Tag Archives: Urban Exploration

Another Great Meetup

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This past weekend our meetup group visited East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania. The East Broad Top was once a short line railroad that transported coal from the mines to another railroad for transport to the end users.

Mother Nature did not really cooperate and we had a fair amount of rain, but there was plenty to shoot indoors and everyone really enjoyed this location.

We are in the early stages of planning a return trip so be sure to join our meetup if you want to be notified of our next trip.

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Panoramas aren’t just for Landscapes

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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

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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

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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!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Road Runner!

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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!!

The Softer Side of Grunge

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When I’m shooting an abandoned building most of my pictures tend to have a “grungy” look. This is usually accomplished with the use of Photomatix and some selective editing in Photoshop. But a couple years ago on my first visit to Scranton Lace Factory I decided to take a different approach. I did some shooting with my Lensbaby and the soft focus optic.

I love the soft focus optic and use it frequently with flowers. The soft focus optic is different from the other Lensbaby lens options because there is no focus spot, rather the entire scene is soft, yet in focus. But for some reason it seemed like the right tool for the scene in front of me.

Clients of Road Runner are eligible for a 10% discount on Lensbaby Gear.  Contact us for a discount code.

Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code “RRPT” for a 15% discount.

 

What do you do on a Road Trip?

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Recently I was invited to speak to the Charlotte Camera Club.   Whenever I travel with a camera I try to build in time to explore.  On both of my travel days I was able to explore some of the back roads near Charlotte.  I was not disappointed!  My discoveries included beautiful forests, old cars and, in the case of the image above, a beautiful fixer upper.   Truthfully this house is too far gone to restore but I could not help but marvel at the architecture.  The roof lines and the wraparound porch seem to suggest that at one time this was a beautiful house.

 

All the stops to take pictures added a few hours to my travel time, but the moments and the images made this a worthwhile endeavor.

A Perfect Shave

 

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Standing in front of this bathroom sink I could envision the farmer who lived in this house shaving. Who knows, perhaps he had a beard and rarely shaved, but it’s what I thought about when I composed this shot. I used Perfect Photo Suite to edit and process this image. I shot this old farm house during our Palouse Tour last June. We plan to go back to the Palouse in June 2015 and would love to share the beautiful landscapes, abandoned houses and old trucks with you. The Palouse is wonderful location and never disappoints.

Speaking of Perfect. Our friends at OnOne Software are updating Perfect Photo Suite this fall and we wanted to be the first to tell you about it! We have not had a chance to get our hands on a beta version yet, but the new features sound exciting! Lightning fast RAW previews, improved selection tools, a Smart Photo feature that lets you reedit your photos with previous settings intact are, just a few. Of course there are discounts for existing users and introductory pricing for new users.

Click here to check out OnOne Perfect Photo Suite!

W.A. Young & Sons

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A few weeks ago we made our second visit to W.A. Young and Sons Machine Shop and Foundry. The shop is located on the bank of the Monongahela River in Rices Landing, PA. The shop first opened in 1900 and closed its doors 66 years later. The shop has an elaborate belt system that drives 25 pieces of machinery. This system still works today!

The shop is an amazing place to visit and photograph. The amount of detail is only limited by your imagination. We plan to return sometime on 2015, so if this sounds like a place you would like to spend a couple hours photographing, be sure to join our meetup.

I used a Lensbaby Composer to obtain the selective focus.

A Sense of Place

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Do you ever find yourself saying that you have already shot a particular location, so you see no need in returning?   I know that I do, but I also try to fight that urge.

The shot above is a door in the medical center at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  I lead tours here twice a year and suspect I have shot here at least a dozen or more times.  But every time I go I always find something that was overlooked in the past.  Now the quantity of photos I shoot these days is much smaller than on my earlier visits,  but I hope the quality of those few photographs more than makes up for the lack of quantity.

We are scheduled to do another of our very popular Light Painting Workshops on May 2nd 2015.  Check the Asylum Website for details.