Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cell Door Latch

3836-40 topaz nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

The cell doors have rusted over the years of disuse. It is hard to imagine being on the other side of this mechanism for months or even years. This was in an upper cell block in a non-public wing of the prison. In this newer (relatively speaking) block, we were allowed to enter the cells. I was relieved that the locks on the doors were no longer operative due to rust and neglect.

HDR EfexPro, Topaz Define, number of NIK filters. To help define the shadows I blended in at low opacity a very contrasty B/W layer.

Friday, July 29, 2011


3743-45 topaz nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

One of the cells at ESP featured this old door leaning against the wall. I was drawn to the light and shadows that played across the door from the cell's skylight.

A 3 shot HDR series processed in DxOPro, HDR EfexPro, Topaz Detail and CaptureNX. I chose to desaturate the overall color to focus on the shadows and mood.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Double Wide

At the end of one of the cell blocks this spacious accommodation is found. Designed to double one's penitence during a lengthy stay perhaps?

A 5 shot HDR blended with a black & white version for little extra bite in the gritty areas. Racked out to 10mm- as wide as my lens allows. Most cell blocks prohibit entry into the cells. Tripod legs, however, may cross the threshold and I had to lean in as far as possible to get this much view with a wide lens.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cell Block Zoom

_DSC4111 nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
The last scene of our ESP visit. Captured the above on my Nikon. Below is the iPhone version.

Eastern State Penitentiary Reflections

3735hdr 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

A month and a half ago, I visited this historic prison that is now a tourist attraction with Tony Sweet on a HDR workshop. Just getting around to processing some of the many images taken there. While there are many photo ops in the areas open to the public, many more exist in the non-public cell blocks. Hence the advantage to going with a group that has paid the extra to get behind the scenes. This picture is one such area. The original concept behind the prison (the oldest sections are very old) was to place wrongdoers in solitary confinement where they could reflect and become penitent in order to change their ways. I was trying to portray that intent in the reflection captured here. The facility closed in 1974 and reopened in the late 1990's for tourists. The decay of the buildings in that relatively short time is shocking. While I had a HDR version of this scene, I found a single capture run through HDR Efex Pro was sufficient. To add some "bite" to the final image I blended in a B/W version at a low opacity- one of the techniques learned at the workshop. This toned down some of the blown highlights and strengthened some of the shadows I could not get in a straight color version as I envisioned.

Monday, July 25, 2011

View from Steptoe Butte

_DSC7135_DxO nx 72dpi B, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

From my Palouse trip. If memory serves, this view is toward the East into Idaho. Overcast sky was the norm for this trip. Steptoe Butte, outside of Colfax, Washington is a state park.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Rusting Relic- Hillside Combine

Found on my trip to the Palouse region a year ago June. One of the items on my long wish list for the trip with Tony Sweet and crew was old farm equipment. I'm a farmer and dad was a farm equipment dealer so the subject is naturally of great interest to me. On this day, we had left the hotel before sunrise knowing the weather was questionable. Sure enough the Butte was enshrouded in low clouds and the group headed back to the hotel. I took the opportunity to hunt for rusty farm equipment and found this. This old machine, probably from the 40's, was in a fenced cattle pasture so my angles were limited. The Palouse region is known for it's steep hills and this is an early hillside combine. It is made so that it can tilt side to side to keep the threshing and separating as level as possible. Otherwise the efficiency of the machine would decline greatly. It also appears that this combine lacks a grain tank for the harvested wheat to be collected. Instead I believe the wheat was bagged as via the "Y" shaped shoot at the end of the elevator/auger assembly. An incredibly dusty job to work on this machine. Some research indicated this is possibly a Deering make. Deering was a brand of McCormick-Deering, the forerunner to International farm equipment, and was dropped in 1948 or '49. Today's combines cost $350,000 and sport a climate controlled cab. HDR with Photomatix, 70-200 lens.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Elevator

All of the raw materials came in and finished product went out on this single elevator. It must have been busy shuttling materials between the three floors of the factory. NIK and Topaz filters used on the HDR image.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bronze Wheels

These bronze wheels were one of the first things I noticed upon entering the factory floor on my first visit to the silk mill. I was not happy with my first attempt and tried again on my second visit. A little different perspective and change of lens yielded today's post. I'm always amazed at how much color is recorded in the RAW files during long, very low light shots. This HDR result was the perfect place to use NIK's Glamour Glow filter to give me the look I envisioned at capture. Hope you like it too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Top Floor

Early post today as I'm getting ready to head out for a conference In Ottawa. Donna wanted to see a wider view of the silk mill. Here it is. Shot on my second visit there last month. The structural posts and lentils are large solid wood members. Our house is of post and beam construction, so I'm partial to this style. Pretty impressive spans without any detectable sag. You certainly would be hard pressed to find timbers like these today. I think it a safe bet all that flaking paint is lead based being close to 50 or more years old.

