Egyptian Goddess Photo Shoot

Calling all models for an Egyptian Goddess photo shoot this upcoming Saturday, May 14th, to be used as reference for my Goddess painting series. The event will be held by the Florida Modeling Network and will have a significant amount of props from the original Cleopatra movie staring Elizabeth Taylor in 1963.

Please feel free to bring other non-related Egyptian costumes as we’ll also have other props on site.

Posted in Call to Artists

Clearwater Beach Fire Spinning

Clearwater Beach is a haven for the adventurous, the artistic, and the free spirit.  The drum circle there attracts performance artists of all types; most notably, those dancing with poi and fire.  Poi are orbs attached to a rope or chain that is spun around to create beautiful, momentary kaleidoscopes of flame and color, ephemeral and temporary works of art.  some are composed of blinking lights and plastic, while traditional poi is a wick material that is lit aflame.  I’ve been practicing trying to capture images of the dancers with various methods.  My favorite way to photograph the event is to use a remote flash or two on a tripod to capture the image of the dancer, and then the slow shutter speed will create the trails.  The challenge, for me, is to capture the face and figure of the subject spinning the flame with as little blur as possible but still letting the light trails get some length.

The event is every Saturday evening at 9pm, but usually doesn’t get going until a little later.  As the night goes on, the performances become more and more elaborate and spectacular.  There are nearby conveniences, too, which makes this location perfect.  Right on the beach, there is a shop that sells food and drink and even beach supplies.  Locally, one can leave the beach after a great night watching the fire spinning and find excellent eateries of all price ranges within a couple miles.


Posted in Drum Circles Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Flash Experiments – The Obligatory Ybor Night Time Photo Shoot

Last evening we visited Ybor City.  Aside from having a good time, I wanted to experiment with my remote flash unit.  Nikon’s creative lighting system is excellent, and the SB900 flash is a fun toy to play with.  The flash unit can be fired remotely and wirelessly, with no need to be tethered to camera.  The flash is triggered by the pop up flash on the camera.

My method was to place a Gary Fong Lightsphere collapsible diffuser on the SB900.  And since the flash unit is triggered by the pop up on the camera itself, I used a Gary Fong diffuser on the pop up, as well.  I shoot with a Nikon D90 which can be placed in “commander mode” which allows for the remote triggering of the external flash.

I had fun with the project.  You can set the flash unit on the ground or on a table, or even give it to someone to hold and aim it like a flashlight.  It made for some interesting effects.  All night, I experimented with getting the flash as far away from the camera as possible or aiming it from odd angles to play with shadows.

While in Ybor, we shopped, ate, and strolled around, just snapping away while my friends took turns holding the flash unit.

We hit a store called Agora which had everything from old antique tabernacles to candles and incense. The inventory was stunning.  Small, reasonably priced gifts from around the world were everywhere.  You could easily go in and spend $50 and come out with quite a haul.  On the higher end of the inventory you” find everything from furniture to unique, salvaged items that have character beyond belief.  Any decorator or designer looking to find something unique should check it out.  Agora’s website is down for redesign, which is disappointing considering their amazing inventory.

We also hit up New York New York for some pizza.  Even though it was busy night, the service was great.  It was fast and courteous.  The crust was superb, and the toppings fresh.  I whined a little about wanting more sauce but, overall, a very good joint to pick up a pizza. We also went in to Buddha Lounge, but just to take pictures of the gorgeous decor.  If we hadn’t already stuffed ourselves silly on pizza, we probably would have had a go at their menu.

I’d like to do some more experiments with maybe more flash units and diffusers.  Much fun, more to come.

Posted in Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Beach Wedding at Howard Park

Recently I photographed a beach wedding at Fred Howard Park Beach in Tarpon Springs, Fl.  Its another of our favorite beaches as it makes for some spectacular sunsets.  The wedding was perfectly timed and the sun fell into the water on a warm, breezy day.  The sky was a canvas of warm reds, golds, oranges.  The whole ceremony was punctuated by the songs of sea birds, the rolling of the waves, and the sweet, salty breeze tussling the tops of the palm trees.  It was small, intimate, and absolutely full of magic.  Not a thing was out of place.  Everything from rose petals in the sand to the torches flaming on the beach set the stage for romance, love, and memories to last forever.

