Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Souvenirs from my 'Game Day' visits

If you thought you had seen the last of my "Game Day" Indiana small-college campus posts, you were mistaken. I've been planning this bonus edition from almost the beginning.

At every campus I visited on my tour of Indiana small-colleges that field football tours -- a project I called "Game Day" -- I made a point to stop at the school's bookstore or at a vendor at the game to purchase a hoodie as a souvenir of my time there.

I've been collecting (and wearing) these as I accumulated them. Throughout the process, which started in 2009 but didn't kick into full gear until two years later, I've been trying to think of a creative way to photograph all the hoodies in the collection.

I'm chagrined to say that in all that time, I had no real bursts of sweet inspiration. But this summer, I did get an idea to line up the hoodies in the shape of a football on green grass, which happened to be embellished by a few yellow leaves that had fallen from my red bud tree.

There are 14 hoodies in the collection, representing stops, in chronological order, at the following (the list at the right includes the dates and final game scores):

*** Franklin College, 2009 and 2012 
*** Hanover College, 2011
*** Wabash College 2011 and 2012
*** DePauw University, 2011
*** Marian University, 2011
*** Taylor University, 2012
*** University of Indianapolis, 2012
*** University of St. Francis, 2012
*** St. Joseph's College, 2013
*** Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 2013
*** Manchester University, 2014
*** Trine University, 2015
*** Earlham College, 2016
*** Anderson University, 2016

I arranged the hoodies in the two display photos in the order I visited the schools, beginning with Franklin College at the very top. The order is clockwise (refer to list above) until 2016. I put the hoodies for those two schools, Earlham and Anderson, in the center to represent the football seams. In the photo leading off the post, I folded the hoodies so that only the school's colors and logos showed. For the photo below, I brought out the hoods because I wanted to document that these were, indeed, hoodies.

Unfortunately, the hoodies for two schools -- St. Francis and St. Joseph -- didn't pick up well in the photos. The St. Francis hoodie's print was distressed to begin with ... except for the small, but very bold blue applique "USF" in the upper left corner. St. Joseph's print was a little better, but it's purple-on-gray was more of a lilac, so it might be difficult to read. In both instances, I should have looked for an apparel with more pronounced lettering.

You might wonder if I have a favorite, and I do: the Wabash College hoodie, because it's warm and comfy, the fit is just as I like it, and I really like the material. Note: I obtained the Earlham and Anderson hoodies only this year and haven't had a chance to wear them.

And if you are new to my "game day" project -- i.e., this is your first visit to the blog -- just click on the game day tag or follow the link in this sentence. Just be aware that this post about the hoodie shoot will be the first post to come up in the pretty long list. Be patient. :-)

Photo geek stuff: I shot the images with my Canon 6D equipped with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. I shot these in the late morning, so I needed no artificial light assistance.

As always, to see a larger and sharper version of an image, click on the image. This is particularly important if you access the blog using a mobile device.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A nice place in North Carolina to take kids to learn about, enjoy science and nature

Having spent a good part of the previous day on foot with a relatively heavy DSLR and fast (f/2.8) lens, I chose to do my entire shoot at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C. on Oct. 6 with my iPhone 6s Plus.

While the North Carolina Museum of Art (see previous post) that I visited the day before is a place any family could visit, the Museum of Life and Science is even more family-friendly. It features interactive exhibits designed to appeal to small children.

At the Life and Science Museum, I was with several family members, including a 23-month-old girl, so it seemed right to not be as intense about picture-taking as I had when I was on my own at the NCMA.

Unlike NCMA, the Life and Science Museum is not someplace I'd return to a lot ... unless I were with small children who would enjoy the interactive exhibits. The indoor area featuring NASA exhibits of space capsules (see photo leading off the post) and the like was interesting, and perhaps I'd appreciate returning when I had more time to study those more closely.

But the outdoor portion of the grounds were largely designed for children -- a very modest animal farm, exhibits of dinosaur likenesses, a train car to walk through, a circular pool with miniature sail vessels that children can navigate, and an enclosed, tropical-environment exhibit that houses butterflies.

In addition, unlike the NCMA, there is an admission fee to the Life and Science Museum. The fee schedule starts at $16 per person for adults, with various discounts available for seniors and military veterans and children. Yet another reason I'd be disinclined to return on my own.

