Lukens Steel Mill

Recently, Annette and I were invited to participate in a photo shoot/workshop at the Lukens Steel Mill in Coatesville, PA.  We were excited because we love to shoot old and abandoned buildings and their contents.

When we first arrived, the organizers, who were very familiar with the mill since they were part of the local historical society, were talking about the World Trade Center trees.

They asked, “Did you see the World Trade Center Tree when you walked in?”

“Huh?”, I thought, “What tree?”  I didn’t know that they had trees growing at the WTC!

“Yes, we have 9 of the trees.  One outside and eight inside of this building.”

I looked around.  It was an abandoned building.  I saw some greenish stuff growing in the corner of the building, but definitely nothing high enough to be classified as a tree.  Oh, well, I’ll just play along.

But they were serious.  The trees were actually structural components of the World Trade Center.  On the ground floor the structure was a box shape that branched (pun intended) into three smaller boxes.  The shape is much like a trident.

Just so that you can get an idea of what these “trees” looked like, here’s a picture of the one tree that they had on display outside.

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The building, that we were shooting in, is the one in the background above.  Yes, I’m talking about the one with the missing windows.

When we went inside, I immediately began to worry that there was nothing in there to shoot.  Oh oh!  Here’s what we faced…

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But let’s not get too worried.  Let’s take a look around and maybe there will be something worthwhile.

Here are some of the images that I came up with…

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The items (I don’t know what they are or were!) were in the mezzanine that you can see in the image above

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Imagine sitting in this little office/room for eight hours per day, keeping an eye on the gauges above the window and another eye on what was happening on the shop floor!

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As I was looking around taking stock of what was available, I saw a beam of light that was coming through a hole in the roof and shining down on the corner of this pressure vessel.

There was another participant by the vessel who was trying to capture some spider webs between the rivets.  But when I came running (figuratively) over to capture this shot, I must have scared her away.  Because she left very soon after I arrived.

The contrast in the amount of light allowed me to make the background go virtually black.  As you probably know, when there is a large difference between the light levels in the bright areas relative to the shadowy areas, if you expose for the lit areas, the shadowy areas will go black.  Conversely, if you are trying to get a lot of detail on the shadowy areas, you can expose for the shadowy areas and the lit areas will get blown out.

Anyway, I know like this riveting portrait of rivets!

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Oh, hey!  There’s still a crane in this building!  And look at the size of the hook!  That hook is probably 2 feet across from the tip to the curve on the back!

I also like the way the sunlight through a broken window shines on the dust in the air and looks like shafts of light.

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These last couple of images are some details from an old machine that was sitting there in one of the bays gathering dust and decaying.

I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed making them.

What’s next?  Where is the next shoot?