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.

Running from Camera

Here’s a blog of guy in Amsterdam who sets up his camera and runs away. “The rules are simple: I put the self-timer on 2 seconds, push the button and try to get as far from the camera as I can.”

At first it seemed a little silly and a little monotonous, but as I scrolled through the photos, it gave me a view into the Dutch world in which this guy lives. And many of the pictures are really good. In the end, his simple premise has allowed him to compose and shoot low angle shots with an unattended camera. He happens to be running away in every picture.

Photo Usage and Privacy Rights


The above link shows a Virgin Mobile ad in Australia where the photo was taken from Flickr.com. The photographer allowed his photos to be used in any circumstance, provided credit is given. At issue, though, are the privacy rights of the subject. In fact, the girl and her family are suing everyone they can think of associated with the issue.

Read the NY Times article here.

It will be like camp

I signed up to take a photography class this spring at the Penland School of Crafts in the North Carolina mountains. This one week class focuses on pinhole photography and other alternative processes, combined with digital manipulation. While this is an interesting class, mainly I wanted to take any non-traditional photography class to expand my creative thought process. I have been taking the same kind of pictures for a long time (old school, black and white film, natural light, manual camera), and I want try some new things beside different subject matter. As I have some more time to shoot pictures, this is a good time to do this.

“This class will begin with students making pinhole cameras, paper negatives, and contact prints. Then we will scan, copy, manipulate, and play with our images. Our exploration of alternative processes will include acrylic lifts, Lazertran, Xerox transfer, and more. We will make simple book forms and tin frames for presentation.”

I got my acceptance letter today, and it really is like camp. I have to be there at a certain time on Sunday for check-in. After moving into our quarters (I chose a double room over dorm accommodations), we have a class orientation, then dinner, then more class time before bed. It should be a lot of fun, but totally different from anything I have done for a long time.

Photo Essay: Souvenirs

This photo essay is by Michael Hughes. It’s a very simple idea, but the execution is where it flies. You need to match the right souvenir with the right perspective. It is also a great comment on travel that combines the capturing of the memory of travel with the kitsch of tourism.

The project began in 1999 on a cold, grey November day on assignment at the Loreley cliffs near Mainz, Germany. The postcard in my pocket for my daughter looked much better than the real place, so I held it up in place and shot. Little did I know I was beginning a series that would continue to this day.

The rules are simple: Only use souvenirs that you can actually buy at the place, and you must be able to hold it with one hand.