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A personal blog of photography and commentary by Andrew McAllister.

Posts from the Small Towns Category

Top images from 2012 and a little info behind their selection.20120102_Whites Valley Utah_020Above: Whites Valley in Northern Utah. An introduction to a different western landscape and the beginning of my exploration Northern Utah and Idaho. Looking forward to exploring the gem state in 2013 and have 4 trips planned already.

Simpson Springs Station.

Above: Simpson Springs Station on the Pony Express Trail in the West Desert of Utah, from a journey I’ll do again this year with the UXOC. This is a beautiful and remote area that I’d love to explore more, maybe pulling a camper from Moby 1.Preston Grain Silo

Above: Preston, Idaho on a sunny Sunday morning January 2012 and the start of a project looking at small western towns and structures that define place. In this case it was the grain elevator that defined entering Preston and unfortunately it was destroyed by fire a month later.Downey Idaho

Above: Weston, Idaho and another grain elevator. This one looks particularly church like. I revisited Weston in December and the sign and pole have been removed. Time moves on even in small towns.20120413_Mantua_027

Above: Mantua, Utah spring 2012. At the time I took this the space reminded me of Iceland. Looking at it now it is nothing like Iceland, trees for starters. Maybe it was the really green treeless hills and the rain snow mix of weather. I’ll settle for exotic looking and not what you expect for a Utah landscape. FWIW locals pronounce Mantua as “Man Away”.

Road along the Bear River

Above: Near Cutler Reservoir early spring 2012. Jetsons-looking power pole in a barren landscape carved by man for irrigation.Beef Basin

Above: Near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Trying to get a feel for how massive these formations are (look at the fence at the base).20120805_Floy_Utah_008

Above: Ranch Exit at Floy, Utah. Grey lumps in the barren landscape just north of I-70. Composed in a way that excludes the book cliffs and any of the red rock that southern Utah is famous for. People have commented on the texture of the grey earth looking elephant like.Driving the desert of Southern Utah

Above: from the base of the Book Cliffs looking toward Moab, Klondike Bluff and the Manti La Sal Mountains. From a solo trip to Moab in early August 2012.20120804_Onion Creek Road_048

Above: Onion Creek Road near Moab. Look for more images from this area in the coming year. Lots to explore and photograph. This was taken on my first trip on the road and as it was getting dark I made my way back to the main road. Not being familiar with the road, alone, and without additional illumination on the Xterra. Why risk driving off the road in the dark? 20121021_Caribou National Forest_039Above: Open road on Skyline Drive near Weston Canyon in Caribou National Forest. From a day of photographing open roads near the Utah-Idaho border in late October and my last trip on this road before it was closed for the season. As I was taking these images I came across three moose; a nice way to end a day of solitary photography. Work kept me busy the rest of the year and so this is where my 2012 season of photography ended. Looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

Thanks to everyone who liked a post, made a comment, nominated me for an award or became a follower of Looking at the West.

Above: Almost a ghost town, Thompson Springs, Utah. I have spent a lot of time looking at this humble little house making up little stories about what happened here. This little house from another time with it’s yard clearly defined from the larger surrounding. A power pole that marks the location like it was a road side casualty. Not generally a fan of the photo cliche’ of dilapidated buildings or “Ruin Porn” I usually pass these structures by and leave them to other photographers. Something about this one…

Above: Abandoned structures in Thompson Springs. Would love to find an image of what was once here. Building on the left looks like it was used for some sort of agricultural storage. Look closely at the space between the buildings. A sealed (at one time) passage. The structure on the right looks like two buildings sharing a common front. The left one had a door and a window, the right one a door and two windows. The doors are tricky. Was the original door between the windows and then at some later time when the two fronts became one the door moved to the center and old door locations filled in? I’m probably to respectful for my own good as a I honor privet property and only shoot from the road. Next time I’m down there I’ll have to find someone who knows.

Above: Almost ghost town. Classic abandoned house next to the Desert Moon Hotel (actually a small trailer park for temporary workers that live out of campers parked there. And the Hotel is for sale if anyone is interested.

Above: Detail of the doorway mystery.

Above: Shadow portrait at the Thompson Springs Diner. The diner is pretty boring both inside and out. I thought this was the best photo for the location. Thompson Springs has a few other buildings including a Hotel with about 20 rooms (all with the doors open and full of trash and graffiti) The train depot (abandoned) and a few occupied residences. Someday I’ll return and photograph them as I’d like to meet the residents of this almost ghost town. I’m sure there are some interesting folks there.

Below: Backside of my favorite house in Thompson Springs.

 

 

 

 

 

Tremonton is a small Northern Utah town near the I-15 and I-84 split and is the last town with a built up commercial district before Idaho. It’s a place I have wanted to photograph for some time but as it turns out it is a tricky one. It has a typical Main Street that is essentially a fast moving but narrow part of the road with the usual lawyers, hardware store, storefront gym, chinese restaurant. Unlike other small towns I have posted about it lacks an ideal intersection or classic group of buildings. In my wandering about I am attracted to how old commercial buildings learn. They start as one thing, then changes are made for new uses and their appearance becomes a conglomeration of the past and present. On my first visit to photograph it was the buildings with large murals that caught my eye. The image above I really enjoy for it’s scrapbook feel and the image below for it’s understated somewhat somber feel.

Areas like the one below are usually my first stop. They have so much going on and give clues to the economic reality of the downtown. In this case I would say things look good (lack of trash or graffiti, windows still functional etc.). The harsh midday sun makes a cool shadow of the dish mounted on the wall. The neat cluster of objects around the window. The two doors so close to one another and the three strong verticals and the collection wires that make a mess of an otherwise ordered area. Great location.

Lastly we have Main Street and a huge featureless brick wall. There are a few other building that I did not photograph that have potential. One is a huge old Sinclair station with a large neon sign, plate glass windows and an old style canopy. Tremonten is close enough to Logan so I’m sure I’ll be exploring and photographing it some more.

Downtown Downey Idaho April 2012. Two classic brick structures define the main intersection of this small farming town (population 613) in southern Idaho.

Old Downey Theater sign says “opening soon Laurel and Hardies.” The two story structure is called Hyde Block and it houses the town’s market It features an ad for Mountaineer Overalls with Stop Loss pockets.

The best image from the shoot includes a dilapidated two-story building, a grain elevator, a bar with a log cabin facade, and a variety of other single-story buildings.

Cunningham Implement and Downey Lumber bathed in orange street light.

One of my first excursions when I moved to Cache Valley was a visit to Preston, Idaho. A famous place here in the valley as it was the setting for the film Napoleon Dynamite. Upon arrival from the south one of the first things you see is a large grey tin sided grain elevator. I liked this one because it looked so humble. Logan has a few and they look somewhat industrial though at a much smaller scale than those seen on I-15 in Ogden. In the afternoon, the time I’m usually in Preston, the grain elevator is back lit and thus I had not photographed it on my first few visits. This past January I was testing a perspective control lens that I had rented for a job and thought this grain elevator would make a great subject. A little over a month later the grain elevator caught fire.

Video clip linked from Youtube user hullhollyjo.

Technical info: Top image captured with the Nikon D300s and 24mm PC-E lens (from Borrowlenses.com), post fire images D300s and 45mm PC-E lens. Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.