More HDR from Fort Pike

Things have been a little slow at work lately, so I’ve had some more time to work on processing the images from our recent discovery of Fort Pike in southern Louisiana.

Just like my previous post, these images are all HDR’s created from seven brackets in Photomatix V4 and edited in PaintShop Pro X7.

These first two are inside the outer walls of the fort. The only light in the interior was the natural light coming through the portholes where the cannons used to be mounted. Therefore, HDR was really the only way to capture the whole dynamic range of light that our eyes were experiencing.



I always hate to see historical sites defaced with graffiti, but I have to admit that sometimes it makes for an interesting photograph. For this one, I went with a little more abstract processing using Topaz filters, something more “painterly” and less sharp.


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Graffiti in the Old Cabin

I have a love/hate relationship with graffiti.  On the one hand, when it’s done right it tells a story, paints a picture and rouses a range of emotions, and it cries out to be shared with others.  Beautiful, artistic, colorful graffiti is one of my favorite photography subjects, and I’ve captured some fine examples of it in the past:

But when graffiti is done badly, and for no apparent reason, then it just becomes an eyesore.  It’s especially irritating to me when the graffiti marks up a historic building or a natural site that can’t be cleaned without being damaged.  Recently a young guy from Canada was arrested at the Grand Canyon for spray-painting his name (or at least the first part of it) on the stone face of one of the more popular formations along the heavily visited tourist route.  In his affidavit:

…Chenier told Robinson he chose the popular Duck on a Rock geological formation because “it was so special that if he left his name, then his kids would be able to see it 20 years from now.”

So now, in 20 years, Chenier’s children will be able to visit Grand Canyon and point to the rock formation where their father was arrested for being, at best, an idiot, and at worst, an arrogant ass.

Graffiti is a problem at every site where people are allowed to visit, especially when the people are young and “in love”.  On last weekend’s visit to Tishomingo State Park, I shot some bracketed photos inside the old cabin in the park, where hundreds of people have found themselves, for whatever reason, motivated and inspired to write something onto or carve something into the walls, ceiling and floor of this old building.

Tishomingo State Park - Cabin Graffiti
HDR from five bracketed photos shot with my Nikon D700, 28-300mm Nikkor. Processed in Photomatix Pro 4, Paintshop Photo Pro X3, Topaz Adjust / DeNoise.

I’m not sure how we can ever make it stop, but if one of your kids is responsible, please take him/her to the woodshed tonight–without a magic marker.

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Dangerous Signs, Chair With Personality, and Modern Maturity

Wrapping up my series of images from the abandoned Black Canyon Greyhound Park in Black Canyon City, Arizona:

Although I still have quite a few images as yet unprocessed from last weekend’s adventure, I’ve quickly grown tired of the grungy, dirty chaos of the abandoned dog track.  Yes, it’s the perfect venue for getting some great HDR’s, but I can only stand so much depressing deterioration before I need to move on to something more uplifting.  So tonight, I give you three for the price of one:

Dangerous Signs

This shot was taken in the old restaurant location. The sun was just at the right angle through the window to create some nice shadows on the old shag carpet. The graffiti on the walls was a little intimidating, especially since part of it appears to have the markings of flame or smoke on the wall. I don’t think I would care to spend any time with whoever left their mark on the wall.

Dangerous Signs
HDR created from five bracketed photos processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Paintshop Photo Pro X3, using Topaz Adjust / DeNoise.

Chair With Personality

This chair was sitting all alone on the old dirt race track, like someone had maybe used it to sit there in the evenings and watch the sun go down over the mountains to the west. I liked the way the chair’s design reminded me of the smiley face icon. 🙂

Chair with Personality
Single image processed in Paintshop Photo Pro X3 using Topaz Adjust / DeNoise.

Modern Maturity Circa 1991

We found these old magazines lying on the floor in the kitchen area of the old restaurant. If you look at the photo enlarged, you can see that the issue of Modern Maturity is from December 1990-January 1991. That would be after the facility was used as a racetrack, and maybe even after it was used for the swap meets. I heard that there was a caretaker that lived on the property for awhile after it was shut down. Maybe these magazines belonged to him.

Modern Maturity Circa 1991
HDR created from five bracketed photos processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Paintshop Photo Pro X3, using Topaz Adjust / DeNoise.

I encourage anyone with an adventurous spirit to visit the dog track for some great photo ops (once again, don’t take the kiddos because it’s not a safe environment for them). But I’m feeling the need to look for some beautiful sunsets, some spring wildflowers, or some orderly graphic design.

After watching a series of how-to videos last weekend, the hubby and I have put together a small, inexpensive home lighting setup for photographing his handmade jewelry and lapidary work. Since the forecast calls for lots of rain tomorrow, I think it will be the perfect day for testing it out and hopefully learning a lot more about shooting close-ups with studio lighting.

Watchmen – Black Canyon Greyhound Park

Urbex isn’t my favorite kind of photography, but there’s something eerily fun about going into an old abandoned space and documenting what’s been left behind.

Today I spent several hours with a couple of photographers who are also co-workers, exploring the abandoned greyhound racing track in Black Canyon City, Arizona.  Surprisingly, there are no fences and no warning signs to keep people out, so we had free run of the place.

First of all, let me just say that this is no place for kids, so don’t go dragging your children out here to play.  There’s broken glass–lots of it.  Huge shards of it.  And of course there’s lots of nasty bird and rodent droppings around.  But if you’re careful and you wear good thick-soled shoes, you get rewarded with some great urbex photography, especially if you’re into HDR.

