While scouting a camping location in the Nolichucky Gorge, near Erwin Tennessee, I spotted this abandoned house and ask my friend to stop so I could capture this series. This house takes me back to one of my original, and still favorite, photography genres — abandoned places, and the beauty found in decay.
These images are best viewed in high resolution, click on an image to view a high res version from my portfolio site. These compositions were added to my This Ole House gallery.
In the darkest days of the Great Depression, newly elected President Roosevelt launched a series of government interventions to address the devastating consequences of failed institutions and 25% unemployment. A series of financial industry acts helped stabilize the nation’s money supply and banking services. Public works acts put many unemployed Americans back to work. Housing acts such as the Federal Housing Administration, Home Owners Loan Corporation and the U.S. Housing Authority collectively made possible New Deal Homes such as this one. My grandfather was a foreman who build many New Deal Homes in and around Rutherford County, North Carolina in the 1930s & 40s. I have several of his carpentry tools in a display case.
The New Deal represented a new coalition of white working people, African Americans and left wing intellectuals, which stood in opposition to conservative obstructionism. While campaigning for his second term, Roosevelt was quoted saying “The forces of ‘organized money’ are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match.”
Many of the New Deal programs and institutions remain today and are considered part of the bedrock of American civic, financial and economic systems (e.g. Social Security, unemployment insurance, Securities and Exchange Commission). Similarly, the influence of money in politics and income disparity remain today as significant social political issues in the United States. Given its significant history, it’s sad to see so many abandoned, decaying New Deal homes across our landscape.
Because I used Alien Skin’s Exposure to emulate Agfa APX 100 black & white film in these compositions, I added the Agfa’s film notch code to my black brand border. I appreciate you taking time to visit my blog. Click on an image to see a high resolution version of the image from my portfolio site.
I can’t seem to make up my mind on the best approach for this abandoned house on Hwy 158 near Belews Creek, NC. Color or Black & White? After basic image enhancements in Lightroom and Photoshop, the color version was processed in Alien Skin’s Exposure 7 to emulate vintage 1960 Kodachrome 25 slide film tonality. I use this treatment for a lot of my abandoned/urbex color compositions.
The black & white version was also processes in Exposure 7, but this time to emulate Agfa APX 100 b&w film. Again, my b&w go to for an extra dash of contrast and addition of old school analog grain. As much silver and chemical I literally had my hands in during the 70’s and 80’s, I appreciate the accuracy of Alien Skin’s emulations. In the future, when I’m breaking even with my photography, I may give film and photo-paper enlargements another go. For now, I just don’t have the time.
So, which do you like best, color or b&w? You can also click on an image to see a higher resolution version from my portfolio site. I appreciate your feedback.
A few weeks ago, I ventured out into Davidson County to locate an old house seen months earlier on Old Greensboro Rd. Though rain was in the forecast that day, it had only appeared briefly as a light shower. The sky was thick with gray billowing rain clouds, I knew the clouds would complement any exterior shots of the house, and also knew more contrast in the clouds could be extracted with a little post processing. When I found the house, it appeared I would have time to shot a series of this house before it rained again.
Interestingly, there were a few signs the previous inhabitants had started refurbishing the front of the house, but apparently had given up . Perhaps they felt the house was too far gone to continue with restorations. This seems to be a common decision that leads to abandonment. If only the house had been incrementally cared for in past.
The best compositions turned out to be the left side and rear of the house. Here I found little sign of restoration, decay had firmly set in. As expected, the rain clouds added to the mood of the composition while also providing textural and soft shape contrast with the house. I felt the interior image turned out quite nicely. To me, the light itself is the subject here. It softly spills through the decrepit window onto the aged wooden floor, ceiling and barely the wall. The room lies empty except for a few objects, which add visual interest and clues about the former inhabitants.
Last Tuesday while attending a local exhibition opening reception were several of my pieces were featured, I had a nice conversation with a painter also being exhibited. While admiring her paintings, I mentioned my interest in experimenting with a mashup of a photograph and art filter processed version of the same image.
Well this weekend, I finally got around to trying out what I had envisioned. I started rummaging through some photos taken of an old house on Hwy 421 near Sanford, NC in November 2014. Back then, a few architectural detail shots did end up in my portfolio, but the other images from this shoot were mostly ignored. They were dark and dingy, and seemed to have little potential.
After a few of my standard workflow adjustments, this bold, vibrant image appeared. I was quite excited! Next, several versions of the image were processed using some of my favorite filter plugins for emulating painterly effects. I ended up composting the filter effect “painted” image between the original and a black & white versions. After much experimentation and tweaking, I feel I’ve gotten nice reference for further work. It seems the overcast, low contrast lighting worked well in this experiment. Another good lesson was learned; as I continue to gain more experience and knowledge, I’ll likely find other undiscovered gems buried on my hard-drive!
Click on each image to see a higher resolution version on my portfolio site – csyjr.photoshelter.com. As always, I’m very interested in hearing your feedback and comments.
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.