©2017 Karen Johnson All Rights Reserved
*Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
Photographed at Fairfield Hills Hospital in Newtown, Connecticut. I added the clouds for a more dramatic effect. I love creepy old houses and this one fit the bill.
Photographed in Valley Forge National Historic Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. I loved this old stone barn. It reminded me of the “Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” which was a British mini series on Disney when I was a kid. The vintage image is one from my personal collection. I added a little fog on the ground for a more haunting effect.
*Leonardo da Vinci
Happy New Year!
I photographed this at an old wool mill in Pennsylvania. I loved the graphic elements in the room as well as the old sign used as wall covering. The door in the wall was very narrow but had this beautiful golden hue to it as well as the rest of the room. A little gem of a room that was tucked away in the corner of the large mill.
I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!
Photographed in my town park a few years ago during a snowstorm! I just love those red berries.
“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night,” is from the poem “The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams. The room was photographed at Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum, Weston, West Virginia. I loved the corroded metal bars on the window and peeling paint in this room. The vintage figure is from the Library of Congress Open Content and I decided to use clouds to fill out his head and feet. I wanted him without any sense of recognition. Faceless and nameless as many of the people in the old insane asylums were. The starry night through the window is a texture I purchased.
This particular composite went through three transformations before I finally settled on this one. Sometimes I have an idea on how I want the image to work and as I get into it I find that my first direction is not really what I wanted. You really have to not be afraid to fail when you are creating work. Those failures always lead to a success.
*Quote is by Webb Chiles, Sailor.
I photographed this beautiful ocean at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina. The vintage man is from Open Content Program, J. Paul Getty Museum.
When I saw this man with his invention I immediately thought of a ship and knew I wanted him in the water. The bubbles were just that little bit of whimsy I like to add sometimes.
Photographed at an abandoned hotel this past September. This was the main reception area where guest would check in. It always amazes me how buildings are just left with the furniture in them, waiting for guests who will never return.
I always get asked why I photograph abandoned places and part of it goes back to my childhood and my love of mysteries. I still have my entire Nancy Drew collection in my library. I also wanted to live in the Adams Family house. I thought it was a really cool house. Walking into these places, all I see is light and shadow and the sense of a mystery of what happened. I’m rarely frightened in these places. The only thing I am afraid of are humans who are up to no good in these places and can harm me. The only time I had a really bad scare was when I was photographing with a fellow photographer and two urbex explorers came out of the dark and startled me. I have a highly sensitive “flight” mode, when scared, and landed up backing up super fast (breaking the number one rule when exploring an abandoned place- NEVER back up) and fell 3 feet out a door. Luckily it was only 3 feet and I landed up with only a sprained ankle and minor cuts. I never explore alone and preferably with a group of three. One to stay with someone if they get hurt and the other to run and get help.
Photographed at Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, PA using a Fuji X-T1. The light beam coming from the window opening was so beautiful in this decaying hallway. When I wander around an abandoned building I am always looking at the way the light filters into a space and reacts with the dark shadows. It is a theatrical quality that I look for. You don’t see this kind of lighting in buildings that are not abandoned unless the light is intentionally created.
I photographed the hallway at the Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum in Weston, West Virginia. I love the pink and blue peeling paint as well as the length of this incredibly long hallway. The doors off of the hallway lead to rooms where patients at the asylum stayed.
The two little boys are from a beautiful glass plate photograph from Powerhouse Museum collection on Flickr ‘s The Commons site. They are very generous placing a large number of their vintage photographs on Flickr for people to share and use. I love the fact that one of the boys is sitting on this great vintage tricycle. I colorized and retouched the photograph since it was originally in black and white. The clouds are just a touch of whimsy I sometimes like to add to enhance the “not of this world feeling.”
Title: From Haunted Houses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Photographed at Carrie Furnace, Swissvale, Pennsylvania with a Fuji X-T1. Sky was photographed during on an oncoming storm at Byram Lake in Mt. Kisco, New York.
I really loved the Carrie Furnace. The architecture has a victorian steam punk look to it.
Had to put this one up for Halloween. The industrial looking machine was photographed at Carrie Furnace near Pittsburgh, PA. I was out there late spring with Abandoned America. When I photographed the porthole I had envisioned a persons head in it. The vintage man is one of the ones I purchased online. Goggles on his face were purchased at Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios that I attended a couple of weeks ago. It was excellent!
