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kyle cassidy

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Help a librarian make children happy [Feb. 10th, 2015|06:25 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Can you spare $10 so a child can take a doll home for a week?

This is Briony Zlomke Beckstrom, a youth services librarian from Wisconsin. She was one of the most inspirational people I met her at the American Library Association meeting in Chicago last week where I was working on the Alexandria is Still Burning documentary.

Briony started a program in her library to loan American Girl dolls to children who can't afford them, it's now one of the most popular programs they have. They have seven dolls and they're never back for more than an hour at a time before another child checks her out -- parents stake out the library waiting for them to be returned, people race across parking lots when they see someone carrying a package big enough to be one of the dolls coming back. Along with each doll comes a journal so that kids can write down the sorts of adventures that they had, sometimes they come back with new and different hairstyles, other libraries that have loaned out dolls have seen them come back with new, handmade clothes. Briony would like to add more dolls to the program, currently due to the heavy demand there aren't enough to justify letting them go out for inter-library loan (because, as Briony points out, every day they're in transit is a day that they're not with a child) -- and this is where you can help. Each doll costs $115 which is a lot for one person, but many hands make light the work.

Can you help out?

THIS is What a Librarian Looks Like

Briony and the dolls. Clickenzee to Donate!
Be sure to put "American Girl Project" in the message section.

As libraries are trying to find their place and people are wondering what libraries are doing, there are people like Briony who see things that need fixing and convince library directors and board members to go out on a limb to fix them. It's one of the things that makes me love, respect, and appreciate everything that librarians are doing. It's not just books, they're fighting for civilization.

You can Click here to donate. Be sure to put "American Girl Project" in the message section.

Can't contribute? Sharing is loving.

Listen to Briony explain the doll program:

(EDIT: I got an email from Briony late last night with a few corrections, while she started a doll program in Illinois, she was unable to get it to the point where they could loan out dolls, her current library, Franklin, is in Milwaukee and part of the Milwaukee County Consortium, the text now reflects these.)

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Othello [Jan. 29th, 2015|06:13 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So ... how do you do a poster for Othello? There have been posters for Othello for four hundred years. After Curio Theatre asked me to work on this I looked at a lot of them. Most of the contemporary posters for the play feature some aspect of Othello strangling Desdemona (spoilers, it happens) -- lots of hands on throats. And the way I look at it, Othello can either be a play about Othello, or it can be a play about Iago, but it's never a play about Desdemona -- though she always gets a lot of face time on the posters. It worried me going in that I might fall into a visual rut, so I was actually a bit relieved when the scheduling wouldn't allow Desdemona to be there for the shoot (I had to do it late at night).

I wanted to focus on, two things, one the military aspect and two the part of the play that exists before everything blows up, the very beginning when two warriors return from battle and I imagined going in "what if I was some photographer sent out to do a hero magazine cover for two dudes who just beat the Turkish navy? I wouldn't know the backstory, I wouldn't know that Iago's got all this plotting going on that he's just been passed over for promotion, I'd just be like "stand here and look heroic" and then it's up to the actor (in this case the very capable Brian McCaann, to tell the subtitles of his character through his body language -- so you learn who Iago is through Brian's complex subtitles, and you learn who Othello is by Steve Wright's body language and how he decides what Othello would do and not through me going "alright, let's strangle someone".

Ships sinking, wind howling, plots thickening. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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My Photo in Interview Magazine [Jan. 27th, 2015|04:23 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So ... it looks like I have a photo in Interview Magazine this month. One of my portraits of director John Carpenter.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Kickstarter that let me get out there and take this photo. & Thanks to Sandy & John & Sean and Boogie for making it possible.

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Librarians! Tell me if I'm wrong! [Jan. 26th, 2015|08:06 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So ... I'll be around for the Newbery Awards at ALA Midwinter in Chicago this weekend. I wanted to read at least one of the books that might win, hopefully two. Here's my shortlist. Any advice to help me narrow it down?

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson
Curiosity by Gary L. Blackwood
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest 13 miles. [Jan. 26th, 2015|06:20 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

In which I knock TWENTY MINUTES off of last years race time, PR, and realized I could probably have done better.

So ... two years ago I was just starting out running. I'd made this deal with Peter Sagal that if I could run 3 miles by January of 2013, he'd run 3 miles with me when I came out to do his book jacket photo. So I worked out like crazy and got to the point where I could run three miles and Peter and I ran and then the next day I watched him run a 13 mile race along the lakefront in Chicago and it was nuts -- it was so cold sweat coming from people's necks froze onto their hair. That's how cold it was. I was like Sweet Barking Cheese! I WANT TO DO THIS NEXT YEAR.

Your sweat, it freezes on your hair. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

So I ran my posterior off the next year to get in half marathon shape and I went back to Chicago in the freezing cold ran the half marathon in two hours and nine minutes. (Peter ran it in an hour and thirty-two minutes). This year I went back to run it faster. In the intervening year I'd cut my half marathon time down first to 1:57, then to 1:55, and then most recently at the Philly half, to 1:52. My goal this time was to break 1:50 which I suspected I could do because I wasn't killing myself in the Philly half. The fastest I'd run any sustained distance was ten consecutive eight minute and twenty second miles (8:20) for the 2014 Broad Street run which was enough to get me in the top 20% of finishers times, but it's still not fast. My Philly half marathon pace was about 8:40 per mile. And when you're talking about more than ten miles, eeking out a couple of more seconds a mile is really hard. I trained on my own, and with the West Philly Runners, I did speed workouts but still went to Chicago feeling lost and unsure. Unless I'm 10 miles into a long run I'm positive that I can never run that far. I'm filled with self doubt at the beginning of every run, sure that I'll have to stop and take a taxi home. This is mostly always true, despite having run something like 40 half marathons.

When I got to Chicago it was freezing, really freezing, there was 300 feet of ice out along the lake and my fingers got so numb riding a rental-bike to pick up my race number that I couldn't squeeze the brakes, despite my gloves.

The lake, it is frozen. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

There are things you know to be true that can be hard to convince yourself of -- like that if you jump out of the airplane the parachute will stop you from dying. One of the hardest things for me at the beginning of a run on a cold day is believing how warm I'm going to be after the first mile. And it required great effort to toss my jacket at the start and run in just a long sleeve shirt with a West Philly Runners shirt over top of it, but sure enough, I was fine after the first mile and positively hot by mile five.

I started out in the 8-9 minute pace corral about three people behind a woman dressed as a giant strawberry and my first goal in any race is not to get beaten by someone dressed as fruit. We started off and I decided to try and keep up with three women who were running together who had obviously been practicing and were keeping a pace like a metronome and we fell into place about 20 feet behind the strawberry. I didn't check my watch until mile six and only then discovered that I was going way too fast (I broke my 10k personal record by two minutes and still wasn't at the half way point) -- they were running sub-8 minute miles, which I'd previously thought was my 5k pace. I let them go and decided to pick a new adversary lest I completely burn out and have to walk back, but I'd done the damage and a series of competitors I picked to keep up with slowly pulled away from me. By mile seven I was running pretty much alone between packs (and then got passed by a guy dressed as a duck).

I run. You may embiggen.

The only pacing calculation I'd made before the race was that if I was at 1:24 by mile 10 I could break 1:50 in the race and not have to die doing it. At mile 10 my watch said 1:22. At this point I was beat from having run so fast in the beginning and every step was a voice saying "you're not going to PR, you might as well walk a bit" and another one saying "if you push harder you can break 1:50". I was talking to Lindsay after about "what actually hurts when you say it hurts?" and really, while you're running like that nothing hurts it's just uncomfortable. Like you're sitting in an uncomfortable position and you want to do something else -- and running, and a lot of exercise, I think -- is just dealing with discomfort, saying "it's going to be over in 24 minutes, I can do this for 24 minutes" and actually believing it. So I pushed on. I'd have to do a 28 minute 5k, which is 4 minutes slower than the fastest one I've ever done and about two minutes faster than what's become a relatively easy one. So I ground it in, fairly convinced that I wasn't doing my best but also convinced I was exerting "minimum necessary effort".

I shot across the finish line at 1:49:46, making a new Personal Record but getting clobbered by the strawberry.

I ran, I died, I got a medal. I was revived. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

The strawberry and the duck. Both beat me.

The strawberry, it later turned out, was Joanne Singleton, who holds the Guinness Book of World Records' "Fastest Half Marathon Dressed as Fruit (female). You can see her accepting her world record here, so my humiliation was mitigated somewhat.

Joanne Singleton, the fastest fruit there is.

Ultimately though, unless you're one of about 40 people on earth, it's not about being the fastest -- it's sometimes about being faster than you were before, but truly, it's not about speed and it's not about beating anybody, it's about living longer and dying better. Funny that you have to cause yourself so much discomfort to avoid discomfort -- with "fitness" you're just concentrating your discomfort into two hour intervals instead of spreading it out over the last decades of your life. And hopefully, you pick something that's fun to do, or people who are fun to do it with, because that's what sticks with you, the people, the happiness, the being able to walk up stairs without getting winded -- not the last 26 minutes you'd rather be doing pretty much anything else.

