Monthly Archives: November 2014

Fonthill: Center Hall – ?? Century Persian Tile Mosaic

141130_Center Hall Persian Tile2-2 by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/16, 1.3 sec, ISO 400

After seeing the Fonthill worker dedication mural, I have walked down the stairs to the Breakfast Room, down more stairs to the Gallery, and up another set of stairs to the Center Hall.  Rounding the stairway from the Gallery, this Persian tile mosaic is right in front of me.  I asked the site administrator what happened to the tiles preceding the ” — th Century” title.  I thought they may have damaged and taken off.  The answer that he gave was that Mercer was uncertain when the tiles were actually made, so he left it blank.  To design this display, Mercer used his own architectural tiles to frame the Persian Tiles.  He used this technique throughout Fonthill to display his foreign tile collections.

Below are a couple of the Persian tiles that I caught my eye:



141130_Center Hall Persian Tile1 by Karl Graf.


141130_Center Hall Persian Tile2 by Karl Graf.


Fonthill: Second Attempt

141129_Fonthill Designers, Builders etc2 by Karl Graf. Fonthill Dedication Mural

I couldn’t leave my last post alone.  The message was important to me, but the image was not.  So here I try working with black and white.  I was able to reduce the color cloudiness caused by the bright light coming in from the window.  The individual letters are also a little bit sharper, maybe.  However I was still not able to pull out all the different colors of the letters.  I still need to go back and reshoot.

Fonthill: Designers, Planners, Builders and a Horse

141128_Fonthill Designers, Builders etc by Karl Graf. Canon 5DMkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 23mm, f/8.0, 0.5 sec, ISO 200 (multiple images)

“Here see the names of the men who planned this house, directed its plan, executed its construction, adorned its walls, embellished its pavements, built with their labor and the horse who uplifted it with its strength.”

The design, planning, construction, and adornment of Fonthill was a tremendous feat.  It is such, especially when considering when it was built (1908-1912) and with the tools available at the time.  All the concrete was hand mixed one batch at a time.  It was lifted up five plus stories with pulleys and ropes by Lucy, one strong horse.  Every time I drive by or visit the site, I look back in awe of how this wonderful national treasure was built.

This dedication mural is hidden in a dark hallway between the servants quarters and the main house.    It can only be seen walking down from the servants quarters.  There is a window directly above the mural that makes getting a proper exposure extremely difficult.  I took 25-30 images with different exposures to get one that I could work with.  I first tried to use HDR processing.  The resulting image showed multiple lens effect bright blobs which were totally unacceptable.  I then fell back on traditional image blending.  The base image was underexposed to keep the light from the window from washing out the top half of the mural.  I then combined it with an additional three images by blending them together in Photoshop.  I still am not happy with the results.  I will go back and try again.

Lesson Learned:  I had my flash with me.  I have no idea why I did not try to use it to get the image that I was looking for.  I had a lot to cover and may just have been in a hurry to get to my other target.  I should have taken more time.

Fonthill: Smoking Room – Spanish Brocade Tiles

Smoking Room Wall Tiles by Karl Graf. Canon 5DMkIII, EF 17-40mm f/4L @ 29mm, f/11, 13 sec, ISO 400

The Smoking Room is tucked up and above the Breakfast Room.  I guess there is nothing better than a good cigar after breakfast.  This mural is an example of a Spanish Brocade motif.  It is installed in the back corner of the room and is normally in deep shadows which makes it difficult to see the details.  This is the largest Spanish Brocade display in the castle.  It is too bad that it is not on the main path of the Fonthill standard tours.  Other examples of a Spanish Brocade are installed in a couple of other places in the castle that I plan to show in future posts.

Happy Thanksgiving

141127_Maple Leaves and Background Dew by . Fuji X-T1, XF18-55mm @ 55mm, f/8.0, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  We have so very much to be thankful for including this beautiful fall day a couple of weeks ago.  Each day is a gift to be lived and enjoyed to its fullest.

This was taken in our back yard in the early morning as the sun was breaking the horizon and shining on a little fresh frost on the ground.  I liked how the sparkle from the sunlit frost made small globes of light.  I then walked around to get something interesting to put in front.  This backlit maple was just what I was looking for.  It was a moment to be thankful for.

