This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for August, 2012

Lady with Unicorn Update and Other Stuff

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 30, 2012

Sense of Hearing: Lady with Unicorn

By now y’all are probably thinking I traded in my needles and thread (not to mention beads, bobbins, lace pillows, fiber, and spinning wheel ….) for a camera and tripod. This blog originally started as more of a crafty blog and changed direction slowly as I ventured out with my camera. So here’s proof that I still remember how to use a needle. I haven’t posted an update since last October because I hardly worked on it this year.

I’ve just completed the third page of 25 pages, about 22,000 stitches. This pattern is “Sense of Hearing: Lady with Unicorn,” purchased from Scarlet Quince.

Stats:
318 x 410 stitches (total: 130,380 stitches)
130 colours (good thing I like red, because I’m seeing a lot of it)
18-count Aida (= 18 stitches/inch)
Started Nov. 23, 2009

Holiday Cooking

A couple comments from Perky Poppy reminded me that the High Holidays are almost here! Time for me to tie on my bright red, floor-length bistro apron and disappear in a cloud of flour…

Here are links to my Rosh Hashanah posts from last year. I’m reviewing them so that I can put together menus. If you have any ideas for a killer appetizer or dessert, pass them on! 🙂

Rest of Life

I haven’t been posting much recently and I’m way behind on my photos (still stuck in the Florence set!) because I’ve been so busy teaching a course at work on Enterprise Architect, a UML tool. I was sent to the UK for a four-day course this summer (with a side trip to Stonehenge) to learn the program.

I’ve prepared lectures, exercises, guides, and just finished a second session with the system architects. That leaves about two more sessions with architects, who-knows-how-many sessions with component owners and developers (they’re an unknown quantity), and one session with the technical writers. My brain hurts just thinking about it. But at least it will get easier with time. The only thing that doesn’t end is the technical support and hand-holding….

I’ve got a couple photo jobs lined up but they’re non-paying, so I may or may not blog them. One of them required me to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), which means you won’t hear about it before it takes place.

Getty emailed me about one of my images. I opened a Getty account, forgot about it, got a reminder (from a real person — imagine that!), and dutifully uploaded a high res copy. It was a good lesson in the necessity of archiving my images in their post-processed form. I don’t want to repeat the experience of staring at a RAW file and thinking, “How the heck did I process this three years ago?”

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Food | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Video: Hutzot haYotzer 2012, Tav Cafe

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 26, 2012

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

“Tav” means a compartment or cubicle. The Tav Café is literally a cube surrounded on all sides by stages, with a band in one corner, on the second level. I had a seat at the edge, in a corner, so that’s why the angle is the same for all photos and the video. If I’d gotten up to move around someone else would have snagged my seat.

The aerial acrobat in the photo above was less than ten feet above me. I’ve photographed aerial acts before but this is the first time I’ve had to use the wide end of my telephoto! Trying to shoot someone  moving very fast in the dark is always a challenge. I have to crank up the ISO and resign myself to the fact that the photo isn’t going to be tack sharp, although this shot didn’t turn out too badly. Her face is reasonably sharp, even if the angle is a little unflattering (nostrils are rarely a girl’s best feature). Her right leg is sharp, with only a little motion blur in the left leg and the rope. This was cropped so that she would stand out better against the black sky and because I shot with a very wide angle while she was moving around, so that I would have a chance of getting her framed without cutting off a foot.

The performances are a mixture of dance, acting, acrobatics, outlandish costumes. Since this is the second year that I’ve watched the performance I’ve been able to identify some of the regulars. You really need to watch the video to get a sense of the performance, though. One tip: seats are limited and the “real” performance starts after dark (8:10 this year), so grab a seat early. If you’re with kids they might get a bit restless waiting for half an hour. You can sit on the outside for free but the table seats are for people ordering food and drinks.

This talented woman sings, acts, and plays the guitar.

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

I’m wondering whether this glass ball juggler was the same guy I photographed at Balabasta last year, with a shorter haircut. Here’s a better shot of his face. Or maybe balancing glass balls on the back of one’s hands is a trend. In the video a musician with a bowed instrument is accompanying him. I think I’ve identified the instrument. It appears to be a Swedish nyckelharpa. (Here’s a link to a video of a solo nyckelharpa played by a master. One of the reasons I like blogging is because it gives me an excuse to look up info on new instruments, objects, artwork, etc.)

Glass Ball Juggler

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Tower of nested plastic water bottles balanced on the chin.

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Posted in photography, videos | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Video: Hutzot haYotzer 2012, Eastern European Dance

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 24, 2012

 

I was impressed by the intricate steps done with groups of three. That was new to me, but I’m not a folk dance maven.

