Jerome – The Blacksmi

I seem to have finally resolved all my technical issues with my monitor and software so that I can consistently get good results from my processing. And I’m starting to get my mojo back, thanks to joining a photography club and also setting up a weekly challenge for myself.

So I’ve started going back through some of my old raw images, looking for new material to play around with while I teach myself some of the features and hidden (to me) tricks of PaintShop Pro X7, Topaz plug-ins, and Lightroom. I’ve been watching quite a few YouTube video tutorials, as well as sitting in on live webcasts from Topaz for their products.

Today I pulled out some brackets from our 2011 weekend trip to Jerome, Arizona, where we toured the old Gold King Mine. It’s a veritable treasure trove of photo ops, and I highly recommend that you put it on your photography bucket list.

I processed this image first in Photomatix Pro 4.2 to merge the three brackets into an HDR image. I then did some further editing in Paintshop Pro X7, using some of the tips I’d seen on some YouTube videos today. For instance, I learned that the new X7 version of PPS has the “Magic Eraser” tool, which is a content-aware tool for removing things like dust and flare spots quickly and easily. It’s much easier than the “Object Remover” tool that I had been using. It really made a difference in cleaning up this image!

20110313_801_JeromeHDR_Blacksmi

I really like this image, although I still might go back and try to remove that power line–it just seems to mock me!!

Oh, yeah, I also spent a little money online this week to pick up some other things that I’ve been putting off purchasing for my photography habit. I finally bought the cleaning solution and swabs to clean the sensor on my Nikon D700–so tired of seeing the spots in the sky on all my landscape shots. And this week I used my last bonus from work to order a Wacom tablet to make some of the editing tasks easier–things like fine selections for masks, for instance. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on that tablet and learning how to use it.

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Assay Office

I haven’t done an HDR image in a little while, so I pulled out some brackets from our last trip to Jerome.  This is the old Assay Office from the Gold King Mine ghost town in Jerome.  When I took the shot, it was almost high noon, and the lighting situation was getting pretty harsh.  I took a series of five brackets, and needed all five of them to get all the detail in this shot.  The items on the desk in the foreground were sitting in a patch of bright sunlight, while the back of the little office was almost completely shaded.  For situations like this, HDR rocks!

Assay Office
HDR created from five bracketed photos (-2.0 thru +2.0) processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

I really intended to get out and do some shooting this weekend, but somehow time has slipped away (again). The weather is starting to warm up now here in the Valley of the Sun, and it’s so much easier to just sleep late in the air-conditioned house than to get up early enough to get some quality camera time. However, we’re looking forward to our trip to Vancouver the first week in July for our 20th anniversary, and I’m planning to fill up every memory card I have with images from the Pacific Northwest. Can’t wait!

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Ancient

Tonight, I’m just fooling around with some old shots that I hadn’t processed yet. I found this one that I took in Jerome, Arizona back in March. I was standing on the balcony of our hotel room in the early morning, looking down the hill at the old houses and shops, when this old man came out of his house and started shuffling down his steps. The way his shoulders were hunched against the cool morning air, he sort of resembled all the old buildings hunched against the side of that mountain, hanging on for dear life, trying to stay out of the wind long enough to get a little older.

Ancient

I intentionally desaturated this image somewhat, and I used Topaz Adjust to tease out the detail in the shadows.  I played around with some of the presets in Paintshop Photo Pro to rough up the edges and add a border. Probably should have just left it alone, but that’s how you learn, right?

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Parking Lot at Gold King Mine

For tonight’s post, I’m pulled out some more unprocessed raw files from our last trip to Jerome.

There are a lot of abandoned vehicles on display at the Gold King Mine ghost town. Some look like they probably still run, others are obviously junkers.  They all probably have some great stories hidden beneath the rust and buried in the upholstery. This shot is a small sample of the collection of old trucks, cars, buses, vans, motorcycles and heavy machinery they have scattered around the property.

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

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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Evidence of Cat

For tonight’s post, I’m pulled out some unprocessed raw files from our last trip to Jerome.

