IMPORTANT NOTE: The Klotz Throwing Company (aka. Lonaconing Silk Mill) is critically close to shutting the doors for good. Herb Crawford (the owner) has noted that there is no State or Federal funding coming in to support desperately needed roof repairs and, his personal funds are depleted. If repairs are not made to the roof prior to this upcoming winter season, severe damage could occur causing permanent closure of the building. Now, more than ever, is the time to take the opportunity to photograph this historic facility before it’s gone!
Have you ever been to a new location to shoot and been so overwhelmed at all of the possibilities? Such was the case for us the weekend of 8/13/11 in Lonaconing, Maryland at the abandoned Klotz Throwing Company (aka. Lonaconing Silk Mill).
Kelly and I had to the opportunity to visit and shoot a site which had last closed its doors to its employees on July 7th, 1957. More on the history of the mill can be found here.
The small town of Lonaconing is about a 4-hour drive for us so, we left at 4am to be insure we arrived for the 9am entry time. As anticipated, we arrived an hour early (which we always encourage – you just never know!). I’m glad we showed up early because as it turned out, the owner, Herb Crawford, arrived about 30-minutes early and gave us a quick history lesson about the mill and, talked to us about the current state of the mill.
Our plan was to meet with between 9-13 photographers to shoot this location for the 5 hours we were allotted. Due to some other photog’s circumstances, we ended having a group of 11 photographers shooting the mill. This turns out to be a nice number to “share” the large 3-story space of the mill. People were spread out enough to where you really didn’t get in each others way. This is an important consideration if you’re planning a trip to shoot with others. Be aware of your surroundings and respect the space of others. Makes for a much more pleasant shooting situation.
Any time you go to an unfamiliar location, do as much research as you can to help preplan and maximize your shooting time. This was our first time to to the mill so, I did as much research as I could to know what we were getting ourselves into. With 5 hours to shoot on 3 floors with everything from small, intricate items to large machinery, our plan was to divide and conquer! Kelly headed off one direction, I took another. This works great when you shoot as a team like we do but, if you’re shooting alone you have even more work to do. If you’re alone in a situation like this, work your way around the building, scanning up and down as you move and shoot.
The mill is in excellent condition for a 104-year old building. As one may expect though, there was only minimal electricity, natural lighting from the large windows and no air conditioning (unless you count the holes in the windows). The challenge here was to start where there was light, shoot then move to where the light transitioned throughout the day. Another challenge was the large pane windows and the dimly lit rows of equipment towards the center of the floor. Think of a diver at the surface of of the water and as he dives deeper, the lighting begins to disappear to the point of almost total darkness. If you shot from the end of the row of equipment, back towrds the windows, you had to choose between exposing for the light at windows or, the dark shadows at the ends of the rows of equipment. The best suggestions here are to use a tripod and create multiple exposures, one for the bright window lighting, a middle (or neutral) exposure at the middle of the equipment and a long exposure for the low light of the end of the equipment. Blending these exposures together in Photoshop will help to provide detail throughout the image. Keep in mind that when you are creating multiple exposures to maintain the same aperture setting while only adjusting the shutter speed. Another option is the use of a neutral grad filter to achieve the proper exposure.
Something that I always find interesting at a new location are the things I had not anticipated seeing. I think we all go to a new location with a certain expectaion ofwhat we are going to see and how we are going to shoot it. It’s always refreshing to be surprised viewing things we never thought we would see. Don’t think of these unsuspecting images as distractions but, rather pleasant surprises! All too often we force ourselves to “see” the shot instead of opening our eyes to “feel” the shot.
As far as equipment goes, my wife and I pretty much brought all of gear (listed below) but, prodominantly shot wide-angle and standard (50mm) angle shots. We do plan to go back and get some macro shots. Other photographers with us shot mostly the same with a couple shooting medium and large format film cameras. Flash was never used (but could be) as natural lighting made for a more pleasing tone. The mill has a very “Urb-Ex” feel to it as it hasn’t really been touched in decades, and it is still a decaying factory which is dirty and oily. Wear clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty in. Be prepared to crawl around on the floor and even climb on top of things for some great shots. The owner (Herb Crawford) is very good about letting you move things around as long as you put them back in place when finished.
If you have the opportunity to visit and shoot the silk mill in Lonaconing then, make sure you are well rested, well fed and clear of all the daily distractions in your mind as this place will open itself up to you with amazing photographic opportunities. If you would like more information on the mill, please feel free to contact me by email.
- Hasselblad H1 with Leaf-Aptus 75s 33mp back
- Hasselblad 80mm/2.8 HC
- Canon EOS 1D Mark III
- Canon 24-70mm/2.8
- Sigma 10-20mm/3.5
- Feisol Tripod w/ RRS BH-55 head
- Manfrotto Tripod w/ RRS BH-55 head
- Cable Releases
- CF Cards
Posted in Urban Exploring | Tagged Abandoned Building, Canon, Digital, Fine Art, Hasselblad, HDR, Klotz Throwing Company, Lonaconing Silk Mill, Maryland, Medium Format, Northeast Bay Photography, Urban Explorer, UrbEx | Leave a Comment »
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We were on the front page of our local paper for our great story on traveling to witness the historic shuttle launch. Check kit out!
For several months we had planned on attending the final shuttle launch. We are Florida transplants and had witnessed the amazing launches of the past from afar. With one exception, Kelly was about 14 miles away on the beach to witness the Challenger launch and resulting disaster on January 28, 1986. After experiencing that horrific event, she had decided to view from a distance all other succeeding launches. When the announcement came that the Atlantis was going to be the last shuttle launch, we both knew we had to be there to photograph this historic event.
After days of research, we found out that the closest location for the public was what NASA calls “The Causeway”. This is a strip of road that is located on the Kennedy Space Center property and ranges from 6 to 7 miles away from launch pad 39A. NASA has a lottery system for purchasing these tickets of which we were not selected. The next opportunity for causeway tickets was to go through a tour bus company. NASA only allows 5,000 tickets to be sold. We spent over 4 hours online trying to get tickets and were finally able to purchase them for access to the causeway. The only other options for acquiring access is either too expensive (ticket outlets, scalpers, etc. ) or, extremely difficult to obtain (Congressional ticket access availability, Press access, etc.).
We flew down to Florida on Wednesday night which was the beginning our roller-coaster ride. The launch was scheduled for Friday at 11:26 am and the local news had been predicting over 1 million people to attend. Florida weather is predictable, for the most part during the summer in that, you can always count on late afternoon showers. As it should naturally happen to us, the weather was going to be very unpredictable with a slow-moving tropical front moving in bringing all-day showers and thunderstorms on Thursday. This created lots of rain and NASA gave a 30% chance of launch for Friday due to this anticipated weather.
We had to meet the tour bus company at a supermarket parking lot in Kissimmee, FL. at 2:00am on Friday morning for transportation to Kennedy Space Center. Our photography equipment probably weighs close to 80lbs and we were going to have to carry these bags around for several hours. After the hour drive to KSC we had to disembark the bus and go through two levels of security. The next step was for all 5,000 people to re-board their respective busses at 5:30am. During the waiting around, we were receiving Twitter updates on the status of the launch. A “Go” for launch did not look good. Finally, we were headed to the causeway at 8:30am. Here we are 6.5 hrs into the day and there is a high possibility the launch would still be scratched and we would have do this all over again. As the morning progressed, we kept receiving encouraging communications that NASA was proceeding with the launch as planned.
Once we got off the bus at 9:00am we had to find the perfect spot to set up our gear. There are many islands sprinkled between the causeway and the launch pad and we wanted a clear line of sight. We used 3 different cameras with lenses ranging from 200mm to 500mm and a 600mm lenses. Since we had such a tight field of view with these lenses, we were able to maneuver our shots through the crowds.
The closer it got to lift-off the better the weather became, although still somewhat hazy conditions. Within a ½ hr of lift-off, the clouds opened up and the sun even came out. At that moment, we knew this launch would happen. We were going to witness and record history to an end to 30 years of manned space shuttle flights.
While we heard many people exclaim victory for obtaining their “bucket-list” moment, this was just another chapter in our lives which we were happy to share with the World.
We will be on the causeway for shuttle launch on Friday. Launch of Atlantis’ STS-135 mission will be the LAST shuttle launch for NASA. Living in Florida for so many years, we witnessed so many launches which we took for granted. This is a great opportunity for us to experience this historic event and capture some awesome photographs. Follow us on Twitter @NortheastBay for latest updates.
Northeast Bay Photography will have a booth at the Frederick Festival of the Arts this weekend in Frederick, MD.
Stop by and visit!
2011 Festival Schedule:
Saturday, June 4 – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 5 – 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.