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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:05 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:29 pm
Posts: 1
Hello all, I am the photographer whose work Randy Gustafson shared in the original post. I wanted to take the time to thank Randy for his kind words and for sharing my work with you all. I also wanted to clear the air regarding a few things:

In response to Alexander Mitchell and YeOldeEngine: None of my works have been obtained by means of breaking and entering. I have never forced entry into ANY building in my life and never will. Photography is my full time job, I have an LLC under which I work and am insured, and I make my living photographing and touring my works around the county in museums, galleries, and art festivals. Not only do I have zero tolerance for forced entry, but I refuse to take any relics or 'souvenirs' with me no matter how interesting they may be. I live by the words "Take only photographs, leave only footprints"

Furthermore, I work with historic preservation groups, historic societies, historians, and owners, to not only gain legal permission, property releases, and signed liability waivers, but also to talk with them about the history, significance, and stories that each location has to tell. For me it goes beyond the photography and crosses over into a preservation via art. If the owners can't do anything financially or otherwise to preserve a location, then at least I can go in and do so by creating beauty in unexpected places and by telling the history and stories of a location. If you visit my blog at: http://www.artofabandonment.com you will find the stories of all of these locations along with the history that we were able to obtain.

I do not associate myself with the "Urbexers" who trespass, break in, etc usually for fun or excitement. When I began my "Art of Abandonment" series in 2009 I labeled some images as such but quickly began disassociating myself with that mentality/trend given that it was not what I was about. I am there to create art and preserve history, nothing more, nothing less.

YeOldeEnjine I am very sorry for your experience regarding the break in. I am willing to bet that the people that broke in are not really photographers, and are merely using that as a alibi to explain their presence if caught. Situations like this are unacceptable (Photographers or not) and should be prosecuted without question.

In response to P51 who claims that I mislabeled airplanes in Pensacola as abandoned: The airplanes that you see on my site were taken in St. Augustine FL. They had nothing to do with the USN Aviation Museum, they were on private property, privately owned and yes they were abandoned. I have the full history of the planes and have actually researched the pilots that flew them and been in contact with 4 of them who verified flight logs matching the tail fin numbers. They were intended to be flown to Turkey in the mid 80's but were declared unfit for trans-Atlantic flight and eventually decommissioned. A private owner bought them and cannibalized them for parts, selling them back to the local Grumman manufacturer. They sat abandoned on the side of Highway 1 north of St. Augustine for over 20 years before they were destroyed for scrap metal in May of 2011 when the land changed hands.


Sorry for the long post but I felt that I needed to respond to some of the posts to clear the air about my work and what I do. Whether you liked the images or not, I hope they at least evoked some sort of emotion or response for you. After all, isn't that the purpose of Art? :)

Thank you again for sharing my work, I truly appreciate it. I'll be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Kindest Regards,

Walter Arnold


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:50 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8358
Location: Baltimore, MD
I, for one, thank you for your reply.

Though you may indeed seek permission for such photography and not trespass, I will point out that your "About the Artist" and "Artist's Statement" are written in a seemingly vague manner that appears, rightly or wrongly, to deliberately skirt or evade the issue of whether or not proper permission was obtained for the photography in question. The "journalist" in me reads these paragraphs and asks "yes, but what is he not telling us--that he was hiding from the police when he go there, or what?" And my own personal experiences--which include watching a "roundhouse" foreman on the phone calling the police after a class of "urban photographers" from a local university refused to leave an active shop when ordered, and having to tell a group of other photographers to get down off the top of a "parts-supply" PCC and/or stop placing large metal stuff on active track for their photos--leads me to expect the worst of the practitioners of this "art." The fact that you still have a sub-gallery labeled "Urban Exploration" also indicates you haven't completely "severed ties" with this community.

A simple, very small, and subtle disclaimer line somewhere on the appropriate galleries stating "All photography was done with permission of the property owners" would go a long ways towards addressing this perception. Of course, given what I've seen of the sordid side of this "art community," you'd probably also lose all your "street cred" with the field of "urbex" and their buyers, but so what?


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:36 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2332
Walter,

Thank you for taking the time to set some facts straight.

I have found that working "with permission" results in better images, at least for me.

There was a stretch in the 1990's where I was seeking to photograph soon-to-be demolished railroad sites (it was a time of frequent "last chances"). I was pleasantly surprised by the access I got just by asking... even at places other railfans had bad experiences at (probably because they were trespassing).

