Bad Weather is Good on the Skyline Drive


Weather Effect

Sometimes you just have to roll with what mother nature gives you.

I have memories from childhood of attempted trips down the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  I don't think we ever got to drive or see all of it.  Sometimes the weather was bad, or it was closed due to something.  I may be making that up, it's hard to say.  Either way, I've long had a desire to drive the length of the Skyline Drive and see what there is to see. 

While we were in VA in May, we decided to go check out some caverns and take part of the Skyline Drive to get there so we could see the view.  The weather had other plans and it instead gave us a dark and dreary day where it never really stopped raining. 

Since we were driving out of Charlottesville, we got on the south end of the Skyline Drive and started heading north.  The fog wasn't too thick yet, and was beautiful in its own way, but it definitely wasn't the kind of view we were originally hoping for.

We got to one of the fairly early overlooks and could see a bit, but needed to continue on so we could get to the cavern.  We also figured we'd have at least one other chance to drive up the Skyline Drive on our return trip home in a few days, so we didn't have to stop and spend a lot of time during this drive.

I was riding shotgun so I started taking some photos of the road ahead with the LX100.  The fog wasn't quite thick enough to obscure everything at this point.

A break in the fog at one of the overlooks.  We could see it would get heavier as we drove on.

As we continued north the fog did indeed get thicker.  Eventually, we were moving at a crawl and couldn't see much of the road ahead.  We passed overlook after overlook where there was nothing to see, until we passed one in particular where something caught my eye.  We were already somewhat resigned to just continuing on and leaving the Skyline Drive as soon as we could (aside from the north and south entrance, there's only two other major ways on or off the Skyline Drive), but I eventually convinced Emily to turn around and head back to that overlook.  I was worried the fog would lift, or change in some way, and it wouldn't afford the same view.  

Fortunately, the lone dead tree that caught my eye as we drove past that particular overlook still stood out.

I probably spent way too long working out exactly how I wanted to capture it, shooting landscapes, portrait orientation, wide and close or longer and further.  Eventually I was satisfied and we got in the car and continued on.  Before long, the declaration was made that a bathroom was needed.  There aren't a whole lot of those but we pulled in to the first stop that offered one and I went bounding off with my camera again during the brief break.  This was my first time really putting the 11-22 to the test on my M5 outside of some walking around downtown Rochester.  That continues to prove to be a great combination.

At this point, I think we were starting to get hungry and tired of driving through such thick fog.  We took the first exit off the Skyline Drive so that we could take faster, straighter roads that would hopefully be below the fog.  While we visited and drove some and eventually all of the Skyline Drive later in the trip, this first run up the southern third of it is definitely the most memorable for me.

Looking towards the north on Skyline Drive at one of the overlooks.

Short Trip to Seattle

It's my first business trip since Utah and while I'm glad to finally get to see Seattle, it definitely doesn't check the box next to my "Visit Pacific Northwest" goal.

It's a beautiful area, but we only managed to see a few things during our trip.  Pikes Place seems like it would take a whole day to explore, and Boeing's factory makes for a really interesting tour.  Too bad Boeing doens't allow cameras!

Not much to say about this, but I look forward to going back.  I'd love to visit during the fall although it sounds like I'll be back for a wedding next summer.  I may actually drag the tripod along if that's the case and try to take some extra time off to extend the trip.  As is more or less the usual for me, I traveled light during this business trip.

Painting with laser light

Trying new things with lighting, particularly when it comes to painting with light, is an endless source of enjoyment for me.

I've done flashlight and multiple flash exposure of many things in the past but recently I got to make the leap to painting with laser light.  I couldn't find my ancient green laser pointer so I went out and bought a new red one for this.   As is the way with things I quickly found the green one after returning home from the store.  

Having both wound up being a good thing.  The red laser creates an eerie red glow in most cases while the green laser is much brighter overall.  I left the red laser images in color but felt the results from the green laser lent themselves to B&W images (such as the ones above).  Down the road I can use subject color to vary the brightness of the reflected laser light, which gives me more options.

I am trying to get a blue laser to add to my collection so I can take this even further.

Thanks to my friend Rundio for playing along with this experiment.

