Perhaps this article would best be entitled, “How I Photograph an Interesting Building” or “Abandoned Building”. But the idea is what happens after I decide to photograph a building.
I came upon the building in this article by sheer luck. I was returning home from some business and decided to take a different way home, a way that took me off of the four lane, 65 mile per hour, highway. I looked at my atlas earlier in the day and decided I would take a secondary road home. I did not know what I would come across on the way home, but decided to do it just in case I came upon a photographic opportunity.
The last sentence in the last paragraph is important. I am an opportunistic photographer. I normally have one of my cameras with me wherever I go “just in case.” This time, “just in case” occurred on my way home. I drove along Connecticut Highway 85 and the scenery was nondescript to say the least. But in the town of Hebron I saw an abandoned factory with a “for lease” sign in front of it. Here was my opportunity to do some photography. The nice (and important) thing was the road had a wide enough shoulder so that I could safely pull off the road out of traffic. Many times I pass up photographic opportunities because it would be dangerous to me and other people if I pulled over on a road with narrow shoulders which left my car “in harm’s way”.
I pulled over and took my camera out of my shoulder bag. I had my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 on my Nikon D3200. I crossed to the other side of the road and began to photograph the building. I “chimp” a lot when I photograph. I constantly check the LCD screen to see if I like the shots. Experts tell us never to “chimp”; who cares what they say! I “chimp” and am not ashamed of it (nor am I proud of it).
I took a number of photos (starting from north to south) from the opposite side of the road. I wasn’t overly pleased with any of them. They showed the building and I still liked the building and thought it had photographic potential, but the photos left a lot to be desired. There were no “keepers”. I recrossed the road. And continued photographing the building from south to north. These photos, again, left a lot to be desired. I then noticed the detail in the brickwork of the building and began to focus on it.
One of the major things I did notice was the white doors on the front of the building; they look like they were replacement doors and I don’t think added any beauty or interest to the building. There were more modern replacement windows on the lower level of the building; again, I wasn’t impressed by them. One of the things I did notice was the old styled light above the second floor window; that window looked original to the building. It also looks like it was broken. I took four photos of
that window/light combination at various focal lengths. No matter how close I zoomed in, the first floor window was still in the picture. I decided that I could crop it out in post processing. I am not only interested in the window and light, but also the brick work around the edge of the roof. They put a lot of effort and respect into constructing this building.
I continued moving north along the building and came to a doorway; the first thing that struck me was old light above the door; it mimicked the light above the second floor window. That doorway was in deep shadow and I decided to expose the photo for the doorway, which had interesting markings on it. That left the rest of the building badly overexposed. I decided to expose for the part of the building in sunlight and (shooting in RAW, as I always do) make multiple exposures of it in Adobe Camera Raw and combine the multiple exposures for a faux HDR photographic, where I would have a properly exposed lighted section of the building and you could make out the detail in the shadows. I processed five exposures (from normal exposure to +4 exposure) to give me the details I wanted.
I took a total of twelve photos and was satisfied with two of them. But it was in the process of taking those photos that I began to see the beauty of the building I wanted to focus on. It would have been easy to grab the camera, jump out of the car, and take a few photos and be on my way. I would not have been happy with the results if I had done that. I have two photos that I like. I don’t claim they are perfect nor do I claim that are high art, but I do like them. That only happened because I took my time and began focusing on detail when photographing that building.
Jim the Photographer