Stop The Wobble!

August 11, 2015 in Detroit, Out & About, Urbex by Brian Rome

I never thought of my tripod. It was always there. Never an issue. Always was there to do it’s job.

I have two tripods. A larger Manfrotto 055 and a smaller Fotopro traveler. The Manfrotto because of it’s size does not make many trips. The Fotopro does. I got it because of the portability, the ease of use, the versatility. You go out on many trips never thinking that something could go wrong. Well nothing did until Friday of our Detroit trip. Well on this particular Friday we were in a building with poor light. So the tripod came out and away we went. We stopped in one of many rooms. The setting was just right. Old cast iron claw foot bath tubs. A little light from a small window to set the mood. I set my tripod down. Attached my camera and quickly saw my camera had a decided lean to it. My tripod head had come loose in the middle. With no tools at hand the best thing was to not let go. Now you had to protect your camera but worry about soft pictures, whether you were the
cause for the blur.

I guess the lesson here is to always check your equipment before leaving on a trip. You clean your lenses, charge your batteries and clear your memory cards. In the case of your tripod make sure all is good. Can’t fix anything miles from home.

Discovering Northville

July 31, 2015 in Detroit, Out & About, Urbex by Brian Rome

The beauty of photography is you can shoot any time, weather does not hold you back. Summer brings the opportunity to move further a field. Well on this latest trip we the great opportunity to explore Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

A little Northville history lesson. Construction on Northville State Hospital, was started in the mid 1940’s due to over crowding in Michigan mental hospitals. The new Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital opened in 1952.

Patients were treated in different wards and buildings around the campus, an eight-story tower was the centre focal point of 20 buildings on the site. The hospital had its own laundry, kitchen, gymnasium, movie theater, swimming pool, powered by a steam plant which supplied electricity and heat through a network of underground tunnels.

Through the 1970’s, the state began to cutting health budgets, closing hospitals, reducing programs and money to many other programs. with all that happening crowding became an issue at Northville, as patient numbers regularly climbed were over 1,000, but Northville had only been designed for 650. The gymnasium was used for patents to sleep in until more rooms could be arranged for them.

Budget and staffing cuts took their toll on the Northville in the 1980’s and conditions at the hospital began the slow decline. The 1990’s continued the hospital downsizing. The hospital changed its name in 1995 to Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital. In the late 1990’s, Northville was one of the last remaining state mental hospitals in Michigan and was deteriorating and run-down.

In 2002 the state announced that it was going to close Northville within a year. The hospital was simply too expensive to keep running, it was in need of major repairs. The last patient left Northville in May of 2003.

The hospital as of today has been vacant now for over 12 years. Numerous broken windows, damaged doors, ceilings with broken tiles, crud falling from the ceiling, wiring panels open with wiring missing and leaking roofs have opened the hospital buildings to the elements.

So our day of discovery began by heading towards one of the outer buildings and the discover of old cast iron bath tubs, old wheel chairs, gurneys and weigh scales. With over 20 buildings available to us you can imagine the daunting discovery that lay ahead of us. The temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius. We started our trek to Northville late in the afternoon. We made our way though on trails chatted along the walk. As we rounded the final curve and the building exposed itself to us, our excitement intensified. This was going to be a great explore.

We entered the first building together, and explored for hours. These buildings are large and we did not want to lose anybody. Though that did almost happen.

Thanks for making the visit with me to Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

Detroit – The Second Time Through

July 26, 2012 in Detroit by Brian Rome

Had the opportunity to hits the streets of Detroit again with friends Pete, Jess & Lana. This visit was to see the “Good Detroit”. The non-urbex edition as it were.

We were early to avoid the heat. Starting the “Good Detroit” Tour was Belle Isle. A very interesting spot in the midst of the Detroit River. We were there for Golden Hour to catch the sun rising. What a morning seeing the sun come up as the day was beginning not only for us but for the business and people of Detroit.

We were all over from Downtown to the Eastern Market to Corktown. From buildings like Penobscot, the Guardian, GM Place and the Woodward Buildings.

All incredible pieces of architecture when it was required to build a building such as these to mean something that looked good. They were solid buildings that would stand the test of time.

It was refreshing to see the positive side of Detroit.

Through The Eyes of a Stranger

November 10, 2011 in Detroit by Brian Rome

End of July went on a photo trip to Windsor and Detroit. I went with my friend Chris and eight other photographers. I have to admit that for me this was THE trip. We have been planning this since early spring, coordinating with colleges in Windsor. The main idea was to go into Detroit for the day. Leave Windsor as early as possible and stay over till exhaustion set in. The trip agenda was finally set and settled over a couple of very cold pints. We left Windsor at 5:30am and managed to get to Detroit (and customs) and our first stop by 6am.

We first stopped at Michigan Central Station. This can clearly be seen from the Windsor side. Very haunting! The morning was hot, steamy and a little uncomfortable. Guarded by Homeland Security entry was not something we contemplated.

Second stop on our tour was St. Agnes church. St.Agnes has been abandoned since 2006. It seemed that the scrappers have made quite the mess as most items of value have been removed making quite the mess. Quite a shame really.

The next stop was the Eastown Theater. The Eastown had opened in 1930 and ran up to the late 1960’s and then a checkered history up to 1973 where it finally closed. In 2009 there was a fire which brought down the small apartment building behind the theater making quite the mess out of the Eastown. Difficult to shoot here as the only sources of light where the end and side doors. Others problems where a very large hole in it that was covered by a piece of plywood. The roof between the main floor and the balcony was falling apart and was basically just re-bar remaining. This is all while dodging all the garbage that was all over the floors.

The final stop was the Packard Plant. I have to tell you this was what I had been looking forward to the most. Since the initial planning , from everything I have read, the pictures I have seen there was nothing that could prepare you for the enormity and vastness of this building. From what the scrappers have taken from the building to what others have brought into the building you are in awe. “The Pack” had not been a functioning building for over 50 years it was not in bad shape. Our group had spent over 5 hours here and it seemed to go by in a flash.

In further blogs I’ll fill you in on some of the finer details of the trip.

Until then, keep the camera handy always ready.