Monday, January 18, 2016


Last weekend I had a meeting at Milwaukee's Central Library.  I thought I had pretty much exhausted the opportunities for architectural photos at the library but decided to bring my camera anyway to get a few more shots.

My standard shot has been one looking up at the library atrium's domed ceiling, so here it is.

Another shot I have tried before, without great success, has been a shot up from one of the atrium's corners.  Here are a couple of those, one wider-angled and one a little more telephoto and less cluttered.

There are essentially three floors surrounding the library's atrium.  On this visit, with limited time, I kept only one shot taken from the second floor.

I tried to frame the shot using the supporting pillars and crossing beam.

The remaining shots are from the third floor.  There are bronze eagles perched along the third floor pillars.

I also liked the corridor spaces on the third floor, including the following.

Cameras generally have a difficult time with different qualities of light (for example incandescent vs. fluorescent), and that shows up in the above image as a green tint toward the end of the corridor.  Perhaps there is a way to correct for this false color (at least to the eye), but I couldn't do it without messing up the white balance in the remainder of the image.

In the following shot I was attempting to take advantage of multiple curved arches along the side corridors.

Finally is another shot I have taken before.  In this photo, presented in color and in black & white, I wanted to center on the top of the balustrade between the side corridor and the stairs leading down to the second floor.

The library's atrium is gorgeous but it is modest-sized, and I'm not sure how many more architectural opportunities I may have, given my limited "vision."



Last week we were once again up in the Twin Cities and did a little shopping at the Mall of America. Here are a few of the semi-random shots that I took during our visit.

The mall includes a central space suitable for special events, such as small concerts.  Here is a shot of chairs that were set up for some sort of concert.

Behind me was a large illuminated screen that was being reflected off some of the chairs.

At each of the four corners of the rectangular mall are large open spaces that are topped by skylights, each of a different design.  Here is a shot of one of those.

A few years ago one of four anchor stores that had occupied corner positions in the mall moved out and has been replaced, not by another major department store but by a variety of smaller retailers, including LL Bean.  I took this display of kayaks fronting that store.

A recent addition to the mall is a new hotel, a Marriott.  I thought they did an interesting job in the design of the area leading from the mall to the hotel.

It was interesting to look down on the lounge areas on the ground floor.

The walls leading to the hotel feature a number of semi-interesting pieces of art, including these two mosaics.

The skylight over the connecting area also held some interest.

And here is a shot from the hotel back toward mall's retail space.

And finally a shot of one of the corridors in the mall proper.


Sunday, January 10, 2016


It's been nearly four years since I posted photos from a visit to Milwaukee's Harley Davidson Museum.  So I returned this last week for another shoot.

Of course, Harley Davidson is all about motorcycles . . . beginning in 1909, and I did take a number of shots of bikes of various vintages.  However, shooting individual bikes presents challenges, particularly in the confines of the museum.  First, one can take shots either from the front or the rear, as in the following.

Really not great as there is a lot going on and it is nearly impossible to distinguish the subject bikes from their surroundings, although I did like the Police sign.

It helps a little, perhaps, to zoom in on elements, as in the shots below.

A little better as I could reduce the depth of field, in these cases to a wide open f/4.  Still, not great.  But I did like the following detail from the Rhinestone Motorcycle, something that Liberace might have ridden, had he actually ridden motorcycles.

Or one can shoot the bikes from the side, as in these two photos.

It helps when the background is relatively uncluttered, as in the first shot.  The  second has the benefit of being a version of the Captain America bike used in the Easy Rider movie by Peter Fonda, while the first is a 2008 bike used in the movie Captain America.  Ironically, I didn't realize that relationship until I was putting this post together.

Or one can look to details from the sides of bikes, such as spokes and wheels, as in the following images.

The museum has a terrific display of decorative gas tanks.  I first tried to capture the display looking from the side, as in the following.

Depth of field is a major issue in such shots.  In addition, the distant tanks simply get lost.  So I tried a frontal shot, although I simply couldn't capture the entire array, so I cut down the field of view to a reasonable level.

I think this gives a sense of the display without sacrificing available detail in each of the tanks.  Then I moved a bit closer and put the camera on an angle, a perspective that I thought worked pretty well.

A couple of miscellaneous shots, one of an award medals display and another of a bike backed by an array of most of the parts of an equivalent bike.

I particularly liked the medals display from a technical perspective--the medals are crisp and the black background is indeed black.

Here is a detail shot of the windshield and front fender of another motorcycle that was covered with hundreds of signatures fashioned in silver that I saw as an abstract.

But while the motorcycles are the individual stars of the museum, the physical facility also is a winner in its own way.  I think the building's general industrial design is spot on.  Trying to incorporate both the architecture and the bikes, however, is a real challenge.  Here is an attempt.

I thought it might work to sight down the railing, but there's just too much going on, I'm afraid.  The following is a bit better, as it at least has a defined subject--an exhibit that allows the visitor to "design his own bike."

As usually happens, a number of my shots are relatively abstract and not what the typical visitor would come away with, but I'm OK with that, I think.  Here are a few of those.

This last was an overhead shot.

My favorite of these shots was the following of the entryway to a walkway to an ancillary building that I converted to a black & white.

I didn't capture any good shots of the building's exterior, unfortunately, but I did get a couple of good shots of a great sculpture in the museum's courtyard.

If you find yourself in Milwaukee, I would very much recommend putting the museum on your itinerary.  And keep in mind that there is a discount on the admission price on Tuesdays.


Saturday, January 9, 2016


Although we had a major snowstorm a couple of weeks ago, in general the weather has been extremely mild so far this winter.  The other afternoon the temperature was approaching 40 degrees (translate: very warm for a Wisconsin January), and the high humidity and melting snow led to a dense fog.  There was less than an hour of decent light left before sundown, and I hurried to a nearby woods along Lake Michigan to try to take advantage of the fog.

In my haste I forgot that several inches of very wet snow remained on the ground and that I should have worn boots rather than just an old pair of running shoes.  And to top things off, a light rain began by the time I reached the woods.  Here is what I kept.

The late afternoon light rendered the scene nearly monochromatic.  Even so, in this first shot I felt the color of the evergreen boughs in the foreground was taking away from the effect I wanted to achieve, so I converted the shot to a black & white.  The next three shots are color, illustrating how little color there was in the scene in general.

In the following shots I wanted to put into focus the dead horizontal branches of the closer trees.  I then softened up the rest of the scene a bit to emphasize the fog.

I thought the composition of following shot was the best of those I took.

In part this was because this shot featured the ponding of water on the surface of the snow that allowed for some reflections.  In addition, the shot was a bit tighter than those above, creating a simpler scene that appealed to my sensibilities a bit more.

Finally, I was not alone in the woods, a couple of guys were also there, perhaps just as foolish or dedicated as I was.  This shot, taken beyond the realistic range of my lens, is severely cropped.