The wedding was arranged by wedding planner Abby Allison.  She is available at or 813-376-8754.

The officiant of the wedding was Adrian Robins, who offers officiating services.  She can be reached at 727-564-1893.

Posted in Photography Tagged , , , , |

Our favorite things about Tampa Bay: Caladesi Island

Come visit our state. Come to Florida. Come to the Tampa Bay Area and experience the best of our state. If you plan on going anywhere in the next few weeks or months, come see why we love our land.  Florida has over a thousand miles of beaches that are safe and welcoming. Come visit and see why Floridians love it here.

And, although I might be a little on the biased side here, I encourage you to specifically visit the Tampa Bay area.

A few weekends ago we visited Caladesi Island in honor of Natalie’s birthday and to have a test photo shoot, with Natalie acting as her own model.  Micheal went with us to enjoy the sunny, sandy day, and also to help steer the rays of the sun with our large reflector.

To get there, you have to first go to Honeymoon Island and park your ride and then hop on the ferry or rent a kayak to go over to the island. Being that the forecast called for rain later in the evening, we chose the ferry.  The admission that day was $12.00 per person and $6.00 for kids. I assure you that the price is well worth it.  What you end up with on the other end of that foamy, misty,  ride is genuinely priceless.

It was a quick, breezy ride to a long wooden dock. We stepped out into what is a strange little nexus of gift shop, restrooms, boat dock, and the awesome beauty of raw, nearly pristine nature.  Right behind the most excellent concession stand that carries a surprisingly large menu just hidden behind the restroom and a thick tangle of trees the view opens up into an expansive, lush 661 acre park.  “Breathtaking,” is the most apt way to describe this beach.  It is raw, primal, and still very much under the control of Mother Nature.  There are clearly marked areas that which a human foot simply cannot tread.  Every step you take on this sand is magic, and the air shimmers with gold and blue, and the song of the sea alone is enough to make you fall into a dream state, contentedly walking to the rhythm of the waves running up to embrace the shore.

We either swam or just laid back in the sun most of the day. Wildlife is incredibly varied and abundant, and very vocal.  We lounged on the sand, listening to the birds sing, or bobbed up and down in the warm, clear water.  We took a few photos here and there but spent most of the time just being silent, taking in all that we could of the jewel that is Caladesi Island.


Posted in Photography Tagged , , , , , , , |

Customized Planner 2.0

About a year ago, I published an article about my first customized planner.  With the new year, I designed an updated version with a few improvements to the layout of the pages.  Originally I kept my monthly calendar and monthly goal sheets in the front of the planner, followed by a series of different logs (i.e. Health/Fitness, Home Maintenance, etc.).  After all of these various sections I listed my weekly goal sheets.  While I like the idea of keeping the monthly pages nicely organized together, I found that I didn’t utilize the monthly goals sheets after a couple of months. I never even looked at the home maintenance section, and the health/fitness section design wasn’t used as much either.  While in theory it sounded like a great layout, I found out in that practice that I needed to revamp the layout.

For this year’s  improved design, I’ve merged the various documents so that most everything flows throughout the year together.  For example, here’s how a standard month of documents flow:

  • Monthly Calendar (2 pages): When it comes to printing calendar pages, I use Dynamic Template v2.05 software designed by the folks over at DIY Planner.  It’s completely free to download.  In addition to printing monthly calendars this software is flexible, having settings that can be modified to print daily, weekly, and even yearly pages.  Simply select your paper size, choose the calendar type, and tweak the settings to come up with your own printable set of calendars that perfectly fit your planner and your lifestyle.
  • Monthly Goals:  A template I designed to help stay focused on health, creative, relationship, financial, and spiritual goals as well as ideas, notes, errands, projects, and home maintenance tasks all on one page.
  • Goal Refocus template:  While searching for various tools and templates, I came across the Goal Refocus template created by Daryl Furuyama who shares experiences in what works in life at WhiteHat BlackBox.  It’s a great template to track your progress on five goals over the course of a month on one page.  Since I created my planner at the beginning of the year, I’m finding this template is very useful in tracking how much progress I’m making when it comes to two of my health goals: taking vitamins daily and making exercise a priority.  As Daryl recommends, you fill in the circle completely if you made a lot of progress on the goal (for example a full 30 minute to hour workout) as compared to some progress (such as fitting in just 10 minutes of stretching when I’m super busy with other priorities).  The template is also great since there is space to jot down a quick note by each day and a full side of the page can be dedicated to brainstorming notes to help you stay focused on what’s important.
  • 4-5 Weekly Goal pages:  A template I designed to that is very similar to the monthly goals sheet.

