If you’ve been reading this blog or following my flickr or Smugmug feeds you’ll have noticed my penchant for abandoned places (and my love for heavy metal – spot the references if you can). Especially between seasons if you know what I mean. Sure, you can shoot derelict stuff anytime, but after the leaves fall and before the snow flies seems an especially good time. Not just because everything is in a profound state of ugly, but because those bare trees can really add to the mood of a place.
One of the reasons I shoot abandoned locations is to document what was there before they become something else. Here in the eastern part of the country, space is at a premium compared to say, Montana. In the west old structures are often left to molder away on their own because there is no real need to tear them down. It’s one of the reasons I love the west so much. Here in the east we often bulldoze perfectly benign things because we need the real estate.
A case in point is this old (well now it’s old) miniature golf park / driving range –
I can’t claim any nostalgia over the place other than in general. I only went there once in high school even though it existed all through my childhood and only became defunct a few years ago (I think the year on the day planner in the office was 2006). Even though I wasn’t a customer, I was used to seeing the place if you know what I mean. It was the kind of thing you’d use to give someone directions – go through the light at the mini-golf place.
As you can see, vandals have gotten a head start on the destruction. I seem to recall this trap was a little New England scene with a barn or a water wheel mill or something. Cutesy, but typical of the old-style mini-golf set up. For some reason we also had a tribute to Gilligan’s Island –
No one bothered me while I shot although I’m sure folks in the passing cars wondered what the hell I was doing out in the wind and cold. Eventually I made my way over to the former office. Had to wait until some hunters played through though. After I heard a couple of very close rifle shots, I looked over my shoulder a few minutes later and noticed a hunter standing in the walkway between the driving range and the office. It was a little weird, but he didn’t say anything and I didn’t see him again. The destruction inside the office was near total. Only more sturdy structures like walls, the counter and the ice cream treat freezer remain intact. It made for some interesting still lifes –
I like these two photos because the objects in them were found as they are, but not where they are. I moved them to better locations and shot. The light was pretty damn great for both and having the camera on a tripod helped. All of these were shot with a tripod, something I don’t do often enough, but felt that I should since it wasn’t like I would be walking miles. The additional range of options it gave me really helped. I wasn’t cornered into using a high ISO or wide open apertures. You can find the rest of the set here on flickr.
Although the light isn’t the best in the outdoor shots, I like enough of what I got to feel satisfied with the shoot and what I was able to document. The site is due for a date with the bulldozer in the spring. Like the world needs another supermarket, right? But that’s what’s going in there. It makes me a little sad. People complain that families and friends don’t do anything together anymore. That we’ve become a society of passive watchers only instead of active doers. As long as we keep tearing down miniature golf parks to put up supermarkets is there any wonder why?