Hidden Stairs

This is one of the many small stairways tucked inside one of the buildings at the Pacific Mill complex.   I’ve only had a few opportunities to photograph this mill, so I’m still finding lots of great things in there to shoot.  This door was closed when I first walked by it, and I initially thought it was a closet or small room.  As I was walking by a third or fourth time, I decided to open it and found this great little stairway.

Although I’ve been shooting the old mills for awhile now, I sometimes still get a bit apprehensive about opening doors in the abandoned parts of the buildings.  You never know what may have been left there.  This time, it was only a set of stairs.  Next time, who knows?

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.

Ocean Urbex

This may very well be my first image that was taken while leaning out a window and hanging out over the ocean.  I’ll go through my archives to confirm, but I’m pretty sure this is the first.

I took this shot from the renovated office space located next to the former Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory.  All of the office windows had screens except this one, and my new friend at Ocean Alliance allowed my to open it to grab a shot of the side of the old factory which is otherwise only visible by boat (or a pretty big telephoto lens from across the harbor).  Looking at the outside, you can get a sense of the danger inside, and why I was only allowed in there for a short and supervised time.  A fun time nonetheless.

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.

5th Floor

As we get ready for our photo workshop this coming Saturday, I’ve been going back through many of my recent images from the Stone and Everett mills.  This image was from my first visit to the Everett, and is another shot of one of it’s incredible stairways.  Aside from some updated electrical work, these stairways probably haven’t changed much at all since they were originally built.  They’re gritty, dirty, and dusty, and yet full of beautiful detail and texture.  The combination of all of these is of course the allure, and why we like to shoot them so much.

Fire Only

Every so often I find something in one of the mills that would be perfect if it were just in a different location.  Many times it’s a large object that can’t be moved, but when it’s something small like this, I’m not afraid to move it around to find a happy compositional home for it.

I found this bucket on another floor of the Duck Mill in the middle of a pile of junk, and thought it would look great standing on it’s own.  This empty space seemed like the perfect spot to give it a stage for it’s big debut, and it didn’t disappoint.

Have a great weekend.


It’s back to the Stone Mill for today’s post.  While this expansive space on the third floor is wide open, there are also some really nice little nooks that can break up the large space.  For this image, I was drawn to the windows on either side of the corner, leading to the empty area beyond.   This composition screamed for some fisheye love, but since I don’t have one, I’ll have to settle for the ultra-wide instead.

Have a great weekend.


Today’s image is another shot from the Duck Mill in Lawrence.  The problem I’m having with it is that each time I look at it, I either love it or hate it.  I can’t make up my mind, so I want you to help me.  What do you think of it?  Any and all criticisms are welcome, and I promise that no feelings will be harmed during the making of this blog post.   Thank you.

Stacked Windows II

With the Everett Mill it was the many stairways that captivated me.  With the Duck Mill, it’s definitely the windows.  As I mentioned in a previous post about this mill, I just love these giant old windows with their individual panes and solid wood construction.  As opposed to other areas in the mill where the windows were stacked together, these were lined up individually up against the many columns for the length of the floor.  I’m sure there’s a good reason for both methods, but I have no idea what they would be.  Anyway, this arrangement made for a really nice composition with the contrast of lines and patterns, and seemed perfect for a B&W conversion.

On a related note, I wanted to report that the April 6th Historic Mills Photo Workshop has reached capacity.  But fear not.  We will soon be announcing our second workshop coming later this spring.  Stay tuned!

Stacked Windows

Whenever I’m in the mills and see these beautiful old-school windows stacked up somewhere, I’m always hopeful that they’re just waiting to be refurbished to be used again when these spaces are repurposed.  Or at least sold to someone interested in preserving their charm.  Many of the spaces we now photograph, including their windows, will eventually be updated and used by new businesses and organizations.  And while I love the fact that they’ll soon be contributing to the revitalization of the local community, part of me feels saddened that one day they will no longer resemble their original state.  This is one of the things that drives my passion to photograph them… the ability to preserve their memory in my own little way.  That, and the fact that they also look really cool.