2022 Retrospective: Infrared Art and Architecture #2

February 11, 2023  |  La Crosse, Wisconsin

Grandad Park Overlook Pavilion in La Crosse, Wisconsin. February 2022

Category: Infrared Art and Architecture

Interior of the open-air shelter at the summit of Grandad Bluff in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Grandad Bluff Shelter Interior

Interior of the open-air shelter at the summit of Grandad Bluff in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The Subject

In the 1930s, during the heart of the Great Depression, a WPA project was undertaken to create an accessible overlook area and shelter atop Grandad Bluff. That project leveraged the legacy of Ellen Hixon (#3 in this series) and has since been expanded by other projects into a vast network of multi-use trails. The original shelter was converted to an open air pavilion as part of an extensive renovation in 2011-2012.

I have a personal connection to this structure as my grandfather Fred Devine was part of the WPA team that worked on it during the great depression. I also love that the statue of Ellen Hixon sits right outside of this structure. The granite that was quarried from the land she sought to protect was used to build on her vision for that land.

The Composition

I love the strong lines of the stonework with its contrasting grout, the open timber ceiling, the tiled floor and the strong afternoon shadows. Beyond the fence there is just a hint of the beautiful bluffs and river valley below. Normally the view from Grandad Bluff is the story - but the story this day would be the pavilion.

I took quite a few external images that day, but I preferred the views that looked out from the interior of the shelter. This was the best of the bunch. I preferred the images that used my flexible lens hood to create a strong vignette. In retrospect it mimics the effect you get when using the pay-to-view binoculars just outside the pavilion.

Creating the Image

I tried a different white balance setting for this series of infrared images. They came out slightly toned - kind of a yukky sepia. After conversion to black and white in Lightroom, there was plenty of latitude in the raw file for adjustments to light and shadow, some sharpening via Texture and Clarity adjustments.

Infrared Image Capture and Processing: Cutting Through the Haze

The bluffs and river valley beyond the shelter are clearer in this image than they would be shooting with my 'normal' cameras. The reason for this is that certain types of atmospheric haze are reduced a great deal in infrared images. That ability to 'cut through' the haze is one reason why I like infrared photography.

Bonus Image: Ellen Hixon and Grandad Bluff Pavilion

Winter view of the summit of Grandad Bluff looking up the walkway from the parking area. Here we see the sculpture of Ellen Hixon by Mike Martino and the public pavilion constructed from granite which was quarried from the land she saved for public use.

Ellen Hixon and the Grandad Bluff Pavilion