Posts

Shards

(View a little larger, a little better by clicking on image for a lightbox)

I keep finding images from our dog track visit back in December that I haven’t processed, so I took a bit of time this week to blaze through a few.

I love this place. The scene above was so indicative of the current deterioration of the structure. It was also interesting how all these foreground seats were places on the outside of the facility and now it’s almost like the entire place is “outside.”

The first thing we talked about when we got near the windows was that we should all steer clear of them…because those shards aren’t just small bits of glass, but huge pieces that I would assume could take your head off if they dropped directly on you.

I automatically had a desire to stand next to and look through these windows, so I had to make sure I kept reminding myself to keep away.

This scene has a very post-apocalyptic feel to it for me. Chairs falling in disrepair, vegetation growing all over, the fact that everything just feels out in the open now. At one point in my life (and it may still happen), I had planned on writing a book that would take place in a future where people hadn’t really lived on the planet for a couple hundred years.

Things would likely be way worse than this, but it might be a scene I’d use to describe the way things were.

(exif: canon rebel xsi, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5, iso 100)

The Lobby

This is the lobby of the dog track in Black Canyon City, part of the series I’ve been posting for the last few weeks. Broken glass, debris, dust, discarded items and this cushion litter the floor in every direction. The surface is made up of tiles, but they are warped, fragile and almost every step seems to result in loud, cracking noises. For this young urban explorer, it was the only time in my entire life I can remember being in a place as degraded as the dog track.

And it was awesome…of course.

Never having been on a shoot of a place like this before, I was kind of just wandering and shooting randomly when I started…almost like a kid in a candy store who has no idea what he wants. I felt like the longer I was there, the better my composition and framing became. I relaxed, started “seeing” better and was much more happy with the stuff I ended up with later in the tour.

The goal with this shot should be pretty obvious. Focus on something up close in the foreground, but use the wide angle to give an idea of the vastness of the space. I loved all the minute details of the floor and I kind of just scoured it for awhile before settling on this cushion to be my main element.

More to come…oh boy…lots more to come from the dog track *grin*

(exif: canon xsi, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, ISO 100, F5)

Skylights

Sunsets are sometimes a challenge. First off, it helps if you kind of have an instinct about when you think it’s going to be a good one.  But when you do think you’ve got one of those amazing Arizona evening skies headed your way, the next bit of fun is trying to decide just where you’re going to setup. Obviously you can plan ahead and select a few locations you may have found in the past, but I enjoy just heading out and finding something on the fly.

The problem is…when you get that epic sunset…you really only have one shot at it. There is an apex to every sunset, a moment where it’s the best it’s going to be, and you can only hope you are in the spot you want to be.

On this night, I was lucky enough to have a few options within 40 feet of each other that allowed two totally different framings. The first I posted about a month ago, which had train tracks and graffiti. But as I sat there knowing I had just hit the pinnacle of this sunset, I looked around for something, some other point of interest. It really didn’t take more than 2.5 seconds to realize this old train platform roof would look even more amazing if I was right under it.

One of the tiny details I like about this shot are the bits of broken glass speckled all over the platform…more than likely from a homeless person at some point, but they add an interesting element to the shot.

And the roof itself…kind of like a bunch of skylights, allowing the colors to be seen directly overhead. Just beautiful.

I still would like to go back to this place sometime and explore just a little more…it was wide open to the public, no fences, nothing…just right there off the side of the road.

(Exif: Canon Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm F2.8, F8, ISO 100)

Window to the End of the World

Black Canyon City Abandoned Dog Track Sunset

This is the first of many, many images from the abandoned dog track north of Phoenix near Black Canyon City. I made the trek up there with my good AZ photog buddies Rick Young and Scott Wood. The place hasn’t been used as a dog track since 1982 and after that it was a swap meet until closed a few years later. Now it sits there waiting for explorers to venture inside in search of hidden treasures…which for us are photographs.

There was talk that we’d go in the morning, but I pushed for the late afternoon hours, having told Rick that the seats and windows face West/Southwest, so the light coming in will be amazing while we’re there and maybe we’ll get a sunset out of it. Of course, I’d never been there really, only saw it from the road once. This was Rick’s second time.

Well, he doubted me, saying the mountains were too close for a good sunset, but we decided to get out there around 3pm anyways and spent a couple of hours wandering the place until the sun finally did set and gave us one of the most magnificent shows in awhile. Rick called out to me from across the bleachers area, “See Mike, told you the sunset would suck.

But even if the show was good, there was nothing like sitting in those old chairs, in eerie quiet, watching this amazing sunset framed by huge windows which themselves were framed with whatever remaining glass they had left. I can’t even describe the feeling…part of me wanted to just sit there and watch, and the other (more commanding) part scrambled around to find the perfect way to compose the shot.

I’m thrilled and excited to bring you more images from that trip…it was an amazing place of course, but also the very first true indoor urban exploration for me and I relished every moment.