The grandstands are still mostly intact, with brightly colored red, yellow and orange seats, which face toward the west making them very colorful as the sun sets.  The remainder of the facility is pretty much gutted, with quite a bit of broken floor tiles, graffiti, and some interesting bits of debris scattered around.  There’s even a metal staircase on the outside of the building that leads up to the roof to where the pressboxes are located.  There’s the abandoned restaurant as well as the “paddocks” for the dogs, and another building that has an old office with paperwork still scattered about.  Very cool.

I didn’t get home until after dark, and then the hubby and I went out for a light dinner, so I didn’t get to look at my shots until late tonight.  I think I got some good ones!  Some of them will definitely be candidates for color processing, but some are just perfect for a gritty black-and-white treatment–which brings us to the first posting from today’s photoshoot:


This was taken in what I believe was the restaurant or snack-bar area, judging by all the tables and chairs thrown about, as well as the adjoining kitchen area. It’s a five-exposure HDR processed in Photomatix, and then post-processed in Paintshop Photo Pro X3, with Topaz Adjust. I decided to go with black-and-white, and I actually added some grain to the shot to play up the gritty environment.

Can’t wait to start processing some of the other shots, and it will be interesting to see what my two cohorts come up with. Always fun to see different interpretations of the same scene. Stay tuned!

If you like my work, please subscribe to this blog and feel free to offer comments. You can also find me on:
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Caboose – Rear End Only

Continuing my series of photos taken along Grand Avenue in Phoenix, AZ:

Got a late start tonight, but I went back to a familiar subject–the caboose on Grand Avenue.

Tonight, I went with a vertical shot of the rear end of the caboose.  I had a couple of shots that were cropped more tightly on the train car itself, but I liked this one better because it shows some of the railroad track.  In addition, it has the cell phone tower over the top of the car (really, I could have done without that, but I didn’t feel like taking time to clone it out).

Caboose - Rear End Only
HDR created from three bracketed photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

To see the other two views of the caboose that I posted earlier, follow this link to Flickr.

I checked the UPS tracking site, and my new camera gear has traveled from Philadelphia, PA to Manchester, NH, then to Louisville, KY, and then finally to Phoenix in the past 18 hours. Just think, right now it’s somewhere here in the city, just waiting to be delivered to me sometime tomorrow. Can’t wait!!!

The Trunk Space

Continuing my series of images taken on Grand Avenue in Phoenix:

Ok, this shot just makes me smile, and sometimes that’s what we all need. We had just started our photowalk on Saturday and were having lunch at Mel’s Diner when we started getting tweets about the horrific shooting that took place in Tucson. Needless to say, I lost my appetite for lunch and left the diner in a pissed-off but sad mood.

My mood improved somewhat when the early news reports that indicated that Congresswoman Gifford had died were proven false, but I was still reeling as we began our stroll down Grand Avenue. So many people killed and wounded–it was heartbreaking. We both kept checking our Blackberries for the latest information.

Gradually the beautiful sunshine, the companionship of a great hubby/photo assistant, and this mural brightened my mood. I’m still sick about what happened in Tucson, but I’m heartened that the events, horrific as they are, have sparked national conversation about civility and finding ways to end violence. We’re a long way from solving our problems, but if we all get together and laugh more often, that might help, don’t you think?

The Trunk Space

The Trunk Space – for more information click here! It’s too weird for me to try and describe!

The Chocolate Factory

Continuing my series on Grand Avenue in Phoenix AZ:

Yes, this is my second post of the day, but I don’t think I’m going to have time to post anything before I have to leave for work in the morning.

The area along Grand Avenue just northwest of downtown Phoenix is experiencing a slow but steady renaissance. A lot of the old abandoned buildings are being converted into art spaces, boutiques and small cafe’s. It’s still very much a work in progress, and it was pretty much deserted when we were there on Saturday. But at least the area is getting spruced up and it looks much more interesting now.

One of the challenges I faced was trying to capture the facades of the buildings without having a true fish-eye lens. I couldn’t step back far enough from the building to capture the facade square-on without standing in the street. If I had crossed to the other side of the street and shot from there, the sun would have been right in the lens–no good. So most of the architecture shots were like this one, taken from an angle. It creates some perspective issues, but it is what it is. I don’t mind it myself, but those purists out there might have a problem with it.

So here’s The Chocolate Factory, which we thought was a candy shop but is actually a gallery. Just up the street is Smith Radiator Exchange, which we thought was a bar but is actually a garage. Things are not always what they appear on Grand Avenue:

The Chocolate Factory
HDR created from three bracketed photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

Graffiti or Mural?

Today’s post is a colorful one. When exploring Grand Avenue in Phoenix, we found this wall surrounding a parking lot, and it was covered by a really cool mural. Now, I’m not sure where graffiti crosses the line to mural or vice-versa, but this one didn’t seem to have been created by kids on skateboards. Today’s shot reveals only a small portion of the entire scene, but I’ll post more later.

I really liked this particular section, because it seemed to have some humor to it. It was in a corner where trash and debris had collected. The mural seemed to be expressing disgust at the trash lying just below it. (This one also says a lot about how I feel about Mondays!!) 🙂


This is an HDR created from three bracketed shots (-2.0/0.0/+2.0), processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing was done in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise, and Paintshop Photo Pro X3.