Since vacation time will be rare the next couple of years and after all I -do- live in North Carolina, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to see and photograph more of the state. Therefore you’ll start seeing an increased focus on North Carolina, at least in my personal work. This past weekend I took a trip down state highways between Hickory and Greensboro, North Carolina.
Statesville is a goldmine. Do be careful though – there are some rough neighborhoods and the police can be quite inquisitive. That said, shout-outs to the Statesville police department.
Alright, so this is building structure downtown that has been there for as long as I can remember each time I’ve gone through Statesville. Not sure what it is or if it’ll remain that way but I believe the city owns this space. I’d like to get here at a good hour for some decent shots. Would make for a nice model shoot, don’t you think?
This is an empty series of storefront adjacent to that building frame.
Spaces for Rent (2013)
I forgot exactly where these storefronts were, it’s close off of Highway 70. They’re abandoned and slated to demolished. I did venture inside to check it out, but upon inspection deemed it unsafe to peruse through. Glad I get to use that architectural degree for something.
There’s a church building with classroom building component in Statesville that has been shut down for well over a year. Part of the roof caved in, the cost was too much to damage, so the property is up for sale. I’d guess eventually this church will be demolished as the cost may to be too prohibitive for repairs. The owners were gracious enough to allow me to take photos inside. One of the clasrooms drew my eye first. A bit sad to look at, but I really do find such beauty in destruction.
In Recess (2013)
Man, who remembers this video game? BOOMSHAKALAKA!
This is an abandoned textile company, water damage everywhere. I may revisit this spot there’s a lot of neat nooks and crannies, it’s just sometimes when I’m visiting certain places solo I make it a habit not to stay too long.
Stopped by an old auto-repair shop in Cleveland, the winged light structure and how it balanced with the metal building and tree is really what drew me to this one.
Near I-85 in Salibsury they’re doing a lot of road construction. Glad I stumbled upon the worksite on a weekday as I got to see the water towers and buildings slated for demolition (they seem half-torn down already) up close and personal. Not sure what the plans are with these twin water towers, I hope the fact they’re still standing means they might become preserved.
Quitting Day (2013)
I almost titled the above image “These Working Conditions Are Completely Unacceptable” but decided that was way too long. Pretty neat to see this sort of dishevelment in an “open” office!
Right around the bend is the old York Hill Restaurant signage. Would like to revisit this area in better lighting.
That’s it for some good ‘ol-fashioned North Carlina urban exploration. Catch you around the next time I have free time on my hands.
I recently revisited Richmond, Virginia to shoot an office space on behalf of one of my clients, the Mohawk Group.
You may remember my last visit to Richmond included tripping through the old Interbake Cookie Factory. Good thing too, because as the economy recovers, a flood of these dilapidated buildings that have been sitting abandoned for years on end are now being renovated or replaced. After many years on hold, Interbake is being converted to a mixed-use development. So anyone familiar with my blog pretty much knows my M.O. is to move on and find more urban or rural locations before they gets gentrified.
Don’t get me wrong, I did have WORK to do in Virginia…
…but got to fit in a bit of play beforehand. I can’t resist stuff like this. As you can tell from the first image, these pictures were captured at the old Fulton Gas Works plant.
All Ye Who Tresspass (2013)
Out of the Office (2013)
I also discovered another unused manufacturing building, let’s say in a five-mile radius of Gas Works. Can’t tell you where it is, but if you can figure it out on your own, kudos.
Took a sidetrip to investigate Danville, Virginia on the way back to North Carolina. Interesting place, most of the abandoned places and cool signage have been demolished over the last several years, but there’s an huge facility I’m attempting to contact the building owners to gain access to. Relatively sleepy, depressed town but there’s been some tobacco complexes-turned-to-condos along the riverfront.
OCTOBER 10, 2003: Mom whipped her head around towards me slumbering in the back of the car and demanded, “Are you listening, Sterl?”
