Saturday, March 21, 2015

WISCONSIN STATE CAPITOL

I've wanted to spend some time photographing Wisconsin's State Capitol building with my new camera.  However, recent events have led to a great deal of demonstration activity in Madison.  Things finally settled down this past week, so I took the 1-1/2 hour drive on Tuesday to shoot some photos in the Capitol.  I knew from past experience that tripods were not an issue, and I felt it made a significant difference in the resolution of the images that I got.

I don't do much exterior architectural photography, but for the record here is an exterior shot of the capitol.


This shot reflects the fact that the morning was cloudless with bright sunshine.  I thought that might be an advantage for interior shots.  But that was not the case.  Instead, the sunlight steaming through the windows surrounding the base of the dome was creating "hotspots" on the building's interior surfaces.  Something I found I had to work around.

Here is an early shot that I took in one of the four main corridors leading toward the central rotunda.


Below is a wide angle shot that features two of the four structures supporting the central dome.


A careful look at the above shot reveals a bright sunlight spot on the the mural in the upper left.

The amount of ornate architectural detail in this building is phenomenal, as is apparent in this shot of the boundary between the base of the dome and the corridor arch beneath.


Following are shots of one of the corridors, zooming in on one of the sculptures of Wisconsin's state mascot, the badger.




I did visit one of the Capitol's hearing rooms and took this shot of its ornate ceiling.


There was an individual sitting in the room at the time for some unknown reason.  He asked me if I was a professional photographer.  He then speculated that my camera must be expensive, costing maybe as much as $300.  I just laughed.

The real star of this show is the dome.  Early in the session I tried getting a shot of the dome by placing the camera on the rotunda floor directly under the center of the dome.  However, the sunlight continued to be a problem, creating bright spots on the interior surface.  So I took a detail shot of just a portion of the dome.


I also found myself taking shots of the dome from the side under where the bright spots were occurring.  I really liked the abstract quality that the following shot projected.


And here is a similar shot that does include a "sunspot" in the lower right, but I didn't think it was so severe to spoil the overall effect.



Note how in these two shots the lines of rectangles radiating from the center of the dome appear to be curved.  This is either a function of the camera's perspective or of the optics of the lens.  I say that because when I finally was able to get a nice shot of the dome from directly underneath at the end of the session, it is apparent that the lines of rectangles are straight and not curved.


I was really happy with this shot after number of my earlier attempts had been disappointing primarily because of the problems with sunlight.  Even though this photo came out really well, it is not flawless.  There is a light area in the dome's dark outer ring at around 11:30, caused, I think by sunlight that was "leaking" through the windows on that side of the dome.

The staff at the Capitol were conducting tours throughout the session, and among the visitors were a group of Mennonites, including a number of teenage girls, all wearing matching bonnets.  They were on the second level and were posing for a photographer on the first level.  I was on the third level and caught the following shot.


I loved how they all had their arms around one another.

Overall, I was very happy with how my camera performed in this session.

John

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