Posts Tagged ‘abandon’

Stairway of Abandonment

Friday, January 31st, 2014

On the Hawaiian island of Oahu there’s a hike called the Stairway to Heaven or the Haiku Stairs. The stairs are 3922 steps that ascend 2800 vertical feet up a steep mountainside. The stairs end at an abandoned naval radio station on top of Puu Keahiakahoe. The stairs have been closed to the public since 1987,  and they’re illegal to climb. These days many people still climb them; you just need to be covert and avoid the guard. I’m not going to go into details how to access them since everything can be found online.

Stairs-1-2

When I see a big red No Trespassing sign on public land it’s telling me to come on in. Behind the danger sign you can see the start of the stairs.

 

H3 Freeway

Looking down at the start of the stairs under the H3 freeway. I’m only about a quarter of the way up. The stairs are very steep, sometimes ladder-like.

 

jerryrig

Just when I started to hike the stairs I remembered that I forgot the tripod mount at home. I said to myself there was no way I was going back for it. I would have to figure something out when I got to the top. I found some parachute cord, and that was my solution. It actually worked quite well.

 

kaneohe bay,haiku stairs, stairway to heaven, oahu, moon, sunset,ocean,

The view from the top looking down at Kaneohe Bay.

 

navel station, light painting, full moon, moon, abandon, milky way, hawaii, haiku stairs, stairway to heaven, oahu, moon, sunset,ocean,

This photo is of the abandoned naval station on top. The apocalyptic orange glow in the sky is a reflection of the light pollution from the sodium vapor streetlights below. The structure was painted with a high-powered LED flash light. Photographing at this site was challenging with all the wind and moisture in the air. I had to hold my tripod down while blocking the 20mph-plus winds during the 45-second exposure. Keeping the moisture off the lens was next to impossible; even the chamois was damp.

 

navel station, light painting, full moon, moon, abandon, milky way, hawaii, haiku stairs, stairway to heaven, oahu, moon, sunset,ocean,

I normally don’t like photographing buildings with graffiti, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. I painted the front with natural light. The interior and dish were highlighted in color to make them stand out.

 

navel station, light painting, full moon, moon, abandon, milky way, hawaii, haiku stairs, stairway to heaven, oahu, moon, sunset,ocean,

Here’s  a different color scheme. I think the composition of the building could be better. I was working without a full-frame camera that night. The terrain dictated where you could shoot from, and a 1000-ft fall to my death wasn’t going to be in the plan.

 

navel station, light painting, full moon, moon, abandon, milky way, hawaii, haiku stairs, stairway to heaven, oahu, moon, sunset,ocean,

I called my title Stairway of Abandonment for a reason; this is a photo of the tramway hoist. The building sits about 500 vertical feet below the summit. As you see by the shaking of the flora, there was lots of wind that night.

 

navel station, light painting, full moon, moon, abandon, milky way, hawaii, haiku stairs, stairway to heaven, oahu, moon, sunset,ocean,

A photo of the tramway motor for the hoist.

The next time I’m in Oahu I plan on shooting the naval station with a full-frame camera. Maybe I’ll have a clear night without wind. Hopefully with the Milky Way or a full moon. Whatever the conditions are it will be a different experience and give me new results.

 

 

From steam power to nukes.

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

On the Friday of September 28th I decided to drive south below Moab, Utah to do some full-moon photography. My goal was to shoot an old abandoned electric mine train that was long-forgotten. The train sits outside of a uranium mine called the Mi Vida Mine. After wandering around the desert at 1am, thinking I was going to pass out or blow up, seeing signs that say “Poisonous Gases” and “No Open Flame.” I finally found my nuclear honey-hole amongst the fumes from the natural gas wells in the area: it was a short hike from the road, down a draw and back up to the mine.

moab utah

This is how the train looks with just the moonlight.

Uranium train

I decided to light the entrance to the mine with turquoise gel over the remote trigger flashes. I felt this would give it the glowing-Homer-Simpson, nuclear look. During the single exposure the train was painted with light to expose the patina of the subject. It also “pops” the branding of the train. The train was owned by the UTEX EXPLORATION CO.

This photo was a happy mistake. I had no idea it looked this good until I saw it on my monitor at home. I like this shot because the vegetation has a glowing look to it. It almost looks like an HDR photo. The shot was exposed a minute less than the photo above, and I don’t have an answer for that.

I tried this angle looking out of the mine, but as you can see it’s not much of a shot except for my ghost dog, Stoli, that appeared. I think I’ll do a Ghost Zombie shoot for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.

