Tuesday, February 2, 2016


It had been a while since I had done a photo shoot at Milwaukee City Hall and decided to return last week to take a fresh look.  In many ways the building, dating from the late 19th century, is architecturally distinctive, both inside and out.  On this visit, considering that the ambient temperature was hovering around 15 degrees, I spent my time inside.  Here is what I got.

First, I took a shot of the skylight from the center of the ground floor.

On this visit, I rotated the camera about 30 degrees to maximize the scene with my 24-120 mm lens.  This photo is flawed in that there is a fair amount of flare (not counting the bright light in the lower right.  I think the main cause was bright sunlight leaking into my lens from somewhere.

As I have mentioned before, the building's footprint is actually quite irregular but in general is in the form of a trapezium, a 4-sided figure with no parallel sides.  That made the attempt to center the camera under the skylight more challenging and to some extent arbitrary.

The north and south ends of the building's atrium are quite narrow, inviting abstract shots of the building's eight cascading floors, as in the following shots.

After taking shots on the ground floor, I moved up to the fourth floor to take a few panoramic shots incorporating both floors above and below.

Here's a similar shot that I converted to black and white.

Finally, I moved to the top floor to take a few shots of the mosaic gracing ground floor.

I thought it would help to feature a few patrons for perspective, as in the above shot.  I was using a tripod and so had not been concerned with shutter speed.  However, my first several attempts to include individuals in the shot wound up blurring the individuals.  I finally realized that I would need to increase the ISO to increase shutter speed.  The shot above was taken at an aperture of f/4 and an ISO of 800, producing an exposure of 1/50 second.

Before leaving the top floor, I took a few photos of the ornate brass railing surrounding the atrium at each floor, including a full panel, as well as a detail of the dragon sculptures.

The backgrounds were cluttered, to be sure, but I opened up the aperture to minimize those distractions.  These were shot at f/4 and f/6.3, respectively.

Maybe it was my camera equipment or maybe it was because he is currently running for re-election, but Mayor Barrett, walking out of the building at the same time as I, said hello.  I didn't bother to say that I don't actually live in Milwaukee.


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