Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Night in the Nut House

Recently I join friends from the Manassas Warrenton Camera Club for an overnight trip to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV. The site was formerly known as the Weston State Hospital and operated from the mid-1800s until 1994. The current owners are operating the site as a tourist attraction. One of the tours offered is an overnight Ghost Tour. Apparently ghost hunting is quite popular because we had to book our tour several months in advance.

The tour started about 9:30pm and we were taken to a floor and given a 15 minute tour, then allowed to work freely for another hour or so. We would then move to another floor. By 4:00am we had covered all of the floors. The staff had a ton of good ghost stories but I was there to make pictures. This was the first time I have done any serious interior lightpainting. As usual, I learned a lot. In photography light is everything. I’m convinced that my prior experience with lightpainting gave me a leg up on this latest venture, but I also made my share of mistakes. One was bringing too much light. All of my lights were brighter than what I needed for an interior environment. A simple Maglite would have been sufficient in most cases.

The other obstacle was each shot required planning and thought. When doing my more traditional photography, I tend to analyze the conditions and react in order to make the best picture available for that time and light. With lightpainting I had to spend much more time thinking about each shot, how to compose, how to light, and how I was going to tie them altogether into a finished product. The other really surprising thing was that I did not take that many pictures, perhaps 25 or so the entire night.

After catching a few hours sleep, I returned the next morning to take a few shots of the exterior. The clouds that morning were great!!

Click here for an image gallery.
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