Bisbee, Arizona was founded in 1880 with the explosion of mineral mining such as copper, silver and gold in this area. The town was named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee who was one that provided financial backing to the Copper Queen Mine. Bisbee has been the county seat for Cochise County since it was moved from Tombstone in 1929. In the mid 70’s, the Phelps Dodge Corporation shut down mining operations but part of the Copper Queen Mine has remained open for tours. Recently in 2007, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold bought Phelps Dodge and has resumed “some” work in the area. Gold prices are motivating these days.
During the renovation taking place at the Stock Exchange Saloon in Old Bisbee, the bar owner, Patricia Steward was working a water damaged wall and uncovered colors that caught her eye. Soon she discovered an old fresco painting that may be dated back to when the building had first been constructed in 1905 but had been painted over years ago. I first heard about this while I was working overseas and read about it in this article from the Sierra Vista Herald and I had to go see it for myself in hopes to get some pictures of it. Remodeling is still underway but I was lucky enough to get some images of this cool find.
Modern Bisbee as it is called nowadays, was named runner-up by the AARP publication “Modern Maturity” as one of the quirkiest cities in America as it is filled with color whether it be local artisans displaying their artwork or colors chosen for some of the buildings. The town has a mixture of Historic Buildings occupied with some of the most creative Artists around, from pottery to painting, crafts to repurposed creations. Several antique and consignment shops for the collector can be found.
The street signs and little details around town could lend to the quirky reputation but you have to respect the creative sense of humor in some of this.
Maria and I spent a couple hours here today, she was on an assignment shoot capturing Brandon and Tricia’s engagement shoot that you can see here. Originally I planned on capturing some images concentrating on the Historic side of Bisbee, which is easy enough to do…..
…… but today I was pulled in by the colors around me. I am a huge sucker for Graffiti Art, not to be confused with “tagging”, I am talking about thoughtful creations where some carry a message. The graffiti below is not plastered on Main Street taking away from a historic look but walking around on side streets, alcoves or alleyways and you can’t miss it, no really… YOU CAN’T MISS IT. Some of the graffiti street art resembles “Banksy”, an anonymous UK based street artist with a twisted and funny satirical message in all of his work; you can see his web site here . It’s been documented that he has been to the United States and shared his street art in California, New York and other places in the world so it’s not impossible that he could have stenciled his way through Arizona.
Anywhere I go, I am always looking for things that you would normally overlook just walking around. Sometimes it’s just a crazy looking texture at eye level, something ornate or right above your head, something subtle that few people would notice but they are there. Here are 3 examples of what I am talking about.
When I was taking the shot of the over stapled telephone pole, there was a sign for a local artist that read…. “Vixens Metal Art…. 40 steps this way”. What’s 40 steps, especially when you forget to count. Brenna Curry is a local artist with a killer collection of metal art using vibrant acrylic colors, I was hooked at the window and took a few more steps inside to meet the artist and hopefully take some pictures of her work. As it turns out Brenna is a photographer as well and has incorporated her photography work in with her art. I really loved the colors and textures she pulls off with some woven metal and colors that really pop. If you are in the area, stop in and visit or stop by her Facebook page and give it a like.
You can’t visit Bisbee without checking out the townsite district of Lowell and it’s Main Street that winds back the clock a bit. If it weren’t for a couple modern cars parked here and there, you’d swear you fell into a time machine. All I could think about as I studied which angle I wanted to shoot from was getting some shots and using High Dynamic Range (HDR) Tone Mapping as a post processing treatment. HDR basically takes the light and dark areas of an image and gives you an unrealistic and exaggerated effect of the original, which is what you see below. You can tone it back a bit let’s say on a city or land scape and not be so drastic with the nuclear fallout kinda feel. There has been a lot of debating back and forth between digital photographers over the years, some like, it some don’t while some make a living from it and don’t’ even realize it or maybe they do but the bottom line is; HDR has been used since 1850 and was pioneered by Gustave Le Gray, so it’s not something new, if you are a photographer today and have used “dodge and burn” in digital post processing … then you know what it was like to HDR in the mid century.
Too much or too little is really up to the photographer and viewer, personally I won’t use it but on certain images such as these involving old cars and buildings. Anyone using this on technique on people or animals should have their computers taken away and forced to stand in the corner.
That wraps it up for this post and if you are in the area, you should stop in and see Bisbee; it truly has something for everyone and you might end up experiencing something you didn’t expect!
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