All photos © Mark Hertzberg (2021)
I had not been to many Frank Lloyd Wright sites outside of Racine in more than two years until a week ago. I had a gracious lunch invitation from Minerva Montooth for Sunday, and a last-minute photo assignment in Sparta, Wisconsin (west of Spring Green) Saturday, so I overnighted in Spring Green. I have always enjoyed challenging myself to see new things at familiar Wright sites on return visits. These are some of the many fruits of last week’s visit.
I photographed at the famous cantilevered Birdwalk terrace from below:
I noticed visitors taking pictures above me while photographing the Birdwalk:
I do not plan my photo visits for a particular time of day / lighting…I shoot what is there when I am there. I explored Taliesin and the grounds of the newly-restored Wyoming Valley School Cultural Arts Center in wonderful evening light Saturday, before dinner with Keiran Murphy and “Mr. Keiran.” I visited both again in Sunday’s morning light. I saw the familiar sign for Taliesin in a different way, thanks to the sharp angle of the morning light:
The first thing I saw at Taliesin Saturday as I drove onto the grounds was the corn crib, dramatically lit by evening light:
Sunday morning I saw something different with a long lens as I drove up:
I used a powerful zoom lens to photograph Romeo and Juliet and Tan-y-deri from a distance both days:
I continued to explore with the long lens:
I sat on the floor to photograph through one of the fireplaces inside Taliesin:
I explored Wright’s office – with its own cantilevered balcony – and the original drafting room:
I photographed Taliesin itself with long and short lenses:
Going to Taliesin means also exploring Hillside Theatre and the drafting room. The theatre is currently being restored.
After photographing the ghost-like seats with the sheets covering them I looked for photos under the seats:
I also looked up:
Outside is a view of the theatre and nearby farm:
Then I went to explore the silent drafting room, first reflected in the theatre’s windows:
And, Hillside itself:
I photographed Midway Barn from the road, on my trips between Taliesin and Wyoming Valley School and once from Hillside:
The last set of photos is of the Wyoming Valley School, now known as the Wyoming Valley School Cultural Arts Center. One of the only upsides of the pandemic is that the restoration of the school was able to proceed without having to work around visitors. Many of the changes are structural and not visible. Perhaps the most visible change is that the bricks inside now approximate their original natural color…the yellow of recent years was painted over with a grayish tone.
The desks in the classroom today are not original, but I enjoyed photographing them through the mitered glass in the evening light nonetheless. This historic black and white photo shows the original desks.
Robert Hartmann’s wonderful 1960s black and white photos of Taliesin and the school still hang on the walls. His photos documenting the construction of Riverview Terrace are in the rear of the dining room at the Visitors Center.
I leave you with a photo of the Marvelous Minerva Montooth and my Taliesin selfie. Technical notes: I do no “post processing” on my photos…I do not sharpen them or increase the color saturation. What I shoot is what I get. I sometimes open the midtones a bit and do a bit of dodging and burning in…nothing that could not be done in a traditional chemical darkroom. I use two camera bodies, one has a DX or crop frame sensor, the other is FX or full frame (equivalent to what would be recorded on a 35mm piece of film). The lenses used are: 14-24mm (used on the FX body); 17-35mm (on the DX body); a 70-200mm on the FX body, and a 200-500mm, used on both bodies. When the 200-500 is on the DX body, it is approximately the equivalent in 35mm terms of a 350-750mm lens. I thank John Clouse for selling me that lens recently…I had a wonderful time exploring Taliesin and Wyoming Valley School with it!