Category Archives: Belgium

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pano33_web

ECVB Panorama Collection

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I posted this pano at the weekend on a pano Facebook page and a few people pointed out stitching errors that I’d not noticed previously, so I decided to have another go at it.After looking at the original I have to agree with them. This was one of the very first panorama images that I took and I wasn’t too sure how to get everything squared away correctly, so it was definitely worth having another go at. I think my mistake awas trying to get the zenith image aligned which was quite hard as the roof of the building is quite symmetrical

This is by far my favourite location for urbex, its lovely to be in the main area and shoot these images, and processing them is an absolute dream. Rust and crust everywhere!

Click the play button for full effect!

 

I thought That I’d include the other two images as well so that they’re all in one place, a bit of a repost, but one that I hope is worth it.

 

 

 


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Red Earth_web

Terres Rouge – Red Earth

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I don’t often include images of the people I explore with in my pics, but decided this was a good one of my friend RomanyWG, his son Ellis is sneaking into shot on the right too. It gives an idea of the scale of the facility we were exploring. The concrete structures were tainted with the ‘terres rouge’, it’s one of the most dusty places I’ve shot, not a great place to be changing lenses at all.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a slightly larger version.


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VP_web

Terres Rouge

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Terres Rouge is so named due to the red earth that covers this area. I huge industrial area ion the border of France and Luxembourg. There isn’t that much left now, a few of these silos and  a powerstation remain, the rest is flattened. I particularly wanted to visit the power station again on this trip, however it wasn’t to be as there was a load of lorry activity right in front of it. I had to content myself with the wonderful concrete hoppers. I believe that these may have been used for storing or transporting coal, but not 100% sure.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version.


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Take It Away_web

Centrale Thermique – Take It Away

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I’ve been doing a lot of panoramas recently and although I really like doing them I wanted to get back to something more my usual style. I wanted PIPES this evening.

I was searching through my images from last summer and came across this from Centrale Thermique, its a powerstation in Europe, disused of course.

I’d wanted to go here ever since taking up urbex photography. Unfortunately the day we went was bright and sunny shining in from the right of this shot, making the obvious viewpoint of ‘straight on’ a no go, blown highlights on all of the metal don’t look good at all. We also didn’t stay long so hopefully we’ll be able to venture back one day and explore the rest of the structure, there was so much that we didn’t have time for.

Abandoned Powerstation Centrale Thermique (Mark Blundell)


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Cheratte Shelving_web

Image Processing Tutorial

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I thought that I’d create a post showing how I created an image this morning. I’ve been spending a bit of time brushing up on skills and looking into tutorials recently, so I thought it was time to put into use what I had learnt and share that with my viewers.

 (Mark Blundell)

Generally I use several filter packages, however this time I thought that I would see what I could do without any gizmos.

Firstly I dropped my brackets into Photomatix to create my base HDR image. In this case the image is made up of nine images shot at one stop intervals. I have several presets saved in Photomatix so used one of these as a base and tweaked it slightly to get the results that I wanted for this specific image.

The image is made up of 12 layers, mostly adjustments in toning and exposure.

  • Hue and Saturation: I felt that there greens were too bright so the first task was to tone them down a little
  • RAW Pre-Sharpener was the only packaged filter used in this image, it simply sharpens up the image a little. I could have achieved this with a high pass filter though
  • I duplicated the layer (ALT / Ctrl / Shift / E)
  • The duplicated layer was blurred using the Surface Blur filter
  • This was inverted and blending was changed to Overlay
  • Another duplicate layer was produced (Layer 4)
  • More desaturation was applied using a Hue Saturation layer
  • Two adjustment layers were added, one over,one under exposed, these layers are inverted to reveal the layer below. I use a soft brush to paint in the high and low lights where i think that they are required, or to bring out detail
  • Yet another desaturation layer to dim the greens of the foliage was added
  • Finally I added a vignette layer. Simply a new layer filled with black and an elliptical marque  with large feather. I then reduced the opacity to reveal the detail underneath.

That’s it – a fairly straight forward workflow. All in all the image took less than 30 minutes to produce. I hope that you fount this helpful, please comment if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help out.


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ROA_Beaver_web

Some Assorted ROA

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I just realised that I’ve not blogged my ROA images from Doel in Belgium – so here you go!

 (Mark Blundell)

 (Mark Blundell)

 (Mark Blundell)


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Tell Me About It_web

Maison R – tell Me About It

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Every urbex photographer likes a chair. I’m not sure what it evokes, but a seat in an empty room can make a picture – the subject adding interest to an otherwise mediocre space.
If this chair had not been in the picture then there would have been no shot in the loft. Admittedly it was placed here by someone else. I know that a crew had been here the week before and most likely one of them placed it.

