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Old Oct 7, 2011, 12:40 PM   #1
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Default Vibrant Little Town called Mountaindale

A photographer I met introduced me to a friend, who then invited me to visit her hometown called Mountaindale, a hamlet in the town of Fallsburg, NY. She did this after seeing what I do, which is basically run around in my county and beyond on weekends looking for things to shoot. So one Sunday afternoon my wife and I went.

Apparently, she and her townspeople had recently done massive renovation on -- get this -- the whole town! With the combined efforts of community members from young and old alike, the whole town was transformed.

Decrepit-looking, boarded up buildings on Main Street were restored to their former frontier glory days complete with ranch-style porches. A circular maze was painted on an open pavement called the “Meditation Labyrinth”. Nearby is a concrete highway beam that didn’t pass inspection now serving as a footbridge atop a creek called the Sandburg Creek Riverwalk. A satellite dish is turned into a bird bath. Steel sculptures and murals by local artists adorn parks and building walls. A train museum sits atop where the old O&W tracks used to be, beside where the old Mountaindale Train Depot used to stand in the center of town. A small-scale replica of a vintage train engine sat nearby. Park benches are placed all over town and not a corner or alleyway is spared from the restoration.

Being a Sunday when we went there the place was quiet. There was occasional traffic -- one car slowed down and its passenger waved at my camera -- but most of the time we could hear our own voices echo on building walls as we crossed the streets here and there while our friend gave us the tour.

But we did meet a few of the townspeople -- Janet, a yoga instructor who upon seeing us quickly engaged us in conversation, Sherwood who if I remember right did many of the masonry and carpentry during renovation, and our friend’s husband who had vintage camera equipment in his shop window. All in my view seemed forward and swelling with pride in a warm, open, and welcoming way of their town.

In short, a town that at one time seemed destined to become a ghost town as, sadly, some in the region do, is now instead becoming vibrant, quaint, and scenic with lots to do.

Visiting Mountaindale made me think about community. Some individuals spend their entire lives trying to accomplish something big on their own in order to perhaps at their final breath claim that they lived a life worth living. Write a book, build a skyscraper, or maybe spearhead a movement.

All well and good. But maybe there’s a less burdensome way.

Becoming an avid member of the community and keeping in spirit by helping and contributing here and there for the community as a whole to accomplish a great many things might do the job just as well in making life fun, meaningful, and well worth living.

#1) A row of restored buildings on Main Street.


#2) Sandburg Creek Riverwalk. The bridge is of a concrete highway beam that didn't pass safety inspection.


#3) Sandburg Creek. Sandburg was the hamlet's name before it was changed to Mountaindale in 1880.


#4) Meditation Labyrinth. The idea is, as you traverse the maze starting from the circle's outer rim, by the time you reach the center, your mind would have cleared.


#5) Inside the Yoga studio.


Thank you for looking. C&C welcome.
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Old Oct 7, 2011, 2:05 PM   #2
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Thanks for the delightful tour of the "new" Mountaindale, and for the background narrative. A great example of the results when people can share a common vision.
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Old Oct 7, 2011, 6:40 PM   #3
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I like the colorful bridge!
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Old Oct 8, 2011, 8:18 PM   #4
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Nice story and well captured vv.
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Old Oct 10, 2011, 7:39 AM   #5
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Thank you, Walter, kev83202, banksy.

#6) Murals by a local artist on former one-room-schoolhouse.


#7) Satellite-dish-turned-birdbath beside park bench.


#8) Sandburg Creek Riverwalk bridge may not be labeled a "bridge". They had to affix "temporary" in front of it and call it a "temporary bridge" because it is simply rests on blocks of stone on either end.
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Old Oct 10, 2011, 10:08 AM   #6
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they are nice, think the first bridge one is my fav, however im not a fan of the "in your face" HDR. It looks, to my eye un-natural and has a tendancy to make me feel a little cross eyed.

Id tone down on the HDR, see if you can do it more subtly to give these photos depth witout making them look un-natural.
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Old Oct 10, 2011, 11:06 AM   #7
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Great shots and story. You always have the best sky's with clouds appearing 3D.

I always look forward to seeing your photography post.
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Old Oct 10, 2011, 11:21 AM   #8
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Thank you, schmintan, lomitamike.

schmintan, it's not HDR that did what I think you call "in your face" -- I did it in Topaz Adjust. DPHDR produced an image with more-or-less even lighting which is really great because then it gives me the flexibility of going subtle or overboard with my post-processing (if I wanted to). I also "tone down" Topaz processing in some of my edits, just not in this series.

#9) One of several iron sculptures by a local artist.
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Old Oct 10, 2011, 9:30 PM   #9
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Is there a preset you start with in Topaz adjust?
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Old Oct 11, 2011, 9:39 AM   #10
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The book, "Rick Sammon's HDR Photography Secrets", has a chapter on Topaz. The author's favorite preset is "Spicify". I use that, too. I'd say my top 2 favorite presets are "Detail Strong" (if I want to go subtle; does not cause halos) and "Spicify" (if I want to go extreme; causes halos). But I modify the presets to use instead an even milder version of the "Mild-Detail" preset's Details sliders.

So basically, I'd pick, say, the Spicify preset then adjust the following sliders:

Details:
Strength = 1.31 (original = 1.52)
Boost = 1.00 (original = 1.14)
Threshold = 0.11
Radius = 19.26
Sharpen = 3.04 (original = 1.00)

These slider values, however, I think are dependent on the resolution of the image. I process 4056x3052 images.

Sometimes, when I'm in need of a creative boost, I browse photography books for something new to try. Rick Sammon's book inspired me to use the Spicify preset on many of the pictures in this series.

The book is great in giving out editing info. Whether I do a good job or not, however, is a different matter.

#10) Small scale replica of a train engine.


#11) View of a footbridge and Sandburg Creek Riverwalk bridge from an old dam.
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