I have posted a photo from this place before, it's the White's Furniture warehouse in Mebane, NC, long defunct. Today I drove out to it, and went thru the open gate into the 'complex,' as it seems to me to be. I had sought permission to shoot here before, asking various people coming in and out of the complex for an authority to talk to (there's some sort of storage operation at one end and another set of folks park their cube trucks there overnight), but the guy they referred me to has never been there. I saw that his van was not where it would be if he was around, so today I just started taking pictures...
A place like this, urban decay and all, is perfect for HDR. All those textures and details...and so I decided to end my HDR-themed stint with yesterday's post. A dog (even if it IS sleeping) is a pretty unconventional HDR subject, and so I don't want to approach such an obvious subject as this warehouse with the HDR treatment. I don't quite have a distinct idea for my next theme, but I have been reading a book, The Tao of Photography, by Phillippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro, and I'm thinking I'll be basing my next few posts on some of the ideas I'm gleaning from it.
Mysteriously, wonderfully, I bid farewell to what goes, I greet what comes; for what comes cannot be denied, and what goes cannot be detained. — Chuang-tzu
Scanning back through the book now, that quote is the best I can find that explains why I decided to quit the HDR theme when presented with such ideal subject matter. Of course, if you've been following the blog, you'll know I've been kinda sour with HDR almost since I started. Can't put my finger on it, it could be the Byzantine mire of post-production choices each shot presents itself with, it could be the disconnect between the shooting and the final image (which, when you think about it, is like the gap that comes with shooting film: a lack of instant gratification), or it could be the popularity of HDR in photo-circles (I hate pop music too, or bands that used to rock but have now been discovered - with a few exceptions)...either way, I was ready to swear off HDR with the clarity of the Informed (after all, I've given it a good run, and learned quite a bit, and got some good shots out of it). ( I wonder if I should use any more parenthesis...or ellipses...soon it'll be a poem by ee cummings.)
Then this evening I looked on my wall and realised that three of the five shots on it, shots I had taken the time to print and matte and frame, had some degree of HDR in the post-processing. So I think I'll never hang that hat up completely, it will always be in the toolkit when needed.
But back at the old warehouse, I stood by my car and made a decision. I didn't want to take my tripod, and I didn't want to approach each shot trying to imagine what it would look like tonemapped. I just wanted to walk unencumbered, with a 50mm manual focus lens, and react to this wonderful, beautifully faded place with as much of an open eye as I could. So I did. I walked around tentatively at first, not leaving sight of my car. Plenty to see even that close. I kept waiting for someone to come around the corner...and kept hearing noises that indicated someone's presence. But it was cold, and windy...and what I though was someone on the roof was just a large panel of corrugated tin flapping boisterously in the wind. I started moving further in; various garage-like structures surround the main warehouse, and together they form some interesting corridors of broken glass, broken dreams, and potentially broken ankles. A little wary of being discovered too far in without an excuse, and a little wary of what secrets a place like this could hold (I have had a true ghost experience before), I pressed on till it sort of dead-ended in the middle somewhere, then doubled back to the car. Never saw another person.
When I got home, I processed the images in Aperture only, no Photoshop. To be sure, they aren't straight-up out-of-camera images; I processed them under the influence of some of the photographers I've been diggin' on lately, and it's something more like film. None of these really stand on their own to me, they need the others to create the sense of place. So, I've made a gallery for you to see all the selects: just click on any image to engage the gallery. I plan on going back to this place, and hopefully getting that permission to get inside as well...I could shoot here for a week I think.