Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring bulbs are in bloom

Friday marked the opening of the 2011 Spring and Bulb Show at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis, and I stopped in at the show that day to grab the images you see here. The show runs through April 1. Admission is $3; families pay no more than $8.

On April 2, conservatory staff will sell all the bulbs on a first-come, first serve basis. The conservatory's hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

The images here are from both the bulb show, which is confined to the atrium area at the front (north end) of the conservatory, and the tropical plant exhibit in the larger back end. The $3 admission gets you access to both.

I swung by the conservatory after stopping in Beech Grove to shoot pictures -- primarily for posterity purposes -- of the interior of the Benedict Inn activities center, which will close its doors due to financial reasons at the end of March. The Benedictine Sisters plan to raze the building later in the year and leave the site vacant. The Benedict's Inn retreat operation will continue to run in the building next door to the activities center.

The activities center -- known for its swimming pool and gymnasium but also used for conferences and other gatherings -- was used through the years by many churches, schools and organizations on the Southside of Indianapolis, and thus holds a special memory for many people. The Benedictine Sisters, while cheerfully consenting to my request to grab pictures of the interior (I will furnish them copies of the images, which they had requested for their archives), asked me not to post any of the photos in this blog. They have been dealing with the building's imminent closure for some time now and have emotionally put its closure behind them. They fear that posting pictures from my shoot would serve to revive sentiment in the community and force them to have to go through another round of something they feel they've already weathered.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Through the Lens: Heart and Soul

This is a bit of an unusual post. Normally I use my posts for submissions; this is a sort of a news blurb. Next month will mark the first opportunity for me to have any of my photographs on display in a public art gallery. Ever since I learned in December that I would have this opportunity, I've been pinching myself periodically to help me realize that this is really happening. I'm part excited, and part nervous. 

I'll be a participating artist -- with fellow members of the Indiana Photographic Society -- in the society's annual "Through the Lens" exhibit in the main hall of the Garfield Park Arts Center in Indianapolis. This year's show, which runs for six weeks (most of April and almost all of May), has the theme "Heart and Soul" and opens officially with a reception for the participating photographers in the center's main hall from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9. Everyone -- and that means any and all of you -- is welcome to attend the reception; our members will provide some munchies and punch for visitors, there will be some live background music performed (a classical guitarist), and most importantly, you'll have a chance to see a variety of photographic work by the 10 or 11 club members participating in the show. You can talk to them -- if you'd like -- about their work, and they'll be tickled and grateful for your interest. And if you've never visited the arts center (a converted community and rec center that has been open as an arts center now for about six years), it would be a great opportunity simply to check out the place. The graphic you see at the top of this post shows both sides of our club's official postcard promoting the show. The image of the tulip was taken by one of our members, who is participating in the show.

A year ago, before I joined the club, I ran a post here in advance of the club's 2010 show, which was titled "Artistically Speaking" and dedicated to the memory of club member Ernest Crowe of Beech Grove, who died in September 2009. 

The arts center recently has asked us to get our pictures hung early (supposedly our work should be in the main hall as early as April 1) to help fill a recent, unexpected void in the center's gallery display schedule. So if you are interested in checking out the work but cannot make it to the reception (and it's OK if you don't or can't make the formal opening; I'm squeamish about those kids of things, too), you'll be able to visit the arts center and see the exhibit anytime during the center's normal business hours beginning about April 1 and running through almost the entire month of May. The arts center's hours are 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. It is closed on Mondays. 

Our club decided to give members participating in the show great leeway in interpreting the "Heart and Soul" theme. The only condition was that we use some sort of thread to tie together our submissions for the show. I will have eight photographs in the show -- all winter vistas captured in Garfield Park in Indianapolis, which has been the source of so many of my photographic endeavors over the years. 

You'd think that after going to that park so many times to take pictures that I'd have seen and photographed it all by now. But I cannot think of a time when I've had the itch to take pictures, elected to take the easy hop over to the park to do it, and could not find something new or different. So it seemed natural to go to my Garfield Park collection to satisfy the theme for "Heart and Soul." In fact, my most recent trip to the park -- on Feb. 25 of this year -- was responsible for the majority of images I submitted for the show. They will reflect a recent exploration of high-dynamic range (HDR) photography -- the melding of two or more images of the same scene, with each image taken at a slightly different exposure in order to extract optimum detail for the final, single rendering. (If you're a regular visitor to Photo Potpourri, you've undoubtedly seen many of the HDR images that I'm submitting for the show -- Post 1 and Post 2). 

In a side note, members of the Indiana Photographic Society also have been invited -- and we have accepted -- to hang our work later this year in the Fountain Square Branch of Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library and, in a separate show, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Indianapolis (which is along Meridian Street, adjacent to University Park). I'll post dates for those exhibits as they become available.

I hope to see you at the reception on April 9, but if you cannot make it to that (and again, it's OK), do try to visit the gallery at some point during the show's run.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Out in the country ...

Re the headline: Anyone for a little Three Dog Night? OK, I thought not, so I'll just move right along.

