Photography 6 – Bannack – Best Of

The following are some of the other best shots I took at Bannack State Park. They’re in no particular order, or presented with any rhyme or reason.

Andy Bell - Creepy Doll - Bannack State Park

“I Didn’t Know I Was In a Horror Movie”; February 10, 2012, 2:30pm; f/5.6; 1/100; Canon T3i; Cropped to 8×10 proportions to zoom in on subject, and a little sharpening was applied

Fun fact: this doll was purchased at a thrift store. There’s no question in my mind why this thing was donated. It fits in perfectly with the vibe of a ghost town.

Andy Bell - Bannack - We Done Been Robbed! - Black and White HDR

“We Done Been Robbed!”; February 10, 2012, 2:41pm; f/3.5; 1/30; Canon T3i; HDR with automatic bracketing, processed by Photomatix Pro (trial)

I was a little surprised to see what looked like a small vault of some kind in the hotel at Bannack State Park. It was hard to get a single good picture of it, so I decided to try an HDR. I decided to give this photo a cinematic look. I cropped it to a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, which is one of the most common theatrical aspect ratios. I used the black and white preset in Photomatix to process the HDR, and added noise and burned edges in Photoshop to make it look a little older. The way I picture this scene in my head is that the camera slowly pulls back, fully revealing the empty vault, much to the anger of the vault’s owners.

Andy Bell - The Gallows - Bannack

“The Gallows”; February 10, 2012, 3:33pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/14; 1/500; Canon T3i

There’s a story behind this photo. From what the park ranger told us, this photo was taken from Bannack’s original jail. But in the distance, in almost the center of the photo, is what used to be the gallows. It must have been quite intimidating to stare out of the jails single window into the distance and see where you could be ending up in a few days. It can be kind of hard to see the gallows in this small size though, so you can view an (almost) full-size image. WARNING: it’s about 7MB. (I say almost, because my WordPress installation won’t allow uploads that large.)

Andy Bell - Wagon Wheel - Bannack

“Wagon Wheel”; February 10, 2012, 11:34am; Bannack State Park, MT; f/3.5; 1/40; Canon T3i; Sepia-ed in Photoshop

This one is completely unedited except for the application of sepia tone.

Andy Bell - Wagon Teeth - Bannack

“Teeth”; February 10, 2012, 10:40am; Bannack State Park, MT; f/5.6; 1/60; Canon T3i

I don’t really know for sure what this is, other than a part of an old wagon, but it looks like teeth of some kind. I really don’t know though. The only editing I did was a small levels adjustment.

Editing 6 – Bannack – HDR

The following photos were created using the trial version of Photomatix Pro.

Andy Bell - Reflection - HDR Portrait - Bannack

“Reflections”; February 10, 2012, 2:52pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/8.0; 1/160; Canon T3i + Photomatix Pro + Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 (3 Shot HDR)

Holy cow, was I lucky to get this shot. I set up my camera to do automatic bracketing at 0, +2, and -2; and then set continuous shooting. When the moment was right, I held down the camera’s shutter until I heard it click three times. The lighting was all natural, so I didn’t have to worry about a flash or anything like that. The image needed few adjustments in Photomatix, but I did have to remove a little ghosting along the left-hand side of his face. Finally, I applied a little sharpening to his eyes in Photoshop. I’m pretty proud of this shot, even though it’s mostly pure luck that kept him still enough for me to get this.

And yes, this is the portrait HDR that Sister Esplin was talking about, except I cleaned it up a little more.

Andy Bell - The Schoolhouse - Single-Shot HDR - Bannack State Park

“Bannack Shoolhouse”; February 10, 2012, 4:07pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/10.0; 1/250; Canon T3i + Photomatix Pro; Bracketed at -2

This is an HDR created from a single shot in Photomatix. I just let it do its thing and applied the painterly preset. And that was it!

Editing 6 – Bannack – Macro Abstract

The Volute - Original   Red Wall

“The Volute”; February 10, 2012, 2:27pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/4.5; 1/60; Canon T3i

“Red Wall”; February 10, 2012, 11:23am; Bannack State Park, MT; f/5.6; 1/50; Canon T3i

The Volute

I like the way this texture makes the knob part of the volute look like it either has a lot of dust on it or possibly even a ridiculous number of scratches and other blemishes. To add the texture image, I used the move tool to move only the red channel of the texture image into the volute image, and then I masked it out everywhere but the knob. And yes, I did have to look up on Wikipedia to see what the different parts of stairs were called.

