"The Great House - Casa Grande Ruins, Coolidg

© Joan E. Hoffman

"The Great House - Casa Grande Ruins,  Coolidg

Uploaded: December 18, 2009


Built approximately 1200 AD by the Hohokam people.History: It is believed that the Casa Grande functioned partly as an astronomical observatory since the four walls face the points of the compass, and some of the windows are aligned to the positions of the sun and moon at specific times. There are various smaller ruins in the complex, remains of a Hohokam farming village, and some are yet to be excavated. Nowadays, the roof and walls of the main building provide shelter for several species of small birds but the Hohokam themselves seem to have abandoned the complex around the 16th century, as part of a general decline in their civilisation. Apart from other Indian peoples, the area was not revisited until the 1880s, when American settlers arrived and began to threaten the ruins by removing artefacts as souvenirs. In 1892, the Casa Grande became the first archaeological site in the USA to be protected as a national monument.

Exif: F Number: 11, Exposure Bias Value: 0.67, ExposureTime: 1/250 seconds, Flash: did not fire., ISO: 200, White balance: Auto white balance, FocalLength: 35.00 mm, Model: NIKON D300


Joan E. Hoffman December 18, 2009

I kind of suspect I will get a few comments on my treatment of this one. It was a glaring midday "photo op", and was very blah! I brought it into raw and adjusted the highlights and shadows, but it was still rather iffy... so I messed around in Topaz, and came up with this "nightime" version! Suggestions more than welcome!! #1217441

Susan M. Reynolds level-addict December 19, 2009

I cannot bear to go first....yet I said I would face one fear every day, So...here I am going first.
I think the "night-time" version from Topaz did indeed give it a creative look, but the only problem I have with it is that the sky looks painted in unevenly on my screen. I don't know if you can replace the sky with perhaps a sunset version or if that is even possible on this photo.
I like the photo, it is very unusual and has a lot of history behind it, so it is truly a keeper, though I would definitely wait for the masters to come on and give you their advice...
I just had to go first for once and face a fear for my goal today. #8232595

Joan E. Hoffman December 19, 2009

LOL... There and it wasn't so bad was it? I am the same, hate to be the first to comment, because I never seem to see the things everyone else sees in a photograph until I read their comment and go back for a second look!

Thank you Susan for your comments, and I agree Topaz "skies" are often a bit wonky, so perhaps I should have masked it and dealt with it separately. In general tho, I like the "other worldly" look that the lighting/sky gives. Reminds me for some odd reason of a lunar landing!! Hopefully there is a fix for it. #8232648

Debbie E. Payne December 19, 2009

You know, Joan, this is a unique photo so by it's very nature it should have a unique treatment applied to it. I agree that Topaz skies are kind of "catch-can" so I would defer to the ones who do a lot of editing and see what they have to say. Looking at the rest of the composition, I think Susan may be on the right track with a sky replacement. It has the simplicity of edges that could lend itself to the selecting of the sky.

You go to such interesting places and see lots of cool things. Thanks for the history lesson, too. #8233791

Anthony L. Mancuso December 19, 2009

I like this one Joan..i think the the effects the filter had on the sky actually work well, gives it an artistic look....I also like the symmetry and the combination of the ancient ruins and modern roof..the bright spot in the foreground sand is a bit of a distraction and I would clone it out, getting very nitpicky here but there is also what looks like a spot on the left just above the horizon, couldve been from dust on your sensor...excellent image and great story behind it..

Good job stepping up to the plate Susan! I think facing our fears is one of the most difficult thing we can do..recalling one of my favorite quotes helps me to face mine.. "That which we fear has already happened." #8233801

Jeff E Jensen December 19, 2009

Very interesting image Joan. I agree with tony on the fixes that he suggested. #8233975

Dale Hardin December 20, 2009

This is a tough one Joan because it is very difficult to offer suggestions on a shot that has this much processing.

The two things that caught my eye were the composition and the Topaz, which left the sky wonky and the details gone with many bright areas such as on the support legs.

