Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tail fin as time machine: The embodiment of the American Dream circa 1960

The American Dream Circa 1960
Came across this 1960 Cadillac at Hilldale this afternoon. It was like opening a time capsule and finding the American Dream of fifty years ago. Sure, the car was vulgar, ostentatious, a big, heavyweight highway cruiser built like a tank, with enough chrome to sink a battleship. But it spoke of speed and freedom and the open road and had the lines of a jet. It expressed the forward-looking optimism of the age perfectly. Times were good, and things were getting better and better. Success could be yours if you worked hard enough, and your kids lives would be even better. With luck, someday you might be able to get your own Caddy.

And then the future happened, today's dark and troubled present.

Magic beneath the Orton Park oak

Another video clip of Cycropia Aerial Dance performance Thursday night, "Volando." This shows more of the magnificent oak and the Orton Park setting than the clip I posted on YouTube and my blog the other day because it was too long for Flickr. (Trimmed this one down under the 90-sec. limit.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Aerial dance under the spreading branches of a moonlit oak tree in Orton Park

You could not ask for better weather for this year's Cycropia Aerial Dance program at the Orton Park Festival, which added a Thursday night pre-festival performance to showcase the magical aerialists. Mild temperatures, no humidity and an almost full Moon overhead.

CSC_0069-WatchingCycropia-smThe spreading oak tree whose limbs provide a platform for the flight paraphernalia added it's own leafy magic. It was like being in some enchanted Elizabethan forest in the time of Shakespeare. It's totally magical -- and hard to capture with a camera. Last year I tried shadows, motion blur and crowd shots in this Flickr set. Last night I tried capturing the dreamlike motion more directly by shooting some video clips with my D90. This is the one that seemed to turn out the best. Hope you like it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chasing abstraction

Green Variations
Photography excels at capturing the details and fleeting instants of the changing world -- decisive moments and indecisive moments alike, but for just that reason it sometimes seems too literal.

That's when I get the urge to start chasing abstraction -- impressions of texture, color, form, texture, or just the play of light for its own sake. The way the light falls on a winter snow drift, fading paint and rust patterns on an old piece of metal, the curving surfaces of canoe hulls stacked together, strays textures on a crumbling bit of pavement -- they all satisfy these abstract urges. I've posted some of what caught my eye in this Flickr set.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Plastic camera look without a plastic camera, or fun things to do with sunglasses

Plastic Camera Look Without a Plastic Camera
Madison skyline on a sunny day -- an off-kilter view from Olin Park through my bifocal plastic Polaroid sunglasses. Just messing around.

Remember being a kid at the beach when the sun went down and you never wanted to leave?

In the Afterglow
I was reminded of the feeling when I rode my bike through Vilas Park as the light was fading. A perfect night in late summer -- kids' voices drifting across the water still as a mirror, the heat of day ebbing away, the sky aglow in the west and a full Moon rising in the east. In the cool air of twilight, the water becomes a warm cocoon and you never want to leave.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Psychedelic fun with the garden kaleidoscope at Olbrich Botanical Gardens

The crystalline shards whirl and spin in intricate hallucinogenic patterns before your eyes, merge and reassemble, then gradually slow and come to a halt. You reach out and give the miniature garden on a platter a spin, put your eye back to the eyepiece, and the trip goes on. That's the garden kaleidoscope at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

"Make picture of kaleidoscope," William H. Fox Talbot wrote to himself in 1839. But he was thinking of a still photograph, not moving pictures. Although I've blogged about it in the past here and here and posted a set of still photographs on Flickr, no still photo can quite communicate what the garden kaleidoscope is like in motion, so I thought I'd post this short video to give a better idea.

The garden kaleidoscope is just outside the entrance to the gardens from the main building. Next time you're at Olbrich Gardens, check it out.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reading in Wingra Park in the dappled light of a summer morning

While Reading in the Dappled Light of a Summer Morning
Went down to Wingra Park this morning and sat under the trees on a bench by the lake reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a gift from T -- one of those great reads, when you can't stop and yet never want the book to end. Every once in a while my eyes would slip from the page and and wander across the brilliant green of the grass (amazing in August, but we've had a lot of rain) and the rich, deep shadows of a summer morning.