Variations on a Theme

I continue to practice ICM (intentional camera movement) while I have easy access to sunsets over the Gulf. I love to see the sunset through this unique lens: the horizontal lines blurred to the point of near abstraction and the colors enhanced in vibrance and contrast. I was attracted to this image because of the criss-crossing lines of the waves. Comparing fiction and fact, painting and photography, I like to say, “you can’t make this stuff up.” Compare this image to the sunset ICM image in my previous blog. How would you compare the mood of each?

#sunset, #lines, #colors, #blue, #orange, #ICM
This ICM sunset image features angled lines.

 

 

Abstract colors of sunset

I continue to experiment with ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). A good subject is one with strong contrast and strong vertical, horizontal or circular lines — any lines that can be accentuated with camera movement. Last time, I used a vertical subject, trees reflected in a pond, and this time I used the strong colors of sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

I like the peace and serenity of the selective blur. I also find myself studying longer the colors and lines and the blend of hues. Here you can compare the the ICM image with the still photo. Do you find the ICM image more moody? Which image do you prefer to look at longer?

I did minimal processing to the ICM image: just some tweaking of the contrast, clarity, vibrance and highlights and some spot removal. The streaking effect was achieved by moving the camera during a .6 second exposure. To lengthen the exposure, I lowered the ISO to 100 and closed the aperture down to f/22.

Experimenting rewards my desire to create, because every image is different. Will I find a market for this genre?

#sunset, #decorating, #design, #abstract, orange, #blue,, #florida, #art
Sunset over the Gulf becomes abstract with Intentional Camera Movement

 

#sunset, #florida, #Gulf, #naples, #longexposure, #blue, #orange
Same image of Gulf sunset as long exposure, no movement. Very different effect.

Finds at Phipps Conservatory

If your city offers an indoor botanic garden in a conservatory, you have an escape from winter in your backyard. The Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh offers lush and exotic vegetation displayed with artistic vision at all times of the year. In a recent visit, I found a Japanese theme in a long gallery, where 24 mm lens created a compelling composition.

Japanese umbrellas at Phipps Conservatory
Japanese umbrellas at Phipps Conservatory

Through the years, I have also enjoyed photographing Chihuly glass and gargoyles harmonizing with the plants.

Chihuly glass at Phipps Conservatory, 2008
Chihuly glass at Phipps Conservatory, 2008
Gargoyle at Phipps Conservatory
Gargoyle at Phipps Conservatory

Make a visit to your conservatory today. My favorites are the New York Botanic Garden and the Naples Botanic Garden. Feel free to share your favorites.

Roman Domes / Best of 2015

The ancient Roman Pantheon, Michelangelo’s dome in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Borromini’s San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane — these are a few of my favorite photography subjects in 2015. Walking around Rome last August, I enjoyed the chance to examine how different architects and engineers imagined and then constructed the same great architectural achievement — the Dome.

Today as I look back on these photos, I can reflect on the symbolism of their shape: beginning with the circle, which has no beginning and no end, with a three dimensional shape that draws the eye skyward and a window in the center to give the eye a focal point and provide natural light.

While the Pantheon was the first major dome ever constructed and the model for every major dome that followed, each dome is uniquely constructed and styled. The Pantheon’s large open oculus (eye) welcomes a beam of sunlight and heavy rain at other times. While it is now used as a Roman Catholic church, a burial place for Italy’s founders and the artist Raphael, and at times a concert hall, it did not begin that way. I took a panoramic photo with my iPhone 6 that shows the view from the altar to the open oculus.

Ancient Pantheon now used as a Catholic Church and a concert venue.
Ancient Pantheon now used as a Catholic Church and a concert venue.

The giant scale of St. Peter’s dome is one its first impressions. How will I capture how immense it really is? Here is another iPhone shot from the base of the dome, looking down at the people below.

From the base of St. Peter's Dome.
From the base of St. Peter’s Dome.

From the marble floor below, looking up, I braced my camera (no tripods allowed) and shot the painted inside of the St. Peter’s Dome. Nikon D800 this time!

