When I took this photograph the business had already closed its doors, and soon it was to receive a makeover. I have not gone back to photograph it as it is now. I think the morning light (or is it the glow from high-pressure sodium lights) makes the image. Speaking of lighting, ten years ago there were very few LED street lights. I recall flying from San Francisco to San Diego one evening. Looking out the window, I watched the gold-colored lights of the cities along the coast. They looked like sparkling gems. Nowadays, they must look like sparkling diamonds.
I do not recall where I got the information that this place was known as the “Mad River Ferry House”, but I think it was a good source. This is a good example of the work that I was doing in the pre digital age of my photography. I recall thinking back then that this image was a good candidate for hand-coloring. I think it still may be.
I normally scan my old work from negatives. This photo was scanned from an eleven by fourteen print that was to large for my scanner. I had to scan it twice, moving it on the platen so that each scan covered one-half of the print. I then combined them to make this composite image. It may not be obvious, but the original print was pretty good for me to pull this much detail.
The setting changed quite a bit during the almost twenty years since the first photograph. The interesting fence and mailbox were gone, but I was bathed in some nice warm evening sunlight. This makes me want to go back and see how it is doing now.
Moving up to 2012 I want to share three interpretations of the same image. By this time, I was becoming more competent with my photo editing skills. I was fortunate to have access to work with the local Photoshop Users Group, and with the Redwood Camera Club. Both venues provided me with the tools to unlock the potential within my photographs. There were (still are) many challenges with learning and practicing the seemingless unlimited potential these tools provided.
I practiced what I learned in the actual taking of the photographs, and with the tools available for editing and interpreting imagery. The first photograph is the “digital negative” from which the following three interpretations are made. I did clone out some of the reeds in the foreground, and the backside of a sign (in the tree on the right).
Strongly toned black and white.
Heavy on the yellow, but does it work? Can it stand alone, and does it set a mood?
Here I was working toward an old time “hand-tinted” look. How does this affect the emotion of the image?
I ask myself “which image is the best”, or is it possible that all three have their own special appeal?
I initiated a self-directed project to document the business districts of both Arcata and Eureka. I often photographed in the early morning pre dawn light. I started this in 2010, and have worked on it through to the present time. I stayed busy with this through the first five or so years. Nowadays, I only work on the project a few times a year. The city scapes are slowly evolving, and so it seems that I could work on this until I no longer can get out there.
The Sony R1 had some great innovations. The articulating LCD could be positioned to allow it to become a waist-level camera. It also made it easy to take low-level compositions. I like this feature so much because I used twin-lens cameras in my film days. I always liked the waist-level view for certain subjects. It was handy for street photography and candids.
As much as I liked the R1, I felt that I was moving beyond its capabilities. The fixed lens was great giving a 24-120mm equivalent focal length. That range was enough to handle at least 80% of my needs. If I needed a wider view I was out of luck as the lens could not be changed. There were numerous other issues, and I thought that Sony should update the camera to something with image stabilization, a higher pixel count, and a much faster buffer.
In the summer of 2010, I convinced myself that I “needed” a tilt/shift lens, and the camera to attach it to (a Canon 5dmII) if I were to continue with architectural photography. In my film days, I used a four by five view camera. That camera had all sorts of movement possibilities for distortion and perspective control. These were, and may still be, the ultimate tool for “correct” perspectives of this type of subject. The tilt/shift lens mounted on a SLR provides for some of these controls. Of course, nowadays, software can correct a lot of those issues, but at a cost of image quality. The TS lens on a modern high pixel camera can make some highly detailed and accurate photographs.
I returned to Santa Fe in the spring of 2010 for a several week long stay that I called my Santa Fe meditation. I spent most of that time by myself and with my camera (still the Sony R1). Therefor I had ample opportunity to explore and photograph. One of the things that I liked about the R1 was that I only had to tote around the camera with it’s incorporated lens, a couple of spare batteries and memory cards, a cable release and a tripod – simple light and compact. That camera was a for a fixed-lens camera, about perfect for my style of photography (more on that at a later time).
Here we go again – another black and white vs color example. I think the color version works best for my taste.
From my recent postings, I sense the development of a theme that is based on my evolution as a so called fine art photographer. That evolution includes a certain amount of technical learning: both of trying to become familiar with using more advanced digital cameras, and in developing post production competency. Some of these entries will be more oriented toward sharing that advancement of skills and knowledge while discussing the aesthetic choices that I made for select images.
The photographs below are variations of another one of my all time favorites NORTH JETTY NUMBER 47.
This variation is from April 2018. It is perhaps the most worked copy of this photograph. The railroad ties on the left center compete with the primary subjects (changed in the copy below).
I just now worked this copy (January 12, 2021). I have yet to study the differences enough to select my prefered variation. I see several differences. In this image the foreground jade colored rock competes more with the small cascade of water in the center. It may just be enough to steal one’s eye away from the small waterfall. The details of the concrete wall are clearer as well.
April 3, 2010. Sony R1 at 24mm equivalent.
I think that it is time to show the original image direct from the camera (above). At this point, I feel that the subject and composition were the most redeeming values of the shot. There is some tension between the water and the wall as the relentless oceanic swells and tides continue their onslaught of the jetty. My early renderings were on the warm side, as I was still prone to wear rose-colored sunglasses in our cool coastal environment. Over time, my vision for this image morphed into the cooler realm of color balance.
The Grand Deluxe Express at Lamy, New Mexico, 2007
The very first time that I went to the Amtrak Station in Lamy (Santa Fe), NM was May 28, 2007. This was on the same trip to the southwest that I wrote about yesterday. This was mine and Lisa’s first time visiting my brother Daniel and his wife, Kay at their new home near Lamy. Dan brought Lisa and me down to see the station at sunset. Little did we know that this train would be sitting there basking in the approaching sunset. Talk about timing – this train was not a regularly seen visitor.
Unlike the photo of Pecos that I posted in my last blog post (yesterday), this combination of color, mood, lighting, and composition dictated to me that it works most effectively in color.
I feel like I was on a roll, getting two of my favorite photos on two adjacent days. I will admit to working the daylights into this image mostly with Lightroom. I used the Sony R1. The prints that I made from it look very good for a ten megapixel image.
In 2007 I had the opportunity to photograph at the Pecos National Historic Park. This was about the time that I started to take digital photography seriously. I no longer had a darkroom, and had sold off most of my photography gear. I felt ready to step into the steep learning curve of fine art digital photography. I was going to learn of lot of technical skills in order to produce gallery grade photographs. I had a wonderful to use new digital camera, and here at Pecos, I had the subject matter to work with.
This rendering in color just did not satisfy my previsualized notion of how to present it.
For me this had to be done in black and white.
This rendering was a step in the right direction, but not quite there.
This variation of the ruins was to me a stronger composition. This has become one of my all time favorite images. At this point in my photography, I felt that I had finally reached the point with digital photography that to me equaled and surpassed what I could do with film. I used a Sony R1 camera, and processed the image in Lightroom and Photoshop.
This was my starting point on working this photograph.
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