I have no idea which country this dance troupe is from because I couldn’t see a sign. There might have been one but the little square was so crowded that I only managed to stand in one corner, with the speakers partially blocking the view.

Posted in videos | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Hutzot haYotzer – International Arts & Crafts Fair

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 24, 2012

Corn Dolls

These photos are from the International Pavilion at this year’s Hutzot haYotzer/International Arts & Crafts Fair, held Aug. 6-18, 2012. These colourful corn dolls are from Mexico. They’re made from brightly dyed husks of ears of corn and tied together (the piece of paper says “tiras,” the Hebrew word for corn; I’m glad someone wrote it in English to clarify matters 🙂 ). These are the most exuberant examples of corn dolls I’ve ever seen. The same booth had boxes covered with coloured string, also from Mexico. Although the process is a bit messy, this would be a nice recycling project for kids.

IMG_0450

This year I went twice to Hutzot haYotzer — once with a friend whose husband wasn’t interested in attending (Baruch had just returned from abroad) and the second time with Baruch. Both evenings I spent more time at performances than at the crafts stalls. For the first time I found the crafts a bit disappointing. I always head for the International Pavilion first. This year there seemed to be fewer folk arts and more “designer” crafts (the vivid foam rubber animals from Argentina were cute but not what I was looking for).

There were also fewer artists from abroad. In the Romanian booth a couple women were embroidering and decorating eggs (they were painting directly on the egg, not making resist-dyed pysanky like the ones on the towel, but pysanka-making isn’t a very portable craft).

IMG_0438

The bread underneath the towel is an elaborately braided heart. I’m not sure what it’s significance is. Wedding bread?

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Young woman playing pan pipes. I was pleased with how this portrait shot turned out, considering how quickly it was taken. She had turned her face to a 3/4 angle and was looking up and the microphone wasn’t in front of her. Also, I think that most musicians, especially wind and brass players, look better when they’re posing with their instrument than when playing.

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Chinese calligraphers

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Molas (fairly good quality — fine stitching and neatly worked) cut up and made into absurd little boots and shoes.

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Woman at the Ghana booth. Not a great photo of her but the best one I could get of her wonderful dress.

IMG_0436

The dancers were quite good but the stage was almost inaccessible because of the crowds and staircase along one side. And whose bright idea was it to put enormous speakers at the same level as the stage, on the left front corner?

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Hutzot haYotzer 2012 (Jerusalem International Arts  Crafts Fair)

Posted in Crafts, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Video: Balabasta 2012

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 22, 2012


 
Although I love taking photos, video does a better job of capturing music, not too surprisingly. I made a short video of some of the performances we saw that night. It’s a bit tricky recording without something stable like a tripod because of the crowds. That’s why it’s a bit shaky in some frames.

“Balabasta”, the name of the festival, is a play on words. It literally means “Come to the market stall” (“ba la-basta”) but it also sounds like the Yiddish word for “housewife” (balabusta).

I edited the clips with Pinnacle Studio Ultimate. I’m still learning, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. It definitely makes editing a lot faster and provides more control.

Posted in Israel, videos | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Balabasta 2012 – Cultural Festival in Mahane Yehuda Shuk

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 21, 2012

Balabasta 2012

Butterfly girl on the roof, about 3 stories above the ground.

I’m just taking a break from the Florence photos….

Last Sunday we went to Balabasta, the cultural festival in the Mahane Yehuda shuk in Jerusalem. This will probably be the last Balabasta. The merchants’ association opposed the festival because they have their businesses disrupted and don’t gain very much from the crowds. Tourists don’t buy tomatoes and pita. They take pictures, eat, and drink, so the restaurants and cafes are the ones who benefit. I made a video of some of the musicians and am uploading it to YouTube (I love my new video-editing software, Pinnacle Studio 15!).

Oud (stringed instrument) on the left and darbouka (drum) on the right.

Balabasta 2012

Hanging laundry from one of the balconies.

Balabasta 2012

Woman in flower costume on opposite balcony. Last year the woman dressed in roses was on this balcony.

Balabasta 2012

Players outside the backgammon club. They’re always there.

Balabasta 2012

Artist Shvut Kula creates mosaics from materials of the shuk, mainly beans and seeds.

Balabasta 2012

Balabasta 2012

Balabasta 2012

Klezmer trio in the alley

Balabasta 2012

Chess tournament in the Iraqi shuk

Balabasta 2012

Telling fortunes in the main covered shuk. It was very dark, so this photo wasn’t easy to get.