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Sooooooooooooooooooo..... [Jan. 16th, 2015|07:17 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

It looks like the Roller Derby book is going to sell in the next couple days, just hammering out the details.

Which means "yaay," plus "I'll be traveling around in the next few months filling up the empty spaces. Rose City, Gotham, Detroit, Portland & Seattle -- I'm coming for you.

Cheer quietly & please wash everything in your gym bag.

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Leica Summilux vs Canon Serenar [Jan. 2nd, 2015|09:19 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

I've been using a 1950's era 50mm f1.8 Canon Serenar on my Leica since 1999 or so and lately I've been worried that I'm not getting as much out of my camera as I might be and was luckily able to test a mid 1990's pre-asph Leica Summilux side by side with the Serenar.

Side by side, clickenzee to Embiggen!

There's definitely a difference wide open in the bokeh -- the Summilux is a lot smoother. It's also half a stop brighter and the color is a bit different. And the Summilux focuses closer, which is a distinct advantage, though it's also significantly larger and heavier.

In the 100% crop it seems a bit sharper but at this aperture it could also be a focusing variation as well.

100% crop

My ultimate conclusion is that the Summilux, while nice, isn't $1,200 nicer than the Serenar.

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2 second exposure, starting in 2014, ending in 2015 [Jan. 1st, 2015|12:02 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

So ... every year since 1999 I've done a two second long self portrait starting in the last second of one year and ending in the first second of the next. Here's 2014 turning into 2015. Appropriately, like old folks, we'd fallen asleep around 9:00 and woke up about 10 minutes before midnight.

2014 Turns into 2015. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Missing all these things and all these people. Auld Lang Syne - Nicki Jaine [Dec. 31st, 2014|11:23 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |nostalgicnostalgic]

May your 2015 be filled with joy.

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Librarians! [Dec. 31st, 2014|09:29 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

The $35 Kickstarter backer reward for my Alexandria Still Burns Kickstarter was a set of "ten post cards of librarians". It was super hard picking ten out of nearly 350 images, but here are four of them. I'm thinking now that I may need to make more than for just the Kickstarter backers. If anybody has fulfillment ideas that don't involve me having a basement full of postcards that I need to constantly be sending out, I'm all ears.

Clickenzee to embiggen the awesome power of librarians.

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Celebrities with Leica's [Dec. 30th, 2014|01:24 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Thanks to John Lee for spotting this, there's a photo of me sandwitched in between David Bowie and Lindsay Lohan on La Vida Leica'a "Celebrities with Leica's" page. Dh00dz.

Clickenzee to see me embiggened with Ziggy Stardust

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I can make a dual range summicron out of anything! [Dec. 25th, 2014|09:49 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |andrea schrode: helgen]

TL;DR / not a photographer; don't care:

I've discovered that if you shove a penny in between a 50mm Leica Screw Mount lens and the adapter, you can focus to about .63 meters, instead of the 1.00 meters that it was designed for.

The elegant explanation
When I went to high school there was this guy who wanted to be an engineer who was fascinated with muscle cars and he bought ... an AMC Gremlin -- I don't know if you know what an AMC Gremlin was, but it was EXACTLY the polar opposite of a muscle car. And when one of our classmates chided him about his purchase of this really ugly, really low-power car, he said "I can make a GTO out of anything."

For those of you who weren't around in the 1980's, GTO stood for "Gran Turismo Omologato" which was a class of super-powered racing cars. And true to form, he was out in his driveway every day after high school boring out the engine and adding hood-scoops and superchargers and whatever else until he had the most powerful, fastest car of anybody in the entire high school and he'd tear around the parking lot laughing out the window at the kids with the primer grey Chevy Nova's challenging them to a drag race.

This has almost NOTHING to do with what I'm talking about.

You can actually close focus any Leica screw mount lens to about .65 meters
with no real hassle. Clickenzee to emiggen!

Eeking out that last bit is very expensive
When the first Leica cameras came out, their close focusing distance was one meter. Which isn't very close. And to me, that close focusing distance is one of the big, and very important, things that separates a Leica from an SLR -- SLR lenses focus a lot closer (usually about .45 meters)

Leica countered this with the Dual Range Summicron, which is (like many Leica things) a bafflingly complex lens system with lots of extra whatnots goggles. It allowed you to focus a 50mm lens to something like .45 meters.

This is important because depth of field is determined by not just aperture, but distance to the subject, so, if you're looking for a very shallow depth of field (something often prized in photography), you want a wide aperture, and you want to be close to your subject. (There's a whole discussion on this if you don't understand it. But the take-away is that lenses that can focus closer are more useful.)

Years ago I bought a really cheap 50mm lens in "Leica screw mount" -- it was made by Canon back in the 1950's and it focused to 1 meter and it was way less expensive than a modern Leica lens. Very recently I'd been thinking that I should upgrade that to a newer lens because the new ones focus to .65 meters. I kept looking at new lenses and found myself thinking that the only reason I wanted to change anything was because I wanted to focus closer to get tighter headshots and a shallower Depth of Field.

I knew the camera was capable of focusing closer, and when a screw fell out inside my lens earlier this year, I learned that lenses were prevented from actually focusing closer by a screw stopping them. If the lens was farther from the camera, I wondered, wouldn't it focus closer? -- this isn't new thinking, it's the rational behind closeup tubes. But, as far as I knew, nobody made closeup tubes for focusing a Leica Screw Mount lens just a little closer -- typically they're used in macro-photography.

What if I just separated the lens from the body a little bit? Within the tolerances of the screw-mount adapter and the lens itself? As long as the Focus Coupler could still touch the lens, with a 50mm, you should still be able to focus it to these closer distances.

I yearned to try it with something easily available. I started to unscrew the lens from the adapter to see how far I could get it out before the rangefinder coupler wouldn't touch the lens anymore, and then I started trying to jam common objects into the space created: paper clips, credit cards, etc. Imagine my surprise when an ordinary penny seemed to get pretty close to the closest possible distance that still coupled the rangefinder.

Unscrew the lens, shove a penny in the gap, screw it back.

From the side, it looks like this -- the tiniest extension tube you can carry in your pocket:

There you go.

It's not as close as a Dual Range Summicron, but it's not as expensive and it works with any 50mm Leica Screw Mount Lens -- so you can buy one of those Voigtlander Noctilux's and close focus it ... for a penny.

Think this is cool? Think it's blasphemy? Feel free to fight it out in the comments. Or share it, repost it, reference it, pass it along. This is free. Have a question? Ask it.

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This is not a fitness blog. [Dec. 24th, 2014|10:56 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |placebo covering david bowie]

What an awesome Christmas present! Our racing a SEPTA bus stunt was listed in Philadelphia Magazine's list of "14 Reasons It Was Awesome Being Healthy and Fit in Philly in 2014".

Thanks to my friends in the West Philly Runners who have made this journey for me fun through all the sweat, agony, and broken legs. (Well, only one broken leg.)

I totally beat a SEPTA bus all the way across town.

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BladeStars [Dec. 21st, 2014|05:21 pm]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Trillian singing the Wonder Woman song]

There has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not trillian_stars is a replicant. There are many clues though Ridley Scott remains mute on the subject.

What are your thoughts?

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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On the Verge [Dec. 19th, 2014|06:18 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the silence of a snowfall]

Shooting the poster for Hedgerow Theatre's upcoming production of On The Verge which, though I haven't seen the whole thing, seems prepared to be a wonderful production.

The play is written by Eric Overmyer, who may be most famous as a writer for HOMOCIDE: Life on the Street. It's about three 19th century women explorers, traveling through the mythical unexplored land of "Terra Incognita" who, during the course of their adventures realize that they are traveling through time as well as space. I've heard trillian_stars' practicing lines, so I know how about a third of the play goes down and it seems to be firing on all the cylinders that I love. There's a pre-steampunkish element to is and, THEY MEET BIGFOOT.

Let me say that again on it's own line:


trillian_stars would never decapitate the peaceful Yeti,
but if she found his head abandoned in the forest, she would totally bring
it back for scientific study.

Bigfoot in the person of Brock Vickers, who played Willoughby in Hedgerow's production of Sense and Sensibility which I photographed here and you can see the cool pix. Brock plays all the men and all the beasts. (Did you miss our Jane Austen Dressmaking and Dueling Party? which looked like this.)

The women try and have tea with bigfoot. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I WILL DO WHEN I MEET THE GREAT SKUNK APE.

Doing production photos before the show is always a bit difficult because the costumes are never complete and the set is never complete and I rarely want to do a photo that uses the play set and lights "as is" anyway because then it's just copy work, you're using someone else's set, and someone else's lights, and lighting for a play is different than lighting for a photograph because you don't have the same spacial restrictions that a theater does. So I always want to do something that captures the mood of the play rather than exactly what it's going to look like on stage -- it's a lot more challenging and rewarding for me and I'm lucky to have theaters who let me work this way.

Behind the Scenes (L-R: Brock Vickers, Penny Reed,
trillian_stars Mary Ruth Stine

I was lucky here also in that On the Verge takes place outdoors so we could go outside. I wanted someplace green and I wanted water and I think we found a pretty good location with giant bamboo. I shot with two lights, a key light behind a shoot-through umbrella providing the key and one bare flash head behind them for a little rim, fill added by the giant mass of burning hydrogen at the center of the solar system. Then we moved on to Bigfoot.