Now I still have some sections that I keep separate in the back:

  • Project Meeting template: Another great template found via DIY Planner that was created from a user using their form widget software.  While you can tell that the original designer of the template created it mind for the office since there are spots to log the conference room and conference call information, I use for tracking meeting notes for my various projects outside of work.   I particularly liked this meeting template more than other ones I have seen since the layout makes a good use of space to track important details on just one page.  Some of the features include spots to keep track of the meeting agenda as well as a graph area for notes.  About the only drawback is that there wasn’t a spot to track follow-up items.  However, I find myself tracking the action items in the meeting notes section.
  • Ideas: basically alternating blank and lined pages for brainstorming on various ideas/projects
  • Web Design
  • Wish List
  • Prayers/Affirmations

In a future post, I’ll share the monthly and weekly goal templates I designed, but in the interim if you looking for templates for your planner, I highly recommend DIY Planner since they include a wide range templates created both their core team of designers as well as contributions from guest designers.  You can also use their free DIY Planner Widget Kit software to design your own templates.

Posted in Projects Tagged , , , |

Sweden Vacation Travel Log

[Editor's Note]  Our good friend George Tau recently visited Sweden and shares his thoughts with us.  Great article, George!  -Brian

When I told my friends I decided travel to Sweden for my vacation this year they could hardly believe their ears. After all, part of the reason I moved to Florida was to get away from the cold, snowy north.

I chose Sweden for several reasons. The history of the land intrigues me. I love a good Viking story and I knew I would be able to learn about the subject firsthand at the historic Vasa Museum.  I wanted to get out of the States to just experience a whole new culture; to see the world from another angle, and for the excitement of going to a new place to see if I am up to the challenge of being totally displaced from everything I know. I was blessed to have made some friends in Sweden many years ago so when I told them I would be visiting they said they would be ready for me to arrive and show me a good time. With all plans finalized I packed my rucksack, grabbed my brand new passport, threw on my warmest pair of long underwear and headed for the airport.

I only budgeted myself about $600 for the trip after the price of the ticket so I had to be a bit frugal with my funds. While the exchange rate at the time of my travel was 1 SEK for every 14 cents (US Dollars) the relative price of things in Sweden were much higher than  back home.

Stockholm streetart

Stockholm street art

The reason for the high cost of goods in Sweden?  Nearly everything must be imported. A nice dinner here in the States for $25 would cost upwards of $40. (About 290 SEK.) I was happy to find that airplane food is not as bad as everyone says it is. They kept me fed quite well. Upon my landing in Arlanda I was pleasantly surprised to find Taco Bell and Pizza Hut were there. At any point in the trip I was able to get some inexpensive and familiar food. Ordering was not problem because I soon found out nearly everyone there can speak English fairly well. I also felt it appropriate and respectful to learn a little Swedish before I left in kind. I did my best to speak Swedish at first when interacting with people. I found most locals to be very understanding and allowed me my attempt to speak their language, but it always ended in a chuckle and both of us switching to English to better understand one other.

After spending some time in the airport I got a ticket for the Arlanda Express train. A short 20 min ride later I found myself in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. Stepping out onto the streets of the largest city in Sweden for the first time it reminded me of every big city I’ve ever been to in the States. That was soon to change. After a few hours of wandering around my friend showed up and we hopped a bus to a place called Old Town or Gamla Stan. This was the original city of Sweden set up during the 13th century.