Newark State School

Rounding out the weekend of exploring, we visited the Newark State School, an abandoned collection of buildings which served people with disabilities.  Some of the buildings on the campus have been re-purposed and are being used but many remain abandoned and continue to decay.

The campus is quite large, and some of the buildings are equally enormous.  We only visited one of the buildings on the campus and there is so much still left in it that it really tells you a bit about the history of the place.  On the second floor there are even names of the people who once lived in the rooms still above the doors.  Because this "State School" was for the mentally handicapped there were some interesting contraptions in the building, such as a chair bolted to a scale for weighing patients; I have heard that straight jackets and other restraints can be found but I didn't see them.

The Newark State School has had many names since it was originally founded in the mid-to-late 1800s; originally the state school only served women however men were eventually admitted as well.  The school did more than house and care for the mentally handicapped, it also taught them skills; houses near the campus were used as a sort of group home for patients who had mastered a particular occupation and either worked at the School or other nearby jobs.  To read more about the Newark State School I'd suggest following these links:

Museum of disABILITY

The Newark State School

Being the first institution that I've explored, it was a pretty exciting day.  There is so much so see there and I'm sure so much interesting history buried in the rooms full of decaying relics.  While the building isn't terribly interesting architecturally, it still has an eerie presence and fantastic light inside thanks to all the windows.  I'm very hopeful to return and document more of the building and hopefully look a little deeper in to the contents of some of the rooms.

Other buildings on the campus also look incredibly promising; there is another much larger building with a more interesting looking layout and exterior that I'm sure would be well worth exploring.  I'm unsure of what the purpose of the building we entered was but it seems like it was used for both housing and recreation.

Exploring Sykes Datatronics

Sykes Datatronics was a successful computer manufacturer in the 1980's but ultimately fell due to mismanagement and competition with companies like IBM who muscled them out of the personal computer business. This resulted in them abandoning their location in Rochester, NY in 1990. Since then the building has been unoccupied and has suffered damage from a number of fires over the years. There is no future for this building beyond being an interesting location to explore and probable demolition eventually, which is unfortunate because it has a certain character that you only find in buildings built around the turn of the last century.

As abandoned locations go it's an easy one to explore. The flooring is solid, the wooden surface may be warped and wavy (very cool!) but the wood simply sits on top of a solid concrete subfloor. Even while everything else in the building is succumbing to the elements, scrappers and fire the building has still remained structurally sound compared to many abandonments. There is plenty of light throughout the majority of the building. From the first floor to the top floor the natural light coming in through the windows keeps the building from having many dark corners so a flashlight is hardly even needed unless you venture in to the basement.

For the most part I didn't get my head in the game, photographically speaking, but I did walk out with a few photos I like, some taken towards the end of the trip when I finally set up my tripod and pulled the 1D Mark II out with a wider lens. Otherwise I just wandered with the Rebel & 30mm taking some shots to record the sights in the building. You can see the photos from the trip below.

Nate & Lindsey found a set of photographic prints which they shared with Andrew and myself. Normally I don't take anything out of a location but we all wanted to bring these back to scan and preserve them. The images below are all the scans of these prints. I don't know anything about them and while some are self explanatory there's no information to go with the others.

This was a lot of writing being as tired as I am from this long day, so hopefully the spelling & grammatical errors are not too grievous!

Exploring Flintkote in Lockport NY

On August 2nd I joined a number of Rochester & Canadian explorers on a trip out to Lockport, NY to check out the abandoned Flintkote facility. This structure is not far from the center of Lockport and natural encroachment by new tree growth shows that this abandonment is roughly three decades old. Flintkote made a variety of products from asphalt shingles and road materials to various asbestos materials. Ultimately asbestos related claims, which this location produced, are what brought Flintkote down. Everything being damp didn't hurt but proper safety gear isn't a bad idea.

Unfortunately I didn't shoot terribly much at Flintkote. I wish I had brought more appropriate equipment to capture some of the rooms and features of the abandoned buildings but I decided to travel light instead. This is definitely a location I will revisit and I already know what equipment I will want to bring with me to capture it better if I return.

Note: this post lost a few comments in the migration.