Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LOOKING FOR THE UNCONVENTIONAL

Armed with my new camera, I have been revisiting some of my favorite interior (still too cold for exterior work) venues.  In these visits I  have had two goals in mind.  One has been to find compositions that weren't available with my prior camera.  For the most part this has meant shots with a wider view.  The other goal has been to look for less conventional compositions.  In this post, inter alia, I will try to illustrate what I mean by less conventional.

First up was the Basilica of St. Josephat.  This first shot is a basically quintessential image--a wide-angle shot from the back of the nave looking toward the sanctuary.


This a wider angle than I was able to achieve in the past and includes both of the cherubim holding basins of holy water, but it is a very conventional shot, one that I have taken any number of times in the past.  I also took a shot of the basilica's dome from directly underneath.


Nice and I was able to capture more of the dome and surrounding ceiling than in the past.  But again it is essentially a conventional shot.  Here is another shot of the dome taken off-center. 


Although I have a fetish for symmetry, I found this semi-asymmetrical shot, with its promise of multiple curved structures, to be more memorable.

And here are two more vertical photos.  Again, the first shot includes more of the surroundings of one of the ceilings above a side aisle.


The wider angle creates a much more dramatic look than previous shots that included only the rectangular ceiling.  But here is another shot of one of the basilica's primary crucifix figures.


I guess this is what I mean by unconventional.  It would have been conventional to have shot the crucifix more or less horizontally rather than from below.

[A word about the basilica.  It is so ornate that it gives the impression that literally every square inch of interior is separately dealt with.  My new camera allows for greater resolution of detail, for which I am pleased.  But that also means an overwhelming amount of detail.  Moreover, because of the great range of light intensity between bright light from the windows vs. relatively dark interior surfaces, post processing to bring out all of the available detail can result in the appearance of HDR, an effect that can look fake, to put it in the vernacular.  I have tried to guard against that in these photos, but I'm afraid in some cases the effect is unavoidable.]

And here are a couple of shots of stained glass.  The first is a conventional shot of a half rose window.   Lovely . . . and conventional.


Here is another detail shot of a different window of a mother and child (not madonna and child because the same window scene also includes a representation of Christ).


Why is this unconventional?  I think because of the focus on this small part of a much larger scene.  

And then it was on to another religious venue, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, which I have also shot a number of times in the past.  The first image is again a wide-angle shot of the sanctuary from the rear of the nave.


The very eccentric crucifix suspended above the altar is (just barely) visible in the center of the image.  Quite conventional.  And the following image of a portion of the cathedral's pipe organ is in one sense conventional, as well.  Even so, I liked it for its clean lines and abstract qualities. 


One of the powerful architectural components of St. John's is its configuration of pairs of pillars, visible in the earlier wide-angle shot.  One way to try to capture these pillars was to shoot the ceiling above a side aisle with the pillars as a side feature, as in the following image.


Sort of unconventional, and it includes a much wider view than I was able to capture previously, but I admit that I have shot this general scene a number of times in the past.  What did catch my attention this time, though, was a candle that had been placed between two of the pillars.


This perspective served to incorporate another pair of pillars on the other side of the nave.  I was pleased with how this shot turned out.

I also paid a brief visit to the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Here, first, is a shot of the skylight above the central atrium.  


Interesting, perhaps, as an abstract, but I have taken this shot many times in the past.  The only advantage of this image is that it encompasses a wider view than I have been able to capture in the past.

I took the above shot by facing west and looking up.  I took the following shot by looking up while facing east rather than west.


I might have preferred that there not have been the shadowing on the panel in the upper left, but I did like the extreme abstract quality of the image overall.

I thought use of an off-center perspective in the following wider-angle shot of the atrium helped.


The figures also helped the composition.

I also visited the rotunda at the Milwaukee Center.  Here is a more or less conventional image of the elevator from the opposite side of the rotunda.


I did like the symmetry, broken only by the variation in the plants between the two different pairs of pillars.

While I was at the Milwaukee Center, I spied the tower of the Milwaukee City Hall through the skylight of the corridor leading east from the rotunda. 


The skylight was a bit dirty, and then there was the ice.  But I decided that I would simply incorporate the ice into the composition, and in fact I set the camera's focus on the ice rather than on the City Hall tower.

Finally, I visited the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Milwaukee.  Built in 1896 as an office building,  it was converted to a boutique hotel a couple of years ago.  The building's interior atrium is a gorgeous surprise.  Here is a typical--aka conventional--shot of one of the atrium's walls.


The facade is beautiful, but I have taken this shot a number of times previously.  So here is a wider angle photo that I shot looking nearly straight up.


Much more dramatic, I think, and with a great deal more depth, and I really liked the reflection of the skylight in the windows of the facade.

One of the hotel's nicer features is the wrought iron railing on the stairways and on the balconies surrounding the atrium.  Here is the sort of shot that I have taken in the past which features details of the wrought iron patterns.


OK, but I think the following shot provides better context, without losing sight of the railing's detail.


But the shot I liked the best is a wider angle shot from the center of the atrium's lower level looking up.


I thought the light reflecting off the wrought iron railing and the curving sweep of the railing were what made this shot.

John


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