Friday, December 30, 2011

An anniversary almost missed ...
and a return to Zionsville, Ind.

I neglected to acknowledge a milestone of sorts earlier this month -- Photo Potpourri's third anniversary. Three years ago Dec. 11 this blog launched, and is still chugging along.

In recognition of that, today's post reflects a return to the Village of Zionsville, a northwest suburb of Indianapolis that fights hard to maintain its small-town profile and charm despite pressure from developers seeking to extend the very real suburban growth boom that has been occurring close by to the east in Hamilton County communities Carmel, Westfield, Fishers and Noblesville.

I visited Zionsville a year ago, also just before Christmas, when there was snow on the ground. This time, no snow; the weather was overcast for the remaining hour and half of daylight, and then damp from a light rain when darkness set in.

For all daylight photos, I used my Canon 7D; for all but the church shots, I turned to my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. For the church shots, I went to a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 wide-angle lens. I also used a tripod and bracketed exposures so I could later process them through high-dynamic range (HDR) software. For the nighttime shots, I used my Canon PowerShot G12 (nicely equipped with image stabilization, allowing for sharp, hand-held use with shutter speeds as slow as 1/8). With the G12, I captured images in RAW format to allow optimum color and exposure adjustments as needed in post-processing before converting to JPG.

It would be hard to single out any one shot as my favorite from the shoot, but because the Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street is an annual tradition in the village, and because brick-covered Main Street is such a strong identifier of Zionsville, I decided to use the photo above to lead off the post. Other vantage points of the tree will be among the photos provided below.

To see all of my shots from two years' (so far) worth of shots of Christmas in Zionsville, visit this link.

Above and below: Two more views of the Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street, Zionsville, taken from catty-corners of the same intersection. The one above, with the violet-awning Jewel Box Jewelers storefront in the background, was taken from in front of Carter's Toy Museum & Ice Cream Parlor (pictured below). And the one of the parlor was taken from in front of the jewelry store.

Above: A detail shot of Carter's facade. 

Above and next two below: We take a momentary side trip to the west side of the village for these shots attempting to capture the architecture of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, where I decided to stop as I drove into town.

Above: Greek's Pizzeria, one of several dining options along Main Street. 

Above: A daytime view of the block known as the Gallery, with Butler's Pantry in the foreground.

Above and below: Views of scenes very close to each other. The one above, highlighting the rustic woods and the indoor lighting through one window. Turning slightly to the left, you see the scene below, with the above building on the far right ... and also get a look up the sidewalk along the east side of Main Street, where the landscape is rich in woods and greens.

Above: A nod to a photography brethern (who I really don't know) in the village.

Above: Two views of Main Street from different points. Above is from the north end, looking south, capturing the jog in the street's route (to the left) right at the intersection where the Christmas tree is located, across from the violet-awning jewelry store. The look below is from the south end, looking north, taken from just south of the Friendly Tavern. 

Above: A front view of the aforementioned Friendly Tavern.

Above: Of my daytime shots, the above of Lilly's Boutique and Gallery seems to have the most concentration of holiday decoration in it.

Above: A clock along Main Street, with the cupola of a nearby building in the background.

Above: Street lighting and the benefit of a late-afternoon sprinkle add punch to this nighttime shot of brick-covered Main Street.

Above: One of my favorite shots of the nighttime shoot -- a storefront display nicely framed by both the woodwork and holiday lighting.

Above: Carter's Toy Museum & Ice Cream Parlor at night, with a fellow photography club member next to the tree, trying to grab a shot in 3D, using a handmade three-dimension camera.

Above: Not a whole lot to add to the obvious; this is from a storefront display.

Above: A composition about signage and lamp posts. 

Above: A nighttime detail shot of the cupola of a building along Main Street.

Above and below: Two more shots aiming to capture the bright colors in storefront window displays. 

Above: This tree is separate from the one in the middle of Main; I got down low to include it in a storefront shot. 

Above and the remainder below: The rustic, wood-dominant decor inside Plum's Upper Room, a cozy, upper-level restaurant and lounge. The very last shot of the stock of wine bottles is a mistake -- something I decided include simply because of how every once in a while, a mistake can turn out to be an interesting picture, blur notwithstanding. I liked the way the inadvertent movement before the shutter completely exposed the image added the dragging light streaks.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Presenting ... Band Wagon

I had a chance to photograph Band Wagon, an Indy cover band, on Dec. 17 when it played for a private party at the Eagles lodge in Crawfordsville, Ind. As it turned out, the band was needing an updated formal shot of the group to use to promote itself for an upcoming show at the Indiana Live! casino between Indianapolis and Shelbyville along I-74. They also wanted some fresh live performance images, and I delivered both to them.