Balabasta 2012

Aharon Menachem, oud player and singer, performing Kurdish music on the roof.

Balabasta 2012

Na Ya Sangit (I hope I transliterated her name correctly) sings Indian music.

Balabasta 2012

Balabasta 2012

Zither player in a Yemenite ensemble.

Balabasta 2012

Dancers in the very crowded square. At one point the zither player said, “Please dance only if you really know how to dance Yemenite dances. Otherwise it’s too painful for us to watch.” That didn’t seem to discourage the wannabees, though!

Balabasta 2012

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Il Papiro – Paper Store in Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 16, 2012

Il Papiro, Florence

Il Papiro is a chain of stationery stores based in Florence. They have six branches in Florence, two in Venice, and others in Rome, Pisa, even New York and Melbourne. The store is larger than it appears from the street, because it goes back quite a distance and there’s another room at the back. The back room has shelves of linen towels and albums. They also sell pens, notepaper, blank books, cards, bookmarks, art supplies, the list goes on…..

This branch was only two doors from our hotel, the Gioia, on Via Cavour. By the way, if you need a good 3-star hotel in Florence, I recommend it. It has a small number of rooms (28), courteous and helpful staff, fresh espresso/cappucino around the clock and free with breakfast, free WiFi, and a great location — 15 minutes’ walk from the train station, 15 minutes from the Great Synagogue and kosher market, and 10 minutes from the Duomo. The rooms are quite basic but clean. The WiFi is available in the room, not only the lobby. You’ll be happy to hear that the serial killer museum mentioned in some of the reviews (see Google street view) has been replaced by this delightful paper shop.

Il Papiro, Florence

It’s a little pricey but if you’re looking for unusual, reasonably priced souvenirs that don’t weigh much, bookmarks (both leather and paper), blank books and cards are an option. They even sell beautiful linen twoels (real linen!), displayed in the window below, but that was beyond my budget. I bought a few paper bookmarks, like the ones  mounted on the green background, and a couple leather bookmarks decorated with strips of marbled paper.

Il Papiro, Florence

An English-speaking Japanese woman who has been living and working in Florence for eight years demonstrated marbling.

Il Papiro, Florence

She dripped paint over a tray of water thickened with some substance:

Il Papiro, Florence

She asked me to choose a comb. I chose the fine one, in the background of this photo:

Il Papiro, Florence

She drew a stick through the floating paint vertically, before spreading the paint with the comb in a horizontal motion.

Il Papiro, Florence

Paint after passing a comb through it:

Il Papiro, Florence

Finished paper. I should have asked her for it but I didn’t think of it at the time. She told the man at the counter that it “troppo verde” (“too green”) but I thought the design was quite nice.

Il Papiro, Florence

Other marbled paper, already dried and rolled.

Il Papiro, Florence

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Michelangelo’s David in Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 13, 2012

Michelangelo's David

This is it — the real David in the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) in Florence. No, you’re not supposed to photograph it. But I hid in a bunch of photo-snapping tourists until the guard stopped us. Safety in numbers…

Two things I hadn’t expected were the size of the statue — it’s 16 feet tall — and the amazing detail. You really can see the sinews and muscles. It’s hard to believe that Michelangelo achieved such detail with stone.

Michelangelo's David

Michelangelo's David

Dolled-up David in the courtyard:

Copy of David in Courtyard

Giambologna‘s gesso for his sculpture, “Rape of the Sabine Women” (1574-82). The sculpture itself is in the Loggia dei Lanzi, near the Uffizi gallery.

Rape of the Sabine Women, Giambola

One of Michelangelo’s four unfinished Prisoners, intended for Pope Julius’s tomb. I’m fairly certain it’s the Atlas slave.

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“Coronation of the Virgin,” by Giovanni di Marco detto Giovanni dal Ponte (Florence 1385-1437):

Coronation of the Virgin with Angelic Musicians

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Giotto Campanile, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 3, 2012

Shadows in Piazza, Florence

We climbed the steps (414!) to the top of Giotto’s campanile in the late afternoon, about an hour before it closed. The low sun turned the people below into a shadow show. Although you can’t see what they’re carrying or doing from the view of their heads, the shadows turn the scene into a panorama of action.

This shot of Brunelleschi’s dome on the Florence duomo was taken from one of the seven levels of the campanile, through the stone columns. As you can see, it is also possible to climb to the top of the dome, but the lines are much longer.

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

Although the bell tower is popularly known as Giotto di Bondone’s campanile, Andea Pisano and Francesco Talenti continued to work on it after Giotto’s death in 1337. The tower was completed in 1359. It is 84.7 (277.9 feet) high. The steps are a challenge — but what a view!