We didn’t really like this house, it was as if someone had just moved out very recently. I assume that the owner had passed away less than a year ago, there was a nasty dank smell of old people!

 (Mark Blundell)


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Bed time_s

Chateau Y – Disconnected By Your Smile

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Another great example of my recent Euro Tour #2 and the state that houses are left in. The house was chock full of ‘stuff’ all the cupboards were still full with books and jars, some clothes left too. A really nice find.

I’ve processed this one a bit more sympathetically and tried to bring out some atmosphere in the shot.

 (Mark Blundell)


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Daydream_by_Mark_Blundell

Chateau Y – Daydream

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This is the reason why Europe is awesome for exploring – houses / chateaus and the like all left in good condition, possibly things get moved around, but generally things are left as they are. This house is an excellent example where the owner has looked after the property (as we found out). All that she really had to do was board up the door and there would be no photographers going in and out, unfortunate (for her) that was not the case and we were asked to leave in no uncertain terms!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click for the rest of the gallery.


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Jesus Saves

Chateau Y – Jesus Saves

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Here’s a fairly straight forward image from Chateau Y- one of the many religious images hung on the walls here. An interesting point is that the paper has obviously fallen from the right of the hung picture, however its been replaced after the paper has left the wall. The owner obviously still cares about the house (as we found out)!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for the rest of the images from Chateau Y


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Madonna in My House

Maison R – Madonna

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Maison R has more religious stuff than I have seen at any other location, pictures, crosses, Madonna and Jesus adorn every room. The house even has its own chapel. Possibly the cleanest and tidiest room in the whole house. I’d known that this room was there so was happy to find it and photograph the statue in place when I explored the second floor. what a treat.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image to see more from this fantastic location.


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Cock2_crop

ECVB – Cockerill

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Here’s my final panorama from ECVB – this is taken from the area furthest from the control room. More super pipes for you to scroll around.

Hit the full screen icon (the right hand square) once the image has loaded  for the full screen experience.

 

Again this is processed in a similar fashion to the other panoramas. I still need to experiment with the image sizes as these are taking quite a while to load up and having seen other similar work on the net, they appear to load up much faster. I need to find the optimum file size that loads in a reasonable time, but retains quality.

 

 

 


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Panorama

ECVB – Organ Pipes

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This is the money shot at ECVB. Right in front of the control room facing the four massive silver pipes that extend to the ceiling. From here the true majesty of the site can be seen, it really is awesome.

 

This image is made from 162 images,18 shots made up of 9 stop brackets. I decided against 9 shots and settles on 7 for the later shots in this set, at the aperture I was using each shot was taking around 3 minutes, and with so many shots to take it would have taken way too long so went for 7 shot brackets.


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Try1

ECVB – Turbine Hall

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Here’s the turbine hall at ECVB. Compared to the rest of the facility its pretty sparse. All of the interesting stuff is below. There are two turbines housed in here, one at the far end of the hall transversely angled to the one below.

I’ll not say much about this and let the images do the talking.

 

 

 


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panoforweb_s

ECVB – The Cathedral

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Since the first time I went to ECVB  on a solo trip quite some time ago I have wanted to do a series of panoramas of this awesome location.

The main hall is so vast that to take simple images just does not do it justice. When one arrives in here initially there is a real WOW factor, huge pipes extending over 4-5 floors, rusty and crusty, a true cathedral to industrial urban exploration.

Press the PLAY button and explore for yourself.

 

The image is made up of A LOT of images. there ase 126 images at 7 one stop brackets, so 18 images stitched together. My workflow is along the lines of the following :

I process a single image in Photomatix and save the settings to get the HDR just how I want it and then batch the 7 bracket sets to speed the HDR process and ensure that each matches.

Pano2VR to produces the rectangular image. In this case the JPEG is 216Mb and over 12000 x 6000 pixels in size. Processing a TIFF although preferable would take too long and be too cumbersome on my PC.

Finally the panorama is made into a VR using Pano2VR.

Annoyingly there is a fairly large loss of quality between my home PC and the web version. Both use Flash so I’m not sure where the compression is causing softness at the larger magnifications.

 

 


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sky is the limit_s

ECVB – The Sky is the Limit

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This weekend we took a trip to Belgium. I’ve been previously a month or so ago and was quite unsuccessful at getting the images that I wanted, I was after some panorama images of the turbine hall, but unfortunately wasn’t well enough practised with the pano head so ended up coming away empty handed in that respect.

While I am working on the panoramas, I thought that I’d load up a quick teaser form the set. This is the vertical image (looking up), somewhat heavily processed to give a bit of a ‘different’ feeling to it.

Keep an eye out for the three panoramas to be coming in the following week, hopefully I can get them spot on and produce something quite special.