The architecture of old town proudly displayed buildings as early as the 17th century. It is also home to a great number of restaurants, tourist shops, art studios and museums.  I booked my first night’s stay at a hostel called “The 2Kroner” using  Hostelworld, a website that allowed me to compare room prices for all of the hostels in Sweden, consult an interactive map for locations, and receive a very informative tourist guide to the city and book my room on the spot. Normally, when staying at a hostel you pay only for one bed  and most often you share the room with several other people. It’s a great way to get to know other people traveling through the city and make new friends.

The streets of old town

The streets of old town

I requested the two-bed room and booked both beds so my friends and I could have the room to ourselves. While hostels are a good place to meet people it’s also a lousy place to stash your gear while you go out on the streets looking for adventure. Renting both beds in the room let us leave our stuff safely locked up all for much less that the price of any hotel room you could find. We stopped at several cafés for pastries and coffee during our walk. As you can imagine, it’s very cold in winter so stopping in for coffee offered us a nice break from the freezing cold. We stopped at a few antique shops, visited a sci-fi book store, wandered by the Royal Palace for an official visit to the monarchy and then we turned in for the night.

The next day we checked out of the hostel and headed straight for the Vasa Museum. The Vasa Museum is home to the largest Viking war ship ever made called the Vasa. The museum is filled mostly with relics from the war ship giving free with guided tours every few hours in both Swedish and English.

A scale model of the Vasa

A scale model of the Vasa

Once we had our fill of the past we hopped a bus to my friend’s home where we sat and visited with her family for a bit. With generous hospitality they laid out a feast of Swedish food in from of me that included traditional Swedish meatballs, many different varieties of bread, followed up with a healthy helping of pickled herring. I was surprised to learn that there were many different ways to make pickled herring and that, in small portions, it wasn’t that bad. I also had something that resembled breakfast potatoes mixed with sardines. The different breads resembled pita bread or crackers. While sampling I took some jelly and spread a good portion of it on a cracker. I guess  that’s not something the locals do because everyone started to laugh loudly. It took some convincing but I managed to get them to try it. When the initial shock wore off they nodded their head in approval of my strange American custom.

Cafeteria in the Jumbo Hostel

Cafeteria in the Jumbo Hostel

After spending several days with old friends and making new ones I got a buss back to Arlanda where I would spend my last night in Sweden. My flight out was at 7am so I needed to find a place near the airport that I could get to very easily, very early in the morning. Once again I visited my favorite site and booked a 2 bed room at the “Jumbo Hostel”. It’s actually a jumbo jet converted into a hostel. It was an amazing site to see. The staff was very friendly, the food was great, the cafeteria was fully stocked with treats and the rooms were immaculate. You could not ask for more. The next morning was full of sad goodbyes.  After taking a connecting flight through Vienna I was back in the states in less than 15 hours.

Overall I would say that my trip to Sweden was excellent. The only thing I will do differently next time would be to go during the summer. Being a Florida resident I don’t hold up very well in the cold. Also it would have been nice to know a bit more Swedish than I did. However, if you don’t know much of the Swedish language don’t let it stop you from going!Almost everyone there knows English and all the importing signs you will need to navigate around the city will be printed in English as well. Remember, politeness while traveling will get you a long way. Now to plan my next adventure.

Posted in Adventures Tagged , , , , , , |

Xenoglosia releases Cindy is a Windy Ghost

FCM018Download this music.  Now.

I am no music critic.  I do not know fancy schamncy genre terms.  But that’s okay.  This stuff, I like.

The artist behind Xenoglosia/Nerdlab4 is a friend, but that really creates no bias towards the love of his arrangements.  There is something about the placement of each sound, the deft use of tone, tempo, rhythm, and ambient sounds that seem to be inspired by the eeriest, loneliest, natural environments on earth and maybe in orbit, too.    Xenoglosia’s latest release, “Cindy is a Windy Ghost,” is full of excellent pieces.

I am a fan of all Xenoglosia releases, and have had the good fortune to get to hear the odd bit of experimentation here and there.  For any of you out there that have heard me read poetry and literature at Sacred Grounds or Nola Cafe’, Xenoglosia has not only graciously permitted me to occasionally read along with its haunting soundscapes, but I can claim that more than a few of my poems were written while playing the last release, “The Final Finalist” obsessively for days in my office.  My favorite track on that was “The Worm,” which felt like an exploration of madness under the crushing depths of the ocean.  My friends and I often have his releases in rotation in our party soundtrack.

