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N’atman coming to theaters this weekend!

Hey Yinz,

The Dark Knight Rises premieres this weekend, and the world will get to see the N’atman in action! Early reviews say that the movie finishes strong. I just wanted to share this comic posted on the Pittsburgh Film Office’s Facebook.

Whip! Bam! Boom! Kapow!

When you’re sitting in the movie theater answering trivia (like what was Baby’s real name in Dirty Dancing?) and waiting for the Batman to start, I ask you to please take a minute and think about who lost when Batman came to town. Sure, the city won overall. The film industry brought jobs to Pittsburgh and stimulated local business. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl got to relive his college football glory days as a player for the Gotham Rogue. And Christian Bale discovered Braddock, which will be the backdrop for another Christian Bale movie, “Out of the Furnace.”

But there were two losers when Batman came to town. Last summer, I watched four or five people rip the leaves off two trees on the Bellefield Avenue-side of Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon Institute in Oakland, presumably to make the trees fit the winter scene. (If you want to talk about jobs, there were two people on ladders ripping leaves off the trees and two to pick them up.) A year has passed, and  the trees are still alive, but their branches support only a dozen or so leaves.

This photo was taken in May – less than one year after the incident, shall we say. I don’t understand why the crew ripped the leaves off these two trees but left the middle tree unscathed. Perhaps this will be central to the plot! We’ll have to wait and see.

-Estelle


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Fireworks for the Fourth in Pittsburgh

Hi yinz,

Happy fifth of July! After getting home late from the Regatta, I didn’t have the energy to post photos of the fireworks. My fourth of July holiday was certainly happy with a cook out, shopping and the Regatta, but having a one-day holiday on Wednesday is rough. After a day of work and watching the Buccos sweep the Astros tonight (Zoltan!), this photo is pretty much all I can muster.

Pittsburgh is a fantastic place to watch fireworks because the three rivers converge at the point. I remember pre-recession fireworks being shot from three barges on the river. However, the fireworks were still great this year. I saw some fireworks that I don’t think I’ve seen before – ones that shot red and green streaks that scattered like marbles dropped on a hardwood floor. Though this photo is a little blurry, it’s worth sharing because this is what I imagine an alien attack would look like… A little too much like Independence Day, am I right?

I hope you had a happy fourth of July.

-Estelle


Portraits of Elaine

Hey yinz!

This weekend, I had my first portrait shoot! My good friend and fellow Pitt grad Elaine Short needed some pictures for her professional website. Elaine is a no-nonsense editor who needed some pictures that show a little of what she’s about but not in the awkward holding-a-No.2-pencil-while-leaning-against-this-tree kind of way.

Because I take everything seriously, I did a little research on author portraits and outdoor portrait photography. Some of tips I learned include:

  • Avoid direct sunlight (one website even suggested using a white truck to reflect light)
  • Wide-angle lenses generally aren’t appropriate for professional pictures.
  • Shoot wider because you can always crop later
  • Have the model hold something to avoid clenching fists and tensing arms

Most portraits of writers that I’ve seen have the writer looking deeply into the camera. Sometimes their arms are crossed or their hands cradle their faces. Often they’re in black and white. I wanted to convey Elaine’s exuberance and youth with vibrant summery colors and laughter. That honest laugh, however, can be tough when staring into a the eye of a camera. At the same time, I tried to avoid this sort of cheesy portrait smile:

Universal Studios - American Pie Family Photo

So, I told jokes. I urged her to “keep it loose.” A couple times, I suggested that she take a tip from Miss Tyra Banks and smile with her eyes:

I asked for her to show me her sexy face and Blue Steel, knowing a burst of laughter would follow. I think it worked. These photos are in chronological order. Maybe you can tell by the sun or by Elaine’s body language. We started with strong 3 p.m. lighting after a late lunch in Oakland, and around 7 p.m., we met up again for another session by the parking lot near the Shadyside Wine and Spirits on Center Avenue.

Elaine on a bench behind the Cathedral of Learning

Elaine said this pose has been done before, and she’s right. But she does it so well, and it’s nice to have options.

In Hillman Library

This shot happened after an awkward encounter with an admirer. Brush it off, E.

Getting a little silly here

This is my fave. Bridge, glasses, dress and smile.

Thanks for the opportunity, Elaine! This was so much fun!

All the best and lots of love,

-Estelle


Mirazozo: Is this what it’s like to walk through a rainbow?

Hey yinz kids!

Today, I went with my nephew and his family to the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival in Oakland. The festival offered crafts, musicians, a petting zoo, free carousel rides, face painters, funnel cake and lots of other cool things kids love and adults might expect. The centerpiece of the festival — and a delight for young and old alike — was the Mirazozo, a giant inflatable sculpture. The luminarium is a network of radiant domes that has delighted visitors worldwide since 1992.

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Maybe I should say, “Is this what it’s like to walk through a kaleidoscope?”

If you haven’t seen it yet, you have one more day! Mirazozo will be open in from 9:30 to 5:30 tomorrow on Mazeroski Field. Admission is $5. It’s definitely worth it.

ImageHope yinz make it dahn,

Estelle


Art All Weekend in Pittsburgh

Hey Yinz,

It was a very cool weekend to be Pittsburgh. If you were willing to brave the freezing (C’mon wasn’t it just 80 degrees?) weather, you had plenty of events to check out. On Friday, there was the gallery crawl dahntahn presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. From 4 p.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday, the 15th annual Art All Night raged on in Lawrenceville. It’s a good thing Art All Night actually went all night because it was competing with the fire festival in Homestead dubbed Pyrotopia.

