"Goodbye, God. I'm going to Bodie."

Friends of Bodie Day at Bodie Ghost Town


Portrait of the Past Of an Elegant Time

Bodie, California. Once home to about 10,000 people, it is now a ghost town maintained in a state of "arrested decay." Formerly a raucous and reckless town (with a man killed nearly every day), it now rests quietly under the care of California State Parks and many volunteers. Friends of Bodie Day is an annual event featuring historic re-enactments, music, barbeque and many people dressed in period clothing. The woman Of an Elegant Time, top right, Terri Geissinger, organized this successful and enjoyable event. Congratulations, and thank you for a delightful day! (She was very busy, but graciously consented to this photograph.)

For the sake of the "historic record," I converted a few photographs to sepia tone in order to mimic the images of the past. Early photo films were less responsive to red light, and I made adjustments to represent that characteristic. I also modified the contrast. With The Rancher and the Widow, I took the alteration further by "aging" the image. The result looks very characteristic of photographs nearly a century old.

In the afternoon, we got some cloud cover that softened the light and gave more opportunities for photography. Earlier, I had been looking for situations in shade or using strong fill-flash to mitigate hard shadows from direct sunlight. But with the clouds, harsh shadows were no longer a problem and I was able to get some nice street shots and portraits in diffused lighting. You can compare the light of Three Generations, photographed in the morning, with Street Scene made in the afternoon. With nature's "movie-set" lighting, I got images like Into Town and Of Wealth and Taste.

I've visited Bodie several times, and the people in period clothing added an interesting new dimension to the town. They brought it to life and offered many new photo opportunities. I'd like to have included wider views of the town with the people, but there were too many of us in modern garb spoiling the effect.

The event was great fun all around and a huge success. I hope to be able to attend again. Special thanks goes to all the people pictured here, for their contribution to the event and for their cooperation in making these photographs possible. They made Bodie come alive again. Bo-do-de-o!

Images Copyright © Ed E. Powell
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