Blog posts


hands-free, camera-free photography

Things are ending everywhere I turn. Today will be my last day at UW. Monday was my last meeting of the Madison Plan Commission. I shot this self-portrait without a camera, near the end of that meeting. Here's how: while sitting in the meeting, I streamed the city channel broadcast on my laptop, and then while speaking, took a screen capture of the video feed. Kind of fun, actually, since I could control the timing but not the framing. There was a 3-second delay, which is how I managed to catch both my hands in the air.

We leave the US on January 10. Once we get settled I will start posting regularly from Ukraine, assuming I can get a good connection. Have yourself some lovely holidays all!


House for rent

Have you ever tried to take architectural photos of your own house? For me, it made me look at our rooms in a new way, thinking how to compose interesting pictures that also show the layout. Amy rejected the above photo as too artsy.

Often when I photograph a familiar subject, it makes me examine it more closely. Today I again appreciated the gorgeous soft light that fills the house in the afternoons.

We're renting our house in preparation for going abroad, and our departure is coming up awfully quickly. So if you know anyone...

The last photo is from our first summer in the house, back when we still had time to garden.


seasons change

Four seasons on Library Mall

We recently published this photo essay I've been working on, about historic trees on campus. You can see the whole essay here:
Campus Trees

Larger versions of the photos are in our UW photo library.

and other changes

My wife Amy has received a grant to do research in the former Soviet Union.

We will be leaving in January to spend eight months in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Amy will be studying international environmental treaties and what impact they actually have. I will be working on a documentary project, photographing people affected by nuclear radiation (around Chernobyl and Polygon, the nuclear weapons testing area on the Kazakh steppe). It will be a great adventure for all of us.

Unfortunately, this means that after 6 years I will be leaving my photographer position at UW-Madison. We have just posted the position. Please pass the information below on to anyone you think may be interested.

Photographer/Imaging Specialist
University Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison seeks a photographer and electronic imaging specialist to visually communicate the university’s mission. A bachelor’s degree and two years of professional experience in digital photography and electronic imaging are required. Candidates must be skilled in news and editorial photography, proficient in using Photoshop and digital asset-management software in a Macintosh environment, and possess strong interpersonal and organizational skills. The individual works closely with the senior photographer and other staff. Annual minimum salary: $32,908. For application details, visit or contact Renee Celley at (608) 262-3571 or Deadline to apply: Nov. 15.


Arts Night Out

I made this photo during Arts Night Out, when I had just come from the PhotoMidwest show (at the UW Memorial Union). I have to admit I was underwhelmed by most of the photos in the show, which had a definite theme of still lifes and quiet landscape scenes; I wondered if that was due to the curator or if that was just what got submitted. I definitely have a personal preference for photos with people in them.

I hadn't planned to make any photos, but on the way back to my car I stumbled upon this scene at the Humanities building and went running back to my office for the camera.

Note to custodial staff: someone wash those windows!


Welcome Center posers

I rarely shoot posed photos, unless it is explicitly a portrait. But Friday I found myself shooting the new Wisconsin Welcome Center at Park & Regent. They don't have much traffic yet, so I mostly asked the employees to just hang out and talk to each other. Maybe I'm too much of a documentarian but I prefer to go somewhere and photograph what I see rather than setting it up.

I was shooting for the banner for their web page, hence the extreme horizontal crops.

By the way, stop by and check out the very cool touchscreen campus map -- touch any building and get info about everything that goes on inside it. (See it online here ).



T is for Three Mile Pond

Three Mile Pond at dawn and dusk, Vassalboro, Maine.

This was our agreement: we photographers on the
Mad Shooters blog all shot photos related to the letter T and posted them today. Check out that blog for others' efforts.


Brought to you by the letter B

For the past 2 weeks I've been at my inlaws and I've rarely been more than 100 yards from their house. It's been a good challenge to find new things I want to photograph in this limited area. I started playing with my new macro lens in my mother-in-law's garden.

Here is the B at work:

Black eyed susans:

And (beautiful) purple coneflowers:


Mt. Washington

Yesterday I took a break from spending time with my dying father-in-law John Forster to climb Mount Washington with my brother Davy. We climbed via the Tuckerman's Ravine and Lion's Head trails.

A row of rock cairns marked the trail in the alpine zone. It felt good to use my body instead of my heart, as we climbed out of a hot summer day into the chilly weather on top.

After our climb I went to the Roost, a rocky outcropping above the Wild River in the White Mountains National Forest near Gilead, Maine, to watch the sunset and storm clouds hovering over Mt. Washington and Mt. Clay.



This is a photo from the annual Friends of Starkweather Creek summer solstice celebration last month in Olbrich Park. The community gathers to listen to live music, admire giant puppets and dance around a towering bonfire. It's always great fun.

Starkweather Creek flows across the east side of Madison. It was once a neglected drainage ditch but we've been working hard to transform it into a community asset. Read more here, or join the discussion here.


Q&A with the NYT

This past week, New York Times photo editor Michele McNally has had an interesting Q&A online, discussing photojournalism and editing. (The above images are from her answer on unusual framing). Have a look at it here.



starry starry night

Hello all,

So I've just started this blog. To begin with, here is a shot I took last night after Rhythm and Booms, Madison's fireworks. My intention was to photograph the fireworks over the state capitol, but I discovered that from my hilltop vantage point (at Dane Co Human Services), the city fireworks were too low and too far left for the 300mm shot I wanted. So I waited, and waited, while the crowds drove home and the neighborhood kids launched their own fireworks, until finally I got the shot I wanted.

Below is the closest I came to the 300mm shot I had envisioned. I've been working on a series of photos of the state capitol building.



why blog?

I am starting this photoblog without a defined plan for it. My goal is to experiment -- I want a place to share photos and ideas that wouldn't otherwise make it to my main MFRphoto website. It's my public doodle pad. Except that, so far, no one is reading it, not even my wife, which gives me great license to post whatever I damn well please.

For 2006, I will post only sporadically. Starting in 2007, I plan to post once per week.


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