Friday, June 23, 2017

Madison State Capitol Dome interior through Different Lenses

As part of a photowalk with a featured guest photographer, we spent most of our time in the Madison State Capitol. It was the first time for Olympus Trailblazer photographer Frank T Smith to visit the city and its magnificent landmark. Like others who come to visit, Smith was impressed by its beauty and attention to detail. For the next few hours, we  explored the interior and observation deck, seeking photographic inspiration.
Photographed with my 12-50mm lens (24-100mm equivalent)

The ornamental frame surrounding the central dome glimmered in the sunlight, setting off the swirling 34 foot mural. Painted in 1912 by Edwin Blashfield, "Resources of Wisconsin" features twelve women holding products of Wisconsin such as tobacco, wheat, and lead.

8mm fish-eye lens
As it was an event sponsored by Olympus, the company provided a camera body and lens for people to test out. I had a chance to try out a wide angle lens (7-14mm). I also got a chance to take a few shots with Frank's fisheye 8mm lens. It was fun to try the lens out, but not something I'd go right out and buy.

7-14mm lens
It was fun seeing how different lenses could render different views of the same subject. 

See more photos of the State Capitol on my Flickr page.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Block Printing of India

A video shared by my friend reminded me of why I love the textiles of India so much. Each step reveals the artistry and intricacy that is so lovingly performed.                                                                    

The textile lover that I am, the Anokhi Museum in Jaipur was a perfect place to visit when in the Pink City. Along with informative displays on the history of block printing in India, they had a few craftsmen doing demonstrations.
I especially enjoyed watching the man carving the wood block. It amazed me how such intricate, narrow lines could be formed by such simple tools. Each stroke was made with confident precision. Definitely not a beginner piece!

Holding up a finished block
Floral block detail with chisels
Three blocks that are needed to form one print. Precision is needed for both the carving and in alignment of the inked blocks.
Printing on a small handkerchief cloth

Stamping on a resist (in Gujarat, India)

In addition to printing with multiple blocks, a resist might be added, the cloth immersed in a dye bath, and the cloth washed, dried, and re-printed multiple times. So next time you see a hand-printed piece of fabric, you'll appreciate the artistry and understand why it is more expensive than that commercial knock-off.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Thuburbo Majus - Ancient Roman Site

While living in Tunisia, one of the sites I visited was Thuburbo Majus. Located about 60 km southwest from Carthage on a major thoroughfare connecting Carthage to the Sahara, it is a significant Roman site. Originally a Punic town, it was founded around 27 AD by the Romans as a place where army retirees could settle. Much of the trading town was built around 150-200 AD and prospered as a center for growing grain, olives, and fruit. 

Excavations began around 1916 and again around 1925 and the 1950's. Like many Roman sites in Tunisia, there likely is much still that remains below the surface. Now, visitors to this very rural site will find sheep grazing nearby, perhaps even walking over the large mosaics still in situ. Most of the significant mosaics and baths, along with a massive head of Jupiter are now in the Bardo Museum. Despite it not being as well known as Carthage, many of the impressive pieces in the museum were from Thuburbo Majus. I visited the site several times, but found it most beautiful when the fields were green and yellow flowers abounded. 

One of the more prominent structures at Thuburbo Majus is the Capitolium. Here, a fairly intact olive press can be found. At the center of the town was the forum. Many of its columns still stand. Near the forum can be found remnants of a market, shops, and a basilica.