Lillesden School For Girls – Model Shoot

Recently I was approached and asked if I would like to take some photos for an online magazine that will be published soon. Of course I jumped at the chance and soon plans were hatched. We decided top head to one of my favorite urbex locations – Lillesden School for Girls. I’ve been here many times before, the first most likely around four years ago, it was one of the first handful of locations I went to in the UK. Sadly the location is quickly becoming very derelict and not particularly safe. However it is still very usable.

We were exceptionally happy to hear that the renovation will be starting very shortly at Lillesden School For Girls and may well be underway by the time this is posted.

This was the first time that I had shot anyone who wasn’t someone I already knew so I was slightly nervous, however everything went well. Two models were shot, quite different from each other, but equally as good and as brave for standing in the cold. I tried to work as quick as possible and hopefully got some decent images. I shot using both single strobes and softboxes as well as using the three light technique, some with a single umbrella. Its a great setup as very portable and easy to setup and break down and doesn’t take up too much space, this is a similar technique to how I shoot my MMA portrait images.

The idea of the shoot was to showcase Harriet Parry Flowers so I have intentionally tried to accentuate the flower creations.

Faux flower cuffs Harriet Parry Flowers
Photography Mark Blundell
Hair and makeup Jodi CorpeArt direction Joanne Wood
Models Clara Lynn Smith at Oxygen Model Management and Emma Meyrowitz

 

Around the Bend

Its been a while since I’ve posted an urbex pic, so here we go.

In the UK we don’t have that many bendy corridors so this was a little special. The hospital was very bare, but had a few nice features but very little in the way of beds and the like so not the most interesting explore, it was pretty easy though so made for a decent couple of hours.

 (Mark Blundell)

 

ECVB Panorama Collection

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.

 

 

 

Terres Rouge – Red Earth

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.

Terres Rouge

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.

Italian Hospital B – The Last Song

Here’s an image fron the reception of an Italian hospital. The hospital itself didn’t look as if it had been empty for very long, this part on the other hand was stripped and empty, a little decay was vivible, but the property was watertight so not too dangerous.

I heard that a few weeks after being here that there were a couple of photographers inside when security started boarding up the entrance point!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click for a larger version.

I’ve included the initial image so you can see the difference between the before and after.

 

Lavoir a Charbon – Mechanised II

Here’s another washerie – a different one from the previous image. After going to several locations that are similar, particular power stations its funny how they all seem to meld together – similar features and decay. All still beautiful inmy opinion.

This place was in a fairly good state though – the floors were solid and made of concrete rather than paper thin steel. Access was somewhat more complicated thoug, It too the three of us a little time walking around before we found a way through the steel shutters welded over every opening.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version or to purchase.

 

Back On It!

After a bit of a hiatus I am back on it. I’ve had a week or so off social media and blogging whilst out in France with friends. Its the first holiday that I’ve had in over five years where I’ve done ‘nothing’. We sat by the pool, drank great wine, eat wonderful food and smoked some superb cigars. I did take a stack of images, but they are mostly a bit snappy so may or may not appear here. I’ve also been away for the last three weekends so slow with posting, I’ve so many ideas of what I want to shoot at the moment, just not got the time to do it, damn job gets in the way of that!

Back to the program. . . Here’s an image of a coke washerie in Germany (?) Its the smashed up control room. Surprising that such a large facility could have so few buttons with which to control it.

 (Mark Blundell)

Urbex Palace – Rich and Strange

Another superb example of the decoration in the Urbex Palace tromp l’oeil covering the centre of this wall. Although this is a rather grand bathroom, I cant imagine it was very comfortable unless being fed grapes by fair maidens.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image to purchase.

I dont usually use the fisheye very much, but it was the only way to get the walls either side of the bath, so was quite happy with the outcome.

In Pursuit of Rare Meat

I’d seen this mammal in RomanyWG’s excellent book Out Of Sight and was pleased to find it hidden away in the Tannery. I shot some normal images straight on, but when I walked through the door Looking back I really liked the framing of this. The Deer looks startled, as if it’s heard me and is wondering if I am hunting it.Admittedly there’s a bit of imagination here, but that’s what it reminded me of!

The actual work of art is around 12 foot tall, its really impressive close up and was great to photograph, the way its painted it looks as if the beast is always looking at you!

 (Mark Blundell)

More street-art HERE

In Triplicate – Sea Creative

The great blue walls in the tannery provide an awesome canvas for the artists Sea Creative and Vine (right). Pretty much the whole of the factory wall is covered by the work of only three or four artists, their own private play area. The almost monotone colour set that has been chosen works really well in this setting and is replicated all over the location.

 (Mark Blundell)

More street art HERE

Urbex Palace – How Not to Create a 360 Panorama

This was one of the highlights of the recent trip to Italy. I knew after seeing several images of this room that it would be awesome to create a 360 here. I wasn’t going to post this image as I’m not happy with it on SO many levels, but decided in the end that it would be worth writing about all the things I did wrong!