I drowsily raised my head from the nest I made between the back seat and rear window enough to mumble, “Yeah sure Ma.”
Seemingly satisfied with this less-than-robust answer, my mother returned to pointing out farmhouses and vast landscape beyond my parents’ car as my father drove us through the Georgia countryside surrounding Glenville and Claxton. As with every trip to Georgia since I was a young child, I displayed idle interest in the rural scenery whizzing past my window as Mom continued to describe distant relatives I never heard of and ghosts of places that escaped my attention. Having lived in the suburbs of New Jersey and cities of Houston and Raleigh, I felt little connection to these country surroundings and stories of my mother harvesting sugar cane. At the age of 28, I was unsure why I still reverted to becoming a child each time I sat in the rear of my parents’ car, but just like at the age of 8, would always soon fall asleep to the gentle hum of their vehicle.
We were on our way to see Aunt Claudia. I had little to no memory of Claudia as a child, but often remembered her husband, Uncle Sam, when he’d visit our family up North. Every year my uncle would jokingly stoop over, claiming he’d kidnap me down to Georgia to hunt alligator on their many acres of property, to which I’d vehemently shake my head and retreat in terror. I was a homegrown Jersey boy and got my food from the supermarket, no way I was huntin’ no reptile.
Sam was a sharecropper in the 1930s well before my mother, his sister, was born. My aunt came from a well-read and educated family, a rarity for black Americans in the deep south during the Depression Era. She was the first black woman employed by a bank in the state of Georgia. When most of my mother’s side of the family moved during the Northern flight of the early 60s, Sam and Claudia chose to stay at the only home they ever knew.
On this visit I recall Claudia, as sharp as ever, cracking jokes while sitting on the front porch of the humble country abode she and Sam owned for many decades. A widow in her early-90s, she took care of herself and for safety had a shotgun she’d show no hesitation to use on any intruder. Of course, the elders joshed me for my (still) aversion to hunting alligators. While returning to our hotel near Savannah, I was awake enough to spy a blanket of cotton stretched beyond a nearby swamp. The next morning, on a windy and overcast day, as my parents’ drove further south, I felt compelled to return to Claxton before tripping back to North Carolina.
There was something haunting about looking over this cotton field in an area where so many of my extended relatives live to this very day. I suddenly understood everything Mom was trying to convey and couldn’t help but wonder if our ancestors slaved this exact cotton field. Many generations later, I stood free in front of the very crops they picked over. It finally hit me that where I was is where I came from.
I took out my point-and-shoot Canon Powershot G2 and captured this image, one of my earliest compositions.
Claxton Fields (2003) (click for larger view)
It was the last occasion I saw Aunt Claudia alive and the following year we returned to the Claxton area for her funeral. By this time, I had completed my Master of Architecture degree, relocated to the state of Georgia for work, was learning how to use my first digital SLR, and developed quite a budding romance for shooting the rural condition. Absorbing scenes such as this had a major influence towards my new passion for photography.
In the spring of 2003 I had renewed a fledgling interest in taking pictures that I hadn’t since the mid-90s while taking a B&W film course in college. The presentation of Claxton Fields evolved out of my inability to seamlessly stitch a series of shots, as Photoshop and other programs were nowhere near the tools they are today. With nothing but a 4 megapixel point-and-shoot, I’d capture entire buildings by taking many photos and overlapping them.
During my first visit to Baltimore on a trip with my architecture design studio, instead of merging individual photos and seeing exactly where they didn’t match up, I selectively sliced photos and placed them down like puzzle pieces.
I began combining my architectural knowledge, graphic sensibilities, and picture-taking interest to not just merely compensate for my lack of photographic ability and digital prowess, but artistically inform the viewer by tying photo slices together to present a cohesive scene. Sometimes the experiment worked and other times it didn’t.
