Friday Fotos: A Salute to Prescott

Saija Lehtonen | Whiskey Row

Saija Lehtonen | Whiskey Row

Sure, Prescott has Watson Lake, but there’s plenty more interesting and beautiful stuff to photograph in Arizona’s first capital city. You proved that in this week’s Friday Fotos. We hope you enjoy this selection of the great submissions we received. For even more Prescott, pick up our May issue, which celebrates Prescott’s sesquicentennial. It’s on newsstands this month.

Have a great weekend!

By submitting photographs to Arizona Highways via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or other social networking sites, the photographer grants Arizona Highways electronic rights. No financial consideration will be paid to anyone for publication on the Arizona Highways blog or website.

By publishing a photographer’s work to its blog, Arizona Highways does not endorse the photographer’s private business or claim responsibility for any business relationships entered into between the photographer and our readers.

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Throwback Thursday: Arizona Highways, April 1948

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by | April 3, 2014 · 9:00 am

Q&A: Scratchboard Artist Brings 1890s Prescott to Life on Our May Cover

This image shows our May cover as a work in progress. Douglas Smith estimates that he was about 50 percent done at this stage. | Courtesy of Douglas Smith

This image shows our May cover illustration as a work in progress. Douglas Smith estimates that he was about 50 percent done at this stage. | Courtesy of Douglas Smith

Our May issue celebrates the sesquicentennial of Prescott, a town with a history as unique as any in Arizona. For the cover of that issue (which you saw in Monday’s sneak preview), we turned to an equally unique illustrator, Douglas Smith.

Smith’s medium is scratchboard, a painstaking and labor-intensive art form that involves scratching away darkness to reveal light beneath. We thought Smith’s style would be perfect for the May cover, which depicts Prescott’s Gurley Street as it might have appeared in the late 1800s.

Smith spoke with us from his home on Maine’s Peaks Island about the process of bringing this vision to life.

Q: Take us through how this project came together. What kind of guidance did you get from us before you started?
A: Robert [Stieve, editor] provided a historical photograph, which is the same scene as in the illustration, but with some notable differences. It’s not very clear and doesn’t exactly look appealing; it looks kind of dark and dingy, and there’s not one wagon or human being or horse to be seen. The other difference is that there’s no sky — it’s just a flat gray.

The only direction from Barbara [Glynn Denney, creative director] was for me to add “life” to the scene.

Q: Besides the historical photo, did you use anything else for reference?
A: I used a previous magazine cover, as well as a previous illustration of Prescott, but not of that street. I also did research on what sorts of vehicles would be appropriate for that time period.

Q: You mentioned previously that the scratchboard process is somewhat labor-intensive. Other than that, did you run into any challenges?
A:
I had a lot of trouble deciphering the deep shadows that were totally cloaking a lot of the buildings. Finally, I said, “I just have to make some of it up,” which Barbara said was fine, as long as the general scene was captured.

Also, the photograph showed a somewhat unpleasant-looking area on the left, near the white fence. It looked like there was some construction going on there, and everything in front of the courthouse area was kind of a mess — it looked like a drainage ditch or something. So I made that into a path and put a couple of wagons near there.

There was a very humorous element that Barbara had noticed, too: a set of stairs, which looked like a wedge of cheese, put up against the white fence, but not quite as high as the fence. I said, “Barbara, should I draw that?” It looked like they had forgotten to build a place to get through, so they put those stairs there so people could climb up and jump over. Who knows what they were supposed to do from the other side of the fence. (Editor’s note: If you’ve got any idea what’s going on with those stairs, let us know in the comments.)

Q: In the May issue, we include an excerpt from a story that ran in a 1938 issue of the magazine — a fanciful imagining of what life was like in Wild West-era Prescott around the time this illustration depicts. Did you think about including any gunfights or passed-out drunks in the illustration?
A: I didn’t get any direction to do that, so I assumed that wasn’t desired. Being a lifelong Easterner, I would have just been showing my ignorance. I didn’t want to Hollywood-ize the illustration. Barbara said to add some “life,” not some “life or death.” (Laughs.)

Q: We love the illustration. Were you satisfied with the final product?
A: Pretty much so. There are certainly things, and this is not unusual for me — you have to be a little obsessive-compulsive to do what I do. There are endless little things where I could say, “Let me just go and refine that and touch it up.” That could apply to any line in the piece. and then I might decide later that I should leave it as is.

