Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I found myself back in Madison last week, hoping to take a fresh approach to the interior of the Wisconsin State Capitol, or if not a fresh approach, at least an unorthodox one.

The capitol, like many ornate buildings, almost begs for a focus on symmetrical shots.  On this trip I was determined to look for unsymmetrical shots.  Here is some of what I got.

It was a very sunny morning, and I took a few of shots of the exterior, including this of the pediment above the east entrance.

OK, that shot was symmetrical, but technically this next shot of the exterior dome wasn't.

It may seem odd to take a shot that clips off a portion of the dome, but such a shot allows a bit more detail of the subject.  And from a psychological point of view, it gives the viewer something to do by filling in the missing portion.  After all, everyone knows what's missing.  It was not a particularly windy day, and I waited until what breeze there was had extended the flags.  I also wanted to make sure that I took the shot so that the flags were blowing into the center of the image rather than away from it.

The capitol building consists of four major wings extending from a central dome and rotunda.  Different government offices are housed in the different wings, but the wings are very similar architecturally.  Here are a couple of shots of the wings' ceilings, which feature skylights as well as a great deal of ornamentation.

These illustrate my attempts to create unorthodox shots.  I also felt that I shouldn't worry too much about including the lower ceilings of side corridors, even if they are relatively dark.  I decided that the viewer's eye is drawn to the more interesting components of the shot anyway and that the darker side components serve to provide context and depth.  I think the above shots illustrate that point.

As with nearly all such buildings, the lure of the central dome is virtually irresistible, and I noted many other visitors pulling out their smart phones to capture it along with me.  Even though the capitol has a relatively bright interior, there is no limitation on the use of tripods, and I had mine along.  Here is a familiar shot, which while technically asymmetrical is fairly orthodox.

Perhaps the shot is too tight to ensure that the viewer understands that it is a lower portion of the dome, but it does provide the opportunity to illustrate some of the dome's detail.

While the above shot is an orthodox one, the following ones are not.

And the shot below includes both the dome and the curved ceiling of one of the wings.

Again, in these shots I didn't mind including portions of what are the undersides of ceilings of side corridors or one of the circular balconies surrounding the central rotunda.

Before wrapping up, I visited a hearing room at the end of one of the wings.  Here is a shot of the room's ceiling, which features a large, handsome skylight.

Although I shot this ceiling with the camera both horizontally and at an angle, I do like this angled shot because it allows me to capture more of the interior surface.  Plus it's a bit more interesting.

Finally, I noted that the room's interior walls were faced with some sort of limestone and one of the blocks included a large (perhaps 8-10 inches across) nautilus-like fossil.  This was behind the table at the front of the room where those conducting a hearing would sit.  But, since the room was not in use, I simply set up my tripod a couple of feet directly in front of the fossil to capture the following shot.

The resolution on this image, shot at f/8 for 0.8 seconds, was really quite good.


1 comment:

  1. great pictures. The fossil is my favoritte