Here’s a shot of one of the old abandoned cars that they have on display at the Gold King Mine ghost town.  I wish I could tell you what model year this Studebaker is, but I’ve never really been that good at identifying automobile models.  I was more interested in the paw prints in the dust on the windshield.

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

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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Jerome Grand Hotel From the Outside

Continuing my series of images from our recent visit to Jerome, Arizona:

A few posts ago, I presented some images of the interior of the historic Grand Hotel in Jerome.   I’ve also shown you their still-operational Otis elevator.  As promised, tonight’s post presents a few images of the exterior of the hotel, with a few processing twists.

This first shot is taken from a vantage point slightly downhill from the hotel.  I really liked the bare branches in the foreground, but wanted to soften them up a bit.  So I used the Venetian Painting preset in Topaz Adjust, and then did some further softening in Paintshop Photo Pro X3:

Jerome Grand Hotel and Asylum Restaurant

This next image shows the Asylum Restaurant after they’ve closed for the night. Since this place is supposed to be haunted, I don’t think they get too concerned if some of the lights are not functioning properly–maybe it’s just part of the mystique. View it large to see what I mean:

Jerome Grand Hotel and Asylum Restaurant

And this last image is an HDR from five bracketed shots taken with the 14-24mm wide-angle zoom. The perspective is wonky, but I think it just adds to the “haunted”, mysterious look of the hotel. After all, any hotel with gigantic spiders hanging from the underside of the balconies has to be a little wonky (click to view it large!):

Jerome Grand Hotel and Asylum Restaurant

I still have lots of great shots from Jerome that I’ll probably play with in the coming weeks. But we’re heading to Sedona tomorrow where there are always great photo ops at every turn, so I’m sure my inventory of images will be overflowing by Sunday evening.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

The Toolshed – Gold King Mine

Continuing my series of images from our recent visit to Jerome, Arizona:

Yeah, I know I said my next post would include images of the exterior of the Grand Hotel in Jerome, but I just had to sneak this one in first. I just processed it last night, and I really like how it came out.

This is one of the many “collections” (i.e. “piles”) of old equipment from the Gold King Mine ghost town in Jerome. All the various textures, colors, rust, and light angles just cry out for an HDR treatment. I love all the little details, even the incongruous ones like the empty plastic water bottle…I don’t think that came from the miners.

The Toolshed - Gold King Mine, Jerome AZ
HDR created from five bracketed photos processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Paintshop Photo Pro X3, using Topaz Adjust / DeNoise.

Have a great day, everyone!

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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Jerome Grand Hotel Balcony Room

Continuing my series of images from our recent visit to Jerome, Arizona:

As I’ve mentioned before, we elected to stay at the Jerome Grand Hotel on our last trip, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the hotel is located at the top of the mountain-side town, so it has a great view of the town and the surrounding valley beyond.  But the hotel also has a lot of history and mystique about it, and we love a good story.

From their webpage:

This Spanish Mission style building, constructed in 1926, started out as the United Verde Hospital, opening January, 1927. In 1930, it was written up as the most modern and well equipped hospital in Arizona and possible the Western States. The Hospital was closed in 1950 as the mine operation was being phased out. The building stood unused for the next 44 years until the rehabilitation plans started in 1994.

The building is one of the highest public structures in the Verde Valley, (5240 Ft.). As the last major building constructed in Jerome, the building was not only to boost the pride of the town in its classic design, but was built fire proof and able to withstand the blasts of up to 260,000 pounds of dynamite set off by the mine and sometimes felt as far away as Camp Verde, a distance of 20 miles. How this 30,000 sq. ft., five level building of poured in place, reinforced concrete, was constructed on a 50 degree slope is an engineering marvel even by today’s standards!

Purchased by the Altherr Family in 1994, from the Phelps Dodge Mining Corp, the restoration and rehabilitation was started. Having been closed for 44 years, there had been no changes to the original building except for the enclosure of the roof top deck in 1929, The building has withstood the tests of blasting as well as the tests of time. This has to be one of the best preserved buildings in Arizona and extreme measures have been used to protect the interior and exterior integrity.

