Sunday, September 23, 2012


A while back I found myself driving past Atwater Park, a small park located on Lake Michigan in the village of Shorewood.  I noticed a relatively large metal sculpture consisting of what looked like pieces of metal in the shape of various letters that were soldered together to form the figure of a man sitting with his legs drawn up and facing the lake.  The next time I went out with my camera, I decided the sculpture might be worth a few shots before I moved on to something else.  So on Friday, September 21st, I returned to the park on my way back to the Mitchell Domes.  I wound up spending a couple of hours at the park and never made it to the Domes.

The sculpture, created by James Plensa and known as "Spillover II," sits on a low pedestal and is perhaps 7-8 feet high.  It is located on the south side of the park on the bluff above the lake and does indeed look out at the lake.  Here is one of the early shots that I took.

Unfortunately, the morning was pretty overcast, so I don't believe the sculpture showed as well as it might have on a sunny day.  I tried this shot as a B&W also.

Because the sculpture was essentially monochromatic, I thought the B&W worked pretty well.  Here is a closeup of the letters that make up the sculpture.

I played around with these closeup shots a bit, finally deciding the best way to handle this was to place the camera relatively close to the sculpture and to use a wide open aperture to reduce the depth of field in order to create a better feeling of depth.  The above shot was taken at f/4.

One of the key features of this sculpture is that it is facing the lake, so here is another shot that better incorporates the lake into the picture.  I felt this shot does a better job of blending the sculpture with its environment.

The bluff sits about 100 feet above the surface of the lake.  When I looked out at the lake, I noted that the park featured three large piers extending from the shore.  The park had gone through a recent makeover a few years back, including wooden stairs leading down to an uncluttered beach.  Here was an early shot of the middle of the three piers.

Unlike the two side piers, this one featured arms.  Although I like the composition--and color--of this image, I also liked a cropped version that I converted to a B&W.

To pay more attention to the detail in the structure of the pier, I cut off a portion of the left arm.

I decided to walk down to the beach and look for some closer shots of the piers.  Here is one of the pier at the north end of the park.

I like the negative space in this and the subsequent shots.  Here is a shot of the north side of the center pier.

And here is another shot taken with the camera situated about a foot off the beach.  Better, I think.

It appears that the arms of that pier have sunk into the lake somewhat.

And here is a shot of the south side of the center pier, which shows the curve in the pier's shape.

The lake was placid that morning, which was good.  But the general overcast muted the contrasts.  It also softened the horizon on the lake.  I think the effect might have been more dramatic in bright sunshine, so I know that I will be returning when the lighting conditions are better.

Eventually, I started back up the bluff stairs.  Here is a B&W shot of those.

When I got back up I took a couple more shots of the center pier, including one turned into a B&W.

The B&Ws seem to do a better job of showing the detail in the structure of the pier.  Note the barrier extending across the pier, announcing that it was closed.  Of course, this would not stop anyone who could scale the two-feet high pier from the other side of the barrier.

Finally, I took a few more shots of the sculpture, this time from the side and against a background of dark evergreens.  Now the sculpture showed light rather than dark.

I also liked this as a B&W.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4 lens.


  1. Thank you so much for posting rhis. I live near Milwaukee and ch 12 has a commercial with this in it. I waa sick for 8 yrs and could not leave my house at all. Well let me tell you, this area has changed so much since then,wow. Im grateful, you told me where he is and this will be a day trip for me and my family. Thank you so much.

    1. I'm glad you found it! Have fun with your family.