A week ago, I set out early in the morning for the continuing quest of the “illusive shot” at Jordan Lake, but found there to be no clouds to color the sky, or any reflections in the water due to a rippled surface. So I headed to the North Carolina Museum of Art, a place where I would not be searching for landscape photos, but just wander around the grounds, keeping an open mind, and see what falls in front of the lens. It was simply an excuse to be out and enjoy some fresh air more than anything else.
The first stop at the museum as the sun was just rising, was the iconic shot of a reflecting pool tucked between two wings of the east building; a spot with which folks from the area are quite familiar. I ended up taking the shot only because I liked the warm color of the sunlight on the dome in opposition to the cool tones throughout the shade in the rest of the scene, and of course the beautiful reflections, and I probably placed my tripod right on the marks left by countless previous photographers. After all, there were “circles and arrows” pointing them out, so you couldn’t miss them if you tried! It was a shot just to get the ball rolling so to speak, and is included at the end of the post merely as a comparison to how the same spot appeared a little more than an hour later.
I started to make my way along the path around the museum, wasting “film” as I did, while the sun rose above the trees and began to shine its light on the white paneled walls of the building. Heading counterclockwise, at the 3 o’clock position of my tour, there is a dark concrete wall with various slices in it that had gained my interest in the past, so I searched for an abstract composition within it. Looking back along the area of the wall I had just passed, it had surprisingly gained a reflected golden glow, something missing when looking directly at it. The sunlight was reflecting off the white panels of the building onto the dark wall and lighting it, seen only if looking in the proper direction. The problem still remained to find a compelling composition, and rather quickly, since the light would change with the continuing movement and changing angle of the sun.
As the circumnavigation continued, nothing much happened. I paused several times to study something that caught my eye, but moved on, not even willing to waste some more “film”. At the entrance, there was something I wanted to photograph, but needed to change to the normal 50mm lens, so I went over to some black metal tables and chairs to lay the camera bag on, and found a yellow river birch leaf lying on the table. It really stood out against the black, but it was the interesting pattern of cutouts around the table that added the extra element to tip the scales and actually expose some “film” on it. Since the leaf was no more than 2-inches long, in order for it to have any meaningful size in the frame, I needed to add a close-up filter (have never owned a macro lens) to focus more closely than the lens was capable. So the necessary step-up rings were found and filter attached, but it was a real pain to get the tripod into position to look directly down on the leaf and cutouts, needing to angle two of the legs, with one on the table itself, another on a chair and the third on the ground. What an ordel that was! After getting the right exposure, (the camera’s light meter wants to make the black table middle gray) seeing the frame on the camera back was a disappointment because the gray pebbles covering the ground showing through the open pattern of the table, did nothing to enhance the image. Lucky that it was pretty cool that morning, and wearing my trusty “Kodak Moment” red jacket, I spread it out beneath the table and retook the shot! Now, all the colors seemed to fall harmoniously into place, adding a bit more pop.
Continuing on the last leg around the building, film continued to be wasted, thought to call it a day, and headed back toward the car, but for some unknown reason, decided to make a stop back at the original iconic starting point again, just to take a peek. As soon as I turned the corner, I was slapped in the face with a non-iconic iconic scene!! I knew immediately that this was something I hadn’t seen before, right down to the intersection of shadows occurring right at the connector of the two center windows. The tripod was not placed in the same tripod marks, but further back, and with the 50mm instead of 32mm as above, the view was narrowed to eliminate the sky and avoid any context, making the image as much a geometric as possible.
The diamond shapes within other diamond shapes, reflections, shadows and sunlight overlapping, along with the parallel lines, all seemed to coalesce into a harmonious color palette of geometric shapes. It was a bit of a shock to see it at first, but knew immediately it was fleeting, and went about the business of composing and recording this extrordinary blending of light, shadows and shapes; I just happened to be there to trip the shutter. But a good way to finish the shoot that morning, nonetheless.