Exploring Greater Canyonlands: Maries Place

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On your way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Southern Utah on the top of the first hill you will pass by a small ghost town with a locked gate and a sign over the entrance that says Maries Place. Most people will hardly notice and just pass by this desolate and nondescript grouping of buildings without ever knowing the colorful story of what happened here. Above: the Inner Portal of the Home of Truth. The story of these buildings can be found in the wikipedia entry “Home of Truth, Utah”20130208_Maries_Place_038Above: The locked gate. Respect private property and photograph the Home of Truth from the road. Hopefully in the future it will be open for visitors to explore.

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Above: Abandoned buildings at the Home of Truth. I would love to someday tour the facility and see the view from that wrap around porch.

20130208_Maries_Place_051Above: The largest building at the Home of Truth photographed in early morning light from North Flats Road. The area around the Home of Truth is great for scenic driving with many striped rock outcroppings and the occasional corral.The better part of an hour south of Moab it is usually passed by as visitors are on the way to the famous newspaper rock petroglyph site.

Small Town Utah: Brigham City

Brigham City, Utah

I took a walk around Downtown Brigham City earlier this year. It was the back of building that caught my eye this time. You get a different story when you walk the back alley. Old cars, a BBQ, TV antenna (who still uses those?), A really old building made of odd shaped rocks and with no windows, lots of wires and a new prefab temple and a carwash.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: Someones Hideout, my favorite shot of the day. Photographed just before the leaves hid it for the summer. More wires.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: More wires and shopping for boxes. A popular dumpster that had 3 visitors while I was photographing here none of whom seemed to notice me.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: The old general Store in Brigham city with 4.9 cent gas on a beautiful day.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: A couple of barns with green sides and beige backs, a bag caught in the tree and a small dog watching me.

Brigham City, UtahLast stop, the Grain Silo. They sure keep this one clean and tidy. At first I was not sure about cropping the top of the silo head house but now I love the way it divides up the space. one more for my Grain Silo Survey project.

Looking at: Malad City Idaho

Grain Elevator, Malad, Idaho

My exploration of the west is not that of a grand vacation or sponsored trek to some exotic location but one of many small trips to locations starting close to home and moving gradually farther away. It starts out with an idea for a photography project or a curiosity about a certain area. Following that I spend some quality time with a paper atlas and then some snooping around on google earth. My visits to Malad City Idaho so far have been for two different projects. The first is my exploration of commercial blocks in small towns the second is a more focused project documenting grain silos in the area as the exist in 2013. Above: Profile view of grain silo’s in Malad, Idaho.

Malad, Idaho grain elevators

Above: Silo structures in Malad City, Idaho. The square silo building in the foreground is a wooden structure clad in tin. If you look closely you can read that at one time it was a part of General Mills. The tin siding takes a beating in the wind and a large section has been recently replaced. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside. A very small skunk crossed the road while I was photographing the scene above. Though not visible in this frame it was fun to watch.

Western mural painted on the side of a bowling alley in Malad, Idaho

In my exploration of small western towns I have taken notice of these really cool western murals. Many are fading badly and I hope someone out there is keeping the tradition alive.

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I love it when I find buildings like these. The Thomas Electric Furniture building looks majestic compared to the Hotpoint building. When I see building like the one on the left I can only wonder what they were like when they were first built. All those windows on the top floor must have let in so much light. Was it storage, a workshop a residence? If I am there on a day they are open I’ll have to ask.

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Department Store in Malad City. This is an interesting grouping of buildings. The building on the left is actually a wedge shape on the intersection. the building that says CO-OP BLOCK actually wraps around it with entrances on two different streets. Though now all connected notice the 3 different window dimensions. Also notice that when the original windows were replaced they used off the shelf solutions instead of keeping the curved top window. Lastly notice the faces at the top and the ornamental metalwork and the photographer (me) reflected in the window by the door.

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Bikers out on a Sunday drive pass through Malad City Idaho. Visible from this angle you can see the other side of the CO-OP BLOCK building and how it wraps around to the other street. The red building is the Oneida Pioneer Museum

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Lots of interesting (and gross) things can be found by walking a towns alleys. In Malad City I was fascinated by this small red building behind what was a ZCMI building. A classic low-road building that I am amazed is still standing.

20130512_Malad_Idaho_038Lastly another silo structure with a few features I am wondering about. The tanks have a coating or insulation that I have not seen on other silos and the head house on the two silos on the right is unlike ones I have seen before. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside on the right.

Low Road Buildings

20130406_Downey_Idaho_8626In my travels I often come across cool little low road buildings that I think would make great artist studios. This one is in Downey and is a combination of a cabin with french doors and a quonset hut. Images from Google Earth show that until recently there were a few others next to it. I learned about low road buildings and how they contribute to society in Stewart Brand’s book How Building Learn. These little buildings are ephemeral and I am compelled to document them while they still exist. 
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Downey, Idaho revisited

Downey, IdahoOn my last trip to Downey I was at the tail end of a 3 day weather system that came across Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. As I was photographing the grain elevators in Downey I got the dramatic light I was hoping for. Over the span of a few minutes the light went from a cool overcast grey to super dramatic. I like both images however at some point I will have to decide which one to keep as the portfolio image.

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I would like to ask followers of Looking at the West which version of the scene they prefer and why.

Cache Valley: Foggy Grey Winter

Photograph of grain silos in dense fog.Above: Grain Silos near Lewiston, Utah on a grey foggy January afternoon in Northern Utah. Depending on the screen you view this on you can see quite a bit. I’m amazed I was able to get sharp focus on the silos. Could be the start of a series of posts on agriculture architecture. There certainly is a lot around the area. Does anyone know the difference (if any) between a silo, grain silo and a grain elevator?

Exploring around Moab: Fisher Towers

On our last trip to Moab we decided to not just take 191 south from Cresent Junction but instead go north of I-70 and do some exploring in the Book Cliffs and Sego Canyon. That part of the adventure ended in the (almost) ghost  town of Thompson Utah and the next part would be the Colorado River Scenic Byway. A pullout near Fisher Towers would be the location of a quick road side dinner and some creative photography. Recently I have become interested in the technique of tilting the camera lens for artistic and technical effects. Most of the examples I have seen are of city or industrial scenes so I thought I would try it out on some southern Utah landscapes. Above: Fisher towers. Below: Mesa near Fisher Towers with tilt blur effect.

Below: Fisher towers with with tilt blur effect on the sky and the top of the red rock.

Below: Road into Moab (128) with tilt blur effect. It takes some practice using the lens in the field and getting the effect where you want it. The look is easily faked in Photoshop, for me though it is way more interesting to think about and apply the technique in camera.

Wheelon Utah at dusk

Northern Utah landscape near the Bear River Narrows at Wheelon. The small road in the image follows an irrigation canal on the east side of the Bear River (out of frame on the right). I’m attracted to the contrast between the natural roll of the gullies and the hard cuts of the man made canal.