Ducking Into the 21st Century

The Duck Mill in Lawrence is an amazing mill that’s located between the Merrimack River and the North Canal in Lawrence, MA.  It’s about to begin a full renovation over the next year and a half, converting this beautiful old mill to a modern mixed-use facility.  Anytime one of these mills is rehabbed, I’m both happy and sad.  Happy for the city of Lawrence as these projects create jobs and revenue for the city.  Sad, because there’s now one less mill that represents the Lawrence of old – a city once at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

When I learned that the renovations at this historic property were about to begin, I contacted Bob Lussier, and then the mill owners.  They were kind enough to let us back in for a few final shoots before this building no longer has the old abandoned appeal that draws us to them.  It had been about 2 years since we were last there, and it was great to get back in with a sense of urgency to capture every last corner of this fantastic property.

I’m looking forward to getting back there one or two more times before construction gets too far along.  I’m also looking forward to the future where the Duck Mill will provide a new purpose in serving the city.


 

Weber House at Dusk

One of the highlights of our recent trip to the Palouse was the afternoon/evening we spent photographing the Weber House just outside of Pullman, WA.  It’s a fairly well-known landmark among photographers, and we weren’t at all surprised to see a dozen of them set up there when we arrived a little before sunset.  What did surprise us was the fact that all of them left before the sun went down, leaving the whole place just for our crew.

And we certainly took advantage, getting shots as the sun went down, then at dusk, some light painting when it got dark, and lastly some milky way shots.  Although I really loved the shots of the house and the milky way above, I think this was my favorite from the shoot.


Weber House and the Milky Way

I just returned from an epic photography trip to the Palouse region of Washington state.  Four plus days of shooting some incredibly beautiful landscapes with a terrific group of photographers known as NxNW.  This was my first time joining this group, and it was absolutely amazing.  We visited many of the major spots in the area including Steptoe Butte and Palouse Falls, as well as several of the old abandoned barns and homes that dot the landscape.  Sleep was about the only thing not on our agenda as we shot from sunrise through the evening, with a brief break during the middle of each day to recharge our batteries and back-up our images.

Although today’s image was taken on our last night, I couldn’t resist using it as my first blog post from my trip.  This is the Weber House (Homestead) outside Pullman, WA.  It’s a well-known location for photographers, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  We got there in the afternoon to shoot sunset, and ended up staying late to get some Milky Way images as well.  This was my first time photographing the Milky Way, and I have to admit, I’m hooked.  I can’t wait to try this again somewhere local (or close to local as it’s fairly bright where I live).

We were also fortunate to catch a huge meteor that streaked across the sky while we were capturing the Milky Way.  I was working on some star trails when the meteor lit up the sky, so my capture  wasn’t great as a standalone image.  Some of the NxNW crew were able to catch it as well, and I’m sure you’ll see their images soon on their respective blogs and social media posts.

I’ll be posting more Palouse images in the coming days and weeks, including some other views of the Weber House, so stay tuned.


The Office

It’s been quite a while since I posted an mill image.  Maybe you’ve missed them, maybe you haven’t, but I’m putting one up on the blog today regardless.  🙂

This is a shot from the Pacific Mill in Lawrence, and is what appears to be an office on one of the upper floors of the mill.  It’s an image that I originally didn’t really care for, but now has become one of my favorites.  It’s actually one of the images I included in my photography exhibit with Bob Lussier at the Lawrence History Center.


Gate Valve

Today’s image is from the recent Historic Mills Photo Workshop that Bob Lussier and I led at the Pacific Mill complex in Lawrence.  While the majority of our time during our workshops is spent teaching and providing guidance/tips on what to shoot, we do manage to find some time here and there to shoot some stuff for ourselves.   This particular shot comes from the old turbine room in one of the mill’s massive buildings.

As much as I’d love to take credit for finding this composition, I must admit that I stole it from one of our participants.  Well I asked him if he was ok with me stealing it, and he graciously agreed.  Now no one really “owns” a particular composition of course, but there are unwritten rules of etiquette that certainly apply.

Anyway, this perspective/angle is one that I had never contemplated, yet one that I loved as soon as I saw the image on his LCD.  I was drawn to the arrangement of the three valve handles, and chose a shallow depth of field to accentuate the closest one.  I’m sure there’s a lesson in this story somewhere like the student has become the teacher.  Or the teacher has become the student.  Well either way, I think you get the idea. 🙂


Door in a Door

This past weekend I had the opportunity to photograph some mills that I hadn’t visited in the past.  I joined two other like-minded photographers to visit several properties in Franklin, NH.  Franklin an old mill town located along branches of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers as they join the Merrimack.  We had a fantastic guide for the morning, Todd, who has taken it upon himself to invest his time and money in working to revitalize this once busy city.  He was kind enough to provide us access to several properties, as well as some interesting history of the town.

This particular image was taken in the former Stanley Mill from its upper floor.  I was challenged to get the angle I wanted to line up the two doors, while also making sure I avoided the huge hole in the floor a few feet away.  I thankfully managed to stay upright and avoid the hole, and was reminded once again why we sign waivers when accessing these properties.  It can be a bit risky sometimes, but always worth it.


Sawhorse in the Mill

It’s been awhile since I posted a mill image – well any image I guess – so here is one from the Pacific Mill taken this past weekend during our latest Historic Mills Photo Workshop.  Bob Lussier and I spent the entire day with a great group of photographers shooting a variety of buildings within the Pacific Mill complex.  I even had time to grab a few shots for myself, including this one.  I didn’t recall seeing this small sawhorse in any of my previous visits here, so I had to grab a shot.


Boo

Some of the more interesting things you find in the old mills in Lawrence are the writings/scribblings of those who have explored the mills in the past.  I’m assuming that whoever wrote “boo” on this door several times were either there at night, or had been there at night in the past.  The mills aren’t too scary during the day, but they certainly can be at night with only a flashlight to guide you.  With this shot from the Stone Mill, I was originally more interested in the doorway that is framing the room beyond, but once I saw the the word boo written a few times on the door, I made sure it was part of the composition.


Cart in the Attic

One of my favorite mill scenes to photograph is the attic of the Stone Mill in Lawrence.  The 19th century architecture and gritty details of this abandoned space never ceases to fascinate me.  There are also several interesting items in the attic that you can use to anchor a shot of this open space, and this cart is one of them.

I have made many attempts to get just the right shot of the cart in the past, yet success still eludes me.  While I’m very pleased with this image, as well as several others I have made of the cart, I will continue trying to find that elusive mix of composition and light that needs to come together to get the shot I seek.

In the meantime, have a great weekend everyone.


Paparella

Today’s image is from the Everett Mill where Bob Lussier and I held our first Historic Mills Photo Workshop of 2014.  We had a great group of people join us, and had a fantastic time exploring and photographing both this mill as well as the Stone Mill.  It’s such a joy to be able to lead eager photographers through these beautiful spaces, and especially to see the incredible images that they’re able to capture.