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.
Last Friday I took a few black & white prints to C&D Salvage to show my appreciation for allowing me to take photos in their salvage yard last April (see my earlier Auto Salvage Graveyard posts). Of course I brought my camera on this visit as well. Again, I asked for permission to take pictures. I only had about 40 minutes to shoot, as they would be closing soon. I returned to the same area were the older cars are located. Unfortunately, the weeds and brush had pretty much consumed the area. I’ll have to wait until the winter to get more shots of antique cars.
I continued on towards unexplored parts of the site. As I was about to run out of time, I saw a large heap of tires with a few wrecks thrown precariously on top of, or into the middle of the pile. The vehicles were light-colored which provided quite a bit of natural contrast with the darker tires. On a related note, one of the visually interesting aspects of the compositions in this post is the broad range of dark to middle gray tones seen in the tires. Turns out tire manufactures add carbon black to tires to help protect against dry rot caused by UV damage. Over time, the carbon black starts turning gray as it absorbs the UV in an effort to help protect the rubber. An interesting tidbit from the Auto Salvage Graveyard.
Click on an image to see a higher resolution image on my portfolio site.
Everyone and everything has a story. Considering the automobile is so tightly integrated into American culture, it’s easy to associate a car with a unique story-line. Outside the inherent utility of transportation, there is also the car/driver relationship. Here, driving becomes a real and tangible experience; repeated and built upon over time.
In the spring of 1982, I purchased a rusty but sturdy 1967 Pontiac LeMans for $200. Later that summer, my friend Mark and I visited a local junkyard in Raleigh; first to acquire a water pump, and later to get a radiator for my LeMans. Surplus parts from the junkyard kept me and my LeMans on the road and contributed to a great summer of 1982.
While photographing at the C&D Salvage location in China Grove, NC, and afterwards while processing images in Lightroom, I would think about the lost stories and perhaps lost souls represented in each graveyard relic I photographed. The images portray a kind of weathered monument to a time when the car was once shiny, new and admired. I also couldn’t help but to also loosely associate these old cars as automotive equivalents to organ donors. They gladly gave up spare parts to make other cars whole again.
I would encourage viewers of this post (and the previous one) to both hopefully appreciate the visual characteristics, but to also imagine what the story could be for each of the subjects in the Auto Salvage Graveyard.
While traveling to Charlotte on I-85 not long ago, I noticed what seemed to be a large junkyard through the trees, just past the China Grove exit. It occurred to me, subjects from this location could be an interesting addition to my The Beauty of Decay collection. A few weeks later I located C&D Salvage & Garage in China Grove, introduced myself as a photographer and asked for permission to take some pictures. I was given only 30 minutes to shoot, perhaps I looked a bit suspicious. Asking directions for the oldest part of the site, I was quickly on my way. The sky was perfect; it didn’t take long to find numerous potential fine art subjects. Fine art from a junkyard, ha!
I’m still researching the make of the car in Gold Sedan, Blue Sky. I knew immediately this was going to be a great shot. At 11:00 am the sun was still low enough to provide some side lighting. The low shooting angle and wide angle lens adds visual interest. I processed the image to emulate Kodak Ektachrome slide film. With this processing, the image picked up a bit more vibrancy & warmth.
A few rows offer I found a black 58 Chevy Bel Air — 58 Black Beauty. In its day, these were magnificent family sedans. A low shooting angle shows this old Bel Air still maintains most of its elegant lines, while the peeling paint and rust make for a different kind of beauty. The image was processed with a Agfa APX 100 filter.
A six foot high pile of rear axles (Rear Axle Salvage) makes for a chaotic but impactful composition of shapes, textures and shadows. This image was also processed with a Agfa APX 100 filter to give a little extra contrast and old school film grain. Click on an image to see a higher resolution image from my portfolio site. Click on the date of this post to like and leave a comment. I’m would love to hear your feedback.
For the past few months I’ve been stalking out an old abandoned brick house on Union Cross Rd in Walburg, NC. Most of my old house subjects have been wooden structures. The weathered brick and encroaching vines in this home made things visually a bit more interesting. In my first few visits, I was hoping for more dramatic lighting to capture the east side of the house. Eventually, I captured the Scary House image on a cloudy late afternoon in early March. After working with this image in Lightroom, I went to Alien Skin’s Exposure 7 to find color film filter to add a touch more drama. I ended up with the Fuji Pro 160C film emulation filter with a slight bump in exposure to compensate for the crunched contrast effect. Pretty scary, eh?
Around to the front of the house, at the front door, I found this cool door knob composition — Rustic Entrance. The brass door knob and metal plate behind it offer an interesting example of contrasting textures and shapes. Click on the image title or image itself to see a more detailed image from my portfolio site; notice the detail in the door knob and metal plate. The Clarity feature in Lightroom was helpful in optimizing this effect.
The weathered wood and peeling teal paint also add visual interest to the image. Another encroaching vine appears as another reference to Mother Nature’s claim on this old house. Here, I used a modern Kodak Kodachrome 25 emulation filter in Exposure 7 to make the textures pop a bit more.
Back on the east side of the house, one of the first floor windows was almost completely hidden behind dense shrub overgrowth and a fallen tree limb. Pushing through the shrubs, I found the composition shown in the Forgotten Window image. Here the broken window glass, electrical wire and wooden board provide visual counterpoint to the strong rectangular shapes and patterns in the front plane of the composition. Through the window, into the room lies a metal mattress frame and open door on the back wall leads back outside.
Since I was a kid, old abandoned houses have always caught my eye. I’m driven to stop and take a closer look, now a days with my camera. While visiting these properties, I keep an eye out for exposed rusty nails & snakes, both potentially hiding in the tall weeds and grass. Depending on the condition of the structure, it sometimes seems unsafe to go inside. Cautiously exploring each room, I try to imagine what it was like when someone actually lived in the house.
