Tag Archives: sepia tone

Covered Wagons or the Family Car sure has changed

I use the sepia filter in my photography for old vintage subjects to reinforce the historic look.  Today I am featuring two covered wagons I came across in Oregon when I was doing a photoshoot of covered bridges. They were on the grounds of a local museum and of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to shoot them. Presenting them using sepia tone to duplicate the old chemical process in developing film seemed an obvious choice for the subject matter.

As I looked at these covered wagons, I couldn’t help but think how it would have been traveling cross-country in this type of transportation. To traverse across vast distances of landscape with your family and all your belongings for months, to start a new life blows my mind.

As a child, I can remember loading up the family station wagon, (mom, dad and four kids) traveling from the midwest to visit relatives in California. I can recall that we would always drive the desert stretch at night since this was before air conditioning was common in cars (ok…I’m old). We did eventually get a new station wagon during those years that had AC and us kids thought we were in heaven during those later trips.

I applaud our forefathers in the eastern parts of the United States and Canada that headed west in both countries with this mode of transportation. Some settled in the plains and others continued westward through the Rocky Mountains to settle in the far west of both countries.

(on a side note: for those of you that follow my blog…after two weeks as I write this, we just today finished unpacking all boxes from our move… it has been a grueling but wonderful two weeks. We have had the pleasure of “much” time with our granddaughter, our daughter and son-in-law!! After getting everything set up in the house, we now have a garage full of furniture and assorted storage boxes that will find their way into a storage unit. We downsized with the move, but have a number of “heirloom” furniture pieces from my wife’s family and mine that that we will use in our next move to Seattle in about three years. What I haven’t shared is that in May, my wife had knee replacement surgery and then during recovery found out a prior injury months before surgery was actually a bone fracture in same foot as knee surgery. Bottom line…she is now in a “boot”, but has she let that slow her down in unpacking, etc…nope!! Bless happy hour and wine…wine mostly me!!)

Thoughts?

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Climbing The Pyramid When You Could – El Castillo in Chichen Itza

Sepia Mayan Pyramid – El Castillo as it looks without people climbing it

Chichen Itza came up in a discussion recently about how you use to be able to climb the great stairs of the pyramid all the way to the top. I was fortunate enough to have done that very thing when you still could. I’m not sure of the specific year when I did the climb, but it was somewhere in the very early 2000’s. My wife and I were down there with a group of people from work (annual reward trip). We were staying in Cancun and took a chartered tour bus to Chichen Itza. I love history, architecture and ancient ruins, so I was in my element. Of course I was not without my camera and took a ton of shots of the different ruins, El Castillo being foremost in my shoot. I was fascinated from a photography aspect of pictures with people walking up the steps of this famous pyramid.

Fast forward to 2007 and we were back down there with some close friends and our respective families. My girls had heard about climbing this pyramid and couldn’t believe their father who has a fear of heights actually did it. Imagine their disappointment when we found out you could no longer climb the pyramid. Due to an unfortunate death to a falling tourist in late 2005 and to the damage being done by the sheer load of people trudging up and down those steps along with the graffiti left behind by those same people, it was no longer permitted.

“Chichen Itza” El Castillo the day I climbed to the top

Those pictures suddenly started taking on a new element for me as something that will not be seen again. As I worked with them for my gallery I kept getting this circa 1930’s vibe and Indiana Jones feel from them. Sepia popped into my head and after converting them decided to add another element of that old vibe with some texture. What came from that process is these three captures converted to what I think looks like an old Indiana Jones element from that era (of course I realize he wouldn’t be discovering anything new in a place that had tourist climbing pyramid steps, but my vision of this look didn’t care about such details).

“Walking Up The Pyramid”   you can see people coming down using my technique and people walking down like it wasn’t an issue….but you get the visual impact of how steep those stairs actually are.

Now you can’t leave without me telling you about the wonders of that climb. I have a fear of heights such as the edge of the Grand Canyon (edge only), glass elevators that take you up more than 10 stories….I have some tolerance….ledges on mountains to name a few. I knew climbing the stairs wouldn’t be an issue as you are looking at the structure. I didn’t have any issues climbing to the top and was a little cautious about walking around by the edge at the top….ok…I stayed pretty close to the walls of the structure you see up there. The view is incredible and I was fascinated by the placement of the different windows in the top structure. Truly forgetting about how far up I was, it was time to come back down. You have no idea just how really steep and narrow each of those steps are until you go back down. For me it was literally too much to try and walk back down those steps…one trip or miss-step and you will literally fall all the way down (which is unfortunately what happened to the tourist I mentioned above). The best way is to sit down and slide your backside down each step.

I have toured the site multiple times and have learned new things each time. For more information about Chichen Itza – Wikipedia Here.   Chichen Itza is located in the middle of the northern tier of the Yucatan Peninsula between Merida towards the Gulf of Mexico and Cancun on the Caribbean side. Thoughts?

