Friday, November 30, 2012

Indy shoot, Part III: Governor's Residence

Stop No. 3 on the Oct. 13 Indy shoot was the Governor's Residence for the state of Indiana, which is at 4750 N. Meridian St. The state acquired the 6.5-acre home and grounds in 1973, and after extensive renovations, has been the sixth official governor's home ever since.

The Indy Meetup Photo Club group I was with did not seek to shoot indoors (I found out after our visit that the first floor of the home is open to the public, but I didn't know that beforehand), but we were welcome to shoot the exterior. This was my first time ever on the grounds.

I found out only a day or two before the shoot that the previous Governor's Residence, used from 1945-73, was only four blocks south of, and on the opposite side of the street from, this site. Now a private residence, it would be our next stop on the itinerary.

Rather than spend a lot more space blabbering, as I did for the first two installments in this series, I'm going to proceed directly to pictures, leading off with a color-splashed autumnal vista in a multifaceted back yard. I'll stick with backside images before transitioning to the front shots. I don't know a lot of background or history about the landscapes or items you see in the landscapes, as we had no grounds person to walk us through with its history. If I did, I'd offer some explanation in the captions.

Next stop on the shoot: Private home at 4343 N. Meridian St. that served as the Governor's Residence from 1945-73.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Indy shoot, Part II: St. John's church

The second stop on the Oct. 13 photo swing through downtown Indianapolis and parts nearby was St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 126 W. Georgia St. (see yesterday's post for photos at the first stop, St. Mary's Catholic Church, and background on this one-day shoot).

This morning, more than a month after the shoot, as I reviewed the photos from St. John's included here, I was reminded that I started chasing more creative shots with this stop. We'd started the shoot relatively early on a nippy morning, and I didn't feel that comfortable throughout the swing through St. Mary's church, the initial stop. But at St. John's, the ceiling and window patterns jumped out at me, and I felt excited about chasing those -- some straight on, others at angles that appealed to my "out of the box" side. That explains some of the "disorientation" you see at first glance at some of the images. But even today, again, more than a month later, I don't feel compelled to pull up these shots in photo editing software to "straighten" them, and I feel pretty comfortable about that.

For a few images, such as the one leading off the post, I did tilt the camera to effect the angle. But for others, it was a simple matter of shooting straight upward (first image below) or straight forward (second below); the vantage points where I decided to compose the shot gave me these angles naturally. I really liked the second image below, because even on my first glance, I immediately saw a sort of star-burst effect in the rounded ceiling support beams extending from the statue in the foreground and converging at the light the way they do. The halo effect in the center was exacerbated by the high-dynamic range (HDR) treatment in post-processing -- and added to the composition's distinctive nature, in my mind.

I was far less thrilled with my exterior shots. In fact, I preferred the few exterior partial-church shots on a sunny spring afternoon in April 2011. I think the difference between the two visits were the sky conditions (overcast on Oct. 13, sunny in April 2011) and the lenses. I used a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens for almost everything on Oct. 13; in April 2011, I was using a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens.

The ultra wide-angle Sigma is a very useful option with interior shots, and it allows me to get full buildings into the composition, often from close up. But there is a trade-off: distortion. Distortion increases as you get closer to the wide end (10mm) of an ultra-wide, so if a photographer wants to avoid that totally, he/she needs to either re-compose or take a loose frame -- lots of negative space -- to allow for distortion correction in post-processing. (Distortion correction in post-processing robs photos of a lot of its content, so you compose with lots of space around the subject so you can save the core subject after distortion correction).

There are specialty lenses available -- called tilt-shift -- that cater to architectural photographers so they can correct such distortion at the point of composition, instead of in post-processing. These lenses bend and, well, tilt to keep structural angles looking natural to the eye. But they are expensive, and unless you do a lot of architectural photography, might not be worth it.

I used Photoshop's distortion correction filter when preparing to post the full shots of the St. Mary's exterior yesterday and the one of St. John's today. I'll turn to it again in a few days when I prepare my exterior shots of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the last stop on this Indy outing.

I was OK with (not a rousing endorsement, but "acceptable" in my view) the distortion-corrected shot of St. Mary's exterior, not so much St. John's today. The one of St. John's was doubly hurt because of the lighting situation; at the time of day we visited there was serious backlight from most angles. I tried to approach the shot to compose to exploit that situation, and hence, you see the sun peeking around the right side of the church in the image presented today. So yes, that was deliberate. Again, I'm not saying it's a work of art; just an option I chose to try given the circumstances.

