Cool Chair

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

Decided to go with a black-and-white image for this evening’s post.  I was a little torn, because this chair is actually pink, but it’s pretty faded.  I decided that the monochrome gave a better “feel” of the shot:

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

This shot was taken where the old restaurant used to be.  I like the little details like the sink drain sitting in the windowsill, right next to that wicked shard of glass.  If you’re interested in seeing more shots from this location, check out my posts from the past four days!

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Reservations

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

When we were at the dog track this past weekend, we found several ladders inside the building.  They didn’t look to be that old, and it didn’t dawn on me why they might be there until my husband saw the photos that evening, and he ventured a guess–copper wiring in the light fixtures.

I’m not sure why there was a reservation booth at the dog track, and I’m also not sure why there’s a big furniture sign there, unless they held a fixtures sale when the place closed.

Put all these elements together, and you get more questions than answers, but it makes a pretty good HDR image.

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

Normally I tend to increase the color saturation on my HDR shots, but in this case I actually reduced the saturation. I think the more subtle tones are more in keeping with the character of the place–bleak and desolate.

If you’re interested, I came across this video on YouTube that someone made while walking through the site.  It was uploaded to YouTube in January of this year, so it’s pretty close to what we saw when we were there.  It will give you a good idea of the sounds we heard–wind blowing, tile and glass crunching underfoot.  Check it out!

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Chair on Glass

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

After looking through all the images that I captured at the dog track, I have to say that UrbEx is not my favorite genre of photography.  Even though it provides some of the best opportunities for HDR processing, the environment itself is depressing, dark, dirty and possibly toxic.  Maybe that’s why my allergies are such a mess today.

But part of being a photographer is developing an “eye” to see beauty, or at least something interesting, where others see only the obvious.  Take this shot of a chair, for instance.

On the surface, it’s a broken, torn, rotten piece of furniture lying on a bed of broken glass and chipped floor tiles.

But my “eye” was drawn to the way the color of the chair coordinated almost perfectly with the color of the broken glass.  The pale greens have an almost soothing effect on the senses, helping soften the sharp points of the glass shards and the hard textures of the walls:

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

Can you see it? Can you see the beauty in the mayhem? Maybe I should go out looking for wildflowers this weekend–it might be time for a change of scenery.

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Take Your Seat and Watch Your Step

I love using my 28-300mm zoom lens with my Nikon D700, but I sometimes forget to take advantage of the great depth-of-field opportunities it provides, especially when I’m concentrating on capturing brackets for HDR processing.

Yesterday at the abandoned dog track, I actually remembered to play around with the focal length on the lens.  I lowered the height of the tripod to about knee-level, and then aimed the camera down the front row of seats in the “yellow” section.  I focused on one of the seats about a third of the way down the row, letting the other seats go slightly out of focus.  I was using a focal length of 92mm, at F/10.

These seats were positioned right in front of what used to be the huge plate glass windows looking out on the dog track.  The glass has been shattered, and quite a bit of it was lying in pieces right in front of these seats.  The late afternoon sun was at the perfect angle to give the seats a nice glow.  And since I shot a five-bracket series, I was able to retain the detail of the interior as well as the exterior of the grandstand:

Take Your Seat and Watch Your Step

I find that HDR processing is complicated a bit by using these shallow depths of field, because the areas that are purposely left out of focus can actually turn out worse during the HDR process. For instance, in this shot, I wound up with some obvious chromatic aberration along the mountain tops in the background. Probably should have spent some time trying to fix it, but hey, I was tired.

I’m still going through the rest of the shots and trying to decide which one I want to work on next. So much to choose from!

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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:

Watchmen

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!

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Midgley Bridge in Sedona

Continuing my series of images from our last visit to Sedona, Arizona:

If you leave Sedona heading north on Highway 89A, you travel through Oak Creek Canyon, some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.  This time of year the canyon has a more stark look, with the trees still sporting their bare winter branches.  But that just allows a more unobstructed view of the magnificent red rock canyon walls.  The Oak Creek area is worth visiting at any time of the year.

Just north of Sedona is the Midgley Bridge that spans part of the canyon.  Below the bridge you can see Oak Creek winding along the canyon floor.  The small parking lot on the north end of the bridge is the location of several popular hiking trails, one of which is the Huckaby Trail that leads you down to the creek from the bridge.

We wound up taking the Huckaby Trail all the way down to the creek where I got some great shots of the bridge from a different angle. I’ll be working on processing those, and maybe I’ll share a few of those if they turn out halfway decent.

This is a view of the bridge from the top of the Huckaby Trail.  In all the years we’ve been going to Sedona, I had never taken this particular shot…not sure why, but since I’ve started doing HDR, I knew I’d have to go back someday and get this image:

Midgley Bridge in Sedona

This HDR was created from five hand-held bracketed photos, taken with my Nikon D700 and the 28-300mm lens. I processed the raw files in Photomatix, and I loved the way that the bridge and the canyon walls turned out. But the sky was badly pixelated–not just noise, but actual square pixels. Topaz DeNoise did nothing to help it.

So I wound up playing around with layers and selections in PaintShop Photo Pro X3, and layered in the sky from one of the brackets. It was kind of tricky with the sky being exposed between the rafters under the bridge, and I probably should have spent more time refining my selections, but overall I don’t think it turned out too badly.

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Sedona – Clouds and Red Rocks

We spent the weekend in Sedona, one of my all-time favorite places to be in the entire world. Call it a cliche, but there’s just something magical about the landscape around Sedona, the way the sun lights up the red rocks at certain times of the day, and especially when there are dark clouds in the background.

On Saturday, the skies were mostly cloudy, making it difficult to get shots of the red rocks with that “glow”. It was also very windy, so any bracketed shots were sure to have ghosting issues from the movement of the tree branches.

Fortunately, we weren’t in any rush that day, so I was able to set up the camera on the tripod and then just wait for a break in the clouds and the wind to get the shot that I wanted. We found this one on Dry Creek Road. I believe it’s called Lizard Head Rock:

Sedona - Clouds and Red Rocks
HDR created from five bracketed photos processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Paintshop Photo Pro X3, using Topaz Adjust / DeNoise.

I’ve just begun processing last weekend’s images, so I’m still not sure what all I came away with. Regardless, it was a fun weekend, doing some light hiking and lots of photography. We enjoyed our stay at Los Abrigados (although I’m still a little irritated that they didn’t provide the usual travel-size toiletries that most places do–they expect you to buy them in their gift shop or salon).

Stay tuned for more images from Sedona over the next week or so!

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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!

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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?

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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!