Tag Archives: urban decay

Panoramas aren’t just for Landscapes


Panoramas are often an effective way to showcase the grandeur of a vast landscape. A photographer can often show more in a wide aspect panorama, instead of just stepping backward or using a wide angle lens. I love shooting panoramas in the great outdoors but I also find ways to use this technique on other types of photography as well. In the image above I shot 5 vertical frames of the lobby inside the former Women’s Auxiliary Building at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. I used a Nikon 14-24mm lens at 14mm on a full frame sensor. While that lens has a very wide field of view, it was not wide enough for me to capture the entire scene in one shot.

Back in the film days you would use a special camera such as the X-Pan. This was a camera that used 35mm film and would expose the image at 24mm x 65mm, instead of the traditional 24mm x35mm that is typical for 35mm cameras. Ten years ago I dreamed of owning an X-Pan, but the price of the bodies and lenses was prohibitive. Many used 35mm film cameras have become fairly inexpensive but if you look around a used X-Pan is not one of them. The only advantage I can think of today where a film camera such as an X-Pan would have the advantage over digital is with a fast moving subject. Slow moving subjects such as clouds and water work just fine for digital panoramas.

So if you want to start shooting panoramas with your digital camera you will need to learn a little about Parallax. Really Right Stuff has a great tutorial on their site. My panorama rig is from Really Right Stuff and while not inexpensive, in my opinion the quality is the best and worth the investment. There are less expensive options for a Nodal Slide and other assorted gear if cost is a factor.

Years ago I had two or three programs I used for assembling panoramas, because when one program failed to properly stitch the panorama, another program would often do the job. But in the last few years Photoshop has gotten so good at this feature I have not needed the other programs when I switched my processing from a PC to Mac. So today all my panoramas are assembled in Photoshop.

Some cameras (including my Fuji XT-1) will shoot handheld panoramas, but the results are not always precise and in the case of my Fuji, it saves the result as a Jpg file instead of a RAW file. I occasionally use the panorama feature on my Fuji, but when the shot really counts I use my tripod and panorama rig to get it right.

I Have Been Meaning to Share



The picture above is from a trip to Scranton Lace Factory in 2014. I have a folder where I save images that I plan to share or blog about and just realized this image is almost a year old and it has never seen to light of day so to speak.

Scranton Lace Factory is located in Scranton, PA. The company was founded in 1890 and the factory was closed in mid-shift sometime in 2002. The site has been undergoing cleanup for the last several years and I know the owners have big hopes for redevelopment of the site.
It was a great location to shoot, but I suspect the best shots were from a time when the site was truly abandoned.


The Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield – Caveat Emptor


Last weekend Denise and I took a road trip with a couple of other members of our Meetup to the Ohio State Prison at Mansfield.

It’s a wonderful old building that looks more like a castle on the outside than a prison. We had signed up for the “photography tour” at a cost of $150.00 per person. Never having been there, I did not have any concerns and was looking forward to the experience. Denise and I do tours at places like Eastern State Penitentiary and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and while the pricing is comparable, both of these other places provide additional value for the money. It could be freedom to work with minimal interaction with other tourists or access to places that are off limits to the other guests. But in any case we have always felt there is extra value in paying more than the average tourists.

That changed this past weekend. We arrived and stood in line with others who were paying $9.00 for general admission. When it was our turn we paid $150.00 a person and was told to follow the tour route. That translated to having to wait between 5 and 10 minutes at nearly each shot waiting for the tourists to be out of the shot. Sometimes I elected not to take a shot because I just got tired of waiting the the people to get out of the way.

To be fair to Mansfield we did go during the summer busy season and after we expressed some concern about being over charged just because we had tripods, we were told they could take us to some places that were not part of the tour. By that time we were just over it and wanted to get back on the road for the several hour drive that was ahead of us.

If I had it to do over again I would have left the tripod in the car and just shot at a high ISO and used the vibration reduction feature on most of my lenses.

So if you decide to go, I recommend that you go off season and get a clear understanding of what you get in exchange for your hard earned dollars!