I include in this post, at the very end, a frame from the April 2011 shoot. It was late afternoon ... and also sunny. And even though I stood across the street from the church, I could not get the full church into a frame from any reasonable distance with the 28-75mm f/2.8 Tamron lens. But I did land a composition I liked, framing an afternoon moon between the church's two spires.

Next stop on the shoot: the Governor's Residence at 46th and Meridian streets.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Indy shoot, Part I: St. Mary's church

Today's post is the first in a series of five posts related to a recent, single-day outing, one of the most prolific picture-taking days -- in sheer volume of photographs taken -- that I've ever experienced (outside of my sports shoots, that is, when the volume of pictures taken is off-the-charts high because of the frequent use of the camera's burst shutter mechanism).

As such, this begins one of those "catch-up" posts you've seen me do periodically, when so many things happen in succession or simultaneously that a backlog ensues.

On Oct. 13, I was among three members of the Indy Meetup Photo Club that made stops at three downtown-area Indianapolis Catholic churches plus the Indiana Governor's Residence and former Governor's Mansion, now a private residence at 4343 N. Meridian St. The two other members in our group got on board for the outing, organized a bit on the run, because they were still needing pictures to consider using in the club's then-upcoming "Windows, Gates, Doors: Portals to Historic Indy" photo exhibit Nov. 2 for the First Friday Art Walk at the Indiana Landmarks Center.

I had my photos for the show pretty much set to go at the time, but I wanted to go along because I found the prospect of photographing these five Indianapolis landmarks so intriguing. And to be able to able to do it in one fell swoop? Yeah, I was in.

It turned out to be a very long day for two of us (one person in the party had to leave for another commitment after the second stop). We started early -- 9 a.m., as I recall -- at St. Mary's Catholic Church at New Jersey and Vermont streets, and by the time we stopped at St. John the Evangelist, 126 W. George St.; the two mansions; and SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral at 13th and Meridian streets -- it was pushing 5 p.m. I didn't get nearly all the shots I would have wanted to explore at any of the places (surprise!), but I did get a lot. We had access indoors and outdoors at the churches; only outdoors at the mansions. And as I have been doing for all my landscape and landmark photography of late, I bracketed all my shots for possible high-dynamic range (HDR) treatment in post-processing.

And as it turned out, I did include quite a few of the photos I took that day in the Nov. 2 show. Two ended up in frames hung on the IL's 1201 Gallery wall; the others used were matted, mounted on black foam boards and displayed on easels sprinkled throughout the gallery floor, offering a slightly different access to our club's work to the more than 200 people who turned up for that day's Art Walk.

So I present this series of posts in chronological order of our visits that today, which means today's focuses on St. Mary's.

The next post will be St. John's, followed by the Governor's Residence, the former Governor's Residence and, finally, SS. Peter and Paul. Many Indianapolis residents might not even have been aware there is a former Governor's Residence in Indianapolis. I wasn't ... until Oct. 13. The properties are about three blocks apart and on opposite sides of Meridian Street: the current site at 46th Street on the west side of Meridian, the former three blocks south on the east side.

The first image below was among those I included among framed hangings at the Art Walk on Nov. 2. Those hangings and the rest of the club's "Windows, Gates, Doors" exhibit, by the way, are still viewable to the general public, but not for much longer. On or about Dec. 4, the IMUPC will take down the exhibit so Indiana Landmarks can prepare for the Dec. 7 First Friday Art Walk. Until Dec. 4, you can stop by Indiana Landmarks during regular business hours, which are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Just ask the receptionist to guide you to the 1201 Gallery to view the club's exhibit.

Next stop on the shoot: St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Game Day: USF mirrored in its lake

While preparing for my first visit to the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., as part of my ongoing project to visit small colleges in Indiana that field football teams, I went online and pulled up a map of the 107-acre campus, and one thing jumped out at me immediately:

Mirror Lake.

The body of water is the geographic heart of campus, and, in fact, divides it into almost even parts, east and west. The school so respects the lake's attributes -- not only does it gift the campus with wonderful aesthetics, but it is a resource for the university's biology laboratory classes and research -- that it provides just one crossing, to get from one side to the other, without having to go around it. And it's a pedestrian-only crossing at that.

And that struck me as wise.

The lake, I might add, is aptly named, as I'm certain the images in this post support. Many of the photos in today's post involve the lake and its reflective qualities. It was hard not to notice that or be attracted to it, and even more difficult not to exploit it in picture-taking. I landed there well past the prime autumn color season, and I couldn't help but wonder what it looks like in full color glory. Nevertheless, I did find a few trees with lingering color; one that comes to mind was the vibrant orange next to the Pope John Paul II Center. A picture of that tree next to the center appears in this post.

