Archive for the ‘documentary’ Category

Through the Glass   9 comments


Through the Glass

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Continuing on with the series from the abandoned farmhouse in North Carolina, I found an interesting composition through a door sidelight in the front hallway, looking back toward the kitchen, pantry and other rooms at the back of the house.

One has to tread very carefully through here; the right side of the house is pretty much missing, and the best path is to balance-beam along the floor joists.

Of compositional note: The original frames were much wider, but when I cropped this to something close to a 9:16 format, it just popped.

Related Posts:

Through the Bedroom Window
Inside Lines
Purity of Intention

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Through the Bedroom Window   2 comments


Through the Bedroom Window
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Although the abandoned farmhouse sits directly on road frontage, if you look out the back windows, there are farm fields about as far as the eye can see.

I tried to imagine what life must have been like in this area so many years ago. There was likely very little traffic, no airplanes overhead, no air conditioners humming. Perhaps the owner was rumbling along the fields in an old tractor; kids out back playing under the huge trees that have long since fallen; the matriarch of the family calling to them through this back window, the breeze fluttering the curtains. Time to come in and wash up for dinner.

It’s eerily quiet there now, except for the occasional passing car. The farmhouse has melted away, but I suspect not the memories that the residents had of living and growing up here.

Related Images:

Inside Lines

Purity of Intention

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Inside Lines   5 comments


Inside Lines

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I entered the abandoned farmhouse featured in “Purity of Intention”, entering not through the front door, but through a window in the room on the right, as Jeff had shown me. Often, due to weathering, the front porch is the first thing to fail on these old houses. I tested the porch floor, and although I had on my heavy boots and clothes, I knew that it was not to be trusted.

Moving carefully from room to room, I looked for the opportunities. One of the first to appear was this view from the back of the central hallway toward the front; the play of light and shadow was compelling, bringing in both a comfortable feel as well as some genuine spookiness. The lines from the stacked boards, the ceiling, and the exposed beams all converged on the front door. The house also showed that the owners had a sense of decorating style, as the blue, green, and yellow paint were all visible from one spot.

Jeff had already removed some materials from inside. The rest, no doubt, was likely the result of vandalism.

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Purity of Intention   10 comments


Purity of Intention

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Across rural North Carolina, old abandoned buildings are either being taken down, or are in an advanced state of decay. Whether they’re removed to make way for one of the new “house farms” that spring up in open fields, or are simply left to melt into the landscape, these testaments to a former, quieter time are becoming much harder to find.

Let me correct that: There are still a number of them out there, but they’re often inaccessible due to being on private property, or sitting in the middle of a vast field with no roads leading up to them.

This one is an exception.

Recently, my friend Jeff Garvey (‘Recycling is for the Birds’ on Facebook) gained unfettered access to this old farmhouse. You may remember my mentioning Jeff, a good man who finds these buildings and with the owner’s permission, dismantles them carefully. He totes the wood and bling back to his workshop where he makes incredible birdhouses using the old materials. Every Saturday morning you can find him at the local farmer’s market with a full display of unique creations. Some of them are truly functional art; others will never see the outdoors because they’re simply too beautiful to give to the birds. (You’ll see one of his better ones soon.)

I spent about four hours alone in and around this beautiful old house. One has to move very carefully… at one point on an upper floor I almost dropped through to the bottom floor. Free access allowed me to spend the necessary time to view, set up, and really soak in what this place is about. From this outside view, we’ll go inside for a few images.

In talking with Jeff about my experience there, I could see the concern on his face as I told him of possible damage done by vandals and pilferers. Some people need to bust brick, I suppose, and others will take glass door knobs, hardware, and insulators so that they can get 50 cents at a flea market. They find little value in these things, and they don’t approach such a place with any sense of respect.

Jeff is different. He loves these old places, and finds a purpose in giving them new life as birdhouses and decorations, so that others can enjoy these relics anew. It’s very important to him; it’s his purpose. There is a purity of intention that I appreciate – I consider it an honor to be able to help him capture the old beauty before it’s gone forever.

Associated Posts:

They Leave The Nest So Early An old school in Arapahoe being dismantled by Jeff.

A Mother’s Kiss One of Jeff’s creations in action “in the wild.”

Grandfather’s Legacy The story of our first visit with Jeff.

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Kirche Sankt-Georg   4 comments


St George wm

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Nothing straight, here…

The St. Georg Protestant Church is located in the historic city center of Hattingen, Germany. Of all buildings in Hattingen, it is surely the one most noticed from afar.

The church was built in 1200 from local Ruhr sandstone. Remains of a Roman pillar base and two column bases from the period after 820 were discovered in 1972 during excavations inside the church.

Since the building anchors the town center, there are many good approaches for a photo, but I think this angle shows it best. The rough cobblestone street and the crooked medieval buildings give a sense of disarray to the scene, so although I straightened up a few lines here and there, it is difficult to find a good point of reference for vertical and horizontal lines. I thought it was better to have a sense of crazy angles in the scene.

Lest you think I went too far with Photoshop’s puppet warp feature, the church’s steeple is truly tilted to one side. Evidently this is one of about 90 listed (and listing) church steeples with this attribute. Some theories suggest that it was built this way deliberately, so that if a storm took down the steeple, it wouldn’t fall on the nave. Others suggest that it’s due to the revenge of an underpaid carpenter. The way I see it, if you put all that slate on a skinny little structure, it’s going to start leaning at some point.

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Hip Hop Danger   2 comments


Hip Hop Danger

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There’s danger in this kind of Hip-Hop.

One weekend, while wandering the mean streets of Hattingen, Germany, we came across a town carnival that had a number of rides, games, and attractions. Mostly geared toward the kids, we nonetheless took delight in the retro-American motif throughout the fair. I mean, really… Break Dance? And who are those people painted on the backboard?

The other thing that struck me is how this scene would be different in the States. There would be a barrier in front of the ride, and people would be herded in line for the next ride. Here… if you want to jump up, go ahead, but you’ve been warned.

Sony NEX 7 hand-held, f/22, 1/8s, 15mm.

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Here’s the Church; It is in Stiepel   10 comments


Here's the Church; It is in Stiepel.

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“… We would have gone in, but there were too many people.”

We recently did a three week trip to Germany for medical purposes**. Since we were rather engaged with that whole process, I didn’t have too many opportunities to shoot. Priorities.

The weekend after surgery, we had a few days of downtime, so we just started driving around on small, local roads, knowing that we could plug our hotel address into the car’s SatNav for the return trip, a process made significantly more challenging in that the SatNav only spoke German. We don’t.

At the top of a hill in the village of Bochum-Stiepel along the Ruhr River, we found a lovely church and decided to poke around a bit. Good angles were complicated because a young couple was getting married in the church, and they seemed to have a lot of friends. Also because of the wedding, we couldn’t go inside for a look. After doing some research at home, I regret not having access, as there are frescoes inside that date from the 12th and 16th centuries.

It’s almost unfathomable for an American, but this building dates back to the year 1008 AD, when it was a small single-nave church. Around 1150 AD it was rebuilt into a Romanesque basilica. The single-bay center aisle and the three-bay transept still exists today. During the last quarter of the 15th century this basilica was enlarged to a late Gothic hall church. The surrounding church yard is worth being seeing (and you will.) Its oldest tomb stone dates from 1600 AD and the walls and main gate are even older.

Not bad for a stumble-upon.

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For those interested, but not aware of the details, we went to Germany so that Susan could get spinal surgery. (All ahead, Pucker Factor 10.) Her C6/7 disc was just gone, C5/6 would follow soon, so she needed a two-level cervical disc implant – two artificial replacement discs and plates.

Although the implant technology is made here in the U.S., the FDA only *very* recently approved two-level implants using obsolete technology, which means there is little experience among the docs here in the States. In Germany, surgeons have been doing this for many years, and they have state-of-the-art devices available.