Behind the Scenes (L-R: Brock Vickers, Penny Reed,
trillian_stars Mary Ruth Stine

We didn't have the actual Bigfoot costume that will be used in the play, which they're custom making, but there was a borrowed one -- these are the deals you sometimes have to make with yourself in order to get things out in a timely manner.

The women's default response to trouble is often "let's have tea" (because they are civilized) -- they attempt to have tea with the Yeti but actually scare him off in the process (oops, spoiler).

The final result I wanted to have a sort of 1940's adventure-book look to it. A while ago we found this atrocious collection of books called The Rover Boys -- where a family of entitled brats have adventures and I wanted it to look something like the over-the-top illustrations in that.

Here's the final(ish) poster which is gigantic so you can click on it and enjoy it in all its splendor. Hope to see you in Rose Valley, just west of Philadelphia for this great production. Let us know when you're coming and maybe we can meet up.

On the Verge -- Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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Cooking with Roswell [Dec. 14th, 2014|03:11 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |rob halford: get into the spirit]

Sitting around the house today working on Librarian stuff and, out of ideas, I asked Twitter what they suggested we make for lunch. L.A. Smith-Buxton suggested "chickpea mock tuna salad" -- which seemed to be just the thing.

So Roswell & went off into uncharted territory & mashed up a couple of cans of chickpeas, added vegan "mayo", chopped onions, celery & sweet gherkin pickles along with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and nutritional yeast.

After eating it, I'd recommend throwing some shredded carrots or beets in there too.

Clickenzee to Embiggen the Roswell!

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This is not a fitness blog, but it's a Philadelphia Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap [Nov. 26th, 2014|05:46 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Black Sabbath: Country Girl]

I realize writing about races is self indulgent, but since this blog is my diary that other people sometimes read, I'm not too concerned. tl;dr: there's a photo of Roswell at the end.

I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon last year with a time of 1:57:48, finishing 3398th out of 12,478 finishers. It's remained my fastest Half Marathon (just a scant six or so months before, I'd finished my first half in 2:37:17 -- so there's a definite trend of improvement). I tried to beat it at Odyssey this year but came in at 1:58:10 after beating myself near to death on the final hill. I'd complained about this to Peter Sagal, whose become my running mentor who said something like "well, if you want to get faster, you need to do speed workout" -- previously I'd been improving by just running more, running longer, which builds up cardio and endurance, but the best way to get faster is to run faster. In speed workout you run shorter distances AS FAST AS YOU CAN.

So, I signed up for Monday Night Speed Workouts with the West Philly Runners and we met up every Monday and ran fast and it totally, absolutely sucks. While running is Not Generally Fun, speed workout is awful, but I saw some incredible improvements and the Monday Night Speed people would occasionally call me up and shout "METAL RAID!" into the phone, meaning that we were all signing up for some small 5k somewhere and trying to win by running our guts out (there is sometimes puking involved). And while I was never the fastest person overall, I was occasionally one of the fastest people in my age group and suddenly, I wasn't finishing I was ... winning. Small victories, but improvement nonetheless.

The first 5k I ran was two years ago this December. trillian_stars wanted to go Xmas caroling after and I was so wrecked by running that I couldn't walk with everybody, I was, seriously and truly literally, a block behind everybody, hobbling like an old man, squeaking in pain like an over-boiling tea kettle every time I bent a leg. My first 5k was finished in nearly 60 minutes -- which is now a bit baffling to me since it seems I could walk quicker, but the pain was real. I ran my fastest 5k this summer on a West Philly Runners Metal Raid in Delaware in 23:22. It was awful the entire time and I almost barfed at the end, but I'd cut my time by two thirds, plus I'd dropped like 40 pounds. Imagine running a race carrying four gallons of milk. So there's that.

In any event, I trained to try and beat my PR (Personal Record) but missed a bunch of runs in mid-summer because it was hot and awful and in the past few weeks I'd had some not-quite-injuries but things-that-could-become-injuries-if-not-taken-care-of -- an IT band that sometimes got irritated, and a knee that sometimes exhibited signs of Runners Knee -- all of which are problems caused by some muscles being bigger than other muscles, so I went on doing one legged squats and things like that and skipping some of my training schedule.

Then it turned out that the Philly Half fell right in the middle of an incredibly busy weekend that I'll write about at another time, so my plans were to feel it out and decide somewhere along the race if I was going to run hard or run fun.

On the one hand, I didn't want to have wasted all those times at speed workout, but more importantly, I didn't want to turn into one of those guys who goes into a roid-rage and has a miserable day if they miss their goal time by 30 seconds.

I optimistically signed up for the Black Corral, which is the second fastest group of ordinary people, and projected my time at one hour, fifty minutes.

It's ON Philadelphia! Clickenzee to Embiggen

I got up at 4:00 am for a 7:00 race start. Had breakfast, cleaned the house while watching Rocky, got dressed, made an inspirational playlist that would have the Rocky Theme start right as the finish line should be approaching and then, also optimistically, nothing after that song. If I didn't finish within 1:52 I'd be listening to shameful silence as I crossed the finish line. The race expo on Friday was unremarkable, in that it was pretty much exactly like every other race expo I'd ever been to -- all the same clothes being sold at the same fake discount ("Everything on this rack, 20% off marked prices! Always! Every expo you go to!") and also like every other expo, you had to run the vendor gauntlet to pick up your bib -- which of course makes sense -- race people need money from sponsors who will pay to have you walk past their stuff. The race t-shirt was nice, if a little wordy. But people seemed excited and happy and I was excited an happy to be at a point where I knew how all this worked now. I met Robert Barone, one of the official race photographers who chatted me up about my Leica and we exchanged photo-geek-talk and business cards.

Me and Rich Harrington in the Black Corral. Clickenzee to Embiggen

I rode my bike to the starting line and walked up to my optimistic corral and ran into Rich Harrington, president of the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Rich is one of those guy's who's been running since high school and who always says "ah, I'm getting so slow, you're going to beat me" and somehow I always see him blasting past halfway through as he puts the hammer down. He always waves and never seems like he's working hard. So, I was very excited to be in the same corral as him. "You'll probably beat me this time," he said, "I haven't been training" and he headed off to run with some people from the Moore College of Art and Design. (He ended up finishing 11 minutes faster than me.)

The race started, I saw Robert Barone crouched on the ground at the start, snapping photos, I shouted his name but it was a jumble of feet. I also saw Joe Kaczmarek, a Philadelphia news reporter on a riser right past the start. I waved and shouted, he snapped a photo. Eventually I'll know every photographer working the race and I'll have the best photos.

The most challenging bit was the Godzilla attack. Clickenzee to Embiggen

The race wound through the city and I found myself often trapped behind people running slower than I'd like -- I decided to use this as my pacing method. Everybody in the black corral was fast, I could keep myself from burning out by not racing around people and only waiting until an actual hole showed up to move ahead. I changed my watch from "pace" to "time elapsed" so I wouldn't worry about how fast (or slow) I was running. I figured that if I was around an hour and twenty minutes at mile ten I'd be ok for my goal time. One thing I did do was not brake on the downhills -- I figured why spend energy holding myself back? The sun was rising as we hit the river and Godzilla was splashing around the Delaware, seemingly uninterested in the bridge, but he'd eaten a couple small boats and was eyeing a barge full of shipping containers. A couple of tanks on the shore were firing artillery at him but he seemed not to notice or care. We turned right on, I think, Front street, and came to the first set of port-a-potties I remember seeing. As we passed, a woman in black tights running in front of me changed her mind quickly, abruptly turned up onto the sidewalk, eyed the line of people, and darted behind the row of toilets. This is why I got up three hours before the race.

Front street was lovely, the sunrise was lovely. At some point a guy in a hoodie was standing on a corner shouting "WELCOME TO SOUTH PHILLY!" -- I did feel welcome. The race looped around and ran up South Street. Last year I was struggling hard by this point and didn't remember South Street at all, in fact, I pretty much blacked out until we got back to 34th. But this time I enjoyed the run up South which was lined with people cheering and ringing cow-bells.

The rest of the race was uneventful -- I felt good (as opposed to feeling like I was going to die, which is the usual if I'm running hard) -- I knew I was running strong but not hard. As I passed mile ten, the West Philly Runners were all on the corner with a cheering squad -- they hi-fived me as I went past, re-energized by their support I checked my watch and saw that I could make it and put a little extra in, (mile 11 was my fastest at 8:11).

As the art museum appeared, the Rocky theme came on the headphones, I crossed the finish line just after it ended.

Finishing time: 1:52:14. Clickenzee to Embiggen

I knocked four minutes off of my PR, missed my goal time by 2:14 but I didn't go blind at the end like I did last year and while I felt I ran aggressively, I didn't run hard it was a relatively easy race this time around.

