Calatrava – Art Museum

I was up early this weekend shooting in downtown Milwaukee during the earliest light before sunrise.  Once I was finished before the civil dawn, I thought I’d take the time to capture the sun rising over a low cloud-deck above Lake Michigan.  This landmark Art Museum building, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, makes an interesting foreground subject for a lakefront sunrise.

Here’s what the inside of this building looks like from a photo I took earlier this year:

This is what the building looks like when the wings are lifted:

FocalPoint

I’m not normally taken to mentioning products, plug-ins, or presets.  FocalPoint 2 from onOneSoftware is an exception I don’t mind making.  All of us don’t have the resources to buy $2,ooo f1.2 or tilt/shift lens that provide ultra shallow adjustable Depth Of Field.  This plug-in for Photoshop gives you tools that you otherwise might not be able to afford.  Here are a couple of examples where DOF was adjusted in post -processing using this plug-in:

More Blinds in the Lab

I searched for a set of black window blinds to use in a couple of ideas I had for a noir-ish look I was trying to get.  You can’t get them at the hardware store – just shades of white and wood.  Amazon had some for about 8 dollars.  Then came the hard part – light shot through the blinds didn’t create a focused shadow the way you’d expect.  You need a hard light either a long distance from the blind or focused with a lens to get a strong shadow.  I tore apart a very old slide projector and created a focusing “nose” for a snooted strobe.  Here’s the kind of shadow I wanted to create.

The shadows and hard light creates a noir look that I really like.  My model was very co-operative and helpful with a very appropriate hair-do, dress and facial expression.

Taking one of two focusing lenses off allowed the background to hold the blind pattern, but smoothed out the light on the model.  The snooted, gridded strobe still provides a nice key light.

I thought it would be fun to shoot through the blind.  Good eyes!

I Love Taking Pictures in New York City

Three of us were intent on going to New York City last weekend during a trip to New Jersey.  We got in to NYC at 3:30 in the morning – a bit later than we had hoped.  We took a walk from 57th Street to Times Square.  On the way back to our hotel the sun was coming up as we walked north on 8th or Broadway.  The morning light was reflecting off the buildings and I couldn’t resist.

I was glad to have brought my camera in less than ideal circumstances.  The next day we started out on a walk and taxi ride around mid-town.  At 1:00 in the afternoon you’re tempted to pack in the photography gear due to less ideal light – well I’m glad I schleped it around for our visit to the Empire State Building.

Mid-day sun created some terrific contrast to the clouds from a day threatening storms.  I really am pleased with the effect a bit of post-processing did to enhance the look.

From the top of the Empire State Building, the architecture of the city takes on a totally different character.  The shapes and colors of the buildings become individually strong….

…and collectively a single pattern of light and shape.

A spotlight on the building itself is the focus of busy, dissimilar shapes and angles:

Holy Crap – I Love San Francisco (image 2)

A vigorous, dark-of-night hike/tumble down to Baker Beach from Lincoln Ave provides the hiker/tumbler a beachside view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  With 5′ waves crashing on the sand in front of you and breaking on large rock debris between you and the bridge you are totally removed from the city left behind minutes and 400 vertical feet ago.  It’s a beautiful, private sensory escape.  Then you wonder how you’re going to climb back up the sheer sand cliff you slid down 30 minutes ago.

Visit City Nights Website

I’ve been working on a photo project over the last 3 months that involves capturing night photographs in the city of Milwaukee.  Most of the photos I’ve taken so far involve the lakefront or riverfront areas.  I’ve found that the best time to capture the essence of the night not only “lit by itself”, but also existing by itself is to go out at 1:00 in the morning.  Other than an occasional passer-by a bit tight with drink, I have the city to myself.   Also important is the weather forecast for the early morning.  Best results are had when the winds are calm and the temperature is warm enough that I don’t freeze my ass off.

Find the website displaying this project’s photos at: www.citynights.lightboximages.net.  I hope to expand the cities covered over time and travel.

Gile Park Falls – Merillan, Wisconsin

I carry my camera bag when I travel by car.  There are too many times that I’ve seen something that I’d like to shoot, but I didn’t have a camera with me.  Tonight I had a camera when I drove past the Gile Park in Merillan Wisconsin.  It was about 6:30 – twilight.  I was impressed by the color of the ice, the yellow incandescent light and the blue of evening.  The water flowing out of Oakwood Lake is rich in iron and I suspect that this contributes to the strange color of the ice.

Too bad they knocked down the old mill building that was standing last year.

Evil Witch Drops Dorothy in Snowbank – Misses Good Witch

If you’ve travelled through Wisconsin on Interstate 90-94, you may have noticed a bizarre looking building just south and east of the 94-39-78 interchange near Portage.  This out-building is a casualty of an F2 tornado that struck the Bluffview area on August 18, 2005.  I’ve taken photographs of this building before, but this is the first attempt in the snow.

1925 Photography

Looking at photographs of my mother as a very young child, I came across this image taken when she was 2 or 3 years old.  The effect this photograph has on me is incredible.  Even if this child were not my mother, I’d be transfixed by what is going on in this picture.  The shadows quickly become the subject as they tower over the small child that seems to play or probe the shadows in the dirt of the street.  The amount of light on the child is ideal.  The light exposing the dirt under the shadow causes you to question how organic the objects blocking the sun might be.

The photographic equipment at the time created a sense of other-place.  The focus is akin to a “Lens Baby” effect.  The sharp focus plane extends well back to the building and trees, while the outer portion of the image is effected by a vignette of blur.  This further strengthens the emotional effect of the image.

I’m so pleased to have had a chance to see this photograph.  Not only does this photo document an otherwise lost, private moment experienced by my recently deceased mother, but it also illustrates, at least in my mind, how light and focus can be used outside the normal rules or offerings of current technology.