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.

4th Floor

Anyone who’s followed my blog over the past few years knows how much I like to photograph the stairs and stairways in the old mills.  Inspired by the original stair whisperer, Mr. Bob Lussier, I always seek out the stairways when I photograph a new mill for the first time (well the mill is old, but new to me).

The Pacific Mill complex in Lawrence has many of these beautiful stairs to photograph, and I’m sure I’ve only found a small number of them so far.  This scene is in one of the main buildings there, and has many interesting landings throughout its six floors.  This is of course the fourth floor, and although you can’t see the stairs themselves, I was drawn to all the parallel lines in this scene including the walls, the pipe, the doorway, the strange wood case, and even the columns in the background.


This is one giant safe.  And a very cool one too.  In case you couldn’t figure it out, this safe was made for, and belongs to, the Pacific Mill, and remains peacefully in the lobby of one of the buildings in the mill complex.  My friend Bob Lussier and I recently had the opportunity to photograph some of the abandoned spaces in this mill, and we both found ourselves drawn to this area so we could photograph the safe.

You can see the image of the safe that Bob posted here a few weeks ago, and I thought enough time had passed for me to post mine.  This is one of the really fun things about shooting with a friend with similar interests – seeing how you both capture and process the same scene.


Just a quick post for today with an image of one of the stairways at the Pacific Mill in Lawrence.  I was about to head home from a quick shoot there when the visual intersection of these two handrails caught my eye.  I quickly unpacked my camera and tripod and grabbed my last shot of the day.  It also happened to be my favorite.

Have a great weekend.

Three Windows

It seems like every window in every mill in Lawrence, MA is huge.   I’m talking 10 feet tall huge.  And they’re everywhere.  One after another after another lining the extensive walls of these massive buildings.

Which is why these three tall and skinny windows on the 5th floor of one of the buildings in the Pacific Mill complex caught my eye the other day.  Bob Lussier and I were able to get a few hours to shoot the mill in the morning on New Years Eve, and although I was late (sorry Bob), I spent most of my time exploring this particular space.

I’m sure there’s a reason that these particular windows are there like they are, but candidly, I really don’t care why.  They just looked great perched above this old workbench, and that’s good enough for me.

Pacific Spiral

I thought I’d continue the spiral stairs theme from Friday’s post with this shot from the Pacific Mill in Lawrence.  What I really love about this image is that it could be from a 19th century mill, or just as easily the stairs in a New England lighthouse.  Which by the way happen to be my two favorite subjects to shoot.

Pacific Cart

I love finding these single pieces of furniture/equipment all by themselves in the vast empty spaces of the mills.  This one was found on the 4th floor of the Pacific Mill, and I’d swear that the urbex gods left it there just so we could shoot it.  This space was mostly devoid of color, so I decided to process it as a monochrome image.

Have a great weekend.

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.

Pacific Lights

After several months of phone calls and emails, Bob Lussier and I were finally able to obtain permission to access and photograph the Pacific Mill complex.  While the main building is mostly occupied by various commercial businesses, several vacant buildings remain, although some are slated for renovations in the near future.

We only had a couple of hours, so we spent our time in the empty building featured here, as well as the turbine room of the main building (images to follow later).  These huge empty spaces provide so many photo possibilities, and one of my favorites is to capture the light coming in through the enormous windows.   I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to come back again in the winter when the sun is lower and is casting even longer light patterns across the floor.