough for me to get every photo I wanted. The water level was quite low so the often raging falls were a comparative trickle. Pretty enough though.


By the time we were done at the falls it was time to make the long slog south back to home. It is just about 6.5 hours from where we were, and we both had evening rehearsals to get to.

Here is a link to a SLIDE SHOW of more pics from our Lake Superior overnight in more-or-less chronological order. Enjoy!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Thoughts

I do not shoot food very often. However, this still life Reena arranged with some simple produce from our back yard was too pretty to resist.

Still Life From Garden (DS3_2916)

As we shift into Labor Day holiday weekend, pause for a moment and think about where your food comes from. Is it produced locally? Are the farmer and his laborers justly compensated? Are the animals treated well? Is the bulk of the profit from your consumption going to a corporate executive who maximizes his own profit at the expense of food safety, animal husbandry, and fair labor practices?

You cannot fix it all, nor can you do it alone. But every little bit helps. "Business as usual" is not helping We The People any more. It is time to reflect and choose differently.

My friend Laurie leads by example: She and her family hunt, raise rabbits and chickens, keeps bees and make their own mead and beer, and have an eye-popping yield of vegetables from a tiny yard. While not self-sustaining, they have certainly found ways to foster sustainability.

Huh. All that babble inspired by a simple photo of a handful of vegetables.

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