Giotto Campanile, Florence

View looking up the east side of the tower. At the bottom of the photo are seven lozenges (attributed to Pisano or his school) with figures representing the seven liberal arts: astronomy, music, geomegry, grammar, rhetoric, logic, and arithmetic.  On the next level, the four statues by Donatello, dated between 1408 and 1421, are prophets and patriarchs (“bearded” prophet, “beardless” prophet, Abraham, and Isaac). The three top levels were built by Francesco Talenti, Master of the Works from 1348 to 1359. Each level is larger than the one below, but because of the perspective they appear to be equal in size. At the top of the campanile, instead of the spire Giotto had originally designed, Talenti added a large terrace, so tourists owe him a debt of gratitude.

Giotto Campanile, Florence

The baptistery is on the right, in this frame taken from the west side of the campanile.

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

This photo was taken from the north side of the campanile terrace, above the baptistery and the façade of the Duomo.

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

The campanile has seven bells, unfortunately defaced by graffiti.

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

Side view of the Duomo’s façade. The brick dome in the background is the Chapel of the Medicis, adjoining San Lorenzo church.

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

Is it a pope? A cardinal? A bishop? No, it’s Andrea Ortagna, Florence’s most prominent 14th century painter, sculptor, and architect, looking down on the city he helped to create. It’s nice to see artists get a little recognition, even if only the pigeons can appreciate the memorial. I assume that the figure is 19th century, since it is in the same neo-Gothic style as the front of the basilica.

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

View from the south side of the campanile. The tree-covered hills are on the far side of the Arno River. Between the square tower of the Bargello palace and the slender spire of the Associazione Monastica, you can see Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the favourite haunts of photographers and tourists. To the right of the spire, on the horizon, stands San Miniato al Monte, considered one of the finest Romanesque churches in Italy. San Miniato dates back to the 11th century.

View from Giotto Campanile, Florence

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Florence Cathedral (Duomo)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 2, 2012

Duomo, Florence

Places like the Duomo in Florence (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, or Basilica of St. Mary of the Flower) make me really appreciate a wide angle lens. The baptistry and cafes are so close to the church that I needed a wide-angle lens to get it all into a single shot. In the photo above you can see the entire cathedral, Giotti’s campanile, and the edge of the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St. John).

The main structure of the church was completed in 1436, with the dome by Filippo Brunelleschi, who devised some amazing structural solutions. The outside of the cathedral is covered with beautiful inlaid green, pink, and white marble. The façade (front end of the church, in Gothic style) is 19th century. According to Wikipedia, the duomo’s dome is the largest brick dome in the world (it has been surpassed by domes constructed with more modern building materials).

The duomo square is dominated by the cathedral and a huge, separate baptistry, shown below. Its eight sides (eight is a symbolic number for baptism) are covered with colored marble in the Florentine Romanesque style (check out the rounded arches, one of the hallmarks of Romanesque architecture) but the real attraction of the baptistry are the magnificent bronze doors, known as the “Gates of Paradise,” by Lorenzo Ghiberti. The original doors are in the duomo museum. The ones currently adorning the baptistry are modern copies.

Florence Duomo

The photos below start on the north side of the cathedral and end on the south side, the same side as Giotti’s campanile (bell tower).

Florence Duomo

The Gothic facade faces west. Mary, holding a flower, is enthroned, surrounded by Florentine artists and noblemen.

Florence Duomo

Florence Duomo

South side of the cathedral, showing the magnificent dome. You can climb up there, by the way, but it’s a long line and a lot of waiting. It’s also a lot of steps!

Duomo, Florence\

Door on the north side:

Duomo, Florence

I’ve been rather quiet for a while because I had a photo shoot two nights ago. It was a Siyum Shas, the celebration that culminates the 7.5 year worldwide cycle of studying the Talmud, held in Mitzpeh Nevo, where I live. I was asked to shoot both stills and video. Now I have to sit down and edit all those photos and videos.

In addition, I taught a course on Enterprise Architect at work this morning. EA is a UML modeling tool for software design. I was sent to Staines a month ago (remember the Stonehenge shots?) and spent four days learning this program so that I could teach system architects in Israel. Although I had prepared my notes and written the documentation, I was still clicking, clicking, clicking my way through EA last night at 11 p.m. because I found some more cool functionality. I was afraid that I had too much material for a four-hour session but — mirabile dictu — we finished half an hour early! Of course, it didn’t hurt that the ten people in my course are among the brightest in our company. Last night I slept 4.5 hours, because of nerves. Adrenalin and coffee got me through the session, although I was quite tired by the end.

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »