Having just returned from a trip, I’ve been delinquent in adding new posts to my website. Although I am working today in the photography studio at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, California, I wanted to add a quick post with some recent images I shot at a special locale known as Chapel Hill in Shandon, California, about 15 miles east of Paso Robles off Highway 46 East, just off McMillan Canyon Road. Chapel Hill consists of a lovely chapel perched high on a beautiful vineyard-studded hill built by famous Shandon resident (Judge) William P. Clark, Jr., former Deputy Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and United States Secretary of the Interior, who worked with former President Ronald Reagan, his close friend and confidant. The chapel was built by Clark and his late wife Joan so locals could have a place to worship. The chapel is available for private ceremonies and, upon occasion, concerts and special events are held at the church.
Chapel Hill has spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and is located amongst the hills of Clark’s massive private ranch. Shandon is a small agricultural town with many vineyards, like its Paso Robles counterpart. Anyone can make the journey up the hill from the dirt parking lot below. The gate is usually open during daylight hours. Getting to the top of Chapel Hill is another matter, however, with a very steep climb. The incredible views from the top are well worth the climb with your camera equipment. There are beautiful grapevines along the path to the top.
The top image was taken just after sunset on McMillan Canyon Road just behind the chapel, and consists of HDR bracketed shots processed in Photomatix Pro 4, Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS5, and with onOne Software’s Perfect Effects. The second image above of an abandoned and decaying farmhouse was taken further down McMillan Canyon Road. The image below shows the public access walking path up to the church facing the front, and was shot on another occasion during a thunderstorm. I overlaid a grungy texture to the image in order to give it the feeling of the approaching dark storm. I will add more images from this excursion as I process them. For more information on and images of Chapel Hill, see my other posts Star Trails Over Chapel Hill, Photo Excursion to Chapel Hill and Starry Starry Night.
August 2013 update: Sadly, Judge Clark recently passed away at the age of 81 from advanced Parkinson’s disease. He was a devout Roman Catholic and kind, gentle man, treasured by so many people. His service was held at Chapel Hill.
Things have been extremely busy here at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, with the major Paso Robles Wine Festival last weekend and the upcoming Paso Robles Festival of the Arts this Memorial Day weekend. I hope many of you can stop by the studio, as there are many wonderful events, classes, lectures, and exhibits both in the Paso Robles City Park and at Studios (located on Pine Street directly across from the park). We have special extended hours and are also open on Memorial Day. These two weekends are the biggest of the year for foot traffic through Studios, and therefore the sale of our artwork, so I have been busy post-processing more work, printing, mounting, matting, and framing. In addition, I submitted photography work for the Local Color Exhibition that will hang through July 1st in the Studios atrium gallery.
That said, we are very honored to have renowned painter Stephen Doherty from New York City attend the Festival, as well as judge the work submitted for the Local Color show. Mr. Doherty is the Editor of PleinAir Magazine and will also be lecturing. He will announce the awards for the Local Color show at a special Premiere Party and Keynote address tomorrow night, so we are very excited. The Paso Robles Festival of the Arts was born of a need to raise awareness of the Salinas River Corridor Project at the same time that Studios on the Park was preparing to open its doors to the public for the first time in May 2009. After the resounding success of the inaugural Festival, its mission was written to reflect the intention to continue to support the arts and the environment in Paso Robles. A portion of proceeds raised through the Festival go to support the Salinas River Corridor Project and Studios on the Park.
I am pleased to announce that one of my photographs printed on aluminum, Moon Over Piedras Blancas Bluffs, was accepted into the Local Color exhibition (see the first image at the top). The competition was stiff, with much great artwork submitted. Only about one in five pieces made the final cut. This image was taken at twilight north of San Simeon near the historic Piedras Blancas Lightstation, just along the coastal bluffs. The moon was gorgeous that night, which so happened to be my birthday. What a great gift it was to be presented with the opportunity to take this photograph. I also submitted a canvas gallery wrap print of the image above, Path to Grace, which was taken on William Clark’s Ranch at a place called Chapel Hill in Shandon, California. This image was not accepted into the show, but I love it anyway. It is an HDR texture-blended image taken just prior to a thunderstorm.
Moon Over Piedras Blancas Bluffs is also an HDR photograph, which means it is a composite of multiple exposures of the same scene taken at different shutter speeds with the camera mounted on a tripod, then blended together using special software so that both the highlights and shadow areas can be seen in great detail. For more information on HDR photography and fine art printing, please see the links on the top right of the sidebar to the three tutorials I wrote for Breathing Color’s Art of Printmaking blog.
I have also been experimenting with some of my classic color HDR images, converting them to black and white. The image above shows an abandoned vintage Chevy truck I photographed along old Route 66 in the Arizona desert, one of my favorite places to shoot. Apologies I have not posted more blogs this month, but all the activities have kept me busy. I recently photographed an abandoned mercury mine and will be doing a post with those images when the festivals are over. Hope to see some of you over the weekend here in Paso. And don’t forget that the Phantom Project Art show is still up at the vacant A&R furniture building just across the street from Studios. I also have two pieces in that show – one of an abandoned sugar mill, and one of a minus tide at sunset in Shell Beach.