Fonthill: Breakfast Room – Floral Brocade & Architectural Molding Tiles

Breakfast Room Mirrors by Karl Graf. Architectural Molding Tiles Encase Breakfast Room Mirrors

Wandering through the Gallery a set of stairs leads up to the Breakfast Room.  The Breakfast Room displays two different types of Mercer tiles.  The mirror is framed with Mercer’s Architectural Molding Tiles.  Similar tiles are used throughout the Castle to frame Mercer’s historical tiles as well as frame windows and other architectural elements.

Breakfast Room Mosaic by Karl Graf. Floral Brocade Tiles on Russian Fireplace

A Floral Brocade Mosaic covers the Russian Fireplace on the opposite side of the room.  Multiple examples of Floral Brocade Mosaics are displayed throughout Fonthill.  Another example in the Castle entryway was shown on my 14 November post.



Fonthill: Gallery – The Four Seasons

141125_Gallery 4 Seasons by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/11, 1.3 sec, ISO 400

Going through the Alcove Doors one enters the Four Seasons Gallery.  These mosaics were the last tiles to be installed in Fonthill before Henry Mercer’s death.  Each mosaic was to depict one of the four seasons.  Mercer was only able to complete two seasons of the four seasons.  These two mosaics were designed as a pair.  Each mosaic has 12 segments.  Eight of the segments depict farm life during the specific season.  The other 4 depict different elements of the season; birds, flowers etc.  The designs of the tiles are unique in that they are flat, placed and raised against the concrete background.  These are the only examples of this style.  Below are different aspects of the two mosaics.

141125_Gallery Summer by Karl Graf. Four Seasons:  Summer

141125_Gallery Fall by Karl Graf. Four Seasons:  Autumn

Fonthill: Alcove – Arabic Tiles

141124_Alcove_Arabic Tiles by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MarkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/11, ISO 400 HDR

As a visitor climbs the stairs from the Saloon to the second floor they first enter a small alcove area overlooking the Saloon.  Tucked up above the Alcove doors are two Arabic Tile Murals.  The second mural is shown below.  It is said that one of the mural segments is installed upside down … can you pick which one.  To achieve an acceptable exposure of the tile murals hidden in dark shadows and not blow out the light coming in from the Alcove doors I combined 5 different exposures into a HDR image.

141124_Alcove_Arabic Tiles2 by Karl Graf.

Fonthill: Morning Room – Italian Brocade Fireplace

Morning Room Fireplace by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 22mm, f/8.0, 0.3 sec, ISO 400

This dramatic fireplace dominates Mercer’s Morning Room.  The room faces North.  Light enters the room in the morning from the floor to ceiling windows on the left and from the right during the afternoon.  It is a very bright room throughout the day.  This fireplace is my favorite in Fonthill.  The Italian Brocade design is from a 16th century Sicilian tapestry.  Below is a detail of the design.

Morning Room Fireplace by Karl Graf. Italian Brocade design on Morning Room Fireplace

Elements of the design are separate tiles and can be used interchangeably to create various designs.  Compare this design with the design of the Italian Brocade in the Fonthill Entryway below.

141123_Entryway Italian Brocade by Karl Graf. Italian Brocade in Entryway Mosaic

Fonthill: Morning Room Hallway – Delft Tiles

141122_Morning Room Hallway by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/8, ISO 400, HDR

Come on in through this narrow hallway from the Saloon to the Morning Room.  Again there are tiles everywhere.  Delft tiles cover the hallway walls and nooks and crannies.  The hallway is very dark.  HDR processing of 5 images was needed to capture the light exposure of the hallway entry to the almost black deep shadow of the Morning Room doorway seen in the very back of the image.  Below are a close up of the hallway wall tiles and a small v-nook in the back of the hallway.  There was hardly enough room to get me and my tripod/camera in the hall to take the image.  I wish I was as thin and flexible as in my younger days.

141122_Morning Room Hallway3 by Karl Graf.

Delft tiles in Morning Room Hallway Nook

141122_Morning Room Hallway2 by Karl Graf.

Delft tiles in Morning Room Hallway