Scorpion Gulch – Room With a View

Tonight’s post wraps up my series from our last visit to South Mountain Park. This is another view of the interior of the old abandoned homesite called Scorpion Gulch, located just inside the entrance to the park.

Scorpion Gulch - Room With a View
Nikon D700, 14-24mm zoom. HDR created from seven bracketed photos processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

This weekend we’re taking a road trip up to Jerome where I’m hoping to get some more practice with the 14-24mm wide angle lens. If you’re not familiar with Jerome, it’s an old copper mining town in central Arizona. From Wikipedia:

Jerome became a notorious “wild west” town, a hotbed of prostitution, gambling, and vice. On 5 February 1903, the New York Sun proclaimed Jerome to be “the wickedest town in the West”.

When the copper played out, the town was all but abandoned. However, in the past twenty years or so, it’s been reborn as an artists’ colony. Many of the old houses and businesses have been turned into galleries and studios. The old hospital has been turned into the Grand Hotel, and that’s where we’ll be staying (the rumor is that it’s haunted!).

I’m hoping to get not only some great landscape photography from the vantage point high on the mountain, but I’m also hoping to get some HDR’s of the interior of the hotel. Maybe even shoot a ghost or two!

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Continuing my series of images from along Grand Avenue in Phoenix, AZ:

I’ve driven Grand Avenue a lot, and I’ve always seen this car and this boat atop this trailer…but I could never figure out how to get to it.  Grand Avenue runs diagonally from northwest to southeast, while every other street is laid out in a grid of proper east-west and north-south roadways.  Therefore, every mile along Grand Avenue there is a three-way meeting of major roadways, usually with one of them elevated over the other.  The exits are tricky, and it’s hard to get your bearings when you have to make several turns just to get off of Grand…oh, and did I mention there’s a railroad track that runs parallel to Grand that must be crossed?

Anyway, on this trip I made it my mission to find this “art installation” and get a shot of it.  And here it is, rendered in all its HDR glory.  I found that the “installation” (I’m not even sure what to call it) is located right next to  a salvage/junkyard. Once we got up close, we could see there was actually a lot of detail in the painting on the trailer that isn’t visible when one is zooming by on Grand Avenue.  I had never noticed that it depicts Route 66, of which Grand Avenue is a part.  Very appropriate!!

So, enjoy!!  I know we enjoyed tracking this thing down!

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If you like my work, please subscribe to this blog and feel free to offer comments. You can also find me on Facebook at ZannWalker Photography.

Graffiti on the Caboose

I had a fantastic time today shooting up and down Grand Avenue between downtown and about Glendale Avenue. I’ve driven along this road many, many times, and it’s without a doubt one of the ugliest stretches of roadway in the Phoenix area. It runs parallel to the railroad, so there’s a lot of industry in the area, along with scrap metal dealers, auto-repair shops, strip clubs, and welding shops. But once you get out of your car and start to walk around, looking at the area with fresh eyes, you find a bounty of great photography subjects. Plus, the closer you get to downtown, the more you find little shops and galleries that have been opened in once-abandoned buildings…quirky for sure, but ripe for the camera.

I came home with so many great shots, that it’s tempting to just sit at the computer and process them all at one time. But I’m going to try to stick to my new resolve to take my time processing my shots, and share them slowly.

So here is my first offering from today’s shoot. I’ve seen this caboose sitting near Grand Avenue for months (years?), but today I finally drove around until I found a way to get to it (off of Camelback Road, if you’re interested.) I was using a new polarizing filter, and unfortunately it had some debris on it that I didn’t notice while shooting, but I still think this came out amazingly well. This is an HDR processed from three bracketed exposures (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) using Photomatix v4, and then post-processed using Topaz Adjust/DeNoise and Paintshop Photo Pro X3. I finally got back into the habit of using my tripod, and it made a big difference on the sharpness of the final product.

Caboose

And, oh yeah, I’ve got lots more like this!!

Uninspired and wishing for Spring

I took my camera to the office with me today, where it sat under my desk all day.  I had a couple of things to do at lunchtime so my first possible opportunity to do some shooting came after work in the short hour before the sun set.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything on my route home that would be worth rushing to.

I did drive by a couple of places just to check out the lighting and the access possibilities.  The first is the Nishkam Seva Sikh temple, that’s built on the side of the Hedgpeth Hills in north Glendale.  It’s a beautiful building with nine gold-leaf covered domes, and the setting sun really lights them up.  The building is even beautiful after sunset as the lights come on, leaving a unique silhouette against the blue light of dusk.  I definitely plan to visit this site soon, but I want to make sure I have permission to shoot there, so I’ll probably contact them ahead of time.

Then I drove over to ASU West on Thunderbird and 47th Avenue.  I saw some architecture there that I believe would make some interesting shots, so I’ll be going back there as well.  One issue at this location is parking…I don’t want to wind up with a ticket for parking illegally on campus, and I don’t want to have to feed the meter in the visitor’s parking spaces.  I’ll probably just park in the shopping center across the street and walk across.

So, I didn’t do any actual shooting today, but at least I got some scouting done and I think it will pay off this weekend.  At least on the weekend I can go out in my jeans and tennis shoes, rather than my work clothes!  I just can’t wait until the days start getting longer so there’s more shooting time in the mornings and evenings.  And I can’t wait to see what the wildflower season looks like this year.

One cool thing to report–a couple of weeks ago someone asked why I wasn’t shooting my night shots at ISO 100.  I checked my camera and the lowest ISO setting I saw was ISO 200, so I was a little disappointed.  However, I also saw some other settings below ISO 200 that were marked Lo0.3, Lo0.7, and Lo1.  I checked the manual and found that these are the equivalent to ISO 160, ISO 125, and ISO 100.  So, YAY!!! (And why couldn’t they just mark them with ISO settings??)

Finally, I’m going to check out a new tripod this weekend.  It’s the Sunpak Pro 523PX with the pistol-grip ball head, and Best Buy is carrying it for $199.99.  It’s a 64” carbon-fiber tripod with a bubble level and lots of other cool features.  There’s only one Best Buy store in the area that has it in stock, so I’ll have to go to Surprise to actually see it, but I don’t want to order it sight-unseen.  The price is right and the reviews on it have been good, so we’ll see.

Didn’t really feel like doing much in the way of processing tonight, so I just fooled around with a landscape shot that I took last Sunday.  Here’s a view of the San Francisco Peaks as seen from Camp Verde, with the red rocks of Sedona in the distance as well.  It’s not an outstanding image, but I certainly enjoyed getting to see the snow, even if it was miles away.

San Francisco Peaks as seen from Camp Verde

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