St. Edwards is one of the hidden crumbling gems here in the Seattle area, located north of Kenmore on Juanita Drive, hang a left on Seminary Road, and go all the way down the windy turny back road feeling deliverance country set up to get there. There are lots of light, lots of interesting artifacts throughout the four floors and some 120,000 square feet or more of a run-down Catholic School. From cell like dormitories, to the laundry room, theater, ball room, and other things this is one interesting place to go check out when it is open. You will want your discovery pass for this one, parking is under the Washington State Parks rules, and it is 10 bucks or 30 dollars for a full year pass to all the parks. The feel in there is oppressive at times, you wonder what the stories are, and when you throw in a pile of photographers, it makes for an awesome day of taking pictures.
Urban Exploration folks are going to love this place when it is open, from the paint peeling off the walls, to the danger asbestos signs, including seeing a couple of boxes (empty) that were marked high explosives, you get a real feel for this place, and the stories that are left behind. Oppressive, hopeful, weird, wonderful, huge for exploring, windows, and booby traps on some of the dormitory doors, it is a wonderful place to go take pictures. There are much worst ways of spending your day. The interplay of light and dark within the building is unique in my experience. Well worth visiting and checking out, bringing a couple of models along for the horror show creepy feel that the building has. Zombie fans should check this place out.
Suspended Animation – turning the people you know into a human swing set can be fun and challenging for the people involved including the photographer. I really think that performance art is one of those things you really need to work on as a photographer because it can be a lot of fun to get right. I know, people are going to say this looks a whole lot like bondage but get your mind out of the gutter, this is suspension people, not a naked body to be seen, and in all the other suspension photo shoots, not a naked body to be seen. Rather this is all about being turned into a human swing set and being able to have an awesome time in the air. How many times did we crank on that swing set at school or in the park thinking we could fly when we were kids? This is just the grown up version of that, and Suspended Animation is way awesome to have done a public performance of this art at Seacompression 2012.
The hard part about taking these pictures is low light levels and lots of movement – so like this picture where you have part of the body in focus but the rest of the picture is basically shot to Hades and back. Great that part of it is in focus, but I wasn’t using a flash because I didn’t want to drown out the stage lighting, and she wasn’t about to “hold still” so I could get the rest of her in focus. That was not likely to happen at that point, so we shot for “artistic blurry”. Yeah that is the ticket, “artistic blurry” and usually I don’t keep pictures like that, but this is the only one I have of her doing this and it is a really powerful statement on how much fun she was having being a human swing.
The challenge to shoots like this is making sure your gear works in low light levels, and that you have it set on Aperture, with the lens as open as it will get, with a shutter speed if possible about 1/200th. Faster if you have a faster lens, and yeah these kinds of shows bring out Mr. Creepy Guy with Camera, but if you share your pictures with the group, post and discuss and work with the people you will usually have a lot better time with the shoot.