Tuesday, July 30, 2013


On the same rainy Saturday that we visited the James J. Hill House on St. Paul, we also visited Minnesota's Capitol building, including taking one of their tours.  We had a great time, actually.  The building is gorgeous, and I found myself taking a lot of photos.

First, I did manage to take a couple of shots of the exterior of the building as we were leaving, despite the rainy weather.  Here is one of those.

Not a great shot as I was way too close for a proper perspective or to capture the entire building.  Moreover, the day was very overcast (raining actually) and the photo looks very "flat" as a result.  At least I got the building centered in the frame.  I would have done better to have limited the shot to the dome (or just part of the dome) along with the gold-covered statues that grace the front.

During our tour our guide escorted us to the roof just to the left of the statues and I was able to get a few shots in the rain.  We were in fact so close that I was not able to get all of the statues into a single shot.  As a result, the best shots were close-ups, including the following.

I felt pretty good about both of these shots.  By the way, according to our guide, the statues are covered with a total of over six pounds of gold.

The remainder of the shots were from the building's interior.  As is usually the case, dealing with the light (or lack of it) inside the building was challenging.  I didn't have my tripod, so everything was taken handheld.  To compensate, I ramped up the ISO to the 1000 range, which seemed to provide a fast enough shutter speed in most cases.  The color of the lighting also varied significantly, but I was able to make changes in post processing to correct where needed.  All of this was made a lot easier because I shoot everything in RAW.

I have spent some time photographing Wisconsin's capitol building, and I saw many similarities between the two.  Both are dominated by a central dome, and both have very ornate, beautifully restored interiors, dominated by the use of a variety of granite and marble stonework.  Wisconsin's capitol building was completed in 1917; Minnesota's in 1905.

One of the first aspects of the building's interior that one notices are the painted ceilings in the hallways, as illustrated in the following couple of shots.

In this second case, I used my technique of placing the camera on the floor, pointed up, directly under the intended area.  I would have used the same technique for the central dome except that the center of the rotunda floor was roped off.

The corridors leading from the rotunda invited all sorts of shots that emphasize the complex symmetries of the building's interior.  Here are a few of those, taken at various levels.

And here is a shot of the detail in the area where a corridor ceiling is joined to the base of the dome.

I did take a few nonsymmetrical shots, including this one that shows off some of the numerous marble pillars that grace the building's interior.

Again, very reminiscent of similar construction in the Wisconsin capitol.

One of the benefits of taking a tour is that one gets to visit some of the government chambers, including the supreme court, senate, and house of representative chambers.  They too were gorgeous.  Here is a shot of the senate chamber.

And a detail shot of the ceiling in the supreme court hearing room.

The tour spent the most time in the house of representative chamber.  This is a wide-angle view that shows both the floor and ceiling.

 And here are a few more shots that feature some of the ceiling and archwork detail.

And here, finally, is a shot that I particularly liked of an arch leading to a stairway.


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