I suspect a lot of folks think of old house images as another photography cliche. Perhaps they are, but when I fine an interesting abandoned house, I’ll usually stop to assess its visual potential. Often, I’m not disappointed. Weathered surface textures and interesting shapes, lines and pattern combine with the juxtaposition of man’s attempt to bring symmetry and order to the world with nature’s slow and steady reclamation over our futile attempts at permanency.
The images in this post are from my This Ole House Gallery and also part of the Beauty of Decay Collection. 1st Floor, Left Entrance was taken at an abandoned house just of Hwy 421 north of Sanford, NC. The two doors, missing porch, crumbling deck above, and rear window all make for an interesting composition.
Decrepit Front Porch was taken at a decaying old house off of Sandy Ridge Rd. in High Point, NC. Here the house is closer to crumbling, the decay much more intense. The severely weathered wood is bowing, splintering or broken. You get the sense this house could come crashing down at any moment. In addition to the complex shapes, patterns and depth, I like contrasting vines in the foreground.
Both these images were processed to emulate Kodak Panatomic-X black & white negative film. I have more pictures from this gallery to share in the coming weeks. I would love to hear your comments about what you like and don’t like about these images. From the main blog page, click on the blog post date to link to the blog’s commenting feature found at the bottom of the page.
Last Monday, just a few days after my first visit to the the farm, we received a few inches of snow in town. Tuesday morning I worked from home. It was overcast, but the forecast called for partly cloudy skies by noon. My plan was to visit the farm again on my way in to work. The timing was important to get the best possible clouds and overall lighting (considering my time limitations and real job as an IT project manager).
I pretty much followed the same path from my earlier visit; but because of the snow, lighting and related time of day, this visit presented a fresh set of photographic opportunities. Because of the much wider dynamic range, processing this set of images took more time to make judgements about shadows, mid tones and highlights. I also struggled with cropping decisions on several images. For example, the Second Shed Doorway image was originally cropped tightly around the door. I felt it was a powerful image; but also had a hard time cropping out extended wood textures and the vine growing up towards the roof. All images were processed with Alien Skin’s Expsosure 7 software with a Panatomic-X emulation filter. On the back-lit image, I backed off the grain density to 70% to keep the grain form getting too clumpy in the darker shadow areas. I hope you enjoy the images in this post.
For months I’ve admired the old Willard Dairy Farm in High Point, NC as I drove past it on the road that bares the same name. A prominently displayed No Trespassing sign had dashed my hopes of exploring this property with my camera. That is until a few weeks ago when several Boy Scouts from my Troop and I were picking up trash as part of a service project on Willard Dairy Farm Rd. About an hour later at the other end of the road, we came by a small farm operation.
I asked some young workers loading feed into a truck about who owned the abandoned farm down the road. The workers directed me to a man in an old pickup; I walked over an introduced myself. Why it was 87 year old Mr. Willard, his father had purchased the 100+ acre property in 1912 to established a dairy farm. He informed me his family no longer owned the site of the original farm, but he thought it would be ok for me to take some photos. So last weekend, I finally drove by and took some pictures just before the late day light began to fade.
The first image, Inside Out, is from inside a small shed next to main barn & silo complex. The building has been decaying and taken over my vines. Stepping into the shed side entrance, I noticed missing wood on the sides and roof, which was allowing indirect light from the overcast sky. The compressed dynamic range allowed me to capture a dramatic image of the overcast sky while preserving some of the shed interior detail. Of course, the photo needed some processing in Lightroom to hold a suitable amount of shadow detail while at the same time pushing for a little extra contrast. To finish the image, I used a filter in Exposure 7 to emulate Plux-X black & white film. It may be trivial, but I think its pretty cool how the vines are reverse silhouetted against the sky versus the darken wood.
The next Willard Farm Barn Facade image features the dramatic character of the deteriorating old Willard barn. On my portfolio site, I talk about “The Beauty of Decay“. There is an interesting juxtaposition between the rich textures, colors and character of natural decay on the one hand, with the sense of nostalgia for antique artifacts. At first I was concerned about the flat overcast lighting, but was able to put some depth and shape back in the image during processing. This time I went back to finishing up with a Panatomic-X filter, this time though with less push processing to maintain contrast while achieving grain structure and other film characteristics.
Please leave a comment with your thoughts, feelings, feedback, advice or whatever else these images may bring to light.
It’s often said, the simple things in life turn out to be the most meaningful. Perhaps it’s not to much of a stretch to think about the beauty and visual interest to be found in a closeup of an old barn. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; but for me, the rich textures of the weathered barn wood and rusted tin make for a splendid composition. How often do we miss opportunities to seek-out and appreciate the beauty found all around us?
Each time I process an image in Lightroom, I’m still amazed how just the right combination of adjustments can “make and average photo good, and good photo great”. In this Barn Wood & Tin Composition image however, I did end up experimenting for quite a while with the Clarity, Tone Curve (contrast) and Color Luminance adjustments to get just the right tonality character. Specifically reducing the luminance for red, along with some additional burning resulted in a satisfying texture on the piece of tin at the bottom of the image. I used my usual Panatomic-X processing filter to get a little extra snap and analog grain in the image.
During the processing of this image in Lightroom, I felt a sense of anticipation & excitement as the final image began to reveal itself. I was reminded of my years in a real Darkroom and the same feeling of anticipation as the image first reveal its prescribed potential when hanging up the role of film to dry after development. And, later at the enlarger making decisions about dodging and burning, followed by the emergence of a final image as the photo-paper made its way through the trays of chemicals. Things change over time, and yet in many ways, they stay the same (pardon the cliché).