The Final Detroit Post... for this year!

To see the other Packard Automotive posts please follow these links: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3
Well it has come to this, the final post of my Detroit series for 2011. It only took about 5 months but I have made it! From shoot to post did seem to take an exorbitant amount of time, normally I do not let shoots go that long before I finalize them. Detroit however was different.
I really wanted to make the Detroit series stand out. It was the first major photography dedicated trip I had ever been on, it was out of the country, and frankly right out of my element. When we first got our camera I was immediately attracted to capturing the beauty of flowers. They have a certain innocence to them, yet they are so vibrant and full of life. I think what attracts me to them is they replicate the human life in so many ways, where you can see their entire life cycle over the course of one year.
I knew Detroit was going to be different though. I had never really taken pictures of buildings, let alone abandoned buildings. I did very little research prior to the trip, mainly because I wanted to bring my own style, see frames that I wanted to capture. I didn’t want to be spoiled by what was on Flickr or any of those other sites and end up capturing the same images as all the photog’s before me had.
But once we got back from Detroit, I knew photography for me had changed. I had started to see things in a different fashion. I explored with the concept of HDR while in Detroit. Not all of my pictures that used HDR turned out great, but I definitely learned something from it, and know where I want to take it in the future.

People have told me that these photos from Detroit don’t look real. Like some how they are a distorted reality, well we live in a distorted world don’t we? What I felt in these buildings while I was there was a sense of loneliness (well duh, it’s abandonded!) but it’s more than that, really it’s a sense of isolation. When we were inside the Packard building, it was like the rest of the world didn’t exist. I really tried to put that into the pictures and convey a different message.

Making this trip has really defined a sense of style I want to put into my photo’s. Where I go from here is going to be the next step. I need to expand on the style and fine tune each frame to get it to a level that will satisfy my inner craving to keep getting better.
I hope that you enjoyed all my frames from Detroit. It was a trip of a life time and it took just about as long to get the pictures all posted for you to see. We have plans to visit Detroit again next year so this time I will know to do my research before hand!

Outside the Pack

This is the third post in a series of images from the Packard Automotive plant in Detroit.  If you missed the first you can read it here, if you missed the second you can read it here. As I have said in the previous posts, the pack is an amazing sight! The outside is definitely no different. Surprisingly though, I think there is less graffiti on the outside of the building than there is on the inside. Possibly because people are afraid of getting busted tagging, but I highly doubt that’s a valid reason in this area of Detroit. There are a lot of interesting things around the pack. First, and probably the worst, was the office of the Wild Cats Motorcycle Club where a few people were murdered a few months previous in December 2010. Let me tell you how re-assuring that feeling is when we are walking in an empty building right across the street from the Wild Cats where no one would find us for weeks!

Another interesting feature outside the pack is this little rinky-dink two story Motel rightly named the Packard Motel. I Google’d this motel after we got back from Detroit, and surprisingly it has some pretty good reviews. Am I brave enough to spend a night there, heck no! But at least its satisfying to know there is a gem amongst all that decay.
The outside of the building was about the only place where scrappers have yet to take most of the metal off the walls. Some sections of the building are completely made out of steel so it does surprise me that this has still remained. It could be either extremely dangerous to try and chop this all down, or the scrappers just can’t find a way to haul it out of there. I am doubting it has to be that dangerous, because they seemed to have no problem cutting out all the electrical wiring on the inside of the building.
I really enjoyed looking at the outside of this building with all the unique graffiti and what not. It had a completely different feel than what was on the inside. I will leave you with two more pictures and stay tuned for the last series of pictures from the inside of the plant.

Offices of the Pack

This is the second post in a series about the Packard Automotive building, if you missed the first you can read it here.
Since this complex is so large, over 40 acres of just buildings, I had to break this down into a number of different posts focusing on common themes. The first was all about the different vehicles that were found within the building, this post focuses on the office portion of the complex. The office building was basically a catacomb of 2×4 studs where most of the walls had be taken out by scrappers over the years.

Even though there was no walls left, you could still make out visible hallways and office divisions, and let the record show you can tell this building is old! The hallways were so narrow compared to today’s office standards. All of the offices were pretty small compared to ones seen today, except for the presidents office which I will get to in a bit.

It would be interesting to think what an office would be like back in those days before computers were around. I have only grown up in a world of fax machines and e-mail so I know what makes an office tick today, but back in the hay-day of Packard Automotive these devices didn’t exist. It would have been interesting to see how the paper is moved back and forth between offices, how they sort their items, how quickly information gets passed through the building. Now everything is instantaneous, I don’t think I could go back and live in a time like that knowing what we have now.

Walking through the building we could noticeably tell which office was the former Presidents, or at least the person in charge of this factory. It was quite large, everything was wood, and it had a nice window view to the factory side. Not to mention there was an elevator right outside the door, and the main office entrance staircase was about 10 feet outside the door as well.

To me this room spoke of classic black and white films, where the president and the executives are smoking cigars and drinking brandy while the rest of the blue color workers are slaving away. This office was much more detailed than the rest of the building, and I’m surprised its still in this good of condition with the walls still intact. Whatever did happen in this office I will never know, but it was great to just sit there for a few moments and take in all the history that has been through it!

Vehicles of the Pack

The name Packard for most people will bring up images of classic vehicles that maybe they drove when they were younger, or maybe their father or grandfather had drove at one point. Back in the day the Packard was class, they were the middle class luxury car of the period. My family has been involved with cars, for what feels like ever since they were invented. I’ve never had the chance to have a ride in a Packard, but hearing that name brings up childhood memories of the stories my grandfather used to tell me. When my buddy Brian approached me a while back about a trip to Detroit that Packard plant was a must visit location. This place is absolutely ginormous. Its over 40 acres of just abandonment, still owned by Ford and no plans for any development. From what I have heard there is so much environmental issues with the soil, its cheaper for Ford to let the land sit as is than to redevelop it.
The Packard plant was our last stop of the day, and after seeing the first buildings I knew the scrappers would have already had a hay-day with this location, since it’s been abandoned for like 40 years. I was hoping to see an old car left over from the days of production, but wasn’t giving my hopes up! What I didn’t expect to see was a ton of other types of vehicles that were left in the building.
How these vehicles got here is way beyond me! I know there is a ramp that was used during the production process at one point to move the cars up to different levels, but it had a hole through the cement about 10 feet across so there was no way a vehicle could get past that point. The types of vehicles present in the building was the other thing that blew my mind. As you can see there was a boat, there was a few other boats, but I wasn’t able to get a good shot of those, there was a delivery truck and also a flatbed truck. Now this is just what we seen in the small section of the building we covered, who knows what else exists in there!
Now I have to admit, once I seen these vehicles that were left behind, I fell in love with them. They were so eclectic, and had such great colors from various graffiti artists. The flat bed truck was used as a paintball target, so it was basically covered in green and blue paint. The delivery truck on the other hand looks like it has seen better days. It certainly looks like it has been there for some time as it has been rusted out to no end. We ended up doing a group shot inside the delivery truck, so I decided to walk into the back cabin part of it, I don’t even want to describe what that looked like!
Being in this building was pretty magical! I have a ton more photo’s to share which will be coming up over the next couple weeks, but for now I will just share one more unedited shot of a couple photog’s I was with during the day.
Hope you enjoy!