Here’s a slew of photos from my most eventful Saturday night.

Cool industrial space at 40th Street and Willow in Lawrenceville

I loved the contrast of the art against the steel beams, caution tape and florescent lights.

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I dig Bruce Lee art. He was such a philosopher.

Love this concept

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I'm just mad about this.

One of the things I love about Art All Night is that anyone could submit art, so you could have a drawing by a four-year-old kid next to a $900 painting. “No fees. No jury. No censorship.”

The painting on the left is one of the many stellar works by my four-year-old nephew. The painting next to it is my sister, Patty's, creation. A good sense of color runs in the family.

Image~~~~~~~~~ Pyrotopia ~~~~~~~~~

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This flame was set off with an electroencephalography (EEG) headband. It was fun to see the flame shoot up when the headband wearer (usually a kid) focused.

Pyrotopia is a new festival that featured musical acts, a torch set off by an electroencephalography (EEG) headband, a fiery game of Simon and other neat performances. The event took place at the Pump House, against the backdrop of the Rankin Bridge and the Carrie Furnace. There are some pictures I included because I thought they’d be cool for a fire version of the cloud game, where you see the objects in the abstract. Enjoy!

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The Pyrotopia version of the game of Simon

Glass artist from Forms in Glass Studios (Fig Studios) in Pittsburgh

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What do you see?

Evil potato smile?

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Yosemite Sam?

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An alien invasion (barge) passing by the Carrie Furnace

This was a fun, unique event that I would love to see again. My one greatest criticism was that the Tesla coil that was advertised was not running by 10 p.m., about when we left. There seemed to have been technical difficulties, which is rather unnerving. Does anyone know if they started the Tesla coil by the end of the night?

I hope you were able to check out some of these events this weekend and/or you’ll venture out next time.

See yinz later,

Estelle


Obsurophile’s Peter in Crazy Mocha

Hey yinz,

On Saturday, I was walking in Lawrenceville with my usual comrades when nature called. I scurried over to the Crazy Mocha coffee shop, which was almost empty at about 5:30 p.m. As I purchased an Italian soda and some biscotti to justify my visit, I noticed a large, intriguing contraption over my shoulder. There was Peter Pawlowski with his Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera on a tripod, ready to capture pictures of his girlfriend, Jenny Jo, at work.

Here’s Peter. Notice the sweet Polaroid jacket.

Peter Pawlowski in Crazy Mocha

We got to talking and bonded over the magic of photography. Though I was already impressed with the one photo he took of my exchange with Jenny Jo, I really got to appreciate his skill when I got home and checked out Peter’s Flickr page.

This is my favorite from the evening:

Crazy Mocha barista photo by Peter Pawlowski

I asked him in an e-mail how he got this effect without it being just one big blur. Peter explained, “The photo was taken with Fuji FP3000B instant film, which is ISO 3000, very fast! This means that I could take indoor photos with available light at f4.7 and 1/100s shutter speed. The triple exposure was more like f11 for each exposure.”  I’m always so impressed by the technical skills photographers who shoot with film possess.

As I alluded earlier, here’s the picture of Jenny Jo and me.  The original is smaller than a regular 4×6 print. Yes, this will be my first appearance in Pixburgh N’at.

Jenny Jo and me trying to not look pose-y Photo: Peter Pawlowski

He even mentioned Pixburgh N’at on his blog, obscurophile. Hooray for networking. It was great to meet you, Peter, and Jenny Jo. Keep up the good work. It was a pleasure meeting you both.

-Estelle


Welcome back, Sidney Crosby!

Hey yinz,

Sidney Crosby returned to the Penguins’ lineup yesterday in perfect fashion. Crosby could have joined his teammates on their recent Pacific tour, as many people speculated. But instead, Crosby lead his team to a 5-0 triumph over the New York Islanders on home ice with no fights, disputed goals, and no answered goals from the opponent (way to go Fleury!).

Probably the best part was seeing Crosby score about 5 minutes into the game. It was his first goal in nearly 11 months. When that siren blared, he lifted his knee, pumped his arm and gave a “f*ck yeah” that signaled to the world that he was back again. Oh captain, my captain! (The Walt Whitman irony is understood because obviously, he’s kickin’. I just have to respond to the #ohcaptainmycaptain Twitter hashtag.)

The crowd was awesome to behold. The Penguins gave all of the fans “Welcome Back Sid” signs. (I assume that’s “Welcome Back, Sid” and not an order to welcome back Sid. 😛 ) The chants for Crosby boomed, especially in the final minutes, as we all hoped for Crosby to get a third. Though the hats stayed on, no Pens fan left the arena disappointed.

Unfortunately but understandably, cameras with detachable lenses are forbidden in for the Average Joe/Jane in the Consol Energy Center.  I took these photos with my boyfriend’s Lumix camera, but I think the photos are worth sharing.

Oh, how we missed seeing number 87!

Kris Letang's hair was prominent, as usual. 😉

Guess who took the first faceoff of the night.

Crosby is a beast!

Congratulations on the shutout, Fleury! There was a lot of competition for stars in this game.

Sidney Crosby gets a well-deserved first star with two goals and two assists on the night.

Great job, Crosby! We’re all glad to see you’re doing well.

-Estelle