Monday, January 3, 2011

Abandoned Geo W. Reed factory

Part of the fun of urban shooting is the exploring. You get to walk down streets you wouldn't normally walk down, see details you would normally pass by, and sometimes you get the mother load of places to shoot.

I had been wanting to shoot in this building for a while now. The Geo W. Reed building, also know as the Babcock & Wilcox factory, has been abandoned since 1982 and is a haven for graffiti artists. There isn't much information available on it (or maybe I'm just too lazy to really dig deep) but I read that it was apparently opened in 1895 and was used as a coach train manufacturer, tank part manufacturer and later on, plane part manufacturer. Not sure on the historical accuracy of this though.


It is a massive place. There are three floors, of which we only visited two. The ground floor with its wide open rooms, the slightly more confined second floor which was probably where the offices were, and the roof top. The walls have always changing graffiti. When researching online when I got back home, I saw a photo done in 2008 of a wall I had taken and it had totally different art on it.




As with most abandoned places, it is always advisable to go with a buddy or two. So I called up Reneau in the morning and he was more than happy to grab his gear and join me. You never know what or even who you will find inside. Discarded planks of wood with nails in them, broken glass, other people. The other thing to note is older buildings where not built with the same materials as we have today. So be very very mindful of what you touch as they could be contaminated with asbestos and other nasty things. We had a few almost spills, used our tripods as walking sticks, smartly didn't explore some nasty looking areas... and I did get the crap scarred out of me by a local inhabitant... a pigeon.

On this slightly warmish winter day, the building was good protection from the wind. Once you get over the heaps of junk people toss in at the entrance, the floor is pretty much dirt. Only concrete structures (walls and stairs) remain, the rest has either rotten away or burnt.



Littered on the ground you find many spray paint cans the artists leave behind. Some alone, or some in bunches.



After making our way around the main floor, we found some somewhat safe stairs that lead to the second floor. The footing was a big treacherous as there was water leaking down from the ceiling from the melting snow, which pool into ice puddles. While the ground floor was mostly dirt, the second floor was mostly ice. I could easily slide my tripod around.




Shooting in the building was difficult at best. Battling the junk for tripod positions and dealing with a very dark inside and very bright windows was hard. HDR was a flavour of the day (although only a few of the photos posted here are HDR), one can pull off some good shots with traditional single exposure shooting.


This is my favorite shot from the day... dripping water in front of the camera's lens, having to set the tripod up high in a stairwell,...


The sun was setting in an hour, so we made our way back down and outside, having spent a few hours in here. We plan on going back this summer, it will hopefully be easier to get around and maybe even get up on the roof.

Hope you enjoy the shots!

I have some more to process, I'll probably put them up on my facebook fan page which you can like at
Each of the images is clickable and will bring you to a slightly larger version on flickr.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome pictures! When I visit Montreal I hope to be able to get some shots of these old buildings.