As a result, I have a record of the last days of the B&M Boston Engine Terminal roundhouse, Bethlehem Steel in South Bethlehem, CPR St Luc terminal at the end of the MLW/Alco era and much more. Through friends of similar passions, I got to see and shoot a lot more.

And, yes, the St Nick colliery is a great place to go with permission. The coal dumpers alone are worth a full day of shooting. The boxcar loader is something I became obsessed with.

Someday I will publish the images (mine are more documentarian as compared to your art), but for now I am happy that I asked to be able to capture them.

Thanks again for sharing your POV and the facts.

Rob

waphotog wrote:
Hello all, I am the photographer whose work Randy Gustafson shared in the original post. I wanted to take the time to thank Randy for his kind words and for sharing my work with you all. I also wanted to clear the air regarding a few things:

In response to Alexander Mitchell and YeOldeEngine: None of my works have been obtained by means of breaking and entering. I have never forced entry into ANY building in my life and never will. Photography is my full time job, I have an LLC under which I work and am insured, and I make my living photographing and touring my works around the county in museums, galleries, and art festivals. Not only do I have zero tolerance for forced entry, but I refuse to take any relics or 'souvenirs' with me no matter how interesting they may be. I live by the words "Take only photographs, leave only footprints"

Furthermore, I work with historic preservation groups, historic societies, historians, and owners, to not only gain legal permission, property releases, and signed liability waivers, but also to talk with them about the history, significance, and stories that each location has to tell. For me it goes beyond the photography and crosses over into a preservation via art. If the owners can't do anything financially or otherwise to preserve a location, then at least I can go in and do so by creating beauty in unexpected places and by telling the history and stories of a location. If you visit my blog at: http://www.artofabandonment.com you will find the stories of all of these locations along with the history that we were able to obtain.

I do not associate myself with the "Urbexers" who trespass, break in, etc usually for fun or excitement. When I began my "Art of Abandonment" series in 2009 I labeled some images as such but quickly began disassociating myself with that mentality/trend given that it was not what I was about. I am there to create art and preserve history, nothing more, nothing less.

YeOldeEnjine I am very sorry for your experience regarding the break in. I am willing to bet that the people that broke in are not really photographers, and are merely using that as a alibi to explain their presence if caught. Situations like this are unacceptable (Photographers or not) and should be prosecuted without question.

In response to P51 who claims that I mislabeled airplanes in Pensacola as abandoned: The airplanes that you see on my site were taken in St. Augustine FL. They had nothing to do with the USN Aviation Museum, they were on private property, privately owned and yes they were abandoned. I have the full history of the planes and have actually researched the pilots that flew them and been in contact with 4 of them who verified flight logs matching the tail fin numbers. They were intended to be flown to Turkey in the mid 80's but were declared unfit for trans-Atlantic flight and eventually decommissioned. A private owner bought them and cannibalized them for parts, selling them back to the local Grumman manufacturer. They sat abandoned on the side of Highway 1 north of St. Augustine for over 20 years before they were destroyed for scrap metal in May of 2011 when the land changed hands.


Sorry for the long post but I felt that I needed to respond to some of the posts to clear the air about my work and what I do. Whether you liked the images or not, I hope they at least evoked some sort of emotion or response for you. After all, isn't that the purpose of Art? :)

Thank you again for sharing my work, I truly appreciate it. I'll be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Kindest Regards,

Walter Arnold


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:31 pm
Posts: 236
Walter;

Thank you for coming here and posting.

In my case, yes they were just photographers only after the making of images. All of them are young people who are students at a local University. Practicing their art form was more important than following common sense and the basic laws of the land.

It was unfair of me to paint all urban photographers with such a board brush, so I apologize to you for that.

Tim W.


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:34 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Bobharbison wrote:
I totally agree. Would I ever trespass on railroad property to get a good photo? Why, um, err, well... Hey, how's the 4014 project going?

"Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints" is a core value of urbex'ers (and railfans).

Go look at the blog of the guys who urbex'ed the USS Iowa and USS Sea Shadow. That's how that thing is done. No one knew they were there until they published.

Quote:
Would I ever even consider cutting locks to enter property? Not only no, but hell no! That is above and beyond.

Agreed absolutely. Those guys need to be hit HARD because they crossed a hard line even in the values of urbex'ing.. If they were really urbex'ers, they knew that, or reasonably should have known that (which is how the law treats things that are common knowledge in a trade or specialty one claims to be in.)