Our balcony room was beautifully decorated and very comfortable, with a few quaint touches like the old telephone with no dial (you just pick up the handset and you’re automatically connected to the front desk), the steam radiator, and the transoms over the doors to let the breeze blow through.  The bed was very comfortable, the bathroom facilities were modern and functioned perfectly, and the balcony was a delightful space to sit with a glass of wine and watch the sun go down (while shooting brackets, of course!).

Here’s a view of our guest room.  This is an HDR image from five bracketed photos shot without flash with only the light from the balcony doors. I used Photomatix to merge the images, and then Paintshop Photo Pro X3, with Topaz Adjust/DeNoise for post-processing:

Jerome Grand Hotel Balcony Room

The halls of the hotel are decorated with period antiques that make the Grand Hotel a unique place to visit. Here’s a slideshow of some of the hallway decor, as well as the lobby and gift shop area. All of these images were shot with the 14-24mm wide angle lens, tripod-mounted with no flash. I didn’t do any special processing on any of them, other than straightening some that were a little crooked:

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We truly enjoyed our stay at the Grand Hotel, even though we didn’t get to meet any ghosts while we were there. The staff was friendly, the lodgings were comfortable, and the view was unbeatable.

On my next post, I’ll share some images of the exterior of the hotel…watch out for spiders!

Gallery Space

Continuing my series of images from our recent visit to Jerome, Arizona:

Many, if not most, of the structures in Jerome have been abandoned at one time or another, but they have been reoccupied by artists and gallery owners, as well as restaurant owners, bed-and-breakfast operators and souvenir hawkers.

While strolling around Jerome we came across the studio of a glass-blower which occupies a once-abandoned building.  I used a set of three brackets to produce this black-and-white HDR image.  At the upper left you can see the windows of the glass-blower’s studio–he has a beautiful view of the Verde Valley below that must be such an inspiration for his work.  Just outside his windows you can see the crumbled, abandoned part of the building which gives it such character.

While I like the colors in the original, I wanted to go with black-and-white to emphasize the textures of the brick, plaster, concrete, tin, sheet metal, and the mountainside in the background.  I also think that the black-and-white just fits the time period of the original building:

Gallery Space

And just for grins, here’s what the original photo looked like. This JPG was converted from the original raw file with no processing applied. This is the normal exposure bracket:

What do you think? Would the color version be more effective?  Should I re-do the HDR as a color version?

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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Late Afternoon in Jerome

Continuing my series of images from our recent visit to Jerome, Arizona:

One of the reasons I wanted to stay at the Grand Hotel in Jerome is because they have a few rooms on the third floor with balconies that overlook the Verde Valley that lies between Jerome and Sedona. From our perch high on the mountainside we could watch as the glow from the setting sun ignited the red rocks on the far side of the valley, as the street lights in Jerome came on one by one.

I was hoping for a few more clouds to make the sunset a little more dramatic, but it’s Murphy’s Law….when you want clouds, the weather is absolutely beautiful.

I set up the camera on the tripod with the 14-24 wide-angle lens and my cable release, and as the sun went down we enjoyed a glass of wine and shot several five-bracket series of images.

Here’s my favorite of the evening:

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

I’ve decided to cut back on my posting frequency. Fortunately, I have a day job that finances my photography hobby, but the downside is that I don’t have enough hours in the day to work, shoot, process photos, and do some of the other things I’ve been neglecting lately like housework and exercise. It’s time to get a little more balance back in my life. My intention is to post maybe three times per week, but we’ll see how it goes.

Tomorrow morning I’m attending a workshop in Mesa on how to use flash, but on- and off-camera. On Monday evening, I’m attending another workshop on how to create a low-cost studio set up using everyday materials. I’m hoping these workshops will give me some ideas that I can use to start taking some great shots of Andy’s handmade jewelry and lapidary work.

Have a great weekend everyone! Happy shooting!