Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Open Doors Wandering

This past weekend I spent a breezy Saturday out with Rob, Bill, and Kevin, sharing in the fun that is the annual Open Doors Baltimore event, a casual opening of many architectural projects in Baltimore City ranging from the rehabilitation of the old mills of the city's northwest to showcase of completed renovation projects of downtown high rises. A relaxed day empty of obligation, just relaxed wandering with a loose agenda (and plenty of time to stop by a few breweries to grab a beer). I missed the event last year, but in 2014 it was the venue hallmarking my introduction to Rob, who is now my business partner in photographic work.

We shot a few locales as part of the event; Whitehall Mill off Falls Road, still a project in the works with construction underway in the lower levels that couldn't begin until flooding countermeasures were in place to combat the rains and swelling of the Jones Falls; 10 Light Street, and 1 South Street, both classic downtown high rises with preserved post-Baltimore-fire architecture. Most of our time was spent touring Whitehall, its largely barren lower levels giving off the same vibe one gets from abandoned buildings. The South Street stop ended up being the most enjoyable to me personally, with the building's architect on-site to tell the stories of its design and of the nuance in its construction.

Honestly, though... I favorite shots had nothing to do with sites showcased in the event.

Driving down from Whitehall, we parked just off The Block (notorious for its array of strip clubs right next to the Baltimore Police Department Headquarters) in view of a bus stop. We walked back and forth past it a couple times, walking between locations and for a stop at the coffee shop. The light in that space was interesting all through the sunset, with the glass facades of towering buildings casting every manner of light over each crack in the concrete. I felt like I could've stayed there and photographed it for hours, capturing the breadth of people and personalities that embody Baltimore. The real Baltimore, not the privileged oases of gentrified neighborhoods like Fells Point and Federal Hill.

The buildings surrounding the area, though not part of any architectural open house, were also captivating to me as the sun was setting.

Admittedly, I've been doing a lot of very basic architectural "up skirts". And typically they're not particularly compelling, but it's an accessible study of line and shape to indulge. Especially these days, with a number of parking garages with me seemingly on a black list for attempting photography off their balconies. It's getting more and more difficult to find a non-offending vantage from which to photograph and not trigger alarm. The ubiquity of the camera in a cellular time is only matched by the disdain of the layman toward the shape of the non-cellular imager.

The only other competing favorite of the day's crop was snapped in a parking warehouse on the walk to Whitehall Mill. A broken and rusty blue bike by a yellow plywood box. Simple.

It was an appreciated escape from more traditional trappings of subject and composition, to say the least. One of those ideal periods where the camera is an afterthought at best, and we are universally at our creative best when our tools disappear from the immediate picture.

No pun intended.