Masonic Lodge/School House, Bannack State Park, Montana Photography

Masonic Lodge/School House, Bannack State Park, Montana Photography (click to enlarge)

While in Montana, we met up with several old friends.  One, Dave Sorensen, is a water color artist of some renown (see Dave’s work here).  Sitting around in the evenings, we discussed his watercolors and my photography.  In his travels, Dave carries a small point and shoot camera.  When he sees a scene that he thinks has potential, he shoots a quick picture.  Later, he might use that picture as the inspiration for a watercolor.  The finished watercolor is his “interpretation” of that scene and might not be an exact rendering.

This got me to thinking about my photography.  Dave starts with a completely blank canvas and builds to his finished artwork.  In my case (and probably the case for every serious photographer) the images I capture are really just a starting canvas.  I use these as a base layer to start building my interpretation of the scene as I envisioned it.

The image above is an example of this.  The original image had no clouds in the frame.  None, zero, nada, just a very plain, washed out, blue sky.  The original was also very contrasty.  The sun was coming from the left, with the left side wall of the building almost blown out.  The top of the front face of the building was also in deep shadow under the eaves.  All in all, it was not a very inspired image when I took it.

Knowing I had a contrast problem, I took several images while varying the exposure time.  This allowed me to build an HDR image and somewhat even out the exposure across the image.  Since Bannack State Park is a ghost town, it seemed logical to convert the image to black and white.

Finally, I needed to “re-interpret” that dull sky.  During our trip I had taken several images of the sky when there were clouds.  I took these images during the morning, middle of the day, and towards evening.  This gave me a set of stock cloud images from which choose.  I selected an interesting image, lined up the clouds where I wanted them, used a layer mask, and presto, interesting sky.

Bannack State Park Masonic Lodge/School House:

N45°9’42”  W 112°59’51”

school-overhead

Fence Post Photograph, Bannack State Park, MT

On September 10, 2016, in Montana, by admin
Cemetery Fence Post, Bannack State Park, MT

Cemetery Fence Post, Bannack State Park, MT (click to enlarge)

The above image is the corner post of a tombstone enclosure located in the Bannack State Park cemetery.  The wood in these enclosures, many in a state of disrepair, show great texture from their time spent in the harsh weather conditions.  It appears that the tombstone itself has been removed from most of the enclosures.

I processed the image using Google’s Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2.  If you use Photoshop, get the Nik Software collection.  Besides being free, these plug-ins can add great effects to your image while simplifying your workflow.

The approximate location of the above image is marked by the yellow pushpin on the Google Earth screen capture below.  The white elipse on the picture shows the location of a several of these wooden enclosures.  This set of enclosures line up nicely to serve as backgrounds for each other when shooting down the line.

Bannack State Park, Montana, Cemetery Fence Post Location

Bannack State Park, Montana, Cemetery Fence Post Location

Bannack State Park Cemetery N45 10 29, W113 00 55

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Bannack State Park Photography

On September 4, 2016, in Montana, by admin

During a recent trip to Montana we made a side trip to Bannack State Park.  I first read about the park on a bicycle blog.  The riders included a few pictures of the park buildings and I immediately added it to our itinerary (along with Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, but more on those later).

The Google Earth screen capture below shows two areas that provide numerous photography opportunities.  There is a cemetery in the upper left of the picture and the main town in the lower right.  There is camping allowed just outside the town, so there could be some great night photography for those so inclined.  Dillon, the nearest town of substance, has several hotels and places to eat.

Bank State Park Photography Locations

Bank State Park Photography Locations (click to enlarge)

As shown in this image, the cemetery is pretty overgrown.  There are many paths among the bushes to allow one to walk around easily.  There is a sign at the entrance to the cemetery warning about rattlesnakes in the state park.   My wife immediately returned to the car, but there were images to be had so I walked very carefully as I wandered around the cemetery.

Bannack State Park Cemetery Overhead Photography

Bannack State Park Cemetery Overhead

Here is a panorama looking from the northeast corner of the cemetery to the southwest.  The white blocks are obviously tombstones.  Of more interest are the dilapidated wooden fences around many of the plots.  These provide some interesting black and white images.

Panorama of Bannack State Park Cemetery

Panorama of Bannack State Park Cemetery (click to enlarge)

Here is an overhead Google Earth screen capture of the town itself.  Vehicle parking is in the lot at the left edge of the picture.  Camping is also just outside the left edge of the picture.

Overhead view of Bannack State Park

Overhead view of Bannack State Park (click to enlarge)

Finally, here is a panorama of the taken from a hilltop to the north of town.  The parking lot is outside the right edge of the image.

Bannack Town Panorama

Bannack Town Panorama (click to enlarge)

That is a quick overview of the areas to photograph within Montana’s Bannock State Part.  Future posts will present some of the images I created within the park.  If you ever find yourself in the area, set aside two to three hours for your own photography.

Cemetery Parking:  N45 09 44.34 W113 00 57.27

Town Parking: N45 09 44.34 W112 59 57.86

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