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Old Sep 8, 2009, 10:57 PM   #1
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Default Windows into the Wild West

The next stop (or rather previous since I've been posting in reverse order) is much harder for me to write up than the previous two - we took tons of pictures and trying to decide which ones to post is hard. It was also the main place I had wanted to visit, even though it's not my first trip there. In any case, on to Bodie.

For those who have never heard of it (and I would imagine that would include most), Bodie is a ghost town. Once it was the third largest town in California (over 10,000 population) - a gold rush town known for being pretty wild at times. It is now a California State Historical Park and what's left is maintained in what they call "arrested decay". They have roofs and windows on many of the buildings, but that's the most they do to them. You can go into one or two, but mostly you just look through the windows.

There's been no renovation or restoration, what you see is what people left when they moved on. Bodie is at over 8,000 feet elevation in a remote location so it was expensive to move furniture - the feeling is very authentic. The town was almost destroyed by fire a couple of times.

The reason why I wanted to go this summer is that the state of California is talking about closing many state parks - the state is in such financial straits that they can't afford to continue to run them. In winter Bodie can only be reached by snowmobile or skis/snowshoes so it's not visited much and whenever they talk about which parks to close, Bodie tends to top the list. It would be such a shame to have it closed - it's an incredible, unique view into California's past.

In summer there are state employees who give talks about the history of the town, meeting in front of the methodist episcopal church.

There were far more saloons than there were churches, though. Here's where you could pick up your mail and get a drink, too.

The town was progressive and prosperous (it had electricity), with a downtown area, bank, and general store:

An early slot machine. There's also a roulette table next to a bar, but the picture didn't come out that well - too much dust on the window.

Gas station - the truck was the only restored object there.

The 20 stamp mill:

In summer they offer tours of it. I sure was happy I had a weather sealed camera - the dust was fine and all over. Not surprising since the whole purpose of a stamp mill is to grind rocks up to make it possible to extract gold.

This is just a sampling of what one can see. There's so much more to say and see there. I may post more pictures in other threads, but I've put more than I should in this thread. If anyone wants to see a bit of authentic California history and get a feeling for how innovative and determined people were during the gold rush days, visit Bodie. It's well worth it.
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Old Sep 8, 2009, 11:51 PM   #2
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Nice series. That would be a very interesting place to see, should I ever get out to California some day. It would of course be one of many places. At least I've gotten to experience it through your camera.
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 12:30 AM   #3
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Nice selection, Harriet. Well done.
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 12:37 AM   #4
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Nice series and good shots, did you see any ghosts ?

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Old Sep 9, 2009, 1:39 AM   #5
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Awww...arrested decay.

I love these. And you just took me back to one of my favorite places. Even without my camera. Yep. This summer was a repeat trip to Bodie, and this time I didn't take my camera to spare the family. Good thing I snuck in a P&S for a couple of fun shots. Wish they hadn't restored the truck as it did seem a bit out of place, but what a nice photo.

Since access inside the buildings is very limited, did you take these through the windows? It's almost as though you were inside each room with the absence of window glare.

Last edited by cameanee; Sep 9, 2009 at 1:46 AM.
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 6:55 AM   #6
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Very nice series...again! The lighting on the interior shots look perfect...they all look very natural. It looks like the K7 handles noise very well. It's too bad to hear about the prospect of this park closing...looks like a great piece of history that is worth preserving.
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 9:06 AM   #7
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All the interiors posted, except the stamp mill picture, were taken through windows. You can see the type of glass a bit in the first one that Dan took of me peering in on tip-toe (and all my stuff!). The trick is to get the lens right up to the glass so you don't get any glare (didn't think about a polarizer, was more concerned about a reasonable shutter speed). The picture of the bar and mail slots is a Photomatix HDR based on 5 auto bracketed shots. I took a number of bracketed shots, one of the store that showed the window display, but had so-so success. The store picture I posted was a regular shot.

I agree that the resored truck looks totally out of place - I think I'll go back and process it as a sepia - then maybe it won't look so out of place. I didn't pay any attention to ISO and didn't use noise reduction on any of these shots. In fact, other than the bracketed sets that I ran through Photomatix and some curves/exposure adjustment with a few they've had minimal processing (resize and a little USM after). I've spent far more time trying to limit the number to post here, other than a bit of camera shake on a few where I was stretching my limits for shutter speed, they came out very well.
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 12:17 PM   #8
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Harriet, terrific series. I have heard of Bodie but never been there. Now through your lens I have. It would be a tragic loss if the state closed the park.

They are all wonderful pictures, nicely composed and shot under less than ideal conditions, but one would never know by the resulting images.

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Old Sep 9, 2009, 1:39 PM   #9
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Great series Harriet!
Only been there once and it was so long ago...
I've always maintained that a person could spend their entire life exploring the state of California and never run out of variety! Coastal waters to mountain streams, below sea level desert to towering snow covered peaks, you name it, you can find it in Ca.

Life's a breeze on a Goldwing...
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 8:24 PM   #10
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Great series Harriet. I love photos of ghost towns, one of the few photo books I own is on that subject. Traveling and photographing ghost towns would be a wonderful retirement project. I really like these shots you have here.
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