Archive for the ‘farmhouse’ Tag

Through the Glass   9 comments

Through the Glass


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

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


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


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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Elbow Grease   13 comments

Elbow Grease


Sometimes, you just get lucky.

We were driving through a rural area and passed by an interesting place, so we wanted to turn around to check it out. Just before our turn out, we saw a man and woman approaching an old, abandoned house through a yard full of weeds and grasses. As we passed the house again, we noticed the woman standing on the porch.

The place we wanted to see was closed, so we turned back to our original route. As we approached the abandoned house once again, we saw the couple waving us down. Perhaps there was some sort of trouble.

The couple had seen us passing by for the third time and thought that we were ‘locals’ who were checking them out. As they told us later, “Everyone around here is related, so we thought it would be a good idea to let you know that this house belongs to our family.” Good information to have on both counts, I thought.

We heard their interesting story about how the man and his sister had been adopted by different families, and had only found each other recently after a 17 year search. The old house had belonged to the sister’s father, who passed away some time ago, leaving the house unoccupied.

Being the curious sort – and, of course, armed with a camera and tripod – I asked if I could poke around a bit. What had once been a beautiful old farm house was now collapsing in on itself. Along the front and sides, all of the doors and windows were blocked with plywood. Rats! (Um, not real rats. I just couldn’t see inside.) Around back, though, there was an old mud room door with no glass in the windows, just some loose cardboard that had seen better days.

“Would you mind if I just stuck my camera through this window?”, I asked. I find it never hurts to ask. “No problem.”

It was so dimly lit inside that I didn’t even know what was in there, and given the musty, moldy smell coming through, I wasn’t about to go inside. Apparently, it had been quite some time since the detergents and mops were used there.

The “skylight” is courtesy of last year’s Hurricane Irene, which had peeled back a significant portion of the tin roof. It’s a look.

It’s just a simple Rurex (Rural Exploration) composition – one not particularly noteworthy, at that – but it gave us the chance to stop along our route, do a little exploration, meet some interesting people, and then check for ticks.

Pete and Kelly, if you see this on the blog, please drop me a line at my email address. Thanks for letting us peek into the old place. It was a pleasure to meet you.

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Southern Summer Cottage   8 comments

A dilapidated cottage in rural eastern North Carolina

Southern Summer Cottage - © 2011 Rob Hanson Photography

In last week’s post A Stair Whisperer’s Invocation, I wrote that at one location we had been stopped by a rather large gentleman in an even larger pickup truck, wondering just what we were doing there. This is ‘there,’ although at the time I had some pretty serious questions as to exactly where ‘there’ was.

One often hears advice that you should shoot what you have available. Even this morning, a blog I follow suggested that you become a tourist in your own area, seeing the sights anew. Well, this is what we tend to have available there in eastern N.C., or at least available for the things that I find interesting. It doesn’t take much of a drive to find some curious mess strewn about.

We walk a curious line, though: In the summertime, subjects like this can be completely overgrown and invisible. In the winter, you can find them more easily, but they lack the interesting foliage. But, sometimes you stumble across the perfect mix — a great opportunity, provided that no one gets too upset about your being there.

Right after taking this set, a pack of dogs started barking across the field. I figured I’d better ‘git.

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A Stair Whisperer Invocation   7 comments

The front of an old dilapidated farmhouse built prior to Civil War in rural North Carolina

A Stair Whisperer Invocation, © 2011 Rob Hanson Photography, All Rights Reserved


This one was taken specifically with my friend, Bob Lussier, in mind. He is affectionately and properly known as The Stair Whisperer, after his incredible interior shots of the mills of Massachusetts. In the minds of most, nobody does it better.

Toward the end of a long, hot day exploring some new-to-us places, we stumbled across this broken down farmhouse. Sure, it was just off the road, only a few feet up a rural driveway, but what would it hurt to get right up there and shoot the inside? Who’d mind?

For the second time that day, a car wheeled down the road and, as bad luck would have it, pulled into the driveway. The couple inside stopped to ask what I was doing there. Fortunately, they were much more friendly and receptive than the burly guy in a huge pickup who stopped me earlier at another location. (“This is private land.” “But, it wasn’t marked as private, and it’s on our GPS.” “It eee-is.” “Okee-dokee, then…we’re just leaving now.”)

