Tag Archives: John Russell Pope

Panoramas around DC – The National Gallery of Art

Last weekend I took an excursion down to the National Gallery of Art to do some book shopping in their bookstore. I brought the Lomo Belair with me to play around a bit.

Waterfall, National Gallery
Waterfall, Cafeteria, National Gallery of Art

The cafeteria and bookstore for the NGA is below ground. There’s a great big window that looks out at a fountain that cascades from the plaza at street level above, and transforms what could otherwise be a dark and oppressively cavern-like space into something almost airy.

Skylight,National Gallery Cafeteria
Skylight, Cafeteria, National Gallery

Also directly above the cafeteria and facing the waterfall are the glass pyramidal skylights. They’re not true pyramids, as they’re actually irregular tetrahedrons (four-faced geometric structures with each face being a triangle).

Stairs, National Gallery
Stairs, West Wing, National Gallery of Art

Contrasting to the brutal modern geometric structures of the cafeteria and the East Wing (itself a wedge-shaped structure designed by I.M. Pei and completed in the 1970s), the original gallery building is supremely neoclassical, designed by one of the late-19th/early 20th century’s greatest American architects, John Russell Pope. The marble staircase shown here has the sweeping grandeur and majesty of a European royal palace.

The images as you see them here are an interim step- my plan is to make platinum prints from all of them. The originals are shot on 2 1/4 inch roll film, so prints directly from the in-camera original film would be quite small – 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches. I want to make slightly bigger prints, and I want to try out making digitally enlarged negatives with another technique I recently came across for the digital negative process. I’ve been around and around with making digital negatives for a while and never been especially happy with my results. All the techniques I’ve seen and tried so far are rather labor-intensive and involve making several rounds of test prints just to develop the adjustment curve needed to make the negative print well in pt/pd.

I came across a video from Bostick & Sullivan that explains the process quite simply and clearly, and the website provides you with a downloadable pre-made curve for adjusting your negatives to make them suitable for pt/pd printing. I’ve made the appropriate digital files from these images, and the next step will be to print them over the weekend and try making my prints from them. I’ll post the results of the printing session as soon as I have them.

Here is the video from YouTube:

And the page to download the curves for Pt/Pd, Cyanotype, Kallitype, and Van Dyke:

Digital Negative Adjustment Curves – Bostick & Sullivan

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Fountain, National Gallery of Art
Fountain, National Gallery of Art

This fountain is visible from both above ground and below as it cascades down a series of steps, sliced through in cross-section. The East and West wings of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC are connected via an underground passageway, and in the middle of this passageway is a large cafe and seating area. The wall of the passageway opposite the cafe is floor-to-ceiling glass, looking directly in to this fountain. The odd orange dots in the lower corners of the photo are reflections of the Christmas lights on miniature trees placed in front of the window. I deliberately used a moderately slow (1/30th of a second) shutter speed combined with a fairly wide aperture (f5.6 I think) to keep some blur in the water and render it abstract. Just off camera right in this photo is where the light sculpture I posted earlier is located.

East Wing, National Gallery of Art, seen from the West Wing exit
East Wing, National Gallery of Art, seen from the West Wing exit

Here is a view of the I.M. Pei designed East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, from the exit of the John Russell Pope designed West Wing. The strange colors are caused by the coatings on the glass to prevent UV transmission and keep the lobby cool in the summer. I waited for some people to go through the doors to add a touch of energy and human engagement to the image. You can see the above-ground portion of the fountain from this photo.

North Lobby, National Gallery of Art
North Lobby, National Gallery of Art

This is the North entrance lobby of the West Wing of the National Gallery of Art. I’m standing at street level by the security guard’s desk, looking up through the oculus at the chandelier. This is another grand space that is under appreciated because most people never look UP when passing through to take in the building design.

All photos were taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, using Kodak Portra 800.