Interesting shapes, abstract images, especially in unexpected things or places, inspire the photographer in me. I like bold, simple shapes. Geometric forms, lines and angles do it for me. Imagine my glee while photographing a defunct blast furnace in Birmingham, Alabama, recently. Several acres of tanks and pipes, beams and gears, thousands of rivets marching along meandering dotted lines, and rust. Willy Wonka gone nuts.
Everything has its limit – iron ore cannot be educated into gold.
The weather was ideal: cool, cloudy and rainy. Perfect lighting. Soft and shadow-less. And, because of the weather, we had the place to ourselves. Almost all of the images were made with a wide angle lens and tripod. Hence, low light was not a problem. Some were shot with multiple exposures and processed as HDRs because of the contrasty milky white sky.
And I found it at Sloss Furnaces, now a National Historic Landmark. The mill’s location was ideal because of readily available labor and raw materials (coal, lime and, of course, iron ore). The first furnace was built in 1881, with more added over time. Pig iron was produced for 90 years, until 1971.
In those days the mill was a dangerous place to work. Accidents were common and, over the years, many workers lost their lives. It is believed by some that their spirits still haunt these old furnaces, especially around Halloween.
Be sure to see Travelerlynne’s post on Sloss Furnaces and look for part 2 of the Sloss Furnaces photo essay coming soon.