Old, Modest, Decaying Rural Home – 3 images

Old, Modest, Decaying House with Cedar Tree B&W
Old, Modest, Decaying House with Cedar Tree B&W

While photographing this old house I wondered about its backstory.  Was it intended as a family home in the country or perhaps just a small country cottage/bungalow?   After doing a little research online, the size of this home, approximately 500 square feet, could have been influenced by several trends.

  • Decline in average size of family. According to the US census bureau, there has been an average loss of one person per family during the first 100 years of our country (5.7 in 1790), followed by an additional person in the next 50 years (3.8 in 1949).
  • Decrease in domestic production. With the rise of the industrial revolution, the space required to facilitate domestic goods production & services such as clothing & linens, food production and food storage (e.g. canning) became unnecessary as families became “consumers”.
  • Cost of modern amenities. Homes in the early twentieth century usually had reduced space to compensate for the increased expense of plumbing, heating and other technological improvements.
Old, Modest, Decaying House with Cedar Tree, Vintage Kodachrome
Old, Modest, Decaying House with Cedar Tree, Vintage Kodachrome

Since the mid twentieth century however, average home sizes in the US have increased between 400 & 500 square feet every 20 years.

The color image above is a composite of a several versions of the color original.  The first layer is a emulation of a vintage Kodak Kodachrome 25 film stock.  The second layer is a oil painterly effect applied to a copy of the first, and the final layer is a high contrast black & white with some additional processing.  You can click on each image to see a higher resolution image from my portfolio site.

Old, Modest, Decaying House Door
Old, Modest, Decaying House Door
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Ferguson Model TO-20 Tractor Detail – 2 images

Ferguson Tractor Side Detail
Ferguson TO-20 Tractor Side Detail

Born in Ireland, Henry Ferguson produced his first tractor model in 1936.  In 1938 he struck a deal with Henry Ford to produce tractors in America.  The TO-20, shown in this post, began production in 1948 and became one of the most popular tractor models for small farms.  After a troubled break away from Ford, he would later sell his company to Massey Harris, which became the modern day Massey-Ferguson company.

click to view a higher resolution image
Ferguson TO-20 Tractor Front Detail

I was really drawn to the detailed textures of the tractor’s rusted old metal and nameplate.  For most warm colored images, I’ll finish my workflow with processing in Alien Skin’s Exposure 7 Kodachrome film emulation.  The result for these images was nice, but I eventually felt they were too saturated.  So, by dialing back the saturation a bit I believe I got a nice compromise of texture and color.  Click on the images to see a higher resolution version from my portfolio site.

Joe’s Groceries

Joe's Groceries
Joe’s Groceries

This sign is part of a Kroger grocery store built in 1954. The building now lies abandoned on Patterson Ave near downtown Winston-Salem, NC.  The shape of the sign was likely influenced by the Googie style of architecture, which was very popular in the 50s.  Googie was characterized by upswept roofs, geometric shapes and bold use of steel, glass and neon.  The style represented the country’s fascination with space travel and atomic energy.  I couldn’t find additional history on this structure, but the last occupant appears to have been a local grocery store named Joe’s, which served the old North Winston neighborhood around Patterson Ave back in the day.

Lines, Shapes, Order and the Natural World

Abandon Building Window Grid
Abandon Building Window Grid

Lines, shapes and geometry bring order to the natural world.  At the molecular and subatomic level, complex geometry is a play.  Yet in the natural world we perceive, there is less formal structure.  Then came the need for humans to organize, build and engineer.  Today our homes and cities are full of shapes, patterns; order.  Lucky for us photographers, eh?

Abandon Building Window Grid Detail 2
Abandon Building Window Grid Detail 2

Given our brains run on electricity, researchers believe our perception is sped up when we visually view the world in an organized, geometric order.  Perhaps that’s why this old building caught my eye one day after work.  The strong lines enabled by the grid like structure and shapes are quite compelling.  I especially like the way it contrasts against the softer lines of the sunset clouds in the background.

