Sunday, August 28, 2016


Recently, I saw a brief article about an urban alley on Milwaukee's East Side that is being converted into a venue for public art, and I thought I would check it out with my camera.  For any locals who may be interested, this venue is located directly behind the Oriental Theatre, in the alley running between Farwell and Prospect just south of North Avenue.  I decided that I was about three weeks early but took a few photos anyway, promising myself that I would return later in September.

The photo in the article that caught my eye was of the following mural, which has been completed.

This mural is huge, by the way, located one story up on an exterior wall adjacent to the alley.

I then ventured into the alley, which was crowded with dumpsters.  There was a signature mural that was partially completed.

And then there was an alley off the alley.

Kind of ugly, to be honest.  

I also got a couple of shots of some stenciled fish on the pavement.  These same fish have appeared elsewhere in the downtown area.

Besides looking down, I also looked up and caught this shot of a fire escape staircase.  

Back on Farwell Avenue, I took a shot of this older public mural that was showing some wear.

But my favorite shots of this series were not of public art but of the flora of the planters lining the avenue outside of the Oriental Theatre.

The first is of some ornamental wheat-like plants.

My goal here was to use a shallow depth of field to eliminate any background distractions and to focus on the one linear stem.  It worked OK, I thought.

My favorite of this series was a shot of some largish leafy plants in various shade of dark green and purple.  The day was overcast, so I did not have to worry about shadows, a good thing.  In this case I chose to leave the image relatively dark, allowing the empty spaces to go black.


Friday, August 19, 2016


On our recent visit to Salt Lake City, I again did a shoot of the Cathedral of the Madeleine.  Even though Salt Lake City is fairly dominated by the LDS church, one of its most interesting religious venues, at least that is accessible, is the local catholic cathedral.  Built in 1909, the cathedral "suffers" from the architectural style popular during that time period, a style that emphasizes strong colors that can best be described as gaudy.   Even so, it is fun to visit such facilities and to try to capture in photos what they have to offer.  Interestingly, I was at the cathedral in May of 2015 and took many of the same shots as I did this time.  On this visit I had to wedge my photo taking between an early afternoon wedding and a late afternoon mass.  Here are some of the shots that I kept.

First, a couple of shots of the exterior of the main entrance, which is very traditional.

Here are a couple of shots of the interior from the rear of the nave that illustrate the strong colors.

In the second shot I wanted to showcase the trumpet components of the pipe organ jutting out from the front of the balcony.

Here is another shot of an interesting angel mural above the sanctuary.

And a closeup of that mural.

Here is the intricately decorated apse.

Sometimes it is important to look up, as in the following.

Here is a shot of the pipe organ above the rear of the nave that includes the rose window.

And a closeup of the rose window.

Finally, another of the major stained glass windows to the side of the sanctuary.


Thursday, August 18, 2016


On our recent visit to Salt Lake City, we took the grandkids to the local zoo, Utah's Hogle Zoo.  I brought my camera along.

Here, first, is a mundane shot of one of the giraffes.  Just OK.

In a neighboring pen were some ostriches and I realized what ugly bodies they have.  So in the photo I took I limited my shot to the neck up.

The zebras were easier to capture.  Here are a couple of the shots that I kept.

I liked this second shot for its capture of the curve of the zebra's mane.

I tried to get a good shot of the elephants, but they were steadfast in keeping only their rumps to me.  I toyed with getting a closeup of their tails but in the end decided the shot wasn't worth keeping.

I did get a decent shot of one of the rhinos.  My goal here was to focus on the texture of the animal's skin, highlighted by the brilliant sun.

When we visited the lions, they were behind glass--dirty glass--and for the most part the animals were not close or positioned well for taking pictures.  However, I did get a nice shot of a lion cub who was napping in the morning heat.

Then it was on the the bears.

The shot I got of a polar bear was sort of a mistake: I was too close.  But I liked the effect of the closeup.  Dreaming?

One of the black bears was lying with its foot up against the glass, so I took the following shot.

