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.


Ayer Mill Clock TowerThis past Saturday was an incredibly windy day with plenty of clouds in the sky – a perfect recipe for some long exposures.  Unfortunately, by the time I was able to get out with my camera in the afternoon, much of the cloud cover had moved out.  There were thankfully still enough, however, to provide some nice movement in the sky, anchored by the various mills of Lawrence like the Ayer Mill here.

I really liked this composition, but because my subject was at a distance, the motion of the clouds was less noticeable in this 30 second exposure even though they were still moving pretty fast.  I have some other images I’ll share in future posts where the camera is positioned closer to the mills, and the clouds appear to move much faster across the frame.  This shoot really highlighted the importance of perspective and camera position with long exposures of moving clouds, as this is a key factor in determining how much of the “streaking” effect you can achieve.  Please click on the image for a larger view.


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. 🙂


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.


Light Grids II

I thought I’d start the week with another image of the beautiful light that streams into the Stone Mill in the early morning.  You can even see some of the light patterns on the ceiling, which I believe is from the sun reflecting off a car windshield or something in the parking lot below.  A twofer.


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.

 


Light Grids

It’s been a while since I posted an image from the Stone Mill in Lawrence, so here’s one today.  This side of the building really benefits from the morning light that pours in through it’s massive windows.  The patterns created on the floor are beautiful, and really change depending on the season.  Winter is certainly the best time with its low sun, and if you get there early enough, the shadows form the window can reach almost halfway across the floor ( I wasn’t there that early this time).  I honestly never get tired of shooting here.