Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Doors Open Milwaukee 2012 was presented by Historic Milwaukee, Inc.  This was its second year, and, by all accounts, it was a terrific success.  Held on the weekend of September 22-23, it featured approximately 125 buildings and other locations in and around the city that might not have been generally open to the public but that opened their doors to visitors for this event.  The locations many times featured tours, guided and self-guided, providing historical information.  I was interested more in getting some photos than in taking the tours--one of my persistent problems in such situations.

On Saturday, the 22nd, I made a list of locations I wanted to visit and didn't get to all of those.  I went back downtown on Sunday and caught several more.  In general, I was really pleased with what I was able to get.  I thought I would break this series up into several posts. The first two places I visited were the Ambassador Hotel, a recently renovated boutique hotel on the west side of the Marquette University campus, and the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center of Wisconsin.  These were not great locations, but could be considered as warm-ups.

There were a number of nice touches at the Ambassador Hotel, including the door to the men's room.

I wanted to get a shot of the ladies' room door also, which was equally as stylish, but I was afraid that a woman would come out just as I was snapping the shot.

Here are a couple of closeups of a nicely restored brass elevator door.

My next intended stop was a small chapel on the Marquette campus (which I actually visited the following day).  However, I spied another building on the list and decided to stop in.  It turned out to be the Irish Cultural Center, also near the Marquette campus.  This building was originally a protestant church that had fallen into disrepair and was acquired by the Irish Cultural Center for a total of one dollar.  They are still in the process of restoring the building, but it clearly has strong potential.

The structure include some very nice stained glass windows . . .

Including a nice semicircular group behind the balcony.

Here is a closer view of that window.

As the docent pointed out, although there are Christian elements in the windows, they are subtle and unobtrusive.  The windows also feature a frosted quality that I found interesting.  Here are a couple of closeups.

I also liked the juxtaposition of the stained glass and wood stairways leading to the balcony.

The building also featured a fairly impressive pipe organ.

And here is a closer look at the organ.

A couple of comments on the photography.  Interior shots generally pose difficulties because there generally is a lot less light.  I had brought my tripod but left it in the car.  I just wasn't comfortable trying to set it up, especially considering the number of people moving around in these facilities.  I certainly did not see anyone else with a tripod.  As a result, I had to ramp up the ISO rating to compensate.  Most of the above shots in this post were taken at an ISO of 800, and the pipe organ shots were taken at an ISO of 2000.  Close inspection reveals a fair amount of graininess, but the alternative would have been motion blur, which would be worse.  In addition, the color of the light may vary quite a bit, depending on the type of lighting used.  So I found myself continually changing the camera's white balance setting to capture an accurate a rendering as possible of what my eyes were seeing.  I knew that I could always modify the white balance in post processing, and did some of that, but I also knew that I might not remember later what that color should be.

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


  1. fantastic post and Thanks for sharing this info. It's very helpful.
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  2. Great pictures. You are very talented, John

  3. finally figured out how to leave a comment without so much trouble. GREAT PICTURES!!!