I felt good about this shot because, even though there was no way to get a decent shot of the whole bear, the photo that I got is unmistakable.

The other two cat shots that I got were of a lynx and a tiger.

Both shots are flawed: The lynx was in the shade and the tiger was behind fencing, but I thought the tiger shot in particular was effective.

I did get a decent shot of a meerkat in the small animal building.  The interior light was not great, but the animal seemed to be posing for the shot.  And because the background was more or less blank, it almost looked like a museum shot of a stuffed animal.

Finally was a spoonbill that also seemed to be posing.

Here is a closeup of the bird's head.

A face that only a mother (or maybe an ornithologist) could love.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016


During our recent trip to Salt Lake City, we had occasion to visit the farmers market in the downtown area, and I took a few photos.  Basically, the market is held in a park that is one full block on each side.  There were ample crowds, and perhaps I should have tried to capture that aspect of the market, but I simply am not good at photographing people.  So instead I focused on tighter shots of some of the fare on offer.  Here are some of those.

My favorites among these are the grapes, which I liked for their diverse colors.

And, oh, yeah, we had our grandsons, Stanley and Max, with us.


Monday, August 1, 2016


I think it is fair to say that the American Players Theatre (APT) is one of the premier professional theater groups in the Midwest.  It is located in Spring Green, a small community some 40 miles west of Madison, Wisconsin, known for being the location of Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's home and architectural studio.  The APT now has a second, indoor venue, but it remains best known for its outdoor theater, located in a beautiful setting at the top of a hill in a gorgeous valley in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin.

We have been going to the APT for over 30 years, and last weekend we returned along with three other couples in what has become an annual retreat.  This time, in addition to taking in a play on a Friday night, we took a two hour guided tour of the APT on the following morning.  Here are some photos from that tour.  I will be the first to admit that, while I wanted to capture as best I could what we saw on the tour, what I shot is colored largely by my own photographic interests.  In other words, I've never been known for my skills at documentation.

First, as I mentioned, the APT is located in the beautiful rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin, and  following are a couple of shots of the flora of the area.

Second, to set the stage (so to speak), here is a shot of the Up The Hill Theatre as seen from the control room.

On each of Saturdays and Sundays in the summer there are performances of each of two separate plays, each requiring its own set.  Here a crew was in the process of setting up for the afternoon performance.  Following that show, the crew would be breaking down that set and putting up a different one for the play to be presented later in the evening.

Here is a semi-abstract of the theater's seating.  The capacity for this venue is approximately 1,100.

And following is a shot I took of APT's senior electrician.  He is not so much an electrician as one being in charge of coordinating the lighting, sound, and other cueing systems for each performance.  Highly complex and sophisticated.

What's not apparent in this shot is that he was dressed in a kilt, his normal attire.  At about 6 ft. 4 in., he was fully capable of justifying his sartorial choices.

I have no excuse for the following shot of a coil of black rope in the control room, other than that I liked it as an abstract.

What was even more impressive than the venue itself, though, was the massive complexity of the operation behind the scenes, if you will.  Not only was there a crew of tailors and seamstresses who had to create the costumes that the actors wore, but there were workshops for fabricating sets and props for each of the shows.  I admit here is where I fall down as a chronicler, as the shots that I kept were to satisfy my esthetic interests more than to document what we saw.  First, a large glass-paned door/window under fabrication.

And another subtly stained wood panel that I found interesting and shot at an angle as an abstract.

We did get to tour the actors's dressing rooms.  Here is a shot of one of those.  Suitably messy.

In the nearly 40 years of its existence, the APT has acquired an enormous collection of props, costumes, masks, and other equipment, for reuse on occasion.  Here, for example, is a portion of the wigs in use in current productions.

Of course, the wigs require their own attention following performances, including perms, when needed.

There are also enormous collections of hats, shoes, and masks.

And there were all manner of other props, which may never have a second use, but who knows.

This last is a full-scale model of one of the actors in the role of Julius Caesar.  This was hanging on the wall.  For many reasons, including that of personal mortification, I am grateful that I never had to play that role.