Monday, November 15, 2010

Coxhall Garden:
'An oasis in a sea of homes'

As promised some time ago, I'm coming back to a shoot on Oct. 19, 2010, in Carmel, Ind., a north suburb of Indianapolis that is doing some progressive things of late. (For a summary, see previous post at this link).

Images featured in today's post were taken during the portion of my visit that was at Coxhall Garden, a relatively new park in western Clay Township of Hamilton County named for the couple, Jesse and Beulah Cox, who donated the land to the county for transformation into a park, an "oasis in a sea of homes." It has turned out to be just that; this fast-growing and expansively developed area of Central Indiana needed a place where local folks could go to get away from the craziness.

The park has a striking, limestone classic architecture amphitheater featuring tiered seating, fountains, domes and columns that, in the late afternoon when I was there, cast some marvelous shadows to mix with the built-in lines, angles and other sorts of shapes that are part of the structure, starting with the lead image (top of post) which I took using a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 wide-angle lens leaning over the top row of tiered seats to get this angle ... a composition that seemed appropriate to complement what I was seeing ... and in tune to the mood that seized me at that moment. 

Backed by a blue sky enriched by a polarizing lens, the composition opportunities were exciting. At one point -- when I was directly under the ornamental entrance passage to the amphitheater seating area and saw the linear, columns and shadow show, I was so jazzed that I just started shooting almost wildly, shot after shot ... click ... click ... click ... almost like what you might see in those stereotypical photo shoot scenes on television.

Here are some frames from that shoot.

Above and next two below: Looking west, from the path to the amphitheater, to the carillon bell tower at the west entrance.

Above: On the path leading to the amphitheater.

Above and below: Looking east, from the path leading to the amphitheater, to the carillon bell tower positioned at the park's east entrance. 

Above: A statue of Jesse and Beulah Cox, who had owned and lived on the park property at 2000 W. 116th St. for many years. The couple built their dream house there in 1974, a replica of the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Va., before donating it to the county in 1999 to develop as a park upon their deaths. Beulah died shortly after the land was donated; Jesse continued to live in the mansion until his death in 2008.

Above: A memorial to Beulah Cox that appears outside the entrance to the amphitheater.

Above and below: The domed center stage of the amphitheater.

Above and next two images: The ornamental entrance to the amphitheater, where you have full perspective of the late-afternoon sun's effect on the lines and shadows. This facade was the subject of my images near the top of this post. 

Above and below: closeups of the fountains circling the amphitheater's domed center stage.

Above: A view of the amphitheater entrance from behind the stage.

Above: Quite a few of the bricks on the walkway around the domed center stage contained engravements with memorials. This was one of those tributes.  

Above: A look at the path extending from the amphitheater to the parking lot, with a detail shot of the circular overhead ornamentation immediately below. Two images below is a detail shot of the human figurine at the right of the image above -- a woman carrying a child. 

Above: A look toward the amphitheater through the circular sculpture in the middle of the path as seen several images above. 

 Above and next four images: The carillon bell tower at the park's east entrance.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

A few more ... from 15 miles out

I decided to post a few more frames from the "15 Miles Out" shoot, one to assure those of you bothered by the basketball hoop composition in the previous post. I actually did grab a shot or two (included in this post) with the composition set up as one might primarily expect. And yeah, even with my contrarian mood, it still gnawed at me a little that I didn't go ahead and just use that one with the original post, so ... I'm making up for that here. But rather than simply swap it out as an edit to the previous post, I'll include the "properly aligned" one here and let the viewers judge.

Also in this post are another shot of a jet stream as it appears to make contact with the church tower. Again ... a mere juxtaposition. Not to worry; no 9/11 disaster intended or suggested.

And, a color shot of the neat glow (from backlight) behind the Pleasant Valley Church steeple (the lead image above), and a black-and-white conversion of the solitary, leafless tree (can the color version be far behind?). I had provided versions of each of these images treated with an antique filter in the previous post.

Finally, I'm also including a frame featuring a fortuitous natural sun spotlight on harvest foliage from the field near the church. I did no playing with this in post-processing; this is exactly how the light fell on the subject.