What you see in this post are results of that shoot, leading off (top) with a shot of four of the band's five members who did the Crawfordsville show (a sixth member, vocalist JT Miner, performs with the group part time and was not present for this show). From left are lead vocalist Lisa Kopczynski, bass player Kent Andrews, drummer Derek Carmichael and guitarist Dave Hetrick. Off to the left and not pictured here is vocalist, guitarist, sax player and keyboardist Tim Dunn.

For the formal shot, the band wanted to pose in front of the pretty large recreational vehicle -- or fan bus, as they like to call it -- that they use to transport the band to show in far-away places and fans to shows booked at clubs in the outskirts of Indianapolis. It's a comfortable way for fans to see the group and not have to worry about fatigue or alcohol intake before tackling a long drive home -- a pretty novel and smart-thinking idea for any local band to do for its faithful following, if you ask me.

For those interested in checking out the band, Band Wagon is playing Champps on the Northside of Indianapolis, 8711 N. River Crossing, on New Year's Eve. Show starts at 10 p.m.

To see a full gallery of images from the performance, follow this link

Above: Lisa hitting a high note at a powerful point in the lyric.

Above and below: Tim and Lisa, punching life into this section of a tune.

Above: Kent, caught between one of the cymbals in Derek's drum set and the head and pegs of one of Dave's guitars. 

Above: Derek coming down on the down beat. 

Above: Lisa on vocals while, in the background, a member of the party crowd volunteered to join the band on the stage to play cowbell during "Honky Tonk Woman."
Above: Tim putting emotion into one of his vocal solos. 
Above and below: Dave on guitar and joining in on vocals. 

Above: Tim on keyboards.

Above: Catching the indigo light cast on the guitar head and tuning pegs of Dave's guitar.

Above: Lisa, still going strong in the second set. 

Above: Derek, caught from a down low angle. 

Above: Tim and Dave, relaxing in the fan bus during a break.

Above: Exploiting more indigo light, this time in shadows of Lisa on vocals (left) and Dave on guitar off one of the walls in the lodge during the show. Thanks to the band's new light man for the tip on this one.

Above and next two below: Three poses of the group shot in front of the fan bus before the show. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Help Portrait: a 'good feeling' day

Photographers and photo enthusiasts of all skill levels joined Saturday in a global project called Help Portrait, which provides free formal portraits to people who otherwise would not have the means or opportunity to get such pictures. Help Portrait is an annual event, and its timing in the holiday season makes it special for both the people using the service and the photographers and photo enthusiasts who volunteer their time and services to make it happen.

For the portrait subjects, it's having quality pictures to share with friends and family at a special time of year. And for the photographers, it's the smiles and satisfaction on the faces of the people having their portraits done -- and seeing the results. In some instances, there also is some enjoyable interaction between photographer and portrait subject.

Several members of the Indy Meetup Photo Club that I belong to participated in Help Portrait this year (some also were involved last year). In Indianapolis, the shoots were conducted in the lobby area of the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation's Manchester Apartments at 10th and Pennsylvania streets on the north fringe of downtown and just south of the Old Northside neighborhood.

For various reasons, the main Help Portrait organization prohibits participating photographers to use any of the pictures they take on personal websites or galleries, so I can't include any samples of the shots we took Saturday. However, on occasion between sittings and at the conclusion of the shoot at the HVAF, I did take some candid shots of IMUPC members in action and of the volunteers who helped make this happen. They welcomed portrait subjects; provided hair, makeup and grooming services to them; played courier for the memory cards, running them from the portraiture room to the print room; and made prints for the portrait subjects. Some of those candids are among pictures you see in this post, leading off at the top with a shot of all the photographers and volunteers who were still around the HVAF at quitting time.

Above: Two of the hair and makeup artists flank Chelsea, who coordinated the Help-Portrait event in Indianapolis.

Above: Some of the hair and makeup artists have some fun for post-event shots.

Above and below: IMUPC's Bill provided our club's lighting equipment and backdrop -- and he proved to be our primary shooter and valuable consultant for the duration. Above, he posed for a test shot; below, he posed again, this time for a girl who'd taken an interest in the photography and picked up some tips on the craft from Bill.

Above: A videographer circulated the lobby to grab footage of the sessions throughout the day. Below, IMUPC's Jeff liked what the videographer was shooting, so he took some stills of the same. 

Above and next two below: Some shots of the Help-Portait volunteers and HVAF staff at the end of the day. 

Above: IMUPC members Susan, Connie, Sherri and Carol along with a shooter (second from left) who was working at another station.

Above: Two more IMUPC members, Jeff and Dave, taking a break a bit away from the beehive of activity.