Ruinous America
November 6, 2007 9:13 AM   Subscribe

American Ruins: a gallery of photgraphs by Chuck Hutchinson. "a gallery of houses, barns, automobiles and businesses that have become the ruins on the landscape of America."
posted by dersins (20 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
So cool, I love sort of this stuff. This one looks like the ruins of some ancient building.
posted by tepidmonkey at 9:34 AM on November 6, 2007

Cool subjects, but the photos are kind of blah. This sort of thing has been been done by many folks and in more interesting ways. All the shots in that gallery seem to be taken from the same standing, eye-level perspective with little attempt at creative composition or depth of field.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:35 AM on November 6, 2007

I have to agree with blaneyphoto. Interesting subjects, terrible compositions, and an apparent lack of post-processing skills.
posted by tocts at 9:51 AM on November 6, 2007

I agree with blaneyphoto, but I like these anyway.
posted by marxchivist at 10:03 AM on November 6, 2007

lack of post-processing skills.

You say this as if it's a bad thing....
posted by dersins at 10:09 AM on November 6, 2007

Oh, you all and your fancy photography terminology. When “look at the pretty thing” is the extent of your ability to criticize photos, this gallery is awfully cool.
posted by tepidmonkey at 10:12 AM on November 6, 2007

You say this as if it's a bad thing....

It is a bad thing. When I say "post-processing", I'm not talking about fabricating whole new images via the wonders of Photoshop. I'm talking about Photography 101 basics, like exposure and color correction -- the kinds of things expected of any serious photographer since roughly the time of the pinhole camera. Many of these photos are poorly exposed and would look much better with even some minor levels tweaking.

Presuming that the photographer in question is this guy, who is sporting a $2400 or so lens (Canon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L) on a body that is probably at least $1200 (can't identify just from that shot but it's a black Canon DSLR, and given the lens choice, probably at the least a 30D if not a 5D), it's not really out there to expect that he be able to expose and process photo properly.
posted by tocts at 10:22 AM on November 6, 2007

I have to go with tocts on this one. I am partial to stark, unfussy, documentarian style photography, but this person's composing skills are weak- there are some good photographs, and a whole bunch of mediocre ones. At one point, I tried to clean spots off my screen, but it was actually the photo. Editing the portfolio to one third the size would make it twice as strong, if done with a decent eye.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:34 AM on November 6, 2007

Oooh, Tonopah. I love it.

Tonopah showed up in Mary Austin's writings about walking from town to town during the hazy desert frontier days, so it's one of those towns that I'm always surprised still exists or ever really did.
posted by salvia at 11:10 AM on November 6, 2007

I love me some photos of weed-choked Edsels, fallen-in roofs and barns so weathered you can count the branches of the crab apple tree on the other side. I agree that these are boringly composed, but I still enjoyed them.

I'm pretty certain this place has a guy standing in the corner if you want to go investigate.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 11:11 AM on November 6, 2007

Also he's totally not using the rule of thirds!
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:11 AM on November 6, 2007

what a fucking wanker. shocked by this - shocked i am.

is this guy on his first foray ever outside the city?
posted by mr_book at 11:37 AM on November 6, 2007

Evocative images. I want to live in a dozen of those houses, places. Seems such a waste they are decaying and yet lovely in that way neglected buildings seem to tangibly state the passage of time, memories and history.
posted by nickyskye at 11:43 AM on November 6, 2007

Decaying ruins are only cool from afar. When you get up close, the tangled weeds and wind-blown refuse is a little off-putting. In other words: Nice place to photograph but I wouldn't want to live there.
posted by DU at 11:54 AM on November 6, 2007

Timely for me. I was recently fantasizing about having enough money to buy a bit of farmland in Southern Illinois and building a house that looked like an old wooden caved-in farmhouse. It would have the look on the outside of the gray, weathered wood but would be made of concrete. It would be a cross between these photos, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Gehry.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:02 PM on November 6, 2007

Well, you photo folks are prolly rite about the skills aspect, but I like them anyway -- they'll be very useful in mood-setting for a couple of projects I'm working on right now.
posted by lodurr at 12:14 PM on November 6, 2007

Why, why, there's WOOD in them thar barns, perfectly good WOOD!
posted by From Bklyn at 12:16 PM on November 6, 2007

DU, having seen horrendously dumpy apartments in NYC transformed beautifully during a renovation, and done a fair share of renovating myself, I can see how so many of those places would be beautiful places to live with a bit of fixing.
posted by nickyskye at 12:52 PM on November 6, 2007

Why, why, there's WOOD in them thar barns, perfectly good WOOD!

And I know just the people to buy it and make gorgeous cabinetry or dining sets.

We have a barn on our property that we're fixing. The wood has water damage in places, but what's left is incredibly dense old-growth forest wood and a lot of it is still hard as a rock. The pine we're replacing it with feels like styrofoam by comparison.

Anyway, we used to make annual trips up to central Wisconsin to drop off my nieces and nephew at camp, and every year we could watch the various barns (and one house) deteriorate. They die quickly if they're not cared for, and especially once the roof begins to fail. Fortunately the last time we went (2005) the stone barn I was especially worried about was finally getting a new roof.
posted by dhartung at 1:44 PM on November 6, 2007

Everything is falling apart all over. The decaying and abandoned is common subject matter on Flickr. I wander down the railroad tracks and through the old industrial areas near my home taking some myself. Sometimes I see the quality of the ruin in other places and I feel envious towards people who live in Eastern Europe. Here is an abandoned castle in Belgium.

The bland basic approach taken by this photographer looks like a deliberate choice that works when you look at all his photos together. You can get a good feel for how the building once stood without being distracted by the photographer's need for batman angles or dramatic light. I like too how in many of the photos the view of the building is obstructed by the dying leafless trees around them.
posted by TimTypeZed at 4:14 PM on November 6, 2007

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