Mr. & Mrs. Wiggins gave me a pretty thorough history of this place, and invited me to shoot away. The farmhouse actually dates to before the Civil War, and it is said that at night in a rain, it glows inside as though there are lights on. I didn’t wait for nightfall to check on that.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, 17mm, ISO 100, f/4.5, seven exposures at +/-1EV with Promote  Control. Processed using HDR Express, Photomatix Pro, and Nik Color Efex Pro in Photoshop CS5.




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When Outside Comes In   14 comments

An interior HDR image of a collapsed, abandoned farm house in eastern North Carolina

Today, we present a wonderfully creepy shot taken at the same location as The Approach and Open Door Policy.

Since I’ve not yet gained permission to go inside the old farmhouse (and perhaps I wouldn’t want to), for this shot I stretched my tripod out to maximum height, jamming the lens over a window casing and taking my best guess for focus and brackets, all while dodging broken glass and rusty nails. Lucky guess. This is toward the back of the house, where a sunroom/porch fell into the main part of the house. I was delighted when I saw the brackets, as the window was so high off the ground that I couldn’t even see in.

I think we could call this a Redneck Solarium.

Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, 38mm at f/6.3, using 9 of 15 shots taken from Promote Control, including a second tonemap of the bottom three to bring the luminosity of the ‘skylight’ to reasonable levels.

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Influences   13 comments

An old, dilapidated farmhouse in eastern North Carolina, as seen through the front door.

Open Door Policy

Our experience is influenced by many different things: Who you are with; who is not with you; what the weather is like; where you happen to be; what music you have on your iPod; even what you last ate. Any number of factors determine how we perceive and interact with our environment. Considering that array of variables, it’s no wonder that each of us has a unique photographic interpretation of the world around us.

Because of recent influences of some friends who shoot amazing grunge images, I found myself on a search for Urbex in the area in which I live, which is decidedly rural. Here in the south, unused commercial buildings quickly become flea markets and antique (junque) stores. A small, empty metal building becomes yet another church. We have no abandoned asylums or penitentiaries that I know of. Finally, I found a target that met certain requirements: It was solo, with no other active buildings around. It was a real pile. There were no dogs roaming free. It was ‘right close’ to the road, and the front door was already open… That’s not trespassing then, is it?

As it happened that day, I was alone, which is unusual. Though my radar was up, I was more relaxed and less rushed than I sometimes feel. I had my headphones on — another unusual move, as I usually listen for barking dogs and irate farmers. Perhaps this change of factors caused a shift in my awareness, influencing my perspective. As I looked into the building, rather than just pointing the camera and firing off the brackets, I found myself wondering, “How would my friends see this scene, and what would they do with it?” I wasn’t alone after all! All the friends whose work I admire were influencing the moment every bit as strongly as the other factors. I decided to move into that feeling.

Rather than staying safely ‘behind the lens’, which is where many photographers seem most comfortable, I wandered further into the environment while the Promote Control was doing its thing. I considered the old building, its history, and the lives of those who had once lived there. I stopped to smell the musty air coming through the boards. I looked at details with curiosity, wondering who would have left their boots in the hallway like that. I took a deep breath to connect with what I was feeling, and how the building itself was influencing my experience there. I realized that the experience I was having was just another passing moment in the long history of that building, in that field. I tried to imagine what it was like coming down the stairs for breakfast before going out to work on the farm, or how I might have dropped my muddy boots in the hallway after a long day, or what the farm was like before the highway off in the distance was built, or if I could have imagined a day when a photographer would wander in uninvited.

My perspective became less that of a photographer out looking for a neat shot, and more about being part of the ongoing experience of the house and its people, even if I was there for just a few moments. Further, the differences between that day and an “ordinary” shooting day helped me to understand how the images I see and the people I communicate with on a daily basis can influence how I perceive an experience.

It seems to me that this awareness is one step toward being able to effectively communicate that experience to others through photography.

More on this later, I’m sure.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens at 23mm (34mm), f/9, 13 exp. 1/125 – 2s. HDR Express merge, multiple tonemaps, Nik Color Efex Pro

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