Getting Ready for Photo Show

I have a photo show coming up February 8, 2008 – April 2, 2008 at the Chapel Hill Public Library, with an opening reception, Sunday February 10 from 2:30 to 4. Stop by if you are in the area. I will be showing black and white photos that I took on my trip to Spain several years ago.

This show has been scheduled for nearly a year, although it was originally going to be in October. I have procrastinated on printing my pictures for so long that I no longer had time to do it myself, so I took them to a photo store, University Photo in Chapel Hill. They are photos that I shot on film, so I needed to find a place that still prints black and white in the way I needed them (fiber base paper, matte finish, full frame with clean black bars). This is the same way I print them. All my other prints are done full frame, which I started as a bit of an artist’s conceit (here is the photo as I saw it in the camera and it was not cropped in the darkroom), but I stayed with it because I like the way the black border frames the images. This has probably lost some of its relevance in the digital realm because you can re-size, crop an image and still put a black border around it.

Since shooting these pictures, and getting accepted for this juried show, I have moved to digital shooting. The film shots in Spain was an excuse to get back to film, and I enjoyed shooting with my heavy, metal, manual camera. I haven’t really stuck with it, and probably won’t go back. I can shoot many more digital photos without the concern for cost of film and processing. I don’t have a process for printing digital images yet, but that’s mainly because I haven’t had a need yet.

Yesterday I picked up the prints for my show and I was blown away. Since I have never seen these photos on anything other than a contact sheet or a computer monitor, it was fantastic to see them printed on matte paper. There are subtleties in the photos that are perfect for the medium. I am really looking forward to seeing them hanging together. It almost makes me want to stick to black and white film. It may be a bit of a struggle moving forward in the digital shooting world, but I think I just need a means of high end output and I will be fine.

And today I dropped off all the prints (3 – 11×14’s and 12 – 8×10’s) at the frame store to get them framed. We came up with a fairly economic solution with a simple black metal frame, white matte and regular glass, since I was getting so many framed. I considered buying materials and framing them myself, but the stress just didn’t seem worth it. I would definitely be pushing the deadline by doing that. They will be ready next Wednesday, so I will have week to spare before they are due at the show.

Raleigh Water Garden

I recently went on a photo outing with my urban exploration group to the Water Garden in Raleigh. This 11-acre campus is on Glenwood Avenue across from the Chevy dealer. When it was created by landscape architect, Richard Bell in 1955 this was the outskirts of town. He modeled his concept after Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin compound in Wisconsin. Not only did Bell live and work at the Water Garden, but he nurtured up-and-coming landscape architects in that environment.

This innovative office park has 2 office buildings, a maintenance shed and lots of green space. The site has been recently sold, and our meeting organizer got permission and keys from the developer. This meant we had full access to all the buildings. The buildings had been vacated in the past year, and they were pretty empty.

The design of the buildings was very forward thinking for the time. There were lots of window for natural light, similar materials on the inside and outside, and rain spouts that water plants and filled ponds. It was great to see “green” buildings from the mid-20th Century, but sad to know that they will torn down to make way for progress.

Here is a link to my slideshow on Flickr. Since I have been taking so many more pictures with my new camera, I have been looking for other ways to show them besides posting strings of pictures in my blog. I was excited that Blogger announced a slideshow feature, but it is for your blog and runs in the side bar, not in individual posts. So that’s not what I need.

Here is some more information about the Water Garden:
News and Observer
Local Raleigh Blog
Landscape Architecture magazine

A Drive in the Country

This morning I headed off for a drive in the country to use my new camera (Nikon D40X). I was inspired by last night’s meeting of Urban Exploring, so I was looking for run down and abandoned buildings. I drove north across the state line into Virginia to a small town named Virgilina (pop. 159), where I knew there were some old buildings worth photographing.

At one point I stopped in a convenience store, and I was the only one not wearing camouflage. I was in some areas that were so rural, when I got out of my car I heard nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even the town was pretty deserted. I only saw a handful of people. And finally, the train station was really creepy. There were several cars parked around it, including the red Corvair, that seemed okay until you looked closer. The Corvair looked shiny and well taken care of, but it was missing the driver’s side window. The newer cars had old inspection stickers and looked like they had been parked there while. There was lots of stuff stored inside, but I had the sense that at any moment some psycho living inside would jump out at me.


3 Wheeled Tractor, Carrboro, NC


Factory Water Tower, Roxboro, NC


Abandoned Gas Station, Nelson, VA


Abandoned Gas Station, Interior, Nelson, VA


Abandoned Gas Station, Interior, Nelson, VA


Collapsed Storage Barn, Nelson, VA


Small Tobacco Barn, Nelson, VA


Large Tobacco Barn, Virgilina, VA


Large Tobacco Barn, Interior, Virgilina, VA


Cinder Block Building, Virgilina, VA


1964 Chevy Corvair, Virgilina, VA (Thanks for the year, Corey)


Red Corvair outside Abandoned Train Station, Virgilina, VA

(Thanks for the corrections. Could be 1965.)


Abandoned Train Station, Interior, Virgilina, VA

After seeing construction items stored in one room, I came around to this window and saw the chairs and couches, but it was the table that creeped me out. It was birthday table cloth with a collection of black walnuts on it.


Abandoned Building, Virgilina, VA


Abandoned Building, Virgilina, VA


Abandoned Gas Station, Virgilina, VA


Abandoned Gas Station, Interior, Virgilina, VA

My New Camera

Friday at lunch I bought a new camera, a Nikon D40X. Here is a review of this compact digital SLR. In addition to offering full control over settings, one of the main advantages of an SLR is the ability to change lenses. After a day of shooting, the biggest advantage to me is that it feels like a camera. Not only did it fit my hand well, but the weight of it told me that I was holding a camera.

My primary film camera was an old Nikon F2, which is heavy and bulky, but feels like a camera. I reluctantly made the switch a few years ago to a point and shoot digital camera (a Canon 410). I was happy enough with the pictures, but it didn’t feel like photography to me. It was more like “image capture.” Most of the pictures were of the kids doing cute things, so it didn’t matter that much. But it matter did on a walk in the woods or a trip to new city.

There is a deep down connection between the act of photography and my soul. This afternoon I shot 175 pictures on my drive in the country (see next post for pictures). Each and every time the mirror flipped on the camera, I felt it. That’s 175 moments where I connected, deep down, with a mechanical device. I hadn’t realized how much I missed that feeling.

Urban Exploration

I joined an Urban Exploration group and went to an organizing meeting tonight to talk about how the group will function. Urban Exploration is getting into abandoned buildings through legal or illegal means for varying degrees of photography and mayhem. My preferences are generally legal and photography. This is also the group’s approach to exploring. We will contact realtors or building owners to get permission for our group trips. This should be interesting.