I was playing with pushing color and just trying to abstract this out a little. I always like to play to see what I come up with. I think this would look really good as a print with a resin coating to pop that color.
I was working with mirror images and mixing up symmetry with an image I photographed at the Carrie Furnace. I really love abstract art. Working with these industrial elements and pushing the color created this interesting image. Very different from what I usually do but this kind of work is inside me too and has to get out!
Photographed at an abandoned resort. This image was created using a mirror special effect in post processing so that I was able to get this curved couch. Background was photographed at Waveny Park in New Canaan, Connecticut. There is a cloud image laid on the background landscape that was photographed at Byram Lake in Mt. Kisco, New York. The vintage image is one I purchased online and colorized. I wanted a soft haunting look to the piece.
The title is from “A Boys Will”by Robert Frost.
I photographed this elevator at an abandoned resort a few weeks ago. When I brought it up on my computer screen I thought I nice ocean coming through the back of it would be interesting. The beautiful Atlantic Ocean was photographed from the beach at Pine Knoll Shores in North Carolina using my Fuji X-T1 (my go to camera). I really like working with this image in black and white for mood and contrast. Color would have lost the feeling I wanted.
The title is an excerpt from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. The words summed up what I was creating.
I love the way daguerreotypes are framed. This is one that I downloaded from the Library of Congress and decided to make a composite of it. I started out colorizing it and then decided I really wanted to work in Black and White. The background was photographed at Rockefeller State Preserve in Pocantico Hills, New York. The goggles on her were photographed at an abandoned clothing factory and the cup of tea is from Pixelsquid. I used a texture that I created from photos I had taken of the ocean from the beach at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina.
One of my images from the Trans-Allegheny Insane Asylum. I loved the light coming in from the window and casting a shadow. The sink on the left is a very interesting shape. I had never seen one quite like it.
Photographed with my Fuji XT-1.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, cool temperatures, and long shadows. I photographed this magnificent tree last autumn at Waveny Park in New Canaan, Connecticut. One of my absolute favorite places to walk and photograph. I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful place. I added some texture and soft focus to the image. Photographed with my Fuji X-T1.
This is the second image taken at Fort Macon that I made into a composite. Sky was photographed at Byram Lake when an upcoming storm brought those wonderful moody clouds in. Bird is a photo brush. Vintage image is from my collection. I wanted to give her a “Widows Walk” look.
I attended a wonderful wedding down in North Carolina last week and had the opportunity to photograph Fort Macon. Fort Macon is state park located on the Bogue Banks near Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Construction began on the fort in 1829 and completed in 1836. I loved the way the fort was sunken into the ground with these beautiful upper walkways that lead to the cannons. This is a composite because I added in the stormy sky and lightening as well as the solitary figure on the wall. I loved the way the light hit the slate stones on the walkway and the way the inner court wall curves towards the horizon.
The Bather II is a composite I created using a shower I photographed at an abandoned school on one of my Abandoned America trips, a vintage image of a man I colorized and elements from a late 17th century painting, “The Banquet of Cleopatra” by Dutch painter Gerard Hoet. The painting is part of the “Open Content” program at the J. Paul Getty Museum. I really love this combining of elements to create a new story.
I may not be able to post every week going forward. I am experimenting with working with my images and combining them with different mediums. I have found that I want to put work with my hands on my artwork using other mediums. The process to produce a piece will be much longer but the end result will be a one of kind piece.
I have worked with using pieces from master paintings in my composites before and when I came across this beautiful painting by Jean-Leon Gerome called “A Roman Slave Market”, I knew I wanted to use the slave as a bather in one of my abandoned locations. This painting is from the open access images from The Walters Art Museum. You can see the original here. The location is kept a secret because it is one of Abandoned America Leap of Faith trips where the location is not disclosed at the time you sign up for it and we are asked not disclose afterwards. Photographed with my Fuji X-T1.
The background for “Swimming Reflection” was photographed at Scranton Lace Company. with my Fuji X-T1.The floor was completely covered in water and I thought of a diver on this platform of metal when I photographed it. Vintage image is one I purchased and colorized myself. Textures used are from Photomorphis. Beach ball is from Pixelsquid.
I have an upcoming show at Upstream Gallery in Hastings on Hudson, New York. Below is information on the opening and days and time the gallery is open. I will be at the Upstream Gallery the night of the opening and Saturday, August 6th. Stop in for the opening or anytime to see the show.
