West Park Asylum – DRUGS

Having visited West Park around 15 times over an 18 month period, I was fairly used to seeing artefacts laying about, toys in the children’s ward, beds and chairs etc. However it’s shocking to see that documents and logs with patients names still left in place. Some a little disturbing making the casual visitor realise that the hospital was indeed an asylum and that there were people who were very sick there. I can only hope that these were left by accident.

I would hate to know that my relatives illnesses were left discarded for all to see.

 (Mark Blundell)

These four images are processed with Totally Rad Actions to give a vintage effect.

West Park Asylum – Frail and Bedazzled

This week has been an interesting one for me. I did my first ‘photo presentation’ at a local camera club. This was around HDR and urbex, more focussing on the urbex side of things and hopefully dispelling the myth that all HDR is bad. It was a very fulfilling couple of hours that I really enjoyed, I was initially unsure if i could waffle on about my pics for that length of time, but it appeared to work well.

Creating the presentation made me look through a lot of old images that I’ve not looked into for a while and although some of the initial shots that I took when I first started out on my journey are pretty bad, it’s good to see my progress. Also good to find that I have quite a few decent images from forgotten trip that I can use now that I have a bit more skill in Photoshop.

Here’s one that I might have processed before, but thought it would be fun to do again. It’s the well known Padded cell at west Park, now dust and rubble.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a slightly larger version, or to purchase.

West Park Asylum – Time For A Cuppa

I’m getting towards the end of this set from West Park I think. I need a little break from relentless processing to start afresh. with renewed vigour. Its not helping that my 550D is in the repair shop after being dropped at some point. Where and when, I’m,  not sure. but the pentamirror is out of line and new parts are required. When these will arrive is anybody’s guess given the situation in Japan. I’ve had an estimate of anywhere between ‘a few days’ and ‘three weeks’. Which isn’t any good as I’m off to Belgium fairly soon. Then follows a dilemma. Do I buy a 5DMk2, or take my 10ooD on a trip that I may never do again – tough decisions ahead!

I’ll certainly be going full frame at some point, but REALLY want to wait until the 5DMk3 comes out which is rumoured to be a couple of months.

The fix is going to cost £200+, so don’t drop that camera!

 (Mark Blundell)

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West Park Asylum – UP

Another nice simple shot in my series of simple shots together with a simple post!

I loved the peeling pain on this switch and the almost monochrome paint colour a lot, the rust breaking through and the shine of the brass switch itself.

 (Mark Blundell)

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West Park Asylum – Cleanse Me

Another quick post this evening. Here’s an image from one of the bathrooms at the asylum. I’m trying to move away from my normal style taking some different images and angles. Its actually very difficult. I’m now really comfortable doing what I do well, so I have to change and try to push myself in a different direction.

It’s not only hard taking the picture, but not as natural. When I enter a space I know how I want the final image to look after a short time sizing it up. Now I’m forcing myself to look at things differently and be a bit more original. The creative vision that I have is harder to come by at the moment. There will no doubt be lots of ‘easy’ images that I will take, but broadening my repertoire can’t be a bad thing both in composition and processing.

 (Mark Blundell)

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West Park Asylum – In The Mouths Of Madmen

Although West Park has been mostly cleared of trinkets and other such ornaments there is still the odd thing to be found before the demo teams continue their assault on sturdy Victorian architecture. Here is a knife and spoon, unfortunately the fork was no where to be found.

Seeing these made me wonder whose hands had used them over the years and who may have last used them, staff or patients?

 (Mark Blundell)

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West Park Asylum – Showers

I was surprised to come across the showers in this area of the asylum. Having been there many times before I don’t think I’ve been in this area before. It has what can only be described as paint dripping from the walls. It’s probably the most impressive sheeting of emulsion that I’ve ever seen, the whole room  was as if the paint were about to fall from the walls and move across the floor slime style!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version and the full West Park Gallery

Monday Morning – Sleepy Eyes

Here’s an image that I’ve processed slightly differently to my usual manner. I’m trying to add a little more colour to this one. I’ve used the cross processing filter in Nik to get a more antique look along with a couple of texture overlays to get the dreamy and slightly sleepy eyed look to the shot.

This is a typical room in the asylum, quite small with only room for a bed. It cant have been a very nice place to stay.

 (Mark Blundell)

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Manorhouse GT – Arched

Here’s a typical view of the architecture and decay in the manor house – somewhat crusty, but not yet falling apart (too much). You can also see the scaffold that has been put in place to bolster / facilitate restoration through the arch. As with all of these images time was of the essence, so quick work, framing and capture were required. Not the most imaginative of images, but quite nice none the less.


