Saturday, March 31, 2012


On our last full day in Arizona, Geri and I paid a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum.  The museum is located north of the main Phoenix business district and actually is quite close to the Heard Museum of Native American art and culture that we had visited earlier in March.  My impressions were that the museum compensates for an apparent lack in pieces by well know masters through a beautiful facility and an interesting collection of more contemporary pieces.

The building was constructed so as to allow very large exhibit spaces rather than being divided into smaller exhibition rooms.  The larger spaces were then divided by movable panels allowing flexibility in the presentation.  Here are some examples of the overall layout.

I did take some photos of the wall art, even though the artists were not as familiar to me.  Again, I often took images of only portions of the pieces.

The artist of the above piece seemed to have trouble getting eyes right.  The painting below appears to be a highly symbolic--and powerfully stated--representation of a funeral for a young girl.

I found it a lot easier to take photos of the three-dimensional pieces, including one of Rodin's copies of The Kiss, this one in dark bronze.

Here are a few other sculptures--of varying antiquity--that I shot.

I had checked on the museum's policy on taking pictures, and it appeared to be similar to other museums--generally non-flash photography is allowed except with respect to special exhibits.  However, it turned out that photography was forbidden re a large number of what appeared to be permanent exhibit items.  This was indicated by small signs located near those items.  In a number of cases, I did not notice those signs until I had already taken a shot.  Here is a shot for which I was gently reprimanded by one of the museum guards.  I was really interested primarily in photographing the overall space, although I did want to highlight the all-white nude against a black background.  I was at least 50 feet from the sculpture when I took the shot, but the guard informed me that photography of the statue was forbidden.  I kept the shot anyway.

I thought it also worked as a B&W.

I did not learn the story behind the nude having only one arm.

The following shot is of a large exhibit that consisted of pieces of the charred remains of a church that had been struck by lightning.  The pieces were then suspended by wires in a cube-shaped array, with the larger pieces toward the center of the cube.

Here is a self-portrait of Geri and me reflected in one of a number of unusually shaped class pieces.

My favorite shot, though, included two separate pieces.  One was of a whimsical "statue" that was positioned in front of an unusual piece consisting of many thousand colored cards that were packed so that only the outside edges of the cards were visible.  This piece could be viewed from either side.  On one side the edges of the cards were primarily green and yellow, and on the other--the one visible in the photograph--the edges were predominantly red and orange.

The museum also included a number of sculptures scattered outside the building, including a number in an internal courtyard.

Finally, Geri wanted me to include a photo of the following piece that hung in the museum's entry foyer.

A close inspection reveals that this is actually another self-portrait.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Scottsdale has done a superb job of creating a "civic center," consisting of a center for the performing arts, an art museum, and government buildings, as well as large expanses of lawn areas, including lawns, fountains, and a host of sculptures.  I have visited the area a number of times since we have been here, primarily to photograph the southwestern architecture and sculptures.

I had a hard time trying to take interesting shots of the sculptures, but I did like the following photos of a metal sculpture situated in one of the fountain areas.  I felt that the best way to take this shot was to position the sculpture in front of one of the fountains that was backlit by sunlight, throwing the statue into silhouette.

I finally figured out that this was a representation of Cervantes' Don Quixote, complete with horse, lance, and--if you look close--windmills.  This was taken at a wide open aperture of f/4, with a shutter speed of 1/2000 second, freezing the water droplets.  I decided it might be more effective to capture the scene with a much slower shutter speed, something of a problem, as the smallest aperture on my lens is f/22.  Here is the result, at 1/60 second.  This is still much faster than I would have liked, but I would have needed a filter to slow things down further.

Scottsdale also boasts one of a number of LOVE sculptures, which apparently are cast from a single piece of aluminum.  This sculpture is at least 10 ft. by 10 ft.  Here are a couple of unorthodox takes on the piece.

