Panoramics at a Mormon Ghost Town

This week my Photo Communication class and a few folks from my Advanced Photography class headed up into the Portneuf River Valley, about an hour southeast from the university, for some panoramic fieldwork. The valley was beautiful this time of year, situated between the Bannock and Portneuf mountain ranges at 5,446 feet (1,660m) elevation. Our fieldwork site was the Mormon ghost town of Chesterfield.

Situated along the Oregon Trail, Chesterfield began as a village settlement during the early 1880s. However, after the turn-of-the-century, this rural community began to suffer the effects of drought, harsh winters, and the construction of Union Pacific’s rail line a dozen miles south at Bancroft. By the late 1920s and into the ‘30s, Chesterfield continued to fail due to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl affects throughout the Intermountain West.

With cameras and tripods in hand, the ISU photo students tackled their work with much enthusiasm! Dividing into small teams, they conducted photographic survey work of the old town site. Using a variety of photographic methodologies, they crafted images ranging from multiple-image panoramic landscape shots, to detailed close-up interior architectural views within abandoned structures still containing home-preserved jars of fruits and vegetables.

Late in the afternoon, we drove over to the Chesterfield Reservoir to scout future sites for nighttime astrophotography; specifically, star trails. Afterwards, we headed out of the valley to Lava Hot Springs, where we enjoyed a hearty dinner at the Chuck Wagon restaurant. Below are some shots of my students engaged in their fieldwork at Chesterfield, along with a few of my interpretations of the experience.

Pano of Chesterfield using six vertically stitched images from my Nikon D800 with 1962 vintage 50mm/1.4 lens. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Pano of Chesterfield using six vertically stitched images from my Nikon D800 with 1962 vintage 50mm/1.4 lens. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

View of the Portneuf Range in B&W. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

View of the Portneuf Range in B&W. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Same view in color...can't make up my mind! © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Same view in color…can’t make up my mind! © 2013 Terry Ownby.

View towards Portneuf Range with dramatic skies. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

View towards Portneuf Range with dramatic skies. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Click here to see more students in action!

Click here to see more students in action!

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