I love peeling paint and this room has it in spades. I photographed this on many of my trips with Abandoned America to Scranton Lace Company in Scranton, PA. It’s a room just off the main entrance to the building and it is looking out onto the second set of buildings. This place is massive, 660,000 square feet. It is and always will be my favorite place to photograph.
Composite from a room I photographed at the Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum and the chair and bed were in the room. The vintage image I downloaded from Mementomori on DeviantArt. I colorized and retouched the image. The beautiful piebald horse in the background is from the beautiful “Piebald Horse” by Paulus Potter a Dutch painter and is an oil on canvas from the period between 1625 and 1654 which is in the Open Access program at the Getty Museum of Art. I just wanted a very dreamlike feeling to the image. The ghost of someone from the past sitting in this room.
I was back at my favorite abandoned building last weekend, Scranton Lace Company. I found this wonderful beat up couch with a nice reflection in front of it and immediately thought of this vintage photo . I wanted something in the doorway and thought that since she was in such a classic pose, a classic painting would look nice behind her. Thanks to the National Gallery of Art Open Access, I was able to use this wonderful Canaletto painting. I love mixing the dirty and torn with classically beautiful objects. This fit the bill.
This week I was also honored to be invited by Rixon Reed, Director of Photo Eye, to become one of the Photographers on the Art Photo Index (API). The Art Photo Index is by invitation only and Photographers included in the Art Photo Index are selected as a result of their accomplishments. Many of the photographers included are published by major photobook publishers or featured in art photography magazines. Some have received awards given by various organizations while others are represented by major photography galleries. These include Aperture, Blind Spot, European Photography, Guggenheim Fellowships, Santa Fe Prize and many more. API’s audience are a cultivated, discerning audience including curators, gallerists, publishers, editors, picture researchers, art buyers, collectors, and others who have an intense interest in photography as an art form.
You can see my work on API here.
The image above, “Science Room”, was selected to exhibit in “Imagined Realties” at the PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont. I was really honored because the juror was Tom Chambers, a photographer I greatly admire. You can see his work here. And, another photographer I admire and have learned a tremendous amount on compositing will also be in the exhibit, Brooke Shaden. The exhibit will run July 6 through August 5th. There will be a printed catalogue for sale showcasing all the finalist. I will post that link when it goes on sale.
You can read more about the “Imagined Realities” exhibit here.
If you are in the Middlebury, Vermont area, please stop in and see the work.
It is amazing how everything else crumbles to the ground in these old buildings but the loo always seems to be in the best shape! Photographed at an abandoned hospital with my Fuji X-T1.
One of the rooms at the Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum in Weston, West Virginia. It really is quite creepy looking. I thought that this was more interesting in black and white since the room is that sick hospital green color.
Background image photographed with my Fuji X-T1 at Carrie Furnace in Rankin, Pennsylvania on an Abandoned America workshop. Front image is a vintage image that I added some steampunk gears and clocks that I photographed at various other abandoned sites. Vintage image is colorized and retouched by me.
I saw this wheel among all these gigantic pipes and knew I had to find a captain to stand by it. Love the Carrie Furnace.
I traveled out to Weston, West Virginia recently to do a photo tour of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. The asylum was constructed between 1858 and 1891 and is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America. It was designed by architect Richard Allen after the Kirkbride plan. The Kirkbride plan was a design psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbridge called “the moral plan”. It consisted of long staggering wings consisting of individual rooms that brought light and fresh air to the patients. The Kirkbride plan is known as a building designed to cure and ornate architectural details.
When the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was partially built the Civil War broke out and in 1861 the Union Army, Seventh Infantry from Ohio, marched into town and made the partially built asylum into Fort Tyler until 1864 when the first patients arrived. The asylum originally housed 250 patients. By the 1950’s it held 2,500 patients. It was closed in 1994 and privately bought in 2004 where continuing care and renovation is taking place to preserve this National Historic Landmark.
There are very few Kirkbride asylum’s left. Most have been sold off and demolished. I really could not wait to photograph one of the last remaining ones. I highly recommend a visit to the asylum. The Owner’s conduct historical, paranormal and photography tours. I spent 8 hours photographing the place and loved every minute of it. The photograph above is one of the dormitory bathrooms in the main building. Love that peeling paint!
I did not get a chance to post last week because I as off to Weston, West Virginia to photograph the Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum. I will be posting some of the images from that trip in the coming month.
