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Photography

Stratford Festival Theatre

Monday, July 7, 2014

This is the Stratford Festival's Festival Theatre building, amid a wash of golden, late afternoon sun.

The dramatic sky above seemed fitting for the kinds of scenes that have played out on the historic stage below. The award winning building opened in 1957. It opened a mere 3 years after Sir Alec Guinness recited the opening words of Richard III, "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this 
sun of York".

Richard III was the first play at the Stratford Festival and, on this day, the summer sun was certain glorious. It's one of the many reasons why I miss my hometown.

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Hashima Island

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Last month, I was fortunate to be able to return to Hashima Island, the abandoned island on the southern coast of Japan.

I was able to photograph and explore sections of the island that I missed on the first trip, including several approach and exit shots of the island from the ocean.

Hashima Island has been abandoned since the Spring of 1974. Since that time, the island has been beaten by typhoons, a tsunami and general decay.

The island (also know by its nickname "Gunkanjima") was featured in Skyfall, the most recent James Bond film. Shots of the island from the ocean were digitally enhanced to make the island appear larger. No filming was done on the island - everything was recreated on a sound stage.

From Wikipedia: The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island's most notable features are the abandoned and undisturbed concrete apartment buildings and the surrounding sea wall. The island has been administered as part of Nagasaki city since the merger of the former town of Takashima in 2005.

It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was extracting coal from undersea mines. They built Japan's first large concrete building (9 stories high), a block of apartments in 1916 to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers. Concrete was specifically used to protect against typhoon destruction. In 1959, the 6.3-hectare (16-acre) island's population reached its peak of 5,259, with a population density of 835 people per hectare (83,500 people/km2, 216,264 people per square mile) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km2) for the residential district.

As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima's mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it is called Ghost Island.

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Nara Dreamland

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nara Dreamland was opened in 1961 as Japan's response to Disneyland in California. Many features and rides in the park were nearly identical to their American counterparts. After the opening of Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, attendance at Nara Dreamland declined dramatically. Nara Dreamland eventually closed in 2006 leaving the park to be frozen in time, silently decaying as an echo of its former buoyant past.

I explored the theme park in extremely foggy and damp conditions during an early April morning with two Japanese explorers. One of them was Ikumi Nakamura, my guide from Hashima Island.

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Elizalde Cement Factory

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Elizalde Cement Company from the Philippines built this facility near Beatty, Nevada, a few years before the outbreak of World War II. There is little solid information about the facility, but tidbits of information have become available in recent years. Due to logistical issues (economics of the time, distance, escalating labour costs, inferior cement) the plant closed shortly after opening.

In subsequent years, information about the abandoned facility is mostly limited to rumours about a land swap with the US government for Subic Bay.

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Holley High School

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Holley High School was built in the center of Holley, NY and opened in 1931. The Neo-Classical Revival building was designed by Carl Ade, a Rochester architect and school specialist. The school features fire-proof construction with structural steel frame, reinforced concrete floors, and brick exterior walls.

The school was closed in January 1976 due it's inability to service a growing student population. In the early 1980s, the school's gym was used as a machine shop by Liftec Manufacturing until they went bankrupt approximately 20 years ago. Liftec renovated a western section of the school's first floor to look like a retail store space.

According to locals, the estimated cost of asbestos abatement 15-20 years ago was one million dollars. The building also contains lead paints, among other health hazards.

Recently, the Landmark Society of Western New York identified the school as being one of their “Five to Revive” for economic development within the Rochester region.

Most of these photos were taken in November 2008 during my first exploration of the school.

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