Yesterday after lunch I decided to take a motorcycle ride down to the State Capitol in Frankfort. The weather was much nicer than it had been in July and I needed to get out of the studio. As is often the case when I take one of my rides I had no particular destination in mind I simply wanted to feel the road under my wheels and to savor the joy I get from riding my Harley. I found a little road outside Frankfort that followed a small stream and decided it needed to be explored. As I rode along this road I came upon an abandoned distillery complex that I wanted to photograph. I pulled off near one of the gates to the property, got out my camera and tripod, and started looking for a place to access the property.
I spent nearly an hour probing the fence around the property but could not find an access point to the complex. I could see through the trees and brush along the fence that the buildings were collapsing and that there were a lot of photo ops but since I couldn’t get a clear view of the place I decided to take a few shots through the brush and move on. I headed further along this road when I came another group of whiskey warehouses that have been engulfed by the forest but that property was truly unaccessible and there was no place to park the bike. I’ll have to go back there again and see if I can find a way in though because they are so interesting with the forest slowly consuming them.
Down the road a little farther I came over a rise and saw yet another abandoned distillery complex. There were several interesting buildings as well as a place to park my bike that would be safe and keep it out of the photos I knew I was going to be shooting. I found an easy access point into the complex and started exploring the grounds. I love to shoot derelict and abandoned industrial subjects and this place was a treasure trove of rusted equipment and decaying structures. As I went around one of the buildings I spied an ornate roof poking through the small trees that have begun to reclaim this property. I went up the small path leading into the woods and was astonished to find the remains of the largest gazebo I’ve ever seen. It covered a stone pool that may have been a swimming pool or simply a water tank; it was impossible to know but it must have been something incredibly opulent when it was in use. It is at least 100 feet long and 30 feet wide with stone columns supporting the roof. I went into the structure and was amazed at the design and craftsmanship that I saw. At the far end was a circular area and above it stood this huge circular roof with a massive iron chandelier hanging above the water. There were steps leading down to the walkway around the circular pool so I went down to that level and set up my tripod to shoot the scene.
Once I was down on the lower landing I realized that even with my 18mm lens I could not capture the scene as I was seeing it so I decided to shoot it as a vertical panorama. I knew immediately that I was going to shoot bracketed exposures because the light level inside and outside the structure was too wide a range for a single exposure. I started at +2 and watched my histogram to be sure that I had a complete range of exposures for later HDR processing. As it turned out I only needed four exposures to get the histogram where I wanted it +2, +1, 0, and -1 exposure values at f8 worked well. I shot four frames at these settings and then repositioned the camera vertically and shot another set of four exposure. I wound up only needing three vertical frames to capture the scene for my panorama.
Once I was back at my studio I loaded each bracket set into NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and merged them using the default setting in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 before saving them back to Aperture 3. Once I had all three vertical frames merged into HDR images I took them into Photoshop CS5 to merge them into the panorama. After cropping and saving the panorama I returned the panorama to NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 where I adjusted it using the Realistic 2 preset and made my initial adjustments to the tonality of the image before retuning the image to Aperture 3 where I straightened the horizon, boosted the detail and clarity and did my sharpening.
7 thoughts on “Exploring an Abandoned Distillery”
Beautiful, Nick! This is the kind of photography that I love, althought I would take it into Silver EFEX Pro and render it as black and white. Very nice work!
Thank you Lauren, I may try it in Black and White too. I have more images yet to process so that may be an avenue I’ll take with something else.
I enjoyed reading the story of your adventure. 🙂 This image looks like a sketchwork. (took me a bit to figure out the water was reflecting it’s surrounding – very cool). Looking forward to the other photos!
Absolutely love this image, and your description of your adventure. I also love abandoned buildings, cars, buses, . . . whatever. I think this image is idyllic, even with the decay.
Nice photo Nick, looks like that building could be a Roman villa.
The structure you discovered is a Springhouse. The pool is fed by a natural spring. When the distillery was in operation, water from this spring would be pumped up to the distillery for making bourbon.