(select for larger image)
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As I learned more about photography, had a digital SLR and wide-angle lens in tow, became handy with a tripod and with Photoshop, this style fell quickly to the wayside. However, Claxton Fields remains the lasting, penultimate result – conveying a timeless and personally emotive scene in a contemporary digital fashion – and the only image of this type in my portfolio.
Thank you so much to everyone for making 2012 a fruitful, successful year. I’m truly blessed to have the best clients and supporters that I could ever hope for, to get to see, partake, and share everything I’ve been able to. These are my favorite photographic memories of the last year. Again, it’s been a thrilling ride, so thank you and see you in 2013!
Finally, the last blog from my road trip through Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. If my vegetarian and vegan followers will forgive the metaphor, but this is blog is 100% red meat – nothing but architecture, baby – no filler. Actually, you’ll also need to forgive me for the literal interpretation because that’s exactly what I ate a TON of while in Texas. Did I eat unholy fried foods at the Texas State Fair before Big Texas burned down? YES I DID. Did I have Texas barbecue, Freebirds, and Whataburger? You bet. Did I chase that all down with Shiner? Seems only proper.
The speed limit in Texas ROCKS. I don’t even know why they bother posting numbers anymore, they just need to have road signs that claim “SPEED LIMIT: LOL“.
Texas will always have a fond place in my heart. For a place in which I lived only six years, the majority of my close, long friendships are with people who currently reside or used to live in the state. I got to see a slew of them in Dallas, whether they lived in town or happened to be visiting at the same time, some for business and others to witness Texas obliterated by Oklahoma. So I actually didn’t shoot very much, I mostly saw the wonderful people I’ve been blessed with in my life.
Before I get too much further – if you’re reading this right now, you’ve likely been following my two-week long road trip. What? NOOOOOO? Well, the below links will catch you right up!
At the earliest opportunity, I went downtown to the Dallas’ art and museum district – it’s the first time I’ve been there since many of those buildings were under construction. What was the first thing I decided to see?
The Museum Tower condos. Not because it was some cathedral of architecture but the hilariously tragic circumstances of its construction. Adjacent to this middle-finger that resides in the heart of the museum district is the Nasher Sculpture Museum designed by one of my favorites, Renzo Piano. The museum is built into the sloped city block, with a glass roof above illuminating the displays below. Thanks to the glass skin of the Museum Tower, not only is the artwork inside endangered but surrounding landscape and trees.
As the sun began to lower, I experienced firsthand the brightness and heat reflecting of this building. It’s a veritable furnace. If you’re in the Dallas area, there’s no need for a tanning booth – just spend an hour in front of those condos on a nice day.
After cackling in commiseration how commercial developers can pretty much ruin anything if they set their minds to it, I checked out buildings that didn’t exist the last time I came here.
First stop was the Wyly Theatre, designed by another one of my favorites, Rem Koolhaus.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go inside as there were no showings and closed to the public. It’s a shame because I wanted to see the building transform into a robot. Further, the exterior wasn’t lit so I didn’t get to see the architecture and urban landscape to its full impact. Thankfully, Mother Nature saved the day.
Another place I didn’t photograph was across the street at the Winspear opera house, as a matter of bad timing. There were outdoor events, but nothing going inside the theater, so the lights never turned on. The day hours were either too cloudy, or there was too much activity going outside to get relatively clean shots.
One of my very good friends, an architect in Dallas recommended checking out the new Calatrava bridge and Perot Museum of Nature & Science by Morphosis. She was right about the Calatrava Bridge – you kind of wondered if he did the design himself or if he just had an intern do it; it would feel more exciting if I hadn’t seen all of his other work which is much more stunning. I may bother attempting to photograph it when I have more spare time.
The Perot building, under construction, is the first Morphosis design I’ve ever seen closeup. Next trip to Dallas, I’ll be interested in scoping the outside a bit more along with the exterior.
