Monday, May 30, 2016


A few years ago I had discovered an abandoned farmhouse a few miles from our home and have gone there for photo shoots numerous times, despite the fact that the property features a number of No
Trespassing signs.  I'm not sure what I would say if the owner or the police showed up and asked what I was doing on the premises.  Hasn't been a problem so far.

It had been quite a while since I had visited the property, and I actually paid three separate visits over the past 20 days or so.  Things hadn't changed much other than a further general deterioration of the premises.  First, a "classic" shot of the house and surrounding land.

On a later evening I visited the place just in advance of an approaching storm and took the following shot.

Not as impressive as I had hoped.  I think I need instruction on how to capture storm clouds.  Mine never look as threatening or dramatic as the ones I see from others.  Either that or our neck of the woods doesn't witness the kind of weather experienced elsewhere.

On an earlier date I had taken the following shot of the house.

I had intentionally taken this shot from close up with my lens set at a 24 mm focal length in order to distort the structure's lines.  I thought this technique served to increase the structure's apparent decrepitude.

This property was originally a dairy farm, including a barn and associated outbuildings.  I did like the following window in one of those buildings, primarily for its loss of rectilinearity.

The farm also featured one of those steel Harvestore silos that was quietly rusting away.

Here's a detail shot of the silo similar to ones I have taken before.  If I have an "eye," it is for shots like this one.  But, as my wife might say, "Who would hang that on their wall?"  Well, um, I might.


Friday, May 13, 2016


The Milwaukee Federal Courthouse is a well preserved example of Romanesque Revival architecture in downtown Milwaukee.  (I know that because I looked it up in Wikipedia.)  The building was completed in 1892, a time period consistent with the construction of numerous other of the historic buildings in urban Milwaukee.  Here is a wide-angle view.  Not a great shot but it does include the entire building.

And here is a roofline feature of the building posed against a more modern office building, a nice way I thought to show the contrast between 19th century and 20th architectural styles.

And here is a detail from the building's east side.

I'm not sure why I kept this shot, which is a bit simplistic.  Perhaps it was the symmetry, or perhaps it was the reflection of the modern office building in the elevated window.

The remaining shots feature the front colonnade, the first a wide-angled shot from across the street.

On this visit there was a professional photographer working with a couple on their engagement photos.  Here is a closer straight-on shot.  The couple helped, I thought.

Here is an oblique shot of the facade that features the nicely detailed granite-clad archwork.

In this shot I wanted to incorporate not just the archwork but the parallel set of railings.

Here are a couple of detail shots of the supports for the arches.  Note the faces carved in the stonework.

I know that there are restrictions on photographing federal facilities.  On at least three occasions I have been asked to leave federal buildings because I was taking photos of it.  Once I was booted out for taking photos of the interior, but on two other occasions I was only taking photos of the exterior when I was asked to leave.  So I was concerned that if I walked up to the entrance with my camera unwanted things could happen.  However, it was evening; the building was closed; there were no guards around.  And, besides, there was that other photographer working with the engaged couple.

These shots have some technical flaws. It was evening and I was beginning to lose light.  Moreover the entranceway was in shadow and quite dark.  I did not have my tripod, which would have helped substantially.  So, to minimize motion blur, I needed to ramp the ISO up to 1250.  But the light on the columns contrasted nicely with the dark inner sides of the archways, and I thought the effect worked really well.  I didn't mind that I sacrificed some detail of the inside of the archways in exchange for that contrast.  I also thought the light fixtures served to provide some balance to the overall composition.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Earlier this month I took advantage of Milwaukee Art Museum's free admission day to grab some more photos of this iconic venue.  Usually, on my visits to the museum I find myself taking copious photos of the Calatrava addition, both inside and out, and then spend time photographing selected artwork, most of which doesn't make it past the "cutting room floor."  On this occasion, I really didn't spend that much time with the artwork.  This time, too, I found myself converting most of what I kept into B&Ws.

First, there was some sort of banquet to be held in the Quadracci pavilion that evening and I took a couple of shots of the setup.

What caught my eye in the first shot were the stacks of chairs, and I tried to photograph them in a balanced fashion.  In the second what caught my eye were the long central table and the lines of perspective that it was creating.  Everything was in white or near-white and so the decision to convert to B&W was an easy one.

I also took the (almost obligatory) shot of the glass-paneled ceiling in the pavilion, as an abstract.

I did keep a couple of shots of artwork.  The first is a very stylized menorah.  I was not able to position myself directly in front of the piece, but I did like the shadows that the candlesticks were projecting on the wall behind the menorah.

The following piece, made of an intentionally sagging piece of fabric, was not very inspiring, but I did like the tableau created by a group of patrons who had chosen to sit on the bench in front of the artwork.

Finally, are a couple of shots of the exterior of the Calatrava.

I didn't convert this last shot to a B&W because I liked the colors of the sky on this cloudless evening.

There is a story behind why I cropped this shot to include only just over half of the addition's elevated brise soleil.  The original shot was symmetrical, including both sides of the brise soleil.  However, the sun had not yet set and there were hit and miss spots of direct sunlight on the left side of the structure.  I cropped out that side to eliminate that distraction.  I actually like the crop.  At least it isn't the stereotypical symmetrical shot, and who wouldn't be able to figure out what the other side looks like, anyway.