Museums

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum by Todd Henson

Working engine outside the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum (7 image HDR)

While visiting Portland, Maine, my father and I stopped at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum, off Fore Street, just down from the Portland Ocean Gateway, where cruise ships dock off Casco Bay. This was a small, but very interesting museum that also included a ride on their narrow gauge train.

Serenade of the Seas docked in Portland, Maine, with statue of George Cleeve (5 image HDR)

The ride began at the museum, where we had good views of Serenade of the Seas, a large cruise ship at dock. The train took us down to the Portland Ocean Gateway, where passengers from the cruise ship would enter and exit Portland. Some of the folks on the train were from the ship.

From the dock area the train reversed direction, passed by the museum, and then along the coastline paralleling the Eastern Promenade Trail, through Fort Allen Park. Around Fish Point we had very foggy views of Fort Gorges in the bay. One minute we could see the Fort, the next it was obscured in fog.

The train continued past East End Beach where we saw someone swimming in the cold water, and through the Eastern Promenade, stopping at the old railroad bridge. We were able to disembark from the train and walk around the area. The old bridge had crossed the water to the right side of the Burnham & Morrill Company factory, known for their B&M Baked Beans.

Looking through planks at old railroad bridge with Burnham & Morrill Company factory on distant shore

Old railroad bridge with Burnham & Morrill Company factory on distant shore

After we boarded the train it made its way back through the parks along the Eastern Promenade to the museum grounds. The view continued to change the entire ride, fog moving in and out. Some of the folks on the train were annoyed by this, but I found it fascinating to watch and photograph.

Luggage display in the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

Interior of passenger train with stove (3 image HDR)

After the train ride we spent some time in the actual museum. It was small, but had a lot packed in the small space, including several full size narrow gauge train cars we were able to walk through.

There wasn’t a lot of light in the cars, but their interiors were very interesting, so I did the best I could to capture what I was seeing. I had to hand hold the camera since I didn’t have the tripod with me, so I raised the ISO on my camera to let me use faster shutter speeds, and captured a number of image sequences where I adjusted the exposure (shutter speed) between each image, holding the camera as still as possible between them.

I knew I would take each image sequence and combine it into a single high dynamic range (HDR) image, where I could better show the interior as I saw it. The camera just wasn’t capable of capturing what my eyes could see. One day cameras may have better dynamic range than our eyes, but for today we need to either decide what we want to compromise on, or capture multiple images and merge them into HDR. I don’t use this technique often, but it is fun and useful every once in a while. I worked to keep the images looking as natural as I could, trying to avoid the over-processed look of many HDR images.

Another interior of passenger train with stove (3 image HDR)

Interior of passenger train with individual seats (3 image HDR)

Horizontal view of passenger train interior (3 image HDR)

When we visited the museum it was located in Portland, but they told us it would soon be relocated to the town of Gray. If you’re interested in visiting be sure to check the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum website for the current status and location.

Train engine inside Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum



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National Gallery of Art - West Building by Todd Henson

A statue of Mercury atop a fountain at the center of the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Today I’m going to depart a bit from nature and outdoor photography. Earlier this year my brother and I visited the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The museum contains such a large number of works of art, I could spend the entire day in that one museum and feel I still hadn’t seen everything. And with so many other museums close by there’s that itch to keep moving, to see more. I don’t get out to museums often enough.

Viewing artwork and a visitor through an entryway. The painting on the left is Saint Benedict Orders Saint Maurus to the Rescue of Saint Placidus by Fra Filippo Lippi. On the right is The Healing of Palladia by Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian by Fra Angelico. In the center is The Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi.

Through the archway is a painting by Leonardo de Vinci called Ginevra de' Benci. I love the layout of the museum, how archways become frames into works of art.

I think seeing all this artwork can help inspire creativity. You see how other people have interpreted their world, or expressed their emotions. I’m mostly a photographer, but I love seeing paintings from such a diverse group of painters, so many different styles and subjects. I don’t necessarily enjoy all the paintings, but there’s alway something there to learn from. Seeing how different artists handled light and perspective. A docent showed us one painting where the artist was able to beautifully capture perspective. As you walked along the painting it was almost as if the perspective changed. Fantastic.

A visitor viewing Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci. On the left is Madonna and Child by Sandro Botticelli. On the right is The Adoration of the Child by Filippino Lippi. Again, I love the layout of the museum. I consider that artwork, as well.

The museum is also full of statues and other objects, something I don’t think you can really appreciate except in person. You might be able to view a painting online since a painting is mostly a two dimentional form of art, though there can be some limited three dimensionality with the volume of paint the artist applies to different areas. But with statues you can’t beat seeing them in person. I love photos of statues, and I love making photos of statues. But you really do have to see them to fully appreciate them, the play of light and shadow, the form and texture.

Another example of framing the artwork using the museum archways. Here a visitor studies Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) by Francisco Antonio Gijon. I like how the visitor has his leg out, just as Saint John, and how they both seem to lean in the same direction.

This is another photo of Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) by Francisco Antonio Gijon, but this time without the viewer. Here you can see the entire statue, but I prefer the image with the viewer.

Looking through the photos I made at the museum I realize I’m also drawn to how the museum chooses to display the artwork. There is an art to display. And of course, it’s always fun trying to capture people while they view the artwork. And finally, there is the architecture of the museum, itself. The craftsman that built it were themselves artists.

I love the enormous variety of objects in the museum. Here is the Ciborium for the Sacrament by Desiderio da Settignano.

Winged Victory by Antonio Canova is a magnificent piece beautifully lit such that shadows of the statue float on the wall just behind it. Amazing.

Take some time and visit a museum once in a while. It’s well worth it.

A Morning Stroll By The National Gallery - The West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. This view is from across Madison Drive.

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