Abandoned Manor House GT, somewhere in the UK countryside. (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House GT – Shutter Detail

Here’s a close-up of the awesome old skool craftsmanship in the manor house library. This shot was enhanced by the lovely morning light coming in through the windows. I was really taken with the contrast between the light outside and the way it was falling on the pretty metal work. Goes to show that in the old days it was all about craftsmanship.

This was taken with the 65mm macro from quite a distance away, the 1.6 crop makes the lens a lot longer, more like a 90mm. It goes to show the quality of a prime and the way in which HDR can enhance a shot.

Abandoned Manor House GT, somewhere in the UK countryside. (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House GT – Different Faces

This image is typical of the rooms in The Manor – tidy and swept. Ready for the contractors to come in and get busy. Interestingly there were a couple of paintings on the window, probably set up by a previous visitor.

Not an overly interesting subject, but easy to process using Photomatix and Nik filters, with a bit of curve and desaturation to give the overall effect. The biggest challenge with an image like this is taking the initial shot and making sure that the bright ‘outside’ is fully catered for in the set of shots. Something that I am becoming better at now that I can shoot multiple brackets and meter off of the lightest part of the image, thus capturing the whole range of bright to dark.

 (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House GT – Servants Quarters

Right at the top of the house were a couple of rooms that were still left with ‘things’ in them. This was the only one with a bed though. The setting indicated that this was probably servants quarters at one point. There was even a bell above the door outside.

The room looked as if it had suffered some fire damage, the mattress was charred and a burnt hole was in the floor. Also being at the top of the building some of the floor outside of the door was quite soft, not a god sign. Luckily the owners have coved the roof and it now look protected from the elements. The magazines on the floor were all copies of Country Life from around 1960. I had a flick through a couple, it was interesting to see that there were mostly ads for houses for sale at rather reasonable prices – around £7,000 for somewhere spectacular with a load of land – how times have changed!

Abandoned Manor House GT, somewhere in the UK countryside. (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House GT – Up Stairs

Another quick post as its Friday and I have to have a quick turn around.

I’ve seen many great pictures of staircases, but never been anywhere that I’ve been able to grab great images myself. Consequently in this location I went into staircase overdrive.

Here’s the view looking up from the ground floor.

 (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House GT – Rent Note

Those were the days eh! Three years rent £13!

This was on top of a pile of papers left in the Great Hall (which I have now found out was a library). Thing like this I hope are kept, it shows a good deal of history about the place, there were many other artefacts laying around in piles, partially discarded. Maybe cleaned up by the builders to save for the owners should they want to keep them. I really like the writing, there are very few people with the skill to scribe with such a flourish nowadays. What with the accent of affordable PC’s the ability to write well is often neglected.

I think this is the oldest thing I have found on an explore by quite a long stretch. I knew that it would process up well, but wasn’t sure where to leave the focal point, I decided in the end to target the data as that was what first drew me to this slip of paper. I also liked the signature as it appeared to me to say ‘Major Disguise’ which I found a little amusing! Its very easy to over process the HDR on parchment of any kind, the grain in the fibres really presents itself so I had to dial it back a little. Overall I’m happy with the outcome.

Abandoned Manor House GT, somewhere in the UK countryside. (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House GT – Neither Up Nor Down

I’ts funny that I often complain on here about not having any inspiration to process images. The advice from others – GO SHOOT. Recently I’ve been in good processing health and for some reason I’ve managed to rattle through these images really quickly – I have about 10 in the bank all ready to go.I think that the location really suited what and how I do my work and I’m really happy about that.

Sometimes ebbs and flows in enthusiasm and skill is due to personal stresses and strains of ‘real life’ trying to balance everything. The real job, 9 – 6.30; home life – the regular crap we have to deal with – washing / tidying and all that comes with living in a flat on my own; and of course spending time with Viveca. So please forgive me If I miss RTing / commenting on your work.

It’s hard to get proprieties right sometimes. If things aren’t right then processing suffers, that’s for sure. I find it hard to get the images how I want them and  am overly critical of the work I produce (there are plenty in the recycle bin I can assure you), having such a great set of peers, some of whom are listed below is both a boon and a curse. Flickr / Twitter / Facebook and general Urbex contacts,  you’re all great and immensely supportive, However, the bar is very high and sometimes it’s frustrating when I believe that I won’t be able to achieve such great images as I see on a daily basis. However when I see how far I’ve come in the last two years since I’ve been shooting seriously I know that eventually I’ll be able to produce exactly what I want, how I want and this is partially due to the inspiration and encouragement that you all give me. Its all about practice and getting out there pulling the trigger.

