Saturday, January 7, 2012


On Thursday, January 6th, I took advantage of free admission to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Although the crowds to see the special exhibit during its final week were huge, the permanent galleries were much less crowded.  I took about 150 shots in the museum, but for this post I have decided to concentrate on photos of some of the museum's sculptures.

Two of the concerns I wanted to focus on in shooting sculptures were the use of background as context and selective use of depth of field.  The museum had placed a number of sculptures along the west side of the Calatrava addition, and that provided a terrific backdrop to deal with these two concerns.  One of the more striking pieces was a female nude featured in the following two shots.

I didn't really have much background to work with in the second shot, but in the first shot, I was able to capture some of the architectural detail.  The same could be said for the following shot of a male nude in the same area.

Below is another male figure.  Even though I tried to reduce the depth of field for this shot, I felt the figure in the background (a suit of armor, I believe), because of its brightness, is something of a distraction.

One of my shortcomings in the past has been my failure to show the broader scene.  Here is an attempt to remedy that.

Following is a shot of a recumbent male figure that I have taken before.  This time I decided to focus on the expression on his face, which is one of concentrated concern.

One of the pieces that either is new or that I had missed in prior visits was one of St. George slaying the dragon.  The figure, which is carved from wood and painted, is magnificent, although the dragon at his feet is really quite small (about the size of a small terrier) and decidedly wimpy.  Also, it seems apparent that the figure is missing the spear used to dispatch the dragon.  For the following shot I focused on the saint's face.

There is some flare in the photo from overhead lights, but I really didn't mind it much for this shot.

I liked how I handled depth of field in the following couple of shots.

I had initially taken shots of the bull from the side.  However, I decided that by reducing depth of field and focusing just on the bull's head and horns, allowing the hindquarters to fall out of focus, I could add apparent depth to the overall image.

Likewise, in the above shot I focused on the figure in the foreground, reducing depth of field to allow the figure in the background to fall out of focus.  However, I might have done better to have taken the shot as a landscape at an angle to the right to create separation between the two figures. that would have preserved the sense of depth without creating any conflict between the two figures.

Although I liked the dynamic quality in the figure below, there is not much background to provide context.

I very much liked the semi-abstract metal sculpture below.  I also liked the secondary pattern of the shadows cast by the lighting directed at the sculpture.  This probably would have worked well as a black & white also.

The sculpture below was obviously outside, and I took this shot from inside through glass.  I actually took a number of shots trying to capture the small trees set between the sculpture and the lake.  Reflections in the glass were a problem and I had difficulty taking a shot that was wide enough to take in several of the trees without the reflections being a problem.  Having a filter that could have eliminated those reflections would have been a help.

Even though the sculpture is set in the center of the photo, I felt the bare trees on either side provided a pleasing symmetry to the overall shot.

The following "sculpture" was located in the stairwell leading from the parking garage to the main foyer of the Calatrava addition.  It appears to be made of neon or fluorescent tubing. I do not know whether the piece can be lit up.

I liked the almost pastel, undersaturated quality in this image.  The sculpture also has a Wright-like quality to its lines.

Finally, there is Alexander Calder mobile hanging above the entrance to the main Calatrava foyer.  I did not have the lens needed to capture the entire piece, so decided to feature a part of it.

I might have done better if I had chosen a portion with more colors and taken the shot from a perspective that would have shown more of the stunning architecture of the Calatrava addition.


  1. Great blog, I appreciate the discussions along with the photos.