Photo geek stuff: Short and sweet: Everything was shot with an iPhone 6s Plus. For a few of the shots, I used the phone camera's HDR feature, but to be honest, it made marginal difference.

To see a full gallery of my shots from the Museum of Life and Science, visit my site at SmugMug. As always, to view a larger and sharper version of a photo in a post, click on the picture. This is especially important if you access the post from a mobile device.

Above and below: Two of the beasts in the dinosaur exhibit area.  

The barn in the mini-farm area (above) and one of the alpacas (below) that roam the area.

Above and below: Water falls in a nicely landscaped natural area in the park. 

Above and below: Scenes from the circular pond where children can navigate the sailes on these small boats using steering mechanisms alongside the pond. 

Above and below: Two more scenes in the outdoors natural area. 

Above and next two below: I tried to capture at least one butterfly inside the tropical enclosure at the butterflies exhibit, but having only an iPhone to work with, I had no luck. I did grab the shots above and first below of the foliage and one of the blooms there, though. The spherical exhibit in the photo second below was in the housed area before you entered the tropical garden.  

Above: I may have failed at photographing a real butterfly, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph this butterfly shaped bench outside of the butterfly exhibit. 

Above and next three below: Some more shots from the indoor science and NASA/ space exhibits. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Art, nature combo a N. Carolina treasure

After several stops in Virginia during my recent trip to the East Coast, I swung south to North Carolina to revisit family near Raleigh. While there, a family member suggested I visit the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art if I were looking for something interesting to photograph.

I went online to check out the NCMA, and indeed, what I saw piqued my interest, so on Oct. 5, I explored this a gem of an attraction and asset to the area and state, a must-see for anyone interested in art or nature ... or just to get away from everything. And it's particularly exciting if you are a fan of French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1847-1917), because the museum was gifted 30 Rodin sculptures in 2009.

Making the trip even sweeter was the fact that there are no photography restrictions in the museum's outdoor park (as there are outside the Indianapolis Museum of Art) nor in the galleries that hold permanent collections.

You can visit NCMA's website to learn about its early history, but its presence at the current site began in the 1960s when the state legislature created a commission to find a site to build a new facility. The grounds, once used for training in the Civil War and later as a youth prison, are close to interstate traffic, PNC Arena. J.C. Raulston Arboretum and North Carolina State University. The East Building opened in 1983, after which work began to further expand and add an art park and trail system. That fell together after the new millennium, and the West Building housing the museum's permanent collection opened in 2010.  

NCMA's website says the art park and trail system's 164 acres make it the largest art park in the country. Parts of the art park are open meadow and beautifully landscaped, others are wooded and left in their natural state. In both areas, institutional art of some kind is sprinkled about for visitors to appreciate. NCMA is a place I would enjoy revisiting often.

The most striking of the park art is Thomas Sayre's "Gyre," three concrete ellipses colored with iron oxide. I present one perspective of "Gyre" in the photo leading off the post; I'll offer a couple others below and more in my full online gallery of the shoot.

I made it through a lot of the park, both open and wooded areas, but did not get to it all. I spent the last hour or so at NCMA touring some of the permanent collection galleries in the museum's newer, glass-wall exterior West Building (I did not make it inside the older East Building).

In 2009, the Iris and Gerald Cantor Foundation donated 30 Rodin sculptures to the NCMA. Rodin is regarded as the first modern sculptor. Rodin's "The Thinker," one of the most recognized sculptures ever, has been reproduced multiple times and displayed many places throughout the world over the years. The original bronze cast is in the Rodin Museum in Paris. (This no doubt dates me, but my earliest exposures to "The Thinker" were the many interludes in the 1960s television series "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" when Dobie turns directly to the camera -- in front of a park sculpture of "The Thinker" -- to inform viewers about his problem of the week.)

Several sculptures from the Cantor collection are used in a display in one of the three quadrants featuring reflecting ponds outside the museum's West Building. The Cantor donation makes NCMA the repository of the most extensive Rodin collection between Philadelphia and the West Coast.

There are separate parking lots at NCMA -- one is close to the two main buildings, and another used by those who visit just to use the art park paths and trails. There were several walkers, joggers and and cyclists using the trails on the Wednesday I was there.