Me and Kiprono Kurgat who won the half. He'd been there for nearly an hour when I rolled in. Clickenzee to Embiggen

I spotted Kiprono Kurgat from Chapel Hill who'd finished in just over an hour. Which is freaking nuts. Someone wrapped a space blanket around me which was nice. Then someone else said "congratulations Kyle," and put a medal over my head. It was done. Around me were a sea of people in Black Corral bibs -- I'd kept up with the fast people, finishing just barely in the top 20% of people overall.

There's my medal!!! Clickenzee to Embiggen

At the end of the race you walk down a long chute where people give you all sorts of food, pretzels, bananas, oranges, water. You probably have to walk a third of a mile before you can get out of the fenced in area and back on the street. I ate half a pretzel, a banana, and an orange.

Race is over, now what? Clickenzee to Embiggen

Dressing had been a bit of a coin toss -- the temperatures were supposed to range between 28 and 50. I opted for a short sleeve over a long sleeve with a Nike Element jacket. The Element is relatively warm, has a hood, and a gaiter which you can put over your face if it gets bitterly cold. This turned out to be the right setup. I took the jacket off around mile 4 and tied it around my waist. After that point 'proper running attire' would have been shorts and a long sleeve shirt but when you stop running, it gets cold again, so I sucked it up with the extra layer. The space blanket helped, but eventually I put my jacket back on and felt properly warm. On the whole, I survived the temperature changes pretty well.

Watching from the bridge. Clickenzee to Embiggen

I felt pretty good. Walking back down to the skate park I picked up my bike and watched the race from the top of the overpass for a while, clapping and cheering and watching the stream of ants. Heading home I passed through a trickle of people still coming up on mile seven. One of the great things about this sport is that out of 30,000 people who sign up for it, only about ten have a snowballs chance in hell of actually winning the race. Everybody else is there to win their own race. No matter how good or how bad you are at this sport, there will always be someone who finishes before you, and someone who finishes after you. It's not something you win, and it's not something that you lose. Your race is with you and with whatever you bring with you. Like Luke in the tree on Degobah. I brought my 40 pounds, my sedentary lifestyle, my 1:57 from last year and that's what I beat crossing the finish line. Everybody else brought their own things and won or lost against them.

Me, Roswell and MAH MEDAL. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

I weighed myself and discovered that I'd lost five pounds during the race. I'd hit about every other water stop and let thirst dictate how much I drank. Did Gatorade once around mile 8 rather than eat a gel, just because it was there and someone was offering it. At home I took a shower and ate about ten pounds of food, looked at my medal in the mirror and went right back to the Extraordinary Busy Weekend That I Will Write About Later.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

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My Philcon 2014 Schedule [Nov. 19th, 2014|07:04 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Hey folks! I'm Guest of Freaking Honor at the 2014 Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention this weekend (November 21-23rd).

Here's my schedule. I'd especially like it if women cosplayers would show up to "Cosplay Photography: Doing it Right" so that we can get your perspective. The panel is photographer heavy. I'd like to hear people's experiences. Also, it would be nice if people came to my Guest of Honor talk on Saturday.

Sat 11:00 AM in Plaza VI (Six) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

A quick, hour-long workshop with Philcon's Special Guest,
photographer Kyle Cassidy. You may want to bring a camera

Sat 1:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Tony Finan (mod), Kyle Cassidy, Raven Stormbringer, Kyle
Williamson, Pam Smith]

So, you're at a con, you see a great costume, and you'd like to get
a picture of it... how do you do that without infringing on the
costumer's personal space or time? We'll talk about what both
photographers and costumers can do

Sat 2:00 PM in Grand Ballroom A (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

Sat 3:00 PM in Autograph Table (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

Sun 12:00 PM in Grand Ballroom A (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

Photographer Kyle Cassidy has worked with a number of popular and
respected writers and artists, such as Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer,
Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull & Caitlin R. Kiernan. He will speak about
how to work with other talented artists to create new and great

Sun 2:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)

[Panelists: Rob Balder (mod), Kyle Cassidy, Neil Clarke, Gail Z.
Martin, Gary McGath]

How successful is it? What is the impact of crowd-funding on
publishing in general

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Tempus Fugit [Nov. 18th, 2014|09:04 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Europa & the Pirate Twins]

George Washington walked through this door many times. I walked through it like four times. Avec trillian_stars

Tempus Fugit. Powel House, Philadelphia.
Clickenzee to Embiggen

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LOTS OF PUBLIC APPEARANCES: Where to see me in November 2014, get yr shiznit signed, hangout & run. [Nov. 11th, 2014|06:22 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |billy idol]

Tonight I'll be running "Beat the Bus" where a bunch of Philadelphia runners will race the 21 bus all the way across the city to a pizza party. Facebook event page here There's a Philly dot com article about it here.

Thursday I'm hosting Amanda Palmer at the First Unitarian Church (aka the big punk venue) for her Art of Asking book release party. Event details about that can be found here. Tickets are $20. I'll be doing some sort of interview on stage with Amanda and probably asking her to play some of my favorite songs.

Friday I'm giving a lecture at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Event starts at 5:30 with a little mingling, my talk is at 6:15 info & RSVP here. I'll be talking about all sorts of stuff, probably a big slide show.

November 21-23 I'm Guest of Honor at the Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention. There are events planned throughout the weekend, a couple of dinners, a big lecture and a bunch of panels. It will be a splendid time.

That SUNDAY I'm also running the Philadelphia Half Marathon at 7:30 in the morning and then heading back to the convention at around 9:30. Let me know if you're at the con and also running the half.

At the moment, that's all the news from Lake Woebegon, but stick close, I have a couple of books and gallery shows coming up. Plus news on the Librarian front and a recap of the Dalai Lama portrait session.

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Vikings [Nov. 8th, 2014|05:37 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |vikings soundtrack]

Reasons I watch Vikings on the History channel:






6) Hoping someone will kill Floki.

7) My wife hates it and doesn't care if I watch it while she's gone.

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de-hazing a leica 35mm f 3.5 [Nov. 8th, 2014|03:26 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the new billy idol]

In November of 2010 for some stupid reason I was tooling through the used Leica lenses on KEH and saw a 35mm f3.5 Summaron for $179 marked "ugly" and I bought it because ... actually, I have no idea why I bought it, other than that I didn't actually own any genuine Leica lenses. I thought, "hey, I don't care about condition, I just want to use it" -- the lens arrived and I took a couple of photos with it and it was terrible. It was like shooting with a Lomo inside a ziplock bag, so it sat in a drawer for a long time until I came across some web page that said "The Summaron's suffered notorious hazing problems as oil from the helical condensed on the inside of the lens and they often need to be cleaned." And I thought, "oh, this lens is probably just hazy from oil. Maybe I can clean it."

Clickenzee if for some reason you want to see this lens larger

So I looked around on the Internet trying to figure out how to get it open. (Previously I'd used two pairs of channel locks to get a lens apart, it worked but boy does it leave a mark.) They suggested that I needed something called a "spanner wrench" I found one of these for about $10 on amazon, ordered it and was able to dismantle the lens in about 2 minutes. It came apart into two easy pieces and it was simple to see that the rear of the front element was in fact covered with a haze of oil. I used a q-tip lightly doused in Windex and the stuff just wiped right off. Lens back together in another two minutes and wow, what a difference.

Clickenzee to see the difference

I'm putting this here just in the event that someone's googling "My Summaron seems to have haze in it. Can I fix it myself?" -- Yes. You can. It's easier than emptying your dish washer.

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Packing for the Dalai Lama [Oct. 27th, 2014|06:45 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Dead Milkmen: Pretty Music for Pretty People]

This Wednesday I'm headed up to Boston to photograph the Dalai Lama again, thanks to the Prajna Upadesa Foundation who've invited me to photograph this amazing person three times now. (You can read about the second time I photographed him here.) So this morning Roswell and I are up early packing. Packing posts are sort of like unboxing posts in their self-indulgence, but it's what gearheads do. So here's what's going in the bags.

The Dalai Lama arrives, surrounded by U.S. Marshals in 2009. Click to enlarge.

I shot in 2009 with a Nikon 700 and mostly a 12-24mm lens for the up close stuff and a 80-200 for thing that were further away. There are basically three types of photography involved in this and they're all a bit different. The Dalai Lama is either in a small room with a very few people, or he's in a giant room with thousands of people and the d700 did a pretty good job (I think the first time I did this I was using a d300 and a 300mm f2.8)

You always want to ratchet up your end result from your previous work, so this time I'm bringing three camera systems (ugh).

Roswell helping me to pack. Click to enlarge.

What to bring?

Nikon d800
28-20 2.8
80-200 2.8
50mm 1.8

The Nikon's very fast focusing and it's the most sophisticated, and it's also 36 megapixels which means there's lots of room for cropping. The downsides of the Nikon are that it's big and heavy and noisy.

Panasonic GX7
20mm f1.7
14mm 2.8
45mm 2.8 macro
8mm fisheye
Nikon lens converter

The GX7, while being a micro four thirds camera with a much smaller sensor has a few tactical advantages over the nikon. One is that since it's mirrorless there's a very nice live view with a pop out screen, which means you can frame things with the camera on the floor or up over your head. It's also got a crazy fast frames per second burst mode (might be six or eight fps, I forget, but it's fast) AND it's silent so you can shoot as much as you'd like in a room with people talking quietly and not get in the way. PLUS I can put the Nikon 80-200 on it.