And their lawyer is a lying sack, who will tell you absolutely anything to get you to drop charges. The answer is "no". Nothing against lawyers, that's what a lawyer is supposed to be in that instance, and I certainly hope mine would in such an instance. I suggest you stick to this:

Occam's Razor. What story is most internally consistent? Are they the only urbex'ers in the world who haven't got the memo about nondestruction? That they cut cut the lock on a pipe gate they simply could have stepped under if their cargo was only a camera? No. Those presume a level of stupidity which is improbable, especially from college students. The most consistent explanation is that they were perfectly smart thieves employing a cover story. Their plan was to feign urbex-ing in the lengthy recon phase when they were most likely to get caught, plan their grab, and do the actual grab as quickly as possible and get out. Photos, if any, would be for their fence.

Maybe they're not thieves. Not your problem. Prudence requires that you treat someone who looks, walks and quacks like a thief... like a thief. They on the other hand, need to learn that if you look, walk and quack, you'll get treated as such.

And then if they really are urbex'ers, they can cry, cry, cry on the various urbex'er forums, and a couple thousand other urbex'ers will learn the lesson too.

Maybe the D.A. can wangle it so they're not expelled and unemployable when the dust settles, but they certainly do need to feel the pain in a rather more acute way than their lawyer is paid to arrange for them. Locks? Hah, at the very least they should be paying for the cost of your alarm system whose need they caused.

P.S. Another thing that's real nice for security is a $100 deer trail camera. Run for months on 8 AA cells, take pictures of anything going by, day or night, with invisible (to humans) infrared flash on some models.


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:40 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8358
Location: Baltimore, MD
The thing is, you can "take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints" without breaking in or cutting locks and still be a hazard to yourself and the owner. As I've mentioned before, I've chased away a group of photographers after the one climbed atop a stored, derelict PCC (which ain't that easy unless you know the one trick). Others in that particular group started moving things around to "pose" them around the shop--and onto and on top of active trackage. And, of course, once the photographer(s) encourage the view, rightly or wrongly, that these places or things are "abandoned," they get followed by opportunistic "scavengers," scrap thieves, or even arsonists.

The historian/photographer in me wants to get the folks interested in "our" railroads--not that likely to happen, sadly. The public-relations side of me wishes they would stop casting the bad corners of the place in a negative light, or highlighting the "wrong" pieces. And the "legal" part of me has little choice, in a nation where too much is settled by lawsuits, but to want to run them off the property for their own safety, especially when one sees utterly boneheaded actions like the idiots that think that the track is abandoned until they're just about run over by a train or trolley, or literally believe that every museum or excursion railroad is publicly-owned property that they are entitled to access at any time (no, I am not making that up--that was the justification given by a photography professor from a major university!).

Another slight irritant are the photographers that come onto rail-museum property, without permission or appointment, and start doing "fashion" photography, or worse, utilizing the apparently current fad of "looking down the tracks" or "industrial grunge" or whatever. I've been told of at least three occasions where one museum operation happened upon, and surprised, photographers (with assistants holding up lighting, reflectors, etc.!) shooting models with little enough attire to warrant an indecent-exposure charge or less, on the tracks or on/in the aforementioned stored equipment. I've personally witnessed two such incidents "after hours" while cruising the area and checking for vandalism, and I'm sure that if we asked about or rigged up more cameras to monitor the tracks full time we'd be finding out about a LOT more of these incidents. Again, it's all well and good until a trainload of passengers gets an R-rated show they didn't pay for, and/or the parties in question fall off a bridge, slip and crack open a skull, or become complacent and get run over by a train or streetcar.


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:04 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:31 pm
Posts: 236
P.S. Another thing that's real nice for security is a $100 deer trail camera. Run for months on 8 AA cells, take pictures of anything going by, day or night, with invisible (to humans) infrared flash on some models.

Great Idea, never even gave a Trail Camera a thought. Thank You!


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:54 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:31 pm
Posts: 236
OT - Update;

Installed a trail camera at the property...... After reviewing the past week's captures, I find it necessary to suggest to my teenage son that he needs to find a new parking spot at least out of view of the camera..... if you follow what mean........!

Tim W.


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 Post subject: Re: Art of Abandonment
PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:59 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2332
YeOldeEnjine wrote:
OT - Update;

Installed a trail camera at the property...... After reviewing the past week's captures, I find it necessary to suggest to my teenage son that he needs to find a new parking spot at least out of view of the camera..... if you follow what mean........!

Tim W.


LOL! Not exactly the lock picking you were thinking of!


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