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IN THE FIELD: Revisiting Familiar Places


I’ve been there before. There is nothing I haven’t seen. Been there…done that…don’t need to do it again. 

Ever had these thoughts rolling through your mind?

When revisiting a familiar location or even one that has become a favorite, there are several things I like to do to keep it fresh. And to avoid falling into the been there, done that trap.

Sometimes I will limit myself to using only one lens. Or if using a zoom, I will restrict myself to one focal length. Another method is to use my tripod only at a low height. This can get hard on the knees, but a fresh perspective almost always reveals something new. These aren’t hard and fast rules I follow, but guidelines I use to get the creative juices flowing.

One of my favorite places to revisit is the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in southeastern Pennsylvania. It is an old iron making furnace that was in operation from 1771 until 1883. And was one of 20 or so furnaces in operation in Pennsylvania during the 1700’s and 1800’s.

I have been there many times, in good weather and in bad. But I always hope each visit will bring a new discovery. Because I understand the light and weather will most likely be different from my last visit.

On this particular spring morning, it was sunny and the temperatures were cool. So I spent a good part of the shoot outside photographing the buildings and old equipment used in the iron making business.

As the morning progressed, the temperatures quickly rose to what felt like summertime. I soon realized I was way over-dressed for the occasion. Knowing it always feels cooler inside the old restored buildings, that’s where I headed.

This is part of the old blast furnace. While I have been inside this building many times, I never witnessed the sunlight pouring down the chimney as it was on that morning. This photo was taken only with the available light in order to capture the golden color. Because of the long exposure needed to capture the light in this situation, the use of a tripod was an absolute necessity.

aperture 7.1

shutter 1/4 second

cloudy WB

ISO 200

  1. May 8, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I loved the light and contrast… This is so beautiful. I can imagine how changes during all day long the image… Beautiful shot dear David, Thanks and love, nia

    • May 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Thank you NIa, the light was a special treat for me…I had never seen it like that before.

  2. May 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Great tips, David! I do sometimes fall into that trap of dismissing places because I’ve been there. This is a lovely photo. The texture and richness of the bricks is beautiful!

    • May 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks Tricia, it’s an easy trap to fall into…I think because as human nature goes, we all get so excited about new places we often forget about the familiar or even favorite places. What I find amazing is how dark in there it really was. The camera is way more sensitive to light than my eyes are!

  3. May 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Love the lighting and texture in this, David, it inspires a sense of nostalgia in me.

    • May 9, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Thanks Jane, this is a fun place to explore and see how the whole operation worked. The folks were pretty resourceful back then!

  4. May 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I can almost feel the heat radiating from it. Great shot.

    • May 9, 2013 at 9:06 am

      Thanks Teri, I would imagine it got pretty hot. I saw a sign where the molten iron would be around 2000 degrees when they would pour the molds. One of the things they made there were cast iron stoves.

  5. tedgriffith
    May 9, 2013 at 8:38 am

    A wonderful shot, David. And some terrific advice.

    • May 9, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Thanks Ted, It’s advice I constantly give myself!

  6. May 9, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Love that warm light.

    • May 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      It looks cozy now but I imagine when the furnace was blazing it was probably a tad warmer! When I was there it was so dark inside, the brick arch was invisible to the eye. The only light was in the chimney and the golden rock to the right. Amazing what a camera can see!

  7. May 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    We have some of these old iron furnaces in S. E. Ohio. It’s hard to imagine the workers busy in these outdoor (i.e., not factory) settings.

    • May 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      They are fun to explore. I would think it was not an easy life working in all types of weather.

  8. May 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Lovely shot! I love the symmetry and all the different subtle shades of orange and red. This looks the kind of place I’d like! 🙂

    • May 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks Jo, I’m sure you would enjoy yourself in these places. There are several in the area, one of which I just found out about a few weeks ago. Guess where I’m going!

  9. May 11, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Wonderful shot as was you previous post…no actually all you photos are great. David, I love how you share so much wonderful information with us.

  10. May 13, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Gee thanks Karen, I really do love to sharing whatever helpful hints or information I have stored up in this noggin of mine.

  11. May 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Great advice, David…and a terrific shot to boot.

  12. May 15, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Thanks for the kudos Kerry!!! The sensor picked up way more light than what I could see!

  13. May 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Wow – the light is beautiful on the old bricks! The colors of a very hot flame!

    • May 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Colors of a very hot flame is a great way to describe the light Karen. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the folks that worked there. Whew…

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