Tuesday, April 30, 2019


I’ve been doing fine art photography of ghost towns and old cemeteries for over 40 years. One of the best ghost towns I ever photographed was Bodie, in the high country East of Yosemite National Park, off Highway 395. But, that was 40 years ago before it started falling apart; now they’re having to prop-up some structures. It wasn’t until I moved to Idaho that I discovered a rich new (to me!) territory of subjects to really enhance my fine art portfolio.

Because of all the mining that took place here in Idaho there are a lot of ghost towns in the mountains—mostly North of Boise. But there is Silver City, one of the best ”ghost” towns just South of us, that is well known for it’s many intact buildings, operational hotel, bar and restaurant. It looks like it’s been coming back to life. At just over 63 miles from Meridian it takes about 2 hours to get there; the last few miles are on a narrow, rutty, dirt road. We went there in June with friends in their 4x4, crew-cab pickup and had no problem. In the winter though the road is impassable except by snowmobile. 

I think Silver City is better than Bodie in many ways. There’s a lot of variety in its buildings and they are still standing without supports. There is a really nice cemetery and the topography is far better; the town is nestled in some hills so there are elevation differences that make for more interesting compositions while Bodie is built on a flat empty plain.

Here’s an example of Silver City topography…

 f11.0 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 40mm
This image was a natural for a B&W conversion because I knew that the dark tones of that outhouse would contrast nicely against the old white church in the background. In addition I wanted to get rid of all the greenery in the scene that distracted form my main two subjects.

This B&W conversion was done using Adobe Camera Raw.

A detail image of a front porch….
f5.6 @ 1/800 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 40mm
Going for the textures in this image: I was drawn to this scene because of the slivers of sun light slicing through the uncovered boards of the porch overhang.

TECH NOTE: Processing for texture; I used NIK’s HDR Efex Pro single image Tone Mapping here; using the Dramatic preset.

A Low-Light Interior Detail…

f4.5 @ 1/25 sec., ISO 3200; Lens @ 32mm
This is the old telegraph office inside the hotel. Set-up in 1874 it was the first telegraph in the Idaho Territory.

TECH NOTE: This had to be B&W so I converted it in NIK’s Silver Efex Pro using the fine Art Preset. Then I selected one of NIK’s Film Emulations (the Agfa100) for the monochrome look I liked best.

Then out at the Silver City Cemetery….

f5.6 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 40mm
They have some of the best wrought iron work I’ve ever seen at a cemetery. I enhanced the color and texture of the rust in Adobe Camera Raw for this image.

Next week in Part #2 I’ll show some before and afters of images I dramatically altered for artistic effect.

’Til next week…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

No comments:

Post a Comment