Friday, July 25, 2014


It had been at least 15 years since I had last been to Old World Wisconsin (OWW).  Located about 40 miles southwest of downtown Milwaukee, OWW consists of homes and various other buildings originally built in the 19th century in Wisconsin.  All of the buildings had been dismantled and then reconstructed on site at OWW.  The buildings were all appropriately decorated and furnished with items from the particular era.  In addition, staff located at most of the buildings were dressed in authentic garb and were happy to provide additional information about the facility, the building where they were stationed, or the role they were portraying.  I was primarily interested in taking photos during my visit, but it was fun talking with the staff, as well.

Although it has been a long time, OWW hasn't really changed much from how I remembered it.  The buildings are clustered primarily by nationality--German, Polish, Finnish, etc., and the different clusters are quite far apart.  Anyone going should be prepared to do a significant amount of walking.  There are shuttle buses that circle the facilities for those who aren't into or aren't up to a lot of walking, though I didn't take advantage of the buses during my visit.

OK, on to the photography.

My first stop was a lovely little church, the first Catholic church built in Milwaukee, originally erected in 1839.

Here I was trying to include a foreground item to add some perspective, but I think this fence is a bit too prominent.

The church included some lovely, unpretentious statuary.

The interior was surprisingly bright, and I was ably to take the above shot at f/4 with a shutter speed of 1/25 second and and ISO of 100.

The church also included a nicely restored, centrally located wood stove.  Here is a detail from that stove.

Following is another black & white of a gothic-styled side window.

Clean but a bit too simple, perhaps.

As stated, there were ample grounds that were set off with fences to give the feel of farmland.  Here was a simple little shot of some wildflowers along one of the fences.

When I took this shot I was concerned not to include any distractions in the background, so I took it with the aperture at a wide open f/4.  This was a mistake because, given how close I was to the flowers, I could have narrowed the aperture to bring more of them into focus and not worried about any distractions in the distant field behind.

Next stop was a wheelwright shop.  I took a number of shots of the wooden-spoked wheels both inside and outside the shop, but this is the only one that I kept.

This was in the interior of the shop, and there was not a lot of light.  This was taken at f/4 with an ISO of 1000 to keep the shutter speed to a respectable 1/50 second.  I liked that the wheel was missing a spoke.

I thought some of the smaller outbuildings were the most charming, at least from a photographic point of view, including the following.

I took the above shot from the inside of one of the reconstructed residences.  Here again I wanted to include a foreground element, another fence.  I decided that all of the green foliage in the original shot was distracting, as the building and fence were unpainted and the wood had turned a silver gray, so I converted the image to a black & white.  In the following shot, however, the red of the building was fundamental to the shot.  I also liked the wagon directly in front of the building.

My guess is that the building in the following shot was designed to look tumbledown, though perhaps not as much as it was.

I thought the conversion to black & white helped to bring out the lines of the building's log front.

There were plenty of buildings that featured unpainted, weathered wood, and I took a number of detail shots hoping to bring out the grain.  Here is one of those, again rendered in black & white, though it wouldn't have mattered much considering the silver gray that the wood had turned.

It's interesting that the corner of this building is right at the center line of the image.

One of the more interesting buildings was a Polish residence that featured logs that had been sawn crosswise rather than lengthwise.

The technique made for some interesting grain.

One of the buildings was a town hall that had been set up as a place where children could experience the kind of toys that 19th century children played with.  Situated in the center of the one-room hall was a nicely restored wood stove, and I took this shot that shows how the cast iron exterior of the stove had been "stitched" together.

Finally, many of the homes were set out with kitchenware typical for the period.  It was a sunny day, and I took advantage of light to capture the following "still lives."

The light streaming through the windows in the latter two shots was critical, I thought.

Although I spent over 2-1/2 hours at OWW on this visit, I only covered about half of the exhibits.  But considering that it is an hour's drive each way, I probably won't be returning until next year.


1 comment:

  1. I am in awe of the pictures in Old Wisconson. Love the little white church that goes back to 1839. Spent some time looking at the B/W pictures. GREAT JOB!!