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The Oyster Farm – Featured Art Prints

When we were in the Pacific Northwest last June, on our way over to Henry Island, we stopped at an oyster farm on San Juan Island. I have to say…that was a first. I truly didn’t have any preconceived notions of what an oyster farm would look like or how it worked, so I found the entire experience fascinating. The operation is so incredibly interesting, but not much in the way of a photo shoot opportunity. That said, the old buildings and equipment immediately spoke sepia tone for that rustic and vintage look. I finally settled on the attached four shots and just recently added them to my Sepia Photography Gallery.


The first one is the main facility where the offices and transactions are handled. The red “Oysters” creates a subtle focal point (on a project I worked on for a client earlier this year, they bought a series of sepia tone prints and asked me to create a subtle red element in each one….I liked the look, so added that to three of these).


 

 

The second shot is a storage shed on the property that they were talking about tearing down (they have since decided to keep it and upgrade it).


 

The third capture is netting on the dock with flotation balls. Again, I used the touch of red as an additional element.


 

The fourth print is of a small crane on the dock used to lower and raise the containers of oysters in and out of the water.

Thoughts??


 

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Comfort – Featured Art Print

“Comfort” is an art print I am featuring from my Inspiration Gallery. The art print is done with a quote from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 as an overlay on a photograph I have done using a sepia tone of a rural farm nestled in the backcountry of Oregon.

Comfort

Comfort

The creation of this inspirational print was a request by a client. They have purchased a few of my inspirational prints and recently contacted me with a desire for a print that would inspire them and be a daily reminder concerning a situation in their family. She was looking for a biblical quote that supported the concept of being there for a hurting family member, to help lift them up and at the same time support their own personal grief. The other part of the request was a farm related photograph.

Not one to back from a challenge, I started racking my brains and researching key words in a bible reference section. I know a lot of people can quote verses like they are always on the tip of their tongue…well, not this guy…I can barely quote what I had for dinner the night before. I remember concept and can tell you philosophically what is what, but to be able to say “Yes, that would be in the book of…chapter…verse…” not from me in this lifetime. My brain just isn’t wired that way. So the search was on.

I found a verse that fit the bill. So the next step was the print. I seek to make sure that the biblical quote I am using is a good marriage with the art print I put it on. In this particular case, when I settled on the verse I wanted to share, I went searching for the correct print. This particular print stood out in my head as I had just worked with it recently. The next step was the font style and placement. That always requires a lot of trial and error and ultimately what I think looks like the best fit. I am pleased with the way this print came together.

The setting for this particular art print is a farm in the backcountry of Oregon. I came across it when my wife and I were doing a photo shoot of covered bridges in Oregon. The farm was nestled in a field surround by a forest. It was early morning with light rain on and off. The scene was very peaceful with a wisp of low clouds or fog drifting down the hill. I liked the sepia finish to the scene as it gives it a time tested look and for this print doesn’t distract from the bible verse, but allows it to take center stage. Thoughts?

I have my inspiration prints in two locations. I opened an Etsy shop to utilize a feature they have that I wanted to test before adding it onto my website and that is the ability to download a print, keep it in electronic form for background on computers as an example or print at your own convenience. For smaller prints I thought it was a great idea for international sales as there aren’t any postage costs. Also on Etsy, I am offering these prints in an 8X10 size pre-matted with white matting and backer board ready for an 11X14 frame.

On my main gallery website, I offer the same prints in four different sizes all giclee prints on professional grade gloss photo paper.

Etsy: 8X10 downloadable version of this print.

Etsy: 8X10 pre-matted and mounted for 11X14 frame.

My web site: four sizes to choose from.

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Sepia Photography – Featured Art Prints

My featured Art Print this week is actually four of them from my Sepia Photography Gallery. They are: “ Logging Tools” – “Mine Cart” – “Wagon Wheel Hub” and “Cedar Rapids Barn”. I’m featuring four prints to illustrate some examples of the type of shots I think make good sepia tone photographs.

Dating back to the 1880’s, sepia toning was a chemical change used on black and white photographs to give them a warmer look and to enhance the archival qualities. Today, we associate the look with old historic photographs. With the advent of digital photo manipulation, it is very easy to recreate that look on any photograph. I use it to support a look that I associate with the tone as being old, historic and rustic. The type of subject matter that I convert to a sepia tone fits into that category and is what comprises my Sepia Photography Gallery.

My first example is from the Issaquah, Washington Railroad Depot Museum, which was built in 1889. This particular train station was an important stop between the mountain towns in the Cascades and Seattle. Issaquah became a point of export for timber, thus the example of tools used to handle the transportation of timber. By it’s very nature, this shot depicts elements dating back to the time of sepia, so it seems pretty natural to show it with those tones.

The next photograph is from the same museum, but depicts a different industry that the area was well-known for; mining. This is another obvious use of the sepia tone to create that old rustic look.

The third shot is an old west wagon wheel I found as part of the ambience for shops set up like an old west town in Cave Creek, Arizona. Again, this seems obvious due to the historic factor of the subject matter.

