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Roadside | Oklahoma & Texas

A few weeks ago we found out my wife’s grandfather passed away. Because air fare at the last minute was expensive for our family of four, we decided to drive the 927 miles to Alva, Oklahoma instead.

We had our two kids in the back and it was a long drive, so stopping to get out of the car and take photos was pretty much out of the question. But when we hit Texas and then Oklahoma, we ended up off the Interstate and started passing these old towns with abandoned buildings. I love that kind of stuff and so badly wanted to take some shots.

So I decided to be quick about it. I would roll down the window, stop, take a quick photo, and keep driving. We were already going 35mph so it wasn’t much of a time-suck. Sometimes I didn’t even stop all the way. The train image was actually my wife holding the wheel while I snapped away.

Was fun to do something different. There are some other things here besides buildings, but mostly I was looking for symmetry and decay. Hope you enjoy.

The first five photos were taken on our way there and it was completely foggy and overcast. The rest are from the trip home.

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Titanic

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 1/15th // buy print)

Movie Title Wednesdays are now few and far between these days, but I stumbled upon this image last night and realized I never posted it and felt like it was about time. I dubbed it Titanic because my wife has looked at this scene twice now and that’s the first movie that pops into her head.

And yeah, I love the movie. Can’t help it! Man card turned in!

But the way this old pier and that lamp post are covered in calcium deposits…it truly does look like the pictures we’ve seen of the Titanic. This image was taken at Bombay Beach along the Salton Sea in California back in January of this year. I made the trip with some friends from Phoenix and we met up with my buddies Heath O’Fee from Canada and Chris DeAngelis/Doug Wise from California. We had a spectacular time and on our first and only visit to Bombay Beach…couldn’t have asked for a better sunset.

This image actually fits even more for Movie Title Wednesday because it’s kind of a prequel. A week after our visit, I posted a photo from this same spot taken at 6:00pm. You can click right here to view that one.

The photograph above was taken at 5:52pm, just eight minutes earlier. Kind of amazing how much the sky changed in that short span of time. This image was always my favorite of the two because of the way the last rays of sunlight hit the lamp post and a few areas of the pier.

Definitely loved going back to that day and finding a few more images to post. We all had such an awesome time, that will of course be one of my favorite photography trips ever…and mostly because of the guys I was with.

The Forgotten

The Forgotten - Bombay Beach - Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, 117sec // buy print)

The Forgotten is a not-so-great film with a pretty great title, so I’m using it this week for Movie Title Wednesday! When I look at this image, the word “forgotten” is the first thing that comes to mind.

The movie itself stars Julianne Moore and is a sort of creepy, sci-fi, horror-ish kind of tale. I honestly don’t remember much other than Moore and seeing a dude get sucked through the roof of a cabin. I’m a sucker for sci-fi films in general and I do feel like I enjoyed this one. But judging by the 5.7 on IMDB, it wasn’t the best-ever reviewed movie. Check it out though if you are in the mood for something different on a Friday night.

This image comes once again from the Salton Sea. The movie title encompasses not only this particular photograph, but in reality, the entire Salton Sea area. It’s so strange that this place exists in the middle of California. At one point the plan was to turn it into a resort and amazing getaway location. Instead you now get to see a land that time forgot. People still live out there, amazingly…but it’s a weird kind of existence.

Bombay Beach was where this image was taken. I urge you to click on it to see it bigger and sharper. I once again have to thank my buddy Chris DeAngelis for letting me use his 10-stop filter (I now have my own, yay!) to get this long exposure. I processed this using tonality control and luminosity masking, which I discovered through an amazing photographer named Zack Schnepf. Now, usually when doing that, I’m going for a natural look, but this scene demanded more and so I added some apocalyptic tones to give it an extra punch.

Next week I head to Oregon for 3 1/2 days and expect to be able to do a bit of 10-stop photography along the coast. I’ve been there once before and it was amazing fun. Can’t wait to get back.