Leading off this post is the picture I felt best captured the mirror qualities of the lake while also involving as broad of a view of campus as possible, a view, I might add, that includes Bishop John M. D'Arcy Stadium -- site of Saturday's NAIA playoff game between Saint Francis and Baker University (a game won by Saint Francis) -- in the distant left background. It also involves, in the foreground, the paved trail surrounding the lake.

I arrived at Saint Francis about 90 minutes before the scheduled noon kickoff, and I found that almost enough time to cover everything I wanted. I would have wanted more time -- as I've found to be the case with all my visits -- but the Saint Francis campus is the most compact of those on my tour so far, and I reached nearly everything I wanted. The main omission was the Rolland Arts and Visual Communication Center on the extreme southeast corner. Also, while I walked behind Trinity Hall, the admissions building on the north end of campus, I never got around to its front to take a photograph.

While taking my self-guided tour, I encountered numerous instances of current students leading tours of small groups containing what I presumed were prospective students. As I finished my pregame campus photography and walked toward D'Arcy Stadium, I happened to walk alongside one of those groups. I heard the tour leader tell the prospects that Saint Francis is a "dry" campus -- no alcoholic beverages -- except on days of home football games, when consumption of such drinks by tailgaters is allowed.

Tailgating at Saint Francis appeared to be quite light compared to what I've observed at the other Indiana small-college campuses I've visited so far. Some tailgaters had amplified music playing, and in one instance it even was on the loud side. But I didn't find it offensive in the least, and the tailgaters seemed orderly and respectful. I was impressed to see, in a small portion of a parking lot close to the stadium, tailgating fans of Baker University, Baldwin City, Kan., which is about 20 miles due south of Lawrence, Kan., and about 50 miles southwest of Kansas City. Both of the very modest sets of stands at the game on the visitors' side of the field were nearly filled with Wildcats supporters who made the long trip.

For a full gallery of images from my self-guided campus tour of the University of Saint Francis, visit the "Communities" section of my site at SmugMug.

Above: A vista that was my favorite from the day's shoot and would have served as my lead-off image if it had involved more of the campus. This view from near the north entrance off Spring Street looks east toward the Pope John Paul II Center.

Above and below: The orange tree outside the Pope John Paul II Center and a backlighted composition of the nearby clock tower, stamping my photograph's time of capture at about 11:05 a.m.

Above: Not much to say ... a tree mirrored in the lake water.

Above and below: Lots of geese hang out at Mirror Lake, and these are separate scenes. The one above, looking west toward Bishop John M. D'Arcy Stadium, was taken at the south end of the lake. The one below was taken at least a half-hour earlier at the north end.

Above: A view northeast from behind the visitors' stands at the football stadium.

Above and next three below: Views of Brookside Mansion, an administration building and historic structure. The one above was taken with the light in a not-so-favorable late-morning position. The hand-carved sandstone Romanesque structure was the home of industrialist John Henry Bass from 1902-44, when the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration purchased the home and surrounding 65 acres from the Bass family then moved the university here from Lafayette, where it was founded in 1890. Bass was responsible for building the man-made Mirror Lake. 

Closeup of the statue of St. Francis in front of the Brookside Mansion.

Brookside Mansion once served as the full college, and later as the library and administration building. The library now is part of the Pope John Paul II Center.

Above and below: Benches on campus that caught my eye. They are not far from each other along the walkway behind Trinity Hall and near the Student Center.

Above: A sculpture near the Brookside Mansion.

Above: The recreational area inside the Student Center. 

Above: The Achatz Hall of Science includes a planetarium (right). 

Above and below: The main entrance to (above) and inside (below) of Hutzell Athletic Center, where the USF Cougar basketball teams play their home games. 

Above: Bonaventure Hall, to which the Pope John Paul II Center was added. The latter includes the Lee and Jim Vann Library. 

Above: The one direct crossing that allows passage from one side of the lake (and campus) to the other. This view looks toward the Pope John Paul II Center.

Above and next four below: Tailgaters, including -- in the last two of this series -- fans from Baker University.

Above: Entrance to Bishop John M. D'Arcy Stadium.

Above: The school's wall of honor to football players of the past. This is located in the area underneath the home team's side of the grandstands amid the concessions. 

Above: The Norkfolk-Southern line runs along the campus's southern perimeter.

Above: A bucolic scene looking west from the top row of stands in Bishop John M. D'Arcy Stadium.

Above: One more composition from the north end of the lake, looking at the Pope John Paul II Center.