Archive for the ‘America in Decline’ Category

A Call to Action (from my wife)   Leave a comment

Instead of a photography post, I want to bring you to a TEDx talk given by my wife, Melanie Snyder.  I’m so very proud of her and her message!



Posted May 30, 2014 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, People

Tagged with

Cisco, Utah (Ghost Town)   7 comments

Melanie and I had planned our 30th wedding anniversary trip months ago — a trip to Utah / Arizona to visit five national parks and several national monuments and BLM areas over the first two weeks of October.  Congress forced us to change our plans, and one of the pleasant surprises while adapting to the silliness of closing those areas was a photo session at a mostly abandoned town in Utah called Cisco.  Most of the photos were taken with a fairly scary thunderstorm bearing down on us.  Truth be told, this added an aura of spookiness that would not have been possible under typical Utah sunshine and blue skies.

Below is Melanie’s writeup about Cisco and several of my photos.  The photos are heavily processed HDR images to accentuate the threatening clouds and dilapidated buildings.

In its heyday in the late 1800’s, Cisco was a “watering stop” for steam locomotives on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. It also became a livestock hub for cattle and sheep ranchers from the Book Cliffs, north of town. According to an online history of Cisco by Nancy Hazelet, at the turn of the last century, over 100,000 sheep were brought to Cisco for shearing before being shipped to market. Oil and natural gas were discovered in Cisco in 1924, and it became a drilling and mining center. But as steam locomotives began to be replaced by diesel and electric early in the 20thcentury, Cisco was no longer necessary as a watering stop, though the trains still ran through the town. 

Cisco also used to sit right along US Route 50 and US Route 6, major east-west highways that ran from California to Colorado and beyond. But between 1957-1970, Interstate 70 was built along a new route that bypassed Cisco (along with many other small “hub” towns), and Cisco began to slide into oblivion, though it was assigned its own zipcode when the new postal zipcode system came into effect in the 1960’s. The faded paint on the façade of the town’s abandoned post office is only faintly readable “Cisco, Utah – 84515” A small freestanding unit of modern locked mailboxes stands right outside the post office building, and it looks like there must be a few people who still get mail sent here.

In the early 1990’s, parts of the film “Thelma and Louise” were filmed in and around Cisco.

Despite the desolation of the town itself, there are miles and miles of brand new pipeline being laid here. Cisco has one of the oldest oilfields in Utah. Pacific Energy and Mining Corporation, an oil and gas company headquartered in Reno, Nevada, operates the drilling fields here, including 5 oil and natural gas wells that the company started in 2005..












Posted October 20, 2013 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Architecture, Travel Photography

Tagged with ,

Evolution of an Image   Leave a comment

Exactly two years ago, on July 4, 2010, I talked an employee from the Pittsburgh Convention Center into unlocking a door and letting me onto the convention center roof.  My goal was to photograph the back of a building across the street.  It is a somewhat distressed building with a rickety fire escape seven or eight stories up.  I got the shots that I wanted, but until today never did much work on them.  Here is one — after a couple of hours of fiddling around — that meets the gritty urban image I imagined when I took the photos.  The sequence of files and conversions to get to this final version is shown below.

(Above) Final image.

(Above)  Original image with no adjustments.

(Above)  Original image, cropped, converted to black and white, and adjusted for contrast / brightness / sharpness, using Adobe Lightroom 4.

(Above)  This texture layer was then blended with the photo in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  Texture layer provided by “~fabricate-stock” via his/her Deviant Art account.  (Deviant Art, as bad as it sounds, is a great place to find texture layers and photo frames).

(Above)  Black and white photo after texture layer is applied.

(Above)  The image was again imported back into Adobe Lightroom 4 and converted to monochrome using the “Antique Photo” preset, along with a bit more contrast.

Posted July 4, 2012 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Digital Art

False Arrest   Leave a comment

NYU student Alexander Arbuckle believed that the New York City police were being unfairly portrayed during recent Occupy protests.  So he decided to do a photojournalist project by creating a video designed to show the police activities in a more positive light.  He was arrested while filming and charged with a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct for standing in the street and blocking traffic.

Only he wasn’t in the street — he was on the sidewalk.  On Monday, a judge dismissed the charge after multiple videos taken during the arrest showed that Arbuckle never left the sidewalk.  In fact, the videos showed that all the protesters were on the sidewalk too.  The only people blocking traffic in the streets were the police.  Arbuckle appears to have been singled out for using a video camera.

“It was a total fabrication,” Arbuckle said. “When I was first arraigned in February, they offered me an ACD [Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal]. It would have been nice to have everything over and done with, but it would have been an acknowledgment of guilt, and I knew I wasn’t guilty.”

The fabricated arrest story was told under oath by the arresting officer.  That is perjury.  Will the officer be held accountable?

Posted May 18, 2012 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Uncategorized

Photographer Arrested, Photo Deleted   Leave a comment

No, not one of my photos.  A photo that an activist named Clark Stoeckley took in Penn Station in NYC.

His photo subject?  MTA officers, in public view (and carrying semi-automatic weapons), which got Stoeckley detained and arrested.

The charge?  “Because you’re a dick,” according to the arresting officer.  Oh yeah, his cell phone was eventually returned sans photographs —  the only real crime that occurred in the whole encounter.

Now I can’t say for certain, but I’m guessing that if being “a dick” is truly an offense for which a person can be arrested, then a good percentage of the U.S. population should be behind bars right now.  I do know for certain that a law enforcement officer summarily deleting a photograph is both a crime and a violation of the photographer’s constitutional rights.

I’m not a fan of in-your-face photography, but I absolutely hate it that in the United States a citizen can be arrested for being “a dick” and then have his or her first and fourth amendment rights violated so blatantly.

Posted April 27, 2012 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Signs of the Times, Street

Church, Town of Scenic, South Dakota   Leave a comment

If the town of Scenic, S.D., sounds familiar you may have heard or read the recent news coverage about the entire town being put up for sale.  In fact, even more recently it was revealed that the town was purchased — by a church from the Philippines.

I took a special interest in the news because I had stumbled upon the town by accident about ten years ago, along with my dad and son.  We were in the middle of a several day stay in the Badlands region, and on that particular day we were on our way to see the Pine Ridge Reservation.  What caught my attention from the highway was the abandoned church, above.  I made a quick detour and soon discovered that many of the buildings in town were also boarded up and abandoned.  It was a semi- ghost town that had not been listed in any of the travel literature.  A pleasant discovery, but a somewhat sad scene.  The name “Scenic” was very ironic, of course.

This photo was a nice color image, but I like it better as a vignetted monochrome that evokes a certain era and feel that seems appropriate.

Posted November 5, 2011 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Travel Photography

Tagged with

Evolution of a Photo   2 comments

Things you can do to a single photo using software . . .

Here’s the original photo that I took this morning of a plaque on an old rusted cast-iron-and-stone grave cover.

The message says “MAY THE FAITHFULL DEPARTED REST IN PEACE” (and yes, they spelled faithful with two L’s)

Here is the same photo, now cropped and with a slight color saturation increase.

Finally, here is the same photo processed first with Topaz Adjust software (HDR Detail setting) and then with Topaz Black & White Effects software (Low Contrast Detail setting with dark corner vignette applied).  A nice photo for Halloween!

Posted September 10, 2011 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Signs of the Times

Tagged with ,