I also returned to a design of another one of my favorite architects (yes, you’re noticing a trend here), Tadao Ando – the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth. I first visited this building in 2006 in the early throes of pursuing photography as a hobby while still grappling with my Canon 10D, so wanted to see how I’d capture the building today.
Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth (2012)
While on this trip, I got to meet Jason Witherspoon, a Dallas fine-art and architectural photographer. We’re both self-taught, entered photography from different professions, and experienced early success in fine-art; he did it in less than a year and I’m interested in observing how he progresses and grows over the years. We talked shop – business, equipment, prints, digital processing, and of course – the capture. It’s a super-interesting and fun educational experience talking with someone who captures similar subject matter but with a drastically different style and approach to your own. It’s even more fun to shoot with ‘em. He told me about the Irving Convention center which I did not know about. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS BUILDING? It’s a photographer’s playground, so he took me out there.
The above image was captured with my Canon 5D Mark II and 17mm tilt-shift lens. The below image was captured with Jason’s Nikon D800 and 24mm tilt-shift. Now – I do think Canon maintains an advantage over Nikon with their tilt-shifts, but they’re losing ground with their camera bodies. Right now, not only are Nikon’s latest bodies cheaper – they’re straight-up better. Hey, CANON – if you can make a $3200 camera that good, I will buy it, you’ve given me zero reason to upgrade to 5D Mark III, I’d rather just jump to one of your 1D series.
Inside the Frame (2012)
Okay, no more bitching at Canon – this piece of architecture was a great opportunity to do what I love most – manipulate the heck out of presenting a building with wide angles and tight crops.
Heaven’s Gate (2012)
Split Level (2012)
Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup, that was as much fun as it looked like. Maybe next time around I’ll spend more time in the area to some greater detailed exploration for these and other sites.
I was pretty stoked to see the natural scenery in the Ozarks. The first location I stopped by was Petit Jean State Park, which has Cedar Falls. After 45 minutes of hiking, I finally reached the waterfalls to find…this trickle. The outlines on the photo illustrate how wide the falls normally are.
The next day I went to Falls Branch Creek at Lake Catherine State Park in Hot Springs and got this:
During my second leg through Arkansas, I met up with an amateur photographer named Peggy. She wanted to learn more about photography, so she tagged along with me one morning while checking out some waterfalls. We left early morning from Fayetteville out to the town of Natural Dam (you’ll never guess what it’s named after). But before we got there, there were some cows in the mist that demanded to be photographed.
One Arkansas Morning (2012)
We arrived at Natural Dam another ten minutes away. The cool thing about the formation appears man-made, but it’s natural. I was excited to get there, but was just slightly disappointed at the water flow. Normally the entire dam would have water falling, but the drought meant only intermittent water spouts here and there.
However, you can freely stand on top of the dam, which is not a normal condition.
So you can already tell where all this is going. Devil’s Den State Park? Dry. Pig Trail Falls? Barely there. High Bank Twin Falls? Couldn’t find it. Turner Store Falls? Not even there anymore. As a result I wound up skipping some waterfalls I originally intended to visit, but some places are SO cool I had to check them out. One of them is called the Glory Hole (no snickering). Basically you hike down to the top of a shallow cave formation with a large hole on top, formed by what I’m sure is hundreds to thousands of years of water streaming through it. You can hike down further to the cave and look up at the hole while the waterfall falls through it. Sounds cool, right?
It’s a difficult location to find and had to perform a decent amount of research to mark it on a map. When you arrive, it’s a moderate 25 minute hike down, but a killer on the way back up. After all the failures with waterfalls I had to give a shot!
And crossed upon the mighty, mighty Glory Hole.
So there was another set of falls I wanted to see that required me to get up at 3 a.m. and drive two hours to get to Haw Creek. I had seen pictures of this wide expansive waterfall, similar in width to the Natural Dam but was scared at what I’d find. Screw it, it was a cloudy day with nice autumn colors and I’m here, so why not?
There’s a campground adjacent to the falls and I arrived while it was still dark. I heard the sound of water, so that was a good sign. As the sun rose and I could see more clearly, it was obvious the falls were not as forceful as usual. In fact, much of the creek had pulled back. However, the scenery was so gorgeous anyways – and quite frankly – different than it normally was, that I had a ton of fun with it. I met a very friendly local Arkansas photographer while I was there and we talked shop for a little while, discussing our different travel plans in the area.
Again, the outlines portray what normally would be there.
The thing that made these pictures different than normal is a lengthy horizontal rock shelf that forms deep shadows in the crevices below. There’s something it I can’t put my finger on that seems to add so much to the imagery.
Every year I take a picture that for whatever reason, seems to stand out from the rest and Haw Creek provided the backdrop for this one. You can see how the creek receded at the top of the rock ledge, you can easily walk up there without getting your feet wet. There was only one major flow of water, and a minor one further back, but I happened to have been there during peak autumn colors and it worked. So I’m glad to be there when I did, no matter how all of the other falls worked out. Being a photographer is about patience and timing.
Haw Creek (2012)
On the way out of the area, just down the road near Pelsor, I discovered an abandoned house that is so apparent from the road that I’m certain a slew of other photographers had preceded me here.
Broken Memory (2012)
And more shots I took along the winding, rural mountain highways.
The Ozarks (2012)
Also made the drive (5 miles of it almost completely vertical in my 2-wheel drive Toyota) to Hawksbill Crag. I came during the middle of the day, so wasn’t too concerned about pulling off a shot. If I remember correctly, it’s about an hour hike, some of it hugging the bluffs so tightly, you can see straight down. That’s not an exaggeration – I mean STRAIGHT DOWN. Probably not for hikers dumb enough to be too addicted to their cell phones. I had been sneezing the entire morning and didn’t want to be the first person to plunge down the rocks below because his sinuses couldn’t act right.
Because of how dry everything was I decided to skip Triple Falls and just visit Roark Bluff. Before I get to those great bluffs, I must temporarily pause for the truly ugly part of the blog. For those of you who do not already know, I am black; this is normally unimportant even with its funny quirks here and there as a traveling photographer. Upon learning I was from out-of-state, I was warned by several very kind people not to tread through Harrison, Arkansas, the largest town in the area, due to its racial history – and more critically – its racial present. A mere 30 minute drive away from Roark’s Bluff, the town has the nearest collection of major hotels in the area, rental cars, many restaurants, and of course, gas stations. However, they live in the past and are more than happy to keep it that way. It wasn’t until I returned home to North Carolina and did further research that I figure out this is where the Ku Klux Klan is headquartered. The town has ZERO black people and 13 Latino – not 13%, but a baker’s dozen. The ridiculousness of these people are of cartoon-like proportion, but they are very real. Needless to say, I heeded the advice, took no chances, and in all seriousness share this information for others’ benefit and safety.
Warning: If you are not white and visiting Buffalo River National Park, AVOID HARRISON. I am dead serious here, I am not paranoid nor am I joking about this. Don’t be stupid.
If you ARE white and want to avoid this place out of general principle, fine, but I’m certainly not going to hold it against you if you must go there. I just have to deal with a little reality here. Besides myself, I did not see another racial minority in this entire region and the only reason I was there was because I’m on vacation. I traveled solo and had no issues during my travel through Arkansas, but anyone this affects really must use their brain.
Gas: Fill up in Jasper or in Huntsville, where the King River County Store is located.
Food: Jasper has some places, but the King River County Store is a great place to get local food and convenience items. Don’t let the intermittent sight of Confederate flags throw you off – they’re nice, friendly, inviting country folks who cook some great local food that hits the spot, all of it sure to clog your arteries. The address is 22784 U.S. 412 Huntsville, AR 72740
Sleep: Obviously you can camp at Roark Bluff, Camp Orr, and other locations along the Buffalo River. If you’re a prissy traveler like me and demand a mattress, you’ve got some driving to do. Eureka Springs is an hour northwest. US 540/ AR-21 through Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, and Bentonville is approximately 1.5 hours to the West. Clarksville along I-40 is one hour to the south. There are some local hotels in Jasper but I’m not familiar enough to give you advice on that or anything to the east.
(click the map above to enlarge.)
It was a pleasant afternoon and Roark Bluff is gorgeous. The river was dry so a lot of it has receded; I didn’t go down into the river bed since I didn’t have a camping permit. The last photograph was actually taken at twilight. There wasn’t a full moon or anything, so I packed it up and headed back to Clarksville, from where I’d leave for Memphis TN the following day.
Roark Bluff (2012)
Like I said in the last blog post, I had a real blast in Arkansas. It was relaxing and though I didn’t capture all the photography I wanted, was a nice break in a new place. There’s a possibility I’ll be returning there in the near future for commercial work, so…until the next time.
When I planned this latest trip, I knew I’d hit Memphis and Dallas, but noticed there was this state in-between: Arkansas. What in the world is in THAT state? So I asked my Facebook. After several people suggested driving through without stopping, many friends stepped in to make recommendations, which launched my planning for visiting the northwest part of the state.
After spending a combined 8 days in the region, I traveled enough of northwest Arkansas to fill two blogs worth. I highly recommend checking out this gorgeous state, excepting the town of Harrison and some other outliers – I’ll get to that in the second part. However, to everyone who suggested I simply skip the state, I present you with this very mature response:
Moving on – if you’re a die-hard American conservative or Republican, I realize you’re feeling a bit sensitive post-election, so you may want to skip the first few photographs.
To everyone else, man, the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas is pretty sweet. There’s simply no other presidential library like it, and sustainable at that. I can’t wait to see what the Obama one will eventually look like.
DISCLAIMER: I accept no responsibility if you have to go to the emergency room after reading that – it’s your own fault.
Okay, the rest of you can rejoin the blog narrative now. Usually I’m able to pick out something to document in any city, but Little Rock didn’t inspire me at all. In fact I didn’t take many pictures during the first five days of my trip, so I don’t know if I was just too exhausted, weary of taking photographs, or what; sometimes you just need a break. I also checked out Hot Springs, Arkansas, a city that is an ode to Art Deco. Again, didn’t really take any shots here except these apartments (below) that don’t even fit into the city. I mainly just wanted to see it as a tourist. There’s a nationally historic row of bath houses, most active, that shows how Hot Springs really lived up to its name. I’d love to see this area have some sort of economic revival it could use it.
Got to see the architectural wonder Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs and its metallic knockoff the Cooper Memorial Chapel in Bella Vista. Couldn’t really take pictures at Thorncrown since they have rules about where you can go – though that would’ve been awesome – but at least got to see it in person, which is the important part.
Wal-Mart is headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas and lemme tell you – there are Wal-Marts EVERYWHERE in Arkansas. Driving through Fayetteville, I easily drove past six different Wal-Marts in about 15 minutes; all different types too – it was the first time I had seen Wally World grocery stores. The Walton family fully funded the Crystal Bridges American Art Museum in Bentonville. Pretty neat structures. I’m on vacation, one of the few times I really shoot for leisure, so was a bit bummed out with the poor weather, overall dry conditions that affected the waterfalls, and not being able to capture Thorncrown, particularly at night. At least I had Crystal Bridges, right? During my first visit, security was cool and initially allowed me to take pictures of the outside of the building, but during my second visit security was not so cool (boo, hiss). However, it’s their house, their rules and you have to respect that even if it they seem to be making it up as they go along. So before getting too in the dumps about it, I called it a night – there was no need feeling further frustrated. These are the few captures I managed there though.
Crystal Bridges (2012)
I did much exploring the natural Arkansas landscape and hiking while I was there. While driving between two locations, I stumbled across a sight I’d never seen before at an industrial plant in Russellville. At first glance, I thought it was a slew of palettes, but instead it was an immense field of stacked railroad ties. I was so enthralled with it, I attained permission from the company to shoot photographs there and had conversations with a couple of the men who worked this particular area. At first I thought they’d treat me kinda weird, but I think they could clearly tell I was interested in what they were saying and was more than happy to talk about their jobs. Lemme tell you something, the workers I talked to at this plant LOVE their jobs, LOVE who they worked for, and took obvious immense pride in their work. It turns out this plant is the largest railroad tie manufacturer in the nation. They explained to me how they cut, stacked, and allow the wood to cure before shipping these ties throughout North America. As a railroad fanatic, the kid in me found it to be fascinating.
These are a few more scenes I stumbled across on the many long drives through the Ozarks. There’ll be a few more like this in Part 2!
Arkansas was pretty cool. Most folks very warm, friendly, and accommodating towards me. Had a few quizzical looks at the Yankee hat and camera gear, but whatever. I met a bunch of people, some through Couchsurfing, others while hiking, and had a good conversation with a fellow photog while at Haw Falls. One of those I met tagged along during a morning drive checking out some waterfalls which I’ll get to in the next blog. I ate a ton of great food, but probably not a single vegetable the entire time I was in state.
Of course, there are some cultural oddities that this Jersey boy will never get used to. This safely qualifies as one of them.
The above billboard may not seem weird to anyone in rural areas, but I guarantee you a bunch of people RIGHT NOW are thinking, “REALLLLLLLLLLLLY?” See you in Part 2!
So I recently took a two-week road trip that I will completely present out of order. The first stop is Memphis, TN in which I stopped briefly on the way in and stayed for a weekend on the way back to Carolina. My friend, Jerry Coleman graciously hosted me and it was great to catch up with him and meet his family. Jerry was my TA during my first design studio in architecture school and though we’ve kept in touch, I hadn’t seen him in at least 15 years. He’s been making it with his design firm for the past several years and might I add, doing quite well!
This is Memphis. There’s much about the city I still have to explore, areas I’d like to revisit and some sites I didn’t get to photograph that I hope to in the future when I visit there again. The night life alone Beale street is a little touristy, I’d eventually like to catch it on an “off” night.
Of course, I shot some of the local landmarks such as the Peabody Hotel and Orpheum Theatre. Though photographing the Orpheum wasn’t quite catching lighting-in-a-bottle such as when I took the Chicago Theater, I was geeked with the final result.
The Orpheum (2012)
The industrial vernacular permeates both traditional manufacturing and shipping structures as well as contemporary office buildings. You can see some of that in the alphabet-block design of MIFA and the Bridges Center near downtown (gee, I wonder what the inspiration for BRIDGES was?)
United Equipment (2012)
One of the places I absolutely had to see was the National Civil Rights Museum, in which I had mixed feelings. Having been so directly impacted by the movement to revisit the circumstances in which Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and what it means, to see exactly where it happened, how it’s been preserved/reconstructed, was an emotional experience. On the other hand, I’m going to have to say – it’s a little touristy and the interior of the main museum could use an upgrade. It’s just weird seeing people take family pictures in front of the wreathe, you know? Anyways, this was one shot I took with my cell phone as I was leaving.
The introductory movie in the theater is well worth seeing all 32:44 – it’s interesting how many things have changed, and how much hasn’t. Incredible how many buzzwords and concepts linger strongly in the majority American mindset to this very day.
That’s about it. Just like most of the road trip, I saw more than I actually photographed, which I think is the point of having a real break! It’s just great getting out to see new places, people, and things. Of course, it’s also nice to revisit old favorites, like White Castle.
If you read any portion of Part 2, you can imagine what happened the morning I was going to head out to Richmond, Virginia. That’s right – phone calls wiped out my entire morning.
