Yesterday I decided to take a drive in the mountains near where I live. I’m sure to most they are only foothills, but to us they are our mountains. A little back story to my post.
Years ago on a dirt bike ride we visited a abandon cemetery on an old dirt road in the mountains. I can remember the majority of those buried there had died the same year. I can also remember a swimming hole in the stream next to the cemetery. Now fast forward to about 10 years ago I started looking for this cemetery again. Well I’m still looking.
Every now and then I take a drive find another old back road that I haven’t tried yet and see if I can find that cemetery and swimming hole. And sad to say yesterday was not the day. But, I had a great time exploring yet another old dirt road.
Todays post is two photos from a set of smoke stacks from an old factory in Homestead, Pa. The Pittsburgh region was once a major area for steel mills and other factories, thus the nick name the “Steel City”. Today many of the factories are gone, some have survived and there are a few remaining remnants of what once was. The stacks in these pictures are in the parking lot of a movie theater.
Tonights post is in response to a question I saw on another site. It was in reference to photographing abandon building and houses. The person was asking for information and opinions about how to go about photographing these places. I have over the past year or so ventured into a few of these places. And I will give everyone the same advice I gave the gentleman, be safe in your adventures. These places are abandon and there is no telling what you might run into. The house featured in todays post was missing much of the floors on the ground level. Most definitely not a place to venture into alone. Which brings me to my second bit of advise. Don’t go alone, it’s always better to have a partner or two when you are looking around inside these places.
So if you go out and photograph abandon places please be cautious and have a great time. It’s absolutely amazing what you can find in these places.
Leave a comment and tell me about your experiences in exploring abandon places.
For todays post I would like you to think back to when you were a kid and try to remember something that stood out to you. Today, I was close by one of the towns that I grew up in and decided to take a ride down main street. As I rode down the street I remembered asking my dad to ride my bicycle “uptown” to go to the 5 and 10 store for some candy. At the risk of dating myself I can remember when you could get a bunch of candy for a quarter and imagine how much I was able to get with a dollar and our local 5 and 10 had penny candy. I now know that this was one of the few places left that was still selling penny candy. I can remember leaving my bike on the sidewalk, running into the store with my friends and picking our candy. (there once was a time when you could leave you bike on the sidewalk and it would still be there when you came out) Then my friends and I would ride back home with our brown bags filled with candy.
As I rode through the town today I was amazed at how things have changed and, at the same time, how things have stayed the same. The 5 and 10 store, although long ago closed, is still standing. Another place that I remember was the local barber shop. In this case we are talking about Mr. Ugliks. I can remember sitting there in the yellow chairs that lined the walls listening to all the older men talking about, well just about everything. I think Mr. Uglik spent more time talking than cutting, it was an experience that many will never have. To this day I can remember the sound that the razor made when he sharpened it on the leather strap hanging from the chair and the feeling of the shaving cream on my neck. And by-the-way the price for a hair cut was $6 and that included the shave. But the entertainment was free and priceless. I have to mention, just in case someone from the area reads this, the one man that was always there, “The Captain”. If you’ve ever spent any time in Masontown, Pa, I’m positive you ran into “The Captain” at some point.
So I leave you with this, remember the old times, tell the young people about them, for they are gone and if we don’t share our memories how will they live on?
This is my 2012 in photos. Some of these photos were taken with projects in mind such as the abandoned buildings, some were just subjects I came across, and others were planned trips to some of my favorite places like Gettysburg. I hope that you have had a great 2012 and are looking forward to an even better 2013. Enjoy and let me know which photo you like the best.
Some of you may have noticed that I have a fascination with abandon buildings and houses. Now I am adding industrial sites to the mix as well. The shots in this post were taken at the Nemacolin mine in Nemacolin, Pa. Nemacolin mine was in operation from 1917 through 1985-6 when it was closed for good. In 1919 Nemacolin mine was considered to be the largest coal mine in the country. The town, built by the coal company, had a theater, tennis courts, amusement hall, and a swimming pool. They also had their own hospital and elementary school, both of which have gone by the way side. It was said that the town was considered to be the model mining town in the country and the mine was considered to be the model mine for the entire world to look towards. To give you an idea of how advanced the town was, in 1917 the town had its own sewage treatment plant.
On a personal note, two of my family members worked in this mine. My grandfather worked in this mine his entire coal mining career. I was not aware of this until after visiting the mine and taking the photographs. I was talking with my mother and had mentioned that I was at that mine taking photos. She got really excited and told me the story of how she would go with my grandfather on Saturday mornings to pick up his pay check. They lived across the river, in Messmore, and would drive to the Nemacolin ferry and cross over to the mine to pick up his check. She also told me of the stories that my grandfather would tell about walking out of the shaft when there would be a problem in the mine. Apparently if there was a problem or the electricity would go out the miners would have to walk a set of steps from the bottom of the mine up the entrance shaft. The other member of my family that worked there was my father. He worked there a short period of time until transferring to the Buckeye mine in Carmichaels Pa. She also told me that the miners were able to travel underground between the two mines, which are approximately 2-3 miles apart.
For the photographers reading this the are all HDR photos processed using HDR Efex Pro.
I hope that everyone enjoys the photos and the short history lesson about this mine. Feel free to leave comments and ask questions.
As some of you may have seen I have been working on a series of photographs which I have been referring to as “Desolation”. The series is based on abandoned buildings and houses throughout the region. I started this series last year with the intentions of just getting a few interesting shots from an old house that I had come across. I can certainly say that I instantly was fascinated with the idea of the these forgotten places. Since then I have been photographing and visiting as many places that time allows and the series has been growing. Starting tomorrow night I will have an exhibit of some of this series at the Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, Pa. The opening will be Friday, February 10, 2012 from 5pm to 8pm. The show will run through March 8, 2012. If you are in the area please stop by and take a look at the show and let me know what you think.
The photographs that will be on display consist of Black & White and Color HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. I decided to take this series in a “digital altered” direction to add some dramatic effect to the photographs. Also, to better show some of the amazing textures and detail that can be found in these capsules of time. It is always interesting to look inside these places and wonder why did the owners leave, where did they go, and why did they leave so many of their belongings behind? I have seen everything from pianos to a business check book that contained a un-deposited check. Some of the places look as though the people just gathered up some of their belongings and walked out the door. And then I come along all these years later and take the photos of the emptiness and desolation of these places. And even though the places are abandoned and without people, to me, they have somehow managed to take on a personality or life of their own. And this series captures some of the “life” that I have come to call “Desolation”.
I hope that you have a chance to stop by Allegory Gallery and take a look at the show.
I have been working on this project for a while now and some of it will soon be on display during February at the Allegory Gallery, in Ligonier, Pa. www.allegorygallery.com
This project began with an old abandon house that I photographed, which sparked an interest in finding more abandon places. I have decided to use the HDR technique for this project which has resulted in some very interesting results. As I work on this project it often comes to mind why did the people leave? Where did they go? And why did they leave so much of their belongings behind? Questions, I fear, that may never be completely answered.
I hope that you find the photography of this project as enjoyable as it was for me to produce the photos. I will update with the particulars of the show as soon as they become available.
Headed out to find some more buildings for my “Desolation” project. I think I will head over to Green County and see if I can find some of those old abandon coal mine building. I will post some photos of what I find later.