Weekly One-Word Challenge – Broken

Hooray, I am officially caught up with my weekly one-word challenges! The word for the week of March 9, 2015 was “broken”. And after several days of rain, the sun finally came out today, just in time for me to meet the deadline to get some shooting done for this challenge.

I did all my shooting between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m., hoping to catch some good light. My morning started off with a slight hiccup. I drove about five minutes from my house, parked my car, got out and fired up my camera, just to find that my battery was depleted. I could have kicked myself for not checking it before I left home. Fortunately, I had a second battery completely charged and ready to go, so I drove home, swapped them out, and then headed back downtown. Not that far to drive, but it did waste a little bit of that early morning golden hour.

Today I used my Nikon D700 with the 24-84mm Nikkor lens. I’m learning to be more cognizant of my f-stops, ISO, shutter speeds and depth-of-field, rather than just concentrating on composition.

I took quite a few images, processed them in Lightroom and Photoshop, using Topaz filters. I’ve uploaded the ones I liked best to my Flickr account. Here are my favorites from this morning, with a little commentary:

These first three are a little urbex from a partially abandoned warehouse near the railroad tracks. The broken windows fit the theme perfectly. I had to do some perspective adjustments to account for the camera tilt, but all in all, I’m happy with these:

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These next two are from an alley in downtown. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recognize the vase from an earlier challenge when I shot it for the word “Open”. In keeping with the rules of the challenge (photos must be shot in the appropriate week timeframe), I re-shot it and processed it differently today to represent “broken”. The photo of the toilet is self-explanatory.

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This next image is a whiskey and wine bar in downtown Tupelo. No, the bar is not broken, but the old original lettering at the top of the building seems to be missing something.

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The next image is a statue on the lawn of the Lee County Courthouse, erected in 1908 by the Tupelo Woman’s Christian Temperance Union to commemorate the statewide prohibition of alcohol. Not sure when the angel lost her hand, but Prohibition was definitely broken.

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Next is a bicycle frame lying in a neighbor’s yard. Those boys are tough on their toys.

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Finally, a little something different. Almost a year ago, on April 28, 2014, Tupelo was hit by an E3 tornado, which left a wide path of damage and destruction (but fortunately only slight injuries to people). While the recovery still continues, these bare trees are stark reminders of what happened that day. The trunks are starting to push out new twigs and branches, so even though they were “broken” last year, their recovery mirrors the spirit of Tupelo as businesses, churches and homeowners rebuild for the future.

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While I was out shooting this morning, I did take some other shots that were not related to the weekly challenge. I’ll be sharing those separately.

So now, I’m ready for next week’s challenge, which is the word “Ice”. So ironic that we had the ice storm week before last, and now the weather is starting to warm up. Not sure what I’ll shoot for “ice”, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something!

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Observing the Observer

Continuing my series of images from the Tupelo Christmas Parade:

I love my 28-300mm zoom lens.  It gives me such flexibility when I’m in a situation where I can’t control the distance between myself and that interesting subject matter that presents itself.  Sometimes you just need that telephoto capability to capture that candid moment when your subject has no idea they’re being observed, much less photographed.

While we were watching the parade, I noticed several people across the street watching the scene from the upstairs windows.  Most of them had the windows open, leaning out to get a great view and hear the marching bands.  But this guy either could not open the window, or chose not to.  In fact, he looked a little bit put out that the parade was disturbing the routine of his Saturday morning.

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Nah, I’m sure the sun was just in his eyes and that’s why he was squinting like that.

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
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My Official Website at http://zannwalker.com

Main Street Vintage Guitars

One thing that I’m learning to love about downtown Tupelo is the emphasis on restoring and re-using old historical buildings for shops, restaurants, bars, and offices.

Today’s image definitely has an urbex feel, but there’s a great story behind the surface.  This is the Main Street Vintage Guitar shop, located at the corner of Main and Spring streets.  This is actually the side of the building, facing Spring Street, but I just had to shoot this side because of the great Coca-Cola mural painted on the wall which has been preserved along with the building.

