Zebulon Abandoned School – Part 1

Last weekend, some friends and I finally had the opportunity to check out an abandoned elementary school in the small, rural town of Zebulon, Georgia.  I knew someone who knew someone, and was able to get permission and the keys to the building — the best of both worlds!  We were also told that there was supposedly a ghost that haunted this school — predominantly in the auditorium — but I can tell you (very thankfully) that none of us encountered it.

I’m most of the way through processing my photos from this location, but the three below have surfaced as my favorites.

paper towel holder

Unlike the last two abandoned buildings I’ve explored, this one has been locked up and the windows boarded up, so there was really no graffiti to be found.  While this allowed for a more pristine environment, the windows being boarded up did mean that the place was pretty dark.  With very few exceptions, shooting hand-held here would have been close to impossible.  (As much as I hate lugging my tripod around, I keep finding myself at locations whose environments pretty much require it.)

lone lightbulb in weather-worn room

The photo above is my favorite, and I actually knew it would be the moment I walked into this room.  There was wonderful natural light coming in from one of the few windows that wasn’t boarded up, and this bare lightbulb was just hanging there — begging to be photographed!  And then there’s the chair rail and the texture on the wall….  I’m not a people photographer (I wait for people to get out of my pictures :-)), but I so badly wanted to photograph someone here.  If I ever do a portrait shoot, I know where I’m going to do it!

pencil sharpener in classroom

Lastly, there’s this shot of the old, rusty pencil sharpener and a wonderful growing bokeh down the length of the weathered chalkboard.  All of the rooms were painted different colors.  Clearly, this was one of the blue rooms, which contrasted nicely with the brown of the pencil sharpener.

If you’d like to see more photos from this excursion, please check out my Zebulon Abandoned School set on Flickr.

Thanks!

Old Car City – Part 1

About 45 miles northwest of Atlanta, in White, Georgia, is a photographer’s paradise known at Old Car City.  Old Car City started as a small country store in 1931 and has been in the same family ever since. Owner Dean’s father started selling cars in the lot next to his general store and today the site has grown to 34 acres with over 4,000 cars. They no longer sell parts — it’s more of a living museum, with over 6.5 miles of trails.

ISO 200, 25mm with 4 exposures of 1/800, 1/200, 1/50, and 1/13 sec at f/11

I visited Old Car City for the first time back in November 2010, and it’s probably because of this visit that I became so fascinated with HDR (high dynamic range) photography.  HDR is a perfect canvas for conveying all the rust and grit this place has to offer.

On that visit, I shot lots of cars and trucks — *lots and lots* of cars and trucks.  I visited again this past Friday, and even though we had access to even more of the place than the first time, I found myself fixated on just about everything other than cars and trucks.

ISO 200, 30mm with 3 exposures at 1/320, 1/80, and 1/20 sec at f/8.0

The photos below is probably one of my favorites from the day!  The bikes were really colorful, but after processing the photos, I realized that the key element of this shot wasn’t the color, but the structure of bicycles lined up in a row.  Nothing shows off structure like black & white, and when I converted it, I was in love.

ISO 200, 25mm with 3 exposures at 1/160, 1/40, and 1/10 sec at f/8.0

ISO 200, 25mm with 3 exposures at 1/320, 1/80, and 1/15 sec at f/11

In my next post, I’ll share some of the cars and trucks that I shot, but I’ll wrap up this post with a shot of some radios on a shelf in the main building on the grounds.  Most of the texture and feel of this one are compliments of Snapseed by Nik Software (I *heart* Nik products!).

ISO 640, 25mm with 3 exposures at 1/30, 1/8, and 0.5 sec at f/5.6

Please check out my Old Car City set on Flickr for more photos from this set, as well as shots from my first visit back in 2010.

Thanks!

Milwaukee Art Museum – Part 2

Some exterior photos from my visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum to check out the Quadracci Pavilion, an architectural structure built in 2001 and designed by Santiago Calatrava.  Highlights of the building are the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windhover Hall, with a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling; the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily; and the Reiman Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge that connects the Museum to the city.

