Photography

Favorite subjects: Juan Solomon Park

JuanSolomon

Imagery and map data © 2017 Google

The city park nearest my home is a few minutes’ drive away, where Grandview Drive and Fox Hill Road intersect on Indianapolis’s Northwestside. Driving by, it seems small — a tennis court, a playground, a community building. But behind it are 41 acres of trails and soccer fields.

Juan Solomon Park was built in 1971 but didn’t get its name until 1973. Mr. Solomon was not only a community leader, but a neighbor — he lived across the street from the park when he passed away.

My young sons and I spent many happy hours here, me on a bench watching while they ran and played. This park was usually packed with children. My older boy made friends with everyone. My younger boy seemed content to play alone, but was always clearly delighted when his older brother called him into the playgroup.

And then in about 2010 the city tore down the playground. My sons were older by then and we didn’t visit anymore, but it made us sad just the same. And it didn’t make sense to us, given how popular the park remained.

What we didn’t know was that the city had innovative plans for the site. Much of the Northwestside was built before the city annexed it in 1970. Thousands of homes were built without city services, and their aging septic systems were leaching waste into the waterways. The city was aggressively building its sanitary sewer system out to this part of town and compelling homeowners to connect to it. I was one of those homeowners; read about my experience here, here, and here.

Pumping stations would be needed to manage this much waste, and one would be built at Juan Solomon Park. But the building would also become a community center, and a brand new playground would be built. And when it was done, it was beautiful.

Here’s the pumping station and community center just after it was completed in 2012. I love how the building features a sod roof.

Sod roof

Pentax KM, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax, Fujicolor 200, 2012

This building is a wonderful subject for black-and-white film. The dark glass and white framing create lovely contrast.

At Juan Solomon Park

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Arista 100 EDU (expired), 2015

Buliding at Juan Solomon Park

Ansco Shur Shot, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2012

Most of the time I visited Juan Solomon Park with a camera, it was to take advantage of the abundant color and detail on the playground. The playground’s surface is made of innovative, cushiony squares that can be replaced when damaged. When they were new, their colors were vibrant.

Tubes

Pentax KM, Fujicolor 200, SMC Pentax f/1.8 55mm, 2012

Wet seat

Pentax KM, Fujicolor 200, SMC Pentax f/1.8 55mm, 2012

At the playground

Olympus XA, Fujicolor 200, 2012

Seat

Canon Dial 35-2, Fujicolor 200, 2013

The grounds are full of interesting shapes, forms, and lines.

Top of the wall

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Ilford Delta 100, 2015

Equipment

Canon Dial 35-2, Fujicolor 200, 2013

At Juan Solomon Park

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Arista 100 EDU (expired), 2015

My favorite thing to photograph at Juan Solomon Park is shadow. The sun has free reign over the playground and casts shadows at nearly all times of day.

Shadows 2

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Arista 100 EDU (expired), 2015

Image01.jpg

Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X 400, 2017

At Juan Solomon Park

Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X 400, 2017

Now that the rebuilt park has been open five years, color is fading from the play surface. But the rest of the facility is remarkably free of vandalism and graffiti. It remains a shining destination for this solidly middle-class neighborhood.

At Juan Solomon Park

Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax, Kodak Gold 400, 2017

And I’m going to miss it when I move later this year. But there will, I’m sure, be new favorite subjects to find where I’m going.

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Photography

Shooting the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax lens

I am wasting my time shooting any normal prime lens on my Pentax cameras other than this 55mm f/1.8. Just look at this! Such color, such sharpness, such sensitive detail! On workaday Kodak Gold 400 no less!

At Second Presbyterian Church

On the same day I photographed Second Presbyterian Church with a 28mm lens, I brought my Pentax K1000 with this 55mm f/1.8 lens too. While that 28mm lens really brought this giant church into the frame, this 55mm lens did a much better job of capturing the church’s detailed beauty.

At Second Presbyterian Church

That Kodak Gold 400 surely likes red. And this lens handles beautifully.

At Second Presbyterian Church

I took the K1000 and this lens to several favorite photographic haunts, including Juan Solomon Park. I’ve shot its colorful playground many times since it opened several years ago.

