There are many fine urbexers out there who take an active interest in documenting the places they visit, either to highlight an aspect of local history or to help preserve them. While I may be sometimes intrigued by that aspect of urbex, I make no bones that my primary interest in this genre of photography is primarily aesthetic. Sometimes only knowing little about the place you’re seeing heightens the mystery, perhaps makes the story a photo tells a bit more universal. I tend to take a “non-attachment” to the sites we shoot; I find it’s a bit dishonest to bemoan their further decay when that is the very process that allowed us to shoot the pictures we did.
That said, I can’t help be a bit saddened when a site I cut my teeth on gets very rapidly demolished. The Riverdale granary was a massive edifice of metal, rust, concrete and ivy. As of our last visit, only the slim north building still stands. Soon, it too will be gone. It should be remembered that impermanence makes all things possible.
So quite a bit of what I have shared lately has been from the Riverdale Granary, a former chicken feed factory that was built in 1918 and shut down in 1952(ish). It isn’t a particularly safe building (people have met their end there while exploring or saving explorers) but it is a compelling building to visit. If only for the machines.
Big thing to remember in this location, watch where you put your feet, there are built in holes everywhere.
This is because the connecting pipes are missing.
I am always amazed at how much machinery gets left behind in places like these.
Broken, misaligned and turned to rust.
So often I find myself in the dark, nothing but the gleam from a distant window or the power of my trusty little flashlight to illuminate my way, or subject.
At this point I think I have made a tripod and long exposure a way of life.
Often, in the dark, you see more then you would otherwise.
I’ve been trying out this HDR everyone has been yammering on about and while perhaps I could have made better choices on what my subject was, so far I’m not too unhappy. So while I will not be shooting all or even mostly HDR, I am tentatively on the bandwagon at the moment.
After all, without HDR this photo would either have been all darkness with a little bit of light shining through, or a single wall with bright blown-out shapes in the darkness. While I feel like this might be a bit over much for the HDR effect I am generally pleased with what I got.
I am enjoying the deep range it offers, but I’ve seen so many photos that are so heavy on effect that I am a little leery of going overboard myself. Even though part of me enjoys the crazy effects I don’t want to detract from the subject. Of the photos I have processed thus far I think this one came out the best.
This area was near impossible to photograph, either the windows were blown-out or almost everything was too dark to see or make sense of. HDR seems like a great tool for urban exploring in particular because it allows you to more closely capture the level of depth a person sees in places that are generally very dark with extremely bright highlights. We have more trips planned before (and after) the snow starts flying here, so I will continue to attempt to learn this new tool. And while I am at it I think I have some photos from previous trips that I composed with the thought of trying HDR at some point, so we’ll see if there is anything there.
I’ve already learned lesson number one: Trees will always give you a bad halo effect. Next time I go back this location I have a plan for a shot that I tried while there which turned out horribly in HDR due to halo effect. Next step is figuring out how to cope with exterior building shots and fast moving clouds.
One of my photo buddies has a job which has him driving literally all over the south suburbs of Chicago. This is a huge benefit to me since it means he often spots those locations we want to go wandering about in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. for this particular location we found ourselves in the town of Riverdale, which was odd to me since I vaguely remember parts of my misspent youth hanging around there more than a bit.
I’m not sure how long it has set forgotten and falling down but my guess would be over 2o years. I give you the grainery.
Not all doorways lead to more fallen bricks though.
Of course, you have to scramble over bricks to get out. Good thing I wore sturdy shoes.
In some places though, you didn’t need to leave the building to get out to the forest.
In others the trees have simply spread their autumn bounty across the remnants of the floors.