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American Exodus: The state of rural America and the modern corporate dust bowl
Lens: sigma 8-16mm Camera: K-5 Photo Location: Eastern Colorado ISO: 100 Aperture: F9.5 
Posted By: benisona, 02-01-2011, 10:50 PM

Fellow Pentaxians,
I need your opinions. These are two photos that I am preparing for a photo contest. My topic is the title of this post. The contest is a 2 photo narrative, so the pictures have to tell a story. I headed out to eastern Colorado this last weekend to shoot the pictures. I just love it out there, it is such a barren beautiful landscape. We ended up finding this great desolate farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere. It also happened that once we found this place (after stopping by a few other locations, while driving around all afternoon) I had time to do inside and outside shots, then the sun set, so the lighting was perfect. The stars come out so quickly out there, and I had a stroke of inspiration to shoot the sunset, leave the camera on the tripod until the stars came out, then shoot another exposure to help with the feeling of vast isolation, and the passage of time.

Anyhow, I'm trying to finalize the images and I can't decide on color, or B&W and I wanted to get some pentaxian/fellow photographers opinions. The contest is all about the narrative and less about the technical aspects of the pictures. I also want to evoke a Grapes of Wrath/Steinbeck feel to it (I was even thinking of making the title a quote from Grapes, so many amazing ones). I'm personally leaning toward the B&W, because I feel it puts more focus on the stroy, and less on the pictures themselves, but everytime I look at the color versions I waver a bit because I like them too.

Let me know what you think, both about the topic title, and the shots.

Love the feedback, and thanks in advance.


the two in color;






Now in B&W;





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02-01-2011, 11:14 PM   #2
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Can you do both? The window pic I think looks slightly better in B&W but the house definitely looks wonderful in color. If you have to choose one or the other? I'd say do the color. Normally I like B&W but the color works so well in the one shot it would be a shame to lose that and the first one, it's almost like an old sepia photo so that does work well too, even in color vs B&W.
02-01-2011, 11:22 PM   #3
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First let me say how great these images are either in colour or B&W.

Personally, I prefer the inside photo in colour and the outside photo in B&W, although I think that they both might look better as a sepia which would also add to the 'old western' feel of the images.

I never travelled into eastern Colorado much when I lived in Denver, but now you've made me wish I did!
02-01-2011, 11:38 PM   #4
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Thanks for the compliments,
I can definitely do one of each, but I'm worried it might lose some of it's continuity. You guys don't think so?

02-01-2011, 11:45 PM   #5
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the bw of the exterior certainly reminds me of the Wrath and the inside photo in color is wonderful, love the exposed lathe. I think you already won the contest, go with your heart. thanks for sharing. Bob
02-01-2011, 11:58 PM   #6
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So, far it seems like most like a color B&W combo. I'll start to keep a tally as I get more input. Also any other processing thoughts are welcome (i'll post a sepia too, as suggested and any other ideas that you guys come up with).

Again thanks for the ideas/compliments
02-02-2011, 01:34 AM   #7
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I was torn for a while, but I've got to say Color for Both. I just feel the color has more impact, particularly the sunset. And using that one for color and the other B&W (which I put up on a larger monitor) just seems discordant (to me - others may disagree).

In my past, I've driven through eastern Colorado many times. Vast open spaces, much of it farmed now by monster machinery that can cover 100s of acres a day, guided by GPS, and operated in air conditioned comfort.

And there, in the emptiness, you'll see a lone abandoned farm house and wonder about the people who pour their hearts, their dreams, their soul into building that house and running that farm.

Look at the house you photographed. Someone really worked on that. It's a fine example of craftsmanship. The dressed stone foundation covered in stucco. How much work was it to square cut each stone, haul it into place, cement it to last? The lath on the interior, carefully covered by now missing plaster -- look at all the time it took to nail each strip of wood, lay the three or four coats of plaster, install the fine windows. A nice front porch to see the sun come up and a back porch for the sunset. It's not a small house either, for a family back then. Bedrooms for kids, mom and dad. Probably empty now for 40-50 years, what happened to those folks and their dreams?

Did the kids live through the harsh winters and the thin years when farming didn't bring much to get by on? Did they make it through school and get drafted? Or did everyone just give up on the farm and move away? Or did mom and dad stick with the farm alone, all those years on the empty prairie, enjoying each other's company until their last days? What happened to the people whose dream was once that house?

A million thoughts like that used to run through my mind on those long, long trips in the car. A few months ago, I shot a couple pics of a stone farmhouse in Kansas. We couldn't hang around until sunset or get inside the house. So, I shot into the sun and got something to look at. But your photos are both art and story. You ought to win.

I like the color. It makes the decay seem in stark contrast to the life around it The blue sky seems to be living, while the house is almost black and white anyway, abandoned, forlorn, falling apart with each wind, each freeze and thaw.
02-02-2011, 03:18 AM   #8
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Fair play, these are stunning images, my hat goes off to you - lovely

02-02-2011, 03:24 AM   #9
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Nice Nice Nice!!!

wow B&W and color are great I prefer color - it has so much nostalgia in it. You are a great photographer and wish you luck!
02-02-2011, 04:08 AM   #10
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Very nice work here. The double exposure with sunset then stars is a really great technique.
The picture frame effect from the inside looking out is also done very well.
Both B&W and Color options work as photos on their own. For telling your story I'd go with
the color photos.
Reason in my mind is that in the Grapes days when the Great Plains were populated it was in a world without color. When people were there the photos were all B&W.
Fast forward 80 years to a world with color. The now desolate plains are in color.
Just my thoughts---Good Luck
02-02-2011, 05:51 AM   #11
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I'm a strong fan for B&W, but here I think the subdued colors add a level of texture and perhaps a bit of surreality to the shots that are absent from the B&W images.

However, it's a close run thing - both versions of each are truly magnificent - way outta my league.

Very impressive.

Jer
02-02-2011, 06:00 AM   #12
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great shots---I agree with Jer---The colors do it for me---charliezap
02-02-2011, 06:17 AM   #13
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I say color for both. These have to be very competitive--good luck!
02-02-2011, 06:24 AM   #14
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add another 10 shots like these and you'd have a winner of a calendar... (i'd like the 1st copy please )......
love both renditions... imho... as a fan of 'grapes of wrath', especially the movie... perhaps a more gritty version of either one (more film grain) might be interesting to see, also, although not a huge fan of sepia, a subdued version of both might also be worth a try.....
best of luck !! (don't think you need it though).... dave m
02-02-2011, 06:40 AM   #15
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Love both of these, outstanding. I'd go color.
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