Working on Motor

While I mostly use wide angle lenses when shooting inside the mills, I like to mix it up occasionally and shoot with a telephoto or prime lens.  I do this to allow me to capture different perspectives than I’m used to with a wide angle, and also more importantly to challenge myself to look at these spaces in a new way.  When Bob and I were photographing the turbine room at the Pacific Mill the other day, I saw that he had put on his 50mm prime, and I was inspired to do the same.

This is a small section of a massive control panel for the machinery that was once used to power the mill.  From speaking with the mill facility manager, I learned that this panel and equipment was used up until the mid 1960’s before it was officially decommissioned.  It’s sole purpose now is to provide us with a cool subject to photograph.


July 1913

Today’s image is another shot from the Moody Street Feeder Gatehouse in Lowell, MA.  This particular gatehouse is quite small and difficult to get a wide shot, so I focused mostly on the details of the old machinery.  This is part of one of the gates that would have been raised or lowered to control the flow of water to the mills.

And please… no comments asking if I shot this when it was first built.  🙂


Wheels of Change

Today’s image is another shot from the Moody Street Feeder Gatehouse in Lowell.  I know I’ve said this before, but I’m endlessly fascinated with the technology and equipment that was state-of-the-art 150 years ago.  This wheel was part of a system used to raise and lower a gate that was designed to regulate the flow of water from the canal to power the Merrimack Mills.  I wonder if the computers and electronic technology we use today will be of interest to a photographer like me 150 years from now.


Lowell Gatehouse

This is the inside of the Moody Street Feeder Gatehouse, one of many gatehouses in Lowell, MA.  Built in 1848, the underground Moody Street Feeder was part of the northern canal project and was designed by well-known engineer James B. Francis.

The feeder drew water to meet the needs of the Merrimack Mills that were located at the end of the canal, and this is one of the three manually operated sluice gates. They were equipped with counterweighted rack and pinion equipment, which raised and lowered the gate to control the flow of water.    These gatehouses were an integral part of the functioning mills in the late 19th century, and historians and scholars maintain that they are still very cool to look at. (I may have made that last part up, although I bet it’s true.)

Have a great weekend.


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.


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.


Good morning, and welcome back.  I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving with family and friends.

Today’s image is from a little urbex shooting I did with Bob Lussier this past weekend in Lawrence.  I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what business once occupied this mill, but it seemed to us like it was some sort of foundry back in the day.  I had been tempted to venture into this building in the past, but decided to wait until I had a partner in crime to join me (thanks for the suggestion Bob).  Getting in through all the overgrowth surrounding the property was like a scene from a Harry Potter movie with vines grabbing at our feet and legs, but once inside we were rewarded with some really great photo opps.

In what appears to have been a mechanical room, I found this old generator which was oddly positioned right by several windows and a door.  Although the location was strange, it at least provided some light coming in to what was a really dark old building.  I’ll have more images from here to post in the coming days.


Sorry for the corny title, but it was just too easy.  This is the Forge at Saugus Iron Works, where iron was transformed so that it could be sold to merchants and blacksmiths.  My previous two posts from here have highlighted things inside these buildings, so today I thought I’d show what some of them look like from the outside.  Stepping back to see things from a distance, it’s really quite amazing how water was used to power this equipment more than 300 years ago.  Water was stored in large reservoirs and then run through the water wheels which powered the equipment.  It then would run off into the Saugus River below.  Fascinating.

Camera settings: ISO 200, f/11, 18mm, 1/200 second


Continuing with images from the Saugus Iron Works, today’s post highlights some of the enormous wooden machinery that was used in the production of iron during the seventeenth century.  It was difficult to discern exactly what these wheels were used for, but they were powered by a large waterwheel on the outside of the building and turned together like two giant sprockets.  They reside in one of the buildings that provides only limited access so I was unable to get down further to see more of how they once operated.  Regardless, they are quite impressive and full of character.

Camer settings: ISO 200, f/11, 18mm, 4 brackets