Suspected real life haunted castle in the form of an abandoned youth reform school vacated in the 1960’s. What better way to use it during Halloween than to convert it to a fake Haunted House? I fully understand the necessity to leverage the castle’s past by raising lots of funds through this event, and it is a very popular event, to help preserve and restore this great example of Romanesque architecture in the Sierra foothills. But to set up the interior of the castle with the appropriate props and volunteer actors for these tours, things have to be moved around and cleaned up for the general public. Well, personally, it’s a bit sacrilege if you ask me. I mean, one day when it’s finally restored, the old items will be gone and cleaned up anyway, but it doesn’t seem right. The Preston Castle Foundation run weekend tours of the castle and it would feel inappropriate of me to go on a tour and move around objects. I would be akin to entering buildings in Bodie and moving furniture around (which I think does happen by state park rangers).
Anyhow, some friends and neighbors did the tour this year and loved it while another friend and I walked the perimeter of the recently defunct Youth Correction Facility in search of the Preston Cemetery, where the remains of 23 wards are said to be buried and potentially haunt the Castle. And yes, all the paranormal shows have done on-site episodes of the Castle mainly to investigate the spirits of the dead wards and/or the head housekeeper that was found in a locked basement room bludgeoned to death in the 1950’s. We never did find the exact location of the cemetery as we only knew it was nearby but not on the Castle grounds proper, though some internet sleuthing later has alerted me to the exact location.
As for the photo, the Castle itself is bright red sandstone and even more so when the spotlights shine on it at night. To me, it’s just too reddish and almost too uniformly bland. Not wanting to introduce graininess to the photo, I chose to leave my ISO at 100 and just open up my lens to f/4.5 and prolong the shutter to a relatively long 30 seconds. After working with the color photograph for 10 minutes in post processing and being unsatisfied with the results, I finally moved the file from Lightroom into Silver Efex Pro to create a black and white version. Converting a color photo to B&W is more than just hitting the automatic B&W button and that’s where Silver EFex Pro provides more control than working exclusively in Lightroom. I like the B&W version better, but you can see the original color photo version >>>HERE<<<.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted avg metering mode, 34mm, ISO 100, 30 sec, f/4.5
Preston Castle, Shadows, Night, B&W. Ione, California. October 30, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.