My use of photography to document, enlighten or just to visually interpret what is placed before me, has taken me on many journeys, with just as many side paths. The photographs below represent a creative vision that both revealed its beauty and exposed the art which was created by the decay.
An invitation to shoot a once state of the art lab that had been left abandoned and for the most part almost unrecognizable as its former self, was an offer not to be missed. The day was cold, but not unbearable, with a bright sun overhead. Snow covered many of the exposed areas surrounding the buildings, giving it an almost peaceful setting. A large opening in the front of the main building was the starting point of my exploration inside. The layout felt just like city streets, pretty much straight hallways with lab rooms and other halls branching off. I stayed in the first room and just took it all in, the light and geometric lines would guide both my eye and imagination. I quickly became enlightened by what the decomposed walls and floors offered my compositions. Colors and patterns would emerge so that I could isolate an image and bring a different twist to what was before me. This alternative view would be expanded upon later in the digital darkroom. Corridor, and room after room revealed just how the elements could break down a seemingly sound structure. The weakest part to this demise was the ceilings, and whatever they were made of, which just seemed to melt and opened up this place to the weather.
The decayed, deteriorated and degraded interior of this site enhanced the twist I alluded to earlier. With the many holes, came the opportunity of light to play a big part of what I could manipulate into my artistic vision of this place. To accentuate this raw ruin into an artistic photograph, I would have to take up to seven shots of the same scene in order to bring enough light into the shadows and tame the really bright areas.
The decay is like an ever-changing canvas upon which time will either enhance or remove its form till all that is left is a witness to its existence… a photograph. My hope is that you can see into and past the rot, corrosion and eventual collapse of this site while becoming entertained, even engaged by its art.
ps… for detailed background and another photographer’s vision on this place, please follow this link to Rich Lewis’ blog.
I had never before physically visited the Coal Piers in Philly. Mentally, I had seen shots from there and tried to visually picture what I could express about this place. After arriving at this isolated destination, my first thoughts were not how interesting this place was but, more like ” I am never going to see my car again”. You park about half a mile from the site, at the corner of 2 dead-end streets… not the best part of town. Finally giving in to all my worst scenarios, I started to walk toward the piers. I began to relax and when finally seeing the place -BAM. My mind and camera just took over and started to create different vignettes of what I saw around me. I knew immediately that I was in a metering abyss, with most images running the gamut from 5 stops over for the highlights and 7 stops under for the shadows. As luck would have it, when I finally reached my car, it was still intact. I knew the photographic journey was only half over. My next step was to experiment with the HDR process and see if it fit what I saw as well as what I wanted to express.