Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Bowl Village in Indy

The Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis formally opened on Friday, Jan. 27, and among the variety of attractions and spectacles one can enjoy in the village in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 is the free entertainment on two outdoor stages in the village. 

The stages are a block apart along downtown's Georgia Street, which in the heart of down, is a three-block-long east-west thoroughfare extending from Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA's Indiana Pacers) at Pennsylvania Street on the east to the Indiana Convention Center on the west. The Verizon Stage is at the street's eastern terminus, right in front of the fieldhouse; the Pepsi Stage is a block west on the northern portion of Georgia's intersection with Meridian Street. In the months leading up to the Super Bowl, those three blocks of Georgia Street underwent an extensive -- and permanent -- makeover that transformed it from a six-lane regular vehicular thoroughfare into a brick-laden and lagrely pedestrian mall. When the Super Bowl is over, two vehicular lanes -- one in each direction -- will open, but until the day after the Super Bowl, the whole street is pedestrian-only.
I spent the waning hours of daylight and much of the evening hours perusing the village on opening day Friday ... then went back Monday night. 

Friday's visit included a stop in the late afternoon for a performance by Indiana-based metal band Kramus, which opened the Verizon Stage. During my afternoon stroll, I took along two cameras -- my 7D equipped with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens that I'd later swap out with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, and a Canon 30D equipped with a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens. After dark, I returned to the village, this time challenging myself to photograph everything with the 7D and Sigma 85mm f/1.4, even though I brought along the two other lenses packed in a backpack. 

At night, in addition to roaming the length of Georgia Street, I stopped at the Pepsi Stage to photograph Blue Moon Revue, paused to take in the impressive opening night fireworks show while also checking out the zip line and other attractions at the west end of Georgia, then scurried back to the Verizon Stage on the east end, where the Bret Michaels Band had just taken the stage to conclude the night's live entertainment. For Kramus and Blue Moon Revue, I was fortunate to get close up for my shots. 

It was a different situation for Michaels' show. By the time I arrived, spectators had packed the area, and I struggled for at least 20 minutes trying to worm my way from the back -- about a half-block away on Georgia -- to a point on the extreme far right corner of the stage on Pennsylvania. The latter got me shots much closer than I had hoped when I first saw the crowd, but my line of sight was limited, and Michaels spent a good portion of his stage time away from the front, during which he was completely out of sight. I did grab some shots when he came forward -- he is forever pointing to people in the audience during his performance, a technique, no doubt, to personalize the experience for fans -- but they weren't anything like what I had been able to grab for Kramus and Blue Moon Revue. With the crowd packed like sardines, I had little room to maneuver to change to the 70-200mm lens, so I stuck to my initial approach to shoot everything at night with the 85mm f/1.4.

Today's post features shots from my day at the Super Bowl Village. Some of my favorite shots were "street photography" type images -- candids of people traversing the village. Leading off the post was a fortuitous shot, catching a wandering high-beam strobe glancing off a fedora-wearing gentleman surrounded by other folks who gathered at one of the warm-colored warming stations -- appropriate, no? I made a tighter-cropped black-and-white version of this, which I'll include below. It gives it an early '20s sheen.

For a fuller look at the shoots, visit this link for the Kramus show, and this link for the Blue Moon Revue show. A gallery of my Super Bowl Village shots will open soon. 

Above: A silhouette of an individual placing a phone call during moments before the fireworks show.

Above: Fans grabbed pictures of the Indy-style race cars decorated in all the NFL team logos and colors; parked on Meridian Street on the south side of Monument Circle, they would disappear within a couple days. 

Above: Someone beginning their trip on the zip line along Capitol Avenue.

Above: The spires on St. John's Catholic Church, across from the Convention Center, surrounded by fireworks smoke during the Friday evening fireworks show.

Above: Parents and kids enjoying the field on Capitol Avenune in front of the Convention Center.

Above: Kramus guitarist Jeremy Lovins' hair -- and watching which way it would fly -- was a side show to the music.
Above: Kramus lead vocalist Robyn Sprowl in full steam.

Above: The crowd at the Verizon Stage in the afternoon for the Kramus performance.

Above and below: The game's Roman numbers at Monument Circle in daylight and, at night, during one of the light shows.

Above: Inside one of the pedestrian mall enclosed warm-up spots, my attempt at an artsy shot. It probably looks more like what an inebriated individual would see.

Above: Dave Sullivan and Matt Marshall of Indianapolis band Blue Moon Revue, which played the Pepsi Stage on Friday evening.

Above: The sign for the access to the Circle Centre mall parking garage is a familiar landmark along Georgia Street.
Above: People photographing the west sky above the Convention Center where one end of the fireworks was displaying. In the eastern sky (below), the show over Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Conseco Fieldhouse), home of the NBA's Indiana Pacers, was spectacular.

Above: The view of the Verizon Stage near the back of the crowd on Georgia Street when I arrived for the Bret Michaels Band show ... and before I began my worming toward the front.

