Lowell Scenes

Saturday late morning and early afternoon were gorgeous. Bright sunshine, with just the right mix of clouds. Just cool enough to not need to bother with thinking about what you needed to wear. I drove to Lowell, a small town about 15 miles from Grand Rapids, with an eye to photographing street scenes. I did some of that, but also ended up photographing railroad cars waiting near the feed mills.

On a sunny day, the colors in shop windows and the reflections of the street usually beg for color, and this Saturday in Lowell was no different. In the first image, the chandelier caught my eye. In the second it was the American flag set against the bust of a Native American with a feather headdress.

Two of the reflection images seemed more like paintings that street or urban landscape scenes. The first one is restful, calm water and windows from a building reflected in the water. The second one almost feels stressful to me. There is a lot of symmetry in the architecture, but when combined with the reflections my eyes have a hard time settling when I look at it.

Lowell is a quiet town, mostly, though it has a lot of great outdoors concerts in the evening during the summer. Like most small town and rural areas, it tends to vote conservative. That stereotype was confirm by an older guy sitting with his dog and a political sign, condemning BLM and the Democratic party and fascism. The dog, in the distance, drew my attention. I saw the sign later. I didn’t think he’d appreciate me correcting his spelling, so I said nothing when I walked by.

I did a this images and several more in black and white, as the lines and shadows seemed to demand it, most architectural. The first is two sets of stairs seen through a window. The wall inside nicely bisects the image into lighter and darker halves. The second is an alleyway between two buildings that leads to a parking lot in the back. The contrasting architecture and textures drew my eye. Finally, the third, is one of the feed mill buildings set against the sky.

After walking up and down the main drag of Lowell, I headed to the railroad cars waiting by the feed mill area. I’d spotted them as I drove into town and wanted to see if I could make a few interesting images. I expected to go with gritty black and white images, but the colors of graffiti inspired me to go with color. The two color images are HDR composites, but I did not push them too hard. They are simply Fujifilm’s own Velvia slide film simulation (a contrasty landscape film) with the contrast pushed hard and a graduated filter to keep the sky from blowing out. The last is a black and white of the sort I had in mind when I started.

It was a nice morning for a walk and the scenes and colors in Lowell made it easy and fun to play with a camera. You can check out more scenes from Lowell in a post I did last summer of drone shots of the town and feed mills at sunrise and images of one of a summer concert from two years ago.

It was nice to see people enjoying walking around and wearing when appropriate. Numbers of COVID cases are coming down in Michigan, though the curve for deaths has not yet caught up. So we can be hopeful, especially as more people are vaccinated and to the degree that we all stay disciplined with masks and social distancing when appropriate.

Since the weather is finally getting consistently warmer, “stay cool.”

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