The things I would love to see in an image like this is the texture on the buildings. I'd suggest a 5x7 horizontal crop so that the top is just above the roof top. The foreground is much more interesting and helps lead the eye to the structure.

Would also like to see the original with the shadows opened up, the highlights softened and the details of the interesting stone structure revealed. #8235194

Joan E. Hoffman December 20, 2009

Here is the original... with the shadows and highlights adjusted. I also increased the saturation a small amount #8235332

Dale Hardin December 20, 2009

I like this a lot better Joan. The crop works and the details are nice even though the image is a bit overexposed due to the bright light and light colored subject, but fixable.

This sounds like a lot but it really isn't and it will make the image very realistic without the glare.

Open the image as a raw file and set the recovery slider to 20 and then open image in PSE. Create a levels adjustment and move the black under the histogram to about 30 and then flatten the image.

Now for the tricky part. Use the magic wand tool at a tolerance of 60 and make sure "not-contiguous" is ticked. Click on the bright part of the leg on the overhead support. This will put marching ants all around the bright areas in the image. Click on control+J to create a new layer containing all the bright areas.

Duplicate that layer and blend using a 50% opacity multiply blend. You should now have an image that shows the details well and no longer is so bright that it glares. #8235667

Michael Kelly level-deluxe December 20, 2009

Joan as Dale said this is a tough one. I usually don't like filtered shots much, but there is no denying that sometimes they work well. With this one the original post is much more interesting than the original image you posted later. Dales fix may change that, but I think the filtered image with a sky replacement might work well also. #8235741

Joan E. Hoffman December 20, 2009

I will work on your suggestions Dale! And present them as a new post. To me this was a garbage shot basically, but am just playing around in general. I actually like the topaz shot... looks like a lunar landing to me. Casa Grande Ruins are an interesting opportunity, but the hours they are open are the harshest hours of sunlight, so (at least for me) a bit of washout is inevitable. Also, tourists abound. I terminated many of them in this shot LOL ~S~ #8235937

Joan E. Hoffman December 20, 2009

AND, Btw,thank you all so much for your observations! I tend to err on the dramatic side generally, probably a fallout of years of financial accounting, creativity there was limited, (although not rare) LOL! #8235944

Joan E. Hoffman December 20, 2009

Oh and last but not at least, Tony... I did go back and clone out the bright spot in the sand, and eliminate the dot on the left side ( and Thankfully, was a process deal... the original showed not sign of it). Just for laughs, that is the version I will enter, just to see if it does anything! #8235955

Aimee C. Eisaman December 21, 2009

Joan...thanks so much for adding the history to this...I find it facinating to learn about old ruins. As for the photograph I like the crop of the second version, but think you should have gone somewhere inbetween the two drama wise. I like the drama in the first, but it lacks too many details. If you were feeling adventurous (can't spell) I'd try lining these two on top of one another an reducing the opactiy or blending to see what you get. :~) #8237000

Rita K. Connell level-classic December 21, 2009

I echo Aimee words I think somewhere in the middle of the two would work really good. thanks for the history Joan. I just want to know how did they get up there. #8237020

Peter W. Marks December 21, 2009

Yeh, what the others said.
Thank you so much for identifying what and where this is Joan. I have now been to the following web pages http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/dept/d10/asb/los_hornos/tucson/chap1.htm
and there are three chapeters of an educational paper on the Hohokam peoples.
Thanks for sharing this and have a wonderful Christmas. #8238330

Teresa H. Hunt December 22, 2009

very interesting history here. I love learning about old places. It always makes me wonder about the people who lived there.

I think you've gotten some excellent advice so I'll just wait and see what the edit looks like. :) #8239921

Christie R. Bielss December 22, 2009

A very interesting subject you have here. Am very interested in seeing the suggestions. #8240613

Ellen H. Robertson level-classic December 23, 2009

Joan, I think this is a cool shot and love the history behind it. Your first post is very creative and dramatic. I also like it in its natural state, would like to see what Dales suggestions do. I end up with alot of mid day sun shots. Because that is the time I happen to be there. #8242561

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