Oh Golly, It’s Dali! – St. Petersburg, Florida

I received word from a mutual photo buddy about the new Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. This sounded like a good reason to get out of town for a day. Well, actually our group decided that we needed a “low light” class at the Florida Aquarium in the morning. And visiting the Dali museum was on the way back was a bonus.

Navigating through an unfamiliar city is adventurous enough, but doing this on a Friday afternoon in a downtown metropolitan city? I mean I just went through downtown Tampa, what more could happen? I know what you are thinking…why not just plug it into the Garmin (a.k.a Lola)? Well this place is so new that it doesn’t exist in the satellite, so we had to go old school with this, printed directions. I was lucky enough to be driving an Expedition so I figured if a Porsche or Ferrari got in the way, I had the height advantage. After a few wrong turns and curse words later, we arrived.

We pulled into the parking lot and I looked at the building and I said, “Ugh, this is it?” I called our scout that went ahead of us to see what there was to the place. She arrived about 10 minutes before we did so she directed us where to go. We grouped our gear and headed to the other side of the building. As I looked around the corner, I started to see the glass sculpture that wrapped three sides of the building. I have seen the old building and surveyed his work so I knew that this was going to be interesting. I suppose if I licked enough stamps that his work would make since to me. Anyway, I was impressed on the glass structure that wrapped around the building. However, the base of the building was cement that was unpainted. I guess they were going for an industrial look or just ran out of money at the last minute for paint.

The Dali Museum – Side Exterior

 The Dali Museum – Front Exterior

As you can see from the above photos, this is an interesting building. Getting some intel from the scout gave me some idea of what to bring to photograph this building. I fitted my Nikon with my 12mm-24mm wide angle lens. I used it at the 12mm end the whole time. The day was getting drizzly and overcast; this is typical Florida summer weather. I wanted to still get all of the detail that was in the scene. This was going to be an HDR set up. Here is the kicker, if you have read some of my other posts; you know what I went through with the Red Coats at that other museum. Well, this place is locked up like Fort Knox. The security guards are dressed like the FBI and I think they even had the earpieces. I was beginning to wonder what we had walked into. However, my “scout” (a.k.a. “Ace In The Hole”) smoothed things over and they let us shoot on the property, however NO TRIPODS! After my last experience dealing with this kind of situation, at least I had a clue. Going back to my issue, wanting to shoot an HDR scene with no tripod, I had to come up with a suitable replacement. I surveyed the area and found these path lights that were about the right height. I set the camera up and did an auto bracket of nine images. I walked across the street and clamped myself to a light pole to steady myself to rattle off another nine shots for the front scene. This must have looked really good, a 400 lb person with his arms and legs wrapped around a light pole with a camera. At least no one threw money at me while they were driving by!

Right next door, the blue glass on the front of the theater really caught my attention. Living in the little city of Port Charlotte, there is only so many buildings you can shoot before you go crazy. This was my chance to get some actual architectural photography in. I walked over to another light pole and did another strippers pose and took another nine shots.


OK, I’ve avoided it long enough, it was time to pay off the Feds and try to get a photo of the inside of the museum. Lucky enough, by the time I got in the lobby this was taken care by my “Ace”. We were allowed to shoot from the first floor/lobby. Some of the members in my “posse” (I’ve always wanted to use that somewhere), tried going up a couple of stairs to shoot through the concrete mustache and was intercepted by the FBI Agents. I was beginning to think it would be easier to drive to Area 51. We abided by the rules and shot what we could. Here is the main feature in the lobby.

 Mustache Staircase

This was another HDR, but this time I had no path light or stripper pole to use. This was going to have to be a hand held and hope for the best. I bumped the ISO to 400 and choose continuous shooting on the camera. I breathed out and pressed the shutter and hoped. As you can see from the above photo, the software actually did its job and aligned all of the exposures. You would think that the inside of this building would be a photographers dream, covered with 18% gray as in unpainted concrete. But, I thought it was a little drab. So in a case like this, why not go to black and white?

 Mustache Staircase – Black and White

Moral of the story, if you’re into art, this is the place to be. If you are into art and have trouble making sense of what the artist is trying to convey, lick a few hundred stamps before you go. If you aren’t a person of the arts, you might want to skip this one. Will I be back? Most likely, but with a couple of rolls of stamps and have better clothes for the stripper pole.

Until next time….

Keep Your Glass Clean


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