Thursday, June 7, 2012


I had gone downtown on Tuesday evening because telescopes had been set up at the central branch of the Milwaukee public library to offer those interested a chance to view the transit of Venus, an event that will not occur again until the year 2117.  I did get to see the transit and then stayed down to do a little evening photography.  I headed to the Milwaukee Art Museum and as the light started to decline I took a number of shots of the Calatrava addition to the museum.

I have photographed the Calatrava a number of times and close up I have trouble coming up with fresh images.  The lines are dramatic and I find myself converting the shots to B&Ws to take advantage of those lines.  Here are a few of the B&W images.

These somehow brought to mind the story about the blind men trying to figure out what an elephant looks like by only feeling separate parts of it.  In other words, these are essentially abstracts, and one would be hard pressed to figure out what the overall structure looks like based on these shots.  I am OK with this.  I have taken more interesting B&Ws, but at least these are a bit different.

The remainder of the shots were more comprehensive of the overall structure, which I have photographed dozens of times.  So to create something different, I was looking to add elements beyond the structure itself.  In this case I was looking to the colors of the sky in the diminishing light.  Here is one of the shots illustrating the evening light.  In the past I have taken similar shots from this point precisely in line with the center of the walkway leading to the addition.  In this shot I moved the camera a little to the right to show off the cable structure.  Not a cloud in the sky, and in the evening with the museum closed I had the whole scene all to myself.

My favorite shots were those I took just a little later in the evening, when the sky had turned a mellow golden color.  These include the shot I placed at the top of this post, as well as the following two shots. In these shots the cables of the "mast" occupy a large portion of the image and the brise soleil is sort of tucked into the lower portion of the shot.  However, I am OK with the use of the sky as an element of "negative space"--even though the museum is the primary subject, the sky plays a strong supporting role here.

Although the Calatrava is in excellent focus in these shots, the light has created a soft feeling.  Another nice aspect of these shots is that I was able to isolate the Calatrava without any other objects in the image, other than the sky and the lake (except for a sailboat in the photo at the top of the post).

And here is a final shot from later in the evening when the light in the sky was failing and the lights in the structure had been turned on.

The sailing masts of the Denis Sullivan are visible in the lower right.  I do not mind that the top of the "mast" of the Calatrava is cut off, but I do wish that I had not cut off the corner of the brise soleil in the lower left corner of the image.  It would have been great if the shot had also included a rising full moon.

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