Chasing Ghost Stories, Faribault, MN

Dan and I enjoy photographing abandoned properties immensely.  The excitement of stepping back into history, and the wonder of what transpired in these ruins can be mind-boggling.

Research is key in finding and exploring abandoned properties.  Ohhhh, the Internet… What a wonderful place for information, sometimes.  As I was briefly searching that morning, (yes, I have to own up to this one) I came across rumors of an old abandoned asylum within an hour or so of our home.  What a find, I thought as my heart started beating faster.

Rumor, after rumor, after rumor, I read:

“I was walking through the tunnel and it leads to the old asylum”

“We even went to the other entrance by Teepee Tonka Park but did not find the tunnel leading up to the asylum”

“ Then walk through the halls.  With 5-6 rooms to the left and right.  Walk through that then it goes on another trail.  Follow it to your left, it brings you to what I though was the tunnel that people were talking about but it is just a bunker room in the hill.”

As I was reading the posts and information regarding the property, I found that there were no directions posted as to how to reach this place directly and it seemed like there was confusion as to which property they were actually writing about. It was like reading a treasure map; picking information out of this post and obtaining information from another.   No matter what we found on this photography outing, I knew that the day would be fun.  With time running out for the research portion, I gathered what I had (although confusing) and we headed off with the starting point at Teepee Tonka Park in Faribault, MN.  We did find the trail in the back corner of the park and headed on our way.  It was a beautiful sunny day; not too hot, not too cold and we were spending the day exploring as we tried to piece together the bread crumbs found on the internet.

From this trail, we did find the tunnels and ventured through them.  I could have gone the whole day without seeing the bats and spiders, but the experience and the memory made was worth it.  Dan was on his game and took every opportunity to joke with me, whether if it were the noises he made in the complete darkness of the tunnels,  or telling me that there was a bat right above me as I stopped to take a picture, or cracking a joke about how we were chancing ghost stories.  Paybacks can be fun 🙂

We might have not found the old asylum, or whatever the abandoned buildings these posts were actually talking about, and that was okay.  What we did encounter was a superb day spent together as we laughed and we joked.   We got to spend a day in the great outdoors doing what we love…  What could be better than that?  Please take some time and join us on this day as you page through the images below.

Advertisements

Augusta, Wisconsin

On this particular morning, Dan and I had discussed traveling to the area of Augusta, WI.  The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for a photography outing, so we packed up the car with photography gear (and the girls) and headed on our merry way.

Augusta WI map

Augusta, Wisconsin is a small community situated between rolling valleys in central Wisconsin and is part of a region known as Chippewa Valley.  The area is beautiful, full of river valleys and streams, rolling hills, marshes, forests, and bountiful farmland.  We were also drawn to this area due to its Amish settlement and Dells Mill (both of which will be mentioned in later posts).

On this day, we were lucky enough to spy not only one, but two, abandoned farmsteads, a thriving Amish community, and a new industry popping up in this area.  The outcome was a fun filled day of a variety of photography, a realization of the impact of man’s consumer needs, and two very tired pups.  Please enjoy the first of three posts regarding this area.  This post will focus on the two abandoned farmsteads we just happened to stumble upon this day.

ATTRACTIONS IN THE AREA INCLUDE:

Amish Tours at The Wood Shed 
(715) 286-5404, 105 West Lincoln Street (Hwy 12 East), Augusta, WI 54722

Dells Mill Tour – Water Powered Museum Tour
(715) 286-2714, Museum is 5 miles North on County Road V, Augusta, WI 54722

“Come, follow me” said the goat.

Seeing, to me, is sometimes simply viewing life through my camera’s viewfinder.

If Dan and I have a few hours to spare, we will pack up the car and spend a fun filled day driving the backroads of the beautiful bluff country in Southeastern , MN.  From a run in with an abandoned farmstead, or stumbling upon a collection on an ever spinning reel.  Maybe it is seeing the magic of the sun as the light shines through the branches of the swaying trees in the woods of this area, or a surprise run in with the friendliest goat you have ever seen.  No matter what, we can drive the backroads of Minnesota and Wisconsin daily and always see something new.

Along one of these roads we saw the sun hit a horse’s mane as it was standing in the pasture, so we stopped and got out of the car to photograph the sight.  To our surprise, a goat walked right under the fence and gave us a friendly look as if to whisper “Come follow me”.  He was a character alright and was very interested in what we may of had to offer him.   Yep, this day was another photography outing to go down in the record books.

A restored 1800’s village, tubers, and a Amish Community.

While some of the group from the Red Wing Photography Club was well underground touring Mystery Cave, Jeff, Dan and I were traipsing through the back roads of Southeastern MN.  After the groups photography tour of Mystery Cave, we met up above ground and proceeded to our next stop… Historic Forestville.  This restored 1800’s village is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society and has some great photo opportunities.

Lunch time 🙂 A stop in Lanesboro, MN was needed to fuel our bodies and of course to photograph the surroundings…  A hidden treasure, this small town is nestled in the Bluffs of the Root River Valley and offers that hometown appeal with spectacular views.  A must stop if ever in the area.

As Dan and I broke away from the group and made our way back home, we ran into many interesting sites and an Amish community.  I still remember us driving down a dirt road when, off in the distance,  we noticed two horses and their riders headed our way.  The car slowed and eventually came to a rolling stop as the riders approached.   The riders, probably brothers, one on a horse and the other on a pony, were Amish boys.  Both boys were waving “hello” and had a grin on their face from ear to ear as they came barreling past our stopped vehicle.  A site not captured on film but saved in the memory banks of our mind forever.   The friendliness and hard work of an Amish community will forever amaze me.

