Thursday, August 6, 2015

Making Bourbon

For a long time I have wanted to visit places along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. When my travel plans allowed some time, I chose to tour the Woodford Reserve Distillery. Definitely a good decision, it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Woodford reserve Distillery - visitor center

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Woodford Reserve Distillery is located in beautiful Kentucky horse country, you pass by meticulously groomed horse farms to get to the distillery. The modern visitors center and friendly staff makes you feel welcome and comfortable. I signed up for the tour and we were shortly on our way by bus to the distillery proper. The buildings dating back to 1890, now National Historic Landmarks, were refurbished in recent years yet retain their historic look and feel.

Still House

Our first stop was the still house. This historic limestone building is permeated with the sweet smell of the newly fermented mash. Our guide, James, did a fine job showing us the process by which grain is turned into bourbon.

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Mash Cooker

Corn, rye, and malted barley are ground to fine meal and go into the “mash cooker” were starches are turned into sugars. The mash is then fermented in large, cypress wood vats, where yeast converts the sugars into alcohol. Fermentation takes several days at carefully controlled temperatures.

Fermenters

Fermentation Vats

Mash

Now comes the distillation part of the process. Woodford Reserve used three large batch copper stills to extract the alcohol from the fermented mash, called “beer” in the trade.

The fermented mash goes first into the “Beer Still”, the largest of the three. Next comes the “High Wine Still” and the desired portion of the distillate goes to the final “Spirit Still”.

Stills

The “Spirit Safe” allows for testing of the output from each still and controls are provided for directing the liquid to the desired destination. You can see the clear liquid flowing in the third window. The final step is to fill the fresh “bourbon to be” into new, charred, white oak barrels.

Spirit Safe

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The filled barrels go outside where the go on the “Barrel Run” to be rolled to the next building.

Barrel Run

Barrel Run

The next building is the “Barrel Warehouse”, also called rickhouse or rackhouse in the trade. It is here where the barrels age for many years and the bourbon takes on its final character. This building too is permeated with the smell of bourbon, the “angels’ share”, that works its way through the wood of the barrels. The product is periodically tested until the master distillers declares it ready.

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The barrels are taken to the adjoining bottling building where they are emptied, and the now golden bourbon is run through a final charcoal filter bed.

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It is Woodford Reserve bourbon now. The final steps are bottling and packaging.

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The tour then returned to the visitors center for the final part, tasting the product and learning the finer points of bourbon and how to drink it.

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My final tribute here - a couple of “café art” creations.

The horse sculpture greets visitors at the entrance. It was created by James Burnes from CorTen steel and cherry wood as “Western Tears” for the Woodford Reserve Distillery. Locally it is referred to as “Rusty” and I have called the painting “Yippie”.

Yippie i aye  --  Yippie i ohh

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Finally an artistic tribute to the masterpiece from the Woodford Reserve Distillery.

If you have not already found out, clicking any image brings up a larger version from my OneDrive album. The album contains many more photos and can be viewed as a slide show. If you wish to see the collection from the beginning click here: Woodford Reserve Distillery Tour.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bouquet

A Bouquet from the Garden

In this case the garden is The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, located in Athens, Georgia. It provides a conservatory and over 300 acres of gardens and natural areas with miles of trails.

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

The bouquet includes “café art” renderings and photographs. In fact the images range across the “divide”. All are painstakingly processed to bring out what I thought I want to show. In some cases that was done by using a “painterly” approach. For some others I wanted to retain photo-realism yet show the subject impressively. Some of the images are really nearly photo-realistic café art, maybe you will recognize one or two.

Rose

Heritage Rose

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As a change of pace, the images here link to pictures in my album “Bouquet from the Garden” on my Ludwig.Photos site. This site has undergone major renovations recently. Indeed, it is still being tweaked. This is the first time that I use any links to it. Some of these might not quite work as expected.

Rose

Water Lily

Poppy

Poppy

You may wish to try the slide show feature in the album. Since this is a first effort, your comments and suggestions are most cordially solicited. Please avail yourself of the comment feature below.

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

Sunday, April 19, 2015

SmoothBW

 

Smooth Black and White

The post, Extreme Black and White, looked at B&W photography using just black and white with no or very few gray tones. In this article we will look at “smooth” black and white, using all or most of the tones available to digital B&W imaging. The images in this post are presented as JPG images with 256 shades of gray. That is enough to make well processed images appear gorgeously smooth and complete. Let’s start with a couple of examples.

Aircraft EngineThe Beast

What the two photos above have in common is smoothly painted surfaces, fine detail, and sharp focus. Than can make very nice B&W photographs.

Fine detail and texture can make photos come alive in B&W as the the next two examples show.

Common GracklePark Bench

Architecture has always been a favorite subject for black and white photographers. Image manipulation can be especially effective with such buildings and their environment. 

Atlanta Skyline

... live by the sea ...

Click on any of the images to see then larger.

Landscapes also can be very effective in well-processed black and white, bringing out dramatic skies is a popular effect.

Tranquil Afternoon

Indeed, black and white can be “smooth” and “gorgeous” with any subject that has a wide range of tones. The trick is “filling the histogram”, making sure that there are rich blacks and soft, subtle whites, and a full range of tones in between.

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Four-thirty in the Afternoon

Even flowers, normally a subject strictly for color photography, can look great in B&W.

Lady Slipper Orchid

A smooth b&W photo can make you forget that the color is missing.

Contemplation

Fine portraiture can be specially effective in black and white.

Horace 

Full tonal range, fine contrast, rich blacks, clean highlights, put those things into a photo and you have a fine image. If you have a compelling subject and draw the viewer into the picture, and you carefully attend to light and exposure, black and white can be smooth and satisfying.

This article was first published at the other Café Ludwig blog.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck