Lonaconing Silk Mill – Part 2 (Patterns, Lines, and Shapes)

During the Lonaconing shoot last December (my first visit to the mill), I made the acquaintance of Craig Rudlin.  After the shoot, when we were all sharing our images via email or over the web, Craig put out a call for picture contributions for a photography book he wanted to put together.  I submitted a few photos to the cause, and we began to email back and forth, and then, last month Barb and I did a day trip to Richmond to visit Craig’s  Gallery 4600 to attend the opening a new show he and Matt Cowan were staging.  When I saw Craig again at the silk mill, he told me he had a couple of gaps in the book, and he needed some pictures that emphasized patterns, lines, and shapes. Cool, I now had an assignment for the weekend!

The first of these photos was taken in the basement area of the mill.  I found this face next to a group of machines.  Obviously, someone in the 55 years since mill was closed had a sense of humor and built this face from pieces of scrap.  It has been around a while, as testified by the amount of rust that has flaked of the right “eye”.I found the next two images in another section of the basement, a place in which, I believe, the mill’s maintenace functions were performed.  This first photograph is a section of a semi-circular panel that contains the manual adjustment controls for an old metal lathe. I focused on just one corner of the panel, winding up with a photo consisting primarily of a simple curved line along with the straight lines at the top, and circles circles of the rusting bolt and washer.  This image also works pretty well in black and white.Only  few feet away from the lathe are several drums that have been sitting there for over half a century, containing lubricants for the machine upstairs.  I was attracted by both the color of the old ESSO drum, as well as by the repeating circular shapes.

This final photograph was made in the second floor machine room, next to the office.  I was attracted by both the parallelism of the vertical pipes leading up pressure relase valve, as well as by the relative brilliance of the metal against the old brick wall.

I have sent Craig a DVD with these and some other photos from the weekend, hoping that one or two might make the cut for the book.  If you get a chance, take a look and Craig and Matt’s individual websites:  www.rudlinfineart.com and www.cowanfineart.com.  They both do great work, and I am sure you will enjoy their images.  You can also look up Craig’s Gallery 4600 on Facebook.




Lonaconing Silk Mill – Part 1 (The BIG Picture)

I spent last weekend in Lonaconing, MD with a bunch of photographers, organized by Tony Sweet, photographing the old, abandoned silk mill.  Over the course of the two days, there were about 20 different photographers who showed up.  For many of us, this was not the first time at the mill (it was Tony’s seventh visit to the site.)  Apart from a chance to get into a photographically cool place to shoot, these trips give us a chance to get together and shoot and socialize with some really good photographers – some pro’s, but most amateurs like me.  I thought that I would dedicate this first post from that shoot to a couple of panaorama shots that might give you a sense of the place.

This first shot is of the main facade of the mill.  We enter the mill through the old office door on the second floor of the wing to the right of the picture.  Once we leave the office, we enter a (comparatively) small machine room, which ends at what I would refer to as the main factory building.  There are two huge machine rooms on the second and third floors which contain the majority of the machinery.  The first floor, which we call “the basement”, contains some machinery at the far end, but most of the space looks to be given over to shipping and receiving functions and maintenance.

This is a 180 degree panorama of the machine room on the second floor of the main building.  As you might be able to see, there are row upon row of similar machines (I have no idea of their function).  At the far end of the room on the right are two large ovens, which I assume were used for curing the silk after it had been dyed.  The third floor is set up similarly, but with different machines. The overwhelming impression I take away from the factory is that it was what we would now call a massively parallel system.

In the next couple of days I will post some of my photos from the shoot.

HDR Panorama

Several times over the last couple of weeks, I have gone to nearby Ft. Hunt Park on the GW Parkway to photograph the old artillery mounts.  The historical significance of the park lies in the fact that it originated as an artillery site during the Spanish-American War, protecting the upper reaches of the Potomac River from foreign naval attack.  Now, it is  mainly used by summer picnickers, but the original mounts for the artillery batteries still remain.  The old, poured concrete structures provide for some photographic interest, and this panoramic shot of Battery Porter is the first of the shots that I have gotten around to processing from these forays.

This photo consists of six  finished 5-shot HDR photographs, meaning that this image was built from 30 original photographs.  I decided to make this an HDR shot because the sun had risen far enough to make the light pretty harsh and extend the dynamic range beyond what my camera can handle in a single shot.  In the digital darkroom, I finished one of the middle panels in Nik HDR Efex Pro first in order to establish the look I wanted for the center of the scene, and saved my settings into a preset that I used for each of the other panels.  That way, I was able to maintain a consistent look and feel across the whole scene.

This shot is pretty much of an experiment, but now that I am getting more comfortable with both taking panoramas and working in HDR, I am going to go back and work on getting some shots that are more visually stimulating.

I will process some more of the Ft. Hunt shots in the days to come, but in the mean time I am heading back to the Lonaconing Silk Mill for two days of shooting.  I am really looking forward to that!