If you or anyone you know has spinal issues or degenerative disc disease, DO NOT accept the “standard of care” here in the U.S., which is fusion of the spine, as your only choice. Fusion produces terrible results – neck collars, pain, immobility, certain future surgeries, etc. – yet that’s all we can get here. Compare that to the fact that Susan and I walked into town for ice cream TWO DAYS after her surgery.

If interested, hit me up and I’ll tell you how we went about this.

Creamer Cemetery, Maine   2 comments


Creamer Cemetery Maine

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Alongside of Route 191 in Cooper, Maine, lies the family plot for the Creamers.

I’m not usually one to skulk around cemeteries with a camera unless the statuary is notable, as in the case of Cave Hill in Louisville. But every now and then, you can pass by an alluring small plot that commands attention. They are often near the road and off the side of a small farm, and they tease with a story that you’d likely never hear unless you know the family.

In this case, thanks to the resource of the Internet, we know that Otis, off to the left there, died in 1860 at the age of 22, almost 23, and was the son of Thomas Creamer. Winslow, also a son of Thomas, died a little over a year later at the age of 19. Poor Phinemas on the right didn’t make it much past 6 years. A daughter of Thomas, Hannah, passed just short of 29 years old.

It caused me to wonder why these siblings all passed away at what we would consider today to be such an early age; how Thomas and Emily could possibly cope with having their children precede them, all in only four years time. Was it a rampant virus? Was it the long Maine winters? Something more nefarious, perhaps?

It was a family. Perhaps that’s all we’re entitled to know. But there is a story held in a few square feet at the side of a remote Maine road – a remembrance of people who were born into a time that was surely much more strenuous than we’re accustomed to today.

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Sometimes, It Is…   4 comments


Sometimes, It Is...

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Gamble, an abandoned lobster boat found alongside Route 1 in northern Maine.

We woke up in the tent one morning and decided that it was too chilly to stick around outside, so we took a photo road trip up to Moosehorn NWR a few miles north of us. (Truck heater, yay!) Alongside the route, we found this poor, dilapidated beast in a vacant lot, an equally sad looking abandoned Gulf gas station.

We could only imagine what kind of story might be behind the vessel, its legacy on the water, and what conditions caused its demise.

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An HDR from five frames, the original version showed just how colorful and lucious the foliage was at the time, but I didn’t think that it set the mood for the image. Using a number of layer techniques and a subtle filter from OnOne, I tried to create the mood as I saw it on that cold and overcast day.

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Back Whence It Came   6 comments


Back Whence It Came

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Tree. Wood. Ore. Metal. A wagon forged by the hand of a man. All will decay. Nothing lasts forever.

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We descended to the bottom of the trail shortly before 5PM, knowing our target. Placed near the equipment shed for the old Stone House, these wagons have been in place and deteriorating beautifully for years.

Unfortunately, since it was 5 o’clock, a few maintenance people were converging on the shed, parking their trucks in all the good spots. Problem. I didn’t think twice before walking up to one of them and jocularly saying, “You know, I traveled over 1,000 miles just to shoot these wagons.” Oh… you’ll move your truck? Why, thanks!

The guys were talking together, but surely also sizing up these people from ‘Away.’ One of them, an older gentleman in bright red suspenders who looked like a cross between Albert Einstein and Kris Kringle, was Frank. I know this because he had a huge sign made of welded pipe running across the back window of his pickup truck – his “Office”.

The sign said, “F – R – A – N – K

I asked him, “Are you Frank?”

“Nope. I’m Ernest,” he replied in a deep New England accent.

“Somehow I doubt that,” I said as we shared a knowing laugh.

And with that, we were introduced to Frank Eastman, a colorful local who has tended the grounds of the Stone House for several decades. After the other guys went home, we chatted with Frank for quite a while. He had worked with the Maine DOT for many years. We talked about how someone had once offered to restore the wagons for display, but Frank had declined, preferring to see them decay in their natural form. After a time, he felt comfortable enough to let us in on a local trail secret — a waterfall that most people don’t know about — and he asked if I could shoot it for him someday.

That’s for next year, when I’ll likely meet up with Frank again. Some people you just want to keep in touch with.

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