Milwaukee Art Museum's Burke Brise Soleil

I think the HDR might be a little over the top when it comes to the sky, but what can I say — I’m a sucker for puffy clouds against a popping blue sky.  🙂

Milwaukee Art Museum's Quadracci Pavilion

Next to the Milwaukee Art Museum they’ve integrated the existing Milwaukee County War Memorial Center.  This architectural achievement of renowned Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen stands as a fitting memorial to those who have served in the U.S. Armed Services.  Saarinen’s unique design, a floating cruciform with cantilevered portions, is now considered a classic in the development of modern architecture.  The War Memorial Center was dedicated on Veterans Day 1957.

Milwaukee County War Memorial Center

Of course, I couldn’t resist turning my camera around to get a shot of “The Calling”, a sculpture that represents the sunrise, and kicks off the start of Wisconsin Avenue.  It was a bit challenging, as the sun was still a bit high in the sky, but I stood so the sun was behind the US Bank building, and just embraced the light.

Wisconsin Avenue and "The Calling"

Please check out my Milwaukee Art Museum set on Flickr for more photos.

Thanks!

Milwaukee Art Museum – Part 1

While visiting my sister in Milwaukee, I decided to check out the Quadracci Pavilion, a wonderful, sculptural building incorporated into the existing Milwaukee Art Museum in 2001.  I’d seen pictures, but nothing compared to seeing in person.

Milwaukee Art Museum - Windhover Hall

The Pavilion was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who was inspired by the original building by Eero Saarinen, the topography of the city, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style architecture.

Milwaukee Art Museum - Windhover Hall

Windhover Hall is the grand entrance hall for the Quadracci Pavilion.  It’s Santiago Calatrava’s postmodern interpretation of a Gothic cathedral, complete with flying buttresses, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and a central nave topped by a 90-foot-high glass roof.

Milwaukee Art Museum - Windhover Hall

The hall’s chancel is shaped like the prow of a ship, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over Lake Michigan.  Adjoining the central hall are two tow-arched promenades with expansive views of the lake and downtown.

Milwaukee Art Museum - Quadracci Pavilion

The Museum’s signature wings, the Burke Brise Soleil, form a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan. The brise soleil is made up of 72 steel fins, ranging in length from 26 to 105 feet. The entire structure weighs 90 tons. It takes 3.5 minutes for the wings to open or close. Sensors on the fins continually monitor wind speed and direction; whenever winds exceed 23 mph for more than 3 seconds, the wings close automatically.  Unfortunately, the wings were closed on my visit.

Please check out my Milwaukee Art Museum set on Flickr for more photos.

Thanks!

Abandoned Factory – Part 2

So, I’m finally posting more photos from the abandoned battery factory.  I would have posted some sooner, but I’ve been sick with a cold and cough, which I’ve convinced myself has nothing to do with the fact that I was trudging through this contaminated factory a couple of days earlier.  🙂

This time around, I’m not including EXIF data for the photos that went into these HDR shots.  I’m not sure if anyone was really looking at that.  If you liked that information, though, just let me know and I’ll go back and add it.

The photo above is one of my favorites from this second batch.  I absolutely love the lighting!  I think it was just a lucky combination of HDR and shooting at the right time of day.

In this shot, I was hoping to capture a little of the old and the new — invoices from when this was still a business, and caps from cans of spray paint used now to cover the walls with graffiti.  What do you think?  Do you think this shot works?

A larger room shot in the same location as the papers shot above.  I think what drew me to this shot was the contrast of the vibrant graffiti with the drab, dingy papers on the floor.

Believe it or not, this was in the same room as the b&w shoe shot from my last post!  Quite the contrast, I’d say.  The colors on this graffiti were just exquisite.  To the left, out of the shot, was written “THE DEVIL CAME DOWN TO GEORGIA”.  Unfortunately, there just was no way to get it all in due to a post that was in the middle of the room, at least not with the 17-35mm lens I had on me.

So, now for something completely different.  I saw this walking from the large, open space into the room with the devil and the shoes.  The shaft of light completely caught my attention.  I loved how it was illuminating the pipe on the opposite wall.  What do you think of this one?  The shot above was the feeling I had in mind when I took the photo — simple, graphic, monochromatic.  Was it worth it?

