Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Day In the Woods

This might get deep, so skip to the photos. This week my back and neck have really been bothering me, like excruciating pain, so on Sunday I decided to take a break from sitting in front of the computer since that's when it hurts the worst. Kaylah and I got in my car and started driving around looking for something interesting to photograph. I don't know how long we drove but we never once got out of the car. I felt like I had already seen it all. I couldn't find anything new. It's such a frustrating feeling. You see, my entire life all I've ever really wanted is to discover things, and uncover mysteries. My favorite TV shows and documentaries are the ones about ghosts, cryptozoological creatures, buried treasure, and ancient ruins. I'm driven by the idea that there could be more out there than what we see on maps, or read in text books. I like the thought of finding a real mystery or visiting a place that humans have never been.

So far I haven't met any ghosts or sasquatches. I've never stubbled across any ancient ruins filled with buried treasure. And no matter how far into the woods I go, I can still hear traffic and see litter on the ground, however this time of year the woods feel like the most likely place to find those mysteries if they're out there. There is something about being alone in the woods in the Fall and late Summer. It feels as if I'm on the verge of something. It's like one of those mysteries that I crave so much is about to reveal itself to me. 

I'm not sure what exactly I'm hoping to find, but going to the woods to look for it always feels good. So that's where I went. I did a quick search for the best hiking trails in Northeast Ohio and came up with a pretty good list, but most of them I had already hiked. Thankfully there was one towards the top of the list that I had never heard of so that's where I went.

Plateau Trail

Went off trail to check out a bog. It stunk really bad and I'm glad I wore my waterproof Palladium boots because I kept sinking in the nasty stuff. 

I love old gnarly trees.

Rounding a bend and seeing this was exciting. 

Loved how the fungus filled in like this.

Photos taken with a Canon Mark III, and Canon 60D; using a Canon 20mm f/2.8, Canon 35mm f/1.4, and a Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Going Way Back

It's now been over ten years since I first started participating in this hobby known as urban exploration. I never expected to explore as many locations as I have. First driven by curiosity, then the history, and then as my skills with a camera progressed it became more and more about the photos. Of course this was long before Instagram and Facebook. Likes and Followers didn't mean anything because they didn't exist. I explored because it was fun. I explored because it satisfied that need inside of me to see the unseen. That sense of discovery, and the idea of preserving pieces of history that would soon end up in landfills; that's why I did it. For a long time the only way you could see photos from urban explorers was on sites like UER and maybe a Live Journal group or two. Most people weren't exposed to the hobby. When I would tell people about what I did it would often be met with a look of confusion and the occasional disgusted 'why?!' Some people understood it, and some didn't. Not that any of it mattered. I explored for me. 

These are a few of the photos that I took during my early years as an explorer. I tried to choose the least terrible, which was a challenge because apparently I was pretty awful at taking photos those first four or five years. 

Miles Road Drive-In - Demolished

Kase Machine - Demolished

Jaite Papermill (my first abandoned building) - Demolished

Rugby Hall Apartments - Demolished

Stanard School - Demolished

Imperial Electric - Demolished

St. Luke's Hospital - Renovated

These days urban exploration has become pretty main stream, and just like most previously underground communities, it has it's fair share of tourists, narcissists, and elitists. I know some old school explores are irritated by this, some have given up exploring all together, but not me. I think exploring your surroundings is healthy, and I'm glad to see it getting the attention that it deserves. Sure I could do without some of the self obsessed explorers, those that treat the hobby like a competition, the ones that blow up spots; but it won't slow me down. I love this hobby and even though I go through phases where I might not get out much, I don't think I'll ever give it up entirely. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wake Up Early, Explore Abandoned Buildings

Woke up before sunrise to meet up with Jason and explore a building that has been on our 'to do' list for far too long. During the late 1800s and early 1900s Cleveland had a booming garment industry and this 650,000 square foot factory was a driving force in that industry. The building is pretty empty today, but the view from the roof is worth the price of admission. 

I really didn't take too many photos of the inside. It's a pretty typical early 20th century rustbelt factory. Mushroom columns and large open rooms on top of large open rooms.

The building boasts two massive courtyards. 

There's also tunnels running beneath the complex.

I probably should have shot more photos but sometimes it just feels good to explore and look around without worrying about the lighting and setting up shots. Hopefully this won't be the last time I'm in here, but even if it is I'm glad that I can cross this place off of my list.

Photos taken with a Canon 60D, with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.

Monday, September 15, 2014

An Abandoned Subway

This subway opened in 1927 and was then closed in 1956. For over fifty years now the tunnels have sat empty, but not entirely unused. Anyone who has ever been down here can probably tell you that you're never alone down here. There are constantly other groups of photographers, graffiti artists, and general public that use this space as a short cut or just a place to hangout and drink a few beers. Cleveland has a very similar tunnel system, one that also crosses a river on the lower level of a bridge. Cleveland's however is much less traveled. As incredible as it would be to repurpose these historic old tunnels, both cities would face a lot of difficulties. The outcome though would be a strangely beautiful and very unique public space. I would like to think that someday someone with vision and political pull will be able to turn that dream into a reality, but lets face it, it's probably not going to happen.

I've been here twice now and both times I ended up taking more self-portraits and group photos than actual shots of the tunnels. Something about being down here just makes me want to take cool portraits. 

The graffiti down here is some of the best I've ever seen.

Catching that last bit of light.

Can't resist a cheesy group photo.

Photos taken with a Canon Mark III, Canon 60D with a Canon 20mm f/2.8 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rochester, NY

Last November I went to Rochester, New York for the first time and I've been wanting to go back ever since. I love this city. It's got natural beauty, architectural beauty, and murals and graffiti galore. I finally got my chance to go back to Rochester and even though I visited a lot of the same places that I did on my first trip, it was still worth the five hour drive. 

Our first stop was of course the abandoned Rochester subway. The problem was there were workers down there, so not knowing exactly how relaxed the city is about people trespassing in the tunnels we decided to stay in the shadows and then return later that day for a more thorough trip through the graffiti covered underground.

Kaylah and I adding to our collection of non-traditional photos together.

Mural on an abandoned silo.

The climb down to the river was rough, the climb back up was even rougher; but the reward of an old power plant next to a waterfall next to a cave, made it worth it.

Looking into the cave which appears to be man-made.

Our next stop was a bridge.

One of my all time favorite graffiti artists, ROA, has several pieces in Rochester.

Photos taken with a Canon Mark III, Canon 60D with a Canon 20mm f/2.8 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.