This post features more backroad vignettes and landscapes from recent visits to Ashe County, North Carolina. First up is an old outhouse behind the Phipps General Store near Lansing. As the sign and door cuts suggest, this appears to have been a unisex outhouse. Folklorist would say the moon cut indicated “for females” and the star cut meant “for males”. While the horseshoe generally was used for good luck, I’m not sure of it’s use in this context.
The remaining captures are from various corners of the county obtained by just driving around exploring the county backroads. Sometimes those backroads change from asphalt to hard packed gravel, and back.
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With its high-country artsy shops, dining, and vacation attractions, Boone, NC is the well know seat of Watauga County. It’s also the home of Appalachian State University. During my 2021 fall foliage expedition, I was committed to exploring the lesser-known county back roads.
My first stop was this lovely red barn as I started my drive along Meat Camp Rd up to Elks Knob State Park. From the Elk Knob a parking lot, a 2 mile hike to the 5520 ft. summit offered gorgeous views of the surrounding landscapes. Grandfather Mountain is in the center left on the horizon line.
Later I explored Howard’s Creek Rd, over to Hwy 421, and then on to the far western parts of the county near the board with Tennessee. While exploring, you drive along in anticipation of your next photographic find!
For the color images in this post, I used Alien Skin’s Exposure 6 to create a blend of slide film emulations. I started with a base emulation of Kodachrome 25 and then blended an emulation of vintage 70’s era Kodachrome. I’m quite fond of the result which slightly narrows yellow tonality range in favor of a bit more orange. It also restrains overly saturated greens. A great look for fall colors!
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On September 8th I attended the 50th anniversary of the Randolph Community College Photography Department in Asheboro, North Carolina. We enjoyed several great seminars, tours of the recently update facilities, vendors and most of all, reconnecting with classmates from the class of 82!
Afterwards, I took a trip downtown with friends for a round of malt beverages. On the way, I passed this abandoned factory and decided to stop by on my way out of town. Despite lengthy research online, I was only able to determine the facility had once been a chair manufacturing plant.
Part of the abandoned plant had been demolished. Perhaps to make room for new construction, or more likely because what remained was unsafe. I cautiously made my way into another section were the roof was falling in. Though I haven’t done a lot of interior urban exploring or “urbex”, I certainly got a sense of the suspense and fear induced adrenaline rush sometimes described by urbex bloggers.
I ended up working off and on over a week’s period preparing the images for this post. As you can see, different styling approaches were used. In most cases I experimented with different looks, but was pleased with the final technique chosen for each composition.
The black & white images followed my typical monochrome workflow, which includes a Agfa APX 100 b&w film emulation using Alien Skin’s Exposure X3 for a slight contrast boost and addition of realistic old school grain.
For the sepia compositions, I started with some Lightroom dehaze processing on the sky, and then used Aurora HDR software to extend the tonal range and apply sepia toning with orange highlight and shadow toning. Finally Photoshop was used to mask the sky for some additional curves processing to further punch up clouds and sky contrast.
HDR processing was also used to punch up the texture and color contrast in the color photo below. Here, the trick was to not over do it. Now, in several of my architectural shots of Toronto late last year, I heavily pushed the HDR processing, almost to the point of abstraction. For abandoned compositions though, I’ve found a more subtle amount of processing works well to reveal and feature weathered and patina surfaces.
Back to Randolph Community College, when I attended as a Commercial Photography student, it was Randolph Tech. I did start my career as a commercial photographer, shooting mostly home furnishing in the furniture capital of the world – High Point, NC. I eventually drifted into multi-media, IT and project management. Now, I enjoy photography as more of a hobby. But hey, that’s a story for another day.
Thank you for taking time to visit my blog! I would certainly be interested in hearing your feedback on any or all of these compositions. For the best viewing experience, be sure to click on an image to view a high resolution version from my portfolio site.
While recently traveling the back roads of the South Carolina Midlands, I took time to explore the downtown area of Kershaw. You can bet older small towns, off the beaten path, will usually have some interesting old or abandoned structures to photograph. Along E Marion St., I found a string of cool abandoned brick buildings to capture.
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While deliberately seeking out backroads on a return trip from Sumter, South Carolina, I was rewarded by finding this cool, abandoned structure on North Kings Highway (State Highway 261). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any background info, it does appear to have been some type of manufacturing facility.
I shot with both my Nikon 28 – 300mm and my Tamron 15 – 30mm lens. There was an abundance of cool light, shapes, textures and patterns.
For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site.