Leica M9
50mm 1.8
35mm 1.7
90mm 2.8

I'm bringing the Leica just so I'll have something to talk about with other photographers. While it's a Leica and it's not outclassed by any other camera, it's totally out-performed by the others. It's slow, the focus is odd (and manual). But it's a freaking Leica.

More gear more closer clickenzee to embiggen

1 strobe head
3 Pocket Wizard radio triggers
1 light stand
1 Photek Softlighter II (the 36 inch one)

I shot a bunch of portraits the last time with an on camera bounce flash which worked pretty well but lighting is the key to everything and an umbrella is better than a bounce flash, and a softbox is better than an umbrella, so you bring what you can and use what you're able.

I'm bringing a rolling bag, a Domke "little bit bigger" and a Domke Photogs vest. If only the Nikon didn't make such great photos, I could leave half this stuff at home.

Anyhoo. I'll probably be Twittering about it during, so check me out there if you haven't. I may also have time for a Boston meetup Thursday night, lateish.

(6:30 am, Roswell still helping, she has a surprise planned for His Holiness.)

Roswell wonders what the mouse situation is like at Dharamsala. Clickenzee to Embiggen

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Once more dear friends.... [Oct. 21st, 2014|06:47 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Dead Milkmen: Pretty Music for Pretty People]

"Behold!" she said, "I have grown ... this."
"It's dead," I said.
"Anyone can grow something that's alive," she whispered.

Clickenzee to Embiggen the miracle!

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This is not a fitness blog. [Oct. 19th, 2014|09:09 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Today was a day of firsts.

I ran the longest distance I've ever run, I got bitten by a dog while running, and I passed an important weight milestone.

I ran 15 miles and change, not really because I had extra motivation to do that, but because trillian_stars decided to meet me a couple miles from home, and somewhere around mile 15 I passed a hipster walking a giant pitt-bull mix with a rope for a leash, just as I ran past the dog jumped across him and bit me on the back of the leg. It didn't break the skin and the guy pulled his dog back and apologized but it was a little scary. I think tripping over dogs is probably more of a risk but you never know when one's going to think you're a rabbit.

The big news is that stepping on the scale, I found I've finally gone below 190 pounds which means I no longer qualify for the Clydesdale Class. Clydesdale is the category they put guys in if they think you're too fat to get an award any other way which, I dunno, I find insulting. I don't need a trophy that bad. (Women who they think are too heavy to win any other way are called Athenas.) I also don't need special extra-cushioned running shoes for heavy people anymore. But still, it's an artificial and perhaps psychological barrier I'm glad to have crossed. This also means, somewhat unrelatedly, that my BMI has now slid from "overweight" to "normal" by .1 My goal weight is 185 which is, they tell me, the weight at which people my height suffer the least number of injuries.

I'm totally no longer a Clydesdale. As long as I don't drink a glass of water.

It's not the biggest threshold I've crossed on this odyssey, but it's been a nagging one.

On the 15 miler I managed to stay below 9 minutes / mile until mile 10, then it started creeping up. Mile's 10-13 were all sub 9:30 but it fell apart from there ... my final mile was 10:14 and I was feeling ... not so motivated by then, but not awful.

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2:00 today in West Philly, a special glimpse of a lost mummy. [Oct. 18th, 2014|10:05 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

At 2:00 this afternoon West Philly's own Dr. Brad whafford is giving a lecture as part of International Archaeology day called " "Ur of the Chaldees: A Virtual Vision of Woolley's Excavations project," -- where he'll talk about the museums excavations in Iraq in the 1930's and how, looking through 70 year old reciepts he realized that there was a mummy missing and his quest to find it. (Breaking the suspense: he found it, and you can see it today if you stop by.)

The event is at 2:00 in the Rainey Auditorium at the University Museum. At 3:00 a grad student will hold a Q&A with the mummy. And you. Most likely, you ask the questions, the grad student answers them, the mummy remains silent.

Geekadelphia's article about the even is here, check it out.

Dr Brad and not-the-mummy. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

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I knew him, Horatio. [Oct. 14th, 2014|07:32 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |attrition]

In rehearsal's for Hedgerow Theatre's Hamlet Jared Reed as Hamlet, trillian_stars as Horatio.

Clickenzee to Embiggen Yorick's skull!

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Not nerdy enough for this town. [Oct. 13th, 2014|05:22 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Actual conversation in line to get in at Comic Con:

Me: "Name one possible way that Batman could beat Superman in a fight? I don't even understand this."

yagathai: "Well, he collects Kryptonite."

Me: "WTF? you're telling me that Batman, collects Kryptonite?"

[Guy in front of us, turning around]: "He does. Collect Kryptonite. Batman hoards all the Kryptonite he can find."

Me: .......

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National Coming Out Day [Oct. 12th, 2014|09:07 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |beatles: all you need is love]

Congrats, love & applause to all of you who came out on National Coming Out Day and also to those of you who have been out & always been out & paved the way for Coming Out Day to be Any Ordinary Day where people don't have to take a deep breath before hitting POST. If you have a story or blog post, words of wisdom or encouragement, if you're out & just want to say hello & cheer, or if you're an ally & want to offer encouragement, please share in the comments.

Love & hugs from a bus on its way to philly.

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Omar in a good mood [Oct. 12th, 2014|08:33 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |NPR]

"Hey! Kyle! Take a picture!"

Omar's got good moods and bad ones.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

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shak-spear [Oct. 9th, 2014|10:24 pm]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |gilligan's island]
[mood |thankfulthankful]
[music |neither a borrower nor a lender be, do not forget, stay out of debt, think twice, and take this good advice from me!]

There are all these Famous Actors in my living room having a Very Serious conversation about Hamlet and my brain keeps wanting me to burst in asking if they've seen the Gilligan's Island episode where they put on the musical version of Hamlet and ... thankfully, the not-lizard part of my brain punched the lizard part of my brain and shrieked GET OUT OF THE ROOM YOU MORON, so I'm able to stagger off into this corner and tell you all that I know enough about Hamlet to have seen the Gilligan's Island episode.

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Living with the gorillas [Oct. 7th, 2014|05:22 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |crash test dummies: superman]

When trillian_stars said "let's get away from this and live in the forest with the mountain gorillas" my initial, and somewhat vociferous response was "THAT SOUNDS UNCOMFORTABLE" -- little did I know that she travels with dozens of porters, hairdressers, cooks, carpenters, and a sea of jesters. Our tents made up a small, luxurious city by the river and no comfort was spared. Plush carpets, velour hammocks, solar power, and even a 200 gallon salt water fish-tank tended by a guy named "Steve" who was continually checking the pH and brushing the anemones who seemed to recognize him as he got close and flagellate in grateful anticipation. Every day Trillian was in the forest, learning the poetry of the gorillas. They wouldn't tolerate my presence but carefully inscribed to her works of magic and remembrance in a quiet tongue, spinning tales and histories. She listened carefully and taught a curious emperor tamarin to knit socks.

Three weeks into our stay two of the large silverbacks had moved their families into the tent formerly occupied by the tea sommelier, a woman from Saint-Étienne named Océane. This was more than enough for the young woman who had previously worked exclusively in a tiny cafe run by the remnants of the Knights Templars in the head of the Sphynx. Océane resorted to a public outburst, demanding that the expedition return home. Trillian had her fed to an anaconda that afternoon saying "Order must be preserved," but then noting, sadly, that we were out of tea.

Trillian Stars with the final cup of tea

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Theater Poster: The Matter of Frank Schaefer [Oct. 6th, 2014|05:29 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

There are, I'm sure, lots of places where you can stand around in the street with a sign that says "Homosexuals are possessed by demons" and nobody will give you a funny look. West Philadelphia is not one of those places. So you might imagine that in recreating some scenes from the upcoming Curio Theatre play "The Matter of Frank Schaefer" -- about a minister who was defrocked after he performed a wedding for his gay son -- we attracted quite a crowd of onlookers in the street.

Frank's actions divided his congregation and his church and left a wound that's still open, friends & neighbors who no longer speak to one another and a court case that's as of yet unresolved.

Initially I had more protesters in the photo, I wanted Frank to seem embattled. I tried it with various mixtures of supporter and detractors and ultimately decided that it looked best with one lone protester and Frank going home after a weary day.

In any event, if you were trying to get home along Baltimore avenue on Saturday night but were prevented by a bunch of gawkers blocking the street -- sorry about that.

Paul Khun as Frank Schaeffer.

The Matter of Frank Schaeffer opens November 14th at Curio Threatre

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Quicksilver Workshop [Oct. 4th, 2014|10:36 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |counting crows]

Every summer for the past five years now I've gone down to Virginia to teach a workshop at Quicksilver. The same students every year, getting more and more advanced every time, their projects getting bigger and more ambitious. (Here's a blog and some cool photos from 2012.) I always come back invigorated & proud and with some interesting photos.

Usually we work on lighting, we do a rapid-fire series of setups, kind of like the real world "you have five minutes to get this, go go go" -- it keeps everybody on their toes.

