The Good Stuff.


Late afternoon documentation of an iron works facility that's just west of downtown proper. Still working. Can't believe it will be there in five years....or less.

Yeah. That's downtown in the background.

A photographer got in touch with me yesterday afternoon and wondered if I'd be up for a coffee. Sure. We met at a place called the Better Half. The conversation was desultory. Covered ground covered in previous coffees. But the silver lining was that the café was adjacent to what I had always assumed was a mothballed iron works facility. A series of old brick warehouses and corrugated metal work buildings. Mostly in disrepair and covered with graffiti. But in reality the place is still a functioning business it's just that their new and more presentable offices are hidden down a one way street and through a lane that leads to a gate. 

The light was dropping and my ears were ringing from the loud conversations all around me at coffee. The  Better Half is a wildly popular place for coffee and alcohol on a late Friday afternoon. I walked over to the factory and trespassed onto the property to see just what it was all about. No one came out to greet or threaten me and I walked around unencumbered for the better part of half an hour. Just snapping photographs of what would make a wonderful dystopian film set for a movie either about the aftermath of an alien invasion or the collapse of civilization. 

I used the camera I had with me. A Leica SL and the 50mm f1.4 Zeiss ZFv2 lens. By time I called it quits the light was gone and only after coming back to the office and doing some post processing could I clearly see the detail in the shadows.

It's my intention to go back to the iron works on Monday, meet the owners (or at least the managers) and get permission and buy-in to document this place as my own art project. It's on prime property just west of a downtown that's been on a hyper growth trajectory for the last 20 years. I can't believe this place will be there much longer. It's unsettling and bizarre to see the contrast between this location and the shiny office towers and residence towers just a few blocks away. Can't believe I've never looked beyond the smallish façade that fronts a street I frequently walk down. 

The fast 50mm was hardly the lens for this documentation but it's always interesting and pleasant. Next time I'll bring a wider angle lens as well. Might be a perfect project for the Q2. But it's the subject and not the cameras that are interesting with this one...

Burn marks from space lasers? 

Just South of the iron works is the Amtrak station. Another urban fossil.

Last light on the South wall. 

Does boarding up windows imbue a place with "character"?

I believe the building on the right is the actual managing office for the facility.
I conjecture that the bigger buildings are adequate for working on large steel girders, big metal structures, etc. and that welding and such creates enough heat that regular building heating 
in the industrial spaces is not needed. At least not often.

I darkened the sky a bit.

this is basically the view from the parking lot of the Better Half. 
Can't put my finger on why I thought it was compelling but it 
still is. To me. 

I was reminded recently that to succeed and be happy in this life you need to surround yourself with optimistic, well-adjusted and supportive people. The same whether it's family, friends or clients. I have less and less patience with the pessimists and ego-centric people I come across. Just a note to myself.

If it's "always someone else's fault" then it's probably your fault.



  1. Good idea to document it while it's there. If the company is publicly-held (or is about to be), pretty soon the plant will fall victim to some hedge fund looking to "unlock shareholder value" by selling the property to some condo developers.

  2. Listed building status? Or USA equivalent.

    Industrial heritage is extremely important.

  3. I've always been crazy, just like many creative people .
    As Chase Jarvis wrote "the best camera is the one you have with youu." In my case that would be an Android phone.

  4. It's always sad to see classic old buildings heavily vandalized. Even if a building is abandoned it should be allowed to decay with dignity. But I'm glad to see the Austin Amtrak depot still doing what it was designed to do when the Missouri Pacific built it in 1947, making it one of the relatively rare passenger stations built after the war.

    Like Austin, here in Silicon Valley every 50-year-old, single-story commercial building is a target for redevelopment, especially if it has a large parking lot. Seemingly overnight these old functional but unremarkable structures are replaced with multi-story equally bland buildings that will likely be replaced as well in a another 50 years.

  5. So true. This has so much land around it that it's a prime target for intensive development.

  6. Re the note to yourself ...
    "If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole."
    - Raylan Givens


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