Well, I made it back home last night with quite a few new images. Usually I know immediately which images are the best but sometimes months or even years later I review the work and come up with a few more winners. Sometimes new processing skills or just a little different vision than I initially had will cause me to see the work a little differently at a later date. Only time will tell.
Blue Swallow Motel
This first image was taken in Tucumcari, New Mexico. We decided Thursday to drive there in order to shoot some of the old signs and Motels around sunset. Route 66 goes right through Tucumcari and many of the original businesses are still there and many are still open. About 6:00 pm it was starting to get dark but it seemed that many places did not have their lights on. Several Motels we wanted to shoot were dark. The window of time to get the light I wanted is short, so I ran into the Palamino Motel and asked if the lights were going to be turned on. I was told they weren't working and he was trying to get them fixed. I took some quick shots without the lights and headed to the Blue Swallow. No lights here either. I ran in and asked about the lights. I was told that if you don't stay at the Motel you must make a donation to get the lights turned on. Sure enough there is a jar on the counter that says NEON. I make the comment that I would go broke if I had to pay everytime I took a picture, but I take out all the ones I have in my wallet and put them in the jar. Four bucks! I think that got me about 4 minutes. The lights came on and I set up in the spot that I had already determined to be where I wanted to set my tripod. I composed the image and focused then shot a series of exposures. The next thing I know, the Blue Swallow and the colorful thing on the ground by the mail box is turned off. The "T" on Motel wasn't working either. Fortunately I got the shot I wanted and a little Photoshop magic turned the "T" back on.
This second location was found Tuesday right after we left Gary's house in Grand Prairie. We were going to drive north and planned to end up in El Reno, Oklahoma. This took us through Decatur, Texas which is about a 45 minute drive from his house. We took a detour which would lead us to the town square. Before we got there I spotted the Petrified Wood Station and said "Stop the Car". We got out and took some photographs but we knew we needed to come back some other day at a time when the light was better. High noon is almost never the best time to photograph anything. After driving quite a distance from Tucumcari on Friday we realized we could make it to Decatur about 5:30pm. We arrive back at the PWS on schedule. The restaurant next door is closed so it has no cars parked in front of it. That's a good thing, but there are not any lights on. At 5:55 still no lights. Suns down and we are running out of light. I have been telling Gary that maybe they are on a timer and come on at 6:00pm. He thinks I'm dreaming. He is putting his tripod back in the car at 5:56 when the small Texas Plaza sign lights up. I'm thinking...YYYYYYYYes!!!!!!! Four minutes later the Texaco, the pumps, and the PWF sign come on. Time to shoot. I have hardly taken a set of exposures when off go the lights again. About five minutes later they come on again for a few minutes and then go back off. We have seen nobody around this place but I wonder if somebody is at the light switch in one of these buildings and is laughing at the torture he is putting us through. A few minutes later the two windows on either side of the door come on plus some over head lights in the carport. I had forgot they were there. Another minute later the rest of the lights come on and stay on until we leave. I have time to shoot more exposures with all the lights on. I also shot the station from the other side. I like that version too, but have not yet processed it. You would be surprised how much time I spent on this one. Photomatix doesn't always blend everything together perfectly and you have to fix it manually somehow. I'm happy with the way it looks. Hope you like it too.
More images from the trip will be coming.