I recently took a trip to the International Crane Foundation – near Baraboo/Lake Delton, Wisconsin. All fifteen of the world’s Cranes are housed in this facility. These birds are indescribably beautiful and graceful. No other opportunity or venue exists, that I’m aware of, allowing such close examination of the birds in surroundings that are comfortable for the animal and human visitor.
Here are a couple of photos of a Sandhill Crane, the most common crane in North America.
The bird that I found most compellingly photogenic is the Siberian Crane. This bird looks like an evil monk:
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 wanted to test out an idea I had of shooting an Alien Bee through a porch shade, behind the “subject”. I am using a 60″ Photek SoftliterII directly above the “subject”. It’s new to the studio and I’m liking it’s bigness and softness. I have a gridded flash unit hitting the top of the “subject’s” head – providing some edginess. A large white foamcore board reflects enough light to barely see the “subject’s” eye(s). Great expression on the “subject’s” face.
I really like the broken white and black letters on the grain silo in this Milwaukee malting operation. This business is the only malting plant left over from the brewing hay-day in Milwaukee. It’s reported that there used to be dozens of grain silos in the West Milwaukee neighborhood serving Pabst, Miller, Schlitz and Blatz – to name a few. The name, by the way, is…..Froedtert.
Just the right amount of light, a flat water surface yet a breath of wind to move the reflected light just a bit.
Earlier this year I posted a photo of the Cherry Street Bridge over the Milwaukee river. The winter scene in B&W was about the shades of gray reflecting from snow, ice and metal. Now the scene changes as the summer allows more vivid reflections from the shimmering water of the river.
I love doing gritty, urban landscapes. This is when it comes in handy to live in a city with an industrial past:
The bridge at 6th Street over the Menomonee River is the first cable-stayed bridge in Wisconsin used for vehicular traffic. If you’re from the area you’d recognize the style, as it is inspired by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Calatrava designed footbridge at the lakefront.
This bridge takes automobiles over the Milwaukee train station. A private railroad car is parked outside the station, aglow from the light of the bridge.
I’ve been unable to set time aside as much time to doing night-time urban HDR as I would like. Now that the weather in Wisconsin’s summer months encourages trips outside in the dark, I felt bad that I haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity. Last night I finally took the time…at midnight….and without a firm destination in mind there is no surprise that I ended up walking along the railroad tracks just west of the train station. Color, shapes, lights and reflections provide some visual contrast to the old Canadian Pacific out-building.
Upon closer examination, I couldn’t resist the tall, graceful spans of the freeway interchange.
As the sun was setting to the right behind some remnants of a recent storm, rays of light illuminated cloud tops to the east in what struck me as an Aurora-like display. The isolated lighting of the telephone pole created a focus in the foreground of the image.
This was the year that I was going to jump in the car at the hint of severe weather and find a vantage point to photograph the drama of an approaching storm. It hasn’t happened this year at all – until this afternoon. This storm was losing it’s punch as it was approaching my outpost on the Milwaukee County grounds. While it wasn’t a whopper of a storm, it did hit at the right time time of day to give the arcus cloud formation leading the thunderstorm just the right kiss of afternoon light.
The new twist for me was to attempt HDR (high dynamic range) imaging of the event. I wasn’t sure how Photomatix would deal with the moving grass and clouds. The blur on the right is a sheet of rain.
I think I like it.