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Nara Dreamland in the Mist

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.

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.

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.

Very Large Array at Night

Sunday, July 21, 2013

This is one of the 27 radio antennas at the Very Large Array (VLA) in the high plains of the New Mexico desert. Each antenna is 25m in diameter (82 feet). The VLA was prominently featured in the movie Contact in 1997 (unlike the movie, the array is not used to search for aliens). The array stretches over a Y shaped pattern with each arm of the array reaching 21km (13 miles). The VLA is one of my favourite places on the planet. I've been fortunate to visit the site 4 times since 2006 (doing both day and night photography). Each time I'm there, I feel more connected to the universe than anywhere else on Earth.

During my first visit to the site, I laid down in the center of the quiet New Mexico highway as my friend Dan Falk and I finished one of our 30-45 minute star trails photos. The skies were crystal clear and the stars were brighter than I'd ever seen them in my life. The air was still and silent. I folded my hands behind my head on the highway and gazed directly up into the star filled night sky, losing all sense of my time and place in the universe.

Every photo I've published since that night is an attempt at trying to recapture that moment on the quiet and peaceful New Mexico highway.

Golden Hour in the Bethlehem Steel North Office

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lackawanna was the home of a thriving steel industry throughout most of the 20th century. At its peak, the Lackawanna Steel Mill was the largest steel factory in the world, employing over 20,000 people. The city is located a few minutes south of Buffalo, NY. In 1901, the Bethlehem Steel North Office was constructed in the Beaux-Arts style by New York architect L.C. Holden. Considering its industry, the office was impressive; included were fireplaces, a billiards room, private baths, a private dining room and a highly ornate facade with detailed masonry work. As the area’s steel industry prospered, additional wings were added to the building.

Fortunes eventually faded for the local steel industry, causing Bethlehem Steel to lay off over 10,000 workers and close the administration office in 1982. In subsequent years, the building became a favourite destination of vandals, urban explorers and photographers.

Sadly, this magnificent and historically significant building was recently demolished by owner Steve Detweiler, despite efforts by preservationists to save it.

Credit: most of the above paragraphs were taken from my introduction to TotallyCoolPix's article featuring 20 of my interior photos of the Bethlehem Steel North Office.


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