Quicksilver's gotten to feel like home in a lot of ways, when you're on the road and you open up your laptop and it knows the wifi password, it's kind of like not being too far away.

Ron & I set up this shot of Blue along the Potomac.
You may clickenzee to embiggen it!

We did two days worth of setups this time, firstly at the Quicksilver mansion and then the next day we went off to a wooded area along the river where everybody gets a chance run off on their own and do stuff and I sort of wander around like a park ranger bumping into people and helping out if I can.

Photoshopping some of the day's images during review

Quicksilver class of 2014

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(no subject) [Sep. 22nd, 2014|11:12 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |billy idol crazy]

I think it's a big, and common, social media mistake that companies very often make thinking "if we have a social media outlet, fans will come", which is sort of true, they'll come, but if there's nothing compelling, they'll just leave. A few weeks ago Runner's World threw out a bone on Twitter, auctioning off some of Bart Yasso's racing medals for charity.

Wtf? Seriously? Own one of Bart Yasso's medals? I jumped in on ebay and bought one. I figured it was wrong to buy a medal from a race that I couldn't run, so I picked up one from a half marathon and decided that I'd run that distance to "earn it" -- in which way everybody wins, the charity wins the money, Bart clears up some space on his mantle, and, well, I get to run 13 miles.

I happened to be in DC that week, photographing Senators, but there was a delightful three hour void in my schedule where I was able to run around the Mall, North up to the White House, over into Virginia, get lost trying to find the Marine Corps Memorial, loop back around the Jefferson Memorial, then zig-zag across the mall, loop around the Capitol, top off 13.1 miles and see an awful lot of the most beautiful places of Washington.

My Bart Yasso Medal Half Marathon in DC.
Clickenzee to Embiggen

One thing I've heard a lot of people say is that running clears their heads and lets them think about things -- and that seems to make sense. It's hard to get distracted when everything hurts, and there's an inexplicable joy in the pain and everything starts to turn into a dull buzz and at some point your brain detaches and it's able to function above the cloud of how awful it is to be running -- because it's not really fun -- it's as unpleasant as you think physical exercise is, but ... but there's something glorious in it too, which I can't exactly explain.

So I ran and I saw lots of presidents. And I was pretty much done by mile 9, but you don't quit at mile 9, so you gut it out, and somewhere along the way is this glorious realization that you can gut out four miles and you realize that the thing that exercise has taught you is that it's ok to be uncomfortable, and it's ok to be uncomfortable for a long time because there's a reward at the end -- even if the reward is just "Ah, now I've stopped doing this terrible thing" -- which kind of makes no freaking sense when you look at it written out, but it's true.

Bart won this somehow.

I spent a lot of time at the Marine Corps memorial, but that's fine.

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Monster Movies What You Should Watch [Sep. 19th, 2014|07:56 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |birds chirping]

Invariably, when I ask people "what's a good horror movie I should check out?" lots of people invariably respond "The Exorcist! Alien! Poltergeist!" -- so I thought I should make a list of my favorite horror movies that you probably haven't heard of. I've linked each of them to its particular youtube trailer. Feel free to add your own in the comments.


Time Crimes

Willow Creek:

Sigaw: <----- freaking terrifying ghost movie.

The Devil's Backbone:

The Orphanage:


The Awakening:




Dod Sno


The Descent:


The Last Exorcism:




The Troll Hunter:

The Host

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Things that bug me about running [Sep. 18th, 2014|10:37 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |amanda palmer: the bed song]

Me, about 10 pounds ago. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

A reader writes:

What kind of headband do you wear? I've been using a band to keep my hair back but it keeps sliding off. Also, I don't have contacts right now so it's like, slipping glasses, slipping headband, tissues for allergies... Do you bring headphones? Mine fall out of my ears. I can't run two steps without one of the above screwing with my run. I want to run again but writing this text reminded me that I'm blind, I have very fine hair, allergies, and a wish for headphones that work. Advice happily taken.

I've actually been meaning to write about this for months now, so thanks for the opportunity. This list pretty much sums up 80% of the things that bug me about running (apart from the agony). It might be my OCD or it might be something else, but things touching me in certain ways is are some of the most jarring and persistently unpleasant experiences I can imagine, a sock that slides down, watch band that's too loose, all drive me to distraction -- this includes major annoyances like sweat dripping into my eyes, or hair getting in my eyes, my glasses being a fraction of a millimeter in any direction but the exact one where they Have To Be, and earphones that slip out, or move, at all.

Luckily for my local running store, I'm the kind of person who is positive that technology can solve all of my problems. I know some people who can just walk out the door and chase the antelope, but I can't, I have stuff that I need.

I've tried a bunch of headbands and the one I like the best is the Halo II which has a plastic lip around the inside that catches sweat and keeps it from ever getting to your eyes, the fabric is wicking rather than absorbing, so, theoretically, it evaporates from there. One day when I couldn't find it I ordered 12 pack of ordinary cotton headbands and found that they work just fine when it's not too hot out and you're not going on a super long run because they hold quite a bit of sweat and even after that, you can wring them out or whack them a few times against the side of a tree, spraying your pheromones everywhere and they're ok for another little while. Plus I like haveing twelve of them rather than having to track down my one Halo II.

To keep my glasses on I was using a Croakies eyewear retainer, it's just a neoprene strap that slide over the sides and hold the frame snug against your nose no matter how much you sweat. They're oddly expensive, but they work well. Recently I told my eye doctor about it and he just bent my glasses so that they hug my face really tightly so I haven't been using it lately.

Apart from OCD I'm plagued by something called Exercise Induced Rhinitis which means the more I work out the more my nose runs, which drives me crazy. At first I was stuffing one pocket with tissues, but when you sweat they turn into a wet ball and I never seemed to bring enough of them. So I bought this thing called a "My Hankie" which advertised itself as a handkerchief for runners, it was a STUPIDLY expensive very heavy cotton handkerchief that worked pretty well. It was so big I was able to cut it in half so that one could be in the wash and the other in my pocket. I used that for maybe a year when I discovered that if you just take a technical running shirt that came from some 5k you didn't particularly like and cut it into pieces about 9 inches square it seems to work just as well because it's constantly drying out, rather than holding everything you wipe with it, so now I have a drawer full of those plus one of the half's of the "My Hankie" -- the other having fallen out of my pocket during a 5 miler in South Philly.

I've tried all sorts of headphones -- starting out with my super-fancy Ultimate Ears Triple-fi's, which have great sound, but the foamy things get soaked in sweat and a) it feels like you have a slug in your ear b) they start to slip out and c) it's actually possible to run the cable right out of the earphone if you're going at it hard and there's little more distracting than your JAMS STOPPING in the last 100 yards while you're neck and neck with a guy pushing a stroller. I spent a lot of time looking around and discovered the MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphones with Memory Wire which go for about $20 and they're fantastic. They fit snugly in my ears with rubber(ish) plugs, the memory wire keeps the cable from slapping against your head and neck, it includes a neck-clip to keep that bit of the wire from bouncing around, and they actually sound pretty good too (much better than the set that came with your iPhone).

Hope this helps.

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In DC, sans Rollergirls. [Sep. 16th, 2014|09:24 pm]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |fancy bar, washington DC]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |lobbyists lobbying]

Guy sitting next to me at the bar apparently works for some company that's trying to get Japanese doctors to start saying that bacon is healthy. He has a two-pronged sales approach; firstly to insult the medical knowledge of the Japanese doctor he's trying to get trashed and secondly to repeatedly confuse Japan with China.

Looking into my crystal ball, I'm not seeing a medical bacon endorsement happening soon.

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The Bed Song Book is ... DONE [Sep. 15th, 2014|05:35 am]
kyle cassidy
[Tags|, , , , ]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |the bed song]

Years ago the Dresden Dolls had a reunion show on my birthday in New York and I found myself standing somewhere in the back with Neil who said "Have you heard The Bed Song?" I said I had not. "Get Amander to play it for you," he said, "it's really beautiful."

That was long before it came out and over the next couple of years, I would come to know it as an incredibly beautiful song. One of the things that really amazes and inspires me about Amanda Palmer is that she can write a funny song, like Oasis and she can write a terribly sad song like the Bed Song. (And she rhymes "Slayer" with "dare", which is both daring and wonderful.)

If you haven't heard it, it's the story of a couple's relationship told through the beds that they own.

When it came time to make the Theatre is Evil album, Neil and I did a very ambitious book version of the song. It was a $1,000 backer reward and was, basically, a comic book script by Neil that I turned into photographs. The book took a long time to produce for a number of reasons, one being that we wanted to make a book that was incontrovertibly worth a thousand dollars a copy. Another, I discovered, was that because there was nudity in it, no printer that we approached in the United States would print it. (Weird, I know.)

(Video not showing up on your mobile device? click here.)