Main Street Vintage Guitars

I found their website that has a ton of information about the building, including pictures from its past as well as the restoration process that turned it into its modern-day incarnation as a vintage guitar shop. I found out that this building was originally the First National Bank, and it was constructed in 1890.  The store is visited by musicians from everywhere, most recently by Keith Urban when he was in Tupelo for a recent concert.  Be sure to check out http://www.pwogs.com/msvg_history_building.html for the full story.

This image is a single image taken with my Nikon D700 and 50mm 1.8 prime lens, hand-held.  This was about 3:45 PM, and the setting sun was casting some pretty good shadows on this side of the building.  I used Paintshop Photo Pro X4 and Topaz Adjust to process the image and bring out the detail in the brick and morter, as well as the mural on the wall.

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
Twitter @suzanne_hight
My Official Website at http://zannwalker.com

The Pottery Shop

Continuing my series of images from last weekend’s overnight trip to Jerome, AZ:

Once we got to Jerome on Saturday, we drove to the hotel and parked the car, and then we walked everywhere we needed to go.  Jerome is built on the side of a steep mountain, and our hotel was at the top end of town.  Walking downhill to visit the shops and restaurants was a breeze, but walking back to the hotel was a workout!

As usual, the nice thing about walking while carrying a camera is that you naturally notice more details about your surroundings.  The image for today is a great example.  This little shop is located at the end of the street where there is a steep U-turn switchback in the road.  Normally while driving through Jerome you have to be extra cautious because of all the pedestrian traffic (especially on the weekends), and when you get to these steep turns you have to keep your eyes on the road.  For that reason, I had never noticed this charming little pottery shop with the bright red door.  But when we walked through town on foot, it was hard to miss the bright colors, especially with the late afternoon soon shining on the building’s facade:

The Pottery Shop
HDR created from three handheld bracketed photos (-1.0/0.0/+1.0) processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

I will be posting my shots from Jerome to a new set on Flickr–Jerome Arizona – 2011.03.12. Most of them won’t get their own blog post, but I encourage you to check out the set, especially if you have any interest in visiting the Jerome area.

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
Twitter @suzanne_hight
My Official Website at http://zannwalker.com

The Photographer In The Window

I seem to have a thing for windows and doors.  There’s something about the geometry, the right angles, the textures….not exactly sure, but windows and doors are one of my favorite subjects for photography.

Today’s image is a case in point.  These are the windows in the front of Monti’s La Casa Vieja restaurant in Tempe, Arizona.  Monti’s has the distinction of being the “oldest continuously occupied structure in the Phoenix metropolitan area“.  The architecture and character of these old buildings just lend themselves to making great photographs, and especially to HDR work.

Monti’s is located right across from the old Hayden Flour Mill (check out this shot), another historic structure in Tempe. On our recent photowalk, the three of us stopped in front of Monti’s to shoot the flour mill which was lit up by the reflections of the morning sun bouncing off a large office building across the street. It was only by chance that I turned around and saw the wall behind me with these two beautiful windows. The window on the left shows the reflection of the flour mill, and the one on the right has a reflection of one of my fellow photographers.

The Photographer In the Window
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.

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.

Chapel of the Holy Dove – Interior Lighting Challenges

Today I’m continuing my series of images from the Chapel of the Holy Dove located near Flagstaff, Arizona.  My two previous posts have shown the exterior of the chapel, but today’s post deals with the interior.

The entire front wall of the A-frame structure is a huge window that faces the San Francisco Peaks, so there is plenty of natural light inside the building.  But since there is no light source at all coming from the rear (if the door is closed), it creates a very challenging scenario for photography.  Even when using a bracketed series of images in HDR processing, I found that the lighting extremes were very hard to deal with, especially for a beginner like myself.  And it didn’t help matters that I seem to have had dust on my lens, because it showed up  in the more brightly lit shots, whereas I didn’t notice it at all in the normal exposures.

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Anyway, today I’m posting these shots of the front window of the chapel to give you an idea of the view from the parishioner’s perspective.  Once again, it was mostly overcast that day, so you can’t see the mountain top in the distance….too bad, because it’s such a beautiful background on a clear sunny day.

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Future posts will show more of the interior from different vantage points.  It’s such a rich environment for photography, especially HDR photography….but it definitely presents some challenges!

You can find the entire series of images from the Chapel of the Holy Dove on my Flickr site.

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.