Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ruins And Other Passtimes

It may come as a shock to some people but my life isn't consumed by comic books and the history that surrounds them. Quite the opposite actually. I've many other hobbies to pass the time, it's just finding the time to do them. Hunting ghosts and taking photos are two hobbies that I often try to combine at the same time.

Now that the other half has finally decided to do something with her time and talents (I'm not at liberty to give away what she's doing, but she did mumble something about a shovel and graves), it's given me the chance to engage in some photography. But not just any photography - I like taking happy snaps of the more unusual and unique subjects - headstones and old ruins. Especially old ruins. I'm fascinated by old ruins and always have been. I love looking at them, walking inside them and having a poke about. I always curse when I pass an old ruin and I've not got a camera handy, so when the missus decided to take off for the afternoon and take some photos I dragged myself along and snapped off the following.

The hope for me is to find the vibe of a ruin - and I've done that from time to time. The best shots for me are done with a decent background - the lighting has to be perfect, and the only way I can get that perfect lighting is when the atmosphere is right, otherwise the results can be technically good, but they won't be perfect for me. An example is the church that I've posted here - the results weren't bad, but they don't move me as I wasn't moved at the time. I'm not above jumping barbed wire fences, or standing on graves to get a shot (as the other half will tell you, she's freaked more than once as I've jumped a fence and vanished into a ruin only to run out again like a scalded cat as something collapses) and if it all feels right then I know the end result will be good. I've really got to dig through some of my CDs here and find some old photos to show where everything lined up and the ghosts popped out for a chat. In a couple of weeks time I'll have the chance to revisit some ruins near Burra as I finally finish my Terowie/MacArthur research (it's only taken me two years...). Great ruins up that way, and loads of fences and private property to challenge me. Best wear my running shoes and baggy pants.

Now, onto the day's shots. We did the run from here to Woodside/Hahndorf and back. I didn't get many shots - as is the way when I'm ready the ruins vanish. But I got one decent ruin and a few decent, gothic headstones. Enjoy!

This is an old church, located at Woodside. It's a thing of pure beauty that's being allowed to gracefully fall apart as the years go. It's not long been abandoned, and the interior's are fairly intact, a lovely high wooden roof, but all the windows are now gone, although there are some lovely remains of a wonderful stained glass window in the rear of the building. Check out the dead wood on the front though - it's impressive close up and in person.

Woodside is a small place, steeped in local history. Legend has it that there's a great haunted house in the area - actually I've been there and spent a few nights with my older brother (he's a coward when it comes to the ghosts, but hey - if the shit went down I'd not have any else by my side) when we were both in the Cub Scouts back in the late 1970s (and nope, not once did any of the leaders ever offer me boiled lollies or try to touch me up). No great vibe there either, although the legends are spooky, like the chimney that spews smoke when there's no fire and the standard min-min lights and mist. Great place to visit, but once you've driven through three times you've seen it all. Nice little shops for trash and garbage dressed up as antiques, and I did buy a 1970s Snoopy radio (complete with trashed box) there a few years back. Now to find me a Bugs Bunny radio to go with my alarm clock. But I digress.

Different angle. No ghosts here, well if they are there then they didn't say hello to me. Disappointing. The best time to visit these places - ruins - is usually first thing in the morning. Try about 5am when the night is still hanging about and the mists are rolling away. That's when the ghosts will come out, but you have to be ready, because if you're not then they'll get you. I know that from experience. If it all lines up then you'll be in for the ride of your life - the ghosts will say hello and you'll have the chance to walk through the entire life of the building, and feel what it was like when it was at it's peak. Done that several times.

Ain't this one a stunner? These are just quick shots with no real thought given to overall composition, clarity, staging, background or the detail. But they look kinda cool. When it comes to photography I like to work fast and capture the immediate second. I've never understood those people who sit there for hours upon hours waiting for that second to snap the shutter. If it's not there when you take the photo then al the staging in the world won't bring it to life. I also don't believe in Photoshopping my photos, so rest assured that none of them have been, or will be, touched up. What you're seeing is what is, or was, there at the time.

This one, and the last one, are located in the Hahndorf Cemetery. It's an odd place, very well kept and, and I know this will sound funny, it's fairly lifeless (no pun intended) and hasn't any real atmosphere. One night I'll pop by and see if that changes. But for now, no vibes.


Also Hahndorf. I'm not sure about anyone else but I'm always taken by the detail that's displayed in these sculptures. It amazes me that someone, anyone, would go through so much work only to see that work vanish as the years - and dickhead vandals - pass by. Saw an obscenity scrawled on at least one headstone, sad really, but that's life I guess.

Still in Hahndorf. Further to what I was'd think that the families of the dead would maintain the graves surely? However wander into any cemetery and you'll see the most well constructed graves fallen fallow as the descendants just forget, or cease caring. Again, sad. Personally I've taken steps to prevent that happening to me. When I'm gone I want to be cremated and thrown into the ocean. Then the family will be getting two stones, putting whatever message they want on them and placing them in front of the monkey cage at the Adelaide Zoo. At least then the zoo cleaners will have to spray the crap off them every so often.

You guessed it. Hahndorf.

St Saviour's Cemetery at Glen Osmond. Can't find much information about this cemetery, although it's located in the heart of Glen Osmond, next to the public library and the fire department. Work that out. It's a decent little place, has the odd idiot wandering about and the oval next door gives sanctuary to various homeless type people, drug dealers and kiddie botherers. It does also have the best cemetery gates I've ever seen, one of the most impressive graves you're likely to see (photo perhaps later) and a genuine hitching post.

No vibes here either. If the dead were around then they didn't feel like coming out to play.

I'm amused the other half though in the Stirling cemetery. We wandered in and saw a headstone with the legend, "Not dead, only sleeping". I stopped and as the other half wandered up I looked down and said, "They ain't foolin' anyone." I'm sure that the people there to pay respects didn't overly appreciate hearing her laughter.

More photos as I get the chance to take 'em.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dude, your a sick sick person!! NO, i'll take that back, your more then that but i cant put a word on it. Ha ha hee. But thats great to know that you have time for that. One of my friends (here in Brisbane) got me into the same thing but i told her that i used to do this at night in Adelaide, having only afew pictures Cemetery near Anzac st. Its great to use the photo's for drawing. Apart from that i was bord and snap happy. Plus the artist block i had at that time. I also like walking in the hill's, you'll find all sort's of Ruins aswell as just walking. So thanks Dan for the history lessions.

yours truly: CHEW!