Friday, October 21, 2011

Indiana Road Trip - Halloween Time

© Stuart Pearl 2011 - Click on Images to Enlarge

Weekend road trips are nice. They break up the regular routine, give you a fresh prospective on new places, and provide an opportunity to meet new people.

This past Fall Jeanne and I travelled to Bloomington, Indiana where our daughter and husband live. Bloomington is a wonderful college "town." It has interesting architecture, great restaurants around their town square and is surrounded by beautiful green spaces.

We knew Jennifer had married into a wonderful extended family after we met them at the wedding. They live in Bedford which is a rural community just outside of Bloomington. We really didn't appreciate how nice they were until we were invited to their home for dinner, and then some olympic pumpkin carving.

And we are talking about some serious gourd surgery. They had set up tables in the middle of the garage across from their ATV's, covered everything in newspaper, handed out the knives, and then the seeds started flying.

Indiana University is surrounded by beautiful woodlands.  Some of their cross country tracks run through these areas.

Another wonderful place to visit in the area is Nashville, Indiana.  Some people refer to it as an historic Hoosier artists colony.  Others call it a tourist trap.  Either way, it does have interesting art and craftwork for sale and on display.

Self Portrait in garden "gazing ball."

If Jeanne and I are in a shopping mood we may stop at the Lodi, Ohio outlet mall on the trip back to Cleveland.  The place is literally out in the middle of corn fields.

 This poor farmer waited a bit too long for his wife to finish shopping.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fire Balls Outside My Window

© Stuart Pearl 2011 - Click on Images to Enlarge

I don't often see fireballs outside my window in downtown Cleveland. And this went on for a couple of weeks. Parts of Cleveland's E. 9th St seemed to get blown up on schedule each day. But there were no sirens or ambulances.

Marvel Comics had come to town, and Hollywood was filming the new Avengers movie. For a little over a month parts of New York's 42nd street had been recreated just down the street from the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.
All of this was going on about four blocks from my office window. We are not talking about the old British spy series with Mr. Steed and Mrs. Peel. This action involved Captain America, Thor, Ironman, Nick Fury and a host of bad guys.

Back in August movie trailers, crains and traffic barricades began showing up on E 9th St. These were accompanied by flatbed trucks delivering shot up NYC cabs and other damaged vehicles. Fake New York City storefronts were also placed in front of Cleveland shops, and wrecked "movie" masonry was hoisted into place.

It was pretty easy to walk by the set during setup. You could see explosive devices being rigged to flip cars and other tricks of the trade. At the same time, awnings were being installed on some store fronts to give them a "New York" look. Parts of that block never looked better.

Ivan Schwarz, Executive Director of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission was seen on the set at this time.

Small cranes and tow motors moved up and down the street daily arranging "wreckage" and movie props according to the script.

The action was about 1500+ feet from my 14th floor window, and actual details were hard to see. Rather than get a stiff arm holding by holding my camera and long lens, I mounted everything on a tripod and aimed it at the set. I also installed a remote release near my desk so I could quickly fire off a few shots if I saw action being filmed.

Usually I wasn't quick enough to capture the start of a sequence. But speeding police cars and bright camera lights were an indicator that something was about to happen. I'd start shooting at those moments. Here you can see giant diffusers lighting a scene being flooded with "move smoke" as extra's ran about.

The local National Guard was actually called in to play a role and arrived with full kit and vehicles.

Explosions were fast and without warning. Employees in the Medical Mutual building overlooking the set would typically hear a countdown prior to the blast, but there was no warning sound at my distance. The fireballs would appear and disipate in a matter of seconds. Observers said the explosions were just loud "whooshes." Convincing sound would be added later.

How much of E. 9th street will avoid the cutting room floor? We'll just have to wait until the movie debuts next summer to see how much of Cleveland survives, even if it was made to look like New York's 42nd street.