Title: “Welcome to the Frontier”
Info: F/22 1/60 s ISO 400 35mm
Date: September 1st 2007 Location: Medora, ND
Merit Image through PPA International Competition.
Published in B&W International Magazine
So, did I photoshop this? Of course I did. But maybe not in the way that you think. I took the digital negative from my camera into Camera Raw at the time (2007) and I made minor adjustments to get the image how I wanted it before I brought it into Photoshop. I did nondestructive dodging and burning; making the stone darker and getting the details as needed. And like a painter deciding that a tree wasn’t needed on his canvas, I decided that a fence rope just to the right of the escalator wasn’t needed. So, I had cloned it out. The sky wasn’t as detailed so I had to process the image twice. Once for the foreground and middle ground and once to create a second copy to get the sky as I needed it.
This image has been probably one of the most talked about images in my collection. The escalator… Did he or didn’t he? Some would never question it. Of course he added the escalator into the Badlands.
Actually I think these are all the out loud thoughts/questions I’ve heard through the years.
- No way!
- Wait, so this is a real?
- Oh, so this isn’t photoshopped?
- He must have added the escalator into the badlands using Adobe Photoshop.
- What made him think to add the escalator into the badlands landscape?
- I thought it was an escalator with a huge painting of the Badlands on a wall as you go down the escalator you look upon the painting.
I’m pretty sure that 98% of people had no idea that this was a real image simply taken at sunset upon the Medora landscape…. Escalator and all. Yes, there really is an escalator in the middle of all that landscape beauty. Actually, three of them that take you down to the musical of Medora. Hundreds of thousands of people have rode that escalator to witness something unique. (A live outdoor musical within the badlands landscape) I saw something unique before all that. How to capture future images like this? Simply train your photographic eye for unusual items. For me it was to stand and simply think… this is not right, there should be in no way a workable escalator within the beauty of the badlands, and yet, here it is. How could a photographer not capture this scene?
Now, Photoshop should never be put into a negative way. While Photoshop should never be used to fix something that you could have done in the camera, it is just another tool for creativity. It would be like asking a photographer if they had used a darkroom twenty years ago. Photoshop is just another tool on the belt. How you use it can enhance your work or make it terrible looking if done incorrectly. I use it to make sure the tones are correct and to enhance features that just can’t be done in the camera.
Truth is, I was standing at the right place at the right time with the right kind of thinking going on in my mind. I was up really high while the sun was lowering. I stood in front of the escalator and made sure nobody was around to be in the scene. I set up my camera on a tripod and used a higher aperture of 22, which may have been overkill, but it worked to get some great deep depth.
The image hung at the Uptown Gallery from September to the beginning of October until it was sold and shipped off to Pennsylvania.