I had an opportunity to shoot landscapes, flowers and nature on Sunday on some private property near Martinsville in Morgan County (Ind.). It was an outing of the Indy Meetup Photo Club, so I used the occasion to capture multiple exposures on most of my landcapes to later process in Photomatix, the high-dynamic range (HDR) melding software I acquired a couple months ago.

My "nature" shots were limited; there were birds all over the place, as the property owner maintains quite a few birdhouses and feeders. But the birds must not have trusted or liked me; I could hear them quite a bit, and on several occasions, I camped out on a bench where the property owner suggested I wait because, she said, eventually they will come. But, no such luck for me there, except for a shot or two of a bird on a tree branch, no where near any of the feeders. Nor did I see any frogs at the frog pond, a man-made basin the owner installed at the foot of a steep hill in the back of the property that helps collect runoff and leave the remainder of the property relatively dry in damp weather. 

Now ... I did get a shot or two of a baby alligator in the west pond ... except that ... well, the gator isn't real. The owner has it there to dress up the scene -- and perhaps for comedic effect. So I shot it in HDR to try and help make it seem real. I did grab a few shots of lady bugs on flowers and some floral macros sans bugs or other insects (mostly early-season blooms like crocus). I'll post those on another day. 

This post is about the HDR shots from Sunday. The shots I was most excited about were the tree reflections on the southwest pond, the shots of the landscape along the road on the property's south perimeter and -- leading off the post at the top -- the one of the silo in the distance, a vista visible from the end of the property's owner's dead-end street.

To view a full gallery of HDR images from this shoot, follow this link.

Above and next two below: Different shots of the southwest pond, where I was struck by the reflection of the trees in the background. 

Above: the "alligator" that isn't real. 

Above and below: Portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) perspectives of a scene in the property owner's peace garden. I tend to prefer the portrait version; it doesn't have the distraction of the foreground birdfeeder.

Above: A two-layered birdhouse. Upper- and lower-class housing?

Above and below: Views of a wheelbarrow, whose color and shape provide a nice change of pace to a bucolic scene. Rustic ... and rust.

Above: A closeup of the dead -- and contorted -- tree in the background of the wheelbarrow photos. 

Above and next three below: Scenes from the creek that forms the east property line. The bridge is part of a road that forms the south property line.

Above: The frog pond that produced no reptiles for me to photograph during my visit. Instead, I tried to focus on some tree reflections in the small pockets of clear water on one end of the pond.

Above: Another birdhouse.

Above and next three below: Views of the look east along the road that flanks the owner's property. The bridge you see in the distance is the one pictured above from creek bank level.

Above and next two below: Western views of the same road, a vista I enjoyed mostly because of the tree on the road's horizon.

Above: A bark-stripped tree in the wooded portion that dots the ravine leading to the lower level.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

GSC presents 'Pygmalion'

Last Sunday, I shot a dress rehearsal for "Pygmalion," the 1912 play by George Bernard Shaw that Hollywood first turned into a movie in 1938 (starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller) then later blossomed into a Broadway musical and Oscar-winning motion picture under the name "My Fair Lady." The play is being presented this weekend by the Garfield Shakespeare Company at the Garfield Park Arts Center in Indianapolis. Sunday's 2 p.m. matinee is the final show.

As I did last September, when I shot pictures at a live presentation of the troupe's presentation of "Macbeth" after doing a photo shot at an initial visit, I returned a separate time Friday to enjoy "Pygmalion" without taking pictures. I did so last night, and was glad I did. I had the benefit of knowing a little bit of what to expect, but enjoying a drama for the pure enjoyment of it is rewarding.

The GSC did a great job with the show, despite some adversity during the weeks of rehearsing, bumps in the road that director Joe Cook helped the troupe survive although the company had to condense the number of performances to just a weekend's worth instead of the usual two. A special nod to the show's two lead actors (featured in the lead photo at the top), a married couple -- Maria Souza Eglen, who did a wonderful job portraying flower girl Eliza Doolittle, and Kyle Eglen, who played the stern and demanding phonetics professor Henry Higgins.

Show times are 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday; the company will be back in September to present the Shakespeare classic "Hamlet," only it will be staged -- as was last year's "Macbeth" -- in the park's outdoor facility, the MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts.

Cook mentions, in the "Pygmalion" program handed to people who attended this weekend's shows (I made it to Friday's opening), that Shaw so detested his first name that he never used it during his lifetime. In deference to Shaw's wishes, Cook respectfully refers to the playwright as Bernard Shaw in the show billing. I use the author's full name here because, I feel, that's the way -- even if Shaw didn't care for it -- most people today know of him. It has instant recognition. I think some people might pause and wonder if they ever heard someone talk of Bernard Shaw, especially if out of context with any of his works, and they might even be thrown for a loop even if it were in context.

These pictures are from last Sunday's dress rehearsal. All but two were taken with a Canon 7D and Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. The very last photo actually was taken on a separate dress rehearsal Wednesday, March 16, 2011, and with a Canon PowerShot G12; the ninth from the bottom -- the wide-angle shot of the group of six people (all seated except for an animated Henry Higgins) -- was taken at the Sunday rehearsal and with the 7D, but with a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens.

A full gallery of images from this production is available at my online site at