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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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)

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)

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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.

Lavoir à Charbon A – Pincer Action

It wasn’t all manor houses and hospitals on our recent tour of Italy. On the way we travelled through France and Luxembourg, stopping off at a rather tasty coke washing plant. This was an interesting one as the site that it is on is live with plenty of people around. thankfully we entered unnoticed and headed upstairs where all the good stuff was.

The intel we had indicated that the place was a death trap and somewhat rusty inside, we were told to tread carefully, how right that was, there were stairs with steps missing, seemingly safe walkways totally rusted out on one side and lots of severe decay all over the place. The three of us were very careful. Added to this the whole site was silent apart from the sound of the odd bird tweeting, it was near impossible to be quiet.

Once safely ‘up top’ we got on with our work, the view was quite astounding and I’ve not had such an industrial ‘WOAH’ since seeing Cell 4 at Pyestock, rust and crust everywhere!

 (Mark Blundell)

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Manor House T – The Chapel

I’ve been to several large houses in Europe that have chapels attached, nothing quite like this one though. In keeping with the rest of the property the whole room was painted with trompe-l’œil pretty much everything in the image apart from the alter is painted. It’s obviously been a long time since the chapel was used, pigeon crap on the floor and benches, the former glory and beauty slowly fading.

  (Mark Blundell)

Luckily there is no graf or any tags here to spoil the location, and I hope it stays that way. I could have quite happily stayed here for a whole day.

 (Mark Blundell)

Hellingly Asylum – Bricks and Mortar

The weather had been inclement throughout the explore and as we exited the main complex of the asylum it started to rain adding to our mood. The destruction of the hall had almost completed and we both knew that within the next week destruction would be complete. Both of us got on with our work in silence, away from each other allowing us to have time alone to contemplate the scenario.
Knowing that the asylum was being flattened I’d visited on the previous two weeks to try to capture as much as possible before nothing was left. I was astonished at the pace of the demise of the wonderful buildings. I don’t mind saying that was quite emotional at this point, we both knew that this would be our last visit to Hellingly, there would be no return visit. It was as if I was seeing a great friend for the last time, waving them off to places further afield. The place where my affiliation with peeling paint, wondrous Victorian buildings and architecture had begun was now just as it had once been – bricks and mortar.

Hellingly Asylum - Bricks and Mortar (Mark Blundell)

Two weeks prior to this I took THIS which shows the full grandeur of what would once have been a very impressive recreational hall.

This is the first image I’ve processed and published in monochrome. It was taken on a rather fittingly dull day which matched my heavy mood, I thought the treatment expresses all there is to say about the sad demise of Hellingly, both the good and bad side of mental health treatment over the last 100 years at the hospital.

The image itself is a panorama made up of around 10 images stitched together using PTGui, mono processing carried out in Silver Efex Pro. No HDR for a change!

Hellingly – Gone But Not Forgotten

Whilst at Viveca’s the other day she was looking at her old pictures from Hellingly Asylum, this spurred me to have a look at mine. as this was the first place I went on urbex missions my early  images are almost all rubbish, however its a good testament to my perseverance in the craft of photography and shows the journey I’ve been on.

I picked the image below as its nicely composed and shows one of the may pieces of art that were dotted around the place. The artist in this case is Luke da Duke. It still makes me sad to know that this was all flattened very soon after this visit, but that’s progress.

 (Mark Blundell)

The image is processed in a fairly standard manner, less reliant on filters and a more manual process than I would normally use.

Image Processing Tutorial

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.

Wool Grading Sheds – Ironwork

This is a pretty simple image – just an empty warehouse, but look at the lovely ironwork in the roof. They don’t make them like that anymore.

The room was probably the tidiest, of the buildings at site, nicely clean floors and no  rotting roofs. the sun was low as you can see and gave a really nice warmth to the space. Certainly my favourite part of the explore.

