Daily Inspiration #134 by Geoffrey Van Beylen

Hi there Steve,

First of all I want to let you know I have been a very regular visitor of your site, mainly thanks to the way you review the equipment and also partly because of the passion you write with concerning Leica. I have the same sentiments πŸ™‚

I whish you all the best for the near future considering the recent events in your life and I’m hoping that your work [the site!] can be a very big help in this situation.

But on to this daily submission:

I have been shooting since 13 years old and I started out with a Nikkormat FTN from the 60’s, all manual yes πŸ™‚ I still love that camera, have it in my closet, but since it’s become extremely impractical to get film/slides developed in the region where I live I cannot really use it anymore. That is also part of why I’m drawn to a manual Leica like the M9 which would give me the best of both worlds: old skool shooting and digital workflow πŸ˜‰

Many years ago I became very interested in the combination of photography with urban exploration: looking for and entering abandoned, empty mines, factories etc… I have also seen some of your images that could fall in the same category. The textures, the detail and the atmosphere all inspire me shoot.

But for the daily submission I have picked 3 particular images:

The first one was taken when I was shooting a train-graveyard with all decommissioned locomotives and carriages. While I was walking through the wrecks, the owner of the place suddenly stood in front of me and I sensed a slight hostility [of course I was kinda trespassing…], but he saw my equipment and sort of relaxed. It so happened the site was visited often by youngsters to hang out and sometimes there was something vandalized. But I put my camera aside immediately and started talking to the guy. It was lunchtime and he had a big sandwich with him so we sat on the track and talked about the trains and their history. He with his sandwich and me with an old chocolate bar I found in a pocket somewhere. Turned out he was a machinist himself and he had bought some of these wagons and locomotives in order to restore them. Turned out what I thought was scrap, was actually in railway world still in good condition to be salvaged and restored! Hence his fear for further vandalism. But he was really relaxed after that and I could take all the time in the world to continue shooting, I even got him to pose for me on some shots. On this particular one he is seen in a small wagon from about 1900, which he uses to sleep over and keep his gear in when he is on site. He had decorated the worn wall of one compartment with a poster trying to make it all more appealing πŸ™‚

So it just shows that sometimes you can get that much further by showing some general interest in the people and for a second there putting the camera aside… [I actually learned quite a lot about trains during that talk!]

I asked him to sit on his bed so he was nicely lit from the daylight.

Nikon D2x

Tokina 12-24DX, shot at 12mm

-0.3ev exposure with ISO 160.

f/8 and 0.8 seconds [using a tripod]

The second image I’m showing is from an old abandond car graveyard. It is located near a military base and this site was used by the service men to dump their cars 50-60 years back. There was no mention of environmental issues back then πŸ™‚

I have a lot of images from this site I really like, but I do like this one in particular because it has a lot of depth in it. It kinda mimics the Leica look IMO which I really like. I did some local blurring and conversion to grayscale was done with SilverFX pro.

Nikon D2x

Nikon 17-55DX shot at f/8 and 20sec on tripod [it was actually pretty dark under the trees and it was overcast]

ISO 100

The third image is one from an old abandoned mine in South of Germany. There is a lot of industrial heritage over there because during the beginning of the 20th century it was the heart of the coal and steel industry.

What you see on this image is actually one huge locker room. Each worker put his shoes and clothes in one of these baskets and then it was lifted up to the cealing using a chain. This way it saved up a lot of space! I really liked that place because with the light and the unusual scenery it offered a lot of creative options…

I desaturated the image and then overlayed a scrached layer in Photoshop to accentuate the age of the place.

Nikon D90
Tokina 12-24
f/6.3 @ 1/6th second on a tripod
ISO 200
You can find more of my work on my siteΒ http://www.exposed-photography.com
Thanks for the great site you put up and I hope I can continue to visit it for years to come!
All the best!
Geoffrey Van Beylen

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  1. Geoffrey, Each image is wonderful in its own way. I love the narrative that goes with the pictures too. I like how each photo is an art piece. I love it when cool stories are included with the pictures.

  2. @Geoffrey
    the heart of the german coal and steel industry was in the west of Germany (Ruhr-Area) where I live, not in the the south πŸ˜‰
    the south is all about mountains, funny hats, short leather trousers and white sausages!

  3. @ Rich

    I second this. I have just spent a few minutes scratching the surface of Geoffrey’s website and can only say I am blown away. Will have a deeper look tonight.

    @ Geoffrey

    You have a talen for transportation. Transportation of the viewer into the scene and not only that but they take the viewer back in time. In so many of your shots I could almost swear I saw the workers there, fixing the pipes, running the machines… Just great, great work. A real talent.

    • Thanks Stephen and all others for your nice comments! It really makes me want to go back out there and shoot some more πŸ™‚

      I’d just like to add some background to those images:
      It’s quite a while back since I’ve taken these pictures. Urbex photography as I call it, short for Urban Exploration… but it’s not without it’s dangers. After a few years I became less susceptible to the dangers in search for the perfect picture. On one such occasion, during a 3rd visit to the Beringen Coal Mine I got injured pretty bad when I fell through a corroded metal plate and went a story down. My camera was on a tripod and that prevented it from coming with me through the hole. I was extremely lucky though with only injuries to the lower back, head cut and a bit more severe with the right foot. During the years after that 3 more got injured in that place but they reached the local newspapers… much worse. One photographer was parallized from the waist down. I have a family and a that point I started seriously thinking of loosing some weight… kidding, no seriously: if it was all worth it. I guess it was a bit of a turning point for me as from then on I started looking for more conventional subjects πŸ˜‰ and no there was no 4th visit to Beringen Coal Mine after that!

      Steve also has some shots of abandoned factories and I still can get excited about those! There’s just something about it. Others have written much more poetic things on their reasoning for urbex photography but for me it’s partly the structures, colours serenity and perhaps my personal sense of lonelyness in the light of what Jak Tim-Lum mentioned in a previous daily inspiration.

      thanks again for your comments and to Steve for the great idea of “daily inspiration”.

  4. To anyone reading this, do check out Geoffrey’s website. He really has some great imagery there to match up with what you see here on Steve’s site. As someone who spent some time shooting for publication in newspapers, what Geoffrey said here about talking with people is really key. Sometimes you do just have to shoot and talk later but for many assignments I had I started with just talking with the people to get more insight into what they were about which usually helped me get a better image for publication.
    Geoffrey, glad you sent these into Steve. Keep up the great work and I have bookmarked your website for further viewing…

  5. the effects on the last image are a personal taste type of thing but awesome image anyways, love the shear scale of the room and the small details. Second image is my favourite, it has really fine details in the trees which is what I think of when i think the “leica look”.

  6. Geoffrey,

    These are some amazing pictures. Not only the pictures but also the wonderful narrative which really made me think a lot. My favourite was the old car graveyard… Superb light and well taken. I felt transported in time. I am always surprised (actually less surprised the more and more I see from the readers of this site) at the incredible talent that exists out there. I have seen a number of photographs that would I am sure command a high price if ever sold and the car graveyard with it’s story, is certainly one of them. Great work.

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