All posts by mstevensphotography

Silo City

I was fortunate to secure a spot in Mark Maio’s October workshop/tour of the abandoned silos and numerous other buildings known as Silo City. It can be seen from the end of Hamburg St., on the other side of the Buffalo River in Buffalo, NY. In fact, this is a good spot to catch the early morning light.

The real fun, however, starts when you drive onto the property, grab your camera gear, and choose a building to explore. Twenty-two of us had three full days of unlimited access.

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Morning Light


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End of the Line



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Two Minute Exposure



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View from the Top


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Unused Tracks



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Endless Belt Man-lift



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Window View



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Gray Day



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End of the Line #2



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The Portland Company

The Portland Company was established 10 November 1846 to build railroad equipment for the adjacent Portland terminus of the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad connection between Portland, Maine and Montreal. Its first locomotive, the Augusta, emerged from the shops in July 1848 for delivery to the Portland, Saco &Portsmouth (later the Boston and Maine Railroad). Over the next several decades, the Company produced in its Fore Street facilities over 600 steam locomotives as well as 160 merchant and naval vessels, rail cars, construction equipment, Knox automobiles, and the like. Portland Company built the engines of the civil war side-wheel gunboats Agawam and Pontoosuc.Taking into account its other products, the Company could lay claim to being one of the leading medium-to-heavy steel manufacturers in New England. The company ceased production in 1978. Presently the site has become a marine-oriented complex with a small marina, several marine as well as other office tenants and the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum.



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Office Space




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Fire Door Detail




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Overhead Belt Drive System


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Inside and Out


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Hand Lettered Sign


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Wooden Truss Detail




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400 lb. Anvil


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Bookbinder’s Space



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Wall Detail




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Small Detail



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Truss Detail



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Well Worn Wooden Floor



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Window Detail


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Brickwork Detail


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Window Detail



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Woodworker’s Space

Windjammer Days

Boothbay Harbor, Maine hosts “Windjammer Days” every June. It’s a great photo opportunity when viewed from the passenger boat “Balmy Days” from Balmy Days Cruises. The captain does a great job maneuvering around the sailing vessels for the load of photographers on board.
This year the previous days weather kept some of the windjammers from making the trip down the coast from the Camden/Rockport area of Maine, but there are images everywhere. They may not be exactly what you planned on, but finding those images is what I love about photography.
John Barclay wrote about the subject of expectations on his blog yesterday:


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The Heritage is one of the few large sailing vessels with no engine.The small boat hanging off the stern is lowered into the water and used to push the windjammer into the tight harbor.


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Close to the action.


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Spectators are everywhere.


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Maine Maritime Academy’s vessel.


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The crew work.


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Great seat.


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Don’t Panic. This is how children on the Maine coast play.

Behind Bars


A lot of Cubans live their lives behind bars, literally.

There seems to be a lack of windows and glass, which is no surprise because most goods are in short supply. Wooden shutters and doors close the openings when people want a bit of privacy and
of course barred doorways and window openings provide good ventilation in oppressive Summer heat.

What appears obvious on the surface also has a darker, more evil meaning. To me, the bars are a metaphor for living under a repressive communist dictatorship.

While the Cubans have an indomitable spirit and love of life, I’m certain they realize that they are indeed captives on their island.


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Friendly Faces

These Cubans represent the warm friendly spirit I’ve seen almost everywhere I’ve traveled on the island.
It would be easy for them to dwell on their living conditions, poverty, and government repression, but I’ve encountered little of that. Remember, these people have no personal property rights, no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, no right to a trial by jury. They live under a true tyranny.


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Humble Mechanic

The Portrait and the Back-story:

It’s titled “Humble Mechanic” and it’s my highest scoring portrait to date. I love to compete in Professional Photographers of America (PPA) print competitions. I’ve found that competing makes me a better photographer by making me pay attention to the details.
I had first met this gentleman in 2013 and had a couple of small prints to give him when I returned to Trinidad, Cuba in 2014.

He remembered me taking the images and we had a warm exchange of smiles, hugs, and handshakes.
He was willing to let me photograph him again so I got him under a small tree to try to block the overhead light, but the location wasn’t working well.
My mind was racing. What can I do ? Where can I put him ?  Portraiture is not my forte. If I were dropped into a forest, or a desert, or a city I’m confident I could produce a landscape image that pleased me.

Directly across the street was a large city building with a colonnade and portico. It would have to work. I hustled my friend across the street, got him under cover and spotted him where I saw light breaking around a column creating a light side and a shadow side. Here I should get the same light on my friends face and I did. The bonus was a ton of reflected light coming from the marble floor and yellow wall behind my friend making a nice accent on his back.

The session did not last long. Some of my travel mates spied me and descended on us like paparazzi. My poor friend was overwhelmed and out of his comfort zone. I’m not complaining at all. I got my shots and my friend got his pictures and some money.
I hope to find him again.

I’ve studied with some great natural light portrait photographers here in New Hampshire in an effort to learn this craft. I have to thank Steve Bedell, Don Chick, and Jeff Dachowski for getting just enough knowledge into my head to allow me to pull this one off.

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“Humble Mechanic”



With my friend. Image by Kate Mann.

History Lesson

This Havana artist spotted me taking his photograph from across the street and waved me over.
I thought I was in trouble and I prepared to take the hit. Instead, he cleared a place for me to sit and showed me some of his art work. He wasn’t upset at all. He then pulled out an old Cuban magazine from before the revolution. As I remember, it was dated 1957 or 1958. He spoke a little English and described all the photos as he turned the well-worn pages. There were photos of Havana in all it’s glory, photos of a young Fidel, and Che Guevara. It was a fascinating history lesson with pictures and a nice break from exploring the streets and neighborhoods in Old Havana. I thought he wanted to sell the magazine and I would have bought it, but he informed me it was not for sale. He did direct me to where I might find similar items. I regret that I never found time to get there.


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