The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. ~ Robert Frost


And I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference… This one line sums up how I have always looked at life. Explore where others may not have wandered. When I set out to travel, I don’t think to myself… where does everyone else go or how does everyone else do it. Instead I try to forge my own path and head in a direction that might not seem as likely.

This doesn’t mean I don’t travel to well-known destinations, because I do. But it does mean that I try to see that destination differently. Maybe I stay in a small pensione or albergo and not the well-worn hotel chain. Maybe I eat where I see locals and not the restaurant recommended by the concierge. It also doesn’t mean I travel alone. In fact, I rarely travel alone. I prefer traveling with friends, creating shared memories and experiences. Simply, I like to go to places and then experience aspects of that place that are not as well-worn by others.

This past weekend, two friends and myself headed off in search of something to photograph. We could have stayed local, gone to DC or Arlington or…. But instead we headed west. We had a general idea of where we would end up, but we took a circuitous route through the countryside of West Virginia. The rule in our car… just say stop and the driver needs to do his or her best to accommodate. This is likely to include driving until it is safe to turn around and heading back to the location. Also, we never question the stop request. Just because we may not have seen what the requestor sees does not mean the requestor did not see it. However, if you say, “that is cool” or “wow what great light” or similar, the car keeps moving. You must say stop.

Here are a few “Stop” images from that trip. Random lonely barns, abandoned cars, bored bovine… scenes of life in the country. As much as I love the big cities with their monuments to progress, I have often taken the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.



Happy Valentine’s Day from Road Runner!



When you are mostly a landscape photographer it’s kind of hard finding images that are suitable for a day filled with romance. I was recently going through my collection of images and found this one from Henryton State Hospital, which has since been demolished.

It’s the best I could do…

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

As Luck Would Have It…

Sometimes we head out thinking our day will take us to one place and then it takes us to another.

Well that is precisely what happened on Saturday. We were headed out for our evening Meetup at Carrie Furnace (see below), with the plan of doing some scouting for future Meetups. We had a destination in mind, but along the way… we found the Mother Load for antique cars! At first we hemmed and hawed about whether to stop, time was of the essence and there were No Trespass signs were clearly posted. Also, there were no signs to identify the business or owner, just a lot with cars on it. Well, being the diligent folks we are, we decided to do some sleuthing to try to find the owner and seek permission to explore this amazing collection! We tried a local bar, the local fishing hole, and then the white pages. It took a significant amount of time, but in the end, our efforts reaped rewards.

The owner kindly came out to meet us and was willing to share these treasures. These images are just a small sampling of the collection. This by far has been the most representative collection of American Classics I have seen. Although these vehicles are in total disrepair, they were clearly loved. Hood ornaments intact. Row after row. We were like kids in a candy store!

There is always an element of luck in photography and I would say that on Saturday, luck was with us.

Our hope is to set up an event at this location. Stay tuned to our Meetup page for future updates.

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And our luck continued… but not until after a few stress filled moments. We arrived at Carrie Furnace just before 4:30pm… in torrential rain. Everyone in the Meetup braved the rain for our introductory tour… the where you can go and where you can’t go update, as well as a history of the facility. As our tour came to an end, so did the rain… that’s when the real action started. The rain had settled the dust and added rich texture to the pipes and structures. Puddles lent themselves to reflection. Really the conditions were ideal to photograph such as wonderful location. As night fell, the sky cleared, and the light show began. RRPT owes a special thanks to Jeff J. for spinning wool. I think the flying sparks harken back to the days when the plant was active and the molten steel flowed.

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Next up for RRPT – Ricketts Glen, May 23-24th – This is a great opportunity to try your hand at long exposure waterfall and river images.


Then RRPT heads to The Palouse – June 8 – 13th. The primary grain-growing region of the U.S. The Palouse is amazing in early summer, as the wheat, lentils, and canola turn the rolling hills varying shades of green and yellow.


To register for either of these tours, click here: Photo Tours!

See you soon!