Bodie Schoolhouse #1

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I checked off another bucket list item with a night photography workshop in Bodie Ghost Town, with additional access to the interiors of some of the buildings.

Bodie, CA was a mining town at 8000 ft elevation in the rugged hills east of the Sierra Nevada range. It was quickly developed after gold was discovered there in 1875 and the population reached 8000 people with 2000 structures. It’s hard to imagine the labor that went into the development in this remote location. It is 13 miles from Highway 395 and a 1500 foot climb – a 20-minute drive today with 10 miles on a good asphalt road and the last 3 miles on washboarded gravel. After only four years the mines became depleted and after fires in 1892 and 1932 only 10% of the buildings remained. The town was abandoned in 1940, with much of the contents of the buildings left as they were. It became a State Historic Park in 1962 and has been carefully preserved.

Specific Feedback

All comments welcome! This was a sunrise shoot an hour from our rooms and after 4 days of sensory overload I don’t remember why I didn’t shoot this at an angle from the left – maybe something was in the way. It was a very crowded room and only a few people could go in at once, with jackets zipped so as not to touch anything. Tripods were allowed but we had to carry them with the legs folded. I chose to save time with handholding and shallow DOF.

Technical Details

Screenshot 2024-07-07 at 7.26.06 AM

Minimal processing – tonal corrections in LR and denoise and a little BG cloning in PS. Slight crop from both sides.

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Diane - great eye to have visualized this.
A wonderful study of these old documents.
Not a nit here -

A very evocative image, Diane. It does a great job of conveying abandonment. I don’t think I’d want to go there-I’d have a very difficult time not being able to know what they were reading.

I don’t have any technical issues with this at all. the angle looks fine and I like the way it picks up the accumulated dust and mold.

The urge to peek at what those books/magazines were would have been hard for me to resist! Who stacked them there? Why didn’t they take them when they left? So many questions and stories to spin out from images like this.

I don’t have any technical comments. The shallow DOF works fine and you got all the important bits in focus. The mouse droppings are a nice touch.

Thanks, @SandyR-B, @Dennis_Plank and @Bonnie_Lampley! I wonder why so many things were left, but they were probably totally disused by the time the last people left. I wonder if some of the artifacts were staged in the early restoration, but no matter if they were – they are authentically presented.

The dust there was amazing! And I wonder how they have kept rodents from destroying things. Someone said they have a rat problem. They have the cutest little ground squirrels, Belding’s, who are very sociable and polite. They have discreet little burrows but none of the ugly destructive tunneling of the larger California Ground Squirrels.

I love the nostagia you’ve captured with these old magazines and books Diane. It is almost better with a bit shallower DOF. As stated, it makes your imagination wonder what was there. Reading was such a huge thing back in those turn of the previous century days and these old pages could have been read over hundreds of times.

Thanks @Ed_Williams – they probably were. It’s a really long way to the nearest library or bookstore, and there probably wasn’t much internet there!

And thanks @Dennis_Plank for the EP! Getting into the interiors here is only available through workshops and it has been on my bucket list for a long time. It’s quite a place!

Compelling EP ! Congrats!