I wonder whether I should have put more light and fewer ruts in the road, but I think the ruts add a lot of character — like there’s a lot of activity going on. I’m always fooling around with the clouds — should they be lighter, more dramatic underneath?

It’s never-ending with me. It’s a weird life that I live because of this technique. There are scratchboard artists who don’t take as long as I do, but I think I tend to pack my things with more detail than other artists do. I make trouble for myself that way.

For more information about Douglas Smith, visit his portfolio page or pick up a copy of our May issue, which exclusively features Smith on the Contributors page.

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Q&A: Chikku Baiju, Photo Contest Winner (Again)

Chikku Baiju's grand-prize-winning photograph, made in Lost Dutchman State Park near the Superstition Mountains | Chikku Baiju

Chikku Baiju’s grand-prize-winning photograph, made in Lost Dutchman State Park near the Superstition Mountains | Chikku Baiju

Self-taught photographer Chikku Baiju is not only the youngest winner of the 2013-14 Arizona Highways Online Photography Contest; he’s also the first two-time winner in the six years the contest has been held. The 22-year-old says he shoots as a hobby but would one day like to make the hobby a full-time job. Baiju, who uses a Canon EOS-5D Mark II, gave us a little insight into the way he works his magic.

Q: As a photographer without professional training, how have you learned the art?
A:
I took a high-school class my senior year, and that’s when I got hooked on it. It’s mostly looking at other famous photographers. My main goal is to go to a popular photography place and try to come up with something different than what other people have taken there.

Q: You also won the 2009-10 contest; how does it feel to win again?
A:
I wasn’t expecting to win this year; there were a lot of good entries. I was surprised to win again.

Q: Tell us about the process of shooting the winning photo.
A:
This was the first time I’ve ever tried to shoot wildflowers at night. The shot was taken kind of away from the trail, a spot that not many people go to, I guess. It’s a lot of finding and luck. I liked what I came up with.

Q: What is the craziest situation you’ve found yourself shooting in?
A:
I was up in the Bishop area [in California], and I was trying to shoot some night shots. I was driving down the road, and I saw this one dirt road and wondered, “Where does this go?” It was a really great scene; it had a lot of wildflowers. I got some decent shots, and then I heard a huge breath. I thought it was the wind at first, and then it got louder and more animal-like. At that point I said, “I’ll probably just take photos in the parking lot by my car, just to be safe.” I had to run away to my car, because it’s bear country. I didn’t get the night shot, but I did get the sunset shot.

Q: Besides our book (100 Greatest Photographs to Ever Appear in Arizona Highways Magazine), where else can people view your work?
A:
I have a website, www.chikkubaiju.com.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Forest Service Fighting Two Wildfires in Flagstaff Area

The Secret Fire burns near Flagstaff on Saturday. | Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

The Secret Fire burns near Flagstaff on Saturday. | Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service is fighting two forest fires that broke out over the weekend in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff.

The 6-acre Secret Fire, in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, was 70 percent contained as of this morning, according to the Arizona Emergency Information Network. The 1.5-acre Boulder Fire, on Mount Elden, remains zero percent contained, the network said.

While we don’t know what caused either fire, it’s a fact that improperly extinguished campfires have led to many devastating wildfires in Arizona — including the Wallow Fire, which burned more than 530,000 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in 2011. With that in mind, let’s revisit the Forest Service’s guidelines for putting a campfire “dead out”:

  • Allow wood to burn completely to ash.
  • Pour water over the fire, dousing all embers.
  • Stir campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
  • Scrape sticks and logs to remove any embers.
  • Stir the ash pile to ensure that it is wet and cold to the touch.
  • If you don’t have water, use dirt, and mix it with embers until the pile is cool. Don’t simply bury the fire; it might smolder and catch roots ablaze.

Proper campfire management is a central tenet of the Leave No Trace philosophy. You can learn more about Leave No Trace in our upcoming June issue.

Recent drought has left most of Arizona a tinderbox and more prone to wildfires than usual. As we get more information on these or other wildfires, we’ll pass it along.

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Sneak Peek: Our May Cover Is Spectacular!

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 10.11.05 AMOur May issue is dedicated to Prescott, which is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. Check in with us on Wednesday for a Q&A with the artist behind this remarkable cover illustration.

 

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