All and all, the day was filled with many surprises, laughter, and learning.   Thanks to Dan, Amy, Jeff, Kendall, Ken, and Linnae (friends and fellow members of the Red Wing Photography Club) for the great adventure!!  I hope to take part in many more group trips this year!

The grey between

The grey between

The “grey area”, referring to an area having characteristics of two extremes.

I have yet to set out with the sole intention of capturing black and white images; I don’t necessarily set out to capture images of color either. Some say that you must have a different mind set when capturing black and white images since the color to grab attention is absent. Others need color and find black and white images lacking feeling or punch.  Personally, I am drawn to both color and black and white photography; both can evoke feelings in my mind.  However, a strong black and white can send shivers up my spine any day.

Did you ever think that the colors in a photograph can actually make someone look at it over and over again or possibly turn-off the viewer?  Just as music builds mood, colors can also help create mood. I have found a lot of literature written on this subject- color creating mood- and it interests me greatly.

Sometimes I know that the image that is presenting itself in front of me will make a great black and white image; other times I know that color will be beneficial to the image, or could the image captured look good in both color and black and white… Hmmm.  Either way, color or the absence thereof, can create mood or emotion in an image if the lighting or subject is powerful.

The image that I am presenting today was captured at an abandoned farmstead. Left behind, was a portion of a Singer Sewing Machine that probably felt a lot of material pass through its grasps in its day.  The machine that made dresses, hemmed pants, repaired holes, or made curtains for the house, was left behind to rust with time.

The way that the light was shinning in from the side casting shadows behind the machine was moving.  I believe a gasp escaped my mouth when I first saw her sitting there reaching out to be photographed.


Maybe I will set out one day with the sole intention of photographing black and white.  Paying attention to the light and shadows, textures and patterns, composition, contrast, or trying to capture raw emotion in a look- That may just turn out to be a great learning experience.   But wait… Can’t I do that with color too?

A Little Reinforcement: Why we do what we do in photography.

We started our 4th of July 2012 with a photography trip through Porcupine – an unincorporated community in Pepin County, WI.  Air temperatures were expected to approach records, and the heat index was near 110 degrees in some areas, but the sweltering heat did not stop us as we ventured out that day.  Our plan was to photograph the beautiful rolling hills of this area and to visit an old, abandoned farmhouse that Dan had photographed in the winter of 2011.

Instantly, sweat started forming on our brows as we stepped out of the air-conditioned car.  The light caught my eye as it danced across the roof of the old farmhouse and I thought to myself “This place is worth the sweltering heat” and stepped inside.  With any abandoned building there comes a story – one you may know while others are fabricated in your mind as you view what was left behind.  As I walk the floors of these abandoned buildings sometimes my mind does wander and I become lost behind my camera’s viewfinder.  Dan is usually right there bringing me back into reality when the dangers of walking into these buildings become apparent.  However, on this particular day the roles were somewhat reversed only I didn’t see the threat coming… neither did Dan.  All I heard was a crack, bang, and a rustle, followed by air escaping from Dan’s mouth.  As I turned around, I saw Dan pulling his leg out of the old floorboards.  After making sure he was okay (seeing only a few scraps and a large bruise forming on his upper thigh), I turned to hide a smile that was forming on my lips.  Sometimes, I have this problem of seeing the humor in events at the wrong time (only after making sure no one is hurt of course).  A smile did form on Dan’s face as well after the realization that he too can become engrossed in what he is trying to photograph.  Among the rickety floorboards was the sight of bird nests constructed on the old walls and the intense sound of humming from within the walls and ceilings… Yes, the vibration caused by the movement of thousands of tiny little wings was heard and felt. We left with the appreciation of Mother Nature in how it can adapt by turning the ruins of man into a shelter or temporary home.

In the winter of 2013, we again took the trip out to Porcupine Valley to visit this old farmstead only to see the ruins of its’ foundation.

d200-sunday-drive-044

We had learned later that this home was burnt to the ground in December of 2012.  To make way for new, old structures are demolished and a little piece of history is gone forever.

This is why we do what we do.

To see Dan’s work from this site, please click on the following links:
Porcupine Valley Farmstead

Porcupine Valley Farmstead – Revisited

Grinding our way south… To and Fro

On a recent trip, we traveled about 500 miles through Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota.  A friend and co-worker made the statement “Wow, doesn’t the driving get boring when you are traveling from point A to point B?”  After a smile formed, I answered “No, that is what makes the trip worth while”.

We are constantly on the lookout for that special something on our trips; an abandoned building or home, a long forgotten car, an adorable wild or farm animal, or just the way the light is hitting a particular item.  Between the laughing, singing (which Dan loves), whistling, telling stories, making Daisy crowns :-), so on and so forth, we always have a great time on our travels.  The “in-between” is where the fun comes in… A turn of the head or an Ooohh, Ahhh, humff, or sigh might escape our lips, which in turn notifies the other of an upcoming special treat.  About 90% of the time, the slamming of the breaks or putting the car in reverse is followed by one of those subtle hints.  It is the “in-between” that we all forget about at times- You know, those sights or people that we otherwise take for granted as we are passing from point A to point B.

My friends comment really made me realize just how important life is and was an important reminder to cherish those “in-between” times.