Its weird when you are friends with someone who is a true artist.  At least, for me it is.  I find myself, just every now and then, a little starstruck.  I am like that with my own wife, actually.  One one level, here is a person I respect and admire simply for the friendship and relationship, and then, an an altogether different level, I am simply in awe of the talent and ability of this person.

I am just now grooving along to “Cindy is a Windy Ghost,” and absorbing the new arrangements.  So far, I am struck by how there is this sense that there is no hint of humanity in these pieces.  I feel large expanses of ice, cracking and breaking into one another in the darkest part of arctic night.  I can almost envision  raw nature, with no hint of man in a pristine, unforgiving natural environment.  Or I could just be over thinking it.  I just like it.

Anyway, this post is more of a congratulations than an attempt to describe the release.  So, congrats, Rax.  Its excellent.

Go here now.  If you like what you hear, make sure to donate so the artist can keep producing great works like this one.

Cover artwork (above, top)  by Michael Archibald.

Posted in Music Tagged , , , , , |

Magnum Opus 2009, A Square One event produced by Okesene Tilo

Here is a slideshow from our adventures in Ybor City at Magnum Opus, a tremendously successful art event presented by Square One and produced by Okesene Tilo.

The event was absolutely packed, and people were waiting in line around the block to make their way into the Ritz Theater, that many Tampa kids may recall used to be the old Masquerade.  Since Natalie is an artist that was exhibiting in the show, we were able to skip all the lines and go right in with our crew.  We even had someone tried to gank our in and claim she and her friends were with us.  Ah, love Ybor!

The large space inside was filled fashion divas, acres of canvas spread across the walls that made up what appeared to be a billions pieces of art.  The Ritz is an absolutely perfect space to host this kind of large event.  Looks like it can handle anything from concerts to art shows and everything in between.  Very cool space in which to party.  Bodies were packed tightly, but that was okay.  It was a party and everyone was having a good time.  Music was on stage, the energy was great.  It felt great to see this kind of event in Ybor.  More, please.  And more often.

Posted in Tampa Art Events Tagged , , , , |

MAGNUM OPUS featuring selections from my Goddess series

Magnum OpusMAGNUM OPUS, a Square One Creative Event, will take place between 7pm and midnight on Saturday, November 14th, 2009 at The RITZ Ybor in Tampa, Florida.

MAGNUM OPUS will revolve around the ecological themes of creation and self-preservation.  It will feature selections from my Goddess series and new themed artwork by Christopher Michael Zenger, Gary Randall, Gina Rathbun, J.Alfonso, Jason Moriarty, Jedd Lancaster, Jeff Cinco, Julia Ozimek, Kat Wilson, Katy Alderman, KLAAREN, Linda Alexander, Mary Martinez, Matt Moore, Melia, Melissa Fair, Nelani Palomino, Robert Wegmann, Rory O’Neil and Warren Gibson to debut at the event.

Over 80 local artists will be on display with all artwork available for purchase by the general public.

Show times for the MAGNUM OPUS stage shows will take place from 8pm to 9pm and 10pm to 9pm and will feature original performances by Bella Danza (Artistic Director: Maria Capitano Pardo), Enigma Dance Kru, Kinetic Dance Group, HEMISPHERE Dance, a Wear To The Tear Fashion Show (with the Bentley Salon), Disco Dolls, Anye Cole and Jeremy Gloff. Jeremy Gloff will hold an album release party and performance for his upcoming 16th studio album, 21st Century Love Songs, in the side Royal Room from 9pm to 10pm.

MAGNUM OPUS will be open to the general public of all ages. Guests are encouraged to wear the colors green and white to the event. There will be an optional $1.00 donation at the doors of the event to help benefit Dalmation Rescue of Tampa Bay. Reserved Seats for $5.00 each and V.I.P. Tables for $10.00 each will be made available for purchase by visiting Square One’s Magnum Opus event info page.

Posted in Art Exhibits Tagged , , , , , |