Monday, January 30, 2012


You know, I am so shy and reserved, I just do not know how I will ever adapt to a new workplace. Meeting people is so difficult. *grin* My new work cubicle is right next to the main door into our area, and I was feeling a little bit abandoned on my first day at the new job, so I took matters into my own hands.


Not surprisingly, it worked. At lunch people asked me about the very things I had on this whiteboard as an ice-breaker. Sometimes an extrovert has to do what an extrovert has to do.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Inside, At Night gala opening

Last night was the hugely successful opening of the exhibit, "Inside, At Night: Origins of a Revolution", the photojournalistic coverage of last year's (Feb-Mar) protests in Madison, WI. More narrow in focus than 'crowds with signs' this show tells the story of those who - for lack of a better term - occupied the state capitol for 18 days and nights in an effort to slow the newly elected governor and his policy-friendly Senate and Assembly from ramming through significant changes to the Wisconsin political landscape.


The opening kicks of a three-month exhibit of the works of nine area photographers (including me) who were on hand, inside, during those tumultuous days. The show is at Tamarack Gallery, 849 E. Washington Ave, in Madison, WI. Hundreds came through the doors last night to see the photos and listen to speakers offer views of the way forward.


The speakers ranged from local political voices like John Nichols of the Nation magazine, and Matt Rothschild of the Progressive magazine, to a very young girl who stole the show when she opined that Governor Walker did not have enough love in his life and she hoped he found more love. Since it was videotaped, I expect it to charm tens of thousands, and perhaps even Walker's heart will grow three sizes as a result. [Turn up your volume to adequate listening level when you click that link!]


The show is up for three months. Prints of all the images are for sale, as is a book that contains all the images. All are available on a tiered pricing scheme to allow those who are underemployed to support this effort. Those who find themselves flush with capital can take the high road and pay the full price. At least 40% of the proceeds from the sale of books and prints will go to fund additional efforts to recall Governor Walker.

The conversation in the room last night was "What's next?" Assuming we successfully recall Walker (or do not), how do We The People keep this grass roots activism alive and in force? How do we keep our elected officials in line with the progressive Wisconsin so many of us want? There were no pat answers, but the dialog engaged many and keeps the effort alive.

This is an important story being told in this exhibit, one that was not covered by news or other media outlets. I urge you to go and see what happened, Inside, At Night.

There are more photos from the opening in a SLIDE SHOW.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Boudoir Portfolio Video

I have been pondering changes to my eyeDance business page, and because I am an Apple iPad user I did not want to add any Flash-based presentation. I have experimented before with embedding slide shows from Flickr, both on the business page and this blog, and frankly Google makes it pretty ugly. The video is currently hosted on YouTube, though I am sure I could locate it elsewhere (like on my own site) and have the same effect. Here is the new video (there is no sound). It is perhaps Not Safe For Work.

The video was created using Apple's iMovie, iPhoto, and Photoshop Elements 10. Total time invested was probably two hours, though some of that was spent going in the wrong direction and having to simply start over. I have many images to draw upon, but I chose these because I thought they represented not only my style, but also emphasize that I work with men and couples as well as women. You will not find that with every photographer.

Feedback is appreciated, whether praise or constructive criticism. Thanks!

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Sunday, January 22, 2012


I love that some of my "work" involves playing dress up in fancy costumes and dancing or cavorting to entertain an audience. And did I mention glitter? Lots and lots of glitter! I knew from the first that being a member of Cycropia Aerial Dance would be fun and feed some part of my soul, but I surely did not realize what a banquet of desserts it would be.

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Last night was one of those corporate gigs that we are choosing to do more frequently. In many cases our job is to simply "perform", being eye candy to the audience which consists of business people who are at a work function of some sort. If, like me, you have been at such events, you know that they can be pretty dull affairs. Sometimes, depending on the venue, we get to rig and do some aerial work. Last night was all ground work. The theme was Mardi Gras, so we paraded in while the dixieland band played "When the Saints Go Marching In". Then half of us served dessert while the others provided entertaining distraction. For a bit over half an hour we danced, cavorted, and generally tried to engage the audience and spark a little fun. I assured them that we had "silly" covered, so whatever they did on the dance floor could not possibly look as silly as we did.

What a fun way to earn a bit of money.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Dilemma

This morning I had a delightful dilemma. It is quite cold here today, and the outside temperature was -8 degrees (F) when I got up. Inside we set the temp to 57 (F) at night, but our down comforter is so warm that we are frequently too warm at that temperature. So the first of us to arise generally does not turn the heat up a lot so as to not cook the still-sleeping partner awake. I was awake first so I bumped the heat up a few degrees, made a cup of coffee, and sat under a blanket on the couch while I read the news. Regular readers may recall that I have a cat - Nala - who has been a long, slow project to get her socialized. We do not know what made her into such a 'fraidy cat (she came from a shelter) but over the past year we have made great improvement. Lately our morning habit has been that she joins me on the couch; she sits on top of the blanket at my feet, and she stays as long as I do not mess with her too much.