With all the spools just sitting there, It makes me wonder what it would have sounded and looked like in operation. What would happen if you flipped the switch?

I started with a three shot HDR series converted in HDR Efex Pro. The RAW files were converted first in DxO Pro, my RAW converter of choice due to the ease of batch processing and automatic lens corrections. This image was made by blending a color version with a black and white version with NIK filters in Capture NX. Any editor, such as Photoshop, that allows for layers would work. I like how the blend adds a certain grit to the image and allows for a little texture in the window panes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spoke Isle

In the corner of one floor of the silk mill these machines are stationed. Black and white conversion in Silver Effects Pro. Piled in the basement is a stack of broken "spokes". I hear from the current owner that these are unique to this factory.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shoes Left in the Window Sill

Another shot from the silk mill depicting time standing still. I wonder who walked in these shoes? Most likely the owner has passed away by now. This is a three image HDR processed with NIK filters and plug-ins. Starting to get the hang of NIK's HDR EffexPro after having used Photomatix for years. I am finding it is easier to get a more natural looking result with NIK's product.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Green Silk Thread

4623-5-7 Green Silk Spools b nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
There are only a few spools of silk thread left in the factory. Perhaps thousands of empty spools stacked up (as seen in the background of today's picture), laying around and in large bins awaiting the next order that never came. So I knew I had to include at least one picture showing the mill's end product and purpose.

My last visit to the mill I had the pleasure to finally meet and shoot with Karen Messick, a fantastic photographer who's work I have followed for some time now. In one of her recent blog posts she recounts some of the fascinating history of the mill that I had not been able to track down:

Peoples Life Insurance Company

Throughout the Silk Mill one sees copies of this calendar hanging on the walls or column. Some of them have begun to fall apart and the pages have been picked up and set on surfaces here and there. 1957 was the year the factory closed. I made different versions of his image and settled on this desaturated, low key version to present to accentuate he calendar pages and convey a sense of time gone by. Finally finished my second visit set and will share more from them in the days to come. Now I have to work on ones from the first visit as well as some or the more compelling iPhone pics from the mill.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Silk Mill Basement Cones 2

About half of the basement is seen in this photo. I intentionally processed it on the gritty side due to the dark and dingy feel of the basement.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Silk Mill Basement Cones1

From my second visit to the Silk Mill. The basement level. Further away from these windows on the end wall it was incredibly dark needing exposures a few minutes long. There are many types of spinning machines in the old mill- would be interesting to know how they worked. The metal cones shown here must have been used on the machinery next to this area. In adjacent storage rooms are bins of cardboard cones that I surmise were the cores to spools of thread and may have fit over these metal cones during the manufacturing process.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Grafitti Underground Abstract

IMG_3937 72 dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Paint ballers also frequent the Underground leaving vivid colors behind as well. This old electric box has been targeted many, many times leaving this riot of color. Captured and processed in the iPhone with a number of photo apps.

iPhoneography, as this genre' of photography has been dubbed, has become an art form unto itself recently. I've found it, like most other pros I know, to be an addictive type of photography that expands photographic vision and creativity. Imagination is the limiting factor to end results. The editing power of the apps in the phone is astonishing. I recently had the honor of being invited into a select pro iPhone users photo group for sharing photos and techniques.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Visited here last month with a Tony Sweet Workshop. We spent most of the day one Saturday here. ESP is another HDR shooters paradise offering hundreds of decayed cells capture, including Al Capone's nicely furnished cell. ESP closed in 1974 as a prison and the rapid amount of decay is astonishing. In the mid 1990's it opened again as a tourist attraction. Work is underway to stabilize the massive prison complex from further decay. Our group paid to get into areas still closed to the public.

Graffiti Underground

This is a fascinating location for High Dynamic Range photography. This image required blending 5 separate exposures together to render all of the light and dark tones. Once a barge coal dock in Philly since the '60's, it is an abandonded massive concrete structure stretching several hundred feet long along the water front. The graffiti art is continually painted over with new art so each visit reveals something new. The "rock" or large chunk of concrete in the foreground of this photo I have been accredited to have found by pro photographers who have visited there many times. I "found" it in one of the corners of this huge complex.

The Broom

The Broom has had a long rest since the Silk Mill in Lonaconing, MD closed in 1957. My Grandfather's job during the Great Depression was sweeping factory floors and I remember quite a few lessons in the proper use of a broom. The user of this broom did not have the benefit of such instruction as the broom is not worn evenly.