The Calm

The Calm on Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f4 l, b+w ND 10-stop, 19mm, f/22, iso 100, 124sec // buy print)

I’m dedicating this photo to my buddy Chris DeAngelis, who let me borrow his 10-stop B+W filter and made all of this possible. He loaned it to me a few times at Bombay Beach, while Rick Young loaned me his over on the west side of the Salton Sea. Thank you guys.

Yes, I’m getting my own. Soon.

Normally if you are by water and pull out a 10-stop, you are hoping to pull off a long enough exposure so that the water becomes a misty looking cloud-like substance hugging rocks, sand, piers, whatever.

But when the body of water you are shooting is already about as calm as glass…the filter enhances that stillness and creates a beautiful, almost mirror-like reflection.

This is an abandoned, calcium-laiden old pier extending out from Bombay Beach. The entire beach area makes for one of the spookiest, weirdest places I’ve ever been. If it hadn’t been for the people I was with, the other tourists and even some photographers shooting models with beauty dishes amongst some trashed buildings, I’d have been pretty frightened about being here solo.

I may have said this on Monday’s blog post, but the Salton Sea is a lesson in contradictions. The water was so still, the horizon so smooth, the clouds blended into the water and you felt like you were in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Until you looked down at the fish carcasses or heard the occasional mysterious bubbling from the deep. Or you’d spot these beautiful, white pelicans glancing across the water’s surface as they flew by, which made you think about the dead bird laying between all the rotting fish you saw a bit ago.

I had a few people, like Heath O’Fee or Rick, tell me what the place was like before arriving, but you really have no idea until you are standing there yourself.

 

The Edge of the World

The Edge of the World - Salton Sea

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 0.6 sec // buy print)

This past Friday and Saturday I was part of a whirlwind trip that took me through Joshua Tree National Park and ended at the shores of the mysterious and disturbing Salton Sea. My good friend Heath O’Free was visiting Palm Springs from Canada, and had invited me to meet up with him on Friday. Also along for the journey was some other buddies…Rick Young and Chris Frailey from Phoenix, and Chris DeAngelis and Doug Wise from California.

Together we braved camping out in Joshua Tree despite lows in the mid-20’s (resulting in little to no sleep) and the strangeness that is the Salton Sea. I have an amazing assortment of images from the trip and can’t wait to share them over the coming weeks, but I had to start off with this one.

The Salton Sea is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The minute you see the retreating shoreline and the dead fish…you know you are someplace unique.  And creepy.

But at sunset on the eastern shore of Bombay Beach, the place had an almost epic beauty. The calm waters, the beautiful colors, the way the sky blended in with the lake out on the horizon. It was majestic and amazing, while at the same time you walk along a beach of fish and fowl carcasses and constantly have an odor of decay lingering in your nose.

This particular spot immediately called out to me when I saw it from the car. The closer I got to this old pier, the more it reminded me of something out of the Lord of the Rings. An ancient dock at Minas Tirith as my buddy DeAngelis said. My wife thinks it looks like the scenes at the end of the movie Titanic.

Either way, I knew I wanted to shoot the sunset from here. We were blessed with gorgeous clouds and such calm, reflective waters.

More to come!

 

Lay down your burdens

The Sofa -

(please click to view this nasty ol’ couch on black)

(title from the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack)

When I’m stormchasing, I can get very tunnel-visioned. I have a goal of where I want to get to and sometimes I’m unable to relax and just enjoy the stuff I see along the way. Of course, that usually depends on the situation, because other times I can be completely mellow and just go where the wind takes me.

This shot was from Labor Day and I believe my buddy Ken is the one who pulled the vehicle over. I was too busy being wishy-washy about whether we should run to Yuma or just hang out here.

Anyways…Ken took this big photography class from Mark Wallace not too long ago and one of his assignments was to do one big project on “something.” He decided to use me as his subject and basically created a little documentary/episode of the day in the life of a stormchaser.

So this couch. It actually doesn’t look that bad. But that doesn’t mean anything. It could be full of scorpions or God knows what. And yes…Ken wanted me to sit on it to get a posed shot for his project. I did it…but it was on the arm rest and I wasn’t very comfortable.

