Oktibbeha County Courthouse

I’m still having a love affair with black-and-white processing…..

Oktibbeha County Courthouse

This is the Oktibbeha County Courthouse located in downtown Starkville, Mississippi.

After World War II the Colonial Revival in Mississippi evolved into a style that emulated the great Greek Revival houses of the antebellum period.  The revival was so widespread that some pundits have referred to it as “Greek Survival.”  Most of Mississippi’s welcome centers and interstate rest stops are constructed in this style, as are many courthouses; for example, the courthouses in Noxubee and Oktibbeha counties, built in 1952 and 1963 respectively.

Architecture in Mississippi During the 20th Century

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Finance and Law

When we did our Light Rail Photo Crawl a couple of weekends ago, we stopped for lunch in downtown Phoenix.  It was a bright, cloudless noontime, which can create some harsh lighting conditions for photography.  But on the other hand, you get these brilliant blue skies that contrast so beautifully against the neutral-colored architecture.

I found this shot of the Wells Fargo building looming over the historic Maricopa County Courthouse building to be one of my favorites from the day’s collection.  The juxtaposition of the old and new architectural styles, as well as the deeper symbolism of the financial sector having such an influence over the justice system…well, that’s a topic for a different blog.

I’ll just stick to the photography:

Finance and Law
Single image shot with my Nikon D700, 28-300mm zoom lens @70mm, F/11, 1/500s, ISO 200

I’ve got a busy weekend of shooting ahead if all goes as planned. Tomorrow night I’m joining some other members of the AZ Photographers Group for a Happy Hour/Open Shoot at Vintage Lounge in Tempe, AZ. On Saturday morning, I’m planning to visit the annual quilt auction being held at the Glencroft Retirement Center, where some of the most beautiful handcrafted quilts are sold as a fund-raising activity. On Sunday evening, I’m doing another complimentary lifestyle portrait session with someone who kindly volunteered to let me practice on them.

I’m still trying to shoot as much as possible, and as many different subjects as possible, to develop my skills and discover my niche. Thank god I don’t have to pay for film processing!

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, and you can follow me on Twitter @suzanne_hight.

Yes, It Snows in Arizona

Last week we had a pretty powerful winter storm come sweeping through Arizona just in time for New Years.  There were even reports of snow here in the Phoenix area, although the weather gurus said that most of it was sleet or tiny hail.  Whatever.  Anyway, about 90 minutes and 4000 feet in altitude away, there was quite a bit of snow in Prescott.  I had to work over the weekend, and didn’t get a chance to go check it out until today.

I finished my “work” work about 2:00PM, and then we figured we still had about three good hours of daylight left so we packed the camera gear and some gloves in the car and headed north.  When we left Phoenix the skies were partly cloudy, but it was obvious that it was becoming more overcast as the day went on.  And sure enough, by the time we reached Prescott about 3:30, the skies were completely cloudy.

That didn’t stop us from trying to get some interesting photos, however.  Our first stop was at the Yavapai County courthouse in downtown Prescott.  We parked the car on the square and then had a great time walking around in the snow with all the other tourists who had probably driven up from the Valley.

I didn’t bother getting the tripod out because there was still a lot of ice in places, and I was doing good to keep myself upright without having my hands full.  I shot everything hand-held, including some bracketed series that I intended to use for HDR’s, relying on Photomatix to line up the shots.  Even though I had the VR turned on, I was shivering enough that it was hard to keep the camera steady, so I really hope Photomatix comes through for me.

We didn’t get home until 8PM, and I have to go back to work tomorrow, so I only processed one shot tonight, just to get a feel for what I got.  I’ll be sharing more shots later this week, including some that we took in the Prescott National Forest that are pretty cool.

Here’s a shot of one of the sculptures on the lawn of the courthouse.  It was tough to get a good exposure reading with the dark bronze sculpture against the white snow and the overcast sky.  I think that’s where HDR really shines.  I took a bracketed series so that I was able to capture the detail of the sculpture in one exposure, but get the detail of the snow in another, and then combine them so that it’s all visible.  Then I couldn’t resist applying a little Topaz treatment to really make the colors pop (it was such a drab day, why not liven things up a little?), and I really liked the results.

Hope you do too! Be sure to view it large!!

Bronze in Snow

Downtown Phoenix – Fire, Water, Peace and Justice

Tonight’s post is another group of HDR images from last Sunday’s photo walk around downtown Phoenix.  It’s quite a variety, so let’s get started.

This first image is from the front of the historic First Baptist Church on Monroe Street (the same building where I shot the bell tower that was featured in the previous post).  This is the front wall of the sanctuary that at one time held stained glass, but during the fire of 1992, it was destroyed.  I took this photo from about the fifth floor of a parking garage directly across the street, using a 75-200 zoom lens.  You can see right through the openings in the window, all the way to a billboard on a building across the street on the next block:

Downtown Phoenix 007

This next image is a fountain located on the plaza in front of Phoenix City Hall.  It was a pretty popular place on a warm autumn day, with several couples shooting snapshots of each other as they posed in front of the waterfall.  I had to shoot quickly while no one was around.  I think I got this one a little too dark when I processed it, so I may have to go back and try it again:

Downtown Phoenix 008

This next image is St. Mary’s Basilica, a beautiful structure that was built in 1881 and still celebrates Mass daily.  Anyone who has spent a little time in downtown has heard the bells of St. Mary’s as they chime on the hour:

Downtown Phoenix 010

And finally, this is an image of the Maricopa County Court House building, rendered in HDR.  It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places:

Downtown Phoenix 009

I don’t care how energy-efficient and high-tech our new office buildings and churches are, they just can’t compare with the beauty and dignity of these older structures.  Even after a fire, the shell of First Baptist Church still impresses with its intricate architectural details.  How many of our glass-and-steel buildings of today will still be impressive a hundred years from now, even without a fire?

Each of these images was created from a bracketed series of three photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) taken with my Nikon D5000. I used Photomatix Pro v3 to produce the HDR image, and then post-processed in Paintshop Pro X3 to tweak the brightness and contrast, and I used the Curves tool to modify the color balance slightly.