  (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version or to purchase

Wool Grading – Dodgy Room #2

Here’s another shot of the room with the dodgy floor. After venturing across the bridge and not being sure what to find the other side of the door I was faces with a rather large hole in the floor. Luckily the door was placed over the hole so I was able to get into the room. The drop was considerable and I doubt had I fallen that I would have walked out with both legs intact. All of the floor timber in the shot that is a darker colour is slightly ‘spongy’ with damp, the brick crumbling with the same moisture laden atmosphere.

This image is dedicated to calculated risk and treading carefully.

 (Mark Blundell)

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Wool Grading – Two Ways

I’ve tried to take advantage of the wide angle lens here and split the image in two. This was an idea I saw at some of the local asylums where the corridors are acutely angled. This is testament to having my eyes open and thinking about framing images and what the camera and lens can do for me.
Often I’ll be focussing on a particular type of image and be a little blinkered in my approach, the wide angle makes it very easy to be a little lazy and not particularly inventive. After realising what I wanted to do I had to look around for a suitable place to get the shot. Luckily the location was fairly small, so returning here was easy. The hard bit was squeezing up against the wall behind the lens!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version or to purchase.

Wool Grading Sheds – The Switch

Although the mill is very stripped and just a shell there are a few interesting things left on the walls, well one or two anyway. I spotted this switch and thought it would make a nice subject and a change to use a different lens.

Shooting wide angle is pretty easy, composition is a doddle and it’s sometimes hard to be original. The 60mm macro on the other hand is a lot of fun and a little more technical. Getting the correct depth is sometimes a challenge in small spaces, this is where focus stacking comes in, something that I have yet to investigate.

The aim in this image was to leave the whole of the switch in focus and the surrounding behind blurred. The resultant image was ‘okay’ so I helped the blur along in Photoshop. I have used my normal workflow here and boosted the contrast a little to add a fair deal of pop, hopefully not making it too mega HDR!

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image for a larger version or to purchase

North Tawton Wool Grading Centre

This is the top floor of one of the buildings in the Wool Grading location. I can only assume that this was a store of some sort – pulleys and trapdoors at the other end of the room and lack of any further machinery to me indicate that there was no industrial use for the building.
Although fairly early on in the afternoon that early sunsets meant that there was a lovely light throughout, long shadows and shafts of light adding to the atmosphere. All in all a very nice location and relaxed explore.

 (Mark Blundell)

Click the image to view a larger image or to purchase.

I have used everything in the HDR arsenal in this image – from start to finish the process has been something along these lines:
Promote remote control to take 14 brackets.
Photomatix to merge the initial images.
Photoshop (obviously)
Nik Total Efex to sharpen and add my normal basic work flow that is applied to almost every image I create.
Topaz to add some funk
OnOne Perfect Effects for some subtle toning
Finally some curves and highlight / lowlighting

 

Devon – Wool Grading Warehouses

Sheep have grazed upon Dartmoor in Devon for thousands of years. Mills have consequently sprung up in the locality for several hundred years. These have all but closed now as the processes become more mechanised and automated.

The sheds were used for grading, spinning and washing until the 1930′s when the machinery was sent away for the war effort. After that the buildings were used mostly for storage of milk and rice.

In the 1960′s the mill was returned to its original use with buyers coming from all over the country to sample The Wool Board samples. The local river was partially diverted and generated power for the mill, the excess being sold back to the Electricity Board.

In 1992 the stores were closed for the final time and the sheds have stood empty since then despite a brief from the local council to redevelop the buildings into restaurant / sports hall or local museum connected to the wool industry.

In 1994 the buildings were sold to a local land owner and have stood vacant ever since. However looking at the land and reading reports I believe that they will soon be redeveloped into residential properties, maybe not the best resolution, but at least they are being used and the fine buildings will be preserved for others to enjoy.

 (Mark Blundell)

 

This shot is taken from ‘the other side’ of a rather unsafe bridge between two buildings. I’d checked from below and believed that the bridge was safe. The same could not  be said of the room through the second door past where this was taken from. . . . .

 

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.

ECVB – Cockerill

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.