Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

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..

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

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Urban Geometry   Leave a comment

Before this past weekend I had never heard of the High Line walk in New York city.  And I really had no idea what to expect when we set off across mid-town toward the 30th Street access point.  What a great photographic treat it turned out to be!  The High Line is a public park built on an old elevated freight rail line, a funky and fun walk above the streets along the lower west side of Manhattan.

The elevated platform is approximately a mile long and put us at rooftop level with numerous warehouses and apartment buildings all the way down to the Meat Packing District.  This allowed me to indulge in one of my favorite forms of photography — architectural details.  Or as I prefer, “Urban Geometry”.  Take me somewhere with bricks, graffiti, fire escapes, and a good dose of glass and I’ll find images worth photographing.

Here are some favorites from a 45-minute stroll on the High Line.  Next time I think I’ll walk it from south to north to see what I missed!

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Posted July 24, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Street

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Evolution of a Photo #2   Leave a comment

I enjoy low-light photography, especially when the subject is something as inviting as a cobblestone street and lamp.  Below are the before and after versions of one of the photos I took outside of La Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Paris.  All adjustments were done in Adobe Lightroom 4 and took about 30 minutes to perform.

The photo on the left is straight out of the camera except for some basic cropping to an 8 x 10 format.  The greenish-brown color is what happens when you photograph a scene lit by fluorescent or mercury vapor lamps.  If you photograph in RAW format (which I always do) you can adjust this later on the computer.  However, I didn’t bother adjusting the color balance because I knew I wanted to process the image as a black and white photo, making tone adjustments unnecessary.

Even as a black and white the image would have been flat and dull if I had done nothing more than click on the b&w conversion button.  To get the final image on the right I instead applied a red photo filter and then adjusted contrast to push the darks to pure black.  Highlights were backed off to reduce intensity and flare, and I then used the brush tools to dodge (lighten), burn (darken), and add clarity (mid-tone contrast) to selective areas of the sidewalks, cobblestone street, and wall.

Thirty minutes of effort to turn a “blah” image into something a bit more compelling.

Posted July 8, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe

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Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia PA   4 comments

My wife asked me what I wanted to do this past Sunday, my 55th birthday.  I chose (somewhat bizarrely according to my next door neighbor and friend, Tom) to visit one of the photography spots that has long been on my must-see list, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  ESP operated from 1829 to 1971, and is now a Philly tourist attraction.  A national historic landmark, ESP was “home” to such notables as Al Capone and Willie Sutton.  Founded on the Quaker principles that any man could see the errors of his ways with enough solitude, reflection, and penitence, Eastern State Penitentiary apparently had a hard time convincing its residents as evidenced by the number of escape attempts through the decades.  This included a twelve-man escape through a somehow undiscovered 97 foot long tunnel in 1945.

The photography opportunities at ESP are wonderful, but are best obtained with the benefit of a tripod and long exposures due to the low lighting in the cells and hallways.  Every photo below was taken with a tripod, some exposures pushing 30 seconds.  Many of the images are three photos (0 EV, +2 EV, -2 EV) merged together with Photomatix HDR software.  That is one of the reasons that I ended up with 208 photos in approximately 5 hours (and that’s after erasing poor exposures on site).  I highly recommend Eastern State Penitentiary for any photographer or history buff.  I’ll be going back since I only covered about half of the grounds during our visit.

All photos: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA (my photographer’s agreement requires me to say that!)

Posted April 16, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Travel Photography, Uncategorized

Simplicity   Leave a comment

Many times less is more in a photograph.

(Above)  Window.  Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Posted April 1, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture

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Paris Cityscapes   Leave a comment

The last of the photos (I think) from Paris — a half-dozen images taken from one of the Notre Dame towers on a cold but beautiful winter’s day.

Posted February 10, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe

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The Louvre   2 comments

After a brief diversion caused by Joe Paterno’s passing, I wanted to return to posting a few more photos from our Paris trip.  In particular, a few photos from the Louvre, a place that I found to be both fascinating and a bit overwhelming.  Musee de Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, and one of the world’s largest. It contains somewhere around 35,000 paintings, sculptures, and other art objects, and covers more than 650,000 square feet.  It is in a word, intimidating.

Unlike many museums, the Louvre allows visitors to photograph most of its art collection, without flash of course.  As I have already posted photographs of the museum’s exterior in my Paris at Night post, I will focus this post on some interior shots along with a sampling of the works of art found there.  We spent a fascinating five hours there and only brushed the surface of all there is to see.

Note:  Unless the works of art are really famous (like the Mona Lisa) you will not find any notes as to artist or subject in the photos below.  My apologies, but it is simply not an area of expertise, and I did not slow down to take notes as we walked through the galleries.  I took photos of whatever struck me as interesting and beautiful.

(Above) The Louvre:  The main lobby, below the glass pyramid.

(Above) The Louvre:  A spectacular staircase, worth skipping the escalators just to walk the stairs.

(Above) The Louvre:  Staircase closeup.  This also happens to be the 5000th photo that I’ve taken with my Canon 50D since I purchased it 18 months ago.

Statues

(Above) The Louvre:  One of the first rooms we entered in (I believe) the Denon wing.  The room was so large that it dwarfed 15 foot tall statues.

(Above) The Louvre:  Hannah checks out one of the works in the large hall.

(Above) The Louvre:  The somewhat homely likenesses of a King and Queen.  Sorry, I didn’t write down the names.

(Above) The Louvre:  More attractive humans are depicted in this work.  I am amazed that a sculptor can take a large block of marble and create something so lifelike.

(Above) The Louvre:  Oooh, I know this one.  Venus de Milo.  Thought to have been sculpted between 100 and 130 BC.  (Yeah, okay, I had to Google the dates).

(Above) The Louvre:  Give me a rock, a chisel, a truckload of sandpaper, and a lifetime . . . and I could not create a perfectly round orb like that, much less the hand, arm, and figure holding it.

(Above) The Louvre:  There were even statues on the ceilings.

(Above) The Louvre:  I don’t remember ever holding my kids this way.  (With one hand, or au naturale.  Take your pick).

(Above) The Louvre:  The flowing dress made of stone.  This was one of my very favorite pieces.  I had to resist the temptation to reach out and touch it.

(Above) The Louvre:  For those of you who have watched Monty Python And The Holy Grail, remember the guy in the dungeon at Camelot?  Yeah, I know, I should have my museum privileges revoked for life, but that’s what this reminds me of.

Paintings

(Above) The Louvre:  Melanie and Hannah in the Denon wing.

(Above) The Louvre:  And the reason so many people go to the Denon wing first — the Mona Lisa.  Da Vinci’s work is behind plexiglass as you can tell by the reflections of other tourists at the bottom of the painting.

(Above) The Louvre:  Religious works were very prevalent from the Medieval and Renaissance periods that comprise this wing of the museum.

(Above) The Louvre:  Naturally the church had the deepest pockets 400+ years ago and commissioned most of these works.

(Above) The Louvre:  I have no idea who this person is or who painted the portrait, but just the beard alone is a work of art.

(Above) The Louvre:  This painting glowed like it was backlit.  That — along with the fact that the people weren’t being killed in battle or persecuted — made it unique.

(Above) The Louvre:  And — no surprise — there were even paintings on the ceiling.

(Above) The Louvre:  And finally, no trip to a museum in France would be complete without a portrait of Napoleon.

Posted January 29, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Europe, Travel Photography

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