Photo geek stuff: I shot all of my outdoor images at NCMA with a Canon 6D equipped with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. I bracketed my shots for three exposures of each scene, melding them into one using Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing. As always, I used my shutter speed as the exposure variable for the bracketing. My aperture was set at f/8, and I had varying degrees of sunlight due to heavily cloudy skies most of the day, so ISOs ranged from 160 to 500.

To see a full gallery of my outdoor shots from the North Carolina Museum of Art, visit my site at SmugMug.com. As always, to view a larger and sharper version of a photo in a post, click on the picture. This is especially important if you access the post from a mobile device.

Above and below: Two more perspectives of "Gyre," the bottom featuring one of the ellipses framing the museum's East Building.  

Above, Ronald Bladen's "Three Elements," painted and burnished aluminum over welded steel, and below, Henry Spencer Moore's bronze "Large Spindle Piece," can be found in front of the East Building. 

Above and below: Ledelle Moe's "Collapse I" concrete and steel sculpture on loan to the museum can be found along the art park's main trail.  

"Ideas of Stone-Elm" by Giuseppe Penone is a bronze sculpture cast from an elm tree and cradles a 3,000-pound boulder. 

This angle is about the only one a photographer can use to show maximum detail of this piece of art (I didn't note the artist or title) near the art park's parking lot. 

Above and below: The reflective exterior and a quadrant hosting one of the reflective ponds you'll find outside the West Building, which houses the museum's permanent collections. From pictures I've seen, this facade is quite photogenic at night. 

Above: An area between the East and West buildings where visitors can gather, snack and relax.

Above: In pleasant weather, NCMA's amphitheater -- which is behind the original East Building (background) -- hosts various live performances and concerts. 

While on the main trail early into a walk just beyond the amphitheater, one can turn to the left and view the East Building (above) and turn to the right up a hill and catch a glimpse from afar of "Collapse I" (below).   

Further along the main trail, you come across these artsy step rails (above) in a scene overlooking yet another pond. The rails were so distinguished that I momentarily wondered if they might be institutional art, but they're not. Closer looks at the above pond are available in the next two photos below.

Above: I stopped to grab this composition because I loved the snaking, leading lines in the walkway. I took two versions of this composition, one focusing on the bench on the left, the other focusing on the path. This is the former.  

Above: As this paved trail heads toward the wooded end of the grounds, one comes upon this vista. A bit down the path, I would follow a short dirt trail to explore some of the wooded area.  

Above: In the wooded area, this bright red interactive piece, titled "You and Me" by Maria Elena Gonzalez, stands out. 

Above and below: Two more "finds" in the wooded area. 

Above and below: Back on the main trail I came across Martha Jarvis-Jackson's "Crossroads/Trickster I" and took regular and detail shots.

Above: "Wind Sculpture II" by Yinka Shonibare.

Above: I composed this foliage-and-berry frame of the East Building from the other side of the pond. 

I don't make a point to involve images of myself in my posts, but I came across two opportunities at NCMA where it seemed natural to do so. The glass panel showing me taking the photo above extends from the West Building at the main entrance, so every visitor who approaches the building from this angle sees himself/herself in the mirror. The angle I used to take the photo below, I felt, helps convey the thickness and layered panels that architects chose for the West Building exterior. Ensnaring my reflection in the composition I rationalized as an artsy trade-off.

Above: This boulder was one of several that was part of or near the only West Building quadrant that did not feature a reflecting pond.  

Above: Roxy Paine's "Askew" arrived in pieces and needed to be put together, presenting a challenging installation for museum staff when it was added to the landscape after the campus expansion that included the West Building in 2010.

Above: German artist Ursula von Rydingsvard's "Ogromna" features honeycombed layers of roughly hewn and stacked cedar blocks. 

Shots above ("Jean de Fiennes") and the next six below are from the Auguste Rodin sculpture display positioned in the Rodin Garden, a quadrant around one of the reflecting ponds outside the museum's West Building. I provide titles for individual sculptures. 

"Meditation With Arms"

"The Three Shades" (a detail shot appears below)

Above: James Prosek's "Abstract Fish No. 4" installed in the James Wheeler pond quadrant outside the West Building. 

Above: This multi-crevice wall was interesting on its own. I grouped an unrelated chair into the photo in a moment of ... artistic inspiration.