I happily shot my regular increments – +/- 60 degrees and at 60 degree increments all the way around. so 12 sets of images. Only when I got home did I realise my mistake. The room is so symmetrical that PTGui was not able to line any images up at all. I tried another couple of suppliers panorama software and they were also not able to line anything up at all. I was stumped and frustrated.

The software is set-up around using control points and automatically aligning the images. Even after manually adding control points the pano didn’t work. After looking into some more of the features on Pano2VR I realised that I could create a template and use that to line up the images. I shot a set of my front room, stitched it together and used that. Dropping the images into the template did a partial job, I had not taken the images in the same order  as is shown below – the top and bottom images are out of order.

After moving the images around I was able to get a far better match. This took about five attempts, getting close, but then binning the work as it wasn’t good enough. One limitation of PTGui software is that moving each of the tiles is only possible with the mouse which is not ideal, very small movements cause the tile to move quite a lot. A better solution would be to include micro nudging with the arrow keys.

Another issue that I came across was that of lens flare – each image has a small area with a purple tint, This couldn’t be masked out as there was not enough overlap.

The pano above is unfortunately the best I could manage. It’s by far the most challenging panorama I have had to work on, intricate tiles everywhere were incredibly hard to align. I’ve left the tripod in at the nadir to show how misaligned the source images were.In future if I take this images in this sort of environment I will be sure to include a set of horizontal shots which would make the whole job far easier.

 

 

Hospital C – Dreaming Of Escape

Another wheelchair from Hospital C – there were loads of these about and I am sure its not the last one I’ll put up from here. This was pretty much the penultimate shot that I took at this location, and was a bit rushed.

The initial image wasn’t well composed and somewhat wonky so I had to do quite a bit of work to straighten it. This was done in ACR using the lens correction tools which were excellent.

 (Mark Blundell)

On another note I’ve not been posting as much as I would like recently – work and life pressures have been pretty high recently and I have a to-do list as long as my arm. Hopefully things have quietened down a little now and I’ll be able to get back to posting far more regularly again.

 

Hospital C – Tyred

I think this was the second hospital we visited, or maybe the third, not quite sure. There was lots of ‘stuff’ left around and it was somewhat reminiscent of West Park in that respect.The three of us were left to wander without any interruption, the location being large enough to not interrupt each other and each get different shots. Much as its great fun to go out in a bit crew, there can be a lot of waiting around to get the same shot as your mate, so three for me was the magic number here.

All urbex photographers like a wheelchair (almost as much as a toilet)! There were plenty to choose from here, lots of different styles and ages too. Its a bit of a cliché, but what the heck!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image to purchase

Lavoir à Charbon – Mechanised

The second washerie we went to was a death trap, rusty floors and stairs. However the risk was worth it. The machinery on the top floor was lovely, decaying gracefully. I have no idea what these machines did or how they did it, the paddles look too fragile to actually sort or ‘paddle’ the coal.

This was a fairly hard image to process, the light and dark contrasting quite a bit. I’ve used my usual arsenal of filters from Nik and Photomatix to create the HDR initially from 7 bracketed images.

 (Mark Blundell)

UE Palace – The Acid House

Here’s one of the most colourful rooms in the UE Palace, its totally bonkers as I am sure you can see. I have no idea what the designers were on when they came up with this Moorish influenced room, but I’ll have a pint of whatever they were on please!

The image was quite hard to process and shoot, bright exterior and dark interior were a challenge as was getting PTGui to line everything up. It was impossible to mask the nadir correctly because of the intricate tiles below my tripod. I’m happy with the results though, not the best pano that I’ve done but worthy of inclusion on merit of the decoration alone!

 

 

 

 

Italian Hospital A – Bedlam

High up in the Alps in a small village thee is an abandoned hospital. There are two well known highlights of this location, one is the chapel which is very distinctive, the other is the fact that there are beds remaining in the wards. They’ve seen better days, but none the less its great to see them in situ like this.

It must have been a great place to convalesce, the view from up here was stunning looking down over a beautiful valley and lake.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a slightly larger version or to purchase

Hunting Lodge A – Kitchen

There wasn’t very much left in this kitchen, a couple of sinks and that was about it. I liked the symmetry again and thought the varying textures and pastel shades on the walls would pop nicely when processed so took a bit of time with this one.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a slightly larger version or to purchase

I’m still finding it hard to write something substantial about my images at the moment, I have plenty of ideas when I am on my way home from work, or indeed on the way to work, however when I actually get around to posting (sometime near midnight on most days) all of my written creativity is gone. Working long hours at the moment and quite tired most of the time so that doesn’t really helkp matters. Hopefully I’ll come up with some interesting over the next week or two when I’m a bit more chilled out.