The rest of the shots are of architecture, attempting to take advantage of the play of light and shadow provided by Arizona's bright sun.  Here is the side of a building that I attempted to make more interesting by focusing on the shadow of a tree cast against it and turning it into a B&W.

Here is a shot of, of all things, a parking ramp that I thought provided some interesting lines.

What caught my attention was that I could follow the line of supporting pillars through the opening, which also incorporated the trunk of a palm tree.  In post processing I worked very hard to maximize the amount of contrast in the lighter elements of the image, the parts wrapping around the central opening on the upper, right, and lower sides.  This is the best I could do--not great, but I still like the shot a lot.

Finally, the Scottsdale library has a terrific curved courtyard/entryway that is covered by a pergola that provides a very interesting array of light and shadow.

Note that the shadows are also striping the bench.  Also a close inspection reveals a woman dressed in green at the end of the walkway who is also striped by the shadows.

This worked very well in portrait format also.

This shot was taken on a different day when the sun was at a different point in the sky, creating a much denser system of shadows.

Here is another shot taken from the other direction (and again at a different time of day).

I like this shot because it is "clean," without any extraneous vegetation and with perhaps a better balance between shadowed and open areas.  This shot also worked well as a B&W.

When I was setting up my camera and tripod for these shots, I actually had people approach me and say how they thought I had chosen a very interesting scene to shoot.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Scottsdale has a well-defined arts district that includes a large number of galleries.  A lot of the galleries specialize in western art, but others are more general in their orientation.  Although it is usually not allowed to take photos inside the galleries, but a lot of the larger sculptures are on the street.  The sculptures include a number of bronzes, which prove difficult to photograph.  They generally have little variation in hue, and their glossy surfaces tend to project a faded appearance.  Nevertheless, I did my best, as in the following.

This charming girl was part of a larger sculpture.

In the above photo, I was trying to capture the essence of the sculpture--the couple holding hands with the rose between them.

The cowboy in the following photo was extremely lanky, and, even though he had an expressive face, I thought the best angle was from behind.

And I decided I wanted to position this cowboy on horseback so that his face was profiled against the lighter colored horse.

The outside sculptures also included a very large (at least four feet high) blue human head.  Here are a couple of shots.

"Sculptures" in the nearby Old Town section of town included an interesting piece composed of items of clothing (or at least cloth) combined to form a colorful tree.

Here are a couple of details from the sculpture.

The trunk was made of stuffed bluejeans.  Very clever.

Here are a few more photos from this area that I thought worked well as more artistic studies.

I particularly liked this study of light and shadows that took advantage of Arizona's bright sunlight.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Scottsdale has a classic car dealership, Discover Classic Cars, and they were kind enough to let me take a few photos of their extensive inventory of classic cars, extending back at least into the 20s and up through the muscle cars of the 70s.  I wasn't comfortable spending a lot of time on the lot, as I did not want to interfere with their business operation.  In addition, it had rained recently, so the normally sparkling car bodies had water spots on some of their surfaces, and I was not going to clean them off.  I did get some OK shots, however.  As usual, I found myself taking photos of just parts of cars, as in this shot.

I did manage to photograph the whole car in this case.  Not sure of the make.  Handsome, though.

I knew the following to be a Ford,

because of its radiator.

Don't know about the following car, but I did like the detailing.

I also liked that I was able to capture the reflection of one muscle car in the side panel of another in the following.

But the car that I liked the best was a 1940 Ford coupe sporting lines created at the height of the art deco period.  It was gorgeous and was in great condition.

Loved the side mirrors.  Here is a closeup of the grille.

This shot also worked well as a B&W.

Finally, there is the shot of the back quarter section that I positioned at the top of this post to catch the viewer's attention.  This is really a simple shot, with just a few lines and a taillight to identify it.  Normally, I get concerned with areas in a photo that are completely dark.  However, here the dark areas on the right sides of the trunk and the fender actually serve to provide depth to the shot.