Photos 6 – Bannack – Reverse Shallow Depth

To help hone our photography skills and learn to control depth of field and focus points, we were asked to practice shallow depth and reverse shallow depth.

Near & Far - Near -- Shallow Depth with Focus Near -- Bannack   Near & Far - Far -- Shallow Depth of Field -- Bannack

“Near & Far – Near”; February 10, 2012, 12:49pm; f/5.6; 1/160; Canon T3i

“Near & Far – Far”; February 10, 2012, 12:49pm; f/5.6; 1/250; Canon T3i

Until we get those nice light field cameras that are coming in the future, we have to deal with controlling where we want our focus, so for these photos we were asked to use a shallow depth of field to focus on something close, and then the same subject with something in the background in focus. On the left, the wagon in the foreground is in focus. On the right, the old car in the background is in focus. Because I shot handheld, and had to change the settings, the composition of the photos isn’t exactly the same. Also, the “Near” photo had worse coloring than the other one, so I matched the color in Photoshop and then painted in the blue color of the sky again, because it turned brown in the color matching.

Photos 6 – Bannack – Action Blur & Freeze

The magic of shutter speed is on display with these photos: capturing “ghosts” and bandits!

Andy Bell - A Ghost at Bannack   Andy Bell - Bannack Bandits

“A Ghost at Bannack”;February 10, 2012, 12:29pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/29.0; 3.2″ shutter; Canon T3i

“Bannack Bandits”; February 10, 2012, 12:09pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/10.0; 1/250; Canon T3i

To create “A Ghost at Bannack,” I simply made the shutter very long and then had the model leave the shot about halfway through the exposure. I used Shutter Priority mode to take the shot. Yes, it’s a fake ghost shot, but it’s an easy to do one technique. In post, I adjusted the image in Adobe Camera Raw and added burned edges.

One of the stories we had in mind when shooting “Bannack Bandits” was that there were some bandits escaping from the back of a truck. I used a very high shutter speed in shutter priority mode and continuous shooting to capture them while they were still in mid-air. I adjusted levels both in Photoshop and in Adobe Camera Raw.

Andy Bell - Glimpses of a Ghost - Bannack State Park

“Glimpses of a Ghost”; February 10, 2012, 12:28pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/29.0; 3.2″ shutter; Canon T3i

Of course, most ghost shots out in the wild are not of well-defined figures. The model exited the shot too soon in this one, but when I looked back at the photos I saw that it made for a lot of whispiness and a few points that look like parts of a ghost’s body. I applied the same adjustments to this one that I did to “A Ghost at Bannack.”

Photos 6 – Bannack – Portraits

Andy Bell - Don't Mess With a Frontier Woman - Bannack State Park - Portrait

“Don’t Mess With a Frontier Woman”; February 10, 2012, 2:58pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/5.6; 1/60; 53mm focal length; Canon T3i; Cropped to 8×10 format to improve composition and make suitable for printing

The lighting setup for this portrait was continuous. There weren’t a lot of edits done. I liked the rather dark colors, so I actually darkened the blacks a little more. Then I cropped the image to improve the composition and make the subject larger. I also applied burned edges and sharpening in Photoshop. I liked this picture because she looks focused and intense. And holding a gun, it seems like she’s the kind of woman you shouldn’t mess with.

Andy Bell - Portrait - Bannack State Park - Prepare to Die


“Prepare to Die”; February 10, 2012, 3:55pm; Bannack State Park, MT; f/5.0; 1/100; 40mm focal length; Canon T3i

Looks like Bannack is about to get another ghost! I almost didn’t consider this portrait usable, but I liked the intensity of it and the story it told so much that I decided to give it a go. And, all things considered it turned out pretty well. I used adjustment brushes in Adobe Camera Raw to increase the exposure on the subject, and then I used a second adjustment brush to lighten up the gun even more because it wasn’t standing out from the window frame much. I also added burned edges because I like how that effect looks on portraits. Even though it makes it hard to see details, I love the extremely dramatic lighting of the stark white window and the very dark person. The amount of light on the subject probably matches his dark mobster soul.