 (Mark Blundell)


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Chateau T – Enter If You Dare

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This is what I have come to expect in mainland Europe. A wonderful house / castle left to rot, it’s such a shame. Its possible that the land owner also purchased some other local land and was asked as part of the purchase contract to look after this property. It’s not as unsound as it looks and being made of very heavy stone has lasted well all things considered, the roof is mostly intact meaning that the interior is well preserved on the most part.

For some reason I dont take many external images when I’m out urbexing, this is a welcome change for me.

The image below is a 3 shot 3 bracket at +/- 2ev The images were taken handheld. I managed to hold that camera pretty steady for two but was fairly shaky on the third. I’ve managed to mask this with filters (I think)!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for the rest of the gallery or to see larger.


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Powerstation CT – Turbine Hall

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This is one of the first places that turned me on to urbex. I’d seen images of another part of the facility and knew that I had to go one day. A couple of weeks ago my friend ROMANYWG and I ventured there at last. I wasn’t disappointed. The power station is pretty big and we only really had time to explore part of it. Another trip is required.

the strippers had been there and taken a lot of the valuable metal, but there was still plenty left. Lots of people are not too keen on the location as it graf tagged pretty much everywhere, however I didn’t find it too intrusive and added a little to the atmosphere of decay.

Although the image is a panorama it wasn’t shot in that manner. I took three images from roughly the same point and realised that they lined up ‘okay’ When I added the HDR shots to my panorama software hey presto everything came together.

There’s a far larger version HERE

Turbine Hall at CT (Mark Blundell)

Click to purchase or view full CT gallery.


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Chateau Y – Adler

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Its amazing when you find something like this in a room out urbexing. there was nothing else in the space excepting this old Alder sewing machine. I doubt it was put there by the (angry) owner, more than likely by another photographer, so thanks whoever you may be.

I tried several different views of this shot mostly from the other side of the room, I wanted to get the pleasant view out of the window included, however the bright external light blew the sewing machine and it didn’t really work. I’m happy with the outcome from this viewpoint though.

 (Mark Blundell)


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Maison R – Lay Me Down To Rest

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Another from the weird house.  This is one of the numerous bedrooms in the house. I didn’t set-up the shot. It looks as if this hasn’t been touched for a number of years and is possibly someone’s deathbed, or certainly where the occupant may have spent their final nights. At the time I was too focussed on getting the image, however thinking about it afterwards it creeps me out a bit!

I liked the simplicity of this shot – straight on with a very square viewpoint.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version or to purchase.


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Maison R – My Favorite Dress

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This was the first ‘house’ that we went to on our explore. I’ll call it Maison R. This one had a really weird feeling to it, things were on the whole left as if the owner had just vacated the property. It did actually feel as if we were in ‘someone’s’ house. There wasn’t much decay and the property only had a few holes in the roof, so it’ll still probably be good for a few more years.

There were lots or remnants of people who lived there, photos and the like and I could imagine someone pottering about on the ground floor. All very unsettling.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version, the rest of the gallery or to purchase.

 


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Chateau S – The Cutting Room

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Another of the locations that we visited on the recent tour of some Benelux urbex goodness. This was a small house in a tiny village on the borders of Luxembourg and Belgium. After an initial recce we decided on a not so obvious entry and were met on entrance with a group of Dutch explorers. They were finishing up as we were starting. We said our ‘hello’s’ and continued with the task in hand.The property was a goldmine of things left for what appears to have been around 30 odd years, dusty and crusty, bottles, books and the like left to nature. Luckily the property appeared to be watertight so little rot had set in.

 (Mark Blundell)

After about two hours we had finished up and decided to head back to the car. Just as we were loading up four police cars and nine police descended upon us and insisted that we empty the car, and face questioning. Details were taken and phone calls made. After explaining what we were doing and inspecting cameras / images the police let us on our way.  As soon as we showed our cameras and emptied out dirty clothes the suspicion dropped a little. We think that a local busy body had informed the rozzers that we were there stealing and looting vacant properties. This was obviously not the case and we were free to go. Apparently there had been local robberies and the three of us ‘fit the profile’ of the thieves!


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Spirals of My Mind

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Here’s a shot of the wonderful stairs at Château Y. this was possibly the best decorated house I’ve seen from an abandoned point of view – walls all painted with beautiful frescos but left to rot.

We were disturbed soon after this by the property owner who was less than impressed that we were in her (abandoned) house, despite the back door being wide open!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for the full size version.


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Liège-Guillemins Railway Station – Panorama

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I’ve recently got myself a panorama head and have been quietly testing it at home before taking it out on adventures abroad. This is my first ‘proper’ test and public showing of the results. I’m fairly happy with the results ans it certainly shows a great deal of potential for large areas such as this.