At Juan Solomon Park

There’s actually been a playground here since before I moved to Indy in the 1990s. The city just redid it from the ground up when they used this park site for a building that is part of an expansion of sewage services to this part of the city. The old playground was fine, but the new one is top flight. I especially love the colorful play surface of soft replaceable tiles.

At Juan Solomon Park

I also took the K1000 over to Broad Ripple one chilly day for a walk. I’ve photographed this unusual bridge railing many times. The bridge was built in 1906, but a couple years ago the railing was altered. The row of blocks below the links was added, I assume to increase the railing’s height for safety. The purist in me thinks this was a shame.

Rainbow Bridge

I just thought the painting on this dumpster enclosure was interesting.

Dumpster Enclosure

I usually shoot my 50/1.4 SMC Pentax-M lens on my K-mount cameras, but it doesn’t deliver the color or detail that 55/1.8 does. I’ll just admit it: I use that 50/1.4 partially because of that vaunted 1.4 number, as if it says something about me as a photographer. Nuts to it. I’ll let my work do the talking. And with this 55/1.8, I’ll definitely have something to say.

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Photography, Road trips

Strolling through St. Stephen’s Green

We had not been having a great experience in Dublin so far. And then we came upon St. Stephen’s Green. It changed everything.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

Expensive tourist-trappy attractions, criminally slow restaurant service, large crowds and lots of noise everywhere — Dublin had been everything the rest of Ireland had not been. After a disappointing experience trying to see the Book of Kells, we knew we needed a break, a quiet place to walk and talk and hold hands. We were still on our honeymoon, after all! Google Maps told us this park was just a few blocks away, so we walked over.

Contemplating a pigeon

What a quiet respite it was! Like everyplace else in Dublin, it was loaded with people. But unlike everyplace else in Dublin, it was clear we were all there for a little peace. We found quiet, even a little solitude, in St Stephen’s Green.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

This 22-acre park has existed in some form since around 1664, but was private until the Guinness family led an initiative to convert it for public use. Sir Arthur Guinness paid to have the park redesigned to its current layout, which opened in 1880.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

As Margaret and I strolled through, the tree-rimmed area around the pond seemed the most remote. We forgot for a moment that this was in the heart of Dublin. All we could hear was the rustling breeze and the chirping of birds.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

I think this part of the park did more to restore our spirits than any other.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

Upon reading the little plaque describing this statue of the Three Fates, I was deeply moved. In German, Gaelic, and English, it expresses gratitude to the Irish people for help they gave to German children after World War II. The Irish provided foster homes for hundreds of German children whose families had died and whose homes had been destroyed during the war. While most of the children later returned to Germany, some remained, and were even adopted by their Irish families.

From the Germans

When we came upon this cute little house in the park’s southwest corner, Margaret declared, “There it is, our dream house!” Except that our morning commute to our jobs in Indiana would be challenging. Apparently at one time the park’s caretaker lived here.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

We lingered for a couple hours, walking and talking and taking photographs. Soon our stomachs grew insistent that we seek sustenance, and so reluctantly we left.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

But St. Stephen’s Green was a turning point of our time in Dublin. Reset and refreshed, we enjoyed our experience from here on out.

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St. Stephen's Green

In St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
Nikon N2000, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor
Kodak T-Max 400
2016

I shot a bunch of black and white in this lovely park, but the results were a mixed bag. I guess such a colorful place just needs to be shot in color. I thought the contrasts in this photo worked okay, though. The greenery (gray-ery?) framing the scene helps a lot, too.

Photography
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At Connemara National Park

The view at Connemara National Park
Canon PowerShot S95
2016

The colors in Connemara were unlike anything we saw elsewhere in Ireland. And that’s saying something, because Ireland is an astonishingly colorful country.

Photography
Image

At Connemara National Park

At Connemara National Park
Canon PowerShot S95
2016

We visited this lovely park briefly. We looked forward to a long hike, but we both assumed it would be through a chilly woods, not up a mountain in direct sunshine on an unusually warm day. As we were dressed for the former, we soon overheated and even started feeling queasy. So we came up with a quick Plan B: visit a charming little town through which we’d passed on our way here. More on that town, Clifden, in a later post.

Photography
Image