I’ve been collecting beach rocks, as flat as I can find them, for years. Some already surround small gardens or make stepping places out of mud at the bottom of deck steps. Some are waiting to be placed in just the right spot or pathway in new gardens.
My step dad, Filbur (Phil) Lakey, composed this photo in about 1949, probably with a Brownie camera while on horseback. This is his step dad, Ken Thomas. Ken was the Ranger at Krassel Guard Station near Yellow Pine, Idaho, for about 30 years and Phil often worked trail crew with him, packing into the back country with a string of mules. Common cameras in those days had a view finder on top; the photographer aimed the lens at the subject and looked down on a big square glass to frame the picture. The subject was upside down in the viewfinder. Imagine doing that on a horse on a rugged mountain trail. In those days the film was black and white so I might have the year wrong or this photo might have been retouched to color it. Look at the lower right corner where age is changing the hue and let’s believe this image was made with color film.
Today’s photo assignment for https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/ is Landscape. Instead of shooting a new scene, I came back to this old image to see yet again what I can make of it with tools in Adobe Photoshop CS4. You can see the changes from the first adjustment below, to the one above, and finally adding a watercolor filter to get the effect in the image at top. I scanned the image from the original enlargement which had aged over the years since it was first printed from the negative. Below you see how it looked after adjusting just tone, contrast, and color in CS4. In the image above I adjusted again, this time for shadows and highlights. The most noticeable change is the sky. Clouds now appear and the sky is more interesting.
The foreground is colored but the mountains in the background look like they have been made (or left) black and white. It could be snow because you can see fall hues in the foreground. Snow falls early in the high elevations. Look more closely. An enormous wildfire has swept through the wilderness and left the burned landscape colorless. With a little research I can uncover the date this photo was made.
I aspire to reproduce this image with Prisma colored pencils or acrylic paint. I know I can do more adjustments in CS4 to bring out details in the white horses and correct the hue in the lower right corner. The left side background is darkened by a cloud masking the sun. I think Phil made a pretty good photograph with the equipment he had and being on a horse. He would have been up the trail and no doubt he was also leading a string of mules or horses. I can’t make out the structure behind the last white horse but I believe it’s another horse, a dark one, with a big pack stacked on it. Mule strings could be long and often a mix of mules and horses among the pack animals.
I have a few photo albums of my family’s life at the ranger station over 30 years and those images are in black and white. Today’s post is about photography and adjusting old images but in a future post I will feature the history of the family that lived at the station and the ranger’s job, with vintage photos.