Thursday, July 25, 2013


One of my problems as a photography hobbyist is that after I have begun working on a series of shots in post processing I generally am not quite satisfied with what I have.  Either the lighting or the depth of field is off or there is an unwanted element in the image or I should have positioned the camera differently or the shot should have been more wide-angled.  I could go on and on.  I feel that if I could retake the shot, I could do a better job.  Sometimes that is the case, and I do get a better shot the second time around.  But in most instances I realize that the first shot's flaw was unavoidable--there was a reason, for example, why the camera had to be positioned where I had it the first time.  That fact does not, however, keep me from trying.

So it has been with the Solvay Coke Plant.  The three previous posts, all earlier this month, were the product of four visits to the long-abandoned factory.  But after reviewing my results, I found myself returning on July 23 for at least one more attempt.  In truth, there is so much in the way of graffiti, decaying walls, and just plain junk to provide many more opportunities for future photo shoots.  And the only time I met another serious photographer at the site, he stated that he had been coming there for years.  All this is by way of excuse for my continuing to return, all in the hopes of "getting it right this time."

 On this latest visit I did take a number of panoramic shots, although I was actually fairly happy with the ones from prior visits.  Here is one with a slightly different perspective.

I thought this photo worked fairly well.  The windows in the upper foreground serve to illustrate the overall deterioration, while the glimpse of the outdoors in the background provides depth to the shot.  Most of the wider angled shots that I have taken here have an appearance of HDR, but that is not the case.  I think some of this effect is the product of the relatively long exposures required by the diminished amount of available light.  This was a 1.0 second exposure taken at f/16, for example.  Also, because there is generally a great differential between the amount of interior light and any exterior light that might be included in the image, I have had to reduce the contrast somewhat in post processing, and that has contributed to their surreal look.  But, frankly, I feel that the shots overall are fairly true to what one sees when there in person.

Here is a shot that I tried to improve from a prior visit.  This was a badly deteriorating wall, surprisingly devoid of any graffiti, that is blessed with a single light switch that serves nicely to provide context for the shot.  In reviewing what I had shot previously, I had decided that the switch plate was tucked too far into the lower right corner of the image.  So here is my more recent effort.

I do like this shot a bit better.  I think it was helped by sunlight that was indirectly illuminating the wall.  I also liked that this shot included less of the upper portion of the wall but did include some of the severe deterioration in the left of the image.  I also liked that I included the darker bands along the bottom and right of the shot.  This, by the way was a 2.0 second exposure at f/5.6.

On this latest visit I found myself shooting more of the generally outstanding graffiti that graces much of the buildings' interiors.  This first piece was located in a small room off of what had been the factory's main floor.  Unfortunately, because of the small size of the room my lens was not able to shoot wide enough to capture the entire piece, even though I stood just outside the room shooting through a doorway.

I thought the colors were nicely subtle.

Here is more graffiti that I thought showed strong artistry.

Of course, other pieces were less well done, as the following.


And the following piece illustrates how large some of the pieces of graffiti are.  The partially covered-over window in the upper left of the image provides some perspective on size.

Not all of the graffiti is representational, and I found myself shooting close-ups, treating the pieces as abstract artwork, which in a sense they are, as in the following.

Finally, one of the things I observed is that the graffiti is always changing.  The following piece has recently been "scribbled over" . . .

. .  . and probably lost something in the process.  Here is what it looked like previously.

The following has also been added to.

Previously the BiZ had been there but not the circles or the NEIN.  In this case I think the additions represent an improvement.

OK, given my interests and obsessions and the wealth of potential material this place presents, I will most likely find myself returning in the future also.  I do know that the posts I have put up regarding this abandoned property have proved extremely popular.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting pictures, even the trashing art.