This weekend, we all met up at the Gaiman Compound (though technically it's a compound, it's actually more like a fairy glade) to sign all the books. It took a long time. SuperKate and Eric (aka Southships) spent a day unpacking boxes and prepping things. (The book itself comes in a box, and the boxes were made on a different continent than the books, so there were boxes of boxes and boxes of books). While this was going on Neil introduced trillian_stars and I to the new Doctor Who (Trillian and I hadn't seen Peter Capaldi yet, and we enjoyed the two episodes we watched) and plotted the Librarian documentary and went running out in the wilderness and saw monarch butterfly caterpillars and examined tree that piliated woodpeckers had been systematically dismantling to get some gigantic ants out of and Neil cooked dinner (not ants) and then breakfast (and then lunch) and made us "Bubble and Squeak", which I'd never had before and now I feel properly touched by the English. & then we had to race Trillian home so she could be Lady Macbeth in her closing night performance, but it was grand and we saw friends and had a swell time and this thing exists that wouldn't exist if a lot of people hadn't worked very hard on it.

When I first saw the boxes opened and the books come out (I had to wear white gloves) I was so happy ... they're astonishingly beautiful. The printing of my photos is exquisite, the book is so well put together (AAAAAND, since we were worrying that people might cut their books up to frame the prints, you can actually disassemble the book, frame the prints, and then put the book back together later if you want.) So many things so thoughtfully done.

Thank everybody who made it happen. It's a beautiful thing.
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Look ma! I'm in Forbes! [Sep. 10th, 2014|05:14 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |ego likeness: sirens & satellites ]

Look at me Mom, I'm in Forbes! (TL;DR? Just read this.)

I've been in a lot of magazines over the years, but I'm pretty sure I was never in the financial magazine Forbes until last week. Imagine my suprise when people started to email saying "One of your photos is in Forbes!" -- I figured it was some stock photo I'd done of George Bush, but it wasn't -- it was an outtake from the Breedless album cover shoot for Industrial sensations Ego Likeness, uncredited. In an article about the ego's of CEO's by award winning business writer Bruce Kasanoff.

That's weird, I thought. The "thats weird" started to pick up some traction on Ego Likenesses website with lots of head scratching. Patrick Rodgers, who owned the record label that E.L. was signed, to wrote to the author and suggested he should write an article about Ego Likeness and me, and how social media works. And Bruce did.

You can also read about the shoot that photo came from (and some of the social media behind it) here.

Ego Likeness. Outtake from the Breedless album cover.

Bruce followed up with an article about how we (Ego Likeness and me) used social media. It's called "5 Social Media Lessons From the Dark Side. I'm not sure if I'm the Dark Side or if it's Ego Likeness.

Anyway, there was much good stuff in that interview that didn't end up in the final article, so Bruce did a longer piece which contains the whole interview and is called What Artists Can Teach Business About Social Media. There's good stuff there. You ought to read that one.

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(no subject) [Sep. 7th, 2014|01:23 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |awed]

Fear not, till Birnam wood. Do come to Dunsinane the three witches tell Macbeth. And how can a forest come to him? Obviously it can't so the mad King of Scotland lashes out with impunity, bathing the countryside in blood, fearless that he will ever be challenged. But prophecies ... well ... and witches ... they have a way of maneuvering around your way of thinking.

Last night I went to "see" Till Birnam Wood as part of the Philly Fringe festival. trillian_stars is playing Lady Macbeth, for the second time this year, in a very different production.

It's an absolutely stunning production that left me at times joyous and at times chilled by fear (actually, really).

The audience enters the theater, which is in the round, and sits down facing a giant bag on the floor, you can tell that there's something alive in the bag, which is ... writhing ... at which point the audience is instructed to put on blindfolds and everything goes black.

You see nothing else for the duration of the show's 55 minutes, but you experience a host of sensations. The witches appear, you can feel the air as they move past you, possibly only inches away, predicting the future of Macbeth, who very soon arrives with his friend Banquo, back from a battle. There are sounds in front of you, behind you, and in a way that eerily terrified me ... under your chair. It's a full 360 degree immersion and not just sounds -- when Birnam Wood inevitably comes to Dunsinane, you can smell the forest. I felt like I was the only person in the room apart from the characters in the play. It really was a wonderful thing. The play is loud, it's fast, it's creepy. And there are only three more performances left which are mostly sold out. It might be too scary for young children. It's also best if you're familiar with the plot of Macbeth (you can just read it on Wikipedia before you go) so you know who the characters are.

If you're in Philly, really, don't miss it.

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Twitter asks, we answer. [Sep. 4th, 2014|12:01 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |accept: fight it back]

‏@chrystalml asks

@kylecassidy I often get passed by runners while I'm rambling. It's my instinct to high-five them, b/c I think they're awesome. Should I?

Ah -- here's a deep runner conundrum. Stay silent, or spread the joy?

Personally, I feel that every time I run past someone wearing a shirt from a race that I've run, they owe me a hi-5 because we shared an experience, and for a long time I'd yell "BROAD STREET RUN 2013!!!" and wave my arm out at them like a broken windmill and some people are like "HELLA YEAH! HI-5 BRO!!!" and others are like "I'm calling the freaking cops you assweird" and lately I've come to realize that it's a person-by-person judgement you need to make based on how friendly the person passing you looks.

Some of the West Philly Runners make it a point to nod or wave at every person they pass, I play it by ear.

Very often when I'm running an actual race I'll see actual friends of varying degrees passing me on the way back while I'm still on my way out (I'm slow, what can I say?) and I'll yell "DOING GREAT FRED!" or whatever and hold a hand out and, invariably they'll all ignore me and charge ahead, not because they don't think we're friends or whatever, but because they're focused on doing the best they possibly can and any hi-5 would detract from that and they probably don't even see me.

So I think the answer is "Offer a hi-5 to whoever you want, but don't feel bad if they leave you hanging". Any skin-on-skin contact between runners is sweaty and gross so you might just want to wave anyway. Hi-5 them at the banana stand at the end of the race or tag them on Facebook: "Just passed Joe Blow running like the wind. Hi-5 dude!"

The West Philly Runners celebrate their 200th run, with many hi-5's

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Writing the Intro for Alexandria Still Burns.... [Aug. 24th, 2014|04:05 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |birds]

Now is the time on Sprockets where I either go upstairs & find the beautiful edition of Plutarch's _Lives_ and go through it trying to find the bits about Caesar and the burning of the Library of Alexandria, or I stay here in the hammock, download it from Project Gutenberg and hit ctrl-F to find it. This is the 21st Century bibliophile's dilemma.

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Don't you hate it when? [Aug. 15th, 2014|06:19 pm]
kyle cassidy
In some meeting room 8 or 10 or so years ago someone said "I think when Standard Definition video is played on a 16:9 HD television, the default should be 'stretch video to fill screen'." I'm betting that person was not an engineer.

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Standing amidst the roar of a surf tormented shore ..... [Aug. 15th, 2014|06:12 am]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Kaylea Ann]

Last night: I'm standing in an enormous hall with vaulted ceilings and books everywhere, great, majestic piles of them, along the walls, on rows of low book cases, everywhere. There's a woman with shortish blond hair and large sunglasses standing next to me. I'm looking at the books, she notices me and says:

"Oh, you're real person."

"What?" I say.

"We're both dreaming, our dreams got crossed. Now that I told you, you're going to wake up soon."

And I feel this weird feeling, because I know it's a dream, and it's like I'm being pulled out of there and everything's getting all tingly.

"How do I know you're real?" I say, realizing that I'm waking up.

"My favorite bands are Kaylea Ann and Woodpecker K-A-Y-L-E-A; keep repeating that until you wake up and then write it down quick. You'll like them."

I woke up repeating "Kaylea Ann and Woodpecker & dutifully wrote them down.

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Another insufferable post about running [Aug. 14th, 2014|05:31 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Ostensibly the West Philly Runners get together every Wednesday night and run routes that are 2, 4, and 6 miles, but there are lots of little offshoots of that, one of which is Coach Emma's Saturday Long Run where we run anywhere from 8.5 to 14 miles depending on who's there and how we all feel after Friday night.

This past Saturday Alon headed the group and took us trail running, which I'd never done before. As soon as we hit the trail head the dreary feeling that I so often associate with actually-being-out-running went away -- the woods weren't the traffic-light littered streets of Philly, it was really beautiful. The trails were often no more than a foot wide and you'd need, occasionally, to leap over fallen trees or streams and it was exhilarating. I found myself, for maybe the first time, feeling like I wasn't pushing my body, rather my body was pulling me through these paths, showing me these wonderful things -- like this was the reward for all the hard work, a body that won't stop, legs that don't fatigue, sides that never ache. It felt like I'd never get out of breath (we were running significantly slower than normal because of all the turns and dense vegetation) and after a while I found myself thinking I've run six miles, how come I'm not tired?

Somewhere along the line I got stung in the leg by a wasp which took my mind off of any other pain I might have experienced, later I found out that one other person got stung too, but that's the price you pay.

Running through the forest, you may clickenzee to embiggen!

It was a spectacular experience and I think it's also going to be Saturday's long-run. We split up after 10 miles and I slugged it out to 14 because my milage is sucking lately and I've been creeping my weight back up. People who are interested in doing the trail run but not running 14 miles can ride their bikes to the trail head and the trail run is about 5 or 6 miles, the pace is pretty easy, it's not like a 10k all out race, plus, nobody gets left behind.

