Tuesday, February 24, 2015

10 plus years of shoots in Garfield Park

From my first visit to Indianapolis' Garfield Park for a photo shoot 12 years ago or so, it'd always been in the back of mind that at some point, I might amass enough images to warrant creating a "best of" Garfield Park gallery. Over the years, some people familiar with my repertoire would joke about how I needed to hit the road and look for other subject material.

I can't say I know exactly how many images I've made at the park in that time span. I do know there are a lot. I've shot landscapes, seasonal pictures, events ranging from Vintage Base Ball to the local bicentennial observance of Mexican independence from Spain, florals (both inside the conservatory and outside in the Sunken Garden), high-dynamic range (HDR) photography, some portraiture, and full production shoots of almost a dozen of the biennial plays presented by the all-volunteer Garfield Shakespeare Company.

These images have have fit into various "type" categories in my sundry galleries at SmugMug, which means they are scattered among several galleries. It would have been difficult for someone to go any single gallery there and get a firm grasp on the breadth and spectrum of the park shoots described above. It wasn't until recently, when I received several inquiries about my Garfield Park images, that it occurred to me that I really ought to try and make a consolidated gallery for what I consider representative work in and around Garfield Park.

I've worked off and on the two months trying to do just that. I came up with roughly 320 images, which might strike some as a lot for a "best of" compilation in the new gallery. I tried to represent everything of significance that I shot, organizing them roughly by season -- winter, spring, summer and fall -- largely because a significant number of images were taken to record the community's oldest park in its various seasonal "looks." I ended the gallery with the theatrical images, and I don't think I have every play -- yet -- represented in that montage.

The pictures include the park's landmarks -- the pagoda, the arts center, the MacAllister Amphitheater, the library, the Burrello Family Center -- as well as other attractions, such as the aquatic center, the Gen. Henry Lawton statue and Civil War memorial, the World War I memorial grove, Fire Station 29, Tickle Belly bridge, and Bean Creek and Pleasant Run, which converge at the north end of the park. I also included a small number of shots from the 2009 Miracle Mile Parade, as well as a shot or two from neighborhoods adjacent to the park.

I don't suppose the result can be described as a definitive "best of" collection, but I prefer to look at it as representative, and not a "best of." If I ever need to quickly get my hands on images representing my photography in the park, that's what I'd look at first.

One of the challenges of writing about this post was to select the photos to include here ... and to pick out a single image to lead off the post. Those of you familiar with the constitution of this blog have come to appreciate how the lead-off photo is something I spend a lot of time trying to decide, because it not only best represents (there's that word again) the subject matter, but also must serve to carry the whole post.

The photo leading off the post isn't one I had considered using in that position until only recently -- when I reached the end of composing this text. The image was made on July 17, 2004, not more than a month after I purchased my first digital camera -- an original Canon Rebel (300D). But it's been one of my favorites taken in the Sunken Garden, and the chance of coming across two small children, both standing with hands on hips while admiring one of the fountains, was a fortuitous catch, I thought.

Many of the photos in the new gallery were taken since I launched this blog in December 2008, which means they undoubtedly have appeared here at least once already. So I decided that images I would use in this post, with one exception, would date from 2004-08, since none of those (with rare exceptions) have appeared in the blog. That way, blog content remains "new" (to the blog, anyway), even if it's a bit dated. I did give each of the older images a freshening up in newer software to hopefully improve on what I was able to do 10 years ago or so.

Above and next two below: These images were taken with my Canon 300D (original digital Rebel) on Jan. 8, 2005, the morning after a rare kind of snowfall in Indianapolis -- the type where the temperature is cold enough to turn precipitation to snow, but warm enough for the flakes to stick to whatever it falls on. It was a picturesque morning in the park, and I was so pleased I got out there to capture these images when I did. I applied a texturizing filter in post-processing on the second image below. So many of the photos taken in that shoot look like they were taken either in black-and-white or converted to monochrome, but the image above and below are the original color versions. The second below was converted to monochrome during the texturizing process.

Above and next three below: Photos taken at the conservatory's annual spring bulb show. I applied a selective color treatment to the one above, taken in 2008. The first below and the two cone flowers below it were from 2007.  

 Above: A frame from the 2004 orchid show at the conservatory.

Above and below: Shots from the summer displays in the Sunken Garden, the above in 2006, the one below in 2004.

Above: An attempt at dealing with backlight during a park walk-through in August 2006.

Above: A long-range view of the park's aquatic center in June 2006.

