Do It Now! — Again

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Some time ago I wrote a blog post admonishing my readers not to postpone getting that picture until “later,” because you never know whether the subject you want to photograph will still be there later, and as an example I posted a photo I had taken of a vintage, no longer operative country store in Arkville, Delaware County, NY. That was the “before” image. In the “after” image, the building had been sanitized into a red-vinyl cookie-cutter adjunct to a petrol station by a company that obviously had plans to operate the business in a, well, somewhat more character-challenged incarnation. Clearly my “Do it now!” admonition doesn’t apply in every single instance — for example, Mt. Washington isn’t likely to change much or disappear if you put off shooting it for a few weeks or so. But it does have to be taken seriously when you’re shooting ruins or abandoned buildings, for example.

I just had another example of this happen last week. One year ago I visited Gloucester, Massachusetts for the first time and, in a random walk through the town, came upon the old fish processing factory you see in the above photo. This is the best of three photos I took, all fairly wide-angle shots. The sky was clouding over, the wind was picking up (the latter is nothing unusual for Gloucester), so I packed it in, figuring I could try some close-ups on another visit. (The close-ups would have required a change of lens, and with the wind there was quite a lot of dirt and sand blowing around — enough to make you consider whether it was worth risking a lens change.)

Fast forward one year, and I was in Gloucester once again, two weeks ago. Since this building wasn’t too far from the famous Fishermen’s Memorial, and I was heading that way, I figured it would be a good time to revisit the building and get some different shots.

And when I got there, here, to my dismay, is what I saw:

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The Good Harbor Fillet Co. deconstructed!

Well, I’m glad I got some images of it when I did. Do I regret not having changed the lens for close-ups on my previous visit? Given the weather conditions that day, no. But now that I have the Olympus SH-1, with its 600-mm zoom, that I carry round as a backup. I would have regretted not pulling that out and using it as an alternative.

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A Historic Catskill Railroad

The Delaware & Ulster Railroad, with its main terminus at Arkville, is one of the historic railroads offering scenic trips through the Catskill Mountains. It was a few months after Hurricane Irene ravaged this area–it’s in Delaware County and the next town over from Margaretville, which suffered extensive damage from the storm–that I ventured westward on scenic Route 28 to check things out at Margaretville. On the way, I stopped at Arkville and photographed some of the trains. The image here is one I selected to process and share. Below you see my original, straightforward interpretation.

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A few months ago a chance encounter with the new owner of a vintage car got me thinking about interesting ways to process images of cars and other vehicles, and my abstract of that car has been a success, sales-wise. Then a recent visit — two visits actually; I enjoyed this show so much I’ve returned a second time — to the RiverWinds Gallery in Beacon to see the exhibit “Leaving on Track 9 — The Train Show” by photographer Karl LaLonde and painter Peter Tassone inspired me to take my train photo “to the next level,” as they say.  Karl Lalonde has made some remarkable interpretations of his train images that still respect and reveal the trains as trains and not as starting points for something ultimately unrecognizable.  If you live anywhere near Beacon and can get to this exhibit, I recommend it very highly; it closes on July 7.

My interpretation of my Delaware & Ulster photo was inspired by but is by no means an imitation of Karl LaLonde’s work. First, I should say I did a great deal of experimenting, particularly by tweaking various presets in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust, and wasn’t satisfied with any of them. They all seemed somehow overdone. The solution, in the end, was something quite simple: the HDR Toning adjustment in Photoshop CS5. In “Tone and Detail” I increased the detail — something of a trademark of mine, I like detail and structure — and adjusted the toning curve downward. Then I used an adjustment layer to decrease the Brightness (-10) and increase the Contrast (+30) and voila — the results are below. Tell me what you think. I’m planning to enter it into the Twilight Park Artists annual show in Haines Falls next month. At the moment, it’s for sale on FAA if you’d like to buy a print for the railroad buff in your life.

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Our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour is almost out! Click one of the links to see and/or to place an order; the book will also be available on amazon.com.

Just Do It. Now.

Back in May I wrote a blog post about my “Seen Better Days” series of photographs and the interpretive post-processing of this sort of image. Here is one more extremely important piece of advice for any of you who may be interested in pursuing the Ephemeral, the old, somewhat dilapidated building, with your camera:

If you find yourself passing a building like that on a regular basis and thinking each time, “I really need to plan to take my camera along and just get out and start shooting”–

Just do it. Don’t keep thinking about it. Do it. Sooner rather than later.

In mid-June on a brief weekend trip to the Catskills I discovered that not one but two of my “Seen Better Days” places had been changed–one of them irrevocably and unrecognizably. One was the red wooden building featured in my post in May, in which I showed different ways of processing the photo. In mid-June the door was swinging wide open and there was a huge “For Rent” sign in the window. But the other–the really heartbreaking one–was the Arkville Country Store. Words aren’t needed. Here are the “before” and “after” images.  Which reminds me–that gloriously dilapidated, weed-overgrown house I’ve been eying on Route 17 for months….

Before

After