Traverse City State Hospital Attic – Part 3

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Images from the attic of one of the cottages fill this third post of photos from the Traverse City State Hospital.  Geometric shapes and lines filed the frame of most of the photographs in the attic.  My favorite attic photo is the one above.  I like the way the triangular shapes draw your eyes to the light streaming into the window at the far end of the room.  A tripod was essential to my success up there.  All of these images were bracketed to capture the wide dynamic range between darkness and light.  These photos were then converted using Photomatix Pro software into HDR images.  Because it was rather dark, timed exposures were necessary.

The 8 mm fish-eye lens on my Fuji X-Pro2 camera created very engaging attic photos of an otherwise uninteresting space.  Lens corrections have been made to the first and third images to remove distortion normally associated with a fish-eye lens.  The second and fourth have not been corrected.  Often the intended use of a fish-eye is bend straight lines at the edges of the photograph for effect.  You can see the differences in the same perspective in the two photos directly below.

The shape of this area below created great opportunities for the fish-eye lens.  I found the area in the photos below visually interesting with such a wide perspective.  The holes in the domed roof created spots of light that seemed to sparkle on the walls and floor.  Not only were there holes in the roof, but there were places in the attic that were not safe to walk because of rotting floorboards.  Our guide was careful to inform us where to walk to be safe in this area.  We were certainly very fortunate to visit the attic on a day when the temperatures were in the mid 70’s.

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Posted in Michigan, Photography Tagged |

Traverse City State Hospital Interior – Part 2


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The interiors of the Traverse City State Hospital have certainly aged and deteriorated.  It is clear that the beauty of the place was once an important part of the experience.  Dr. James Munson, who oversaw the hospital from 1885 to 1924, believed in the “beauty is therapy” philosophy.   This philosophy was evident in the grounds and surroundings in addition to the interior of the facilities.  You can read about this philosophy at: Wikipedia TCSH History.  Archways, windows, doors, and artwork all demonstrated the attention paid the details of the hospital. Through the decay I still saw that it was once a bright and colorful place.  It is sad to see the state of disrepair that is present in these once grand buildings.

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Posted in Michigan, Photography Tagged |

Traverse City State Hospital Photo Tour – Part 1

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Yesterday, I made a last minute decision to take the Traverse City State Hospital Photo Tour.  The Traverse City State Hospital (“TCSH”) which was also known as the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The facility opened around 1885 and operated until the hospital was completely closed in 1989.  The site included over 600 acres of land with the original building, 13 cottages, support buildings and a working farm.  If you are interested, you can read a historic profile of the site found at this link:  http://www.garfield-twp.com/downloads/2_historic_profile.pdf.  The main building known as building 50 is 400,000 square feet and has been redeveloped and now includes restaurants, shops, apartments and offices.  The overall complex had over 1,000,000 square feet.  Some of the other buildings have also been redeveloped, but some still remain untouched.  The site is now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.It is these buildings and the tunnels that run underground connecting these buildings that comprised the two hour photo tour.

The tour was one that allowed photographers to use a tripod.  I am glad I did as the buildings were extremely dark the only light that which came through windows and openings in the buildings.  Hand holding a number of these images would have been nearly impossible without extremely high ISO’s.  I bracketed almost every photo I made inside the buildings to capture the full range of light.  I used Photomatix Pro to composite a number of the bracketed images into a single HDR images to better capture the lighting and shadows of these interiors.

I have so many photos from this tour that I plan to split up the posts into a number of installments.  This will keep each post to only 4 or 5 photos.  I was required to sign a waiver before I could participate in the tour.  The waiver acknowledged hazards that could potentially exist from climbing stairs in the dark, to rotting floorboards and lead paint that is on the walls throughs the buildings.   I will start this series of posts with what I first saw upon entering one of the cottages on the grounds:  peeling paint everywhere.

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Posted in Michigan, Photography Tagged |

Pointe Betsie

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Point Betsie Lighthouse sits about 5 miles north of Frankfort, Michigan.  It is always worth a trip over to Frankfort for an afternoon when we are vacationing up in Traverse City.  We typically spend a few hours in town followed by a trip out to the beach to see the Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse.  A stop at Point Betsie Lighthouse is usually part of our agenda as well.

Last Thursday, we made the trip to Frankfort for lunch on an overcast and cloudy day.  After lunch we headed toward the beach to view and photograph the lighthouse.  The light was terrible for photographing the Frankfort lighthouse while we were in town.  So we headed out to the Point Betsie Lighthouse which is about 5 miles north.  The beach there never seems too crowded.  With a little patience, I can usually photograph the lighthouse without people wandering all through the picture.

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I am always amazed with the aqua shade of blue the waters of Lake Michigan are at Point Betsie.  You can see the bright blue water in the background of the photo of the breaker below.  I like the detail of the breaker with the spray of the water as the wave crashes against it.

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While we are at Pointe Betsie, a hint of light began to peek through the overcast skies.  I was able to spend about 30 minutes wondering around with my cameras.  A little work with Color Efex Pro helped to recover some of the detail and color from these images.

I continue enjoying making photographs with the 8 mm fisheye lens and my Fuji cameras.  It provides for some unique perspectives I can get while being close to the subject.  Perhaps my favorite image of the day is the photo below looking north toward the lighthouse.  I like all of the lines of metal and concrete wrap as they along the shoreline.  The clouds in this photo seem to all converge toward the lighthouse.

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The view looking south is also an interesting one with similar lines and the clouds once again converging toward the lighthouse.

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This final image provides helps you to picture the entire surroundings of the beach, breakers and the lighthouse in the background at Point Betsie.

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Point Betsie is certainly worth the stop if you are near Frankfort, Michigan and enjoy seeing the old lighthouses that are found along the lake on the western shore of Michigan.  Please give me your thoughts on which images you find to be the most engaging in this series.

Posted in Lighthouses, Michigan, Photography Tagged , , , |

Chicago Harbor Light

Chicago Harbor LighthouseI usually photograph lighthouses from the shore, looking out toward the water.  When we took our dinner cruise from Navy Pier a couple of weeks ago, I made this photo of the Chicago Harbor Light in front of the city at sunset.  For this image, I used my Fuji camera with the 50-140mm telephoto lens, which served to compress the background behind the lighthouse.  I really liked the juxtaposition and contrast of the old Chicago Harbor Light against the backdrop of the modern high-rise buildings of downtown Chicago.  It certainly has a totally different feel than a typical photo of a lighthouse from the shore.

Posted in Illinois, Lighthouses, Photography