I was turned on by a fellow photographer/urban explorer to several sites in Richmond, but because of my limited time was only able to visit one site, the Interbake Cookie Factory. Similar to buildings like the gone Glidden Paint Factory in Atlanta, I thought this complex was slated to be demolished, but may turn into condos or apartments. Who knows – either way, a dilapidated building that will no longer remain in its current state is pretty much an invitation to go inside, right?
Of course it is, Sterling – of course it is.
After granting myself free permission to become temporarily struck by selective illiteracy and scouting the immediate surroundings and pedestrian patterns, I pinpointed a couple entry points to the building. I had two hours before dusk and wasn’t going to risk staying later, especially since I was traveling solo and was the only person in the whole place. I managed to quickly scope all six stories of the factory and select where I wanted to focus on, then returned to my car to grab my photography equipment.
By the way, if I may offer a little advice about visiting places like this in cities you’re unfamiliar with – a) go during a weekday – even better a school day – and even better than that, early in the scholastic year and b) observe the site and the surrounding area completely; I typically take anywhere between 15-30 minutes before grabbing my camera equipment, c) don’t park your car in front of the place and d) go with another person (Okay, okay – so I often skip D).
Abandoned Hope (2012)
September 12, 2012 6:41pm (2012)
Home Brew Loves Cookies (2012)
After this great find it’s safe to say that I’ll be returning to Richmond again sometime to follow up on further advice about other nifty abandoned buildings in the city. I left at sunset then hopped on over to Church Hill to capture dusk over the city.
Then I went home, completely exhausted. The entire trip was certainly nowhere near relaxing and I spent half the time I wanted to photograph for fun, but did my best to make the most of a limited situation. Was definitely worth it!
So after spending the day in luxurious Camden, I hopped over to the Philly side. As I crossed over I received my first phone call from a potential client I had been speaking with for the last two weeks. They were ready to go. Without getting into details, that meant the second I got into Philly, I had to find the nearest hotspot to set up my computer and perform business over the next couple of hours. By the time I was done, most of the day was spent and I went to Genos for a cheesesteak before returning across the river to capture sunset.
I had the pleasure of experiencing sunset and early evening on the Jersey side of the Delaware River to shoot the Philly skyline. The first two are hand-held with zoom lenses. It was a sunny and breezy all day, and skies are usually agreeable on those evenings.
Building lights came on and I strapped one of my zoom lenses to a tripod for a more focused scene.
Then used my tilt-shift to capture twilight, including more of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Gateway to Philadelphia (2012)
Good day and evening of shooting despite the interruptions. I intended to travel to Philly the next morning to capture some photography then head to Baltimore that evening.
That didn’t work out as planned. As most know, I do photography most of the time, but do a little bit of architecture on the side. Instead of taking leisure time in Philly, I spent all morning fielding and responding to phone calls from a) current photography & architectural clients b) potential photography clients c) building contractors. I also put together an estimate and proposal for another assignment that I was in the running for.
The first half of my day was pretty much shot, so I drove to Baltimore.
And received more phone calls.
And more phone calls.
And then I had to find a hotspot in Baltimore.
By day’s end, my phone battery was dead and the “vacation” day I intended to spend in Philly and Baltimore all but evaporated in a hectic flurry of phone calls and e-mails. During the middle of all of this, I managed to stop by and surprise my wonderful friend Lisa at her workplace, and the highlight of seeing her made the trip totally worth it. I grabbed a hotel for the night, ate, missed sunset, but decided to take night shots in Baltimore by Domino Sugars. The distant glow of lights in the photo below are from the Yankees-Orioles game at Camden Yards, which I was kicking myself for not getting tickets. But the Yanks got spanked 10-3 so maybe that was a good thing.
I had never photographed the old factory from this harbor before, I certainly enjoyed shooting it from elevation and the cast reflections.