The next night I moved the location of the shoot to Silverton, Colorado. Silverton has a deep mining history and during the night I saw other photographers shooting buildings in the main street of the town. I decided to move on to the outskirts of the town.

silverton tram

This tramway was hard to shoot because the tram needed a point of reference, so I decided to shoot this carriage with the tram house in the background. I had to paint the carriage with light so it would show up. The moon did a nice job of lighting the building.

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad’s 493 from days gone-by rests on the track in the Silverton rail yard. I shot this with moonlight and painted the gear drive and wheels with light. The B&W was done during post-processing.

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad

The 493 lit up: I gelled the boiler along with the cab to get the fire-breathing-dragon look these steam engines were known for. The undercarriage was painted with a Coleman lantern to highlight its muscle. The green glow on the coal car is from the sodium-vapor street lights. I wish it wasn’t there, but I’ll live with it.

I love shooting at night because the moon gives out a warm glow that lasts for hours. It also gives the subject and landscapes a different look you won’t see during the day.  The best thing about night photography is the stillness of the night, the silence. Plus there’s no one around to muck up your shot and more chance to have an extraterrestrial encounter.

 

 

 

Lucin Sun Tunnels

Monday, September 10th, 2012

The Lucin Sun Tunnels lie in the  West Utah desert bordering Nevada. They’re an art project done by Nancy Holt in 1976. I decided to give them a little twist with some light painting of my own. During this shoot I tried fireworks and smoke bombs but to no avail.  I ended up using flashes with gels, LED flashlights and a Coleman lantern to get the results you see below.

The Sun Tunnels in their natural state lit only by moonlight. Loving the ”martian”-like landscape.

Looking west to tunnel flashed by gel. I’m not sure how I lit the inside of the first tunnel. I think it may be just the natural light from the full moon.

The inside of this tunnel was painted with the Coleman lantern during the exposure. I love the warm soft light it puts out.

Sting says, ” You don’t have to turn on the red light,” but I did.

 

After the red light came on, I decided to get horizontal.

This shot took multiple times to get right. It was very hard to blend the colors to get the spiral effect. This is when you can’t give up, or you will have a half-assed photo.

I like this photo the best because it reminds me of something Captain Kirk would see when he beamed down to an alien planet. These “orbs” were tricky to shoot because it was hard to distribute the flash evenly inside the tube. I also had to paint the left front tunnel with a flashlight so it would have some contrast. All this had to be done in less than 3 minutes.

Overall this shoot was a lot of fun. I tried some new things, drank some beers and watched the dog dance around under the moonlight.

 

 

Full moon, big dipper and lightning.

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

The weather in Utah for the summer of 2011 has been unusual. It has been cooler, wetter, stormier. People are still skiing in mid-August on a few select north-facing slopes. What this all adds up to is more flora with vivid colors. I decided to go shoot the entrance of Prince of Whales mine. At the entrance there is an Ames Iron Works 40-hp steam boiler and winch. It sits at 10,000 feet, has been there since 1875 and is in excellent shape. These photos are from 3 consecutive nights with  3 different results.

Night one.

This photo is from night one. I like everything about it but the composition. I felt there was too much blank space on the left side. This can be a good thing if you are doing gallery wrap canvas print, but I wanted to get the shot better.

So here is night two.

On this shot, the colors are remarkable. The sky with the red gel on the boiler is a perfect match. I also like the foreground with parts of the winch shown. The only thing missing was the big dipper. I had to move the boiler candles to a different area because they were blowing out. That is whole other story …

Night three, two different shots.

On night three it was breezy with a full moon behind me and a lightning storm in front. I shot this photo as soon as I got to the site. I knew the storm was coming and wanted to capture the big dipper before it was gone.

I knew the lightning was firing on the left side of the boiler so I left some room for  it. After about 15 shots I captured a bolt and a lightning-lit sky. I kept on shooting until I felt it was unsafe. Lots of cloud lightning but another bolt never materialized. When I got home that night I knew I got the shot when I saw this image in its raw form on the screen. I feel now that all three nights produced excellent shots each with a different personality.

“Beauty of Decay,” a slideshow of my dark side.

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

So much work went into these photos. 100s of hours were spent looking and shooting these locations. In abandoned mine photography, it is super hard to find open mines, and finding equipment left in them is like hitting the lottery. When I do find something I want to shoot, it is crucial to look around what you are shooting. I always check for back/foreground, unwanted litter, footprints, etc. This is usually very hard because it is pitch-black, so I take the extra time and really look. I do all my lighting during the shoot. My lighting techniques can vary from LED/incandescent light, flashes with or without gels, a Coleman lantern or a combination of any. I try to not use photoshop except for some minor cropping and maybe clone out that unwanted piece of litter I missed. Ha.