Monday, September 9, 2013


On our recent trip to Chicago, we also visited the Field Museum.  This natural history museum has a broad diversity of exhibits, all well done.  However, in terms of photography, I found myself taking photos in some areas and not others, so this post is not representative of what the museum offers.

A most spectacular area of the museum is the grand hall which contains, inter alia, Sue, the T-rex.  Here is a shot of the grand hall from the second floor.

And here is another shot from the ground floor.

Not a great shot, frankly.  I wish that I had taken the shot from more directly below the elephants and featured them more fully in the image.

The T-rex proved to be a difficult subject because of her complexity.  Rather than trying to capture the entire skeleton, I chose to feature just the head.  I tried to focus on her teeth, but finally tried a head-on shot.  Again, there is too much going on, but at least the perspective is a bit different.

I had better luck with the other dinosaur exhibits.

I converted this shot to a black & white to reduce the distractions from colored objects in the background.  But in the following shot I thought the conversion to black & white, together with the lighting, lent a dramatic element to the shot.

This last was shot at an aperture of f/4 and an ISO of 1000.  I underexposed it an by 2/3 f-stop and wound up with a marginal shutter speed of 1/13 second.  I was fortunate that this was fast enough to eliminate camera shake.  I further darkened the background in post processing.  I liked the dramatic quality that this produced.  Looks kind of scary, even though this was clearly a vegetable-, not a meat-eater.

Some of my better shots were of representational sculptures, including the following.

I think the lighting really added to the dramatic quality of these last couple of shots.

But my favorite exhibit in the museum, at least on this go-around, was a collection of massive wooden totem poles.  Here are some of the better shots from this group.

The lighting in this section of the museum was really quite low, so I had to ramp up the ISO to (for me) a whopping 4000.  Even then, with the lens opened up to f/5.6, the shutter speeds were still a very slow 1/8 to 1/3 second.  I was fortunate, really, to get relatively sharp images at such slow shutter speeds.  The color balance in this gallery was also quite "yellow," so I had some work to do in post processing.  However, I am generally very happy with these shots.  I think part of what made them successful was the fact that the background was essentially completely dark, adding to the dramatic quality of the images.


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