Reflections on a year in 365 photographs

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An industrial abstraction.


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Written by Brian Fancher

May 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm


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A view of the paper mill along the Cooper River in North Charleston

The American Way

Tonight gets another view of the paper mill along the Cooper River in North Charleston.  It is one of the largest industrial complexes here in the Charleston area and seems to run 24/7/365.  Tonight that exhaust is blowing toward my house across the river, which means we can’t leave the windows open.  I don’t know which is worse…all the exhaust pollution or the light pollution.  The place burns 100s of lights all night.  All in the name of feeding our collective consumption.  Think about that the next time you print that 200 page document on your office copier.  You know.  The one you print out because it seems like the right thing to do, but you never read even 25% of it.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 21, 2010 at 8:45 pm


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My grandfather taught me a lot about life.  He taught me about jobs well done.  He showed me the value of a dollar.  He embodied the importance of family.  He passed on his love of jazz.  He taught me about photography.  And he taught me about trains.

As a kid we would visit his house and be entertained with carousel upon carousel of slides full of trains.  My grandfather could rhapsody for hours on tenders, wagons, boxcars, piggy-backs, and hoppers.  He knew the difference between a 4-6-2 Pacific and a 2-6-6-6 Allegheny.  And he had pictures of them by the hundreds.

And when he couldn’t show us a picture, he would build it.  My grandfather was a master model railroad builder.  He even built a train table for us that must have taken years to put together.  We didn’t know how special that was until it wasn’t there anymore.

My grandfather is getting on in his years and doesn’t have much longer with us.  I don’t get home often enough to see him.  I hope he knows how much his life has meant in mine.

This one is for you, Grandpa.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 15, 2010 at 12:53 am


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One reason I undertook this project is to stretch my photographic horizons in hope that I’ll settle on a style or even just a genre to focus on and master.  Of the thousands of photographs I’ve taken in my life, the majority have been travel or event related, usually in conjunction with a military deployment of some sort.  I have shot the twin towers in New York from the flight deck of the USS Kennedy.  I’ve traveled the length and breadth of Japan and other countries, capturing the unique cultures and peoples.  I have photographed miles of U.S. scenic roads and trails.

But in all that time, I don’t recall ever taking a photograph like this.  Photographer Chase Jarvis has found fame with his iPhone photography book “The Best Camera Is The One Thats With You.”  I have passed ruined tobacco barns on the back roads of down east North Carolina and not had a camera at hand.  I’ve inspected rotten buildings scheduled for destruction overseas that the military somehow renovates into expeditionary quarters or housing and not had a camera at hand.  For every image I have on film, print or slide, there are two or three missed opportunities I hold in my mind’s eye.

So today I determined to photograph in an abandoned building that I pass every day on my commute.  By appearances of the heavy construction equipment around it, I may have found it not even standing by the end of next week.  I may have taken the last photographs that will ever be taken inside this decayed old plant building.  This time I have the photographs!

As for this image, I have seen photographs of this type of urban decay quite often.  Many are graphically disturbing.  Some produce a profound sense of nostalgia.   Several convey a sense of lost beauty surrounded by a sea of modern plastic and glass.  A few, perhaps even this one, elevate the mundane to works of art.  I doubt that I’ll take up “urban decay” as my photographic muse, but I’m pleased with this shot.

As always, comment and critique are welcome.  When was the last time you passed a photo opportunity?

***Updated:  Check out my Flikr photostream for more images from this shoot, including a remarkably 3D-like HDR composite.***

Written by Brian Fancher

January 9, 2010 at 12:48 am


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Here’s a straight shot of a local industrial complex.  Later on in the project I’ll try a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image of the same complex just for comparison.  I suspect that sort of treatment will be far more effective as it will handle the bright lights, but still allow detail in the darker portions of this particular image.  The photograph was taken from the Don Holt bridge here in Charleston, SC which is quite long and high in order to allow ships to pass underneath for the State Ports Authority terminal.  The weather was frigid and clear which meant the exhausts were clear and interesting.

Lesson for the day:  I’m going to need to learn to use higher ISOs for situations like this where f8.0 still gave me a 10 second exposure time which was not optimal when shooting from a bridge with passing traffic.  However, I don’t have noise reduction capabilities in my software beyond that supplied with Aperture 2 and Adobe CS3.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 4, 2010 at 3:43 am

Posted in Stock

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