So thanks very much to all my viewers, people who comment on my work, and cyber buddies wherever you are.

Keep up the good work and go with it, sometimes things will be great, other times not so. But we all know that it’ll be okay in the end.

Anyway, enough rambling, here’s today’s image from the most excellent Manorhouse GT (probably the best image from the set).

Staircase at derelict and abandoned Manorhouse GT (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House GT – Dinner Is Served

Not sure why I chose the title for the image, possibly as my dinner was ready after I’d finished processing.

I don’t know about any of the other photographers, but when I get home I cant wait to get my shots onto the PC and look at them full size, rather like a child on Christmas day I want to platy with then and see what I can do. This was no exception. I’d been somewhere pretty special, the closes I’ve seen to the lovely abandoned and grand places in Belgium, Holland France that I’ve seen.

I generally whip my brackets into Photomatix immediately to get an idea of how they’ll look, no particular purpose other than to have a first impression. I rarely save these thought preferring to carefully choose which to go for first. There’s often a bit of a race to get the first shot up from an explore too, my urbex colleague usually wins these, but only by a slim margin, it’s just a bit of fun I think a few urbexer’s have.

I’ve recently become a fan of this type of composition, splitting the image into two or three distinct parts – leading the eye either outside or into a corridor giving an idea of depth, a deeper view into the location and often leaving something to the imagination.

What or who was at the foot of the stairs? Who lived in these rooms in days gone past? What happened here? What conversation was had, in this room over the 190 years this place has been standing.

Something that urbex has taught me is a lot about history and appreciation of locations that I’ve been to, from places like this – grand opulent halls and staircases to the asylums, built with good intentions to industrial locations that are now left to rust. Finding out about the history is all part of the enjoyment for me.

Abandoned Manor House GT. Somewhere in the UK (Mark Blundell)

Manor House GT – Main Hall

My urbex colleague and I had been planning this one for a couple of weeks. We had originally thought about doing a south coast industrial location, however he wanted to go somewhere totally different as he’s a fan of  ‘old places’ .

An early start was planned – 4am kick off for the 2 hour drive to our location. I didn’t make this and slept through both of my alarm possibly due to the cat going mental in the night). However as soon as I realised what the time was – into the car and on my way. traffic was great through town, so the journey was swift. As it was, my colleague hadn’t been there long and had scouted out where we were going beforehand.

This was going to be a first for me – the mansion house RIGHT NEXT to the location was occupied and downstairs at the location was rumoured to be inhabited too. So stealth was important. In the end entry was easy. Due to the early hour we arrived we spend a little time scouting around inside. the location itself was stripped – and in the process of (slowly) being restored. This place must have been superb in its day and I can only hope that its restored in a respectful way retaining the lovely original features.

The main hall at Manorhouse GT (Mark Blundell)

We didn’t spend long inside as we’re both fairly proficient in framing, composing and shooting now, getting what we want in one or two goes. Speed on my part is greatly helped with the addition of Magic Lantern on my SD cards enabling me yo shoot up to 13 brackets on my 550D, something that Canon seem unable to comprehend.

Heygate Estate – Locked Up

The front of the housing block looked pretty bleak, all doors and windows shuttered and welded closed. The estate was deserted except for a few people passing through as a short cut. Yet the London traffic was always present.

I’d really like to go and shoot some more here, but felt more unsafe than I normally do an a solo urbex jaunt. At least when in a derelict house or factory you are expecting to be alone, here that wasn’t the sate. With it being one of the poorer areas its well known for street crime.

I had some trouble processing this – the image wasn’t quite square and slightly wonky, given the bend of the lens getting the straight lines straight was a trial and I didn’t quite manage to do it as well as I would have liked – straighten on part and another goes wonky and so on.  None the less I like the atmosphere that’s been created.

Derelict flats at Heygate Estate, Elephant and Castle, London (Mark Blundell)

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Heygate Estate – Claydon House

I though that I would finish off the Heygate images this evening. As the area is somewhat ‘dodgy’, with lots of under under and overpasses and covering quite a large area I didn’t really hang around and only took about 6 or seven sets of brackets.My apprehension wasn’t helped by a medic on a motorbike asking if I’d seen ‘ a guy in a sleeping bag’

This is one of the entrances to the flats shown in the earlier images, dark, dirty and not particularly pleasant. All the sidewalks are blocked off with sheet metal, however the stairs are all open.

Derelict flats at Heygate Estate, Elephant and Castle, London (Mark Blundell)

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