Today she sat on my lap!


I cannot begin to describe what a delightful milestone that is. Even better, I had the camera within arm's reach. I popped off a couple of pics and reveled in the moment. Then the dilemma. I finished my coffee and wanted more. What to do, what to do?! I let it ride, opting to let her be in my lap for as long as she wanted to be there.


After about fifteen minutes she returned to her usual spot by my feet, meaning I could detangle myself from under the blanket and make a second cup of coffee. She even stayed through the whole process: Me getting up, the noise/activity of making espresso, and returning to the couch, rejoining her. Truly, it was almost like having a normal cat. A nibble of chocolate made everything perfect.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The US government is considering legislation that would censor the internet in the name of preventing piracy. Not only would this legislation allow them to block or disable a website *suspected* of piracy - not proven - but also any site that links to that site. So if this blog, or yours, linked to a site that someone, somewhere in our government suspected was engaging in piracy, it could be shut down despite having done nothing wrong.

It is tyranny.

There are more sophisticated and targeted ways to combat piracy. This legislation only benefits large media corporations by allowing them to raise a protest of a site, perhaps a small competitor, and have that site shut down with no proof whatsoever. The burden of proof rests solely on the defendant site to demonstrate its innocence. Such proof could take years and millions of dollars of legal fees. No small business could survive.

Contact your legislators today and voice your concern over SOPA.

Do not go quietly into the night. Thank you.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012


You might RECALL that we are trying to oust our Governor here in Wisconsin. If you RECALL, there have been massive, and steady protests which began just a month after he took office last year. I RECALL spending a lot of time documenting those protests and rallies. Today, the 60-day drive to collect 540,000 or so signatures ended with the delivery of ONE MILLION signatures. Game on!

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The crowd starts filling in the room at the Monona Terrace Convention Center Expo hall

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This is Wisconsin, so we have (free) beer while we collect more window signs and add our names to another banner.

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The eviction notice is signed by the usual "union thugs", "parasites", "greedy public workers", you know, our neighbors.

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I notice that THIS TIME the media paid attention. They could not be bothered last winter/spring.

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In the crowd it was pretty thick; filled to the brim with happy protesters.

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Viewed from above you get a sense of the crowd. It was shaping up to be a fine party!

Sayonara, Walker. Did you hear us all the way out in New York at your fund raiser?

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Revisiting the Sparkly Dance World

Just a few pics of dancing fun. Local belly dance instructor Arielle hosted a 'hafla' at her studio on Saturday night. A hafla is best described as a party, though this event had more of the feel of a recital and performance. Students of Arielle performed for their first time, and the guest instructor of the afternoon workshop also performed, as did Arielle and another local instructor, Mona N'wal, and a visiting instructor, Lacey Hale.


Both my wife and I studied belly dance (or more appropriately, Middle Eastern dance), she for a decade, and me for a bit more than a year. We are pretty well connected with the local dance community still and so it was a fun opportunity to see and visit with pals from back in the day. The light was atrocious for photography, so I did not get a lot of good shots with the equipment I had. The few I liked are HERE.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012


What happens when you mix fresh snow, reasonable temperatures, and a partly-sunny Saturday? If there are kids involved, you get sledding! One of Madison's nice sledding hills is only a few blocks from my house. I had to run to the ReStore to get a new light fixture for our entryway (the 70-year old one was failing) and my route goes right past the hill. I was not dressed for an extended time on the hill, but for fifteen to twenty minutes I would be fine.


There were 40-50 people there, representing a pretty wide range of ages. Some of the kids were really little, and some of the parents seemed more likely to be grandparents. But everyone was having fun!


With sledding comes crashes, in large part because it never occurs to kids to walk up the side of the area where they are sledding. Nope. The trudge right up the middle of the hill in everyone else's way. And, because kids simply cannot foresee consequences, the kids at the top launch down the hill. Frankly it is amazing that more kids do not get clobbered. Of course, it is also my observation that the parent-aged kids are most likely to get hurt as they rag-doll down the hill.


Today was uneventful in that I did not even hear anyone cry after a collision. Smiles were abundant and When I was done shooting I had a nice chat with a couple of dads. Then it was off to pick up that $4.00 recycled light fixture and get it installed while I had daylight to work with.

There are a big bunch of sledding pics from the day in a SLIDE SHOW. Enjoy!