Above and below: I'm at the far right side of the stage now, observing how Michaels spends a lot of time on stage pointing to people in the audience. I suppose it helps personalize the show to the fans. Above, I'm absolutely certain (not) he was pointing at me!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Downtown Indy, from high up

It isn't often that one gets to shoot pictures of a scenic area from an extreme elevated perspective. So when the chance to photograph downtown Indianapolis from the top floor of the 37-floor One America Building presented itself this past Saturday, I snapped away.

I bracketed all of my shots for later high-dynamic range (HDR) treatment so I could cull maximum detail from the shots even though it was an overcast day. HDR usually is reserved for high-contrast situations, where light in one section of the pictures is very bright, and light in another area is very dark. But I've enjoyed using HDR for days like this one, simply because it gives the image a rich texture.

These pictures include several Indiana landmarks -- Lucas Oil Stadium (above), home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts -- and the site of this year's Super Bowl XLVI; the bright blue (and new) JW Marriott Hotel; the Indiana State Capitol; the Eli Lilly and Co. campus; Monument Circle, considered the heart of Indianapolis; and the Indianapolis Artsgarden, an atrium-like facility built as part of a pedestrian walkway in the heart of downtown over Washington Street (U.S. 40), the main east-west thoroughfare in Indianapolis.

Above and next two below: The blue JW Marriott Hotel, which opened within the past year, in various perspectives and caught in the process of afixing a large image of the Lombardi Trophy on its east facade. The trophy is awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl.

Above and below: The Indiana Statehouse, from a couple perspectives.

Above: Regions Bank, with the southern origin of Massachusetts Avenue, one of Indy's six cultural district, extending diagonally to the left.

Above: Looking down toward Virginia Avenue, another diagonal thoroughfare that begins downtown. Mass Ave extends northeast; Virginia Avenue, southeast.

Above: In the distance, the expansive campus of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co.

Above: Monument Circle, a brick-covered roundabout encircling Miss Victory, a sculpture commemorating the Civil War.

Above: The Hyatt-Regency Hotel, which for the longest time until about 10 years ago or so was Indy's largest hotel. The circular section on the right is the Eagle's Nest, a revolving restaurant that offers diners a spectacular view of the downtown skyline.

Above: The Indianapolis Artsgarden extending over Washington Street (and connected to Circle Centre mall), although the street you see in the picture is actually Illinois Street, which intersects Washington at the Artsgarden.

Above: Looking northeast down diagonal Mass Ave.

Above: A good grouping of downtown Indy's largest skyscrapers, including -- in the foreground -- Indiana's largest building, the Chase Bank tower. At left is the Regions Bank Building; at right, the City-County municipal government building.

Above and next two below: Shots taken from University Park, several blocks east of the One America Building. Above, a leading lines composition; the Indiana War Memorial and Museum is the limestone structure in the background. First below, the fountain in University Park; second below, a statue in the park -- it's of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president of the United States and the only native Hoosier to ascend to the presidency.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A flicker of strobe light in the dark
to capture moving objects in water

Lots of recent shoots to catch up with, and today, I'm going to go with the most recent one first. These are some fun shots I grabbed Wednesday when members of the Indiana Photographic Society got together for its weekly meeting at the Garfield Park Art Center in Indianapolis.

Wednesday was supposed to be tabletop day: Club members were to bring their cameras and any props they wanted to place on tables for them and anyone else to photograph in any creative manner imaginable. I totally spaced it; if I'd remembered this was what we going to do, I'd have brought my Canon 7D DSLR, but I forgot about the night's activity. However, I did bring along my Canon G12, so that's what I used. Club member Gary Nelson brought along an aquarium to drop objects into -- with lights off -- and pop flashes of artificial strobe light for us to capture the sinking objects in freeze-frame, much like he did recently then showed the club results in still images at a meeting two weeks ago. The objective was to use a very slow shutter speed -- 4 seconds or more. We'd all focus and lock it on the aquarium center before the room lights went off. When the room lights did go off, the objects would drop and Gary would quickly pop the flash, and we'd capture our freeze-frame in that nano-second of light. It would matter how long the shutter remained open after that; it was still dark, the camera had already taken the  picture, so it would be a matter of waiting until we heard the shutter close when we knew we'd have our picture.

There were seven or eight of us surrounding the aquarium, as Gary operated the flash, and instructed when the lights would be flipped off. Sylvia or he would drop the subjects/objects -- a baseball and some hollow plastic jewels -- into the water. Sylvia was a real trooper; she got her hands, arms and sleeves drenching wet fishing the objects out of the sundry repeat shots, so a big thanks to Sylvia for her key role in all this. And to Gary for making this interesting experiment possible.

The lead photo here was one of my favorites; Gary had used some force to make the ball's projection into the tank go faster than usual, and as you can see, it worked pretty well. The baseball is just about to hit bottom, and you can see the nice wake of its entry path. With the left-side angle that I had in the semicircle, I also was able to exploit a reflection on the left from the side glass panel.

Above: Gary used blue and red gels in separate drops to colorize the shots. My blue shot turned out pretty good. But I hadn't set up my camera quickly enough to grab a quality shot of the flash blast with the red gel.

