Copper Paint

A few weeks ago, I posted an image of the exterior of the former Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory in Gloucester, MA, and mentioned my interest in returning for a more thorough investigation.  Well I went back the other day to see if it was still standing, and was pleased to see it still alive.

During its day, this factory pioneered new advancements in marine paint, using copper, lead, arsenic, cadmium and a variety of other unsavory metals, the remnants of which can now be found on its floor and walls as seen in this image.  It is now owned by a non-profit called Ocean Alliance, and I had the pleasure of meeting one of its employees who was kind enough to provide a very brief tour of the inside of the building.  It’s in a major state of disrepair, but efforts are now underway to clean and restore this iconic structure.  I only had a few minutes inside, so I grabbed just a few sets of brackets as we moved around the building.  This image is from the second floor, and the machine in the corner is an old printing press.

This place is fantastic, and although my visit was short, it was coastal-urbex heaven while it lasted.

Draper Corp

It’s back to the Boott Mill for today’s post.  I previously posted some detail shots of this equipment, and wanted to show a wider view of the textile machinery.  Watching the machines in action is so impressive when you think about when they were built and how they were originally powered.  This is one of the things that really fascinates me, and drives my passion for photographing the mills.

Flight Controls

This is the cockpit of a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor airplane.  The world’s first mass-produced airliner, it was visiting a local airport for the weekend, and I managed to find a little time to check it out (I didn’t have time for a ride unfortunately).  Ford Motor Company built 199 Tri-Motors from 1926 through 1933, and interestingly, the first three Tri-Motors  actually seated the pilot in an open cockpit, as many pilots at the time doubted a plane could be flown without the direct “feel of the wind”.

While this is a passenger plane that seats 10 people, there is very little room to move around inside, and there was no way I could use my tripod.  So unfortunately the shot is not perfectly centered as I had to handhold for this shot down near the floor.  And the reason that the sky looks different through the side and top windows is not because I tried blending different shots, but rather from some tinting of the glass on the overhead windows.

Spoolin' Around

As you enter the factory floor of the Boott Mill, the first thing you see is a sign suggesting you use ear plugs when walking around the machines.  While they only have a handful of textile machines operating at a time, I was amazed at how loud these machines could be.  It’s hard to imagine how loud it must’ve been when all of the machines were working at the same time.  I was glad that only some were working both for the “reduced” noise level, but also so I could grab some shots of the machinery.

I should’ve asked more questions while I was there, so I don’t know exactly how everything worked, but I’m pretty sure that these particular machines were responsible for unspooling the cotton thread that was used to make the fabrics.  I also know that the colors and textures just begged for some HDR love, and I was happy to oblige.

Have a great weekend.

Looking Down

Following up on yesterday’s post, here is the view looking down from the top of the stairs at the Boott Mill.   I could’ve spent all afternoon just shooting this stairway, but the noise of the textile equipment coming from the main floor was eventually too strong to ignore.  Tune in tomorrow for an image of this incredible machinery.

Looking Up

Feeling motivated and inspired after our morning photo walk on Sunday, I decided to keep the shooting momentum going, and made a trip to another local mill city, Lowell, MA that afternoon.  Like Lawrence, Lowell is home to a variety of mills dating back to the American Industrial Revolution, many of which provide outstanding photo opportunities.  My destination for the afternoon was the Boot Mill.

The Boott Mill complex was open and operational for over a hundred and twenty years before it finally closed its doors in 1955.  It has since been restored and reopened by the US Parks Department, and operates as a museum paying tribute to the mill and the mill tradition of Lowell.  This was my first visit here, and this stairway caught my eye immediately.  I love the old stairs inside the mills,  and I just had to grab some brackets before I even ventured onto the mill floor where the operating textile machinery was waiting for me.  This image was captured by lying on the floor beneath my camera and tripod to get a view looking up at the underside of the stairway.  I was mesmerized by the lines and curves and tried several compositions from all different angles.  I’ll follow-up with the view looking down the stairs tomorrow, and then perhaps an image or two from the main floor of the mill.

Broken Window

What I really found interesting when I was photographing this abandoned school was the contrast of old and new.  In many places the paint was still bright and colorful, yet there was trash, broken windows, falling ceiling tiles, etc. as well.  I found myself seeking out scenes where the old and new were evident at the same time, and was able to do so in this image as you can see the brightly painted door and wall through the broken window pane.


I thought I’d try an abstract shot for today’s post.  This is the side of a rusted silo at a barn I stumbled across a few weeks ago.  I was originally trying to get a broad sweeping view of the run-down farm, but nothing was really working.  So instead I went in tight on all the colors and textures of the rust, and this was my favorite shot.