The image above is a composite of several images I photographed. The ocean was photographed at the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Great Egret was photographed on a trip I had taken to Chincoteague Island, the ships vent pipe was photographed at Brimfield Antique Flea Market in Brimfield, Massachusetts. The sky was photographed over Byram Lake in North Castle, New York. The vintage image was one from a set vintage images I purchased from Evint.
I came up with the idea for the image while I was making my bed one morning. Just popped into my head.
Another image from my weekend shooting at an abandoned hospital. There was the long hallway filled with these little cubicle rooms where patients were placed in to recover. Lots of dirt and graffiti in this place!
I was photographing at an abandoned hospital last weekend and this area looked like an abstract painting to me. A couple of hours after this was taken I landed up falling and spraining my ankle. It was a long painful drive home!
Photographed with my Fuji X-T1 with a 10-24mm lens.
My portfolio, “The Vintage Project” was featured in the Readers Portfolio section of L’Oeil de la Photographie, a beautiful online photography magazine. You can see it here. I consider it a great honor to have it in this wonderful magazine.
Door to the Sky was photographed at the Carrie Furnace, in Rankin, Pennsylvania. I went there two weekends ago on an Abandoned America workshop. This was a gear room and there was this beautiful blue reflection on the door that reminded of the sky so I decided to composite in a sky in to give it a surreal look. Photographed with my Fuji X-T1.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an Abandoned America workshop at the Carrie Furnace in Rankin, Pennsylvania. The Carrie Furnace was built in 1907 by US Steel and produced iron for the Homestead Works from 1907 to 1978. The image above was taken in the Stockhouse where the raw material would be dropped through the v-shapped hoppers attached to the ceiling into “Larry Cars” and then the “Larry Cars” would be driven to the large furnaces and eventually turned into iron.
I photographed the image using my trusty Fuji X-T1 and the image is composed of 4-5 bracketed shots so that I could capture the light as I saw it at that time. I loved the shadows and moodiness of this place. I will most definitely make another trip out to the Carrie Furnace to photograph it again. If you like steampunk, this is the place to go.
I was thinking about movie “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, based on Oscar Wilde’s book, when I was creating this image. I photographed the background at an abandoned house I had found. The picture of the woman is one of my vintage images that I retouched and colorized. The frame surrounding her actually hangs in my living room with my paternal grandfather’s portrait in it. I will have to use him in a future image.
I purposefully kept her clean and bright, no real sign of aging because of the eternal youth theme that was prevalent in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I also wanted a chiaroscuro kind of light within the image.
Background was photographed at the JW Cooper School in Pennsylvania with my Fuji X-Pro1. I was thinking wanted a ghostly musician with a formal portrait in the background. Both images are vintage and retouched and colorized by me. Immortal Beloved reminded me of the film and I wanted him to be a “ghost” of a someone loved in the past.
The Puppet Queen just popped into my head. I knew I wanted a double stage with her on one and then another stage within her dress. I was thinking of Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker where she opened her skirt like a curtain and all the children run out. Instead I have a skeleton. The background was shot at abandoned school in Western Pennsylvania. It was one of two stages in a classroom.
I read a really great e-book this weekend on black and white fine art photography called “From Basics to Fine Art Black and White Photograph – Architecture and Beyond” by Joel Tjintjelaar and Julia Anna Gospodarou. What I like about this book is the inspiration on photographing a place or object and then in the post processing make it your own vision. Create what was in your mind when you first captured it in camera. For me I see in light and shadows and darkness, especially with the abandoned places. I am not a purist when it comes to photography in the sense that I don’t set out to capture reality, I set out to capture a vision or story that is in my head and the camera is only the first tool I use. Once I get in front of the computer it is a playground for me to express what I see and translate that into something that is personal to my vision and the way I can express myself to the world.
When I photographed the room above I saw it as being very dark (and it was) but I wanted it to be in black and white so that any color would not distract from the little bit of light within the darkness.
Last week I didn’t get a chance to post because I was in class all weekend and by the time I got home I was very tired. I’m in the midst if another crazy weekend so I thought I would post tonight instead of Sunday. I photographed this hallway at an abandoned Poor Farm. I loved the light sneaking in from the windows on the side and the colorful graffiti.
I wanted to work on my abandoned photography this week and loved the color and light that was streaming into this room. Photographed at an abandoned tuberculosis hospital with my Fuji X-T1.