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The Case of the Missing Mummy [Aug. 6th, 2014|06:46 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |accept: wild child]

When I heard that whafford was hot on the trail of a missing mummy, I knew I wanted in. (Technically it wasn't a mummy, but it's more exciting to say mummy.)

He'd been reading through Sir Leonard Woolley's notes from the excavation at the city of Ur for years, so new finds and theories were frequent dinner conversation (my favorite previously were the diary entries in reaction to the dig site getting a Victrola. Some of the potentates really liked it, others thought it distracted the workers, Woolley wrote that the Arab music the staff was listening to was "a cacophony".)

Last week I got a chance, under high security and a strict embargo, to see and photograph the 6,500 year old human remains, lost for 85 years in the basement of a museum.

I won't write about the mummy, it's loss, or it's discovery, because Randy Lobasso does a great job of that right here in the Philly Weekly.

Cover of this week's Philadelphia Weekly.
You may clickenzee to read the article.

As of right now (early in the morning August 6th) it looks like the story is going big. The Daily Mail picked it up last night but neglected to credit me for my photos (what else is new). We were trending in Google's top stories.

It's going big....
You may clickenzee to embiggen

I can talk about the photography though.

Tell it with shadows

Shadows are how we identify things, they tell stories, they show detail. The best time to photograph the moon, for example, is not when it is full, because there are no shadows, so there's no texture to the surface.

I'd heard that the mummy was in a crate and it was difficult to photograph, so I brought a lighting kit with a whole bunch of experimental options for getting light inside a box (including iPads, which I wrote a Videomaker article about using as light sources) -- since this guy was a person, I wanted to light him like a person, the way I would if they'd sent me to photograph some Senator. It's important to be able to get the light close to your subject and I was worried about the tall sides of a crate (If you haven't, now is the time for you to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story Lot 249 about an Oxford student who has a mummy in a crate and it wakes up and does all sorts of terrible things.)

I wanted to get a relatively close raking light with soft shadows across his face.

Dr. Brad and Dr. Janet (not kidding) took me down to a room that actually says "Mummy Room" on the door and I was relieved to see that the crate had very low sides. This was going to be easy. I set up a Photek Softlighter II (the small one) on a very low light stand and pretended it was an ordinary portrait. Brad & Janet started talking about various bits of the mummy, so I turned the light up and lit them and did a few photos like that as well. I used a Leica D800, with a Sigma 12-24 and a 50mm f1.8.

But take a look at this side-by-side:

With a grazing soft light, and with ordinary overhead lighting.
You may clickenzee to embiggen

Here's the difference between a close, angled, directional light, and the overheads that were already in the room. You can see the overheads don't really cast much in the way of shadows and the detail is harder to see and, I think, our guy has less of a human personality. I have a Videomaker article coming out soon that discusses the difference between something being "well lit" and something being "properly lit".

Good photos, in my biased opinion, are important in getting people to pay attention. (So is a well written press release, and they had that too.) The Google Alerts have been going off like fireworks.

Here's what it looked like in the Mummy Room with the natural light.

Thoughts on mummies, museums, lighting, archaeology or anything related? Let's hear it.

Behind the scenes in the mummy room.
You may clickenzee to embiggen

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Photographing the Glass Menagerie [Aug. 3rd, 2014|05:47 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Accept: Turn Me On]

I love working with actors because it's their job to make fantasy reality. When you're telling some CEO "ok, now look smart" most of the time they're thinking about their lunch or their next meeting or some article they're writing but the one thing they're not really thinking about is how to make your photo amazing. Actors are thinking how to make your photo amazing. You can give them individual words, you can give them fake scenarios, you can give them moods and they go with it. When director Joshua Browns asked if I wanted to work with some of Philadelphia's best actors to do some photos for the Commonwealth Classic Theater's production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie I was very happy.

There's not a whole lot visual to The Glass Menagerie, it's a play about memory and the interactions of a family, but it's not a play where a house falls on a witch, so any visuals have to be subtler.

The relationship between members of the family is extremely complicated and this is what the whole play is about, so I knew I needed to do something that told who everybody was and how they got along in a single image. The cast have two hours to tell the story, the photographer has three seconds as someone drives past a bus shelter poster, so you've got to get it right fast.

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Joshua Browns
Cast: Jamison Foreman, E. Ashley Izard, Allen Radway, and Isa St. Clair
Off Broad Street Theater
Philadelphia, PA

The Wingfield family.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!

There's Tom, the narrator, he works in a factory to support the family but has much bigger dreams, he's a writer and not understood by his mother, Amanda, at one time a legendary beauty who repeatedly tells the story of how at one time she had seventeen different suitors show up on her porch at the same time and the family had to send out to the church for extra chairs to accommodate them. Now she's selling magazine subscriptions and living in a miserable tenement in New York, but all the while, in her mind she's still a belle, and she's still 17. Then there's Laura who has some disability I can't remember if it's ever mentioned -- trillian_stars thinks she may have a limp from Polio, but whatever it is, it makes her self conscious. She's retreated into her room and away from people.

Into this frail & dysfunctional web come some things that make up the play.

Since the story's about a family, I wanted to do a family portrait that was as honest as we could make it.

I lit this with the Photek Softlighter II (the small one) with a pair of Pocket Wizards on a Panasonic GX7 Micro 4:3 camera with a 45mm f2.8 Leica lens, Voice Activated Light Stand was yagathai. The Panasonic had some problem working with the Pocket Wizards and didn't trigger the flash every time. Not sure why, but it was annoying.

I really love how all the actors made their characters come through with nothing to act with but their eyes, their expressions and their posture.

Behind the Scenes -- you may clickenzee to embiggen.
Clockwise from me, Isa St. Claire, Allen Radway, E. Ashley Izard)

We had the run of the theatre, which is nice because you can say "do you have an oriental carpet?" and the stage manager will scratch her head and say "yes, on the 4th floor, in the Carpet Loft, it's right above Swords and Armor".

We did some shots outside too that I thought might be the sort of family snapshots people might have. I used a Holga lens on the Panasonic, but when we got down to it, the inside portrait was so right on we didn't need anything else.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

The show runs August 7 through August 24. I'll be there on opening night.

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convertible running dress [Jul. 31st, 2014|07:11 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |judas priest: metal gods]

Forget the skort. Trillian Stars runs 3 miles to the bar in her tecwick running shirt that converts to a little black dress right as she gets to the door. The rest of us all look like chumps.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

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Run for the Hill of it Race Recap [Jul. 28th, 2014|12:20 pm]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |judas priest: british steel]

Jackie Oh was my first real assistant. This was back in 2000 or 2001. She'd found a poster of mine in a thrift store and tracked me down on the Internet and said she wanted to work with me and so for, I don't know how long, a couple of years anyway, if there was someone carrying lights or standing in for some rock star while we set up moody lights, it was Jackie.

She's also the one who operated all the complex machinery on the Repulsed by the Earth photo series, which was one of the first really successful art projects I had, and she brought amazing, weird, & wonderful people over all while I was just starting to figure out what "my" art really was.

Then Jackie moved away and everybody was sad, but she wrote a few months ago to say that she was going to be back in the city for a weekend and we should run a race, and she'd found this five mile-er through the forest out north west of Philly somewhere and I signed up. Jackie has started a running group in California that's been bringing people together and growing and it sounds wonderful.

With Denise in the middle. Clickenzee to Embiggen!

The Philly Phanatic was there when we got there which signed an auspicious day. It was a small race which got me thinking that I might actually be able to do well. The weatherman from some local TV station started the race and said we might run into some intermittent showers but everything looked like it was to the west of us and a half mile in the skies opened up like someone had blown a hole in the bottom of the ocean and I ran and somewhere along the line got passed by a guy pushing a jogging stroller and decided that even if I didn't place, I wasn't going to get beat by someone who had to push a jogging stroller up and down all these hills. A guy in a yellow shirt came past who looked like he might be my age and these were to be my personal adversaries for the last two miles. The guy with the stroller was remarkably fit and I was struggling to stay within 50 yards of him, but I held on and in the last half mile let loose with everything left and ended up passing him in the last 10 yards. The guy in the yellow shirt pulled too far ahead, I think he beat me by about 20 seconds.

After a half hour in the pouring rain, you're not getting any wetter.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!

A few minutes after I finished, someone came up to me and said he'd been trying to catch me the whole time but just couldn't do it -- this to me is one of the greatest things about this sport -- wherever you are, you're where someone would like to be, you're always better than someone and always worse than someone, you're fighting your own fight and you own every finish line as your own personal victory.

It turned out I was 2nd in my age group and there was an awards ceremony where a four year old whose name I think was Jeremy put a medal around my neck and said "congratulations on your victory" in the back of a cafe, and then I went out back into the pouring rain. Jackie & I loaded up on bananas and victory and headed back to the city.

Some call second place "first loser" but I call it CHECK OUT MY SILVER MEDAL YO!!!!

I ran faster at Broad Street but I've been not running as much lately, plus there were hills, so I'm not sure really how to judge my performance. My official pace for this was 8:29, and at Broad Street I ran 8:22 over ten miles ... but there aren't any hills at Broad Street, so who knows.

In any event, I got to see Jackie, and I miss having her around.

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