The Future of Photography II

The Future of Photography II

November, 2014, RA Photo Club 75th Anniversary Banquet. It was my honor and privilege to speak at the RA Photo Club’s 75th anniversary banquet on the subject of “The Future of Photography,” – revisiting a topic I had presented there three years earlier. My congratulations to the RA Photo Club on it’s venerable history and many impressive accomplishments of these many years. You can download the .pdf of the...
The Camera Loves The Theatre

The Camera Loves The Theatre

a presentation given to the RA Photo Club The Theatre serves up intense images – fabulous scenes, sets, dramatic poses, human drama and subtle expressions. Mike takes us on a journey through theatrical photography. This presentation is a mix of history, portfolio and how-to techniques. Some of the things covered in this presentation: So many reasons to shoot – How photography is used in the Theatre Visual characteristics the Theatre – A highly distinctive, influential look Theatre’s Influence on Photography – A studio is a “flash” version of the stage Live production photography – The play’s the thing Character photography – We dress up and play make believe Studio Photography – Marketing, marketing, marketing You can download a .pdf version of the presentation...
How Can I Keep From Singing?

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Traditional, recorded January 2012 You can download the .mp3 here: HowCanIKeepFromSinging.mp3 My life goes on in endless song above earth’s lamentation, I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation. No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging. Since love is lord of heaven and earth how can I keep from singing? Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing, It sounds and echoes in my soul. How can I keep from singing? What though the tempest ‘round me roars, I hear the truth, it liveth. And though the darkness ’round me close, songs in the night it giveth. This hymn is a personal anthem, and a favorite of my Mom, and my friend Barb. When I got my new guitar (the incomparable Taylor 814ce) in the spring, I had promised that this would be the first song I would record with it. There are actually three guitar tracks, the most prevalent being finger picked in D, with a tamer finger picked track and a strum track, both played in C, capo 2. The thunder claps are re-used from the sound design for I Hate Hamlet – I always thought this tune needed foul weather in the background. The painting is called “The Woods,” and was painted in the summer of 2011. I thought the light in the distance an apt visual for this...
Mike’s Annual Turkey Leek Soup

Mike’s Annual Turkey Leek Soup

Many traditions, I think, are the result of an unlikely mix of circumstance, inspiration and serendipity that weaves itself into a Mobius strip long enough to become entrenched. When my extended family decided to make Christmas dinner a potluck, sharing the duties while preserving the family favorite recipes, the turkey prep fell to me. As a result, I was left with the puzzle of how to cope with the annual leftovers from a large turkey after twenty folks had had their way with it. I’m not exactly sure how the idea for this soup came into being, but I decided to invent a soup recipe, for good or ill. While it has been adjusted over the years, it’s remarkable how little it’s changed. So, the day after the feast, I break out the pots (including my prized soup pot – a gift from Tim and Marlene) and get to it. Step 1 – Boil ‘dem Bones Separate the meat from the bird and break apart the bones and carcass. Stuff the bones, stuffing, fat and skin into a large soup pot… top up with water and bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour or two, adding water as the level drops. Step 2 – Strain the Broth Get out another large pot, roughly half the size of your big one, a large strainer and the roasting pan for the turkey. Remove the large bones and detritus with a slotted spoon into the roasting pan. Strain the remaining liquid + stuff into the second pot. Dump the strainer sludge into the roasting pan and let it drain a...
Mother Teresa High’s Jesus Christ Superstar

Mother Teresa High’s Jesus Christ Superstar

There’s something about high school productions that is just FUN. The energy and enthusiasm, the clearly talented (that make you think, hey, I knew them when) and the plucky that sell their characters with aplomb, talent be damned. Few musicals are more demanding of talent and staging smarts than Jesus Christ Superstar – but Momma T’s has a history of tackling challenging musicals (past productions include Little Shop of Horrors and Rent). I took the show in twice – the Thursday opening night and the Saturday matinee. The matinee was much tighter; It was obvious the show had matured considerably in just a couple days. It’s a shame the Cappies reviewers covered opening night – the matinee was a much better show. The roles were well cast – triply important because some key parts have significant demands on vocal range. While there were moments when these talents might have done more with less, rather than trying too hard, their delivery was impressive nonetheless. Antonio Pezoules in the lead role of Jesus wisely kept the melody within his effective range by rewriting a couple of phrases, rather than straining. Kayla Bernard as Mary Magdalene nailed every phrase, every note; a superb job. Fabulous work by Andriy Cherwick and Andres Cutillas as Pilate and Herod. It was very satisfying to hear a deep, growly bass from Ryan Spero as Caiaphas and an urgent high tenor from Marco Gioriani as Judas. I was impressed by the ambitious set – which ranged from the stage down the center of the house to the back of the auditorium. The use of follow spots to...
Trailburst Nuggets – An Anytime Snack