Above and below: The plastic jewels close up, taken on the tabletop with a solid-color background, which is what we wanted to do primarily that night. The aquarium opportunity made for an enjoyable diversion.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Community gets to meet photographers
from The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis Star, Indiana's largest newspaper and now a multi-platform media company, held its first-ever "Meet the Photographers Night" at its downtown Indy plant on Friday night, inviting anyone in the community to meet and talk to the people who capture pictures and video that appear in The Star print and digital products. More 120 people took advantage of the opportunity.

The Star began the evening's program by letting visitors meet, for the first hour or so, one on one with individual photographers. All of the staff shooters were on hand except Charlie Nye. At the same time that was going on, attendees were invited to have a free portrait of themselves taken by Star staff photographers. Portrait subjects had the option of posing with provided props -- old-fashioned press hats and/or a choice of three or four antique cameras. The photos will be available to download at flickr sometime next week. A representative of Roberts Imaging, the premier photo retailer in Indianapolis and all of the Midwest, was on hand to talk to any comers about pictures, gear and accessories.

After the one-on-ones and portraits, the company showed an audio-visual presentation featuring some of the staff's best and most dramatic images. Interviews with several shooters were included in the presentation, including one of Matt Kryger, the photographer who happened to draw the assignment to shoot the country-western music act Sugarland on Aug. 13, 2011, at the Indiana State Fair. Right before Sugarland was to take the stage for its performance at the outdoor grandstand that evening, an abrupt, but powerful wind and rainstorm swept through the fairgrounds and knocked over the concert stage infrastructure, which fell onto spectators in the first several ground-level rows from the stage. Seven people died either that night or shortly afterward; 61 were injured. Many of Kryger's photographs taken that night, from the capture of the actual stage collapse to the rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath, were part of the AV presentation Friday.

After the AV show, all of The Star photographers went to the front of the seated area to field questions from those of us who were attending. This consumed the lion's share of the evening, and it seemed like many of us would have liked for it to continue longer when they called it a night. Several people who I talked to afterward remarked about how impressed they were with the staff as a whole, and how their interactions with each other during the Q&A seemed as if the shooters enjoyed an intrastaff camaraderie. Mike Fender, director of photography at The Star, told the crowd early in the evening that the company would like to make this an annual event. From all indications of those in attendance and those I talked to afterward, I bet it would be well-received and -attended if they had even two or three of these a year.

The pictures in today's post are from Friday's event, almost all from the Q&A session. The lead images is a perspective shot of the left side of the stage area where the photographers sat during the Q&A. From left are Danese Kenon, Rob Goebel, Marc Lebryk, Joe Vitti, Kelly Wilkinson and Matt Detrich.

Above: It's always great when you get Joe Vitti to smile, because his smiles are big ... and genuine. Here he shares a laugh with (from left) Rob Goebel, Marc Lebryk and Kelly Wilkinson.

Above: Although all Star photographers are generalists when it comes to the assignments they are given, Frank Espich and Michelle Pemberton do draw the lion's share of assignments for The Star's features products, including Indy Living (publishes Sundays), Weekend (Thursdays), Taste (Fridays) and Home & Garden (Saturdays). 

Above: Greg Griffo (with microphone) is The Star photogragraphy staff's point person for auto racing. He has coordinated its photo coverage of the Indy 500 for many years and will travel to the bigger Indy Car and NASCAR races. Next to Griffo are (from left) Matt Kryger and Joe Young.

Above: On several occasions Friday, Espich heaped glowing praise on his photo staff colleagues. 

Above: Matt Kryger (far right) was The Star photographer at the State Fairgrounds the night of the concert stage collapse on Aug. 13, 2011.

Above: Robert Scheer (left) gets a lot of Star Media's Colts, Pacers and big-college sports photo assignments. He told the crowd that he's among the one-third on the photo staff who use Canon gear, the rest, Nikon.

Above: Matt Detrich, like Scheer, also is on the newspaper's Colts photo coverage team.

Above: Kelly Wilkinson during one of the light moments of the Q&A session.

Above: Marc Lebryk (with microphone) actually isn't on The Star newsroom photo staff; he shoots almost exclusively for Star Media's marketing and advertising departments. He is flanked by Rob Goebel (left) and Joe Vitti.

Above: Yet another capture of a lighter moment, this time with Goebel as foil. He is looking at Danese Kenon. Behind Rob is Marc Lebryk.
Above: Danese Kenon was one of the event's chief organizers. For the longest time, she held true to a project to take and upload one photo per day to her website, although a recent check would seem to indicate that the streak was snapped in November. She has some amazing shots in that collection, certainly worth a check if you have the time.

Joe Young (right), a longtime shooter for the old Indianapolis News and now a part-timer at The Star, shot the tragic aftermath of the State Fair Coliseum explosion on Oct. 31, 1963, which occurred during a performance of Holiday on Ice. Seventy-four people were killed, 400 injured. He was recalling that experience this picture was taken.