The last shot is an old barn I found by accident in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In an area on the outskirts where large homes with multiple acres of land have taken over, I saw this barn out of the corner of my eye off the main road behind some trees. Doing my usual, I processed what I think I saw in a short flash, found a place to turn around and drove back to where I had spotted it. It was a short hike through the trees, but I got some great shots. The barn isn’t as old as the use of sepia tones, but due to the condition of the building, I liked the look that this tone gave it.

Maybe these shots seemed like obvious subject matter, but not everything that is “obvious” really looks good in a sepia tone. I think the tone enhanced the look of these subjects and made the final print more interesting. Sepia, just like black and white photography has to have elements of contrast and lines to make a photograph “pop”. The other interesting aspect of this type of art print is how it has been used in interior decor. I have been surprised to see a number of these “old rustic” shots used in more contemporary interior design where warm earth tones are important elements to the overall look. So much of the final look depends on the matting and framing. Thoughts?

 

I invite you to come into the gallery to view the addition of new art prints to the collection in Sepia Photography Gallery

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The Mining Cart – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

Using one of my recent photo shoots (Jerome, Arizona to be exact), I wanted to walk through a process to turn some of your photos into “old” prints. Lately, I have seen a lot of interior designs that use this type of look for their art prints. It may not be everyone’s taste, but there is a place for it and I thought I would show a couple of quick easy tips.

To start with, the most important thing to take a look at is the subject matter itself. Does it say old or rustic? For this example, I am attaching a shot I took in Jerome, Arizona a little while ago (If you follow this blog you will remember two earlier posts around a classic car and an abandoned building). The first attachment is the original shot of an old mining cart from the mine, which Jerome was built around. Of course I had to try for an artistic shot of this relic, so it meant all but laying down on the track. I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of tourist do the same thing after watching me. 🙂

Original Mining Cart Shot

Original Mining Cart Shot

So the subject matter qualifies as old and rustic, we can all agree on that.

Mining Cart - Black and White

Mining Cart – Black and White

The first process I took a look at was black and white. Black and white photography doesn’t by itself create an old look since it is used today to create some very modern contemporary art prints. That said, with the right subject matter a simple change to this monochrome look can create the “old” photo appearance you might be looking for.

Mining Cart Sepia Tone

Mining Cart Sepia Tone

The next approach is the sepia tone photography. This alone creates an instant old look as we associate the sepia tone with pictures from the 1800’s in photography’s infancy. It works well with this subject looking like it could have been one of the original shots when the mine was up and running for business.

Mining Cart Sepia Tone with Texture

Mining Cart Sepia Tone with Texture

This last attachment is the same shot with some texture (compliments of Photoshop) added to create a look of a photo on old paper (the texture is very subtle and difficult to see on this size). The point of all of this is to show you how easy with some simple steps, you can turn one of your photos into an art print for your wall assuming this a look you are after. Not to confuse the issue, but one last comment. An original old shot from the era my subject matter comes from, would have slightly different lighting with the center being brighter than the edges. That look can also be incorporated, but I didn’t want to make this a process that got cumbersome and the final result (which I also played with) was very subtle in the changes it made. Thoughts?

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Victorian Hallway – Excerpts From a Photo Shoot

The excerpts from a photo shoot I want to share today are of a hallway in the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. The shot was taken a few years back on an excursion to that beautiful city. We stayed at the hotel and enjoyed the Victorian elegance and tradition it is known for. You might ask me what why I took a shot of a hallway and that would be a legitimate question. It’s the visual depth the architecture of the hallway has. I actually took a number of shots; vertical, horizontal, zoomed in, normal, etc. All of that said, I haven’t done anything with the shots until now. I came across them recently and find them intriguing, so I thought I would use this one in particular to demonstrate an example on how you can take one photograph and create a variety of looks of the same subject.

Original

Original

The first shot is the original. I didn’t use a flash and depended on natural lighting. It isn’t the most technically correct shot, but it does have an interesting element to it (and yes the hallway really is that wide and that long). The natural lighting creates a shot with strong golden hues. The color works with the style as it lends to a warm comfortable feel.

Sepia

Sepia

The second shot is with a sepia tone. The sepia tone element is easy to do and lends itself well to the age of the Victorian hallway. Using this tone plays on the history of the Victorian Era. The sepia format was the look of photography in that era.

Black and White

Black and White

The third shot is in black and white. The black and white aspect doesn’t play to the style of the hallway and the era it depicts, but to the architectural elements of the hallway. The strong lines and contrast work very well when you take a color photo to the world of black and white. Notice how it presents a totally different look to this shot.

Fresco Watercolor

Fresco Watercolor

With the fourth shot, I went a few steps further. As I have stated, I haven’t done anything with these shots, but there is an element to them that appeals to me. Trying to figure out how to pull that out in the best manner to tell a story is the fun part of what I do. A lot of it is trial and error with most of it being archived or deleted. With this last print I used a fresco watercolor technique highlighting the architectural lines and the warm golden tones.

From one photograph, we now have four different looks to the same hallway. Two of the three changes were easy with the fresco watercolor a little more challenging. Thoughts?

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