Above: A backlight composition taken from a 2008 summer display in the terrace overlooking the Sunken Garden. 

Above and below: From a free concert by the Wright Brothers at the MacAllister Amphitheater in August 2006.

Above and below: From a June 2008 performance of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, conducted by Orcenith Smith.

Above and below: Carl Storie, a prominent Indianapolis rock music entertainer, was the featured entertainer at the June 2006 "America, We Remember" observance at the amphitheater. 

Above: The Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers in front of the stage for the June 2004 "America, We Remember" observance.

Above and next two below: Indianapolis jazz violinist Cathy Morris, accompanied by an ensemble, gave outdoor performances in the Sunken Garden as part of the "Music in the Garden" series. The image above was taken in June 2005; the two below in July 2006.

Above: The Garfield Park Arts Center fenced off some of the open meadow behind the building to display a special sand sculptures exhibit in summer 2008. I was there in early August, while most of the sculptures were still works in progress, and shot this through the fencing using a zoom lens.  

Above: Kids chase after candy thrown from an entry in the Miracle Mile Parade along Madison Avenue on Sept. 1, 2007. 

The statue of Maj. Gen. Henry Lawton, who served in the Civil, Indian and Spanish-American wars and was a member and first sergeant of the 30th Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. 

Above and two below: Night shots of the park's pedestrian roundabout (above), taken in summer 2004, and of the Sunken Garden (below), taken in early September 2008.

Above: A favorite autumn shot, the MacAllister Amphitheater framed in 2006 by a tree outside the amphitheater fencing.

Above and below: Versions of almost the same late-afternoon shot taken seven years apart. The one above was shot in 2004; the one below, a high-dynamic range (HDR) rendering, in 2011.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A return to Madison, Wis., to photograph
... and to see the Badgers' basketball team

Until early this week, it had been almost 40 years since I had been in downtown Madison, the capital of Wisconsin -- and home of the university whose men's basketball team currently leads the Big Ten Conference.

The UW Badgers football team still plays in Camp Randall Stadium, which I visited on several occasions in the mid-1970s, although that facility has undergone some dramatic changes in the interim. But the basketball team no longer plays in the UW Fieldhouse, which had abutted the football stadium. Since 1998, the men's and women's basketball teams and the men's hockey teams have played their home games in the more spacious Kohl Center.

My trip to Madison this week was to see the Badgers' men's basketball, which is enjoying one of its best seasons ever. Going into Tuesday's game against the Indiana Hoosiers, the Badgers had a win-loss record of 19-2, including 7-1 in the Big Ten Conference.

Traveling anywhere in the north Midwest is risky during winter, and I checked the 10-day forecast two weeks ago before pulling the trigger on buying tickets to the game. The forecast looked harmless for the three days I had hoped to be on the road; I'd wanted to swing through Milwaukee to visit my brother on the Sunday before the game before completing the trip to Madison via I-94 the next day.

But by Friday, weather forecasters started changing their tune, and they predicted a heavy snow system would move through the Midwest on Saturday night and Sunday, and sure enough, it did. I decided to skip the Sunday trip to Milwaukee and hope that transportation crews would have interstate highways passable on Monday.

Since Milwaukee was no longer part of the itinerary, I wanted to avoid traveling through Chicago at all costs, so I took I-74 west to Bloomington-Normal, Ill., before heading north on I-39, which took me all the way to Madison. Roads were fine till hitting the stretch of I-39 between Normal and Rockford, Ill. Spot patches of iced snow were in both lanes of the highway for about 30 miles or so till close to the metro area of Rockford. Roads the rest of the way were OK, but temperatures started to plummet.

I reached Madison safely just as it got dark Monday, grabbed a bite to eat then called it a night. The plan the next day was to spend the late morning hours and all afternoon strolling through downtown Madison and some of the UW campus and make photographs in the process. Monday night's forecast, however, warned that another snow system would move through Madison the following afternoon, and the weatherman was on target again.

I found a place to park under cover downtown then walked along State Street from campus to the capitol and back, photographing landscapes along the way. For the walk-around shoot, I used my Canon 6D and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens, bracketing exposures for later processing in high-dynamic range (HDR) software.

By the time I approached campus on the return trip, the snow started to fall -- heavily. In fact, I was in the University Bookstore shopping when it started, and I didn't get outdoors to resume shooting until about 15 minutes into the snowfall. To protect the lens glass from moisture, I slid my camera and lens under my jacket, pulling it out only to compose and shoot. So my images from that outing are a mixture of overcast, clear skies and very heavy snowfall. The campus served as the line of demarcation, as it turned out, but the snowfall made for pretty striking images.