{qtvr http://www.markblundellphoto.com/Panoramas/Liege/liege.mov 900 750}

Click and drag on the image once its loaded.

The image is made up of around 15 sets of three brackets and when put together is pretty large. Processed with Photomatix / Photoshop / PTGui and Pano2VR. I’m undecided as to the best format to output to whether Quicktime or HTML5 are the best ways forward, both give far sharper images than the Flash plugin. QT (as far as I know) cannot be skinned. More investigation is required.


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Liège-Guillemins Station

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Liège-Guillemins Station was built in 2009 by architect Santiago Calatrava. It’s a very impressive structure, more so in in evening when it is deserted and lit. the stark white beams and supports looking somewhat futuristic and life like. It certainly felt organic and as if the whole structure could morph into something totally different.

I’m by no means a train spotter, but couldn’t resist taking quite a lot of images of this location.

Liege-Guillemins Railway Station (Mark Blundell)


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University of Liege – Lecture #1

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Here’s the other place that we really wanted to see at the university. The lecture hall. There were a couple of broken windows so the elements had crept in, along with the pigeons – the place was covered in bird poo. evidence for how long it had been derelict. Other than that the location was well preserved, still with notes regarding electronic circuits on the chalk board behind directly behind me.

there was another room exactly the same below, this time cleaner and in almost pristine condition – it was no where near as inviting as this though.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger view and rest of the gallery


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University of Liege – Stair Action #2

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Here’s another couple of shots of the sitars. I really wanted to go the high key clean processing and look for these and am very happy with the outcome.

Staircases at the University of Liege (Mark Blundell)

Staircases at the University of Liege (Mark Blundell)

Click the images for a larger version and full gallery


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University of Liege – Stair Action

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We stopped over in Liege on the way through Belgium and wanted to pop into see the University. In particular the lecture theatre. . Guided by a handy map we made our entrance, this made things somewhat easier and saved a bit of time.

Most of the uni is unremarkable – somewhat trashed, but generally in a good state. The security firm have done a decent job of securing the place and as a result most of the windows are intact meaning that the elements have not yet ravaged the place with damp and decay.

Whilst on the lookout for the lecture halls we came across some nice stairs. I’ve wanted to shoot some larger stairs for a while as opposed the the normal cramped spirals that I come across. Specifically I was looking for symmetrical stairs that were well lit  – these fit the bill very nicely. I knew when I shot then how I was going to process and the results that I was aiming for so when I did get around to seeing them on a large screen I was very happy indeed. All 5 are processed in the same manner and once I had one nailed it was quite easy to get the others done in the same manner in no time. As usual these are 11 shot HDR images. Post is done with Photomatix and the Nik suite of filters – Pro Contrast, Tonal Contrast / High Key and a bit of curve adjustment.

 (Mark Blundell)

 (Mark Blundell)

Click on the images for the larger versions


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ECVB – I’ve Got The Power

Here’s a shot from the top of the ‘organ pipes’ room. We had driven from London to early in the morning leaving around 4.30 am – a journey of around 6 hours including the ferry to France. ECVB was the first stop on the tour, somewhere we had both been before, but very much wanted to go back to. The early start was well worth it. Entry was somewhat comical with people painting pipes VERY close to where we were, so some hiding and running was required to exact an entrance, all part of the fun though isn’t it!

The place is immense. We’re about 6 floors up here looking down over the hall, the control room is at the other end. I have no idea what this must have been to work in, but I can imagine noise, steam and smoke going off everywhere. Men in overalls wandering around tweaking things making sure that the power was supplied to the turbines.

I assume that this area is where the heat was generated to boil water which in turn creates steam to run the turbines in the hall next door. The machinery on the right is mostly rusty indicating heat, pipes on the left are lagged and have pressure gauges indicating to me that they were used to feed the generators. THIS is what is below the pipes on the right in the background of the shot.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version and the rest of the gallery.


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Crypt X – God Loves His Children

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Nice little explore this one. We arrived at the cemetery after it had closed. This afforded us easy access after a bit of a climb. No tourists around to disturb entry to the crypt and no-one peering in to see ‘what’s in there’?

My partner in crime had been here before so we knew where to go and how to enter which was a bonus. The crypt is massive, made up of three long corridors with intersecting corridors. By no means a maze, but big enough not to be able to see the other end well. There must be hundreds of people laid to rest here – numbers above the tombs noted over 2500. dusty plastic wreaths are dotted around attached to certain memorials giving a more eerie feeling to the place. Its actually pretty stark. Not coming from the same country it lacks a little excitement of knowing who is behind the stones, none the less it was a good way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click on the image for a larger version.


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