Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adventure Time

If nothing else, I am a creature of habit. Weather permitting, my weekends tend to follow a very predictable route - Friday is for unwinding and low key enjoyment, Saturday is party day for drunken debauchery and Sunday is exploration day. It's fitting that exploration day be followed by drunken debauchery day because I feel my most adventurous and creative after a solid night of liquid confidence chugging. Certainly these things are not related.

By some mindless fortune I was awake early in the morning and pumped to create some images. The skies held a promising color after the storms of the night prior and no force other than a neutron star was going to hold me back from making use of the fortunate weather. My original intent was to revisit a site I'd frequented many times before, but due to a lingering loopiness from the night before I missed the exit and promptly declared "Fuck it" and ventured elsewhere. U-turns be damned.

I whipped out my trusty tablet and perused the plethora of locales provided by my "Places to See" map and found myself relatively near to a common haunt of those interested in my variety of photography. Every location deserves at least one visit, no matter how old and gutted, so I made my way to the less than lovely place I'd made my mark.

Once I had arrived to the area it became more than clear that the prior night's storms hadn't simply provided the gorgeous sky that morning, but also demolished a sizable portion of the surrounding area. Water levels on the nearby coast rose up to not-to-distant railroad tracks, and debris and dead, rotting fish littered the landscape. My ultimate objective resided well above sea level, but the impact of the battered land below was enough to put me in a real apocalyptic mindset. The muse only strengthened.

Reaching my target was more than enjoyable. A considerable climb up a considerably steep hillside still running with water from rain deposited the night before. It may only be due to miracle a dramatic tumble never occurred during ascent and especially descent. Well above the wreckage of Mother Nature's abuse below, the sunrise spoke inspirational volumes, glowing with Hollywood magic over bridges and water. If not for the trees it could have been a gorgeous image, but alas, some visages only have a chance to speak in person.

Catching my breath, I made my way up to the first building. The love-her-leave-her nature of the site was obvious. Already one building in and it was clearly nobody had bothered boarding up the windows for some time. Whereas some of the locations I've visited showed clear signs of their past in the form of relics or the care taken to keep them sealed, the ball was dropped in this complex and she was apparently deemed "Not worth it anymore". It's always sad to see the destruction that ensues when a site reaches that level of catatonia - the damage done and garbage left behind by bored teenagers who can't be bothered to care. I've seen it in at least a half dozen buildings/complexes and it never ceases to be a disappointment every time.

Determined to capture her with my own eye, I pressed forward and sought what little interest I could extract from her dry, broken remains. Much of my shooting depended on light play given the lack of subject matter available. The empty hallway is brutally cliche, but sometimes there's little else to photograph in these forgotten places.

I wandered the hallways of various buildings for the better part of 4 hours, ultimately met with disappointment but as I said before every locale deserves at least one visit. The single area of great interest was the theater of one of the larger buildings. Good fortune and noon light saw fit to produce a solid beam of light shining down on a small section of seats in the theater. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't attempt to capture it, so I set up on the stage with a fast prime and proceeded to expose. The entire time I was in the building loud slamming sounds would intermittently fill the hallways. Used to this sort of thing, I traced the sounds to the theater roof, different panels slapping against one another in the strong wind. Just a few seconds after completing my theater exposure, another loud slap roared throughout the room, followed by a considerably louder crash. Perhaps 6 feet from me a sofa-sized chunk of the ceiling decided it would like to take a seat in the front row of chairs. Unnerved by the realization that the theater was quite literally coming down around me, I made my prompt exit.

The final series of buildings I wandered about were old offices, all just as gutted and absent of history as the rest of the complex. Satisfied that I'd seen all there was to see, I returned to the hillside and made the uneasy trip back to the pier.

Later that day I returned to the pier with a friend who happened to live in the area. We photographed the sunset, which was being augmented by heavy rains pouring just over the horizon. The sky may as well have been done in pastel. Naked shots of the sky stopped being interesting years ago so I sought some manner in which to give the sky context. Without naught but water in the direction of the sun and no model readily available, I exercised by vanity, set the camera to timer and used myself as the model. The results were quite successful. One of these days I will be sure to keep a model in my camera bag, however. Surely they make collapse-able people that can fit in your pocket... like a Pokemon.

Oh God, that is an awful thought. I take it back.