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Photographing Americana: Signs and Structures of our Past: Chapter 3

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The Anna Plaza Motel sign in Anna, Illinois is very much a “blast from the past”.  The actual age of the sign is unknown but based on the style and shape it is likely late 1940’s or early 1950’s.

Take note of the conveniences listed: Modern Electrically Heated (I assume that means the rooms) and TV.  Then as the times changed a sign was added at the bottom to include Cable TV with remote, water beds, and direct dial phones.

Think about what we consider modern conveniences today. Free wifi probably tops the list for most people. I remember traveling with my parents, we looked for places that had a pool; a heated pool was a bonus. We stayed in Ithaca, New York one summer and it was unseasonably cold. The motel said they had a heated outdoor pool, but after an evening swim I was as blue from the cold water as the guy in Big Fat Liar after his swim in the blue dye!

Think about having “direct dial phones” when the majority of the nation has cell phones. How times change. I found an article written in 2005 by someone who also photographed this sign. They said in their article that this sign probably would be gone soon. Here it is 10 years later and it still stands.

As for staying at the Anna Plaza Motel; no thanks! I am sure in the early days it was a very fine establishment. The town of Anna has many old structures and other interesting signs. I look forward to sharing those with you in the future.

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Image Enhancement

Since posting my blog on using On1 10, I have received approval to be an On1 Affiliate. You can click the link at the bottom of my post to learn more about the On 1 software.

On1 10 was released in November. I have been an On1 user since about version 6.  I received a free version of Perfect Effects for attending a Kelby Photoshop Workshop. I thought it was odd they had another company promoting their products at the workshop, but I took the time to watch the demo during our lunch break.

What I found out was On1 can be used as a plug-in or as a stand alone software. I have used it both ways.  I make my adjustments in Lightroom then move my image over to On1 Effects to further process my image.

For me On1 is a very simple way to enhance my images using the filters they have built into the program.  I am able to layer and mask my images to bring out the details I want or to add in textures or other color enhancements to make my images stand out. And as an O1 user, I receive several preset packages throughout the year. Most of the time I create my own images, but I also try the others out.

My favorite adjustments in On1 Effects are the Amazing Detail Finder located under the sharpening tab and clarity under the tone enhancement tab.  I find that these two adjustments bring out details in my images that I may have not noticed.

I use a Nikon D800E DSLR and shoot in RAW. The image above was taken with a Tamron 28 -75mm f/2.8 lens. My settings were ISO 320, f/11, 28mm, 1/160 sec. The light was behind me and it was about 4:00 in the afternoon. While I was happy with my original image I decided to work with it in On1 Effects.  I used the adjustments I mentioned above and then worked on the highlights and shadows. On1 works similar to Photoshop in that you can make adjustments in different layers and if you are not happy with the change you can always go back and change or delete the layer.  I also added a leather texture to the image which created a warm feel. When I photograph a landscape with an older structure, such as this grist mill, I prefer to age the photograph to give it character.

The image on the left is what was captured out of the camera. On the right I used the On1 Effects to pull out the detail in the bricks and to give the image a more surreal look.  The time of day I captured my images made the reds pop. My settings were the same as in the images above. After I adjust in O1, it saves it back into my Lightroom catalog and I can

This is a collection of bottles in a potting shed. I thought this made a nice grouping. I did not move anything, just photographed it “as is”. My settings were ISO 800, f/4.0, 1/125, at 38mm with a Tamron 28 – 300mm.  I like how the coarse detail in the wood was revealed using the Amazing Detail Finder. I also used a subtle HDR look in this image. I like photographs with lots of texture.

Many times On1 offers the On1 Effects module as a trial; that’s how I started. In the full suite they had enhance, portrait, resize, and B&W modules, too. I have used all of these at one time or another. What I like about On1 is it’s ease of use. I have produced several images with On1 that have been in exhibits, competitions, and have won awards.

Thanks for reading!  Photography provides infinite opportunities for learning!


Photographing Americana: Signs and Structures of Our Past Chapter 1

 

When you take the roads less traveled there are gems to be found!

While driving through Carbondale, Illinois this sign caught my attention.  I stopped and took as many photographs as I could.

The sign says closed for the season, but according to research this Dairy Queen on 508 South Illinois Avenue is a busy place!  The building is the original structure that was built in 1951 by Jack Clover. According to a 2014 article in the Southern Illinoisan, the stand has been owned by Mark Waicukauski for over 25 years and was owned by his father before him. In the article, Waicukauski says, “That old sign’s been there since the beginning!”

While traveling across the country, take the time to look around you! The gems you uncover may be diamonds in the rough!