Many feet below the surface staring at the blast lock doors inside a Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile site in California.
100 feet below the surface, inside a pitch dark Titan I ICBM Missile Silo, looking through a blast lock door.
These doors protected the complex from an explosion inside the silo or an attack on the silo. Each of the silos was separated from the complex by 2 blast lock doors. You can see the second set in the background of this image.
Tunnel junction inside a Titan I ICBM Missile site in California.
Wandering through this pitch dark space was incredibly surreal, but it also allowed me to take a "blank canvas" and create the scene I envisioned by using light.
(Lit with a single LED panel off camera right as well as a flashlight to brighten the end of the tunnel on the left)
Blast Doors inside the 851-C Beale Titan I Missile Complex in California.
Shooting in this pitch dark facility was challenging as I had to create my own lighting for each photograph. This image was lit with an LED panel and multiple flashlights.
The Titan I ICBM Beale 851-C Power Plant.
Looking across into the Launch Silo No.3 of the Beale 851-C Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Base in Northern California.
During the operating years, 1962 - 1965, this silo would have contained a crib structure that would have supported the missile. These days, this base sits empty collecting dust, waiting to be purchased.
Tunnel Junction for launch silo No. 3 at the Beale 851-C Titan I Missile Base.
To me, these types of images are really fun to create. This space was pitch dark, so to get this shot, I set up an LED panel at the camera, shining towards the blast doors to get a composition. Once the framing was set, I took a LED panel and placed it beneath the walkway on the right. I also placed a panel behind the ajar door. Lastly, during the exposure, I light painted the circular section of the tunnel, near the camera, with a flashlight.
This tunnel, leading away from the launch silos, leads towards the antenna terminals for the Titan I ICBM base. At the end of the junction are two 65 foot tall cylindrical structures that once contained the inflatable radome, responsible for tracking and guidance, for the underground site.
It's hard to describe the feeling I had when I took my first breath of the stale air inside the Titan Missile Silo. It brought back many memories of other locations that smelled very similar; stale, damp and toxic.
For the rest of the 8 hour shoot, I wore a respirator, which drove me crazy, but in the end it didn't matter because there's something so peaceful and relaxing about wandering around places like this, which I'm sure that seems so strange to most of you. This location in particular was a place that was saturated with war, a location that terrorized many, but when I was here, it was a place of peace.
What is your happy place?
Sound baffles were installed on the ceiling of the underground power station of a former Titan I ICBM base to help prevent the loud sounds of the machinery from reverberating due to the circular ceiling.
Tunnel Junction II leading from the power house into the exhaust and fuel storage of the Beale 851-C Titan I ICBM Missile silo in Chico, California.
Portal elevator at the former Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Base (Beale 851-C) in Chico, California.
Tunnel leading to the Antenna Terminal of the Beale 851-C Titan I Missile Base in California.
The equipment terminal contained 4 floors, accessed by personnel elevators and ladders connecting the levels. The walls were 18" thick and suspended in such a way that they would not be damaged if there was an explosion in the nearby silo.