Abandoned in Virginia

Maybe I’m weird, but I love things that are falling down or apart. Not too long ago, I had the chance to explore an abandoned home in southern Virginia. I hope you find this house as interesting as I did!


Riley’s Lock

There are no shortage of things to do in the DC area, and they aren’t all museums and monuments! When the weather is nice, we try to get out and explore, taking our dog with us as often as possible. Back in February, on an unseasonably warm day, we headed up to Maryland to check out Riley’s Lock. Riley’s Lock is located in Seneca Creek State Park and is part of the C&O Canal.¬† In this area, there are lots of parks along the canal, so plenty of great opportunities to get out and explore, walk, bike, or picnic.


While we were walking, I was *super* excited when we stumbled across the remnants of the Seneca Stonecutting Mill. Abandoned building? Yes, please!


On our way home from exploring, we made a quick stop at Glen Echo Park. It’s not a very hopping place in winter, but I’d love to go back now that summer is on the horizon and check out the carousel or some of the events they have going on.


All in all, an excellent day of exploring places I had never checked out before. There is an advantage to being married to someone who grew up in this area and thinks of places to go that may never even cross my mind. I’m looking forward to our next adventure!

Light Painting Workshop: Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

One of the coolest things about photography (or art in general) is there is always the chance to learn something new and keep growing your abilities. The day I think I know all there is to know about photography and can’t do anything to get better is the day I know I should put away my camera. There is always always always some new aspect to explore! So, with that in mind, last month I made the trek with my friend Evan to the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) in Weston, WV, for a light painting workshop.

The workshop was put on by a great local group, Road Runner Photography Tours, and I admit I had no idea what I was getting into. I was intrigued because I had heard of light painting but knew nothing about it and because I LOVE old, falling apart buildings and ghosts, so going to TALA for anything was a dream come true. The leaders of the tour were awesome – gave a great lecture beforehand to help educate us about light painting and then walked around the asylum during the night as we worked to help set up some interesting shots with different techniques and answer questions.

If you’re not familiar (like I really wasn’t), light painting is just what it sounds like – set yourself and your camera up in a dark or low-lit space and then illuminate parts of the space with different light sources. You can use anything from regular hardware store flashlights to heavier duty lights¬† with colored gels to glow sticks and colored light sabers – all kinds of neat stuff. There also doesn’t really seem to be a “wrong” way to do it – it’s a lot of trial and error to create the effect that you’re looking for. The key is really to have a tripod and a vision, because for most instances, you’ll want to take several different exposures with different ways of light painting and then layer them together in post-production (I use Photoshop) to make a composite.

If I came away from this workshop having learned anything, it’s that I have a LOT more to learn. As I went through my images, I was definitely making a mental list of what to do differently for next time! But I feel that, for my first time giving this a shot, these didn’t come out too shabby at all. Hope you enjoy!

The one below is a composite of three different images – we lit each room individually with its respective color and then I put them together in post production.

TALA3One of our great instructors, Denise, posing as an asylum patient for us

TALA7This is a cool effect created by having white lights on the inside of a bicycle tire and spinning it on its side on the ground, creating this neat dome of light

IMG_6522 TALA5The glowing “waterfall” is created by someone spinning flaming steel wool (sometimes called “woolies”). I’m not going to give a “don’t try this at home” message, because obviously people do and are fine, but I will say to keep in mind that this is METAL or FIRE and so obviously precautions need to be taken. I found this blog post that gives a great explanation on how to create this effect safely, and if you have any doubts about whether you’re comfortable doing this or not, don’t do it

TALA1 TALA4 TALA6 This is actually probably my favorite from the night, and it’s not a composite – the typewriter (which I loved on its own!) was lit in just one shot IMG_6543


And leaving you with one final woolie!