The Snake Charmer is a result of a trip I made to an abandoned tuberculosis hospital in New York. The graffiti was amazing in this place. The colorful squiggle of the line on the wall reminded me of a snake. I had purchased a series of vintage images that consisted of snake charmers and knew this would be the place to use one of them. Using photoshop magic I made the actual snake take on the color of the “snake graffiti” so he appears to be coming from the wall. I also did this with the graffiti road, extending it from the wall towards the viewer. A little sense of surreal humor on my part. Texture used in this image is from the Dirk Wuestenhagen collection which you can purchase from Dirk’s website.
Equipment: Fuji X-T1
Software: Photoshop CC, Nik ColoEfex Pro, Adobe Painter
I drove up to Waterford, Connecticut about a year ago with my Fuji X-Pro 1 to photograph Seaside Sanatorium. Seaside was built in 1930 as a tuberculosis hospital for children. In later years it would become a hospital for the elderly and then mental patients. In the 1970’s reports started to surface that the patients were being ill-treated. The hospital finally closed in 1996. Today it sits abandoned on the water. There is security on the premises but you are allowed to walk around and photograph it. It is really haunting.
The woman is one of the vintage images I purchased on line and I worked with Adobe Painter to give her dress more volume and windswept. All the vintage images I use I have to retouch and colorize. It is a very long process but is a lot more pleasant to do since I purchased an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I use a program called Astropad which allows me to work with the image on my Apple Cinema display right on the IPad. The bird is a Jackdaw and one of Frank’s from DeviantArt. The image of the woman on the wall of the building and a tiny image of a man standing on the roof of the building is another one of my tintypes. I photographed the clouds at Byram Lake in Mt. Kisco, New York. Lightening is one of my Photoshop brushes.
I was playing around with one of my tintypes of a young man and decided to transpose it with a tree I had photographed at Rockefeller State Preserve. I wanted this slight haunted look to it (of course, heaven forbid I work with butterflies and flowers in pastels).
I worked with the stormy sky that was in my photograph and laid a texture of sky from Photomorphis over it. It gives it a slight painterly feel to it. I then placed this off center black border around it because I like it framed this way.
With all the snow we had yesterday, 14 inches where I live, I should have titled this the Snowmaker! I wanted a dark and magical image. I needed a dark magician character so I created him using Adobe’s 3D software, Fuse. I elongated the original jacket to a cape since the Fuse software has very limited clothing or at least clothing I like to have my characters dressed in (Steampunk or Victorian). The Jackdaws are from Frank at DeviantArt. The background is an undisclosed abandoned poor farm I photographed with my Fuji XT-1 on New Years day. It is one of my favorite locations. Texture is from Shadowhouse Creations. Clouds, rain and lightening are Photoshop brushes I use. The fog is actually from a photograph I took of clouds, again photographed with my Fuji X-T1. The alchemy of mood was created using various filters in Photoshop from Topaz, MacPhun, and Nik.
I hope everyone on the East Coast is safe, sound and slowly digging their way out of the blizzard. It was a massive storm.
The War Room is a composite I put together using photographs I had taken at Scranton Lace Company on one of my Abandoned America Workshops. The cannon was photographed on a trip I took to Gettysburg this past summer. The soldier is an image I purchased from E-vint.com. The airplanes are from a vintage photograph from the Library of Congress that I colorized to red. The world maps are from a texture set I purchased. Textures used on this image are from Shadowhouse Creations and Photomorphis.
I was inspired by the room itself at Scranton Lace. The cement ceiling had caved in and broken pieces of cement were all around. It looked like a “war zone”.
I was photographing an abandoned poor farm on New Years day. This was photographed with my Fuji X-T1 in an old lavatory in one of the buildings. The graffiti was fantastic in this place. The golden triangle caught my eye and I immediately pictured an Egyptian or Indian goddess feel to it. I had this vintage image I downloaded from Hello Tuesday on DeviantArt. I liked juxtaposing the vintage image with the newer graffiti art and the decay of the building.
Photographed with my Fuji X-T1 at Scranton Lace Company. The figure is a 3D figure I created using the new Adobe Fuse 3D program. The ocean scene was photographed at Tod’s Point in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, clouds photographed at Byram Lake in Mt. Kisco, New York. Ship is from Pixelsquid since I don’t have access to old pirate ships!
Digital Photographic Art incorporating images I shot at Tod’s Point in Old Greenwich, CT as well as textures from Dirk Wuestenhagen, Photomorphis and Shadowhouse Creations. Vintage image colorized and transformed by me, ship from Pixelsquid.