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Take Your Sunshine With You

I raced through a proof-of-concept shot last night. I was meeting friends and had only about fifteen minutes to mess around in the studio. The idea was to suss out how to do something I wanted to use for a later project. It turned out to be both easier and harder than I thought. The idea was to have a subject under an umbrella, but with the light source (at least the primary source) inside the umbrella. There is a single speed light taped into the top of the umbrella firing via an IR sensor. I ended up taking only five shots, and chose this one to mess with.

Lighted Umbrella in the Rain

Obviously I have manipulated the photo significantly. I had a white backdrop up in the studio, and no time to fuss with changing it. To reduce the whit impact I used an aperture of f/16. I added a tiny amount of key light bounced off the white wall camera left to bring out the top part of the umbrella and add some detail on my jacket. A "hair light" on the umbrella might have worked better, though it might have made it too obvious that it was in the studio. If this were for real work, I would probably mount two speed lights inside the umbrella, aimed in opposite directions and firing at half power.

Bringing the image into Photoshop, I first created a background of midnight blue. On top of that I layered a woods-with-path shot and reduced the brightness and made it 75% transparent. The next layer was me with the umbrella, and I erased around me to let the background show. I also took the transparency to 78% to let me 'ghost out' just a touch. The final layer added a filter to add the rain effect. Transparency on that layer was down around 30%.

As a proof-of-concept I am quite happy with the results. It was a slap-dash effort, with a total time investiture of about an hour. Fun!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tonight I fly and then I dream

The fun never ceases. Yesterday, dancer Tara Brandel of the Croi Glan Integrated Dance Company of Cork, Ireland, taught a beginners workshop for wall running to members of Madison's own Cycropia Aerial Dance troupe.


The workshop covered an introduction to wall running, a form of aerial dance most notably performed by Bandaloop Project (sample video). A few of the dancers had tried it at least once or twice, but there was no real familiarity with the form. Everything was hard.


Posture is the first thing to master, and it is not simple. The dancers are wearing a rock-climbing harness and clipped in to a rig that includes a grigri climbing device which allows them to control their height on the wall. The rope is attached to the gym ceiling 22' up and about a foot from the wall. So "standing", sideways, requires the dancer to hold herself straight which requires a lot of core muscle. The body wants to fold forward at the waist/harness, so to compensate for this the dancer continuously pushes forward with the pelvis, arches a bit back with the chest, and pulls the thighs together. That is what it takes to stand still. Those of us who have some experience assisted with these basics as we had four dancers on the wall at a time.


Eventually everyone got a turn at standing, then running. The rope acts as a pendulum so the dancer defines an arc on the wall. Once the basics of running are established, turns are introduced along with other (eventually) elegant dance moves. By the end of the workshop pretty much everyone was able to do a back flip, though we had spotters to help each dancer to prevent rude crashes into the concrete wall.


Everyone had fun, and Cycropia benefits by having another dozen people exposed to this new-to-us form. Tonight is the advanced techniques workshop, also by Tara, and I get my turn to play and learn some new moves. I cannot wait! I probably will have some photos, but the camera is secondary tonight. Tonight I fly, and then I dream.

There are more photos here in a SLIDE SHOW.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Altered View of January

We are having a strange winter here in Wisconsin. Chalk it up to a fluke, or global climate change, but we have had almost no snow this season. The lakes are still open water and none of the skating rinks are open. I imagine the ski hills are having a rough year.

I wanted to try something a bit different to capture the feel of what I see around me. The colors are not a completely uniform gray-brown, yet a normal photo just looks like November. Rather than a straightforward shot, I thought I'd dial the aperture down to its smallest setting (f/22-29 depending on focal length) and the ISO to s-l-o-w (100). This forced the shutter down to 1/5th of a second or even a bit longer.


I like the results. It captures the mood and the bright gray of the sky, dark gray of the lakes, and the bare trees. I looked primarily along Lake Monona for the images I wanted to capture, and as there are many parks and walking areas, there is also some playground equipment to add some color. Again, I hoped for the suggestion of what was there more than the thing itself.


I took about twenty images and got five that I liked. Not bad. I think I might try the same technique at Olbrich, perhaps with the Thai Pavilion as the subject, on another day. These were all 'targets of opportunity' along my drive home from an errand. [If you do not have your camera with you, you cannot take pictures!] I like this last one because an obliging walker was coming down the path as I was taking the shots.


I hope you enjoyed my altered vision as much as I enjoyed altering my mind-space to go for the effect. There was no Photoshop used, merely a bit of adjustment to brightness, levels, and saturation. Oh, and this is an excellent way to discover if you have dirt on your sensor! It really stands out. *grin*

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