Above: The juxtaposition of jet stream and church steeple. The jet was miles and miles away. 

Above: The sun-spotlighted harvest foliage.

Above: A black-and-white monochrome of the leafless tree.

Above: The basketball hoop and Pleasant Valley Church sign, "properly" aligned.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Images from ... Fifteen Miles Out


The challenge was to head out in any direction from home and drive 15 miles, stop, and get out and shoot whatever struck me as photogenic right there and then.

I chose to head southeast, and when I hit the 15-mile mark, I was in the extreme northeast corner of Clark Township, Johnson County (Ind.), and two-tenths of a mile north of Pleasant Valley Church. I was southbound on two-lane Acton Road (County Road 700 East) with no shoulder, so I spied the church ahead and decided that would be a safe terminus. The church address is 9990 N. Johnson County Road 700 East, which is at a "T" intersection with East County Road 1000 North (Watson Road), which ends at 700 East.

Moments earlier, as I hit the 13-mile mark while southbound on Acton Road still in Marion County, I grumbled in disappointment. I was passing Acton Cemetery, a small community graveyard that I imagined would have presented a goldmine of photo possibilities. But I stuck to the letter of the challenge and continued driving south, crossing into Johnson County shortly thereafter ... and worrying I'd end up with nothing but open fields. I would have pushed myself to find something photographic even with that, but I held out hope I might get a bit more to work with come the real 15-mile mark.

So when I saw the church, my frustrations about missing out on the cemetery lifted. I pulled into a gravel spillover parking lot at the church, got out of the car and started to find things to shoot. The inventory of what I had to work with at this largely rural spot: On the west side of the highway, there was the church; a modest-sized red-leafed tree next to the church; some interesting shadows from a white picket-like fence along a stairs on the south side of the church; a flag pole; a basketball hoop; a separate, solitary tree virtually bereft of its leaves (featured at the top of this post); a tiny, first-quarter moon in the sky; a septic tank behind the church; five or six tires stacked on their ends that gave me a "window" to the highway when I lay on the ground; a nice-sized farm field north of the church where the seasonal crop had been harvested clean; and a large, brick home north of that field. There also was some playground equipment behind the church, but I decided not to include it in any of the images.

On the east side of the road there was a sign for Broken Wheel Ranch, directing traffic east down County Road 1000 North. Oh ... I also saw some jet streams from aircraft; the polarizing filter I used helped bring out the definition of those streams in the shots.

What you see here is what I came up with from the above.

Above: Some wild growth amid the remains of the harvested field of corn.

Above: A home north of the church with trees sporting red foliage. 

Above: Pleasant Valley Church tower wrapped by backlight.

Above: A backlighted perspective shot of the church, the tree and flagpole.

Above: The flagpole and church tower juxtaposed with one of the jet streams.

Above: The red tree and church.

Above: Lines, shadows and angles near some stairs on the south side of the church.

Above: The basketball hoop and a church sign. An initial thought was to compose so that the pole would be on the right of the sign so the hoop would curve over the sign. Alas, I was in a contrarian mood this day, and chose to compose against convention. That tiny white dot in the sky to the right of the backboard is the first-quarter moon.

Above: Using the burst mechanism to capture a passing motorist through the eye of the tires.

Above: A different angle of the shadows of the stairs on the church facade.

Above and below: I was struck by the bright glare on the side of this holding tank in the original color image above. I turned around to confirm that it was the sun leaving its brand there. To better define the "sphere on sphere," I made a copy of the original color version, converted it to black and white, pulled up the image's illumination sliders on my photo editing software, lowered the image shadows to virtually zero and reduced the mid-tone and highlight levels about 25%, resulting in the image below. You should make out the sun a little easier now.

Above: I applied an antiquing filter to this backlighted image of the red-leafed tree and its shadowed trunk. I used this same antiquing filter on the leafless tree at the top of the post and of the church tower wrapped in backlight.

Above: The sign for the Broken Wheel Ranch.

Above: A closeup of the wheel's "broken" section.

Above: The Broken Wheel Ranch sign's arrow, pointing the way.