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Crack the Surface

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hot on the heels of yesterday's post about urban exploration documentaries, here's Crack the Surface. This video takes a slightly different twist than Steps in that it features slightly more extreme explorations, including active subway tunnels, urban spelunking and draining. For Canadians, watch for a mention (starting at 8:55) of an explorer that nearly drowned in Edmonton.

Regina Sy

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I had the opportunity on Saturday to do another photo shoot with the super fun and beautiful Regina Sy. We shot in two locations; a set of abandoned phone booths north east of Toronto and in front of the Guild Inn. These shots mark the beginning of a project I'm working on that will be launched in a few months.


85mm, 1/3200 second, f/1.8, ISO 100

Steps

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm often asked what it's like to do urban exploration. Steps, a short documentary by Scott Oller and filmed in Europe, is the most realistic example of urban exploration I've seen to date. This documentary is an exact reflection of how we experience urban exploration in the Toronto Exploration Society.

Six Flags New Orleans: Stacked Star Trails

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Four days ago, I wrote about a star trails photo I shot (on a recently urban exploration trip) near the ferris wheel of the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans amusement park. Immediately after taking that photo, I shot 20 extra exposures, lasting 1 minute each, of the same scene. My intention was to combine the 20 exposures to create a single long exposure photo using a program called StarStaX. The photo can be seen below.


10-22mm, 20 minutes (stacked exposures), f/5.6, ISO 100

The primary benefit of stacking multiple photos to create a single exposure is the clarity you can achieve in the photo. Particular in this situation, the skies were heavy with the haze of 42ºC humidity. Six Flags is located only 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the downtown core (the famous French Quarter), so the light pollution was also very intense. Stacking allowed me to cut through the haze, so to speak, and achieve a clarity of star trails not seen in my other long exposure shot of the ferris wheel.

As mentioned above, I used a program called StarStaX (written by Markus Enzweiler).

"StarStaX is a fast multi-platform image stacking and blending software, which is developed primarily for Star Trail Photography. Besides star trails, it can be of great use in other settings. StarStaX allows to merge a series of photos into a single image, where the relative motion of the stars creates structures looking like star trails."

One critical issue with stacking photos like this is to minimize the amount of time between exposures. I used my remote sensor to trigger each exposure, which caused a 1-2 second gap between each one. That may seem insignificant, but if you zoom in on the photo, very slight gaps can be seen in each trail. This isn't something most people would see, but it's still a consideration when using this process/technique for star trails.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results of my first photo stacking attempt and will definitely try it again!

Blue Ghost Tunnel

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Blue Ghost Tunnel is located in Thorold, Ontario, Canada. For such a simple structure, the tunnel has a very storied past. It has been known by four different names, operated for approximately 40 years, was the sight of a horrific train collision and sits a short distance from a flooded grave site.

The tunnel's construction began in 1875 by Great Western Railway and was finish a year later. When the tunnel was completed, it was 665 feet in length. In 1882, Great Western Railway was purchased and merged with Grand Truck Railway.

The tunnel was active throughout the 1880s, until a double tracked swing bridge was built a short distance north of its location. From that point forward, the tunnel was used with less frequency. In 1903, the tunnel was the sight of a head on train collison which killed two workers. By 1915, the tunnel had become abandoned and became known as Merritton Tunnel.

By the 1920s, the Fourth Welland Canal was to be constructed. South of the tunnel lay an old abandoned cemetery, which would eventually end up flooded by the pondage area of the new canal. Of the 913 graves, only 250 were removed before the flooding occurred. To this day, there are still watery remnants of the graveyard's tombstones south of the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

For a much more in-depth history of the tunnel, please visit Hamilton Paranormal.

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