I still believe there is beauty in decay. It may not always be kind or fair, but there is something peculiarly peaceful about the earth reclaiming something natural or man-made.
The San Juan Mountains in Colorado are speckled with hundreds of mines. I wish I had the time to photograph and explore them all...
The backroads of Colorado unturned a number of old, abandoned mines, most in a state of natural decay without much human influence.
This mine was founded in the early 1800's, but unfortunately, not much history can be found about this mine after 1916. Though the mil structure is long gone, but its adit and shafts still exist today.
This image was lit with (2) Lume Cubes and a NiteCore flashlight.
(Disclaimer: Mines are very dangerous. Do not venture into these places without proper equipment or without someone who is educated about the hazards.)
Gold Hill, Nevada
Inside a small, single-room miner's cabin in Death Valley. This mine opened in 1917 and was was known to have the largest body of commercial-grade ore in the region.
Abandoned mine camp, Death Valley.
This is a mining cabin from a Death Valley Mine, which opened in 1917 and was was known to have the largest body of proved commercial-grade ore in the region. During the years of operation, this mine produced 16,000 tons of crude ore, which yielded 5 million lbs of lead, 100,000 ozs. silver, 1,500 ozs gold, and 146,000 lbs of copper.
Within the first 3 years of operation, 11,000 tons of ore, comprised of 15% lead, was mined here in Death Valley and hauled by tractor-drawn trucks for 45 miles, before being transported by rail. After dumping the ore, the trucks brought water back to the mine.
The mine remained in operation for another 46 years, but only yielded another 5,000 tons during that time.
When I shoot at night, I shoot a series of "test shots" to check exposure and make sure my composition is right. This means that I crank my ISO up to 1600 or 3200 and take a shot for between 5-20 seconds, depending on the light, and then multiply out my exposure as I drop it down to an ISO I prefer to shoot at. (Example: If my test shot is ISO 1600 @ 10 seconds, and I'm happy with the exposure, I could shoot it at those settings, or try: ISO 800 @ 20 seconds, ISO 400 @ 40 seconds, ISO 200 @ 80 seconds or ISO 100 @ 160 seconds.)
On this particular night, I shot this test shot at ISO 1600 and was pretty happy with the exposure, so I dropped the ISO down to 200 and shot a 60 second exposure.
(6 seconds. f/8. ISO 1600.)
(60 seconds. f/8. ISO 200.)
In the end, I actually liked the test shot better, because in the 60 second image, the clouds were moving quickly, which caused a lot of motion blur in the clouds.
I used to delete most of my test shots when I shot with the 5DMkI because the noise at 800 or 1600 was so awful, I wouldn't share the images online, much less print them. Now with the 5DMkIII, I keep all test shots, especially if they're shot at 1600.
Next step, do some test prints at night of ISO 1600 and see how they print at various sizes.
This Eastern Sierra Mine was built in 1909 at an elevation of 8,000ft. It remained in operation until 1938.
(Night. Full moon. 3 minutes. Lit by moonlight.)
Moonlight hits this old mine during blue hour.
Established in 1909, this Eastern Sierra Mine was built in the mountains at just over 8,000 ft. The property contained a mill, mine offices, employee bunk house and general store. The ore mined here was transfered to a nearby town via a tram system. It was the last mine to close in the district, remaining in operation until 1938.