Trailburst Nuggets – An Anytime Snack

One of the fun little moments in the production of I Hate Hamlet by the Ottawa Little Theatre was the ad for Trailburst Nuggets that opens the final scene. Andrew Rally, the television actor who is wrestling with playing Hamlet on stage, is featured in the ad. The fun is that the ad is as abysmal as the product it hawks (which apparently taste like sawdust dipped in chocolate, with more calories than lard). Opening with a discussion between Andrew and a chipmunk hand puppet, who dissolves into tears when denied a sampling of nuggets – it ends happily with Andrew kissing his head and caving to his craving. Then follows the ad’s jingle – which isn’t scripted. Director Sarah Hearn only gave me one piece of direction regarding the jingle – “Make it utterly annoying, a tune you can’t get out of your head, like a barbed splinter in your brain.” So here, for your listening – ummm – pleasure, is the Trailburst Nuggets ad from Ottawa Little Theatre’s 2011 production of I Hate Hamlet. You can download the .mp3 here: TrailburstNuggets.mp3 Trailburst Nuggets – An Anytime Snack by Mike (Binary Rhyme) Heffernan Michael McSheffrey as Andrew Rally Stephen Liddiard as the Chipmunk People love (chipmunks too!) a tasty breakfast treat be sure to start your day the Trailburst Nugget way And when you head out on the road just remember that Trailburst Nuggets are an anytime snack Trailburst Nuggets An ANNYYYTIME Snack! Some further bits of fun include one of the lighting technicians misunderstanding the lyrics of the opening line. “People Love Chipmunk Stew!” … I’ve never...
Descends the Drape

Descends the Drape

by Mike (Binary Rhyme) Heffernan Descends the drape guillotine of the run celebrated and mourned in voices loud and whispers soft The whine of tools Passes the set to bones and vacuum The cast’s final exodus to home while from the ashes rises the next It lives on, the run, immortal in memory and legend a thousand moments and bonds new found or renewed This poem was written after I got home from the theatre on the closing night of “Inherit the Wind” at Ottawa Little Theatre. As the final curtain fell, it seemed, in a flash, to be an executioner’s implement – bringing a final, irreversible ending. It goes through my mind every time a production closes....
Twenty Insights on Being a Photographer

Twenty Insights on Being a Photographer

a presentation given to the RA Photo Club Everyone has a camera at the ready these days, but a camera does not a photographer make. Mike draws on four plus decades as an artist and photographer to distill twenty concise insights on photography and being a photographer. Over the years, hundreds of accumulated details and bits of information slowly form up into patterns. I tried to sweep a few things into piles and summarize it as a concise principle. A sampling of the principles introduced includes: It’s not about the Subject, it’s about the Image Don’t dilute Great with Good “Impact” is an Emotional reaction A Camera is a Musical Instrument that a Photographer Plays Don’t point a Camera, point a Workflow Crop until you Can’t You can download the .pdf of the presentation. Always great fun to be a part of things at the RA Photo Club – this evening was no exception – even if I did get an emergency tech support phone call from Ottawa Little Theatre 10 minutes before I was to start talking – but the show must go on! Lol....
The Future of Photography

The Future of Photography

a presentation given to the RA Photo Club Since the production of the photograph in 1826, photography has been evolving in response to changes in technology, society and business. It returns the favor – today a single photograph can become a symbol which shapes global events. The rate of change is increasing and the next couple of decades will reshape photography more than the previous two centuries. Everything is up for grabs: How a photo is taken, how it is processed, distributed, published and exhibited. The interaction between our world and how we view it is in for a wild ride. You can download the .pdf of the presentation. This was a fun look at the future I pulled together from a few weeks of google searching of current research combined with some imagination on how it might all fit together. The final bit draws on my experiences as a photographer in the...
Sing and See: Pitch Matching Practice Tool

Sing and See: Pitch Matching Practice Tool

equipping vocal students with an effective practice tool I was recently engaged to teach vocals / singing to three fabulous pre-adolescent kids. At our first lesson, I was primarily interested in assessing what needed work. Emerging quickly as the front runner was pitch matching (the ability to hear a note and then sing it accurately). As I sat at the piano and played note after note, asking them to reproduce it, my students responded well to my feedback – “up a couple notes, down a couple… bring that up just a bit…” but I worried. All a teacher can do is show you what to learn and how to learn it – a student ultimately teaches themselves. How on earth could they practice effectively without me there to tell them how their pitch was doing? So I went home and did some searching, hoping to find an application that could help. Enter Sing and See – at $49 USD. It provides a window with real time pitch placement feedback, a keyboard for playing tones and a record and playback feature that works with any standard computer microphone. In the weeks since I’ve assigned my students practice work with Sing and See – move up and down the scale, move in semi-tones, play a note and sing it… and they have applied themselves diligently with admirable results. I highly recommend this application if you’ve got students (or yourself) with this...