Phoenix Trotting Park – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

Today’s photo shoot is something I have wanted to do for the last 15-20 years, but haven’t had the opportunity until recently. I am really pleased with the results and the way I decided to present the shots. Let me back up and give you some background:

The subject matter is a horse-racing track called Phoenix Trotting Park that was built in 1964. It was open to the public in 1965 and lasted all of about two seasons. It has been sitting there ever since. The interest in the structure is the location and the look. Italian Architects who created a very futuristic look designed it. It was also built to stand the test of time. It sits alongside what is now Interstate 10 (or as we here in this part of the world call it “The 10”) and is easily identifiable to all those who travel “The 10” between Phoenix and Southern California.

Trotting Park Phoenix located in Goodyear, Arizona

Phoenix Trotting Park located in Goodyear, Arizona as it looks today

We started making the drive over here from San Diego on a semi annual basis when my wife’s Dad and his wife retired to the Phoenix area. From our perspective driving into Phoenix, this building sat out in the middle of nowhere in the desert all by itself. I can’t tell you how weird it is to be driving in the desert for hours and then all of a sudden this building appears. When it was built, there wasn’t any freeway nearby….access from Phoenix (which was 20 miles further east) was by dirt road.

The city has now grown out towards the building and around it. Over the last 10-15 years, we watched more and more homes, stores and office buildings being built and then suddenly the freeway became much wider. In the last few years another major freeway interchange was built right by the horse-track. Yet, through all of this, the structure still sits on a large parcel of desert land all by itself. In person you see the city all around it, but in the photographs it looks like it has for all those years…in the middle of nowhere.

As you can image, it is fenced off and no trespassing signs are everywhere. What has changed, though, is a lot of the roadwork around it because of the new freeway interchange is now open allowing a little closer access on side streets. Since, I’m not one to pull over on a major freeway with 4 lanes of traffic going by at 80 mph (yes, there are a lot of Southern California transplants here and we never have gotten our heads around speed limits).

So all of that said….I got some good shots and have been playing with them to create the look I have always envisioned in my head to compliment the look and feel of a futuristic “60’s building. To me, that was going black and white. But I wanted to take it a little further using different techniques I have used in the past on some projects I have done for clients. The final look creates an edgy/grainy look to the shot making it look old and retro.

Trotting Park Stands

Trotting Park Stands

I do this through a series of adjustments to the original capture. With the original picture, I convert it to black and white, and since I shoot in RAW format, I up the contrast, blacks and clarity creating that edgy look. This part is a lot of trial and error getting a balance to the contrast and details that I like. I then add some lighting filters and texture in Photoshop to create the grainy look. In my opinion the end result has a retro “film” look.

Trotting Park in the Desert

Trotting Park in the Desert

Trotting Park Entrance

Trotting Park Entrance


Here are a couple of links to information about the building:

PhoenixTrotting Park 

History of Trotting Park

A visual tour of Trotting Park by Photographer Mr. DeSota (he did a shoot last September inside and outside of the building)


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19 thoughts on “Phoenix Trotting Park – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

  1. authormandycarroll

    I like the curves of this building…kind of makes you swoon..
    I like the black and white…it reminds me of the deserted drive in theaters with the playgrounds of all metal…the toys we now are told could have killed us….and snack bars….with the shakes and milk duds…love this.

  2. teagan geneviene

    This is a very intriguing, atmospheric shoot, Kirt. Makes me wish more than ever (if that’s possible) that I could get myself “out west”… anywhere from NM to CA. Oh heck, throw in the entire west coast, CO, NV, UT… LOL 😀
    I really did think the photos were well done. They captured the right vibe. Hugs.

  3. Linda Arthur Tejera

    These are great! The architecture is definitely very futuristic looking. I love what you’ve done with the b&w. It’s interesting, because when I lived in Mesa about 20 or so years ago, I made the trip to San Diego a couple of times. I just don’t ever remember seeing this. Now that I have picked up a very amateur hobby of photography, I’m sad I missed it! 🙄

    1. Kirt D Tisdale Post author

      Thanks for the feedback! it use to just really make us wonder what the heck it was….little did I realize that all these years later we would end up living south of it up behind the Estrellas. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Jet Eliot

    It’s always odd to watch these bits of history unfold and alter as time unwinds, great story. I love your photos here, Kirt — I find the life of the palms giving the photos a very surreal essence.

  5. constancecarlsen1

    Beautiful shots. I personally love the black and whites. How I visioned the building in my head ,when you said it was built in 1964 was exactly how you made it in black and white. I love it! You are so lucky to be able to travel and capture so much. Someday , hopefully , I will be able to do the same. Thanks for the history!

    1. Kirt D Tisdale Post author

      Thank you very much Constance. I have been fortunate to be able to travel around and take advantage of what I see. That said, I have always been a firm believer that there is “stuff” around all of us if we look for it. This particular shoot is an example of just that. Since I now live in the desert, I keep thinking how many times can you shoot a cactus? This building is now just 15 minutes away from where we live, yet all those years of driving by it, I never stopped to shoot it. You’re gifted….keep after it!! Thanks again!!

  6. Pingback: Griffith Park Observatory in Black and White | thewallgalleryblog

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