Exquisite interior of St. Peter's Dome.
Exquisite interior of St. Peter’s Dome.

Then, go ahead and climb it! I lost count of how many steps it is within the inner and outer shell to the cupola, where you can look out over Rome from its highest point. Stick your camera lens through the safety fence to shoot a horizontal panorama.

Pano with Nikon D800, merging 6 images.
Pano with Nikon D800, merging 6 images.

A lesser known church among the hundreds in Rome is San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane. You might easily walk past its relatively unremarkable facade right on top of a busy street. But once you enter the small church and look up, you will fall in love with the originality of the oval dome — all in white and beautifully sunlit with perfect symmetry and sculptural detail.

San Carlino, a Baroque gem.
San Carlino, a Baroque gem.

If you liked this Baroque gem, you should also visit the small church and dome by Borromini’s rival Gianlorenzo Bernini in the same block: San Andrea al Quirinale. Or San Ivo della Sapienza. Share your own favorites, and if you want to read a cool book about domes, check out Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King. I read this book after I got home, and it really turned me into a dome freak!

Like what you see? Cathy Kelly has photographed churches and temples in many countries around the world. If you are looking for a print or image license for a location she may have captured, please email Cathy at cathykellyphotography@gmail.com.

More Italy travels to come!

 

 

Chicago’s Contextual Art

A Sunday cruise on the Chicago River aboard the First Lady introduced me to a fascinating concept in architecture: contextual design. Downtown Chicago has long been a mecca for creative and influential urban architecture. Most everyone knows of the Wrigley Building and the Chicago Tribune Tower, the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) and the long standing Water Tower that survived the Chicago Fire. But some of the newer skyscrapers feature designs that reflect their context — by echoing features of the river or the adjacent buildings.

This skyscraper was my favorite example, because the green color of its glass echoes the green Chicago River; its curves echo the river’s curve; its glass mirrors the buildings surrounding it, and (one step further) the pinched glass makes the reflections look like ripples on the water’s surface.

Contextual design: curve of the wall, green colored glass, mirroring effect of windows and ripple effect created by pinched edges.
Contextual design: curve of the wall, green colored glass, mirroring effect of windows and ripple effect created by pinched edges.

There were other examples: the older Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade is next to a newer art deco behemoth, the Chicago Opera House; both of them look like a giant armchair from a bird’s eye view.

Two recent buildings feature marine themes: On 2010’s Aqua curves overtake the rectilinear emphasis of most other buildings.

Aqua (2010) at right features undulating balconies.
Aqua (2010) at right features undulating balconies.

Bertrand Goldberg designed the scalloped edge Marina Towers in 1960s, followed up with this shopping/residential development on the river that avoids the right angle and has a distinctive marine look.

Marina Towers: scalloped edges break the custom of rectangular buildings, 1960.
Marina Towers: scalloped edges break the custom of rectangular buildings, 1960.
This architect avoids right angles in this riverfront development to create harmony with the river.
This architect avoids right angles in this riverfront development to create harmony with the river.

Other contextual designs were less subtle: Here is a river and street map on the facade on this building with a red block showing “you are here.”

Map of the Chicago River and major roads relate this building to its surroundings.
Map of the Chicago River and major roads relate this building to its surroundings.

As this “contextual” design was echoing in my mind that afternoon, I came upon the Cloud Gate (2007) by Anish Kapoor, commonly called the “Bean” sculpture in Millennium Park, which I had previously seen only in photos. (It’s the ultimate destination for Facebook fans who love to take selfies.) The Bean takes contextual design to a new level: its silver mirrored curved surface reflects both pedestrians and the skyline. Standing before it, you are one with the city. It’s fun!

Pedestrians around Cloud Gate see themselves and the skyline in one amazing view.
Pedestrians around Cloud Gate see themselves and the skyline in one amazing view.

The late afternoon sky — darker overhead — and sun’s position — peaking between the buildings made for an interesting photograph. I only had my Canon G12 with me; next time I’ll bring the Nikon DSLR and stay longer to play.

At 4pm on November 9, the sun drops behind the skyline.
At 4pm on November 9, the sun drops behind the skyline.