If you’d like to see more images from this shoot, please check out the set on my Flickr site.

Thanks!

Abandoned Factory – Part 1

After a short-notice invitation from a friend, I went on my second urban exploring adventure yesterday.  I’m intentionally not going to share many details about the type of place or the location, except to say that it’s an abandoned factory on the Southwest side of Atlanta.  I will say, though, that I learned after the fact that it’s a contaminated site that’s on the EPA’s Superfund list.  Yikes!

ISO 400, 19mm with 4 exposures of 1/6, 0.6, 2.5, and 10.0 sec at f/11

Unlike the abandoned school that we visited in February, we didn’t have to climb through any windows or search for an entrance — we just walked in.  Also unlike the school, this location was pretty much a big, wide open space, with a few rooms here and there.  There was an upstairs, with a cafeteria, etc., but I pretty much kept to the main floor.  I guess I’ll have to go back again so I can explore the upstairs.  🙂

ISO 400, 25mm with 3 exposures of 2.5, 10.0, and 30.0 sec at f/11

I still have plenty of photos to process from this excursion, but so far, the photo above is my favorite.  The moment I converted it to b&w, I felt like I had something special.  This was taken in a shower/locker room area where the workers must have changed from their normal shoes into shoes that they wore just for work, because there were several shoes (not sure about pairs) in this room.  It was one of the few places in the building where there was any remaining connection to the people who actually worked at the factory.

Another one of my favorites so far is the one below.  I just love how the colors play off each other, as well as the position of the desk compared to the main graffiti on the left wall.  There’s just a lot of visually interesting stuff in this one.

ISO 400, 30mm with 3 exposures of 0.4, 1.6, and 6.0 sec at f/18

If you’d like to see the rest of the images from this shoot, please check out the set on my Flickr site.

Thanks!

The Goat Farm – Part 3

February was a month of photo outings just about every single weekend.  March, however, has proven to be the opposite.  I don’t think I’ve had a chance to pick up my camera once this month, and the month is almost over!  I also got so sidetracked working on my images from the abandoned school that I never finished working on the photos from The Goat Farm — until now.  🙂

If you haven’t seen my previous posts on The Goat Farm, it’s an artists’ community located in an old industrial neighborhood in Atlanta.  To call the buildings dilapidated is probably a compliment — some have just downright collapsed.  All of this, of course, makes for fascinating photography!

ISO 640, 25mm with 3 exposures of 1/320, 1/80, and 1/20 at f/11

My second post on the Goat Farm was focused on the little, impromptu coffee shop that exists on the site.  Yet again, I find that my favorite photo has come from that coffee shop.  I’m just in love with the photo above.  I don’t know why, but I find myself going back to it over and over again.  I encourage you to look at the larger version of it on my Flickr site by clicking on the image.  I think there are just great details in the shot that only come through when viewed larger.

I don’t think the following shot is one of my best from the day, but I wanted to share it because it reminds me of Frank, the rabbit, from Donnie Darko.  Anyone else think that?

Anyone else see Frank from Donnie Darko?

The next shot is the result of some experimenting with the onOne Perfect Layers app, which allows you to add layers to photos you’re editing in Lightroom.  I guess in hindsight, it’s silly that I bought it, since I have Photoshop and can do layers there, but I guess I got other useful tools as well out of the onOne bundle, and it gives me the freedom to not be tied to Photoshop forever.  Anyway, this shot is layered with a couple textures.  I just really wanted to give it an aged look.  Do you think it’s overkill, or does it work?

ISO 400, 30mm with 2 exposures of 1/160 and 1/80 at f/6.3

Lastly, below are some broken windows on one of the many warehouses on the grounds that were not safe to enter.  I loved the way the sun highlighted the texture and age of the windows, and how the blue sky peeked through where the glass was broken.

ISO 400, 30mm with 2 exposures of 1/320 and 1/80 at f/11

I wasn’t using a tripod due to the location, so some of the shots were shaky.  I managed to do HDR with just two of the images, and it still turned out well.  If I had been shooting JPG instead of RAW, I might not have been able to pull this one off with just two shots.

Of course, if you’d like to see the rest of the images from this shoot, please check out the set on my Flickr site.

Thanks!