As for my photo…I love stuff like this. A desert landscape with something completely random throw into the mix to provide an awesome scene. Usually when I find some kind of “lost” element in my images, I really play with the tones and style of the image. I like to get crazy and give something like this a stark, post-apocalyptic look and feel.

What makes an image like this fun for me…it throws together two things I love: Weather and lost things. If you know anything about me, I rarely go out to shoot landscapes unless there are clouds, and mostly, stormy clouds. If it’s a blue sky, I wont even pack the camera. The other thing I love is urbex…farmex (gonna call this desertex for the fun of it)…stuff that has been abandoned or left for dead. So combining those into one image…well…that’s frakking awesome.

Have a great weekend!

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100 – buy print)

Legends of the Fall

A sea of wheat -

It’s another Movie Title Wednesday around these parts and this one was admittedly kind of hard to match with a film. And if you think, Field of Dreams, already used it. My unwritten rule is to never use the same movie twice, which is getting harder and harder.

Thus today we have Legends of the Fall, it kind of fits this image, although I can’t really tell you much about the movie itself. I usually try to stick to films I love or at least enjoyed, but I don’t remember either way on this one. Brad Pitt before he was Brad Pitt…Aiden Quinn, Madeline Stowe…all that is from memory. And of course, Anthony Hopkins. They lived out on a farm, there was a love triangle I think and yeah, that’s all I remember.

Now…this was another “farmex” image shot this past May, whilst in Kansas, stormchasing non-existent storms. I probably could have forgotten all about the weather and just shot this kind of stuff if I hadn’t been out there for the reason I was. Regardless, as I drove aimlessly through these old farm lands, I was subjected to a feast of abandoned beauties everywhere I looked.

The wind was breezy, which provided some kind of cool motion in the wheat fields that extended out forever in all directions.  I wouldn’t have minded getting a little closer to this old barn, or farm, or house or whatever it was…but it was kind of creepy out there and I also didn’t want to upset the neighbors, not to mention I was actually out chasing weather.

As it was…I kind of liked it from this spot.

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/3.5, iso 100, 1/1600 – buy print)

The 505

The 505 - Abandoned Gas Station in Two Guns, Arizona

(Please clickity-click to see the empty garage larger than life with a nice, dark background)

Feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything of the urbex variety on the site, especially now that storm season has arrived. Feels good to change the pace up and throw out an image from waaaay back in April that I kept forgetting about.

This was the inside of an old, abandoned gas station up at Two Guns, Arizona. I friggin’ love old, lost gas stations along well-traveled highways. Anything left for dead like that is cool, but you have to wonder how a gas station could fail when it sits right on a freeway that sees thousands of cars a day.

Probably the creepiest thing in this picture is the little girl graffiti off to the right. I think her name is Gem.

I loved how open the place felt with all the glass and sliding doors long gone, so I wanted to include the sky as much as I could.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100)

This Old House

An old, scary house in Kansas

(looks scarier with a dark lightbox around it. Click image to scare yourself)

A little more “farmex” straight from my recent stormchasing trip to the midwest. This image was taken a bit south and west of Wichita, Kansas.

I dig creepy places and shooting them, but unless I got a buddy with me, I’m not sure I could go much closer than this. Wind was blowing, creaking sounds were coming from the house and the surrounding trees…it was definitely giving me goosebumps.

I passed so many places like this. Old, abandoned farms, silos, houses, sheds…it was amazing. Highly recommend Kansas if you are looking for this kind of subject.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 100, f/16, 1/80)

 

Kamp Two Guns

Old Campground at Two Guns Arizona

This is another image from our April 2nd trip to northern Arizona when we hit up the ghost town of Two Guns in the morning, then Grand Falls in the afternoon.

Two Guns was very close to this structure, but we’re confident it came well after that old town disappeared. “Kamp” used to be an old RV campground and you could still see the areas where those vehicles would park for the night. This building had restrooms in it and might have been the check-in office for the entire place. Now it’s a mess, with a lot of graffiti all over the walls, floors, ceiling and even a nearby empty swimming pool.

As I’ve said before, I love the clouds up in northern Arizona and we definitely got lucky on this day to have them aplenty.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/13, 1/60)