Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

September 22, 2011

Steele Indian School Park

Filed under: composition, light, Non Birds — richditch @ 4:36 pm
Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park

Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park

August 28, 2011, Nikon D200, Nikon AF-S 18-70 @ 18mm, ISO 400, 1/5000th second at f/5, hand held

As the high temperatures in Phoenix continue to limit my time out chasing and photographing birds (we’ll reach 105 degrees tomorrow for the first day of fall), I continue to look for other subjects to keep my cameras busy. My latest “discovery” is Steele Indian School Park, located in central Phoenix. Over our many years living in Phoenix we’d heard it mentioned many times on the local news, as the scene of various public events, protest marches, and even the tragic mid-air collision of two news helicopters while broadcasting a police chase nearby. But since nothing is visible from the main street in front of the park I’d never ventured into it to check it out.

But when we did drive in on a slow weekend afternoon I was quite taken with the wonderful red brick building and formal setting seen in the lead image. I’d only grabbed a couple quick images that day, so yesterday I decided to make a longer visit on my own and look around a bit more.

Steele Indian School Park is the former location of the Phoenix Indian School opened in 1891. It was part of the national movement to “lift” native peoples to fit into white culture by suppressing their native language and ways. The park is named after Horace C. Steele, a philanthropist whose foundation played a large part in creating the park. It opened in 2001.

Triple Doors Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park

Triple Doors Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park

Sept 21, 2001, Nikon D200, Tokina 12-24 @ 24mm, ISO 100, 1/250th second @ f/11, tripod

As luck would have it, there’s a City of Phoenix meeting held here on the third Wednesday of each month, so when I arrived it took some time to find an open parking slot. At times I had to wait a little until participants taking a break returned to their meeting so I could get shots without the distraction of random people in them. That was important to me for this formal shot of the three entrances on the south side of Memorial Hall, where I was careful to position my tripod-mounted camera for a centered and balanced composition. What I find most surprising by this image is how it reminds me and others of three faces; one friend immediately pointed out how much they remind her of the faces on Hopi Kachinas.

Steele Indian School Park

Steele Indian School Park

Sept 21, 2001, Nikon D200, Tokina 12-24 @ 17mm, ISO 100, 1/125th second @ f/11, tripod

The Memorial Hall (lead image) is the only one of three preserved buildings currently open, and it can be rented for various functions. The other two buildings are being restored with the hope that they will serve as a museum or other pubic function.

I enjoyed my hour just strolling around getting a first look and searching out a few detail shots. The light from the clear sky gave good shadows to bring out texture and define the form of the buildings and features. I edited my shots down to about 45 different compositions.

Steele Indian School Park Detail

Steele Indian School Park Detail

Sept 21, 2001, Nikon D200, Nikon AF-S 70-300 VR @ 270mm, ISO 100, 1/160th second @ f/11, tripod

I relied primarily on my seldom-used Tokina 12-24mm lens as I wanted to capture entire buildings, but I also carried my 70-300 for detail shots such as this.


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