Thursday, February 16, 2012


On February 14th, I returned to the Harley Davidson Museum.  As with most museums, the amount of light on the interior is somewhat limited, and I decided this time to bring my tripod with the hopes of taking photos at a longer exposure time but with a lower ISO to reduce camera "noise"and improve the overall quality of the shots.  To some extent that proved to be true, but it also created other problems that I will refer to later.

Although you enter the museum on the ground level, you are directed to start touring the museum on the second floor, where they have positioned many of the oldest motorcycles, dating as far back as 1906.  (The company was founded in 1903.) As with the prior visit, I found myself taking shots of the hubs and spokes of the very early motorcycles, which were little more than motorized heavy-duty bicycles.  Here is one of the better examples.

Here is another that seemed to work better as a B&W.

One thing I discovered about the tripod: it prevented me from getting as close to the subject as I would have liked.

One of the very best exhibits in the museum is the collection of decorative gas tanks that are displayed along one wall.  The layout and lighting for this exhibit are terrific.

Here is one of the tanks that I especially liked because of its white color.

An exhibit that I had not paid much attention to on my earlier visit was a display that showed the evolution of the motorcycle engine. Here is an example of one of those engines.

One of the excellent aspects of the museum is that the motorcycles, and there are literally scores of them on display, are very accessible and generally in great condition.  Here is an interesting detail from one of the machines.

Even though the main function of the museum is to present the history of the Harley Davidson motorcycle and brand, the museum building itself is also interesting.  I was informed that the building was build specifically as a museum and was designed to reflect the industrial character of the city, the brand, and to some extent its customers.  I found myself looking for shots that would reflect that architecture.  Some of the shots were a little weird.

I also found myself attracted to the red corrugated metal walls, particularly on the stairwells.

I also felt this shot worked well as a B&W.

One problem I ran into a number of times on this visit was the fact that, even though I was using a tripod, some of the photos, upon later inspection, showed movement during the period that the shutter was open.  This was disappointing, and at first I thought I had just been sloppy.  However, in the following shot, the composition of which I particularly liked, the camera "shake" appeared to be strictly up and down.

I had taken the shot on a landing on the stairs, and, given the low-light setting, the exposure was for a very long 4 seconds.  I have two theories about this.  One is that I had inadvertently set the landing in motion by moving around while the shutter was open.  The second theory is that there was a lot of noise on the museum, primarily recordings of Harley engine sounds, and that the noise had caused the stair landing to vibrate up and down.

Here is another shot of the interesting light fixtures which fortunately didn't show any vibration.

Following are a couple of shots of a stairway that liked for the various diagonal lines reflected in the shots.  These were probably my favorite shots on this visit.

As I was leaving, I spoke with one of the museum employees who suggested that I try to get a shot of the "hill rider" statue situated outside the museum.  He showed me a photo he had taken one evening which presented the statue in silhouette with the building behind it lighted by interior and exterior lights.  His photo was nice and I was not able to replicate it in the middle of the day.  Here is the shot that I did take.

Finally, here, for what they are worth, are a couple of other exterior shots that I turned into B&Ws.

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