Abandon Building Window Grid Detail 1
Abandon Building Window Grid Detail 1

Smokestack Landmark

Smokestack Brick Composition
Smokestack & Brick Composition

This old building is near downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  It’s large smokestack catches your eye from Highway 52.   One afternoon I decided to take the nearest exit and have a look.  The location has a lot of character and photographic opportunities. In addition to the smokestack, the facility has an old railroad trestle and tracks adjacent to the main building.  There is also a large iron structure supporting what may have been a water tank.

Crossway Window Abstract
Crossway Window Abstract

I’m pretty sure this is an old Sara Lee textile facility.  Thus far I have been unable to find any history online.  Hopefully, I’ll have more background information on this great location in a future post.  I’m excited about the great architectural features, shapes and textures in this first set of images.  Hope you enjoy as well.

Water Tower Abstract
Water Tower Abstract

Grassroots Urban Renewal

click to view a larger resolution image
Untitled Broom Waltz

Skateboarders are sometimes thought of as inconsiderate, reckless misfits rebelliously occupying the urban landscape.  Not so I say.  Recently while exploring a large North Carolina city industrial area, I found this group of lads feverishly tiding up a large abandoned concrete lot.  The golden hour was almost upon me, so I was quite excited to see this dramatically lit group working in an industrial setting.

Team of Three
Team of Three

As I approached the lot, I introduced myself and asked if I could take pictures.  They agreed.  I asked if they were cleaning up to make way for a skate park.  They acknowledged as such, but asked me not to publicize.  That’s why I haven’t disclosed the name of the city.  Their view, “we’ll cleanup the trash, broken glass and other hazards in this vacant lot as gesture of good will towards the community.  In return, we’ll respectfully use the lot as a skateboard park.”  “Sounds like a win-win,” I said.

Final Sweep
Final Sweep

My black & white workflow usually ends with post processing in Alien Skin’s Exposure 7.  I love the Agfa APX 100 black & white film emulation.  After a few tweaks to the preset, it almost always delivers a pleasing boost in contrast, and the grain structure emulation follows the fine grain characteristic of the stock film. The resulting grain effect is subtle, while still delivering an old school feel.

More From Old Greensboro Road

Old Barn on Old Greensboro Road
Old Barn on Old Greensboro Road

I have a few more images to share from my shoot last month on Old Greensboro Rd.  First is Old Barn on Old Greensboro Rd, the poison ivy growing on this barn is about as menacing as the storm clouds.  A shorter focal length would have helped show how long this old barn is.  A vintage Kodachrome film emulation effect was used to warm up the image with earth tones.  The next image, Old House on Old Greensboro Rd Rearview 2, is a straight on shot (shooting slightly uphill) of the rear of the house shown in the previous Old Greensboro Road post; this time with the same Kodachrome processing.

Old Barn on Old Greensboro Rd Rearview 2
Old Barn on Old Greensboro Rd Rearview 2

Losing Family Farms

Long Abandoned Shed
Long Abandoned Shed

Within the next generation or two, these old farms will be mostly lost.  Not more than two generations ago, there were operational farms everywhere.  Similar to the loss of small main street businesses to mega mass-merchants, family farms have lost ground to agricultural giants.  Over the past few years global food security has risen as an important topic for policy planners.  Current large scale operations are simply not sustainable and like the images in this post, they may someday be subjects of abandonment.  With growing interest in sustainability and locally grown produce, perhaps we’ll see these beautiful structures one day return to the countryside.

White Barn Side with Vines
White Barn Side with Vines

The images in this post were from an abandoned farm in Ruffin, North Carolina, between Reidsville and Yanceyville on Hwy 158 in Caswell County.  This past July, I noticed the farm while my Scout Troop was traveling to Cherokee Scout Camp near Yanceyville.  The following weekend I stopped on the way back from camp to capture these images.  The morning sun was peaking in and out of the clouds, creating ideal lighting conditions for the contrasty white barn and wood shed.  Another interesting characteristic of this barn was the dead vines still clinging to sides, you can see where they had been cut away from the ground.  Vines are the first phase of Mother Nature’s reclamation of man made creations.  Perhaps this was an earlier intervention intended to slow that process.

All the images in this series were processed in Lightroom and Photoshop, and finished with Alien Skin’s Exposure 7 to emulate Agfa black & white film.

Old Wood Shed
Old Wood Shed
Old White Barn Loft
Old White Barn Loft