Photographing The Big Red Bear
In June of this year (2012), I organized and held my first Photowalk. It was a huge success with some familiar faces and a lot of new faces showing up to attend the two part walk. To educate and network was the goal and we achieved that perfectly. One of my long time Flickr acquaintances Barbara F. from Ithaca attended the walk and I got to spend a few moments meeting, shooting, and conversing with her. That conversation ultimately led to this story. Knowing that she was connected with Cornell that day I asked her if it was possible to come take pictures of the amazing architecture there. She obliged by contacting me that next week and we set a date. Due to my crazy schedule though, the only date we could nail down was in the middle of the week during the schools open house. Either way, this was a great opportunity to capture the beauty of the campus.
In the meantime, I ask another photography friend of mine, Andy Williams to join me on the shoot. Consequently, I met Andy at the photowalk as well. I generally try to get my friends to go along because it’s always more fun with more photographers! So the meet-up date arrives and we agree to meet Barbara on campus. Everything goes as planned, we meet Barbara at Minn’s Gardens and she proceeds to give the us the turbo tour on her lunch hour! We briskly ran the campus as Barbara points out several points of interest to us. Then, in a flash Barbara is off to some other Cornell adventure and we are left to our own devices. (insert evil laugh and finger fanning here).
Andy and I quickly formulate a plan and head off to our first target, The Sage Chapel. On the walk there it is easy to get side-tracked by all of the beautiful gardens and landscapes on the campus. Sculptures, waterfalls, flora, and fauna are ever present.
This little waterfall is located just off Tower Road at the R. Uris Garden
Finally we arrive at the Sage Chapel. Sage Chapel is the non-denominational chapel on the campus. The building was a gift to the university of Henry William Sage and his wife. Before entering the chapel, we explore a hidden area that Barbara showed us on the turbo tour.
Outside the chapel is dotted with benches, sculptures and beautiful trees. I had my infrared camera with me so I took some shots with it while there.
Immediately upon entering the chapel you notice the darkness and peaceful atmosphere. In the background an talented student is busily powering through a neo-classical piece on grand piano.
Once your eyes adjust to the darkness you are whisked away to another, dare I say it, Harry Potter world.
The altar area of the Sage is absolutely stunning and ornate.
The chapel also serves as the final resting place of the university’s founders, Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, and their wives.
All the while I am shooting as I stated earlier, a student was playing a piece on the piano. So when it came time to shoot the back of the chapel, its majestic pipes, and its wonderfully back-lit stained glass, I quietly set up and proceeded to shoot while she played. The shot is an HDR which is composed of several frames at long exposure. 2 frames to go and she finishes the piece and gets up to leave. I ask her if it was okay that she was in the shot and she said yes. As we are chatting out of frame the camera finishes the last two brackets. Upon processing the file I noticed that she appears ghostly in the shot and instead of cloning her out, (she can be seen in the lower right of the photo) I decide to leave her in the shot and enhance the light rays shining in. I thought it really brought the mood of shooting the chapel to life. Hope you do too. (As always click the photos to enlarge)
We finish up our shots at Sage if that is even possible, there was still plenty to shoot but the clock was ticking on our day so off we headed to our next destination, the Uris Library. Here you can see the McGraw clock tower for which Tower Road is named. It sits at the very end of Tower Road and can be seen from the entire length of the street.
Here is the entrance to this magnificent building
Adorned with ornate turrets, sculpted tiles, ornate wrought iron, and detailed lighting, the outside is only a small part of what this library has to offer. From the Cornell.edu website: Built as Cornell’s first dedicated library building—the University Library—now known as Uris Library, opened on October 7, 1891—the twenty-third anniversary of the day that classes began at the university. Its completion fulfilled A.D. White’s dream to create what he called, “the noblest structure in the land.” Designed by Cornell’s first architecture student, William Henry Miller, whose portrait hangs on the northwall of the lobby, the building featured an innovative design that allowed for convenient access to materials, and was, in White’s words, “a marvel of good planning, in which fitness is wedded to beauty.” He also considered it “the best academic library built.”
One particular part of the Uris library interested me and that was the the reading room inside the library named after a man with the same initials as mine, Andrew D. White. Keeping with the Harry Potter theme this library does not disappoint.
You have to admit, you expect the paintings on the wall to animate or Dumbledore to come walking into the photo at any moment. Before too many of the students get upset at me, I head for the exit. Stopping put together this 15 shot super panorama of the sculpted archway over the library entrance and the chandelier hanging next to it.
A shot of the wrought iron that covers the lower floors windows.
While the other Andy finishes up inside, I cannot help but notice all of the flowers and the incredible insects that are hard at work here. I have time for a few shots before we head off. Check out the turf war in the first shot.
Andy arrives and I grab a quick shot of this beautiful “Song of the Vowels” sculpture in the plaza garden. Cornell acquired the sculpture in 1962 and it has been a staple of the University ever since. It’s full history can be found at the links at the end of this article.
Next stop for us is the Japanese inspired garden at the outdoor court of the Johnson Museum of Art.
For the next few shots I elected to go with the infrared camera again. I just love the lines and black and white for architecture. Here is a panorama of the entire building and garden.
Andy and I decide to head inside so that we can gain access to the upper deck as to get some shots higher up on the campus. Even though we have to check our packs at the front desk, the museum grants us access and the skies grant us some great shots.
We make our way back to our packs and head out to the last place I wanted to shoot for the day. Andy had shot here before and I was really psyched to shoot it today. And would you believe it, more Harry Potter!! This is the War Memorial at Cornell. A spectacular work of architectural art.
Well that made my day! With time having slipped away, we head back to the car. As we turn to head back, just like everywhere else on campus, more “must take” photo ops present themselves. Here is an infrared shot of Lyon Hall’s Tower.
As I head up the hill the dramatic sky and Morrill Hall Arts and Science building lends itself well to the infrared camera.
Once at the top of the hill we emerge on the backside of the Uris Library. After waiting about 15 minutes for students and faculty to clear, I finally got the shot I wanted.
As we cross over to get back on Tower Road I happen to glance back down the hill at a small stream running through a little sitting park. Later I found the park to be named “Wee Stinky Glen”. Funny name, gorgeous place.
From there we pass Peter Plaza and this amazing chromed statue of Hercules! I couldn’t help but yell out, “This Is SPARTA!” when I saw it. I was simply awestruck by this sculpture.
We finally make it back to Tower Road and to Minn’s Garden where Barbara first met us. This is a wonderful flower garden with benches for students and faculty to sit and read or have a bite to eat. There was a statue here called “Feeding The Birds” that Barbara took a photo of and said she liked it so I took an infrared shot of it in her honor.
As I was finishing up the shot of the statue, a monarch flew by me and headed for the flowers. Of course I threw down my bag, grabbed my trusty Sigma 70-200mm APO lens and gave chase. Now that I think back, I must have looked like a lunatic chasing the butterfly around. Literally, I was running all over the place to film this thing. Hope you like this set, feature Mr. Monarch.
After I was done assaulting the butterfly, I managed to grab a few flora shots before heading to the parking lot.
Around the back of the garden was a small lot with some interesting items like this smoke tree.
And of course an old decayed door with some ivy climbing the wall.
With a short walk back to the car, I stop one last time to grab this abstract of Bradfield Hall.
Andy and I have to call it a day. For both of us, it was way too short of a visit. A return visit in the very near future is a must. I would like to personally thank Barbara F. for the great invite and turbo tour to get us started. And thanks to Andy Williams for tagging along on this little adventure. Look for more photos from Cornell soon. In the meantime, check out the links below for more info on the University and Andy’s Facebook page with his photography.