Rather than risk the Kohl Center staff not allowing me to bring that camera and lens into the area (they had a policy limiting lens focal lengths at 100mm for spectators and others who were not credentialed media), I packed the gear into the locked car and used my iPhone the rest of the evening. Everything from a stop for dinner at the Nitty Gritty, which is just two blocks from the arena, to the photos taken outside and inside Kohl Center was taken with my iPhone 6s.

The post leads off with a shot of the University Presbyterian Church, known locally as the Pres House, at 731 State St., just inside the eastern boundary of the campus. Pres House is across the street from the Memorial Union and a half block from Bascom Hill, where I lingered for quite a few shots during the snowfall. Flakes had been falling for about 15-20 minutes by the time I took this shot. The remainder of the campus shots were taken during the falling snow.

The images below start with a series of shots in which I featured or integrated the state capitol in the compositions. As usual, click on any image for a larger and sharper version of the photo (especially important if viewing on a mobile device). For a full gallery of images, visit my site at SmugMug.

Time restricted me from getting a straight on shot of the statue atop the capitol, but according to a wikipedia entry on the Wisconsin state capitol, the statue on the top "consists of an allegoric figure reminiscent of Athena, dressed in Greek garb and wearing a helmet topped by a badger, the Wisconsin state totem. In the left hand, it holds a globe with an eagle perched on top. Across the chest is a large 'W' for Wisconsin." There is a straight-on picture of the statue at the wikipedia entry.

The image above begins a series of various shots taken during my walk along State Street, a pedestrian-friendly stretch on which Madison prohibits motor vehicular traffic except for buses and emergency vehicles. Many diagonal streets intersect the east-west State Street, creating some architecturally diagonal buildings at intersections.

Above: Peace Park, located adjacent to the downtown Madison information center. Across Gilman Street from the park, in the background, is Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel.

Above: This shot of University Club along State Street and across from the library mall begins a series of campus shots taken during the snowfall.

Above: The first of three shots looking at structures situated along Bascom Hill, climaxing with Bascon Hall itself, UW's primary administrative building, at the hill's apex.

Above and below: Views of Bascom Hill at the top, looking down.

Above: A pedestrian begins the Bascom Hill ascent.

Above: A few days after I came home from Madison, I glanced through a reader-contribution photo feature in a recent edition of Shutterbug magazine that used the category "the decisive moment," inspired by a phrase coined by 20th-century French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson. This image reminded me of such a "decisive moment." The female in the foreground, walking down Bascom Hill, passed me as I trekked up up the hill, and after I'd gotten about 20 yards from her I turned around to compose a shot to juxtapose her and the other walker with the buildings, pavement and the weather. Perhaps sensing what I was up to, the woman turned toward me just as I tripped the shutter.  

Above and next several below: A series of images in which the Memorial Union is the focal point. The series include three interior shots, including one of a fireside table in the cafeteria area where I remember sitting in the 1970s while enjoying coffee and doughnuts with friends I was visiting in Madison when I was in town see a Badgers football game.

Above and below: Leaving Memorial Union's east doors, one has this view above. At the bottom of the exterior stairs after leaving the building, you get the view below if you turn around.

Above: Two blocks from Kohl Center is the Nitty Gritty, where I dined right before the game. This image begins a series of photos taken with my iPhone 6s.

Above: Just before the game, we dined at the Nitty Gritty, a favorite stop for locals before going to Badgers' athletics games. I had some fried cheddar cheese curds, a Wisconsin favorite, as an appetizer.

Above and below: Exterior shots of the Kohl Center as I approached it after leaving the Nitty Gritty.

Above: The Kohl Center concourse.

Above: My first view of the Kohl Center near where I sat in Section 128.

Above and below: Back on the concourse, this artwork dons the north wall of the center.

Above and next two below: Shots of the Badgers during warm-ups.

Above and next several below: Pregame fanfare, presentation of colors and player introductions.

Above: Mascot Bucky Badger hamming it up for the videographer during a timeout.

Above: Cheerleaders go through a routine during a second-half timeout.

Above: Badgers coach Bo Ryan answers a television reporter's questions in the moments following the Badgers' 92-78 victory. 

Above: The writer/photographer, dressed in UW colors and waving in response to a text prompt from a friend who I visited at UW 40something years ago before a football game.